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All Summer and No Plans Makes Mommy a Dull Girl (AKA crazy)

7 Jun

The other day when I awoke I thought about the ten errands I needed to run and started planning my day in my head, when I immediately stopped my thought process. How the heck am I going to grocery shop with the kids??? An awful picture immediately flashed before my eyes of kids fighting in the grocery cart, whining for toys, crying because they didn’t get their choice of a sugary-filled breakfast…and so on and so forth.

When both of your kids are in school full-time you become pretty spoiled when it comes to making those quick trips here or there. The best way to get kids out of the house and mommies back into the world of sanity are camps. After the camps run out (or the money) we always tend to hit our favorite, local spots. Killeen Independent School District is very good at sending flyers home toward the end of the year with numerous camps available throughout the summer. Along with what you will get in your child’s folder, below you will find a few other camps we have utilized over our time or other random places you can take them when you are looking for some good, nearby fun. The links will take you directly to the summer activities/schedules. Good luck parents and stay sane!!!

University of Mary Hardin Baylor  – camps including art and music, sports and swim lessons

Texas Tumblers – kind of like a day care, but they make it fun with weekly, themed camps. My son went during the science week and part of his adventures was going to Inner Space Caverns.

Wazoo’s Indoor Inflatable Play Center – Perfect for a hot day!!! It will wear them out!

Lions Junction Family Water Park – Temple

Summer Fun Water Park – Belton

Salado Creek – (pictured above) This is a wonderful place my kids love to go. The link will take you to Pace Park which is a public park in Salado. If you drive just past the park, you will see a public parking space and just beyond that…the creek. Take some lawn chairs, some rafts and watch your kiddos enjoy one of my favorite childhood pasttimes…floating the creek!  We also took nets to catch minnows. Be sure they wear some rubber-soled,river shoes…the rocks can get slippery!

Summer Vacation Bible Schools

7 Jun

 

If you couldn’t already tell by the 100-plus temps in Killeen, Texas…SUMMER IS OFFICIALLY ON!

Luckily, there are a ton of things this town offers to keep your little ones busy and to keep you from going insane the next three months. One of my kiddos’ favorite things is to attend some sort of Vacation Bible School. We have attended one every year since we’ve been here and they still remember all their songs, friends and fun that they made at each one.

 

I have found two VBS programs. They happen in the next few weeks….so register ASAP if you want to take part.

 

1. First Baptist Killeen  – VBS this year  is June 13-17, 9 am – noon. There theme is “Big Apple Adventure”.  Cost is free. You can register your children online. They must be 4 years of age at the time or about to start fifth grade year.

2. Grace Lutheran – VBS this year is June 27 – July 1, 9 am – noon. They don’t have any information online about this year’s program, but my children went last year and enjoyed it very much. Last year, they asked parents to make a $5 donation to help with snacks for the program. You must register at the church office which is open Monday-Friday 9:30-3:30.

My favorite vegetarian meal…

22 May

I have a friend coming over who has recently gave up meat….cold turkey (nopun intended!) She’s coming over for a pool-side barbecue and of course, my first instinct is to grab the hot dogs and burgers for the grill. Since today is already overcast with a pretty good chance of thunderstorms…I decided to crack open the old cookbook and ran across one of my favorite recipes…Black Bean Lasagna. I rarely get to cook it though because when lasagna is mentioned in this house, if it doesn’t include some form of meat…it’s just not my hubby’s cup of tea. Luckily, hubby is TDY!!!   That means, I get to make this veggie meal without an ounce of meaty guilty. (yeah for me!!!)

 I’m super stoked to cook this today and enjoy some good conversation with an old friend. If you find yourself in a similar predicament…reach for this recipe card. It’s an awesome meal! 😉

1 pkg no-bake lasagna noodles

2 cans black beans

1 jar spaghetti (basic classic jarred sauce)

1/2 tsp. cumin

15 oz container ricotta

1 ten oz. pkg frozen spinach

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

2 eggs (slightly beaten)

1 tsp. salt

4-5 c pepper jack cheese (shredded)

mash beans with masher or hand blender. Add sauce. In separate bowl mix cheese, cilantro, eggs, salt, spinach and 1 c. of cheese.

Spray pan with PAM. Spoon 1/4 of black bean sauce mixture. Cover with layer of noodles, spoon 1/2 of cheese mixture on top, then layer with pepper jack cheese (1 cup)

Cover with red sauce, noodles, cheese mixture and cheese again.

Cover with noodles, top with remaining bean mixture and sprinkle with last of pepper jack cheese. Cover with foil and bake 1  hour @ 350. Remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes.

ENJOY!

Cara Mia! Copperas Cove!

18 May

 

 

It’s not often I head to Copperas Cove. It’s on the other side of Fort Hood, about a 20-minute drive from my house. However, the other day my friends and I decided to meet up there for our once-a-month book club-dinner.   We opted for an Italian Restaurant called Giovanni’s. I had heard good things about the food and heard they recently reopened at a new location.

Before even pulling into Giovanni’s parking lot we could smell the fresh garlic from the highway! I was completely taken aback at how good this place was. The building looks great. There’s a water feature that runs through the main portion of their dining room, a little “lazy river” like feature with nice plants and rock accents.  

Upon taking our seats, my mouth dropped when I saw the prices for their wine on the menu. They serve mostly Italian wines…no names you would recognize from the traditional liquor store line-ups. We got a bottle of Italian Chianti for $14!!!! And, it was very good! I ordered the antipasto salad and the chicken picatta. It was top-notch. I was also impressed that on this particular Friday night,  a young man was walking around, serenading guests with his violin.

I give Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant in Copperas Cove an A+. It was well worth the drive for us. It’s always nice to support local mom and pop type of places in the cities and towns you’re stationed at…..and even nicer to break away from the common chain restaurants  like Olive Garden. (which by the way expect over an hour wait on any weekend night at the one in Killeen)

Which Hair Salon I’m Hooked On…

17 May

I’ve been to a few salons during our time here at Ft. Hood, and really there’s nothing bad to report at all. Each hair dresser was very good. In fact, I’m glad to say I don’t think I’ve had an AWFUL haircut during our time here. I’ve also been everywhere when it comes to my hair. Very short (we’re talking Halle Berry pixie cut), the famous Posh Bob and the long layered look ( and not in that order).

Below is a pic of the bob I wanted and what I ended up getting.  Not bad if I do say so myself! 🙂

 

The reason I switched hair dressers over the past three years??? Sometimes, I just like to change it up. All in all, I’d recommend the following places to get your hair done in the Fort Hood area:

1. Highlights Salon and Spa – They are currently under renovation but they have great hair stylists and colorists. I am currently going to Melinda there.  She’s AWESOME and sooo sweet!  Brandon is also a great stylist/colorist there.

2. Shelly’s Day Spa and Salon – Very nice place. I used Garmil (yes that’s how you spell and pronounce her name) for a long time. I dont’ know what she’s like as far as coloring goes, but she gives great short hair cuts! I showed her two pictures and said I wanted something in between and by golly, when she was done, that’s exactly what I got!

3. EcoBlue Spa and Salon – Don’t know much about this place because I have never been. A few of my friends go and their hair always looks AMAZING! It’s an AVEDA salon so I’m sure you can’t go wrong! Probably more pricey than the places mentioned above.

4. ULTA Salon – I’ve never visited here either, but again have had numerous friends that have used their salon and have been happy with the results.

San Fran Pork Chops

17 May

This is a family favorite for sure!!! I know when I make this one, the kids and the hubby will EAT IT UP!

1 pkg pork chops. ( I prefer the thin, boneless pork chops for this recipe…they always come out more tender than the thick ones)

2 crushed garlic cloves

1/2 cup sherry wine

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 TBS brown sugar

1 tsp crushed red pepper (or more according to how hot you want it)

Olive oil

salt/pepper

In large skillet, place salt/peppered pork chops in olive oil and brown both sides. Once brown (approx 7-8 minutes) Take pork chops out and set aside. In a small bowl, combine sherry (you can substitute brandy if you don’t have sherry available), soy sauce, brown sugar and crushed red pepper. Stir well. Keep the pan with all the browned pork chop bits on med heat and add crushed garlic. The garlic will begin to cook fast.  Just before it burns add the liquid mixture. It will bubble up but that’s what you want. You want all those yummy, semi-burned pieces of meat to mix with the sauce (it’s called deglazing the pan). Stir well, put heat on low-med and add pork chops back to skillet. Put lid on and let simmer appox 15 mintues. Turn pork chops every so often so both sides get soaked in mixture.

Serve over steamed, white rice.

ENJOY!

Semi-Homemade Hot Sauce

17 May

1 can Rotel (Original)

1 small can tomoato sauce

1 can stewed tomatoes

1/2 large yellow onion

1-2 jalapenos (depending on how hot they are)

large bunch of cilantro

1 tsp vegetable oil

garlic salt to taste

In a blender, combine everything and pulse until it’s the consistency you want. Sometimes if  I have green onions in the fridge, I will put a few of those in there as well. This is really all about making it to your liking. Adding a little more of this or that until it’s how you prefer it. Enjoy!

Bats…they’re creepy…but in Austin…they’re cooL!

16 May

View of bats emerging from below Congress Bridge. Approx 8:15 at night

 

A great day trip to Austin can take your family just about anywhere due to the fact that there is SOOOO much to do!!!  Recently, my husband went TDY and I found myself with a completely open Saturday. Instead of washing the car, mopping the floors or starting a new decorating project…I loaded us up and made a late-day trip to Austin. We started by checking out a local toy store I ran across on the internet called Toy Joy. It’s 100 % safe to take your kids there (no naughty/funny business) They have a ton of “old school” things that took me back to my younger years. In the end, I walked out with a “Pet Tornado”, a harmonica, a bow and arrow, a “thirsty bird”, a battery-operated monkey who smashes cymbals together, and a bunch of  “funny eye glasses”. It was a blast!!!  By no means…not cheap…but worth every penny when I realized we had killed over an hour in a toy shop and I wasn’t about to strangle anyone.

From there, we drove over and had dinner at Shady Grove Restaurant near Zilker Park. The wait was a bit long, but the kids had fun running around in a little shaded, grassy area while I sipped on a WONDERFUL frozen margarita. Dinner was very good, just wish the wait hadn’t been so long (over an hour)
After dinner, we found some public parking close to the Congress Avenue Bridge and followed many other stragglers who were apparently in the mood to see some bats. We settled into a spot under the bridge on a grassy little slope and we timed it JUST RIGHT. Within three minutes of sitting down, the infamous Congress Avenue Bridge bats emerged. The kids LOVED IT and I must say I was pretty impressed. There are soooo many of them and the whole city seems to get behind these creepy little animals as they emerge for their nightly feeding time.  A simple little occurrence that happens everyday in nature and there’s no doubt my kids will remember it for years to come.  Oh yeah…and it’s free!!! .Make sure to check it off your Texas Bucket List too!

Gruene, Texas…the perfect day trip

16 May

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If you’re looking for a perfect get away trip that doesn’t break the bank and can be done in a day…then visit Gruene!!!! It’s an absolute must-see and it’s roughly two hours away from Killeen. (pronounced like the color, green) Recently, we made a day trip out of  it with close friends.

 First, we decided to do something fun with the kids, so we stopped in at Natural Bridge Caverns. It’s one of Texas’ natural attractions just outside of New Braunfels. From start to finish, the cavern tour lasted about two hours. The kids absolutely loved exploring the historical cavern system.  When we were finished, we decided Gruene would be a great place to stop in for an early dinner.  

We first made a quick stop at Gruene Hall for a few beers and a sneak peek at some local country music talent. Then we walked on over to eat a very nice and relaxing dinner at The Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar. The food was great and the setting was amazing.

 

If ever you would love to get a true taste of Texas….Gruene, Texas would be my #1 recommendation. Hop on over and check it out!

Best Sushi In Town…

16 May

Our favorite sushi place in the Ft. Hood area is Wild Wasabi. It isn’t necessarily convenient..in fact, that’s probably why we don’t order it more often. It’s located on Old Veteran’s Highway,very close to the W.S. Young intersection. (Right next door to the McDonald’s)  It’s further than we’d like and at times it can be hard to reach due to Ft. Hood traffic so keep that in mind when planning your night.  Despite that obstacle, we are quite impressed with their selection of sushi rolls. Our favorite…HANDS DOWN… is #69 “Burning Love” and also the Texas Roll.  They don’t have a hibachi grill but other typical Japanese and Korean food is available along with sushi. Be sure to check it out!!! 

***Sorry, no menu available online! ***

1914 E VETERANS MEMORIAL BD

 Killeen, TX 76541 

(254) 690-6809