Tuesday, January 10, 2012


It's January and the middle of Winter, but here in San Diego its 70 and sunny.  And while I can't complain about the weather, I do miss the snuggle up with a blanket, scarf and boots weather that we had when we lived back east.  Winter makes me want to use my Crock Pot for stews and soups, to have a pot of warm yumminess waiting for you when you get home.  But this warm weather doesn't lend well to those recipes in our house, so I've brought back one of my absolute favorite Crock Pot recipes...and I'm proud to say its one I came up with all by myself!  I've had several people ask for this recipe, so I thought I'd type it out and share it.  I made this with a small roast because it was just me and the kids, but you could definitely use a larger roast and double the other ingredients.
I stink at taking pictures of food, so this was hijacked from Google Images...
but mine looked this good ;)

Pork Carnitas:
1 small pork roast, with fat trimmed
1/2 jar organic garlic cilantro salsa (8 oz)
Juice from 1/2 of a lime, orange and lemon
1/2 bottle of beer
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 packet taco seasoning (or if I don't have any, a liberal sprinkling of garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder)
Salt and pepper

Dump it all in the crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours, until the meat is falling apart and the juice has reduced slightly.

Shred the meat and mix with the juice.  I served it with lightly fried corn tortillas, fresh cilantro, sliced avocado and a dollop of low fat greek yogurt.  Yum!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I really can't believe that "Baby" Jack is already 19 months old!  He's practically TWO for goodness sake!  I had the crazy realization how quickly time passes with your kids when Michael turned six in November...and in less than 10 years he will be DRIVING!  Well, Jack might as well be 19 months going on 5 with as quickly as the last year has gone by...

He seems to have jumped head-first into wanting to be an independent toddler.  Gone are the days of my sweet, snuggly baby!  He's still sweet and snuggly, but hardly a baby any more.  At the beginning of December, Jack dismissed his high chair as an acceptable means for dining.  Any time I put him in his high chair and served him food, he would immediately dump in on the floor.  Or throw it at me.  Or feed it to the dog.  But never put a single bite in his mouth.  This lasted about a week before I began {attempting} to reprimand him by taking the food away and removing him from his chair.  He quickly discovered that if he lingered by the big table long enough, one of his siblings would get up and leave their partially eaten food on the table, rather than clearing their dishes.  He'd scamper up into their chair, park himself ON THE TABLE and eat their left overs!  Using a fork none the less.  Any attempts to use a fork in his high chair were futile.  But apparently sitting on the table gave him the power to eat like a civilized adult.

So I began feeding him at the table, but we didn't have a booster seat yet, so he usually stood on a chair and ate with us.  I purchased a booster seat for Christmas and he was ecstatic!  His new favorite game is raiding the pantry, climbing into his seat, and dumping whatever he scavenged onto the table.

With this new found independence, he has also entered the Terrible Two's a bit earlier than expected!  He has reached to point where the most desirable object in the house is whatever is just out of his reach.  He stands on his tippy toes, reaches, grunts, attempts to grow taller by the second, then throws himself on the floor in a fit of frustration.  What am I usually doing durning this fit?  Standing by laughing and taking pictures.  Sweet Jack throwing a fit is one of the cutest things I've ever seen a kid do.  It's almost like he has to muster every ounce of rottenness in his being to pitch a fit.  I'm not sure if it is the wisdom that comes with having a third child or the insanity that allows me to stand by and laugh.

Jack is still the most snuggly baby.  Every time I pick him up, he nuzzles his head down on my shoulder and wraps his arms around me.  It makes my heart melt.  He also asks for kisses by pressing his forehead to my lips.  Whenever I go to pick him up from a child care (at the gym or at church) he runs across the room in a full sprint with a huge smile on his face and leaps into my arms.  People constantly say, "Well, there's no doubting who he belongs to!"  Jack's also the only one of the three that will sleep in my bed.  He doesn't do it very often, but when he isn't feeling well the only place he wants to sleep is next to me.

Other favorites at 19 months include any and all cereal, his lawn mower, the red and yellow little tykes buggy, jumping on the trampoline, trying to eat dog food, playing with Michael's very tiny Legos, being dressed up by Savannah (ok, not sure if he really loves this, but she sure does!), sunglasses and hats, and squeezing the hand on his bear to hear Stephen's voice.  Oh, and milk.  We should probably invest in our own dairy cow with as much milk as these boys drink!

I sure do love this little guy.  I can't wait for Stephen to see how much he has grown since August and I know he is going to be so thrilled to have his dada back!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A happy and healthy New Year!

The tail-end of 2011 brought its fair share of colds, ear infections, strep throat, stomach flus, and various other ailments to the Howell house despite my best efforts to sanitize hands, Clorox counters and boost Vitamin C intake.  It also seems that once one kiddo goes down with a bug, they take on very picky eating habits.  And I'm usually too tired to fight the dinner battle, so pizza, chicken nuggets, cereal and peanut butter sandwiches quickly became the go to meals.

Healthy, I know.  

So this year I am resolving to make some changes in our house, and thanks to Once a Month Mom and the Get Real 2012 challenge, I think we may actually have a plan to slowly transition our house to a {primarily} real food household!  Every month they post a goal, health information, and recipes to help eliminate processed foods in your house, beginning with cleaning out and using up your pantry items in January.   Here's their goal:

In the end, our hope is that we arrive at the end of the year successfully, together, making a transition that will make us proud, our families healthier and our lives richer.

I love this!  As we've added more kids, more deployments, more scheduled (and unscheduled) activities to our lives, it's too easy to succumb to the ease of fast food, take out, and pre-packaged meals.  I hope the Get Real Challenge, and all the other resources I have found so far, can help push me toward a healthier 2012! 

This year, I'm going to use this blog to document our successes and failures in this endeavorer, recipes I'd like to share and remember, and links that I have found helpful.  Please feel free to comment or share any tips you have along the way!  

I found an amazing website, www.WholeLiving.com, that I'd like to share.  It's a Martha Stewart affiliate, which probably explains why I love it so much.  I know, you either love her or hate her, but I LOVE her.  The website is pretty, has beautiful pictures and is easy to navigate.  The recipes look and sound incredible!  I spent a good chunk of time this afternoon while the kids were resting in their rooms reading smoothie and juice recipes and I'm already planning my grocery list for next week!  Here's the link to the site:


Good health isn't a gift; its a habit you cultivate!

Here's to a happy and healthy New Year :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stationery card

Sparkle And Shine New Year's Card
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View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Can you guess what makes Jack happy?

I will give you one guess at what makes this little guy happy...

Yep, he's basically a food monster!!

Savannah's Birthday

Our Sweet Savannah turned FOUR on May 10th!  She had an awesome birthday WEEK, beginning with her birthday celebration at school on Tuesday, lunch with Grandma and me on Wednesday, celebrating with daddy on Friday and a birthday blowout party on Sunday!  Amazed with what a beautiful young lady she is becoming and so blessed to have her as our daughter!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Yummy Coconut Curry Shrimp Recipe

I've been in a bit of a dinner slump lately...think hamburger helper, frozen lasagna and too many quesadillas!  Not that there is anything wrong with any of these foods, but they aren't terribly fresh or healthy.  Typically, when Stephen is out in the field, training or deployed, I become more adventurous in the kitchen--largely due to his being a meat and potatoes guy and my fear that a lighter, healthier meal won't be filling for him.  He also avoids spice...we joke that ketchup has just the right amount of heat for him while I pour on the Cholula or Tapatio Hot Sauce!

But Spring is in full-swing in San Diego and something about fresh air and sunshine makes me want to lighten things up!  So with an arsenal of Cooking Light and www.skinnytaste.com recipes to try, I headed to the store to purchase groceries for a weeks worth of healthy meals!

He was the plan:
Steak with baked sweet potatoes and roasted asparagus
Coconut Curry Shrimp with rice and sugar snap peas
Grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and Mexican rice with black beans
Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken
Lightened up Chicken Enchiladas with left over rice and beans
Greek burgers with salad

I was most nervous to serve the Coconut Curry Shrimp because it involved both curry and coconut, which I know Stephen isn't crazy about...but c'est la vie!  The kids devoured it and asked for seconds, I loved it and Stephen even said it was really good and a keeper!!  And the best part, it took no time at all to whip up and only had a handful of ingredients.  I have had several people ask for the recipe, so here it is:

Coconut Curry Shrimp with Rice:
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 oz light coconut milk
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro and 1/8 cup parsley, chopped
  • salt to taste
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add scallion whites and red curry paste and sauté one minute. Add shrimp and garlic, season with salt and cook about 2-3 minutes. Add coconut milk, fish sauce and mix well. Simmer about 2-3 minutes, until shrimp is cooked through. Remove from heat, mix in scallion greens, cilantro, and parsley.  I served this over steamed rice and sauteed snap peas!

After the success of the curry dish, I was less anxious to serve the Asian Peanut Noodles recipe...it was definitely spicier with the use of Sirracha and loaded with vegetables, but the kids didn't seem to notice (even as Stephen wiped his brow and guzzled his lemonade)!   Hope you enjoy the recipe and please share any yummy "lighter" recipes you have!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Summer is on the way!!

In the last three days, I have watched my kids play in the sprinklers, shucked a bag of fresh corn, ate two dozen strawberries, and cut up a giant watermelon...what about that does not SCREAM Summer!!!
We have begun venturing to the beach...with three kids 5 and under and even with both puppies too!!  The kids LOVE the beach and we are blessed with amazing beaches within two miles of our house.  Gunner and Penny also love the water, but their days at the beach are limited to when Stephen and I can divide and conquer kids and dogs...I am not daring enough to venture to the dog beach alone yet!

Speaking of Summer...bike riding is big in our neighborhood!  We have a ton of kiddos on just our little stretch of Wahoo Lane (17 kids between 6 houses and they are mostly between 3 and 6 years old) and bike riding is a serious sport/activity!  Savannah has recently joined the "big kid" club and can ride with NO TRAINING WHEELS!!!  Woo hoo and way to go!!

Anyway...my thoughts have been on our upcoming Summer with this warm weather.  So, here's to hoping this Summer is sunnier than the last (and a few pictures of our recent shenanigans)!
Flying a kite...doesn't get much easier than this!

At the playground...a rare group photo with out nose picking, screaming, cheese smile, excessive drool, hitting, or three heads looking three different directions!
Bubbles!  Lots of bubbles!
Sand tastes good...but the waters sure is cold!
Our most recent acquisition--a sandbox.  May not last too long if they keep dumping the sand overboard though!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The birth of a ballerina...

Ok, so that may be exaggerating a little...
but she surely did have a great time! 

Monday afternoon we had our first ballet "class."  This is by NO means any sort of real ballet school, just a preschool class at the YMCA that meets once a week for a month.  But to Savannah, she was joining the National Ballet Company! 

I made the mistake of telling Savannah about this ballet class more than a week ago, and I have been asked no less than a thousand times "Am I going to go to ballet class tooo-daaayy?!"  You have to understand that she has thought of herself as a ballerina for many months now and firmly believes that all her practice while watching the Angelina Ballerina movies has her lined up to be starring in The Nutcracker next month.  The problem largely lies in the fact that Savannah is less than graceful--she is downright clumsy!  Stephen makes fun of me all the time for the many bruises I rack up from colliding with the corner of the counter, the banister, the edge of our bed frame, and any other number of inanimate objects that jump in front of me. 

Let's just say that my ballet dreams were largely unfulfilled as a little girl!  And unfortunately, Savannah takes after me.  She loved this ballet primer class, and I'm hoping (without turning into some crazy Toddlers and Tiaras stage mom) she will stick with it...because she surely makes one adorable little ballerina!
Savannah's favorite mode of transportation across a room is twirling...this was right up her alley

Savannah and Ashley dancing with Miss Haley and practicing her ballet arms and tippy-toes