Monday, December 21, 2009

"when the cats are away..."

"...the mouse will play!"
the cats:
while they were doing this:

I was eating this:

and browsing this:

Penny Long in Corona Del Mar
and looking for future real estate:

All of these houses are just two blocks away from the beach in Corona Del Mar. My beach wishlist would include cottage style, picket fence, front porch, room for a charming garden!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas in the tropics...sort of...

We planned this trip to Newport Beach for a little rest and relaxation before Christmas. We have never stayed here before although hubby grew up down here and I went to college here. Many of these beach places are where I used to come and spend my free time. It was great to share it with the kids! Enjoy!

Newport Coast Marriott
the weather has been around 70 degrees and since the pool is heated so the kids have been swimming everyday. there are also pool tables, ping pong tables and a large chess set by the pool. inside is a huge arcade.
this area is steps from our villa. it has a basketball court, firepit, sandbox, playground and tetherball court. so family friendly!
Day 1- Newport

SPRINKLES! need I say more? this is my first experience and it is so worth it!!! my favorite was the red velvet, but the milk chocolate was a close second...okay, they were all really good!
i had the great opportunity to walk around fashion island for a good long time! bloomingdales, anthropologie and z gallerie all without kids! ahhh, now this is vacation!

that night hubby's family came for dinner and fun. we had a blast hanging around the firepit laughing and telling stories. this is what it is all about!

Day 2- Legoland

since D is asking for mostly Legos from Santa we thought it would be a good time to venture out beyond disney. we all had a great day here. definately worth trying once, especially with a young boy! e was a good sport and had fun trying new things.
Day 3- Newport Harbor, Corona Del Mar
for me, this is what southern california is all about! when i lived down here i had first dates here, girl time at the beach, beachhouse fun and jogs on the path. my heart will always be in orange county at the beach!balboa funzone was always a great place to come. it was great introducing it to my kids!

hubby and i had our first date at Ruby's on the balboa pier. we thought it would be great to take the kids to lunch there. mmmm, good!
d loved the corona del mar tide pools! hubby and him climbed on those rocks for close to an hour looking at critters. e played in the waves and had as much fun. i really enjoyed watching my family.
Day 3- Disneyland!!
the holidays just are not the same without going to the happiest place on earth! i guess hundreds of others think the same because it was packed for a wednesday!!
notice that i am soaked from splash mountain, i am the only one in the log that got wet!

d was thrilled to get chosen for Jedi training! he took it very, very seriously. especially when he went saber to saber with Darth Maul! Boooo!

sorry so blurry!
our best buddies came and spent the evening with us. it was definately the highlight! we opened the park and closed it!

Day 4- Laguna Beach

my mother in law and i were lucky to spend a couple of hours walking around another of my favorite places!

christmas at the beach is so much fun!
we wandered back into this quaint little alley. i could live here! and look what we found!
We are not done yet! Stay tuned for our last two days in paradise...happy holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2009

*bake time 2009*

For the past 6 years I have hosted a cookie exchange! Some years it has been so big we've had to have group exchanges. Some years it is small and quaint. This year we had 8 bakers. Below is the loot that I received!

Since I have been working on a healthier lifestyle I decided to make something that I would not be tempted to eat. I made chocolate dipped biscotti. I made original almond and a variation with anise seed, hazelnuts and chocolate chips. I have to say...they turned out pretty yummy!
The best part was that my mom and I spent an entire day baking these together. It is a memory I will always cherish. I try to add a new cookie to my repitoire each year.
Like always, we have prizes-
  • Best tasting cookie went to the chocolate marshmallow fudge cookie.
  • Best wrapping went to a teapot container with red and white ribbon.
  • Most creative went to these cute!

chocolate dipped cherries as body and tail, kiss as face, Red Hot as nose and almond slivers as ears. They are yummy too!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Moon~Movie Review

I did not have high expectations for this movie since this book was my least favorite in the series. Here are some thoughts that I have about the movie...
  • LOVED it! Thought it was better, overall, than Twilight! Better budget, better acting, better emotion...LOVED it!
  • One of the problems with New Moon; the book for me was I was so in awe of Edward that I never allowed myself to become emotionally attached to Jacob. In this movie, Taylor made it very easy to do just that. Okay, yes we know his body is amazing...but his acting was so sweet. I just couldn't believe that in the book, but totally did in the movie. I actually forgot about Edward for a few moments in the movie...just a few.
  • Bella...oh Bella. I have never, ever been a fan of book Bella or movie Bella. For the first third of this movie I was actually asking myself, "Am I beginning to like Bella?" Any movie that changes my strong opinion that extreme is a good one. However, once she began to mess with Jacob all my negative feelings for her came right back.
  • The books are an emotional rollercoaster, and so was this movie. I empathized with the characters so much more than in Twilight; the movie.
  • Alice's clothes were amazing!!!!!!
  • Loved the humor (wolfpack, Charlie)
  • Loved the Volturi
  • Wished the trailers had not shown the two climactic scenes. They would've been even more amazing if we had not seen them a billion times.
  • Best shirt I saw said, "Team Edward except when Jacob is shirtless"!!!!!!!!

Final word: Movie was better than the book!

Go see it!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heroes- Girl Power

A bit of a personal blog this week, that is, if I have any readers left! Everyday I look around at those around me. I have always felt that we are all on our own little islands doing the best we can. One of the things that I strive to do is to open up bridges from one island to another. Relationships, right? Whether it be parenting, health, education, marriage, mundane tasks it is important to know that we are not alone on an island. We are all going through the same things and being here for one another is key!
A few of my friends have stood out to me as true heroes! I hope I do not embarrass anyone, but I wanted to share what great women I have around me that continue to inspire me daily! I encourage you to look around and find your everyday heroes, then tell them just what they mean to you...

#1- My first hero is a mother of three. She is amazing at everything she does! About 5 years ago her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was not until 2 years ago that they found out it was cancerous. He, of course, is a hero! But his wife, lives everyday with the unknown of her future and her children's. She continues to be an example of pure strength. First he had to change careers due to seizures. That resulted in a moving to a new state. Then the diagnosis that nobody wanted to hear. We never know how we would react in situations like this, but she has handled this long term crisis with pure grace! They both have endured so well that I wonder if we take for granted his illness. I hope that they know that we continue to pray for them each and every day!

#2 & #3- Two of my friends completed a full marathon yesterday! It was such a thrill for me to be at the finish line with them. I've watched them train and prepare. The example that they've shown me is when you put your mind to something, anything is possible! Wow!

#4- Another mother of three, who is a great friend of mine, has supported her husband and family twice while her husband was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seeing her first hand everyday, as a single mom, made me realize that even the little things that our companions do are meaningful in our lives. I would see her power wash the house and maintain cars and self train in his job to keep the business running. She would do all this while looking and acting with pure beauty, while inside worrying every minute about the love of her life. Right before his second deployment she gave birth to a precious angel that helped the entire family have hope. Now her sweet husband is home and there is a twinkle in her eye!
Each of these women have been a huge example to me in their own way. It makes me wonder how I can be an example to others!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A must for your Wish List!!!

Last Saturday we went to some friends house for a very expensive dinner party! It was expensive because they had something that I really, really wanted! I mean...really wanted! They had a Irobot Roomba! I had heard of them, but when I saw it in action....well....WOW!

Since I have been working lately, I knew I could benefit from it now. So we went here and used a coupon. Trust me, it is pricey but it! Picture this:

  • your house getting vaccuumed as you do dishes.
  • your house getting vaccuumed while you are not even home!
  • your house getting vaccuumed while you are taking a NAP!!

The best thing about it is that it WORKS! I sweep my floor every single day. Yesterday morning before we bought it I vaccuumed and mopped my entire first floor. After we got our roomba we had it do it's thing. When we emptied the canister tons of particles came out!! It works on carpet and hard floors! And when it gets tired it finds it's home and goes right back! Amazing!

Every household NEEDS one!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Oldie but Goodie"!

This is STILL inspiring me!
The white piece on my left wall was an old 1970's headboard that I picked up for free in someone's front yard. I knew over 10 years ago that it would be perfect white to display my collection of chintware.However, I always knew it was incomplete without something under it!
When I saw Jennifer's living room I began to hunt for an old dresser to be used as a buffet. I looked and looked at garage sales and did not find the right one...until I remembered this one in my guest bedroom.
It was mine as a teenager, stuck in a spot for guests, though they NEVER unpack and use the drawers! YIPPEE I had intended to paint it but once I put it in the room, especially next to that chair, I LOVED it. It anchors the mostly white furniture in the room and I could not be more thrilled!
moral of the story: you may just have the piece you've been looking for

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stick With Me

I know I've been a little MIA lately! Please know that I think about my blogging friends all the time! Here is a little peak at what has been keeping me away~
  • I have taken on an 8 week, full time sub job. I am so grateful to be a "stay at home mom" the majority of the time!
  • I had a birthday. Check this out and you will see the best birthday celebration EVER! Thanks again ladies!
  • Since this guy turned 8, we are planning for this great event this weekend. Stop on by!
  • I finally finished this project. It is so good to have my dining room back!
  • Since I am working hard to be healthy I have a lot of thoughts running through my mind in that department. Check back here to see what they are.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's great to be 8!

Dear Little "D",
It won't be appropriate to call you that too much longer as today is your 8th birthday! I know I have told you many times about the feelings I had on the day you were born, but I will always continue to tell you. When I was pregnant with you, the Dr. thought there were going to be some difficulties with the formation of some of your vital organs. For many weeks we worried what your struggles in life would be and whether or not we would be able to help you thrive in life. Through much prayer we knew that whatever challenges you would have we would support you , help you and make sure you would thrive in life.
As I lay very pregnant watching the horrific tragedy of 9.11 I worried again how I could bring a child into a world of such uncertainty. I worried about my future son going off to war or growing up to protect our freedoms in our country.
Then the day came. You were born at 11:29 am after they told me you would not be out until dinner time. As I held you in my arms, perfectly formed with no problems whatsoever, all my worries disappeared. For I knew I had met another love of my life!
After learning all was well, the first thing we noticed was your head of jet black hair. It was so different from your sister and dad. I knew then that you and I would be quite a pair! Then we noticed that same black hair on your ears and on your back and we nicknamed you "hairy back monkey".
For your first few years of life I worked full time as a teacher. I did not know you would be my last baby. Oh, if I would've know that then I would've stared more at your sleeping head, pinched those chubby (often rosy) cheeks, and kissed the back of your soft neck more often.
From the time I can remember you have loved to learn about things! At the age of one you were intrigued by guitars. Your uncle would give you guitar picks to play his guitar with. You have always loved airplanes and still love going to visit the aircraft carrier. It seems you have had military blood since the day you were born.
What a great brother you are to your sister. At times she treats you unkind and you do not act very princely to her, but I know you love eachother. I know that in your heart you consider her your very best friend and love her very much. I know that she loves you very much too. I know you will be close for the rest of your life!
You have such a way with people. Those who come in contact with you love you! You are funny! You are bright! You are very, very creative & you are kind to so many people! You make me feel loved just by smiling at me. I love that when we walk side by side you still put your hand in mine without even thinking about it. I love that you kiss me goodbye every single day! I know that one day soon you will stop doing that in pubic and my heart will break.
You have quite a future a head of you , Mr. Bottom! I don't know where you got Stanford stuck in your head, but I wish you all the luck in your dreams and goals. You've talked about going to space, becoming an inventor, becoming a mechanical engineer, and a fighter pilot. I know that you will be successful in all you do! You read Harry Potter this summer and your confidence soared! You can do whatever you want to do!
In just a couple of weeks you will make a life-long decision. Dad and I are so proud that you have not taken this decision lightly. We know you have prayed and pondered and have felt a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that you are making the right choice. I know you will continue to choose the right and you will be blessed for it.

D, I love you and am so grateful for you in my life! You are quite an 8 year old. I only wish I could stop time and keep you my little guy for a while longer. But how sellfish that would be. There are so many wonderful adventures that lie ahead of you. I can't wait to stand by and support you in all of them!
Happy Birthday & I love you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things!

For the latest update on my other blog, click here!
Hopefully you hopped on there to check out my new commitment. With that, I have been changing a lot of things I is taking out high calorie items from my diet. I found this artichoke lemon pesto at COSTCO and use it for everything! Now mind you, if you glance at the nutrition label it may not look like the healthiest alternative...BUT I am replacing it for mayo and let me tell you IT TASTES SO MUCH BETTER! Plus I use one tablespoon, which works out to be much less than mayo.
I have used it for everything (besides pasta since I hate it) and have come up with some yummy ideas!

One of our fellow bloggers is living a dream of mine. She and her husband have purchased and are restoring an ancient provincial cottage in France! Check out the story here! Get this! They will NOT be living in it, they will be renting it out as a vacation home. (my birthday is coming up. hint-hint)


Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm Proud to be an AMERICAN!

As with any trip we take I try to document it as many ways as possible, one being my blog. If you don't want a to read it I completely understand! But just be thankful that this is just a smidgen of the 1200 pictures we took!
Day 1- People thought that my family flew separately because we were flying on 9.11 but the truth was E and I flew with American Airlines points and D and hubby flew with Continental. This resulted in the girls arriving in DC at 2:00 am. Therefore our trip began on Saturday the 12th. The very first thing we saw as we got off the metro was 1 million people marching to the Capitol for the National Tea Party! What fun it was to see democracy in action no matter how you feel about healthcare!
After we rubbed elbows with all the rebels we headed to the Air & Space Museum. D has been dreaming about this place ever since he could walk so of course it was first. Afterall, this trip was to celebrate HIS 8th birthday. E and I were simply along for the ride!
After that we headed to the Museum of American History. Some of the highlights were Julia Child's kitchen (was it popular before Julie& Julia?), the inaugural gowns of first ladies, C3PO, a section of the Berlin wall and many items from each war. The kids really got into all the history!
We spent a lot of time taking the Metro, but soon learned that the train stations do not go past the Washington Memorial. So we walked and walked and walked. On this trek we visited the Washington Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. DO NOT make the same mistake I did and forget the Korean Memorial, which from pictures seems to be the most impressive of them all! (kicking myself big time!)

Seeing "Honest Abe" for the first time was a thrill for me! Almost as breathtaking as the Eiffel Tower!

Probably the biggest highlight of this entire trip for me was to see my uncle's name on the Vietnam wall. My uncle was my dad's brother, very close in age and also his best friend. Although I never met my uncle I felt close to his memory here because he is such a part of my dad .Remember this is still Day 1! By this time we were all getting a little grumpy, especially THE TWEEN! But we had to stop at the White House. D thought it was so cool to see the snipers on the roof! Little did we know this was the only time we would see the WH. We simply ran out of time!

Day 2- We had gone through our area Representative to arrange a couple of tours. They had scheduled us for a Library of Congress tour at 8:30 am. We all got up very early and headed there only to find out it is closed on Sundays! It did provide a nice picture opportunity as there is NOONE around that early on a Sunday morning!

After going back to the hotel room for a little bit more shut eye we decided to split up. The boys headed to The Museum of Natural History while E and I headed to the Portrait Gallery. This was fascinating to see all of the most famous American portraits in real life!

We met up with the boys at Arlington National Cemetery. We only had time to see the Kennedy graves and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. What a spiritual place this is! I was disappointed that we did not have time to find my uncle's time!
We hiked along the highway, yes along the highway, to this famous statue! It was soooo worth it. I could not take my eyes off of it. E was not impressed...grumpiness had set in again. Time for bed!
Day 3- Time to get out of the city to see some VA suburbs. Ahhhh, I have been waiting to see the East and it did not disappoint! We took the metro and a city bus to Mount Vernon. It is possible! What a fabulous place it is! I gained so much respect for our first president after visiting his beloved home and place of death. Now he was a true hero!
Did I mention how awesome Mount Vernon is? Besides the historical property (the dining room is amazing) and the surrounding farm and gardens there is now an educational center which rivaled any of the Smithsonian museums we had seen. There are tons of artifacts like swords and clothes and his teeth (the ARE NOT wooden they are human and animal teeth!!!yuck!) but there are movies too. One movie is a reenactment of the Yorktown battle and your seat vibrates and it snows in the theater. For a second it felt like Disneyland!
After we left Mount Vernon we hopped off the metro in Alexandria. What a charming, quaint town it is! I could've brought home many souvenirs for my home but did not spend a cent! Definitely worth a visit if you can!
Day 4- the final day- I have to say I was a little stressed trying to fit everything in! We began by going back to the Library of Congress. We got into a tour, but you do not need a tour! Do it yourself, but definitely do it because the decor is unbelievable. It is the most elaborate building I have ever seen...and I have been to Versailles!

We then headed to our Capitol tour arranged through our rep. This was another highlight! It was amazing to see Congress debating over healthcare. Something I will never forget! I was completely taken back by the beauty of the Capitol building. I always thought that the White House was DC's crowning jewel but the Capitol really looks like a wedding cake top. Inside the rotunda is inspiring!

After the Capitol tour we quickly headed to the National Archives to see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. E was very impressed and bought her own set to take home.

We decided to split up again. The boys went to Ford's Theater where Lincoln was shot. They then headed to the Smithsonian Castle. .

E and I hopped on the metro and headed to Georgetown for some shopping. We never did find the University though

The last thing we did in DC was something I wanted to do at the very beginning...hop on a double decker bus and see the layout of the city! Whenever I go to a new city I like to do this to get acquainted with the neighborhoods. I was vetoed when we arrived and I finally got my way on the last night to do the moonlight tour. WOW! Seeing the sights at night, up top a double decker bus, in weather not even needing a sweatshirt WAS AMAZING!
I am not a history buff nor am I a politics lover...but I am American!
Every American should see our Nation's Capitol to learn about the past, witness the present and appreciate our future!