Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fall Bucket List Recap

At the beginning of the Fall season, I created my 2017 Fall bucket list with activities I wanted to do. I am proud to say that I've completed every item except one! I had every intention of writing individual blog posts for each item but that clearly didn't happen. So one recap post it is!

Fall at Disney
I love going to Disney during the Holidays because I absolutely LOVE seeing all the decorations. While the weather was a hot and steamy 90s this day, it felt like Fall in the decor.

Host a Pumpkin Painting Party
I hosted my 2nd Annual Pumpkin Painting Party and it was another success!

Bake Falls Treats
This is probably more of my husband's doing than mine. For the party, he baked a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf and a Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dip which did not disappoint!

More Pumpkin Painting Fun
I had a couple extra pumpkins left over from my party so the Mr and I decided to have a little date night activity and paint them!

Fall Vacation
As you probably know, we just came back from our Fall vacation. Talking to the locals there, the weather has been unusually warm meaning leaves were late in changing. There were some trees that had turned color but still a lot of green.

Watch Hocus Pocus
We watched Hocus Pocus while drinking some sangria.

We even got around to doing some additional Fall activities.

Pass Out Halloween Candy
We passed out, well ATTEMPTED to pass out candy to the trick-o-treaters. You can read about it here.

Creatures of the Night
We went to Lowry Park Zoo's, Creatures of the Night. It's the family friendly halloween themed amusement park. The only scare park I would be willing to do. Halloween Horror Nights? No, thank you.

I have had pumpkin spice coffees but have no picture to show for it. But trust me, it has happened. Stop by tomorrow to see my Christmas bucket list! EEP!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

She Reads Truth | Advent 2017 Study Book

I am so excited to start this study next month, the She Reads Truth Advent Study Book. If you haven't heard about She Reads Truth, you can learn more about this community of women who together, are pursuing a closer relationship with God here. They have been creating these advent studies for the past few years (I believe) and I have had it on my mind to do it this year.

First impressions? It is just so pretty!! Honestly, everything about it screams Christmas. From the cover, the red and green color scheme on the inside, the Christmas song lyrics, the holiday recipes and all the images of the season throughout the book. It really just makes me smile.

But beyond all the Christmas feels, it contains daily studies for the Advent season (29 days) and space to take notes. It is so easy to get swept away in the holiday shopping, parties, baking, not that those things are bad because trust me, I enjoy all. Taking time out to bring it back to the roots of what this season is really about is important and good for the soul.

I can't wait for Friday evening to come so I can get cozy on the couch, Christmas lights on, cup of hot chocolate in my hand (there is a recipe in the book!) and digging into this goodness. You know that sounds blissful!


Monday, November 27, 2017

Another Royal Engagement

It's official! Another British Royal is engaged and off the market ladies. The news was announced today and the lovely couple made their official appearance today.

You know, when I was in my teens, I thought Prince William was a heartthrob and dreamed about marrying him. Now that the two brothers are older, I think that age did Prince Harry well. Just sayin.

Can we talk about her ring?! BLING BLING BABY! GORGEOUS! Designed by Harry and boy did he do a great job! *Applause*

They genuinely look very happy together. Rumor is that the nuptials will be sometime in the Spring before Kate Middleton (my bff) has her third baby. I will be stalking the internet for wedding planning updates for the next several months!


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gator Nation

Today was a first for me. I attended my first football game. UF vs FSU #rivalryweek 

As you will see in the pics, the weather was PERFECT and our seats were AWESOME! Good friends of ours are big Gator fans, the husband went there for both college and for dentist school, and they have season tickets. They had an extra pair and invited us. I had no idea they would have such great seats!

We ran into some serious traffic on the way there. What should have been a two hour drive turned into a four hour drive. I'm thinking the combination of Thanksgiving holiday travelers, construction and game goers, it was bound to causing a slow down. Unfortunately, we got too late to do the whole tailgating fun but we made it just a few minutes after kick off. Not too bad.

I am an ex-band geek so I wanted to watch the halftime show. It brought back bittersweet memories watching the band line up on the sides and then quickly make pace to their spot to begin their number. There were times that I loved being in my high school band but then there were times that I detested it which is why I quit after my sophomore year. But there are times where I do miss aspects of it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a good game day for the Gators as they did not win. Knowing myself, if I were a true Gator fan, I would have been one hot tamale since I get too emotionally involved when it comes to sports lol. Not really being a fan of either team, it allowed us just to enjoy the sport, weather, and friends.

After going to today's game, I regret that I've waited so long to attend one! I now want to attend a USF game next year and go cheer for my alma mater!


Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Our first time hosting Thanksgiving was a total success! All the side dishes that the Mr. made were so good. We always have some hesitations when making something for the first time because you don't know if it's going to turn out good. But everything was delicious and gluten free! You can find the links to the recipes here.

Here are a couple pictures of the food spread.

The proud chef taking a picture next to his masterpiece :)

THAT is what I call a Thanksgiving meal! A lil' but of e'erthang! Then we topped it off with some delicious homemade pumpkin pie that le step sister made. I was one happy gal!

I also took pictures of the table setting and some of the decor around the house. Nothing super grand but I was happy with the way things turned out.

Another first happened this morning... I met up with some co-workers to do some black Friday shopping at the outlet mall. Surprisingly, it was very calm. I was expecting crazy crowds and long lines but it was quite the opposite. It's probably due to the fact that they start the sales on Thanksgiving Day which is just ridiculous. I scored a couple deals but practiced self control.

Please excuse the no makeup look we were sporting. It was too early to fuss with all that, plus it was drizzling all morning. We were going to be a mess anyways.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Practice gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving friends! As you read this post (if in the morning) we are probably in full get ready mode for our Thanksgiving dinner later today. The husband is in the kitchen cookin' up the sides and I am tidying up the house for the arrival of our guests. Knowing that we were going to be like mad people day of, I decided to write this post in advance. Sharing some thoughts on the season of giving thanks.

I will be first to admit that sometimes I take all the blessings in my life for granted. Not that I mean to do it. It happens. While we shouldn't wait until this one time of year to express our gratitude (it should be done daily), the holiday itself makes you take a moment to break away from the day to day to reflect. At least it does for me.

When I look back and see where I came from and where I am now in my life. It baffles me, really. Life wasn't "perfect" as people seem to associate my life to be now. Which it's not perfect now either! My childhood consisted of divorced parents (who didn't exactly end on good terms), growing up in the projects (as in people doing drugs outside our door), and living off of food stamps. My mom went to school full time and worked at the college library part time. When I wasn't in school, I was there with her with my bag of entertainment (books, coloring books, notepads, pencils and coloring supplies). There's more but I am sure you get the idea.

Fast forward to now. Happily married (six years strong). Living in a beautiful house that I'll admit is probably more house than we really need. I drive a nice car. I have a great job that helps pay for all the medical bills I incur. I have my family, with all their weird quirks that sometimes I will never understand. I have some pretty amazing friends. I have a church that I love and I can practice my faith freely in this country. I am able to enjoy vacation several times a year. This probably scratches the surface of everything that I am so fortunate to have in my life.

I will admit that when I get started on scrolling through instagram, it is SO EASY to fall into this comparison mode and even feel envious of others and the life that they portray on social media. I begin to feel that what I have or do isn't good enough, when in reality I am blessed with so much! It's like a sickness really and something that I want to work on. I need to practice gratitude more often than once a year. It should be on the daily. There is more to life than having a closet full of the latest trends and accessories. This will sound cliche but the most precious gifts in life are free. If I can learn to enjoy those more, my heart will be full of gratitude and there will be no room for envy.

So that was just a purge of thoughts but something that has been weighing heavy on my heart. I'm not perfect. My life isn't perfect. I am still learning and striving to be a better person.

I hope that you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving with your loved ones.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Series | Barksgiving

Welcome to part three and final part to my Thanksgiving Series. If you missed the first two, I talked about what's on our Thanksgiving Menu and my plan for our table setting.

Today's topic, Barksgiving.

We are proud pup-parents and probably spoil these doggies more than some parents spoil their children. Addie Mae is the chocolate and Gracie Lou is the cream. Both long-haired doxies. <3
When I say we spoil them, I mean mostly my husband. Good lord, he is something else when it comes to these pups. They truly don't know how good they have it. Really. 

When I found out about PuppySpot's Barksgiving Campaign, I thought it was such a good initiative and wanted to participate in spreading the wording!

It is so easy to get carried away in the hustle and bustle of the holiday festivities of shopping, decorating, and hosting parties, that we can forget about what all this craziness can be doing to our four legged family members. Here are some great pet safety tips to keep in mind this Thanksgiving, whether you are hosting Thanksgiving at home or going away.

Food is probably one of the areas where we don't mess around. We do not give them human food. Let's be honest with ourselves, a good majority of human food isn't good for us, so definitely not good for our pets. Whenever we have people over, we are sure to let them know that they don't eat human food and to not give in to their adorable faces. These gals know how to work them puppy dog looks well!

Now, I realize that not everyone is as OCD with their pets as we are but it so important that we think about the environments that we put them. If they are in an area where they can eat stuff that is dangerous to them, whether something they find off the ground or given at the hands of others, you should try to take whatever precautions necessary to avoid any accidents. Save them them the suffering they may endure and yourselves the costs of vet expenses. That ish ain't cheap!

Hopefully, this post was helpful to all you pup-parents. If you don't have a dog of your own, take a look at these adorable puppies and put one of them on your Christmas wishlist!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Series | Table Setting

Welcome to part two of my Thanksgiving Series. Yesterday, I shared our Thanksgiving menu for our first Thanksgiving Dinner that we will be hosting.

Today's topic, Table Setting.

What I appreciate about Thanksgiving dinners is that, typically, they are done in an intimate setting at home with immediate family. I realize that for some, especially those with huge families, it is a bigger event and prefer to go out to a restaurant versus slaving in the kitchen. I guess one of the few goods things with my family is that we are pretty small since other family members live in other states or countries.

Around this time of year, I tend to decorate our home for the season versus Halloween and Thanksgiving. Over the years, I have collected pumpkin themed decor to sprinkle around my house but honestly, I would like to have more. The color scheme in the interior of my house, however is navy blues and greys. I try to get fall decor that goes with those colors, not the typical fall colors. It can be a little challenging but I have found some goodies at Homegoods/TJ Maxx/Marshalls and Target.

This weekend I was on a mission to get things to create a pretty table setting. I have a centerpiece that I purchased at the beginning of the season from Kirkland's but still wanted to get some additional pieces like chargers and napkins. As always, I perused Pinterest for inspiration and found this setting that goes well with what I have so far.

I found similar placemats at Target for $5.99 which I was excited about. I originally stopped by Pier One and their placemats were averaging around $25 each! No, thank you.

As for our serving platters, you can see that I have some that I purchased a couple years ago from JCPenney's after Thanksgiving. They were all on red tag aka CHEAP. Aren't they gorgeous? I am excited to finally use them for the first time!

I went a lil' cray cray this weekend buying more casserole dishes. We have some but not enough for all our sides. I scored some on clearance at Marshalls and found the rest of these white ones are from Tuesday Morning. Coordination heaven.

Excuse the poor lighting. I took this picture at night.

Well, there you have my inspiration for our table setting. I will share with you all later this week how everything turns out including some of the other decor we have throughout the house. At the end of this week, we will start the full transition to Christmas (already have my Christmas tree up) and I can't wait!


Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving Series | Menu Planning

Happy Monday friends! In honor of it being Thanksgiving week and it also being the first year that we host at our house, I thought I would share how we am preparing for the festivities from menu and decor to even how we get our pups ready for the next few posts.

Let's start off with the main event, Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner is my absolute favorite. When I say I wait all year long for this meal, I do not exaggerate one bit. I love to have all the traditional foods turkey (of course), mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, mac and cheese, and stuffing. I. Want. It. All.

Since we are first timers at creating these types of dishes, my mom will be taking care of the turkey cause we ain't ready to play with the pros in that space. We are taking care of sides. She is also making the rice and beans cause while I am latina, I do not know how to cook. In a latino family, there must always be rice and beans for every meal.

Due to dietary restrictions in my family (myself included), we need to have a menu that is gluten free and low carb (where possible). In my menu planning, I tried to stick to items that can be enjoyed by everyone. For the most part, I got everything I want in the menu with the exception of mac and cheese. Pasta has a LOT of carbs in a spoonful, so I try to avoid it. However, I still wanted a "cheesy" type dish, so I found a cheesy cauliflower bake that I am excited to try!

Here is what our Thanksgiving menu will be including links to the recipes:

Given that the majority of these recipes will be the first time that we make them, I am crossing my fingers that they all turn out good!

My sister is one of a couple bakers in our family. She will be whipping up some desserts for us and I can't wait to have those with a little cafe con leche!

Tomorrow I will be sharing how I plan to decorate for the occasion. 


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Respect the River

So I mentioned in my recent travel post that this post would be following. If you haven't read, make sure to read it!

On the day of the wedding, it poured rain pretty much all morning. The rain broke about 15 minutes prior to the wedding and it was beautiful the remainder of the evening. We were at the wedding from 3:30 to about 9ish, we said our goodbye's and made our way to our cabin. The drive from the downtown area, where the ceremony was held, to our cabin is about 15 minutes. NBD. However, by this time it was pitch black outside because, again, we were in the mountains and there is pretty much no street lighting. We were reliant on our headlights to get through the drive meaning I could clearly see ahead of me but nothing on the side or rear of my car.

As we were driving back to the cabin, in the un-paved piece of the road, we began to see puddles of water. Again, it rained earlier in the day, so this is kind of expected. The Mr. told me to drive a little slower just in case. Well, about a minute after saying that, we came to a complete halt because the river flooded over the street. I am not talking about a just a big puddle in the road... I'm talking a good current flooding into the road, including branches and whatever else the river carried, making it impassable. We needed to go back but that was no easy feat because the road we were on was so narrow, one side was mountain and the other side was river. In order for me to turn around, I basically needed to make a 20 point turn with the assistance of the Mr. outside the car. As I was turning my car around is when my headlights were facing the river and guys, the current was crazy! Needless to say, I began to panic. I've had my own personal worst nightmare with a river as a child (in Honduras, almost drowned) so I don't handle rivers well. We got ourselves turned around and I quickly started making my way back out to get onto higher grounds.

Once we got out of that immediate danger, the next concern we had was our dogs who were in the cabin and had been crated since we left for the wedding. In the email that the rental owner provided to us, they did include an alternate route to get to the cabin. It involved going through Tennessee and added an extra 45 minutes to get to the cabin. We didn't have any other options so we tried the alternate route. Now, I should also add that while in this area I have NO cell phone reception and the Mr. had limited reception meaning we were solely reliant on the instructions that the owner provided us as the reception was limited and we didn't have any maps.

The directions were working perfectly until a point in the path where we came across a fork in the road with three options. We knew for certain that one option wasn't the path, but weren't certain about the other two. After some deliberation and attempt to see beyond the 25 ft in front of us, we chose a path and embarked on a trail that would take us 45 minutes of twisting and turning in the woods of the mountains. It was very clear that we were lost.

It was the worst feeling.

By some miracle and by the grace of God, we managed to ourselves back onto a main road, the Mr. got reception and we made our way back to the downtown area. Once we arrived to that area, we called the rental owner to try to get help. She made all efforts to contact people including the fire chief, but by this time it was 11:30pm and no one could be reached (the fire chief was a volunteer). She basically told us we needed to find another place to stay for the evening and try again the next day when there was light. At that time, it would just be to unsafe to make any attempts and that folks in the area knew to respect the river. Fortunately, my father was in town and staying in a rental with other family members. We were able to crash with them but we were so worried about the dogs. Needless to say, we did not sleep well that evening.

As soon as light broke through the windows, we got up and made our way to the cabin. The rental owner advised us that the main path to the cabin looked to still be flooded and that we would need to take the alternate route. We took that route, saw where we made the wrong turn, and finally made it to the cabin. Y'all, the pups were perfectly okay. They did not even make a mess in their crates, which we expected. They were extremely quiet, which is not like them, so I am assuming they were probably freaked out themselves. But we were so relieved to see that they were okay.

The rest of that day, we stayed in the cabin and I took a nap cause I so exhausted. We made several attempts to book another place to stay for the remainder of our vacation but couldn't find another place in such short notice. We knew that there was a 100% chance of rain in the forecast for Saturday which is when we were originally supposed to leave the cabin. We decided to leave a day early to avoid the rain.

Below are a couple pictures that I took of the river just so you can see the size of this river. These pictures were taken a few days after the torrential downpour so the current did calm down a lot but you can still see some that it was bumpy in comparison to the picture at the beginning of the post. Also, you can see that there isn't much land separating the river and my car!

Guys. Probably one of the worst trips for us. I was so happy to be back in my house which is usually not the case. I dread coming back after vacations mainly because I don't want to be in Florida and don't want to leave the mountains. I was just so over this cabin, between the river and the bugs, I couldn't take it anymore. Future trips, we will most certainly sticking to an area closer to civilization and leave the mountains for day trip activities.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

Well, I hope you all had a great Halloween! This Halloween was the first time that the Mr and I passed out candy.  Also, this was probably the first time in a very long time that the weather was cool outside which was perfect.

Last year, we had a bag of chocolates that we passed out to a couple kids but then we turned off the lights, hid and watched TV. This time we got a variety of candy, got the pups costumes, and sat outside ready for the kiddos to come trick-o-treating.

They never came.

I mean we had a couple families stop by but all the real action was happening down our street. Honestly, I sort of anticipated this because our street really doesn't get a lot of foot traffic per say. Across our street is a wooded area, so we don't have a lot of neighbors except for those on either side of our house. Which don't get me wrong, the introvert in me appreciates that. But for that reason, we didn't have a lot of activity going on near us.

The best part was that while we were patiently sitting on our rocking chairs for kids to pass by, we could hear all of them down the street. HAHA! The Mr would peak out see all the kids and families from a distance. A true depiction of my whole life. Always the outcast. Watching from afar.

With the lack of trick-o-treaters and the very present mosquitos, we lasted like 30 minutes outside. We tried right? Maybe next year. Either way, I got some cute pics of the family.

Yes, Gracie and Addie were dressed up in donut costumes, cause why not? The costumes also came with little chef hats but there was no way those were staying on.

Look at Gracie being all cute. I can eat that girl up.

Well, now that Halloween is over and it's November that means we start preparing for Christmas, right?! Can't wait!