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 :)