Saturday, November 30, 2013

24 Days To Go

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Now we are well into the throws of this wonderful holiday season. The countdown has begun. Twenty-four short days to go.

Last year Cory and I read "A Christmas Carol" out loud to each other in the month of December. If you have never read the familiar story, you should. It is full of poignant words that pierce the heart with the true meaning of life.

Here is a beautiful and inspiring quote extracted from Dickens' work. I think we would all do well to take on the attitude of Scrooges nephew as we continue to enjoy this festive season.

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,' returned the nephew. 'Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Grateful Heart

The season of thankfulness has come around once again. Sometimes I wonder if all the traditions, the football, the food, the hustle and the bustle cloud the wonderful meaning of Thanksgiving.

Our church service on Sunday rocked the whole congregation with an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness. Sporadic applause occurred throughout the message and I heard several members telling one another they were grateful for the other. It is a wonderful thing to feel that thankfulness rise up inside of you. 

It seems sad to need to be reminded of your blessings by the comparison of those who are lacking. And yet, we have all been there before. When you are so accustomed to all of the blessings, it is so easy to take them for granted. My life is by no means perfect, but it is truly amazing. 

And so, in the spirit of this season, and preparation for tomorrow, here are a few of the things that I am most thankful for. They may seem to be the most obvious things to be thankful for, but when it comes down to it, everything else in this world could fade away as long as I had these. 

1.    My husband. The other night Cory and I were getting ready to go to sleep and he told me how blessed he was to have married me. He said that I could have done better and he was so thankful. Those are the wonderful words that a wife loves to hear. It made me think of all of his wonderful attributes that I needed in a spouse. He possesses characteristics that I did not realize would complete me and fulfill me. What a blessing to have that mutual admiration, love, and thankfulness for one another. I am truly grateful to have a marriage so blessed by God.
2.    My parents. I know that everyone says they are thankful for family, and I am sure they are. But when I say that I am thankful for my parents, I mean it with ever fiber of my being, with my whole heart. These two people are the most wonderful, giving, loving, funny, Godly, balanced, honorable, trustworthy, and principled people I know. I am so blessed to have the relationship with them that every daughter could want. 
3.    My siblings. Every single one of my siblings has a special place in my heart separate from everyone. Due to the different relationship that I have with each one, I have someone to go to for every topic I could want to discuss, rant I need to get off my chest, advice I would need, or the specific comfort I long. Now that we are all adults, the age difference matters little. It is very easy to find kindred spirits in family when you are raised by such wonderful parents. Beyond the ties of blood, we are bonded by love, memories, and faith.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope that you take a moment throughout the week to truly dwell upon those things you are grateful for. Let it well up inside of you until it explodes out of your mouth and through your actions.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Family Cruise Blooper Reel

With sixteen of our family members crawling the ship, some super funny moments were bound to occur. Missy and Jimmy are quite the pair, masters of disguise in the making. And just think... these are only the ones I happened to catch on camera. The trip was filled with tricks, jokes, and an abundance of laughter.

A sudden change occurred in this corner in the middle of family dinner.

Flipping through the pictures on my camera I found that this little beauty was secretly taken.

Some of the visitors that came knocking at our door saying, "House keeping, you want me fluff your pillow?"
The ship was big.... anybody could be lurking around the corner.
My brother.... yeah. Love him.
When debarking we happened upon this group of shady people.
There are no words.
These are the original disguises we first saw Missy and Jimmy in on the ship. We did not recognize they were sitting at the neighboring table. We laughed until we cried.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Perfect Dessert

No need to continue reading if you are guilty of any of the following:

1. You are not interested in tasting the most delicious bit of heavenly chocolate oozing from your own individual remekin (its late and that just rolled off my finger tips... I am just going to go with it).

2. You are not interested in a dessert that is both ridiculously easy and impressive for dinner guests. 

3. You are not interested in eating. Period. 

Otherwise, trust me, you want this recipe in your life.
Because of my recent trip on the high seas, I was inspired by Carnival's signature dessert. The amazing and delicious chocolate melting cake. Now that I make my own... I have heard it rivals carnival's quite well.
  • 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
  • 7 eggs, divided use
  • 6 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of flour
Step One: Melt the butter and the chocolate in a double boiler (or if you are like me and don't have one, put a bowl into a pot with water in it. DIY double boiler).

Step Two: Beat four of the eggs with the sugar until combined.

Step Three: Add the flour to egg mixture, beat well.

Step Four: Add remaining three eggs.

Step Five: Combine chocolate mixture with egg mixture

Step Six: Pour batter into remekins (should make six)

Step Seven: Bake for 13-18 minutes depending on the wellness you prefer. We like ours pretty gooey... but not like soup. About 13 to 15 minutes up here in the altitude.

And voila, there you have a delicious, impressive, and easy dessert. Serve with vanilla ice cream if you want to taste perfection.

I have just given out one of my favorite dinner party recipes.... oh well. Now everyone will know how easy it really is to impress my guests!

Friday, November 22, 2013

21 Reasons Why a Cruise is an Excellent Idea for Family Vacation

Well I am fresh off the good ship fattening. It was glorious. I will share pictures and go into more details that is the wonder of our family vacation at a later time. For now, I give the reasons why this was an excellent idea in the first place.

1.      Both of the cruise lines I have been on have a chocolate extravaganza at some point…. Need I say more?

2.      Fun for all ages, genders, and walks of life. Pools, spas, mini gold, water slides, gambling, game rooms, shows… etc. 
3.      I was commenting to one of my sisters that this is one of THE BEST parts of a cruise… there is no cell service. I know... I know, it’s inconvenient and you need it and blah blah (I am not pointing fingers... I have been guilty of this as well). But when you are on family vacation with a number of people who all have their reasons for needing to be swiping away at their phones all day, it is so refreshing to remove the temptation and be able to enjoy each other without the distraction of technology (whew… run on sentence, I know). 

4.     You really cannot beat the price for everything that is included. Food, accommodation, entertainment, transportation... and these little beauties.
5.     They have a fantastic steam room. Just sit there and sweat out all the cookies you have consumed. 

6.     Excellent gym which includes an assortment of fitness classes.

7.     So many food options, even if you are a picky or snobbish eater, you will find something yummy.

8.     For a runner, it is a beautiful experience to run every morning on the top deck. Just pop in your head phones and enjoy the amazing beauty of endless ocean all around. 

9.     Parents with young children can place their kids in camp carnival for much of the day. This is a free service, and the kids loved it. You really can’t beat that.
10. The ship is small enough where you can find the members of your family if you want… but large enough where you can avoid them if you want as well (not saying that this would ever happen... but just in case).

11. If you live on one of the lower floors, you have the option of getting exercise every time you want to eat, by climbing the six flights of stairs to get to any of the diners. 

12. Whether you have sunshine or clouds, there is always something fun to do. 
13. You have the opportunity of dressing up for nice sit down family dinner. Something that you probably only do twice a year otherwise.
  14.  There are no windows in most of the cabins, so you can stay up or sleep in at your leisure. 

15.  The gentle sway of the ship rocks you to bed at night.

16.  They have a midnight Mexican buffet (I don’t know why you would need to eat at midnight, but at least you have the option) and if you do so choose to partake… it is delicious. 

17.  You can (potentially) see different parts of the world without having to sit in a car or a plane for hours. Instead you can be sitting by the pool sipping Mojitos.
18.  There is a serenity deck with wonderfully comfy lounge chairs and two Jacuzzis. This is in a prime spot on the boat and no kids are allowed. 

19.  Some of the shows they have are hilarious. On more than one instance I belly laughed to the point where I wiped tears from my eyes and had to come up for a breath. 

20.   24 hour pizza bar. Thin crust and cheesy slices of yumminess. 

21.   And finally, cruise ships have the friendliest staff around. They make it a point to remember your name whenever and wherever they see you. They strive to make you vacation exceptional and it shows. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Happiest Day at the Happiest Place

Disney inspired letter Q is today’s theme for Wordless Wednesday over at Focused on the Magic. I was racking my brain and going through all my Disneyland pictures to find something inspiring… Queen… quaint… quilt. Nothing truly wonderful came to me until I thought of the wonderful word “Question.”

December 18th will be four years since Cory popped the QUESTION at the happiest place on earth. Where does the time go? 

And so I decided to take a little walk down memory lane to fulfill the Disney inspired letter Q. 

Cory got down on his knee at Snow White’s wishing well with the beautiful castle looming overhead, telling tales of all the other “Happily Ever Afters”.  It is probably the quietest, and surely the most beautiful spot in all of Disneyland. I still remember all of the whispers as people around were nudging their friends to see the wonderful spectacle we were making. 

Disneyland was the perfect place for Cory to present me with the most amazing ring in the world and a hand to hold for the rest of my life. 

A few months after our engagement, we went back to the memorable place with our Disney gear to take some DIY engagement photos. We still visit this spot almost every time we go to Disneyland (which is by no means scarce), and reminisce about the perfect day which began this wonderful adventure called marriage.

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