Monday, September 30, 2013

A bunny and a festival

I wish I had an interesting prologue to lead my evening post, but given the reality that it is indeed the evening, while battling unimaginable sinus pressure, I'm doing my best to just get this thing out there. Not that it's of any less importance, because on the contrary it's about a very proud moment I experienced as a mother. This weekend, my daughter was picked to bring home her class pet!! I don't remember having a pet in our class back in the day, but my husband does. He remembers a gerbil... that apparently bit him. Whether that stands true or not, I'm sure it was a traumatic moment for him - 1, 2, 3... awwww poor Chris. That could explain why now they no longer have live animals, but stuffed ones.

Everyone, say hello to "Berrie Bunny".
When the children bring home Berrie, she comes along with a book, pillow, blanket and a journal. She is to document her adventures with each child. It's really quite adorable, and Audriana could not have been more excited to bring her home! Although, the first thing she did was put her to sleep. Apparently Berrie was in desperate need of a nap. It didn't last long, though. Since my mom picked her up from school (I had a doctor's appt for baby #2; both mommy & baby still healthy) we stayed around GiGi's house for awhile. That being said, there are many toys that remain in the living room, so Audriana had Berrie up and ready to play along! I had to document the adorable moment they were both riding on the horses.
Sadly, I do not have any photos regarding our adventures on Saturday. The entire day was spent prepping for a dinner party we hosted at our house, for my best friend's birthday! No worries, that was documented for certain. Post to follow tomorrow - on her birthday! But by the end of the night, I did capture one of her many sweet moments. Friday and Saturday night, she wanted Berrie to sleep in bed beside her. Too cute for words.
Sunday, was spent at Audriana's preschool where they had their Fall Festival. All families were invited to attend their chapel service, and witness the glorious moment of our preschoolers singing songs! For a couple weeks now, Audriana has been singing a song nonstop (with sign language) so we knew what was to come. However, we certainly did NOT see SOMETHING to come........ Audriana wouldn't go up on stage. She completely froze. My poor girl takes after her mommy in more ways than one, evidently that being stage fright. I wasn't upset, but we were sad she didn't want to participate. She was perfectly content in the pew with Berrie.
Nonetheless, after chapel service she was back into her old self. We spent the afternoon playing games at the Fall Festival. While Audriana stayed busy, Berrie tagged along with mommy in her purse. I imagined she preferred that over being on the floor. Here's a couple candids of Audriana doing her thang while rocking one of the most impressive balloon hats I've ever seen!
  Unfortunately, today we had to send Berrie back to school. Audriana did really well taking care of her; I was really proud. She showed responsibility, as much as one can at 4 years old. Ha. I just love these special moments. "Thanks, Berrie Bunny for making my child feel so special!" .... I'm talking to a stuffed animal. Goodness, I need to get some rest.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cheese to the Mac

No, this is not about my beloved best friend. Today, I'm talking about the classic. We all have that irresistible dish that no matter how hard you try, you just can't pass it up. For me, it's undoubtedly macaroni and cheese. That glorious carbtastic side gets me every time. When I find myself facing the option to dig in or move on - knowing I'm going to over indulge - I somehow lose my sensibility and volunteer myself into the food coma that inevitably follows. 

I'd say I've established a professional perspective on this dish, and seem to judge the varieties I come across. Here are a few favorites I've experienced in my past years, not in any order:
1. My aunt's, homemade; an imitation photo, but similar to her own. 
2. Kraft classic.
3. CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) Kids Mac; shared by another CPK mac fanatic.
4. Velveeta Easy Mac.
5. Panera Bread White Cheddar Mac; another credited mac photo. 

Getting to the point, I narrowed it down to CPK and my aunt's homemade as my absolute favorite macaroni and cheese! Although I'd love to get my hands on her delicious recipe, I decided to tackle the opposing favorite so we don't have a duplicate dish at family gatherings. Not that I'd complain one bit if there was an overload of that yummy-goodness. So here it goes... 

Macaroni & Cheese

1lb box of rotini noodles (I prefer Buitoni brand myself)
8 oz. Velveeta cheese
1 1/4 c heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Cook pasta in boiling water, as directed.   
Meanwhile, cut Velveeta cheese into cubes and add it to a skillet, along with the butter and cream. Simmer on low heat. 
Continue to stir mixture until the cheese is entirely melted. Do NOT raise heat to speed up the melting process. The finished result should look something like the this... thick & creamy.

Drain pasta, then place it back into pot. Add the cheese mixture. Let sit for approximately 5 mins, allowing the cheese to absorb into the noodles... then serve!!
And that folks, is the perfect mac & cheese... taste test approved!!
Now, I'm hungry..... is this an acceptable breakfast?

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Vintage Wedding

No crazy shenanigans were encountered this weekend, but it was a special one! My dearest friend, Lindsay, and her fiance unified their love to one another surrounded by family and friends. The rains held off, and the weather was perfect. I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty and grace God shed on this day for the two of them. It was absolutely flawless.
I truly love weddings. I can never get enough of the gooshy, romantic atmosphere that surrounds the day. I'm a serious hopeless romantic; my weakness. Also, the wedding could not have taken place at a more romantic venue; Huber's Lake House. During this fall season, it's great to take advantage of the beautiful outdoor scenery. Simply breathtaking.

Now onto one of my favorite parts of weddings... THE DETAILS. As appropriately titled, Lindsay's decorative inspiration was certainly that of a vintage style. Everything from her dress, to the table decor and especially the cake.
 Unfortunately, I was not able to capture the delicious meal OR my slice of cake, because being that I'm quick to indulge, there was but a second in between placing the plate on the table and shoving the food into my mouth. It was a pleasant sight, I assure you. But the food was indeed delicious.

Towards the end of the night, everyone gathered in a line and awaited the extravagant sparkler exit for the bride and groom; one of my favorite reception exit details. Fortunately, the consumption of adult beverages and use of fire did not cause injuries to anyone. Success.
In closing, I want to say congratulations again to the newlywed couple. Lindsay and Byron, I hope you find unlimited years of happiness together. There's always ups and downs, but with true love and faith you will have the ability to conquer all the obstacles. Have patience with one another; every year is a growing stage together. And more than anything, have fun!! Now that you have your mate-in-life, ENJOY IT and never take the days for granted. :) Best wishes to you both!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

H2O ... which way to go?

Water has always been essential in my everyday life, but more so since I've been pregnant again. That being said, finding a convenience for the extra consumption had become my mission. I did some research on different types of water bottles, and found a handful of ideas. To name a few, but not limited to:
1. The classic water bottle.
This is always the go-to. You just buy it, throw it in the fridge, and pull it out when you're ready for a sip. On any day, just lounging around the house there's no need to get fancy; just grab a bottle of water. Easy peesy. However, it's less convenient when working out. It may sound lazy, but truthfully there is such a thing as grabbing a "quick drink" ... and trying to unscrew the cap, then securely replace it is not quick. It's not.

2. The 1990's water bottle.
The next convenient thought, was a plain water bottle for my larger consumption. But realistically, they're big, bulky, and the straw is a pain in the arse when you're just going for that quick sip. You know the ever attractive "move your lips and tongue around like a giraffe fetching a leaf off a tree" expression. No bueno. Especially, in public.

3. Mason jar container with straw. 
Then I discovered these little dandies. A mason jar with a lid and straw? Yea it's not too practical for my purpose (working out, on the go, childproof, etc.) But how fun do they look?! And they're not limited to just the traditoinal mason jar.There's many different styles. Check them out here.

Then my eye caught on to the recently popular bottle, spotted where else but the gym. Each bottle consists of the same gadgets, but sold by different brands. The two brands I'm sharing are the only ones I can vouch for.
Winner winner, chicken dinner!!!

Yes, the Contigo bottle was my final choice. After much debate I drove down to my local Target and snagged one. Since then, it has truly been my sidekick. It goes everywhere with me... gym, volleyball practice, grocery shopping, or any other random errand we embark on. This guy is by my side. Cheers!!

Annnnnnnnd since it's Friday, it's time to LINK UP with Yoga Pants Venus trapped in Mars (guest).
I don't have a real favorite that's currently on the radio, because I rarely listen to that random assortment as to what's considered POP's top favorites. I slightly disagree on many. With that said, I'm choosing one of my absolute favorite ZUMBA jams. Do I ever understand what they're singing about? No... not the slightest. But it's guaranteed they never fail in triggering that dance bug... 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

No regrets. Ever.

We all have those days where finding the motivation to work out is no where to be found. For some it comes more often than not. Every now and then I catch myself falling into one of those statistics. I'm about as quickly motivated to get moving as sap on a tree.

"I'm not lazy, just incredibly motivated to do nothing."
That would be me...

Until I do the usual, and think about the END RESULT. I know how good I feel when I'm finished with a workout. That feeling of relief that you did something good for your mind and body. But it's a feeling that cannot be accomplished lying in bed, or on the couch. You have to get up and go! The end result of a workout is never changing --- you will feel GOOD. 
During my first pregnancy, I was young and bouncing back was not too challenging. I was back to my pre-baby weight within the first 6 months. This pregnancy, I'm older. Our bodies change. My metabolism isn't as quick as it used to be, so I have to be more aware of my nutritional intake and exercise. For the average person, that can be a real task; let alone a pregnant woman with the additional 20 lbs, fatigue, and late night cravings of chocolate chip cookies. Not that I'm speaking from exact experience. Or maybe I am.

Nonetheless, finding the motivation is challenging for anyone. But there really is nothing better than that feeling at the end of a good workout. So as Nike likes to imply, just do it! Find the motivation, whatever it may be.

You will only feel better, afterwards. 
Figured I'd go ahead and add this to my post today!! A fun link up with Whitney & Erin. Not to mention the title of their collaboration is cleverly similar to my bloggy title. So I just had to participate! Here goes...


Vacationing in Florida or vacationing in NYC:
This is a tough one. I spend at least one or two vacations in Florida - Disney, to be specific - every year, and it never gets old. However, I'm about to embark on another New York adventure here soon, and I canNOT wait! I'd say this is a draw.

iPhone or Droid:
iPhone. No question about it. I've had a droid, so by experience I'm very pleased with my iPhone. 

NSYNC or Backstreet Boys:
ummm, Nsync has and always will be my most favorite boy band. Not because I was ever or still am a teeny-bopper, but simply because their harmony is unlike any other boy band I've witnessed. 

Being forced to delete Facebook or being forced to delete Twitter:
Probably Twitter. I'm not on it often enough to miss it.

Fireball or Miller Lite:

Full House or Family Matters:
FULL HOUSE, hands down. 

Dumbledore or Gandalf:
Considering I had to re-read this one twice, just to figure out what-the-h it spelled... I'm gonna say, neither.

Dying Easter eggs or Carving pumpkins:
Carving pumpkins is shockingly much less of a possible disaster, than dying eggs. Anyone who's dropped an egg, or had one explode while boiling knows what I'm talking about. I'd much rather take the gooey intestines of the pumpkin. 

For suuuuuuuuuuuuuure NFL. I never went to a big college, so the loyalty to any one team isn't there. Go Colts.

A hangover forever or sobriety forever:
Is this a real question? I'll assume it is considering the hosts. ;) I love them. Oh yea, I'll choose sobriety. 

January or July:
January. Yea it's winter... more like the middle of a winter coma... but there are special events during that month, AND coincidentally the due date of our son!!! So yea, January wins this one.  

Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus:

Shark Week or Fashion Week:
Fashion week. That was an easy one................ I hate sharks.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Saved by the Bell:
Saved by the Bell, again for being one of the most classics of all time!!!!!!!!!!!!! But Will Smith will always be a fave. 

Britney or Christina:
Is this based on talent or personality? Because that could most certainly make the difference. Britney wins my heart over Christina any day... but sorry, she cannot out sing her and that's just factsNonetheless, I love Brit.

Burrito or Burrito Bowl:
BOWL!!! It's easier, and .... well I guess that's my only reason. All tastes the same. 

Reading blogs on your phone or reading blogs on your computer:
On the computer. I literally base my blog's appearance and display on what it looks like on the big screen. Not to mention, if you run across one that makes you scroll forever...  I'm guilty of posting one.. then a computer is much more convenient.

Angelina or Jennifer:
This WOULD BE a question. Well, I can't say one or the other. I love love love love Angelina, simply for her heart and dedication to her family. But I'm obsessed with Jennifer's persona and her angelic demeanor. This HAS to be a draw.  

Doug Funny or The Rugrats:
Awww man, I know I can't possibly be allowed another draw - after like 4 prior to this one - so I guess I"ll just make a tough decision. Rugrats. Those little guys were just too cute.

An open mouth chewer or a heavy breather:
Heavy breather...... anyone that knows me, I'd rip my hair out before I placed myself beside an open mouth chewer. Not. Happening.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Giving thanks, to Him.

Just wanted to take a moment and reflect on the importance of life's little moments. Some days I'm so amazed how God works, presenting us with these opportunities to reflect, appreciate, and to be thankful for our blessings. Recently, I stumbled upon a new blog and was thoroughly impressed by how she expressed her faith in almost each post. Even a post solely dedicated to thanking God, simply for the day. I always thank Him before falling asleep, appreciating His love for us, and blessed for yet another day of life with my loved ones. One particular post that stuck out to me, though, was about thanking God for our husbands; appreciating them and understanding that they were placed in our lives for a purpose; as our mate for life.
It couldn't have been more relevant to my life. Chris is the epitome of one of God's truest blessings. As a husband, he loves me unconditionally, through thick and thin; and as a step-father, his love couldn't be more true and honest to my daughter. With a new baby on the way, life has been a whirlwind of excitement. I can be a basket case, yet he remains my rock. I couldn't be more thankful for him. He works hard, I mean hard, and never complains. He tells me everyday "I do it all for my family." 

Thank You, Lord for providing me one of your best. 

I love you, Chris. You're truly my angel.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A blogging fail...

You know that moment you over prepare and have something ready-to-go, then as soon as it's time, you submit 'said thing' and walk away with that feeling of accomplishment? I almost had that feeling yesterday morning. With my days, you don't really know what to expect, so to have a blog post prepped for the next day is a REAL accomplishment, let me tell you. I have gone a number of weeks days with the same ol post lingering there, because either 1) our internet was down, or 2) my morning started off crazy and by 9pm I was in bed; aka on my daughter's floor after scratching her back, with the hubs having to come in and get me. True story.

Enough rambling. My point is, yesterday I had a set post ready to go and published it long before I even had time for my morning bloggy updates. While catching up on one of my favorite peeps, Helene In Between, and after some serious blog hopping, I find myself scrolling through a new favorite, Glam Hungry Mom. THIS IS WHERE MY BLOGGING FAIL ALMOST BEGAN. In one of her posts, she shared some miraculous YouTube video of the new up and coming artist, Ariana Grande. Oh em geeeeeeeee. As a lover of music and talent, I was beside myself. This girl takes the cake. Along side the title of this post... I was indeed MIND BLOWN. I was so anxious to share, I debated whether or not to post a second time in the day, but wasn't sure if that was totally necessary. Although, it'd been worth it!!!! For reals. Her voice truly rocks my socks.

Have a listen, if you will.

1. I've been a Mariah Carey fan since I was 8 years old.
2. "Emotions" is possibly one of her most difficult tracks to mimic.
3. This girl is only 20 years young.
4. I don't have a 4....

So as an attempt to not pull a complete fail, by publishing two posts in one day, I decided to just postpone my #backthatazzup post with Whitney on Friday, and dedicate this one on Saturday!!!! Ha... oops.

With that said, my #backthatazzup jam would have most definitely been THIS in honor of this mind blown discovery. Listen to the original (below) then make your way back up to compare it to this girl's cover. It's seriously unbelievable. Brav-freakin-o!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Home Decor: kid invasion

The contents of this post is nothing of real importance. Just a reality check that I'm about to have TWO children in less than 4 months, and some days it hits me harder than others. Not in a bad way. More like a "this mess was made by only one, not two... yet" sort of way.

We all have that moment company is coming over and we scramble around to make sure bathrooms are clean, every inch of the floor is swept, and maybe even lighting a candle for that extra spritz of freshness. Although, sometimes you luck out and not everything is out of order as you expect it be; which is always an accomplishing feeling I must say. So we all have those moments once in awhile, yes? Of course. We're only human. 

Getting to the point. We'd love to think our house could stay nice and tidy all the time. For example, here's a picture of our living room couch in the beginning of the morning.
But that's not reality... at least not with a child. In the first year, they aren't very messy and everything that gets out of order is strictly in the hands of the parents. The second year, they're walking and toys are beginning to appear in places you did not place there yourself. By the third year - and ON - it is no longer in your control. Messes are going to happen, and you just have to hang on for dear life that you do not have a heart attack when you find the two-week-missing juice cup hidden in the far back shelf of your entertainment center. Because I should have looked there before, right?  

What I'm also talking about is the living arrangements of my daughter's little companions. Granted they are helpless, aka STUFFED, so we can't place the blame on them and where they end up most of the day. What exactly am I talking about?

This... this is what I'm talking about.
By early afternoon, on a non-school day, this is my house. When the weather was nicer to us, we were able to get out (park, zoo, etc.) and the house was less abused. However, with the combination of being 23 weeks pregnant, and these terrible heat waves we're doing what we can. 

Although, the invasion doesn't just stop there in the living room. We recently got our new kitchen table set, and Audriana was quick to claim it in her own little ways. Here's a before and after shot, within just a day of its arrival.
Knowing better, we have a temporary table cloth until our table protector arrives next week. When you have children, your purchases are usually narrowed down to "does this come with child proof options?". At least that's the way I always look at it.

But I know I'm not alone. Many parents out there know what I'm talking about.

Such is life.
And then there's this unbelievable story ... words can't describe the shocking photos. I'll take my children's mess any day of the week, over that. Check it out, and see what I'm talking about. 

Good day, everyone!!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Three B's

I'd say my ideal morning, would consist of something like this; a little breakfast, blogging, while catching up on a few Food Network recipes. 

Breakfast, blogging, and baking.

Yes, that's just about the perfect combination of a good day's beginning. 

While thumbing through my monthly catalog of yumminess, a few recipes literally jumped out at me. With fall around the corner, there's nothing better than these traditional flavors to spice up the season!! 

You can never go wrong with apple butter. Plain and simple.

This one played tricks on me. Although it looks like your traditional caramel apple, it is not. I'm not sure I'd ever be up to challenge this greatness, but I wouldn't mind just for the simple taste. You KNOW it's delicious.

These are certainly not your everyday dessert pops. After the thrill of baking my cake bites a couple weeks ago, I am anxious to dig into some more baking recipes. 

And then there was this... 
Really? 50? ... Gold mine!! We're talking yogurt, smoothies, pancakes, cream cheese, grilled cheese, even mustard... pumpkin mustard! Strange, but incredible. I'm a sucker for anything pumpkin, so this section is about to get torn through. 

Last but not least, I must give thanks to our sweet, Jan. She knew my love for cooking and, as a wedding gift, she decided on this monthly subscription for us. Could she have not nailed it on the head??? :) I'm so grateful, and appreciative of her kindness. And Chris' stomach thanks her, as well.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We will always remember...

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..."

Life is never about understanding; but trusting that in tragedy, He will help us overcome. Today will never be forgotten as one of the most tragic days for America; for families, and friends. But it WILL be remembered as the day our country united as one, providing selfless comfort and support. Our prayers will forever be with the families, and heroes, personally connected to this day...

God Bless America!  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Showering Love

With wedding season still in effect, we are approaching another special occasion of my dear friend, Lindsay, and her soon-to-be husband, Byron.
I stole this from her album... sorry Lindsay, Ha!
This past weekend I was happy to be a part of one (of three) of her bridal showers; gathering with close girlfriends of the bride. Celebrations are so much fun! Especially, when you're surrounded by a great group of people. And these girls never cease to entertain.

On my way to these types of occasions, I always find myself anticipating the food, and decorations. It's just as exciting as the event itself! ;) Well, let me just say the details were just lovely!! Seriously, too adorable. Best believe I snagged a few shots to share. 
 And call me slow to catch up, but I was just fascinated with these chalk labels! Again, I love details and my eye catches just about every little thing. Doing a little research, I discovered the multiple options of these cute little gadgets. You can get them in all different shapes and sizes

Here were a couple other cute details of the party. On each table, there was a framed photo of the couple and a mason jar with hydrangeas and gerbera daisies. Beautiful!! :) 
I'm so happy for Lindsay! She's been a dear friend of mine for about 8 years. Since I've known her, she's always had such a big heart, and love for those around her. I'm looking forward to celebrating her marriage here in just two shorts weeks!!! :) Love this girl!!
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