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Delicious 7 Layer Taco Salad

We are a Mexican fiesta loving family and I’m always looking for delicious new recipes and things to make for Taco Tuesday. I’ve made taco salads before but I’ve never made a 7 layer taco salad. This ended up being one of our favorite recipes ever. I cannot wait to make it again!

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Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
2 pkts taco seasoning
2 cups romaine lettuce
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1 bag tortilla chips, crushed
1 can fire-roasted corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup pico de gallo

For dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
4 Tbsp lime juice

Directions:
1. Cook ground beef and drain.
2. Add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup of water; simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside.
4. Combine corn, black beans, and pico de gallo together in bowl.
5. On individual plates assemble the 7 layers: crushed tortilla chips, taco meat, romaine lettuce, corn mixture, cheese, tomatoes, and top with the dressing.
6. Serve immediately.
7. Refrigerate any leftovers (but you probably won’t have any)

We had no leftovers at all! The kids ate every single bite. I went back for seconds as a midnight snack but there was nothing left! Dang kids. 

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5 Things Friday {7.7.17}

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We had a great week celebrating the 4th of July! Matt was home for most of the week due to the holiday and because we’re getting ready to go on vacation. Actually by the time you’re reading this we’ll be halfway to our destination…hopefully!

1. We spent pretty much the entire weekend at the pool. Matt swam with the kids, I read books, and occasionally got in to cool down. The best part about having big kids? They don’t want to be entertained in the pool. They entertain each other. Other than the occasional “hey mom, watch this” they pretty much ignore me. It’s awesome. 

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2. Maia wants to be a vet when she grows up and she has a real touch with animals. These geese love her. They follow her from one end of the pool deck to the other everytime we are there. This time one of the geese was doing some weird yoga poses on one leg and every time it raised it’s leg the goose next to it knocked it over. It was hilarious! We had way too much fun watching those geese. 

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3. We had a fantastic 4th of July! We swam at the pool, we grilled delicious food, we watched a movie, we lounged in the hot tub, and then watched fireworks before the storms rolled in. It was just a fun family day. 

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4. It stormed nearly every afternoon this week so we had to hit the pool in between the storms. You can see the storm clouds rolling in the sky in this picture. I think we heard thunder about 3.4 seconds after these two hit the water. But this is what summer should be- long days at the pool with no plans and no schedules. Perfection. 

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5. I spent the week packing for our trip. We’re heading to New York for 4 days for a family reunion and it takes some serious planning to pack for 6 people. All the laundry, the outfit planning, the extra stuff…it takes work. But I managed to condense all of our stuff into 2 suitcases. So basically I’m a superhero. 

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Hope you all had a great holiday week with family and friends!

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Monthly Book Report: June 2017

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I went on a reading frenzy in June, y’all. We’ve spent so much time at the pool and in the hot tub that I’ve had ample opportunity to read some great books! 

1. What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman– Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who—or what—could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness? Now a clearly disoriented woman involved in a rush-hour hit-and-run claims to be the younger of the long-gone Bethany sisters. But her involuntary admission and subsequent attempt to stonewall investigators only deepens the mystery. Where has she been? Why has she waited so long to come forward? Could her abductor truly be a beloved Baltimore cop? There isn’t a shred of evidence to support her story, and every lead she gives the police seems to be another dead end—a dying, incoherent man, a razed house, a missing grave, and a family that disintegrated long ago, torn apart not only by the crime but by the fissures the tragedy revealed in what appeared to be the perfect household. In a story that moves back and forth across the decades, there is only one person who dares to be skeptical of a woman who wants to claim the identity of one Bethany sister without revealing the fate of the other. Will he be able to discover the truth? 

I really enjoy every Laura Lippman book that I read. I could not put this one down. I had to see how it ended. And I did not guess the ending, not even close! There were some serious twists and turns that I was not expecting and it was great! I love books that keep me guessing!

2. Bound Together by Christine Feehan– For five years, Viktor Prakenskii has put his life on hold in order to take down the world’s most feared motorcycle club from the inside. But carrying out the insane violence and seeing the club’s exploitation of the innocent has brought his traumatic past roaring back. And there’s only one cure: to see the wife he left behind…Blythe Daniels thought she’d never see Viktor again after he murdered her stepfather and left without a word. She rebuilt her life without him, becoming a personal trainer and physical therapist…becoming strong enough for others to lean on. But when Viktor comes back to Sea Haven, he’ll make Blythe question everything she thought she knew about good and evil—and the dark desires of the heart.

I love this series. This is the final book in the Sisters of the Heart series and it was fantastic. I love that Christine Feehan brought back so many different characters from her Sea Haven series for this final conclusion. It was amazing! And she’s doing another spin off series with characters from this series so I’m doubly excited! 

3. Just One Touch by Maya Banks– Raised in a strict religious cult since she was a young girl, Jenna has no connection to the outside world beyond vague flashes of memory that seem to be from another life. Memories she clings to when the cult leaders discover her extraordinary ability to heal—and punish her. Years held captive and forced to do the cult’s bidding have turned Jenna into a meek, timid woman…or so they think. In truth, she is merely biding her time, waiting for the perfect moment to escape.When a terrified young woman tries to steal the SUV of Devereaux Security’s toughest recruit, Isaac’s anger quickly turns into a strange sort of protectiveness for the beautiful, bruised stranger. But when they are caught in a firestorm of bullets and Isaac is hit, he’s sure the end is near, until Jenna touches him and closes his wounds. As he tries to bring Jenna to safety, she refuses to tell him what danger haunts her or how she healed him, but Isaac vows to do whatever it takes to gain her trust…and her heart. Because with just one touch, Isaac knows he wants Jenna to be his—forever.

I really enjoyed this book. The premise was something I’ve never read before and that always interests me! Especially these days when it seems like a lot of books are just written by a formula. There was plenty of action and suspense as well as a lot of romance and hot alpha maleness. That’s one formula I definitely can approve of!

4. Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott– When Olivia Brookes calls the police to report that her husband and children are missing, she believes she will never see them again. She has reason to fear the worst; this isn’t the first tragedy that Olivia has experienced. Now, two years later, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is called in to investigate this family again, but this time it’s Olivia who has disappeared. All the evidence suggests that she was here, in the family home, that morning. But her car is in the garage, and her purse is in her handbag – on the kitchen table. The police want to issue a national appeal, but for some reason every single picture of this family has been removed from albums, from phones, from computers. And then they find the blood…Has the past caught up with Olivia?

I went into this book totally blind. I didn’t read reviews or spoilers. I also didn’t realize it was part of a series until I just looked it up on Goodreads. It reads as a standalone. This book was good! It was suspenseful and I had to know how it ended! I figured it out about halfway through but seeing how the events would play out kept me interested. 

5. When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker– Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home. The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.

This book was really good. It kept my interest and I needed to see what would happen. The premise was so sad but the story wasn’t really a tearjerker. It was more of a mystery than an emotional read. I’m not sure if that was what the author intended but I liked it a lot. 

6. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid– Elsie Porter is an average twentysomething and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year’s Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn’t expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they’ve eloped. Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met and who doesn’t even know Elsie exists.

The premise of this one got me interested. I couldn’t imagine how this scenario could possibly turn out well. It was a great story. The characters are real and their reactions to things felt real. I enjoyed reading about how the relationships evolved and changed and developed. 

7. Fierce Obsessions by Suzanne Wright– When raven shifter Riley Porter was given sanctuary by the Phoenix Pack, she let them believe she had left her flock. Reluctant to divulge the secrets of her past, she was still embraced as family. Only Tao Lukas, the protective and passionate Head Enforcer of the pack, was resistant to the enigmatic shifter. Until Riley started to arouse in him something other than suspicion. Tao doesn’t trust lone shifters, especially ones so guarded—and tempting. But the sexual tension between them is making them both come undone, and vulnerable to more than desire. All Tao wants is for Riley to stay with him and to trust him with the truth of her past.
As Riley’s mysteries come to light, so does a danger that threatens not only her life but the safety of the entire pack. For Tao, keeping Riley safe means keeping her close—forever—as his mate.
 

It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Suzanne Wright. Her series are some of my favorites and I love to re-read them all. This book is #6 in her Phoenix Pack series and it was amazing. Tons of action, a bad ass heroine, lots of romance, and all my favorite characters- what could be better?

8. Distorted by Christy Barritt– Mallory Baldwin is a survivor. A former victim of human trafficking, she’s been given a second chance, yet not a night goes by that she doesn’t remember being a slave to weapons dealer Dante Torres. Despite being afraid of the dark and wary of strangers, Mallory is trying to rebuild her life by turning her tragedy into redemption. To former Navy SEAL Tennyson Walker, Mallory seems nothing like the shattered woman he rescued two years ago, and he can’t help but be inspired by her strength and resilience. So when a stalker suddenly makes Mallory vulnerable once again, Tennyson steps up as her bodyguard to keep her safe. Mallory and Tennyson’s mutual attraction can’t be ignored, but neither can Mallory’s suspicion that Tennyson is keeping a terrible secret about her past. As the nightmare closes in, it’s not only Mallory and Tennyson’s love that comes under fire but their very lives as well. Will their faith sustain them? Or will the darkness win once and for all?

I really liked this book. It’s part of a series but I’ve not read the others and I assume this is a standalone. I surely didn’t have any issues with missing backstory or underdeveloped characters. There’s lots of action and suspense. I enjoyed it a lot!

I have a bunch of books picked out to read in July! I can’t wait to find some new favorites. 

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2017 Monthly Goals: July

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It’s JULY!! How is that possible? I did not have a super productive June but I’m ok with that. June was a great month. We spent a ton of time at the pool and in the hot tub. It was so nice to just chill and have fun. I forgot what that was like. 

June Goals:

1. Clear off the DVR & Watch less TV. DONE. I did really well with this one. I really sat and thought about the shows that I was watching and DVR’ing. I deleted 14 series that I really don’t care about. I watched all the saved episodes of 6 more shows. I deleted a total of 102 hours of shows off the DVR. And I spent so much time outside in the fresh air. I feel like a new person. I’m going to continue this trend!

2. Make my bed every day. DONE. It’s just a habit now. I make the bed before I take a shower. It takes 2 minutes and I feel good for the rest of the day every time I walk into the master bedroom. 

3. Complete 3 house projects. 1 OUT OF 3 DONE. I did not get the kids bathroom painted or the barn door pet gate built. I did get the key pad deadbolt installed though and it’s awesome. The kids don’t have keys to the house, they have the code to open the garage door so they can get inside. But now they can come in through the front door using the code and I don’t have to get up to answer the door every time they knock. That’s a WIN!

4. Keep the house clean. EH. I did ok with this one but not great. I kept up with the first floor pretty well but the second floor…..not so much. The kids bathroom is a mess and their bedrooms are scary. It’s a work in progress. 

5. Plan easy summer dinners. DONE. We did pizza once and other than that I’ve cooked some really good new dinners. We ate lots of sliders, some new pasta salads, and grilled a lot. It feels good to not eat junk every night just because I’m too tired to cook when we get home from the pool. 

July Goals:

1. Work on backyard landscaping. We already leveled out our side yard, spread 50 bags of river rock, and pulled out 14 old bushes. It was a great start but now we need to finish. We have 50 more bags of rocks coming tonight and then we’re going to do rubber mulch around the playground. This backyard will be finished this summer!

2. Read 12 books off my TBR list. I have so many great books forgotten on my Kindle. So I went through and pulled out a bunch that I want to read this summer. I want to finish at least 12 this month. 

3. Have a Girls Night Out. My birthday is this month. I turn the big old 4-0. 40. I’m 40. How? I have a couple of friends who also have birthdays in July so I’m going to do a Girls Night Out with them and my sister this month. It’s going to be great! We’re going out to a great restaurant to eat, drink, and be merry! 

4. Have at least one date night. I’m ashamed to say how long it’s been since Matt and I had a date night. It’s ridiculous. And we have kids old enough to babysit so there’s no excuse other than not making time to do it. So this month we’re going out to a nice dinner and then a movie where we’ll gorge on buttery popcorn and maybe make out. 

5. Choose joy. I’ve been really good about choosing joy for the last few months and I want to continue to consciously choose to be happy. I feel like a completely different person compared to this time last year. Part of this is keeping the plans to a minimum this summer. I consider summer time to be my opportunity to recharge for the upcoming school year. So I want to spend a lot of time at the pool and in the hot tub. We have a family vacation planned this month to New York to see family but other than that we have nothing planned!

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5 Things Friday {6.30.17}

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I can’t believe that tomorrow is the first day of July. NO WAY! Slow down summer! I need it to last longer! I’m not ready to do back to the real world with alarm clocks, and schedules, and homework. I’m not ready! I need summer to last at least 4 months. Can we make that happen, people? We should start a petition. I’ll get right on that….as soon as I get back from the pool and finish my margarita. 

1. We’ve had about 12 days straight of rain, rain, rain and thunderstorms. So we didn’t get to go to the pool very much. The kids have made up for it by swimming in the hot tub in between the rain and storms. These two have had the best time together- playing games and pretending to snorkel for plastic fish. I love the relationship they’re developing together as they get older. 

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2. Well it was bound to happen. Tyler had his first incident in his car. He was coming home from basketball practice and a tire fell off the back of the truck in front of him. He couldn’t stop in time and couldn’t swerve into the other lane because of an oncoming car. So he had to swerve off the side of the road and he hit a recycling bin. The recycling bin did not survive. The car isn’t too badly damaged- a few dents, the headlight cover is cracked, and the fog light is messed up. But it could’ve been worse. And other than being a little shaken up, Tyler is fine. Lessons learned. 

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3. Zoey got to have a fun playdate with her bestie this week at our local children’s play museum. She loves this place so much. They spent hours pretending to drive race cars, ride whales, shop the supermarket, and make art creations. This place is amazing and they could’ve spent hours longer there if they hadn’t gotten hungry. Ha! I love watching her play with her friends. They’re so cute together. 

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4. Maia had her consult with the orthodontist this week. She needs a lot of work. She has a crossbite with crowding and it’s going to take some serious work to get her teeth fixed. And to make it more fun- apparently our orthodontic insurance coverage lapsed on 12/31/16 according to the insurance company. But we’re still paying it every month like we have for the last 10 years. Why? Why does this happen to me? I put Matt in charge of figuring that crap out because I have neither the time nor the patience to deal with those idiots. I’m going to be seriously angry if we have to wait a whole year before getting her started with braces. Insert mad face emoji here. 

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5. The rain finally cleared up mid-week and we were able to hit the pool again. The kids jumped into that water like it had been a year away from it. Ha! They love to swim. I love to lounge pool side in the sunshine and sip a margarita while reading a new book. This is my happy place. Please slow down summer. I love you so much. 

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