coffee review, part deux

Saturday Morning I was able to sleep in a bit (all the way to 9am) and decided that I would enjoy a nice quiet house with some Vanilla Flavored Coffee with my breakfast. If you are one for flavored coffee (which I am) this was a really nice coffee, not too overpowering with vanilla allowing for more than one cup to be had. hehe. +++3 out of 4 cups+++

Chai Latte.... in my world, a mini vaca to someplace sweet. My mom and I each had a cup (with our Apple Pie A La Mode) on Saturday night. Um, yum! It's got that great chai spice to it, with the creamy latte taste, just a perfect blend of warm happy goodness. This will become a staple in fall/winter. Note to self, limit to one a week... gotta watch the calories with this one. lol. +++4 out of 4 cups+++ (yes, it really is THAT good!)

Sunday morning. I save Mister 'BAM' himself for this special, sacred morning. I was expecting Big and Bold... I mean, it says it right there. Hate to say it, but I was less than impressed. It was a good blend, don't get me wrong... I think 'smoky' was the descriptive word. I'd definitely have another cup, it just wasn't what I was expecting. You know, like when you get sooo excited to see a movie and you leave feeling like everyone talked it up too big and now you're disappointed even though you really liked it. Yeah, that's this coffee. +++2 out of 4 cups+++

fill in the blank friday

1.   One of life's most simple pleasures is    the smell of newborn babies  .

2.    Being late or being made to wait      makes me want to punch someone.

3.  I like   old movies    because,    they make me think of my Dad  .

4.    Moan   is a funny word.

5.  If I had to choose one beauty product to use for the rest of eternity it would be    mascara.

6.  I'm happy that    it's Friday and nearly the (much needed) weekend   .

7.  I would never     eat bugs, or rodents, or bottom-feeders. Yuck!

coffee review

Good Morning and Happy Friday Eve!!

Thursdays are my favorite days... I get to work at my other job, in the 'country' with beautiful mountain views, on a ranch property, with horses and burros... it's so much more relaxing than the city. But, another reason I love it is because my mornings aren't as rushed (takes me less than 20 minutes to get to work) so I have a little time.


For my birthday (this past weekend) the hubs got me this coffee maker I've wanted for so long:
It's pretty much amazing and I pretty much love it! It came with a variety of different coffees and such to try. This morning I'm on cup number two. I thought I'd write down my 'review' (lol, like I'm a professional coffee taster). This is probably more for my benefit than yours (then again, it is my blog, lol). But I'd like to have some place to reference which blends I liked and which I didn't care for.

First up:  
Green Mountain Coffee - Breakfast Blend.... I know that I'm a big fan of breakfast blends, but this one fell short for me. It wasn't the 'wake me up' I was used to with other brands breakfast blends. For me it was too light, almost tea-like. I like a good swift kick in the pants for my first morning cup (especially during the work week). I would probably drink this again, on a weekend morning... a 'sleeping-in-waking-up-late' weekend morning. +++1.5 our of 4 cups+++

Second up:
Green Mountain Coffee - Nantucket Blend.... Much more going on in this cup. Definitely more bodied, and bolder than the Breakfast Blend. Got a bit of an aftertaste that I'm not too sure about, but it's not necessarily a deal-breaker. This would definitely work well for my first morning cup, any day during the week. +++2.5 our of 4 cups+++

Do you have Keurig? Or a favorite coffee blend??

wee bit wednesday

{one} what's your guilty pleasure tv show?
Mad Men, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and Project Runway

{two} ear piercings on men: yes or no?
Mostly Yes
{three} do you have dish or comcast?
I guess comcast... no dish that I know of.
{four} what's your favorite current fashion trend?
Um, I guess long tanks. That's pretty much what I love to wear these days.
{five} if you could learn to do anything, money not being an issue, what would it be?
{six} red or white wine?
{seven} what type of food is your favorite (ex. italian, mexican, etc.)
Aside from sushi, Mexican.
{eight} hp or mac?
HP (or Dell) right now, but strongly considering a Mac.
{nine} what color is your bedroom?
Butter yellow and Deep Red.
{ten} what's your favorite form of exercise?
Yoga, Cycle, and Weight Training

they say it's your birthday

Yep. This this the face of a 31 year old lady who's first year into her 30s was not exactly what I would consider 'kind' or 'easy' but would consider 'long' and 'trying'. But.... at least I've made it here!

I didn't want to celebrate this day. I've actually been kind of dreading it. (Gasp) I know, I know... the princess of all parties didn't want a celebration.... too hard to believe. But given the fact that this is the first birthday with Daddy gone, and Mom is away at a wedding, and all I keep doing is replaying my last years birthday, the two minutes it took me to read my Mom and Dad's card and look over my left shoulder with tears in my eyes and see Daddy sitting there smiling.... yeah, I didn't want to celebrate this year.
But, it is my birthday, and truly an accomplishment for surviving the past year of my life.

I got to wake up to this. A new coffee maker (one that I have been lusting over since my Mom got one a few months back), beautiful Sunflowers (my favorite), and a new Gym bag (super excited about this, much needed as I've been stuffing two pairs of shoes, two changes of clothes, iPod and accessories into a Jansport backpack). I received a handful of sweet cards, a few other small things, and some serious birthday love via Facebook and text messages. (I really do feel the love). We headed out to my new favorite breakfast place, The Good Egg, so I could mow down on some Whole Wheat Pancakes with Protein Powder, Flax Seed, and Blueberries (all mixed into the batter) with real Vermont Maple Syrup, a side of Turkey Sausage and an iced vanilla-flavored coffee. (This is how Yum is defined in my book). We had to run to Wally World and Frys Marketplace for a handful of necessities, then we headed down to IKEA to browse around and get inspired (getting ready to redecorate Bubba's room.... and now perhaps just about every other room in the house, lol). We just got back and the hubs is grilling up some chicken for din-din. Later we'll head over to Twisted Cultures for some fro-yo (yep, I'm spoiling myself with some Cake Batter fro-yo and loading up the toppings, hehe). 

My day has pretty much been all about low key. I don't want a big fuss, I don't want lavish dinners and endless gifts (I realize as I'm typing this that none of it sounds like me). No quick movements. lol. I just want the day to move by, like every other day, except taking note that 31 years ago today I was rushing myself into this world and into the lives of two amazing people who loved each other so incredibly much that they're love just had to multiply. 'Didn't we always say we were the lucky ones'. My sister and I were incredibly lucky. So many others didn't survive, God needed them with him, but he gave my sister and I to our parents, and likewise gave our parents to us. I stop and breathe and recognize that today. 
I am so grateful.
To God, for creating me, for allowing me to be born and breathe and live with free will. So amazing.
To my parents, for guiding me through this life, teaching me the big things and smallest things, and loving me with everything they have and everything that they are. 
To my husband (aka the hubs) for putting up with me this past year, during the chest pains and sudden bursts of tears (today was only three times so far, lol), for my 'I need five minutes' moments, for taking care of things that I fell short on (not a short joke hunny, lol), and for sticking around through all of that all the while still loving me. 
To my kids (aka the chit-lins) for being the light in my life on the darkest of days, for bringing me joy (and even stress) but most of all for the enormous amount of love they give me, every day.
To my friends and family, for listening (always listening) and encouraging me, and keeping me strong and giving me their love; I truly am surrounded by some of the best people in this entire world and for that I am incredibly grateful that they choose to be in my life and apart of me. 

Waterworks over here. lol. I really am happy today. My heart is wide open, it still aches with pain of loss, but is warm with love from all those who surround me. Even you, oh dear blog reader.... you fill my heart too!

Happy Birthday to Me... and Cheers to another (hopefully better) year... bring on number 32! hehe

week one, down

We survived week one of school! 
There always seems to be so much pressure the first week. The kids are understandably nervous. They get to meet their new teacher(s), the class rules get explained to them on day one (they should already know what the school rules are, especially at this age). Then they get thrown right into classwork and assignments on day two. And by the end of the week, on day five, your student has already had their first test(s) and are busy preparing for week two. 
The older they get, the more responsibility is placed on their shoulders. So long are the days when the kids would come home with a homework journal and reading sheet and as a parent you'd have to sign the journal authorizing that you did in fact know that your child has homework and has completed such assignments. You'd also have to log in what books and how long they read for, attached to your initials. Now, they themselves are responsible for getting their homework done and turned in on time. If they don't it's on them and will reflect in their grades. They can turn it in for half credit, but they have to deal with the repercussions in their classroom. My two held their own this first week.
Cameron (my 6th grader) has a teacher who his sister has her 6th grade year. Let me tell you that this is the first time we've ever gotten the same teacher, and what a blessing it is that it happens to be this particular teacher. She was such an amazing and positive influence on Courtney, and I know she will be the same this year with Cameron. She's super caring, strict enough to get the kids working, but lax enough to laugh and have fun and give rewards (which always works well for Cameron). Another plus is that none of Cameron's friends are in his class. Bummer for him, but I'm truly grateful for this. Cameron loves to be funny in class and can get distracted with others, especially friends. I really hope that he sees the benefit in being focused this year. He's a super smart kid and 6th grade is really a big transition year. They're gearing down to start focusing on studies and not so much on playtime (7th grade is bye-bye recess). 
Courtney (my 8th grader) has quite the lineup this year. At the end of last year, she tested and passed to take 9th grade math this year. Only 40 students in her grade did this! (I am So Proud)! So, she spent the summer with her nose in the 8th grade math book and got through the entire thing just before school started. Aside from her excelled math class, she also has Language Arts (which is not her favorite subject), Social Studies (which she says she already really enjoys, but mostly because of the teacher), Science and Computer Applications (she has the same teacher who is really enthusiastic and entertaining in both classes, therefore these are her two favorite classes), and lastly PE (she's one of 5 girls in her class, and last year she was the fastest girl in her class during milage club so she's gonna be working to keep that title). She's so super excited to be an 8th grader because they 'rule the school' and now can call all the 7th graders 'sevies' like she was called last year. She's also super stoked about being able to sit at the back of the bus now. lol
Both kids are happy to be done with week one. Both did extremely well on their tests and got all their homework and classwork assignments turned in on time. We are still working on our new schedule at home. They liked staying up all night during summer and the transition to going to bed and waking up early is taking a little more time for their miniature bodies to get used to. (There were several cranky mornings this week, lol). I think all of us are taking advantage of the 'down time' this weekend and just staying low key, gathering our thoughts and catching our breaths and finding the momentum to start back at it come Monday morning. :-)
Bring on week two, but first.... there might be talk of a birthday.... hmmm.... (hehehe)

new plates

Just in time for my birthday.... my new Personalized License Plates came in the mail!!
Yes, I had personalized plates before this one (HTMOMZ) but I have been wanting the new AZ Cardinals plate for over a year now! So, when I went to renew my registration this year I looked into it. At first I was bummed that I couldn't just get the plate with my same personalization. Well, I could, if I really wanted them badly enough, I could go down to the actual MVD office, take a number and wait for God knows how long to 'apply' for my new-but-same plates. A) Like I have the 'spare time' to hang out at the MVD office and B) I have to admit I'm kinda over the constant stares and harrassing honks and whistles while driving that comes with having the HTMOMZ plates ... kinda gross. So, I decided to change it up. I tried coming up with a few football referenced names... I'm a huge #11 Larry Fitzgerald fan! But after a few failed attempts and really not having my whole heart in it, I knew I wanted something more personal, and probably referencing my Dad in rememberance. I really wanted some version of Sunshine to be my new plate name. (That was my first nickname from Daddy, when I was born he sang 'You Are My Sunshine' to me). But no matter how many different ways I tried to get it spelled out, it just didn't work. I was sad, but then the lightbulb went off. As a kid, Daddy always called me JJ. In fact, around my house I was rarely called Jen or Jennifer. And my mom and sister still sometimes refer to me at JJ. It was a family name only, nobody else (no grandparents or aunts or uncles or friends or even the hubs) used JJ as my nickname. That is how secret-special this name is. hehe. After trying a few different things, this was the one that the hubs and I decided on. DADZJJ. I love it and I couldn't be happier with it! I got my AZ Cardinals plate with a very personalized name in remembrance of one of the most important people in my life! ;-)

fill in the blank friday

1.   My idea of pure perfection would be     oh geez, too early in the morning to answer this question. i'd say sunrise yoga, clean meals all day, reading and crafting, a good sweat, and family  .

2.    Love and Patience       makes the world go 'round.

3.  If it weren't for    chocolate    I'd   be a crazy emotional wreck some days .

4.  Bloggers are   really amazing and super inspiring .

5.  If I had    money to spend    I'd buy MYSELF    a new wardrobe including new shoes, jewelry, and makeup. Oooh, and hats !

6.  I'm glad it's Friday because     I need some down time from such a hectic schedule this past week !

7.  Something I'm excited about is     getting my new license plate (I'll share in another blog post)   .

because inquiring minds want to know...

Been Reading This Book (Again)
Source: via Katy on Pinterest

And Reading (Addicted) This Blog
Reading her journey is absolutely inspiring to me, and I am all about her Recipes and Food Plan

Inspired To Get Some Crafty Going On By This Blog

Obsessed With This DIY Project (MUST DO) From Decor Chick

Treating myself to a massage at Salon Sanctuary today (a little pre-birthday gift)
Source: via Laura on Pinterest

Making 'clean' stuffed bell peppers for dinner tonight (a family favorite)

first day of school

Yes, it is (finally) that time of year again. kids go back to school... life shall resume a semi-normal schedule soon and to be quite honest, I am looking forward to that.

So many small and large details go into the First Day of School.
- Meet The Teacher Night (last Wednesday and Friday nights)
- School Supply Shopping (which includes but not limited too about a hundred composition books, a thousand different color pens and markers and highlighters and colored pencils, about a million pieces of loose leaf paper, and the coolest most trendy backpacks to hold it all in)
- New Clothes and Shoes (for the first day of school, the first week of school, and pretty much the entire first quarter of school. This also includes new undergarmets and socks and maybe just a few pieces of jewelry and or hats and cute hair things)
- Lunch Food (note to self, never, ever, go to the grocery store the day before the first day of school. the deli counter was like standing in line for Splash Mountain at Disneyland)
- Special Breakfast (the kids wanted french toast and bacon and fruit)
- First Day of School Signs (print these out the night before. it's too difficult to try and remember what to write on each sign early in the morning of one of the most stressed out days of the year. lol)

Yes, I consider the First Day of School one of the most stressful days of the year, no matter how much you plan ahead and prepare. My morning went something like this:
Woke up late (wanted to be up before 6am), got in the shower. Planned on a quickie shower but forgot I didn't have time to shave my legs last night so had to do a quick shave this morning causing me to take a nice slice or two on each leg. yay. Get my clothes on, throw on makeup in, like, five minutes (I usually take a good 20 minutes to put on a decent face that wont scare little children). Hair... is getting a brush ran through and air drying. Will probably end up pulling it up later anyway. Get kids up, cheerfully, no stress, just excitement and happiness. Grab purse, grab camera, grab school signs and run downstairs. Yikes, it's already 7am! Suppose to be at Grandma's at 7:30am to make breakfast and take pictures! Okay, don't stress, just breathe. Will make breakfast at home, head to mom's for pictures no later than 745am. Now, when to straighten Courtney's hair... Start batter, throw bacon in pan. Batter first two pieces of french toast. Crap, no cooking spray. Why did I forget that at the store. No worries, use butter. Okay. Place french toast in pan. Decide to straightened Courtney's hair in kitchen. Yes, this will work. I'm a genius! Wait, whats burning... hair, bacon, or toast. Yep, Bacon. Shit. Okay, start over with new bacon. It's okay. I don't need extra bacon in the house anyway. Flip french toast. Looks weird, not used to using butter. Oh well, looks edible. Back to straightening hair. Ask hubby to text sister and mom my plan b. NOW whats burining? French toast! You gotta be kidding me. It's okay. Batter two new pieces and place in pan, lower heat on both french toast and bacon. Flip bacon. Keep an eye on clock. Back to straightening hair. Two minutes. Remove bacon, flip french toast. New bacon in pan, get plates, back to straightening. Two minutes flip bacon, remove french toast to plates, set on table. Get syrup on table. Batter and place two pieces of french toast in pan. Back to straightening. (Hey, I'm getting this down. Just breathe, nothing to stress about, everything'll get done). Drama on the text messages of plan b. (I know, should have done it myself.) Stop everything, text sister. Remove bacon, add last pieces of bacon to pan. Flip french toast. Read text message, send new message. Back to straightening (goodness, this child has alot of hair). Flip bacon, take out french toast and add it to plates on table. Back to straightening. Remove bacon. Turn off stove. Finish straightening. Kids to eat at the table. Now to clean up kitchen and make my breakfast (4oz greek yogurt, wash and cut strawberries, add sliced almonds). Sit and eat (quickly). 735am. Okay. Grab kids lunches. Grab leftover dinner and protein shakes (thank goodness the hubs makes these in advanced) grab water bottle, put all in my lunch bag. Kids get in car. Haven't heard back from sister. Call Mom. (Apparently my plan b offended mom and sister and now sister wont answer phone and mom is in tears). Okay. Just breathe. No stress, remember. Keep it together. Onto plan c. What is plan c. Crap. Panicking. Breathe. Okay, kids out of car. We'll do first day photos here. Get signs, and smile. Cheese. Click, click, click, click. Preteen is upset because family doesn't want to see her (not the case, she just takes it personally. Again... preteen=hormonal). Try to cheer preteen up (pretty much impossible). Okay, no more pictures. Go inside, finish cleaning kitchen. Kids will now ride bus to school. This upsets preteen even more, and now the brother is having an attitude about this. Sit them down, hug them, tell them I love them, tell them everything will be okay, tell them that they will have a great day and that they are amazing and resilient and I can't wait for dinnertime to hear all about each of their day. Smiles return. Kisses. Grab lunch and I'm out the door, headed to work. It's now 8am.

I know that the first day of school morning is always incredibly stressful, and I did my very best to stay cool and calm and collected. Just because things don't go as planned, doesn't mean that everything is ruined. Both of my kids have mixed emotions of going back to school, as do I. There is an excitement of seeing friends, and getting back into a routine. But there is also a nervousness to meeting new teachers, learning new things, trying not to feel overwhelmed with the mountain-load of homework that these kids will be coming home with (especially my 8th grader). The anxiety that my kids feel, I feel as well. It's difficult as a mother to send them off to another year of school and not be emotionally affected by this. And the emotions just add to the chaos of the morning. Everyone is on edge a bit... kids, parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, etc. But the first day of school is all about the kids! Keeping them and what is best for them in focus at all times. I wanted to make sure my kids had a cool and calm morning, they were already so nervous and excited and anxious. Things sometimes get crazy and busy and stressed, and very rarely actually go as planned. As you can tell, our morning went a little this way, but we recovered. Most importantly, I sat them down to talk and communicate to them my intentions and my hopes for them, and above all, make sure they know how much I love them! And I really do, they are my world (just like my sister and I were the world to my Mom and Dad). 

me :: a-z

Saw this on Casey Wiegand's blog and thought I'd play along! Looks fun!

A. age :: thirty

B. bed size :: queen (like me, lol)

C. chore you hate :: cleaning the bathroom

D. dog :: Gunner (chocolate lab ret)

E. essential start to your day :: greek yogurt with fresh berries

F. favorite color :: pink

G. gold or silver :: gold

H. height :: five feet six inches

I. instruments you play :: piano

J. job title :: mama, wife, daughter, sister, friend, paperwork princess

K. kids :: two. sissy and bubba

L. live :: north phoenix

M. maiden name :: Carlton

N. nicknames :: Jen, Hot Mama, JJ, Sunshine

O. overnight hospital stays :: three times, twice with babies, once with ruptured ovarian cyst

P. pet peeve :: people who smoke in their car with children

Q. quote ::
 "in this lifetime, nothing is impossible"

R. righty or lefty :: lefty

S. siblings :: one younger sista, Lisa

T. time you wake up :: 6-630am

U. university attended :: university of momhood

V. vegetables you dislike: cauliflower

W. what makes you run late :: other people, grrrrr.

X. x-rays you’ve had :: spine (you know, i got the scoliosis)

Y. yummy food :: sushi, homemade mexican, chocolate

Z. zoo animal favorite :: flamingos

fill in the blank friday

1.   My most favorite birthday was       my 30th birthday (last year). Sprinkles Cupcakes, lots of pink and black, chocolate fondue, a new dress, dancing. All good things. But most of all, reading my birthday card from Mom and Daddy, tearing up, and looking over my left shoulder at Daddy sitting on the arm of my couch, and telling him that his words made me cry and thank you. (He wrote 'I Love Being Your Dad And Am So Proud Of You')  .

2.  My worst birthday was    Hmmm, maybe my 16th when my boyfriend (now husband) broke up with me. lol.  But my best girlfriends threw me an amazing party, and all worked out in the end. lol .

3.  My favorite birthday memory is     Getting a bouquet of red roses on my 16th birthday from my Dad (he was out of town)(that was the first time I ever got flowers delivered to me, ever!)  .

4.  The best birthday present I've ever received was   Um, my daughter? lol. She was born two weeks after my 18th birthday. lol. Aside from that, probably my car (Lexi) in 2007 (or was it 2008... wow, can't remember. lol) .

5.  The  best birthday present I've ever given was      a surprise party for the hubs (then boyfriend and baby-daddy)'s 21st birthday .

6.  Birthdays are       pretty much amazing. I usually celebrate for at least a week, but this year seems different. Of course it is. Daddy's not here. And my Mom will be out of town, so really, I just want it to move on by. I don't know, maybe we'll do dinner or something, but not nearly as excited about it as I usually am   .

7.  My favorite age so far has been       not 30! ha! And not because it's the crossover into 'adulthood' from the sometimes risque 20s, but it's just been a really, Really tough year. If I had to pick, it'd probably be some time when I was a kid, pre-18, when I had no responsibilities or cares or fears, just pure juvenile freedom, lol . 

Play along at Lauren's!

i've fallen in love

Friday, August 5, 2011 two angels entered our world. Two sweet, and perfect souls were sent to two incredible and deserving parents. God answers prayers, diligent and unwavering prayers. And God is Good!

Rocco Ottomar was born at 5:44pm weighing 5 pounds and 15 ounces and 17.5 inches long. 
Lillian Suzanne was born at 5:45pm weighing 5 pounds 5 ounces and 18 inches long.

I was blessed to spend their 18th hour through their 29th hour of life with them. And again their second day. I spent hours upon hours just holding each sweet bundle of joy, creating and nurturing a bond between us. It was so difficult to leave these two angels and head back to AZ (they were in CA). I told the hubs we MUST get Skype asap!! I am planning to give the new family some time to settle in and find their new life, but will be visiting and bringing the hubs an the chitlins to meet the sweet angels very very soon.

Congratulations SuzyQ and Eric. You are wonderful, amazing, and blessed parents. Love you so much!!

fill in the blank friday

hi folks! it's a crazy busy friday her  in Jen-land! i'm awaiting 'the call' for baby watch 2011. there is a good chance today is the day (and it's a 5 hour drive back to CA for me). if i'm not SoCal-bound, the kids have haircut appointments with Red at Salon Sanctuary, then Cycle class followed by Gentle Yoga. Oh, and Mom comes back into town today. Whew. Lots and lots to get done. So I'd better get going on this FITBF and get to my A/P and A/R sitting on my desk. hehe

1.   My go to outfit for a dress-up occasion like a wedding is       probably a dress. I've got several to choose from, nothing that screams 'Wear Me', but something to get me by. lol  .

2.  This week has been    busy and full of anticipation. sooo ready to meet those angel babies... just waiting for the call .

3.  When it's dinnertime and I'm feeling lazy I'll usually eat     greek yogurt with berries and slivered almonds, or whatever is leftover .

4.  My favorite pair of shoes is   ugh! just one! that's like asking me to choose a favorite child, can't do it. right now, my fav pair is by Dollhouse (black pump with heel to ankle zipper and chains for ankle straps) .

5.  A random item that I own that is completely unnecessary, but that I could never part with is      oh geez, I know I have plenty of these things, I just can't think of any. Probably the halter outfit I wore on my 16th birthday. I've saved it all these years. I only wore it twice. I can't seem to get rid of it. lol  .

6.  My favorite person is      myself! lol. I can't choose between my mom, the hubs, my sis, the kids... all the above please. and of course, daddy.  .

7.  If I were going to write my own blank it would say       My Sweetest Indulgence is...  . 

Link Up At Laurens!
© something Big is coming...
Maira Gall