Bullocks with Butterflie Wings

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

Posted in Uncategorized by MommyTaco on 7 January 2014

I know it has been forever since I blogged, but I am sure you will all forgive me by the time this post is done. Homeschooling has taken up nearly all of my time. We may or may not have found a solution (no, he is not going back to a classroom), but it is too early to tell. The last two days were ideal though, leaving me with free time to finally accomplish a long desired project: home made granola bars. I have a serious addiction to Fiber One bars, and want to make my own where I know exactly what is going into them and am not spending an arm and a leg on something I can make myself!

I tried a recipe a few months ago involving pumpkin, for the holiday pumpkin craze, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for and I didn’t have time to experiment again. The ones I made today, however, are spot-on. They came out thin, and I was left wanting a thicker bar, but that was probably just the fat girl in me wanting more cake. These are superb, and I am definitely making these again, and will be trying out different fillers as I go.

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Chewy Chocolate Coconut Granola Bars

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup rice crispies
3/4 cup oat flour (if you do not have, simply grind up rolled oats in a food processor until for you a flour texture, then measure out what you need)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 TBS Splenda baking blend
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a bar pan/cookie sheet with parchment paper, leaving excess paper folded up over edges. This will be your best friend for the cooling process! Also, set out two cookie cooling racks next to each other, you need a space big enough for a bar pan/cookie sheet to fit.
2. In large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, finishing with chocolate chips and coconut.
3. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients.
4. Fold wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.
5. Empty mixture onto the pan and spread out with spatula, as evenly as possible. Take another piece of parchment paper, or saran wrap and lay on top of the mixture. Press firmly all over to form the conpressed bars. Use a rolling pin if you’d like – you seriously want to sqush it hard to press it all together – this will help keep them from falling apart. 
6. Remove extra parment paper or saran wrap and bake for 18 minutes, then replace parchment and press again to re-compact (be sure to keep a pot holder between you and the parchment, if you are using your hands!
7. Lift the bottom parchment paper carefully from the pan and place on cooling racks. Cool completely before cutting. Cut however big you want, mine cut out to 24 bars. Store in freezer or refrigerator. I put pieces of parchment between them to keep them from sticking to each other.

Try not to eat them all at once, and don’t forget to share with your friends.

Here’s Your Sign

Posted in blogging, homeschooling, Korea, military, parenting by MommyTaco on 20 July 2013

I realize that I have not posted much (any) in relation to our new homeschooling venture. We decided, based on a plethora of reasons, for me to homeschool our son while we are stationed overseas. Whether this will continue when we go back to the States is still completely up in the air, just so you all know.

Our son is extremely bright, and he learns new things quite rapidly. I know that if his mind is not being challenged, then he is almost lost to me, from a concentration standpoint. I was thinking over the weekend what I could do to help expand his horizons -and talents- even further, and incorporate this into our homeschooling plans.

When he was a baby, we did the baby sign language “thing.” I can actually give my Mom full credit to this, as she is the one who started it. During my husband’s deployment to Iraq, I had the blessing of still living in my hometown. This meant I could keep working, and between an alternative work schedule and my awesome family, I did not have to use daycare for our then nine-month-old. My Mom is a PBS nut, and in turn, raised my sister and I into the same, so since she had the “morning shift,” she would watch Sesame Street and whatnot with The Boy. At the time, the local station was also airing a fantastic show called “Signing Time with Alex and Leela (sp?)” by Rachel Coleman. The show features two deaf children, and Rachel teaches themed words put to songs.

Now we’ve always been interested in signing, but never really studied it. I began to see the cool factor in being able to actually communicate with your child before they can speak with their mouths. I am now a firm believer in that it made an impact on our son’s early vocabulary growth, and even on into his ability to read at three-years-old.

I really don’t remember what brought it up, but he was asking me how to sign a specific letter over the weekend, so I showed him the ASL alphabet a few times. I decided that this is something to explore more and see how far we can go with it, so I printed out an ASL ABC’s and number chart to hang on the refrigerator. This was yesterday…and then to my delight, I walked into the kitchen and saw this…

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(practicing the letter P)

He was challenging himself to see which letters and numbers he had remembered! It was really cool to stumble upon, after only one day, and I definitely felt like a proud Mama!

I have decided that we are going to start using sign language with our spelling assignments. We’ll spell verbally and use signing during the week, then have our tests in written form like usual on Fridays. Once he has mastered the alphabet, we’ll start learning some other signs that corelate to either his weekly memory verse or poems. I am pretty excited to see how far we can go with this!

Korean Scooby Snacks: Volume 1

Posted in blogging, food, Korea, travel by MommyTaco on 28 June 2013

Today, after I dropped The Boy off for his Hapkido lessons, I stopped by the local 마트 [“ma-tuh”] (mart) for some trash bags and an afternoon snack. I have really taken a liking to browsing these mini convenience stores for some tasty treats and hit the nail on the head with today’s finds. I decided that while I enjoy my snacks, and my hour and a half of kid-free time, I’ll share this moment of zen with you all.

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On the left, we have some cream-filled cookies. Pretty much your basic shortbread cookie, but the filling is PINEAPPLE flavored! YUM! I wish I could give an exact name for them, but all I got out of a Google Translate was 롯데샌드 오리지널 [“los-de-saen-deu o-li-ji-neol”] would be the brand Lotte Sand (sandwich cookie?), Original (flavor). They are pretty tastey and come with two small packs of 6 cookies inside. I find the packaging to be helpful, so that I don’t accidentally (HAHAHA!!!) eat all 12 cookies at once. Because you know I would.

In the middle is the famous (in Korea?) Milkis drink. You can pretty much find this all over the place, including the 1970s looking vending machines which holds super small (for American standards) cans of beverages. Milkis is a carbonated beverage that is made with a touch of milk. There’s a variety of flavors, and I really need to find the fruit flavored ones, but I am officially renaming this Korean Baptist Punch, because it tastes just like Baptist Punch!!! (!!!!) If you don’t know what Baptist Punch is, that’s because it’s another name I made up for “punch” aka frozen sorbet mixed with Sprite, which melts into this creamy delicious carbonated concoction. I don’t think it really has an official recipe name, so I call it Baptist Punch, because it is usually the default beverage at all events hosted by Baptists (baby showers, bridal showers, weddings and anniversary celebrations). On a side note: it is one of my favorite drinks, we even served it at our wedding and I make my own single servings of it in a glass every year for our anniversary. NOM! Now I don’t have to do that for the next two years, because I can buy it in a bottle!

The next item, on the right, are pretty much puffed potato sticks. That’s all I got. Sounds pretty boring when you compare them against the other two items, but they are lightly seasoned, and pretty tasty.

ImageFinally, I thought I’d also show you what I got for The Boy for a post-hapkido snack, so you don’t think that I’m keeping all of these treats to myself. So here is a picture of 바나나우유 [“pa-na-na u-yu”] (banana milk). The u-yu (milk) here is delicious, so far I have found pa-na-na (banana) and dal-gi (strawberry) flavors. I am not sure if they have any other flavors, but there are also these really cute miniature bottles that are like yogurt smoothies. When I say little, I really mean little. I’ll try to get some of those for the next Scooby Snacks post. So the u-yu comes in containers that you don’t actually open. It has a foil seal on the top, and you get a small straw (aka glorified coffee stir-stick with a pointy end…er…not far off from a Capri-Sun straw) and jab it through the foil. Pictured with it is the other/second pack of “original flavored cookies” that I was good and did not devour.

Sweaty Cash

Posted in Korea, military by MommyTaco on 20 June 2013

ImageHere’s a ridiculous picture I took of me fanning myself off with some Korean money. I just got home from exchanging some cash (the exchange rate is higher today than usual!). While sweating it out on the walk home, I was feeling quite proud of myself with my new found language skills. I can successfully ask for a 50,000₩ note (o-man won)  to be changed into five 10,000₩ notes (man won)! Actually, I can also ask for a 1,000₩ note (il-ch’on won) to be changed into ten 100₩ coins (paek won), too. I took my mad Korean Language Class skills that I learned from the class at ACS (Army Community Service, for those non-Army folk) and put them to good use a few weeks ago. Around here, you never want to go to the market with a 50,000₩ bill, because you’re not likely to find someone who can make change for it when you’re just paying a few thousand won for an item. They also seem to find it a big inconvenience. So I try to keep the big money for the bills only.

So…it’s getting hot here, and quite humid, as you’ll also note from the layer of sweat shine on my forehead and nose. Monsoon season is upon us, so we’re pretty much going around with a constant feeling of yuck on our skins. Remember all those times I said I was tired of living in the desert? Well I take it back, for the next couple of years. Until we retire in the glorious mountains of either Colorado or Washington states, I doubt I’ll ever stop complaining about the type of weather we’re living in.

That’s all of the big news around here for now. I’ve had other things I want to blog about, but at the time the idea comes up, I either am busy doing something else, or busy doing something else. I get about 1.5 hours of free time each day during the week, thanks to the joys of homeschooling. That is dripping with sarcasm like my husband’s PT shirt drips with sweat (gross!). Really, I suppose the homeschooling is going well…I haven’t given up yet…but there’s a long way to go for us figuring out our routine. Unfortunately, I’m a person who wants instant results, and the rollercoaster good days vs. bad days does not encourage me one single bit. But I am still completely sold on the decision to be doing it, and am looking forward to the options I have for tweaking our routine up for the summer time.

Mail Call – *MY* Side of the Story

Posted in blogging, Korea, marriage, military, parenting by MommyTaco on 29 March 2013

I started to post this on Facebook, sharing a photo my husband uploaded today, but it got to be so long of a post that I decided I should just turn it into a blog. I haven’t blogged in a few days either….two birds, one stone. Also, this is one of those moments we will both look back upon and laugh with each other. Guaranteed….

There is never a dull moment for our family. This morning, we walked to post to catch the Saturday mail room hours, PX and Commissary. Taco hit the mailroom while Sid and I did the shopping. We found him at the bus stop next to Gate 4 pissed off at me with two giant boxes (The Boy’s homeschool materials already arrived!) and a Priority mail box (thanks, Mom!) and showed me where, for carrying sake, he had already opened my box of Scentsy Scent Paks and had shoved them in his pants, along with a DVD from his parents. Judging by the look on his face, he was pretty pissed at me, but all he said was to order in moderation from now on, and he’s never picking up mail for me again. When asked why he didn’t call a taxi, he said “it’s just down the street” to our house. So I struggled with a power transformer and two full hands of grocery sacks down the street with The Boy complaining that his bag from the PX containing his newly purchased DS game (bought with his own money that he has been saving from his allowance) and a bottle of water was getting too heavy. Apparently we are going to have to start some type of muscle building routine into his Homeschool/PE time.

Taco was offered a ride from one of his fellow Soldiers who saw us coming out of the gate, but declined as, “it’s just down the street.” We each stopped a few times, to readjust the weight around and give our arms a break, and I got far enough ahead of Taco that I couldn’t really see him anymore. Just as we reached the street corner of by our house, I met up with a new acquaintance – the pastor’s wife for a church that we have been invited to attend for Easter Service and potluck lunch. So I chatted with her for a while about the predicament and assured we’d see each other tomorrow morning. As I climbed the stairs to our house, I decided that it would be very kind of me to drop the groceries off inside the kitchen and return to help my struggling husband. One of these boxes weighed nearly 50lbs, and they were really big and awkward. I really did feel bad.

As I reached to put the key in the door, I saw a car drive up, it’s driver a Korean man smirking in what I assumed to be contained laughter. Then out climbs my husband from the passenger seat. He apparently was offered another ride home, and by then, he decided it was not worth declining a second time. As he unloaded the stash from his pants, I asked again, “why didn’t you get a taxi??” His reply, “because I only had two dollars in my wallet!!”

I had money on me, we could have called a cab at the bus stop, if only he’d said so before. But maybe he has learned now to always keep at least 4 Korean Won in his wallet at all times – it’s just enough to get you from post to our house.

I would also like to add that my husband knows how very much I love him and how very much I love to pick on him. Like my Granddad always told me, he most of all liked to pick on the ones that he loves most of all.🙂

Never Give Up

Posted in cooking, food, Korea, military by MommyTaco on 17 March 2013

894900_10151281703917035_1691354965_oFor the most part, this past week was one of those that I’d prefer to forget ever happened, rather than write down in any type of journal. I was full of all types of emotional instability, sprouting from a difficult start on homeschooling on Monday. Add in the fact that my husband was gone all week with work, our first week in our new home, and a whole lot of feeling lonely and sorry for myself. I was badly missing my friends that would always be there to cheer me up whenever he was gone. I’m not going to lie to you, I flat out lost it on Monday. I was a mess.

Finally, on Thursday, good things had started to happen and I was starting to feel mostly better. I also had something to look forward to that day: Pie Day! (March 14th, 3/14, aka Pi Day) For Pie Day, I planned to use my new Korean oven for the first time and bake a cherry pie. It required minimal effort, minimal ingredients – all of which I can find at our minimal commissary – and resulted in a whole lot of awesome. I even went the extra mile and bought some vanilla bean ice cream to go along with it. Hey, it was a rough week, I definitely earned the extra treat.

Now let me start out by emphasizing the fact that not only are things different here in Korea culturally, but stuff flat out works differently. For some reason, I was having some severe issues getting the oven to stay on. I knew it couldn’t possibly be that the pilot light was out, because in Korea they have a gas line that you manually turn on/off to your stove when you are/not using it – for safety! So there is no way a pilot light would stay on when the fuel supply is off…it’s got to be an electric starter. On this oven, you push the temp knob just like you do starting one of the stove top flames. I could hear it click, I could hear the whoosh of the gas catching fire, but as soon as I let go of the knob, it went out. So frustrating!!

I gave up, paced the house in disappointment, and told my son we weren’t going to have pie after all. I’m not sure which of us was more disappointed. I tried once more on the oven, willing the stupid thing to work – and like a gift from God, it stayed on! I danced a jig in sheer delight and began my pie preparations. I had already thawed my frozen pie crust, so I grabbed my $3.99 can opener I’d purchased in the commissary along with the cans of cherry. It was one of those cheap metal can openers that practically cut your hand as much as the can when you crank that awful metal handle. I didn’t want to buy a regular one for $6.99 when I have a perfectly good can opener coming with our household goods in just a few weeks.

One crank on the can opener, good. Two cranks – SNAP!!! It broke. Naturally. The small piece of metal that causes the can to rotate when you crank it had gone flying across my dining room. It was now completely useless to me. Naturally. It just completely fit in with the crappy week I’d already had. I was devastated. I really didn’t feel like going out of the house again to buy a new one, but 1) I really wanted that pie and 2) I couldn’t just leave the can with a 1/4″ hole punctured in it.

So I started looking around for my husband’s trusty gerber, which I have been using in the past two moonths to knife open cans since I didn’t want to buy that $3.99 can opener in the first place. I couldn’t find the gerber anywhere, Taco was still not coming home for two more days, and I couldn’t call to ask where the gerber was. So I tested out a butter knife. I really didn’t think I’d have much luck, but I actually sawed 1/3 of the way around the can before I started to wonder if I was getting aluminum shavings into the pie filling. Also, my hand was starting to seize in a cramp from holding the butter knife like that for so long. I gave up, told my son to get his shoes on – we were going to the PX for a $6.99 can opener. And, not wanting to risk house fire, I turned off the oven, praying it would start up again when we got back.

We went to the PX, got the can opener, made a last minute decision on a bottle of non-ration-controlled wine that I was going to drink all by myself dagnabit, and headed home. Before we even left post, I decided that the frozen lasagna I’d planned for dinner could kiss my you-know-what and we were going to have chicken fried rice and cheesy ramen at our favorite Korean restaurant instead.

Afterwards, we went home and I started the oven after the 4th attempt. I finished the whole bottle of wine before the pie was done. By then, it was way past our bed time, I was too tired to wait for the pie to cool off and decided that we would just have it for breakfast the next day. It was, after all, still Pie Day in America.

Parking Wars

Posted in military, moving by MommyTaco on 14 March 2013

Parking Wars

First of all: I live in Korea! WOAH! That pill has been swallowed, and – while bittersweet – the lump is starting to dissolve and we are slowly integrating into our new surroundings. Here is one of  the experience I feel worth documenting as my first “In Korea” blog post.

Between 0730-0800 is one of my new favorite times of day. Here in our new home, our livingroom window faces the parking lot of an apartment complex. It is a little hard to see, thanks to the window fence and power pole. (Click it, make it bigger!) There are some cars that are parked blocking other cars into their parking spaces. This, of course, is because there are not enough spots for everyone that lives there. I have never seen anything like this before. Where I come from, if you blocked a car in, you’d have half the neighborhood having their doors banged down until someone finds you to over your car. In Korea, they park it in neutral and whoever is blocked in just moves the car forward/backward so they are no longer blocked. This leads to a pretty entertaining morning as everyone seems to be leaving for school/work at the same time!

Also, check out the small distance left between the cars parked in the middle. Not a lot of room to pull out of your space and be able to turn and drive out, right? They can take what would be a 15-point turn around and knock it out in 3 or less! Something I have noticed in my Parking Wars watching is that Koreans are excellent at backing up their cars. They may not have a positive reputation for many things when it comes to vehicle operation, but I’ve got to give it to them – these people can reverse like it’s going out of style!

So that’s it…my first of what I hope to be many documentations of our new life. So far things are actually going pretty great, aside from missing friends/family like always. But no matter where in the world we go, we know we’ve got lots of love coming our way – and just remember, there’s a whole lot of love coming right back at you from us!❤

“God spoke to me today, while I was doing laundry.” – me

Posted in Uncategorized by MommyTaco on 22 December 2012

“God spoke to me today, while I was doing laundry.”

I realize that at times, things I say come across as fairly random, with a touch of sarcasm and wit. This thought I had today has inspired me for the first blog post in… I think nearly two years.

Things have obviously been pretty busy around here, and my social media life has all but fizzled to nothing. You know how much I love the internet and keeping in touch with lots and lots of friends, but there really hasn’t been the time to – and more often of late, no desire.
 It’s starting to get even busier around here, as our family is preparing for our first “real” military PCS move. I call it our first “real” one, since relocating to Ft Bliss/El Paso was really just moving the family to our first duty station with the Army. Beyond that, it’s just been house-swap moving, and lots of it. This is the first house we have spent more than 18 months living in, and I am actually going to miss it.

In preparation for a huge move, I’ve started sorting through stuff in our garage. The bulk of it is old clothes that I planned on fitting into shortly after I was pregnant with our son. Also, there is every single piece of baby clothes that I had for our son, from birth to about 3 years old. I planned on having re-purposed them by now, not them still in a tote nearly 7 years later. Which brings up the sore-subject of the miscarriage I suffered from at the beginning of this year.

I started dwelling on the fact that we would have been getting ready to celebrate our baby’s first Christmas. At this time last year, we had just found out we were pregnant and had our first (and only) ultrasound just two days after Christmas. Talk about an exciting time along with the wonderful feeling of Christmas!

I have decided to sort through the bins and take a lot of things to donations. We won’t be able to take all of our stuff with us when we move, so I have to make sure we are not taking more than necessary. Also, I would like to make sure the things that go into storage are things that we really will need or use in the next 2-3 years. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee we will get pregnant while we are gone, so we are not taking all of the baby clothes – there is just too much. And on the off chance we do have a baby while we are gone, we will have to buy new clothes anyway. So instead of storing it for “maybe” for the next few years, we are going to give it to those who have a need for it now.

As I was emptying out another tub of baby clothes into the washing machine, I started to dwell on the fact that most of the clothes I was holding are the sizes that our baby would have been just beginning to wear. I subsequently began to bawl my eyes out.

But then, I had a sense of calm come over me, and a thought came into my head – “You *WILL* hold her one day.” Now I have never been in the presence of a burning bush, so I have not had any great Biblical style experiences of hearing God speak to me. But I truly believe that He was speaking to me in that moment. For the past 11 months, I have suffered the question of whether I will ever hold another of my children in my arms. And what happens to our babies when they are taken from us too soon – is it for ever or do we get second chances with them? And I feel like that question was answered for me today.

In that moment, I have been given hope. I have had amazing opportunities brought to me this year, which I would not have been able to consider if things had gone differently. And now, our family is getting ready for an amazing adventure. But I know that one day one of the adventures our family will be experiencing is the welcoming of a new family member. I can’t wait to meet her.

catching up?

Posted in Uncategorized by MommyTaco on 7 July 2011

Wow, I can’t believe it has been over 6 months since I have blogged. Obviously, a lot has gone on already this year.

Taco returned safely home from his deployment in early February. We’ve gone on TWO block leaves – the first one being jump-started by having to leave town early to detour through to central Texas for my Grannie’s funeral. Then we headed west to spend a couple of weeks with family in California. While there, my Mom’s brother passed away very unexpectedly. That was a rough trip, but we did have good times. We even went to Disneyland – both mine & the Boy’s first time – and we got to meet Mickey!

For our second block leave, Taco and I decided to take some time for ourselves. After a long year of being separated, we were very excited at the thought of time spent with just the two of us. So we finally took our honeymoon – almost 6 years post-nuptuals! We spent a whole week in beautiful Daytona Beach, Florida. My Mom and Sister were awesome enough to take the Boy for a week and a half. I know he enjoyed his summer vacation just as much as we did!

All this other time has been spent just trying to catch up with life. Some days, I still feel like I’m adjusting to having my husband home again. I have yet to find my groove of getting things done around the house. I’m just so exhausted, it is so hard to find motivation for anything. I also get tired of sitting at the computer, so I’m totally behind on everything else going on in this world.

This Stella needs her groove back.

best of 2010

Posted in blogging, concerts, deployment, military, parenting by MommyTaco on 30 December 2010

My BFF MeganDubYuh is starting up a nifty little End of Year meme that I wanted to be sure to participate in. Here’s the deets for you to follow along:

“It is so easy to focus on the negative things in our life. Let’s all take a minute to talk about the best moments of 2010. In the five categories below list out your #1 from 2010. Post it on your blog and link back to this post (and post to Mr. Linky at the end of the post). We can use this as a blog hop and to review the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century.

The categories:

Best song to sing along to in the car.
Best movie.
Best TV show.
Best website to waste time on.
Best memory you made.

My Answers:
Best song to sing along to in the car
hard to pick a Best song, but the most frequently listened to was “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas – Sidney absolutely LOVES that song and would request it for each of our MANY road trips

Best movie.
Toy Story 3

Best TV show
What Would Brian Boitano Cook? (thanks @ajuribe for the super laugh-fest recommendation!)

Best website to waste time on
Facebook. Seriously, I couldn’t begin to tell you how much time I’ve wasted on there.

Best memory you made
There’s no #1 best but here’s a few amazing memories that were made: first official deployment ceremony, sending off my man;
becoming a Scentsy Independent Consultant;
road tripping from NM to WA w/ my BF MeganDubYuh;
the ups and downs of R&R;
visiting my high school BFF for the first time in 9 years;
seeing The Black Crowes for a second time – woo!;
meeting some of my Tweeps, @sara0120, @ajuribe, @tammymunson and @armywifebethany;
making friends with some of the lovely other spouses of Taco’s unit, and the Twitter MilSpouse community…and finding that we really can make it through one of the most difficult events of our lives

I must say, this year has not been a boring one!