Nunez News

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our 2011 Christmas Letter

This is the letter that I wrote to go a long with our Christmas cards. I actually tried to keep this letter to 1 page but it went a little over. I think I could have typed 5 pages but that might have been more of a chore then a pleasure to read. :)

Happy last day of 2011 everyone! I hope your 2012 is filled with many blessings!

Our 2011
Hi Family and Friends! Hope your year has been a great one. Our year has been filled with many, many blessings. Robert still has his job and is doing well and I was able to get a lot of photography jobs throughout the year. Robert was able to work his schedule out so that he could do the men’s bible studies on Monday nights and then he’d be home Wednesday mornings for me to be able to attend the women’s bible studies. Robert also plays on the church men’s softball team at least once a week and I was playing on the co-ed softball team up until the end of October. This year we started monthly family fellowship days at our house (and sometimes other people host). Robert or one of the other men share what God has put on their heart and we get to eat and fellowship for a few hours with friends.
            At the beginning of the year we got a new backyard! No we didn’t move. At the end of last year we had a retaining wall built that is around 8 to 9 feet high and a TON of dirt moved to fill in the backyard to make it level. So the kids went from a cement enclosed patio for their backyard to a big green backyard to run around in. For those of you who don’t know, my uncle Paul’s company did all the cement work and the sprinklers and grass. I highly recommend him and not just because he’ll be reading this letter but because he’s awesome, along with his workers. Good peoples! ;)
            Once we had our backyard we got to work planting in our garden boxes that Robert built with of course the 3 little eager assistants. Our zucchini were HUGE and so yummy, green beans did great and our tomatoes are still producing along with the strawberries. Robert even made his own batch of pickles with the pickling cucumbers. One of the four boxes is the kid’s dirt box. We figured that was the best bet in keeping little shovels out of the vegetable boxes.
            In the summer I started a blog for our family. Robert is supposed to help contribute but he’s only done 1 post. I guess he doesn’t have as much of a desire or need to type what is on his mind as I do. I post a good amount of pictures from our outings and activities if you want to check it out, it is at
            In August we got a new little nephew, Obadiah, AND we found out that I was pregnant with our 4th little person! Woo Hoo for babies! I am due in April 2012 and no we do not know if this one is a boy or a girl. That information is only known by God and maybe the ultrasound tech if she saw anything during my ultrasound.
            Another exciting thing that happened at the end of August was Kiera starting 1st grade. She’s a quick learner and very contemplative. She’s great with figuring out puzzles and patterns. My dad showed her how to do a Sudoku puzzle and it seems to just make sense to her. She’s reading stories to her brothers now. Domenic will ask her to read Curious George and she’s such a great big sister so her answer is always, “Sure, I’ll read that to you buddy”. She’s also a butterfly and bee expert. Seriously, she knows all the terminology for the life cycle of a butterfly and when she found a dead bee today she informed me that it’s a worker bee because it has pollen baskets. And of course when one is doing school the other two (especially Nathan) want to sit right there and absorb as much information that they can. Domenic counts, which is so cute. Nathan will tell me that there is a specific letter in a word. For instance, he’ll say, “there’s a “p” in the word apple huh mom?” And he likes to count in Spanish.
            We went to the mountains for my birthday in October. Last year we had rented a lodge in Arrowhead and this year we rented a cabin in Big Bear. It was cold and lots of fun. It snowed up there the weekend after we were there. We were kind of glad and sad about that. During our hike we saw a lone coyote that did not seem to care about us much, but it was one of the highlights of the hike. We had all the great comfort foods like chicken enchiladas and mom’s meatballs and of course we baked cookies and Robert made pancakes on my birthday morning.
            In November we hosted a boutique and fundraiser at our house. That was really fun! I had invited vendors to come sell their products. Most of them were handmade items so all unique kinds of things. The fundraiser was the bake sale that I baked everything for except the oatmeal cookies that my mom offered to make. Each vendor donated an item to raffle for the fundraiser as well. We were able to raise $240 that we used to buy gifts through the World Vision gift catalog. We bought a sheep and 8 chickens for a village and we also were able to get vital medicines where the gift would be multiplied 11x. So our $35 for medicine was multiplied into $385 worth of medicine! Robert and I agreed that we’d like to host another boutique/fundraiser again next year.
That is our 2011 year in a nutshell. Merry CHRISTmas!
Love, Robert, Alaina, Kiera, Nathan and Domenic

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Small Voice

It is good to just sit, and listen. 
Have you every been in a conversation that was one sided? One person is talking and the other person can not get a word in? Or even when that other person does finally get a chance to speak the one doing most of the talking is not listening because they are thinking of what they want to say next.
I think that is how we can be sometimes. With our children and with God.
I tell my kids "look at me" so I know they are listening and I think sometimes that is what God as our Heavenly Father is thinking, "just look at Me". 
We can get caught up in the I want, I need, please do this, please do that. When He could very well be answering or trying to talk to us but we are so busy doing all the talking we can not hear.
Stop and listen.

1 Kings 19:11-13
So He said, "Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. And it came about when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

I also believe God can use our children to speak to us. Their hearts are soft and open to Him speaking to them. They listen.
There has been more then a couple times where during our devotional times or while we are writing out our list of people and things to pray for that Kiera has mentioned certain people. Some have been people that she had not seen in so long that I would not have even thought she would remember them. But she names them, so we pray for them. Sometimes I find out later after we have lifted them up in prayer that they really did have a specific need or there were health issues going on. Sometimes I do not find out anything. But I know that God's hand is mighty and when you lift up a loved one or just an acquaintance He will take care of them.

So, especially with all the business of this month, this season, just in life. Remember to stop... And listen... Then you'll be able to enjoy watching God's wonderful loving hand work in your life and the lives of others.

I linked up today with Women Living Well head on over and check out all the other great posts.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Moma's Oatmeal Cookies

I started the day with another batch of mini pumpkin loaves that baked while we had some breakfast. Then we went over to Knott's Berry Farm to check out the Christmas Craft Fair that happens to be free Monday-Thursday and this is the last week it will be there.

This evening we made a batch of oatmeal cookies. We were going to make them yesterday right after the chocolate chip cookies but I only had maybe 1/2 cup of flour left. So we made a batch tonight, well, it was actually a half batch because I forgot to set out more butter so that it would be soft. Oopsie! (as Domenic says)

These cookies are some of the favorites around here. We do not add anything to them other than oats (no nuts, raisins or chocolate chips). Though I had made up an oatmeal cookie recipe last year with 2 different oats and almond meal. Those were really good too, I'll have to find where I wrote down the recipe. But anyways here is Moma's (my mom's) oatmeal cookie recipe (the full batch, not 1/2).

Nathan was my assistant today and again the photos are courtesy of Kiera. :)

Moma's Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups old fashioned oats

In a small bowl sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon.

In a large bowl cream butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in oats.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto a cookie sheet.
Those dollar bin ice cream scoopers are the perfect cookie scoop size.
I always used a regular spoon before I bought these.

Bake for 10-12 minutes (for me it is 11-12), until golden around the edges. They may still look soft in the middle but they will set if you leave them on the cookie sheet for about a minute after you remove them from the oven.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Most of my cookie recipes I do not use white sugar. Makes everything hard and crunchy and adds extra sweetness that is not necessary. Sugar overload! I always prefer the soft more biscuit like cookie so we just use brown sugar in most of our cookies unless it will totally change the flavor.

Today I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies with my little baker assistant Domenic. The photos are courtesy of Kiera getting picture happy with my phone.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (do not use if you are using salted butter)
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt (if using).

In a large bowl cream together butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Add flour mixture until mixed together well. Stir in chocolate chips.
**I usually do not add them but you can always add 1 cup of chopped walnuts when you add the chocolate chips.**

Drop dough in rounded tablespoons on a cookie sheet.

Bake until golden around the edges. About 10 minutes

Let cool on the pan for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack with your spatula.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.


Pumpkin Bread

Every year we make pumpkin bread with fresh pumpkin. We usually cut up the pumpkin into big chunks, put in a pan with some water and cover with foil. This year I stuck the whole pumpkin in the oven. WAY easier! You probably want to put it in a pan or on a cookie sheet just in case it starts to drip. A few of mine did. Put the whole pumpkin in an oven that is set for 350 degrees and the amount of time that it is in there varies depending on the size. 1-2 hours was what we averaged. You will be able to tell when the pumpkins done, the middle where the stem is will start to sink and the rind will not feel soft but actually get more of a crust type of feel, almost hollow sounding when you tap on it. Once it is done you can grab the stem and if the top comes off very easily you know for sure that the pumpkin is cooked enough. There were a few that I took out of the oven to soon so after I had peeled the pumpkins I stuck them in a big pot with just a little bit of water, covered and steamed on super low. It was a good thing that I had it set so low because I would forget about it until I walked past the pot throughout the day and that is when I would stir.
Let me tell you, baking the pumpkin whole is my new favorite way of cooking pumpkin to puree it. Much safer than trying to cut through the hard rind too. I usually left the cutting up to Robert because I was not a fan. I think it is because I cut myself when I was little with a safety knife while trying to carve my pumpkin. Yep, pretty sure I am scared from that one. ;)
If you are not going to use it all right away it is best to freeze it as fresh pumpkin in the refrigerator goes bad within the week.
Here is the recipe for my pumpkin bread.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2/3 Cup butter (softened)
2 2/3 Cups sugar (Substitute: 2 cups packed brown sugar and 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup-might need to bake 5 minutes more)
4 eggs
2 3/4 Cups pureed pumpkin (I just don't scoop as much pumpkin on my 3rd cup)
2/3 Cup water
3 1/3 Cups all purpose flour (use whatever flour you prefer)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I do not add extra salt if I'm already using salted butter)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt (if using), cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Add the water and pumpkin and mix until well combined. Add the flour mixture and mix well.

Pour batter in pans that have been greased at the bottom.

If you are using mini loaf pans 1 batch will make 7 and you can bake them for about 40 minutes.
If you are using the disposable regular size loaf pans, 1 batch will make 3 loaves and bake for 1 hour.
If you are using the regular size loaf/bread pans it will make 2 loaves and will need to stay in the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

I always check the loaf that was in the middle with a sharp knife. It it comes out clean than the loaves are done!

You will want to let them cool for at least 10-15 minutes before you cut into a loaf.
Our mini pumpkin loaves and pre-measured cookie mixes

I hope you enjoy! Let me know if you make it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Talented Individuals

In the mommy world you meet some pretty inventive individuals. Us mommies take our jobs at home very seriously and love it so very much but also a lot of times want to contribute to family income or just have so much creativity inside of us that it needs to come out somewhere to bless others.

That's why I started doing freelance photography work. I truly enjoy creating memories and art with my photos. I love working with children and families and capturing their love for one another in a photo. Sure I could raise my prices and advertise myself a lot more and probably make a good amount of money but a lot of families that call me would not hire someone who charges higher prices. If my prices were so high that even I could not afford them I do not think I would be able to bless as many people as I have been able to. Though I do have to charge a fare amount for my time at least.

I've met some awesome ladies/mommies that have created their own company. I'm going to tell you about them so you can look at all their really fun things. 

First there's Kristen with Rock A Bow. I had hired her to put on a tea party for Kiera's 4th birthday party. She was just starting out her business then and has grown from just little girl things of pretty dress up to bible covers, artfolios and even a new dress line. If you're on facebook she's going to be having a huge giveaway once she hits 500 fans so I would suggest you like her page.   ~ Here's a photo of Kiera and I sporting our hair pretties that we got last month ~

Next there's Gaby with Nature Mamma Handmade. I met Gaby this past year and asked her to create a monkey beanie so I could use it as one of my photography props. She totally created what I had in mind! You have to check out her facebook page and look at all the photos of her amazing creations!  ~ Here's a photo of my sis in law and nephew modeling the adorable curious monkey beanie ~
Sparkly Blue Necklace
I've also recently met Stacy who has a family business called Solomon Beads. They (as a family) cut strips of magazine paper, hand roll them into beads, hand paint each bead several times and then spray (to seal) and string each bead to create beautiful jewelry. Read the About Us page on how their bead making business started. ~Here's a picture of their Sparkly Blue Necklace that's only $18 for all the work that goes into making it.~ 
The last one I'd like to tell you about is Jill with Time for Tots. They create activity kits for young learners and they are all themed. Very fun for your little one or a great way to keep the younger ones preoccupied with "school" while you're homeschooling your older ones. They're also on facebook. ~ Here's the Happy Birthday Jesus Learning Kit~ 
If' you happen to still be looking for gifts that are unique and or fun. Most of these ladies are still taking orders for Christmas until this weekend. So you might want to check them out and check your list to see if there's someone you might still need to buy for. Or just keep them in mind for a later date. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Salt Dough Ornaments

This activity was planned for December 1st but had to be postponed a day due to not having enough salt.

We've done cut out cookies but we've never tried the salt dough ornaments. Yes Domenic even tried to take a bite out of one of the ornaments when it was time to paint them but found out very quickly that they were much too hard.
It was super simple! All you need is 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of water. Once it is all mixed together you kneed it for 5-8 minutes, until it is smooth. You'll be able to tell. It feels really grainy at first and then starts to actually feel like cookie dough.
I rolled the dough out for all three kids on the floured table and they got to choose which cookie cutters to use. Robert thought I rolled them out a bit too thin (worried they might crack) but they seemed to turn out fine and actually puffed up a bit.

We used a tooth pick to do the holes before we baked them for 2 hours at 250 degrees. Just make sure to make the holes bigger then you think you need them. I wanted to be able to use some yarn but I think some of them I need to use embroidery thread because the holes are too small. oops!

Once the ornaments were cool I checked the mail and we used the ads that came that day. I get rid of the ads pretty quickly around here so it was actually a good thing that we got some in the mail that day! We used water color paints to color the first tray while I put the second tray in the oven. Robert helped with the second tray and rolled those out thicker. I ended up baking that tray 3 hours (just to be sure they weren't going to be soft in the middle) and they turned out fine, just heavier.

See the tiny thread hole above the gingerbread man's nose?

I loved watching the kids create from start to finish and it was a simple clean up (always a plus!).

I linked up and today is the last day of the blog party. Go check it out!