Turning 30

  Well, this is the start of the last weekend of my 20’s.  Yup, Monday I turn the Big 3-0! 

Dale turned 30 back in April, and he says 30 doesn’t make you old;  4 kids, 2 car payments and a mortgage make you old!  WELL SAID!!!!!  On the bright side, we paid off the Tahoe this year, and Dale’s car is a mere $600 away from being paid off too, PTL!  Woo-hoo, I feel younger already.  🙂

  So back in June, my best friend and her hubby invited us out to dinner in Wichita, to a FABULOUS European Bistro called Yia Yia’s.  We were super excited for a “real” date night, as opposed to our usual couch-snack-movie date that has become our norm.  I thought it a bit weird that Kasey asked me to grab my camera, but whatever, I love taking photos so I brought it along without question!  005

  Right away the guys had us in stitches, teasing about how they had planned their outfits to match etc.


Ready to hit the town!


    When we got to Yia Yia’s, we were led to this back room.  The dining room was pretty full, so I assumed we were being taken to overflow.  When they opened the door….. “SURPRISE!”



A room full of our friends!  Dale turned to me with this smug grin, since he had guessed what was going on.  You can imagine HIS surprise when they announced the party was for him too! 🙂  They had split the difference and had a party in the middle of both our birthdays.  How fun!!!!



 Kasey remembered that (before things got tight) we had planned to throw a huge Luau out at our place, in celebration of both our 3oth birthday’s, so she did a Tiki-Hawaiian theme.  Perfect!!!!




The food was delicious, so of course, I got too busy eating and forgot to photograph the main course.  Typical. 

  Dale had this amazing roast chicken.  I had a killer salmon with homemade crab filled ravioli’s and roasted asparagus. Mmmm!



  Thanks to the Master minds behind this great party!  We are so blessed with friends like you!!!!


  A big thanks to Johnny and Tian, too, for helping Kasey pull it off in such a big way!!!  (Their cute photo was taken in RAW format and is now stuck on a memory card, so they are not pictured, sorry guys!!!!)

  After dinner was through, a few of us decided to go bowling.  I quickly announced I had not been bowling since I was a 5th grader, but that deterred no one.  Little did they know what was in store for them……

  You know how some things are like riding a bike, it just comes back to you?

  Bowling is NOT one of those things.

  I pretty much stunk it up the whole time, eventually going to a Granny-style bowl, just to get the darn ball in the right direction.  This was decided for everyone’s safety, after my pink ball, with too large of holes, went flying south instead of north!  LOL 🙂 

Good things my friends love me despite my aversion to bowling.033

Monty=Mr. Rogers                 Kasey=Kaseylicious 

Johnny=Rambo                         Tian=Shikera

Dale=Captain Tootypants   (boy does he ever live up to THAT name!)
Me=Princess Sparkle


Above: The guys being guys. Johnny digging for treasure?

Below:  Tian’s FABULOUS “I’m Not Mommy Tonight” Date Night shoes. I want!




   I shouldn’t even post this next pic and forever lock into history, my shameful score, but here it is:


Capt. Tootypants won, followed by Kaseylicious, Rambo, Mr. Rogers and Shikera.  P is for Princess.  Yup, I bowled a 41 first game and a 65 the second time around.  So, do I get the prize for Most Improved Player?!?!  LOL 🙂

Next we moved on to the arcade, thank God because my arms were about to fall off!

  I may not be a bowler, but I cleaned house on Deal Or No Deal, winning 100 tickets, thank you very much!




  We pooled our tickets to take home something fun for all of our kiddos, 9 of them between us.


  This made all the Mommy’s ready to head home and kiss their babies.  Besides, it was past midnight, we had an hour drive home and kids don’t get the “Sleep In” memo.  But where were the guys??????

  At the nearest Shoot ‘em up game. 

Go figure!




    We finally dragged them away, kicking, screaming and throwing a fit….ok, not really. 

  Thanks to Kasey & Monty and Johnny & Tian for a GREAT birthday bash! 

  We had a ball……


Love, Dale and Tonya

007 (2)

Southwest Rice and Bean Salad with Sweet & Spicy Dressing

  We tried a new recipe tonight, one I had printed off ages ago and put in my “to try” drawer with the 200+ other recipes in there.  Anyhow, it looked pretty basic, nothing to get excited about, but I had everything on hand to make it, so I went with it.  The end result was delicious. The bean & rice ingredients are paired with the tangy, sweet dressing that takes this dish over the top!

  It’s a keeper & will be added to the summer meal rotation for sure!! The whole family LOVED it!  Dale’s work-out buddy stopped in for a bowl, and he loved it too, even taking a copy of the recipe.  (Such a good little bachelor!)

  The guys of course, added the infamous Sriracha sauce to it, to bring the heat level up to their taste buds.  I added a few drops to mine as well, and it made this salad taste even better!!!! (Shh, don’t tell Dale I admitted that!!!) 

  At this point you should already own Sriracha sauce, because you made those amazing Korean-style Chicken Noodles bowls I told you about!  hee-hee 🙂 

  BTW, although this recipe contains jalapenos, because they are pickled, it is not an overly spicy dish. The kids ate it fine, with no sriracha obviously, and it had no burn at all!

   Never in a million years would I have expected the flavors of the dressing to be so perfect with the basic bean & rice base.   Try it, you won’t be sorry.  Besides, beans & rice are cheap!!! Especially if you soak & cook your own beans.  I think they have a better flavor/texture than canned, but canned will do in a pinch!

 This is one of those meals that can be waiting for you after a fun afternoon at the pool this summer, since it’s great room temperature or cold from the fridge!

Southwest Rice and Bean Salad

with Sweet & Spicy Dressing

{click title to print}


4 cups cooked brown Basamati rice, warm or at room temperature

1 – 6 oz box Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice, prepared according to directions

1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups cooked, seasoned, cubed chicken

1 (12-oz.) can corn, drained

4 green onions, chopped

2 t. salt

2 T. Garlic powder

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. packed brown sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
4 pickled jalapeno pepper rounds, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin

Combine all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and whisk well. Toss with salad. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Serves 8-10.

For a fun baking project, we decided to make these:

Oatmeal Butterscotch Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies from Picky Palate’s Website.  YUMMY! They were so soft and chewy, I woulda sworn they were baked in a convection oven.  The trick is they have Butterscotch Ice cream topping in them, who’da thunk it?! 

We didn’t have a fun pan like she did, so we just blooped giant balls of dough on a stone and started decorating with M & M’s.  It was like arts and crafts time!


   No matter how they look, the kids don’t care a bit.  They are just excited that I let them eat sugar!!!!!!



And just like that…..the Sugar Daze & Sugar Crazy’s are already kicking in!


Gotta love it!  🙂

Happy Cooking & Baking!


Shared with the Ultimate Beans and Rice Linky Party over at Meet Penny!

Destiny’s Post

Hi! This is Destiny, I just turned 8 years old.  Since I am getting so grown up, I begged my mom to let me do a blog {post} this summer.  She said yes, but no taking her camera outside, well, except for the back porch.  Here are the photos I took.  I am still learning!  My favorite photo is the rose, mommy’s is the flower in the vase.  Daddy just smiled when he saw my food photos, and said I was just like my mom.

  Have a nice summer! Love, Destiny

The World As Seen By Destiny



Note from mom:

I am so proud of Destiny! She did a great job on this post and worked really hard!!  I love that she picked up the fork with her left hand while snapping the shot with her right in the photo of the dinner plate above. (just like she has seen me do)  Oh, and I know Pax looks horrible in those photos, he was not feeling well at all and had spiked a fever, so he was getting a vinegar/ginger bath to bring down the fever and start the detox process.  Poor kiddo! He’s fine now.

I also thought the Chicken doo doo was a, um….nice touch?  Very fitting after the chicken photo I suppose.

This last photo was snapped by Destiny, right before we left on our anniversary date this May.  We like to tease Nana, that Destiny takes better photos then she does.  Nana agrees, admitting to getting too much ceiling most times! 🙂


Long Lost Photos

  Along the way through my 1st year as a blogger, I have taken and forgotten photos. OR, by the time I got around to editing them, the phase or season had passed, and it was no longer note-worthy. 

  Today, I dedicate this blog to those long-lost photos, brought out of the darkness and into the light!  🙂  I’m cleaning every other part of my house, might as well clean out the “To Blog” folder too.

It was like 35* the day I took these photos of Avery. Guess who decided barefoot sounded fun?


Reason number 1001 Destiny is just like me:

While raking the front yard to surprise Daddy, Destiny separates the sticks they find……..


Stacking them by size and shape.  Nice and orderly, just the way we like it!


Turkey on the Roof


Destiny’s Restaurant and Book store




Happy customers.


Look, Mommy! I do it all by me-self! NOW can I got to school?”

(Avery 1 1/2 years old)


Reading to her baby brother, just like she see’s Destiny do.


What a beautiful bride!


Onrey face!



Destiny, trying to master headstands this winter.


Paxton, 7 months old, learning how to self-feed…..



Destiny curled up with a good book and a doggie lap-warmer.


Avery making Paxton crack up by shaking her pig tails back and forth.


Daddy horsey rides are the best!


Nana came back from a convention with surprises!


Naughty Avery!  I had just brought out the 3T bin of summer clothes, organized them in the drawer and left to make lunch.  While I was gone, she gutted and tried on all her “new” summer clothes.


Photo purge is now…………081080



Phew, I feel much better now!


Easy Schmeasy Caprese Salad

Easy Schmeasy Caprese Salad


15-20 vine-ripe Cherry tomatoes (more if using Grape)

1 pound fresh mozzarella , cubed

20 leaves fresh basil

Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

16 oz. bottle Kraft Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette


Cut tomatoes in quarters, or if using cherry tomatoes, in half.  Rip larger basil leaves in half.  Drizzle the salad with Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

I loved it…..annnnd, my family hated it!

Guess even non-picker eaters have their limits, so proceed with caution?????

Nah, make this for yourself and eat on it all week, leaving off the dressing until right before eating. This would be FAB piled on a toasted bagette.


So this has nothing at all to do with this post, but Paxton was making me giggle today with his Full Contact Peek A Boo session…..



Sophie The Brave


Meet Sophie, our lovable mutt.  She and Dale have a love – hate relationship;  As in they love to hate each other.

  When he says in a sing-songy voice: “Oh, Sooo-phie”,  she puts her tail between her legs and runs away to cower in her bed. 

  You know what they say about dogs being a good judge of character.  Hmmmm, should I be worried? 

Naaah.  🙂

  So Miss Sophie thinks she is big stuff, running around outside from fence row to fence row, barking at nothing to prove just what a mighty warrior she is.  She especially likes to boss our Chickens around. You know, remind them she was here first!

  I was outside photographing these lovely “weeds” which cover the yard as far as the eye can see, before Dale mowed them away.  Our Creator is amazing, and these flowers are picture-worthy!!!!   So are the cute little bikers in the background!

{Before I go any further, let me apologize for the freakish blue tint to some of these photos. Guess who had the camera set on indoor Tungsten lighting and didn’t notice until waaaay too late. Oops, sorry!}


  Sophie was hanging close by me, eye-balling her brood, making sure they weren’t up to any funny business.


    When suddenly, she SPRINGS into action, racing straight into a group of unsuspecting chickens!!




“ SOPHIE!” I yell, “quit chasing the chickens!”



  She ignored me, racing right by.  Unfortunately for me, and you, I did not even think of getting a shot of this, having abandoned my camera for the sake of saving tomorrow mornings eggs…..

But before I can do anything, Henny Penny decides she has had enough of this yippy Weiner dog and turns her tail feathers right around, and goes on attack. 

Poor Sophie never even saw it coming!!!! 

  She high tailed it out of there like she had been shot!  Then, she very slowly, and oh-so humbly slinked up to me to say Sorry……134

Begging for mercy!


  I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure she learned a lesson more valuable than any scolding I could’ve given her at this point.120

Look at her, eyeballing those chickens, making sure none are coming to get her!  You sure showed them, Sophie, you brave little weenie dog you!

  Better luck next time!



Crunchy Poppyseed Chicken Salad


This is so quick and easy and makes for a really colorful, fun salad….

2 bags Broccoli Slaw
2 large Red peppers, chopped
2 cups carrot shreds
1 16 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
4 cooked, seasoned chicken breasts, cubed
2 packages Ramen Noodles, broken into small pieces
(No Spices)
Cashews to taste
1 bottle Kraft Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

Combine all ingredients except dressing and cashews in a large bowl. Sprinkle with cashews. Serve with Dressing on the side.

Serves 6-8.




This post linked to:

Made it On Monday

Tasty Tuesday

Everyday Sisters

How to Bake a Cake…Twinkie Cake!

  Ooh, Twinkies, how I love thee.  Creamy, fluffy filled goodness!  I gotta tell ya, my Twinkie cravings cannot be fixed but the boxed variety anymore.  Not since I met this TWINKIE CAKE!


Let’s get started:

How to Bake a Cake

Preheat the oven.

Get out the bowl, spoons and ingredients. Grease the cake pans.

Remove 18 blocks and 7 toy cars from the kitchen table.

Measure 2 cups of flour. Remove Baby’s hands from the flour.

Wash flour off.

Measure 1 more cup of flour to replace the flour on the floor.

Put the flour, baking powder and salt in a sifter.

Get the dust pan and brush up pieces of bowl which Baby knocked on the floor.

Get another bowl.

Answer doorbell.

Return to the kitchen and remove Baby’s hands from the bowl. Wash Baby.

Get out egg.

Answer phone.

Return and locate greased cake pans.

Remove pinch of salt from the pan. Look for Baby.

Get another pan and grease it.

Go wipe a hiney.  Wash hands.

Return to the kitchen and find Baby.

Head for Baby who flees, knocking bowl off the table.

Wash kitchen floor, wash the table, wash the walls, wash the dishes.

Call the bakery.

Lie down.



HAHA, that is so the story of my life!

Now for the real recipe:




  • 1 box Butter Cake Mix, 18 Ounce Box
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Butter, Melted
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 3  whole Eggs

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans, or spray with baking spray with flour.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly (batter will be thick). Beat 2 minutes longer. Pour batter into the prepared pans. Bake as directed on cake mix box.

Cool cake, then frost with the following recipe which is called: “That’s The Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had.” (it’s true)

That’s The Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had

  • 5 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar (not Powdered Sugar!)

Preparation Instructions

  In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick!. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools.) It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess left. Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat the living daylights out of it. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.

Spread on your first Twinkie Cake, top with second and cover in this frosting.  Amazing!!!!!!


Dig in!


This post linked to:

Everyday Sisters

Gooseberry Patch Recipe Round Up

A Birthday Bash

    There is a particular week in July that is EXTRA busy at our house: last week!

  My future sis-in-law has a birthday on the 12th, my mother-in-law on the 14th, chadandlaurenandachilliesmy mom on the 16th and Destiny on the 17th. 

  Lauren, my future sis-in-law, lives in Florida, so we can’t celebrate with her.  001

Grandma and Nana are MORE than happy to forgo celebrating their birthday’s in honor of Destiny, so we usually just get together for hers.  180

Everyone seems just fine with that arrangement!  🙂

So, my baby is 8 now!!!!!  How is that possible?! 

Seems like this was only yesterday:

Destiny 5 daysDestiny2 (2) - CopyP1030079P1030101


Destiny8New sandbox


And now?  A lovely little lady to be sure.


“Take my picture too, Mommy! I’m FAAAAANCY!”

Sure my almost 3-year-old, why not?!



Party Time! 



Happy 8th Birthday, Destiny Joy!  You light up my life with your gorgeous grin, sweet nature and tender heart.  I LOVE YOU!


xoxo  Mommy

P.S.  Destiny wanted a rainbow cake this year. I am not a cake decorater, so I always manage to get myself in trouble with these requests.  I got online and found a Rainbow recipe, but it was for rainbow CUPCAKES so there was not enough of each color to do stripes since I switched it to cake pans.

Sooo, I had to improvise and do a marbled version.  Check out the batter:


End result:



Cut cake:  


Each piece had different combo of colors and swirls.

Pretty cool, right?!  It’s no rainbow striped cupcake, but it worked, and we have more birthdays to try that sorta stuff.  🙂