Sunday, April 30, 2017

{ CFE International Saltfish Blogger Recipe Contest }

Hello everyone, I'm back with another recipe contest, this time from CFE International.

I was asked if I wanted to participate in this contest and try out some delicious salted cold, or pollock.  I immediately jumped at the chance of the salted cod.

I'm Portuguese, I grew up eating salted cod, so I couldn't pass up this chance.

The idea of the blogger recipe challenge is to come up with either a main dish or an appetizer, using the product that we chose, which for me was the Cristobal Salted Cod

I found this a bit challenging, not because I had no idea what to make but because growing up surrounded by this product, I have tried every way imaginable to cook this fish up, so making something I hadn't before was a little difficult.

I decided to go with a Salted Cod Fish Lasagna, combining my love for Italian and pasta with my love for the salted cod.

Salted Cod Fish Lasagna

Lasagna Noodles, cooked according to package directions
1lb Cristobal Salted Cod/Bacalau
Olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, finely diced
Mozzarella or Swiss cheese, shredded or sliced
Fresh Spinash

For the white sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 and 1/4 cup milk
Dash of salt, pepper and nutmeg

Soak the cod fish in water, overnight, change the water out a few times to take most of the salt out.  You can also soak it in milk, whichever you prefer.

In a pot, add a bit of olive oil, the onion, garlic and the bay leaf.  Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Flake the cod fish into bite size pieces, being careful to remove all bones.  Add to the onion and stir.  Add a tiny bit of water just so it doesn't dry up too much, stir a few times and turn off the heat.

In a smaller saucepan, melt the butter, add in the flour and stir vigorously, cook for about a minute so that you don't get that flour taste.  Start adding in the milk a little at a time, stirring well after each addition, use a whisk to remove any lumps.  Keep adding the milk and stirring until the sauce thickens, about 2 or 3 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg.

Assemble the lasagna.  Put a few tablespoons of the white sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish.  Layer some of the lasagna noodles on top of the sauce, add a third of the cod fish mixture and spread evenly over the noodles.  Next add a layer of spinach and top with about a third of the white sauce.  Sprinkle on some shredded cheese or if you're using slices, then cover with the cheese slices.  Add another layer of noodles, cod fish, spinach and sauce.  Continue until you use everything up, making sure to end with a layer of the white sauce.  Cover the top with cheese and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes until bubbly and the cheese is melted and brown.

The grand prize for the recipe contest is $1000.  If you want to know more about the challenge or where to purchase the products, be sure to head on over to CFE International, or check out their social media links below. 

CFE International Social media links:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

{ Happy 18th Birthday to my beautiful daughter }

18 years ago, this beautiful red haired angel was placed in my arms , after a bit of a complicated labor and birth. In that instant my life changed!!!!

The time has flown so fast, it feels like just yesterday I was rocking her to sleep.  She's reached so many milestones in the past 18 years.....

Her first step
Her first word
Her first day of school
Turning 13 and becoming a teen
Turning 16 and well on her way to being a woman
and now this....turning 18 years old, becoming an adult and about to go out and face the world.

I remember how it felt, I was counting down the days until I turned 18.  I wanted to be an adult, to make my own decisions, to not have to answer to anyone or be told where to go, what to do and so forth.  The world was this big bright empty canvas and I was standing there holding a palette of beautiful colors and a paintbrush, just waiting to go out and add my own touch to the world.

I sit and watch this milestone and the first thing that comes to my mind is that I'm incredibly blessed and lucky, to have been allowed to be her mother, and to be have been allowed to watch her grow over the past 18 years.  Some aren't as lucky and so I count my blessings and thank the Lord every single day for that.

As I go into this new Chapter with her, things have shifted.  I'm not longer a mother to teenagers or kids, I'm a mother to one teenager and an adult.  Strange feeling that is!!!

I'm happy, so happy for her but I would be lying if I didn't say that my heart is breaking, because I know that this is the beginning, this is the very first day of the next step which will be her leaving us.  

She is beyond excited but a little weary, she has waited so long to be an adult but she also knows all that it entails and a part of her wants to hold on to the childhood years.  She is eager for the next step, moving out, working, going to college, making a life with the man she loves.

I'm not sad because I am worrying, or scared for her, because truth is, as fragile and sensitive and emotional as she is, she also is extremely strong and determined, and I know that no matter what she encounters she will flourish and succeed.

We've definitely had our ups and downs, mostly ups thankfully, but we also have an amazing bond, one that I hope will continue for the rest of our lives. 

This past year my beautiful girl has had to grow up fast, she's had to face demons within, and dad and I have had to step back and face the truth that we can't always be the answer, that some things are out of our control or understanding and can't be fixed by us as her parents.   It's been hard, but it's also been one of the proudest moments for me as a mother.

Jasmine is drop dead gorgeous, bubbly, energetic, funny, a firecracker, she's strong, a survivor, incredible, sweet and brave and even a pain in the behind at times.  She's everything you could want and wish for in a daughter, and more. 

So today, as she turns 18, I want her to know that my wish for her is that she continues to love the Lord, that she develops a strong relationship with Him and places Him first in her life, I wish for her all the blessings that you can imagine and then some, I wish for her and Nick to continue being the beautiful, loving, respectful couple that they are to each other, I wish that everything she wants and desire, be hers.....and most of all I wish that when the hard moments in life come knocking at her door, that she will continue to have the strength, wisdom, morals and values to guide her through and come out shining on the other side.

I love you more than I could ever put into words Jasmine. The world is yours baby girl, go out there and conquer it, but always know that if you need and want, mommy's arms are wide open waiting to catch you and hug you and help you get back on your feet.

Happy Birthday my babe, I love you!!!!

Monday, April 24, 2017

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 04/24/2017 }

Good morning friends, hope you've all had a wonderful weekend.

Here we are yet again, another Monday that seemed to have come straight out of nowhere.  Is anyone else feeling like this year is flying at a turbo speed?  It needs to slow down, like seriously.

I'm going to get this post up pretty quick as I have my daughter's boyfriend visiting and need to get some breakfast going, so let's get on with our Happy Homemaker Monday :)

The weather:::
Beautiful weather, not much rain the past few days so it's been really nice.  We have a high of 82 predicted for today so that will be good and warm. 

On my reading pile:::
Diana Gabaldon's Lord John Series.  Still going through that one, I'm enjoying it but just wish that I found more time to read, it always seems like the moment I get that time, I am so tired that I read a few lines and fall right to sleep.

Movies or Shows I watched this weekend:::
I've been catching up on Once Upon a Time so every single spare moment I have, or while I cook, or clean or do dishes, I've been watching.  I've on Season 4, about halfway through. 

On my TV:::
General Hospital
Dr Phil
Fear Thy Neighbor
See no Evil
Murder comes to Town
Reasonable Doubt

On the menu for this week:::

Salisbury Steak and Rice, Salad
Asian BBQ Chicken Legs, Sesame Noodles  
Burgers on the Grill, Fries 
Not sure, might be a leftover day.  My meals got all switched around this time so I don't know what I still have meat wise or what I'll be making. 
*Grocery Shopping*  (New menu will kick in, I still haven't made it up yet though)  

On my to do list:::
Monday - Jasmine's boyfriend drove 7 hours last night to get here just to spend the day with her for her birthday, then has to drive right back and has work the next morning.  I offered to do his laundry for him to save him some time, so I'll be working on that today.
Tuesday - Rearranging my bedroom.  Going to switch the bed back to the other wall because with summer coming, the fan is right above and we don't get good air flow back in this side of the house. 
Wednesday - School work with kids
Thursday - Work on Menu Plan
Friday - Grocery Shopping, Base Pharmacy to get more Motrin for me, I'm completely out
Saturday - Yard work

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Still working on the Nuts about Squares.  I have to make 2 more of Week 4 before Thursday, so I'll try to fit those in some time.  Here's the Week 4 Square, how neat is it?

Looking around the house:::
It's clean, I actually went on a cleaning rampage yesterday because I was feeling good and it was a gorgeous day.  Hubby worked on mowing the yards, back and front, all 3 acres, and I worked inside.              

From the camera:::
Beautiful flowers from my garden.  I just love bringing Spring inside :) 

What I'm wearing today:::
In my pjs at this moment, but as soon as this post is up, I'll be throwing on some jeans and a tank. 

One of my simple pleasures:::
Sitting in bed, early morning, with the curtains and windows open and listening to the birds chirping outside.  That's the only sound I hear and it's glorious.   

Bible verse, Devotional::: 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

{ Jasmine's 18th Birthday Get Together }

She's not officially 18 until Tuesday the 25th, but when you have family all over the place, and her birthday falls on a week day, it's easier to throw a get together the weekend before, or after, whichever works for the family.

I had planned on doing it next weekend but my mother in law is currently going through chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer, and she couldn't make it next week as she is having one of the treatments on Thursday.  So we switched it all up to this Saturday, in order to accommodate her and allow her to be here for this special birthday.

Friends, I am a total mess at the moment.  I'm ready to cry at the drop of a hat, I'm struggling with her growing up and I don't quite know what to do with myself.

Anyway, I wanted to show you a few pictures from her get together, it wasn't anything big, she didn't want anything more than just a cake and the closest family members around, so it was perfect.


First and foremost, may I introduce you to mini me?

Holy smokes she really is a carbon copy of me, especially at her age.  It's crazy.

Now I will have another post up on her actual birthday and it's going to be a really hard one for me to write because my emotions around this big birthday are all over the place.  That's for another time, let me just show you some pics.


I will never have smooth cakes, like never.  I'm determined to continue using and dabbling with fondant but the smooth thing?  Not gonna happen LOL

I guess it's a little mirror of my life, full of wrinkles and bumps but beautiful none the less :)

I kept it very simple, just little flowers but she lovesssss feathers and I had some decorative ones laying around so just popped them on the bottom.


Now here's the all elusive Nick.  This 14 year old boy hates photos and at this point in life pretty much hates social interaction of any kind, so to have him do this was quite unexpected and hilarious LOL

He adores his sister though so he did it for her :)



This is my Jasmine, everything in these pictures capture her essence, and who she is.

Bubbly, fun, colorful, all over the place, living life freely and to the fullest.

What these pictures don't show you is the constant struggle inside, the depression and the anxiety, the over emotional, doubting, questioning turmoil she faces on a daily basis.  But she fights it and she pushes through and she is determined to not let that define who she is.  I'm so proud of her!!!


I have to laugh when I see this picture because this is our life on a daily basis, her expression cracks me up.


Father and daughter, they've had quite a tumultuous relationship.  I think they are very much alike and she reminds him a lot of how he was at her age, which terrifies him lol

They've been doing a lot better the past year, they seem to finally have clicked and even though there's still a little clash once in a while, for the most part they are getting along fine.  It all boils down to her growing up and dad not being ready for that.


Grandpa Ken and Grandma Pat.  How fun are these grandparents?  Hahahah 

I'm so proud of my mother in law, she is battling breast cancer for the second time around, and she's doing wonderfully under the circumstances, I think a big part of it is her unwavering faith.

But yes, we are so thrilled and thankful that she is able to still come to these get togethers :)


Aunt Nita, she is the sweetest lady ever.  We were so happy that she was able to be here with us and smile and laugh.  If you remember, she just lost Uncle Mike a few weeks ago, so to see her smiling means a lot :)


Here's cousin Cindy, Jasmine loves her to death and vice versa.  :)


And we all love this lady hahaha  This is Aunt Carol, my mother in law's sister and Cindy's mother.  She is such a fun person to be around, the kids all love her and we do too.  If you want to enjoy a good card game, she's the person to go to :)


My babies.  Oh my word, they make my heart so proud.  Can you believe she's the big sister? hahahah

They adore each other but can fight like cat and dog.  There are days that it seems the minute they wake up they are at each other's throats, but when it comes down to it, they defend each other, and protect one another and are always together when they can :)


My nephew Colby hahaha  Let me tell you something, when he and Jasmine get together, they're trouble with a capital T.  These two have such a cute bond, they make us laugh so much with their craziness.  Trying to get a serious photo out of them is near impossible.


My brother Miguel and my sister in law Hayley.  If you remember, a while back I told you they moved down to Texas to be near us.  I'm so beyond happy and blessed to have them nearby,  I don't know what my life would be without them.  I have actually been friends with my sister in law for almost 30 years, it's insane, I don't think of her as anything other than my sister :)


I have to share this picture because my daughter wants to move out in a few months and all she's asked for her birthday was things for the home.

I never thought I would be at this stage in my life hahaha  I'm not ready for this at all, and it's so strange seeing her excited about house stuff, but it makes me smile, she's definitely her mama's child all excited about kitchen utensils hahah

So there you go, just a peek at our get together, like I said above, I will have a different post up on Tuesday on her actual birthday.

Right, I'm going to go have a cup of coffee and check on my chicken that is roasting in the oven.  I have been cleaning all day long, first to get things back on track from the party, but I also did all the laundry, cleaned the washer and dryer and the laundry room itself, mopped and swept, cleaned the bathrooms and the turtle tank. 

Now, I'm finally going to sit and rest for a bit before I have to get dinner finished and the table set and dishes washed and all that fun stuff.

I hope you're all having a fantastic weekend.  Hope to see you back for Happy Homemaker Monday in the morning :)

Monday, April 17, 2017

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 04/17/2017 }

Good morning, how are you all doing?

Well a new week is upon us, we are now halfway through April, already. What on earth?
I kind of want to go back to when I was a kid and the days would drag, but only because my kids are growing so fast and I want to slow it all down. But, alas, I can't do that.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend, mine was glorious, lots of family time, good food, and unfortunately a pulled back/neck muscle.  I swear it is always something with me, I can't remember the last time I woke up and was completely fine for the whole day.  Is this a *getting older* thing, cause good gravy, enough already LOL

Anyway, let's get going with our Happy Homemaker Monday for today, and I WILL be by later to see all of yours, I haven't had a chance lately but because I'm literally being forced to slow down and do nothing much all day, I'll be taking advantage of that to come by and say hi :)

The weather:::
Around 3 am we had the craziest storm/lightning/hail ever.  It came completely out of nowhere.  I won't say I didn't like it because truth be told, that's when I sleep the best, when it's pouring outside.  Looks like we'll be sitting with clouds most of the day and the possibility of  a little more rain later.  The rest of the week looks wonderful though with sunshine and upper 80's. 

On my reading pile:::
Diana Gabaldon's Lord John Series.  Also have an insane amount of books to review over the next few months, and when I say insane, I mean INSANE.  I think there's at least 10 coming my way, I'm excited.     

Movies or Shows I watched this weekend:::
I've been absolutely obsessed with the ID Discovery channel and all the crime shows, I don't know why they fascinate me so much, I just find them very interesting to watch.  My TV has been tuned to that channel pretty much nonstop unless one of the kids is playing a game or hubby is watching one of his shows.

On my TV:::
General Hospital
Dr Phil
Fear Thy Neighbor
See no Evil
Murder comes to Town
Reasonable Doubt

This week I'll be trying to catch up on some shows I stopped watching a really long time ago as well as ones I'm currently watching, so here's the list:
Once Upon a Time Seasons 3 through the current one.
Game of Thrones Seasons 2 through the current one.

On the menu for this week:::

Cod Fish Lasagna (Making this one up as I go, trying something new)
Deep Dish Sausage Pizza  
Fettucine with Turkey Sausage, Foccaccia
Spicy Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
Roast Chicken,Potatoes and Butternut Squash 
Jasmine's Birthday Party (Cake, Mini Sandwiches, Taco Ring, Chicken Ring, Frosted Cherry Drops)
Asian BBQ Chicken Legs, Rice

On my to do list:::
Monday - I need to clean up from our Easter get together yesterday.  With my back hurt I don't know how much I'll do or should do, I need to not exacerbate it.
Vet Appointment with Marley - weigh in, getting more heartworm medicine and flea meds
Tuesday - Birthday shopping for my girl
Wednesday - School work with kids, trying to knock out as much as we can
Thursday -
Friday - Bake Cake and cookies for party
Saturday - Jasmine's 18th Birthday get together

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Nuts About Squares is coming together nicely.  I have to make 2 more squares for week 3 sometime over the next few days.  Week 4 will be out on Thursday.

Looking around the house:::
Need to finish picking up the table from Easter meal, there's no food or dishes or anything, but I still have my tablecloth on there so have to put that away and get my usual decorations back on.

From the camera:::
Just a little photo I quickly snapped before Easter meal yesterday.  I need to get better about picking up my camera and recording all these memories, but I get so busy with hosting and cooking and talking and visiting that I often forget to grab the camera.

What I'm wearing today:::
Shorts and a tshirt.  

One of my simple pleasures:::
Picking flowers from my own yard.  The pretty yellow and purple flowers above were from my front yard, they definitely say Spring :) 

Bible verse, Devotional::: 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

{ Five Senses Saturday }


It's been, oh, a long time since I last did a Five Senses Saturday, but I was sitting here on the couch listening to the wind outside and smelling my coffee next to me and remembered that I used to love this feature so much.

It was a way to bring together a full week of sights, sounds, aromas and tastes.  It's quite amazing when you stop and think about it all, you quickly realize that you have so much beauty and deliciousness surrounding you on a day to day basis, but are often too busy to take notice.

So let's do that this morning shall we?  Let's all sit down for a minute or two and jot down what we experienced this past week.



- The pitter patter of rain outside
- Marley playing with a rope

- Wind howling through the fireplace
- My daughter and son yelling excitedly and laughing as they play a video game together

- Birds chirping loudly outside


- Hawks circling across the street in the dense wooded area, makes me wonder what they're after
- Lots of recipes as I browse through my cookbooks for new ideas

- My family enjoying the meal I prepared for them

- My daughter smiling as she talks to her boyfriend

- Marley playing with my husband, they are so cute together


- Marley's soft fur as he lays next to me

- Soft yarn running through my fingers as I crochet

- Hot cup of coffee in the morning

- Bubbles in the sink as I wash the dishes

- The hot steering wheel as I drive down the street


- Coconut creamer in the my coffee
- Hot toast with a slather of butter and tomato and apple jam

- Lemon water

- Sweet Chili Chicken and Rice

- The new Oreo chocolate candy bar


- Lilac dish soap as I wash dishes

- Bread baking in the oven

- My Suave Professional Moroccan Infusion Shampoo
- Cath Kidston Body Lotion

- Wet dog after I gave Marley a bath

Friday, April 14, 2017

{ Rain and Crochet }


It's been a week of rain, taking it easy, and quite a bit of crochet.

Even though the temperatures have been in the 80's, we have had quite a few storms roll on through, which I love, but my husband on the other hand gets frustrated because the grass grows faster, which means more mowing LOL


Usually when we get up at 6am, the sun is starting to come up, but due to the weather it's been quite dark and the other morning was downright foggy.  I do like how it looks though, it makes the house seem cozier and warmer.


I've spent the past few mornings, in the quiet and stillness of the house, crocheting.

Catching up on some projects I have laying around, continuing with new ones and just enjoying the monotonous back and forth of hook and yarn, watching it go from simple knots and pulls through loops into something that sometimes is very reminiscent of a work of art.


I've always found crocheting relaxing and especially during times of craziness or worry or stress, it tends to ground me and keep me in the moment, allowing every negative thought to dissipate from my mind.

What you see above is the third square of the Nuts About Squares blanket.  I am enjoying it so very much, each square is beautiful in it's own way and I can't wait to see it all put together.


In between these squares I'm picking up my Mandala Madness and pushing through.  I'm on row 66 of Part 10 which is a monster of a row to make, not even joking, I feel like I've been stuck on this same row for 10 years.  It is tedious, it takes an insane amount of concentration which I can't always do when I have so many other things going on at once.

But I love this Mandala so much, I'm determined to not set it aside and forget it.


I've also been indulging in the ID Discovery Channel which if you are not aware, is basically a bunch of crime shows, and oh my word, do I enjoy that, maybe a bit more than I should, but I find them so fascinating.

And speaking of which, did any of you watch the Casey Anthony special last week?

I remember watching the trial and the whole story unfold back in 2008, I was glued to the screen watching the trial live and was absolutely shocked when she was found not guilty.  Craziness right there.





This week we've also been working on getting caught up and ahead with school work so that we can maybe finish earlier than anticipated.  To be honest, I'm about done with school at this point in time, and so are the kids.

Jasmine's cap and gown came in for her graduation next month, I can't believe it's almost that time.  My baby girl is graduating high school and starting her life and I am left feeling like she was just 3 years old the other day and I'm nowhere near ready for any of this.  But such is life, right?

We're throwing her an 18th birthday party, she didn't want anything special, matter of fact didn't even want any sort of party but I feel like it's her 18th and it's probably the last one we'll be celebrating with her as a family of 4, so I have to make it a bit of a big deal.

Last week we had a get together for my Nick's 14th Birthday, another one that I'm shocked at how fast he's grown.


That was his cake and believe me when I tell you that everything that could have gone wrong with this cake, went wrong.  I had a really sore finger from a burn as well so I struggled a bit to get it done, but I had to do it for him and he really liked it.  That's all I cared about :)

So, yes, lots of things happening, a lot of events coming up as well as financial commitments we are working through, big things being paid off within the next 2 months and so forth.

We have plans for our yard, things we want to do to it and plant and fix etc.

We have family things planned, cabins at the lake, hopefully camping this summer.  Just living and making the best of every single day.


Tomorrow morning we are heading to our local Farmer's marker, they are having a Spring/Easter themed market day so that should be nice to see, I'll take my camera and grab some photos.

The rest of the day will be spent getting ready for Easter Sunday, I'll be making my usual Hot Cross Buns, also making a Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf, doing laundry, cleaning the house, watching some more crime shows and crocheting.

Sunday we'll be having the family over for Easter Lunch so I'll be sure to take pictures of that as well.

I do hope you all have a blessed wonderful Easter weekend, that you spend it with those you love the most and that above all, you keep in mind the real reason for this holiday. 

We have an amazing God, and every year, around Easter I feel so incredibly blessed, happy and even sad that he had to die for our sins. 

Have a great rest of Friday night friends,