Friday, January 22, 2010

A Idea Warehouse!

Most of you are probably already aware of this gem, but I was just recently introduced...The Pioneer Woman. Her name is Ree and she has set up a website any cook could use. It is amazing. She has all kinds of facets to her site, but the part I use is her recipes. She has taken most of her recipes, and photoed them, step-by-step! It is absolutely amazing. No one can mess them up...she has done the work and photographed it.

I am always looking for new recipes to try, with Josh's pre-approval of course. ;) Please share any other gems you may know of!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I'm now hooked!

I can not explain it. Josh just rolls his eyes about it. Andrew keeps asking why I am still reading it. I am officially hooked on the Twilight series.

It all started over Thanksgiving. My little family always has a movie night on Fridays. Since it was a holiday, we decided to do movie on Wednesday. My parents came into town, and my mom requested that we rent Twilight for she and I to watch. I rolled my eyes and agreed. Up to this point, I had avoided the series...not for any particular reason, just not really interested. We watched the movie. About half way through it, I was wondering if it was going to get any better. Well, by the end, I knew I was going to have to read the books. And read them I did and still am. I cannot get enough.

No, I am not a vampire/werewolf fanatic looking to find Edward. There will be no Twilight t-shirts added to my wardrobe. I just love the story and the relationships in it. Yes, the movies are entertaining, but the books are sooooo much better. If you are a skeptic like I was, give them a try. You might find you can't put them down either...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Companys Coming!

Our little house was blessed with lots of visitors this fall. We had such a good time with Grandma and Grandpa Shields (the great-grandparents); Gammie, Poppy, Nana, Granddad, Nana, and Poppop (the grandparents); and even a foreign exchange student all the way from Germany (she was with Nana and Granddad).
I have decided that one good thing about not living in the same town as your family is that you actually spend MORE quality time with them when we visit. When we lived in Canyon, yes...we saw everyone, but never did we eat as many meals together or spend as much time and nights together. I really enjoy getting to stay and truly visit when our precious family comes to see us.
No, our house is not large. No, I am not at all an expert chef. No, we do not live in a booming metropolis chalk full of things to do. But, I sure love when our company comes!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Just Hanging Out!

I had forgotten just how much I love the fall weather! Cooler temperatures, changing leaves, less humidity...just a really nice time to be outside and outside we have been. We have one tree in our backyard. When we first moved in, it was not very big, but it has since gotten much more girth to it! Andrew has always been a big fan of climbing and swinging on it, and now that Ainsley is much more mobile, she has come to appreciate the tree herself. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed taking them! The kids love being outside, running, playing, just taking it all in!

Trick-or-Treat 2009

We have had a time of it health wise...but Andrew is back on his feet and ready to go! A trick-or-treating we went. Ainsley is still a bit oblivious to the whole concept of dressing up, going out, and asking strangers for candy, so we left her home with my dad and Josh, Nana, Andrew, and I set out.

Our street is a bit non-holidayish, so we went to a couple of houses and then headed to our dear friends neighborhood to actually do the heavy duty door knocking! Regardless, Andrew was done about at about house number 4. He wanted to go back and help hand out the candy. Andrew is not a real big sweets eater, but I am, so I selfishly prodded the boy along to fill up his pumpkin with goodies! (certainly added me to the mom of the year list :)). Anyway, we knocked a couple more doors and then went back for homemade apple pie and good fellowship. A super night all around.

When Ainsley was feeling better, a couple days after Halloween, I had the kids dress back up and pose for the traditional shot. Please ignore the mold that is already growing on our pumpkins. It is a bit humid down here and they were starting to show it!

What a week!

October 29, 2009

The week before Halloween sure was a scary one in our house. Isn't wasn't the swine flu, but boy were the kids sick. Ainsley started throwing up on Monday and didn't quit until Wednesday, only for Andrew to take over from there. He thankfully only had it for 24 hours, but I had done what seemed like a million loads of laundry and was Lysoling everything within reach.

Andrew recovered quite quickly...I think his was just sympathy throw-up. But Ainsley ran fever the rest of the week. I had never seen the girl so pathetic. She had no energy, no charisma, and her little face was so gaunt! After Monday, Ainsley basically lived in a diaper and a towel. It wasn't her prettiest fashion statement, but it certainly was the most feasible under the circumstances! Thankfully, by the next week she was starting to recover, but no trick-or-treating this year...

Andrew's Number 1 Fan!

October 15, 2009
Andrew may be the offical Red Sox team member, but this little one had an honorary spot on the team. Little Miss Ainsley was sure to get her share of t-ball as well!

Introducing Lizzy!

October 25, 2009

We have lived in this house for 18 months (as of October 25th when I should have been writing this story). Since the day we moved in, a sweet little chartreuse lizard has live with us...on the back porch that is. You may remember the blog about him coming in on a plant during the hurricane last summer. Anyway, I am not a biologist to know if it is the same lizard all these 18 months, but I do know fascinates Andrew and Ainsley to no end. They have named the lizard Lizzy and look for it every time we go outside! Ainsley found him most recently sharing her car. Safe to say she was on a mission to follow the poor things every move for at least 20 minutes, probably scaring the poor thing to death. In the end, Lizzy ended up face-to-face with Andrew on top of a planter!
They never try to touch him, pick him up, or stomp on him, just point and give the play-by-play of his every move. I am so glad we live in the city...I would hate to see what they would find out in the country!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Its All About the Pumpkins!

Bryan/College Station is freckled with several local treasures. One such gem that we just love is The Farm Patch. They are a cross between the produce department at a grocery store and a farmers market. Each fall they go all out, setting up tons of fun festive things for the family to come out and enjoy. There are several decorated areas for the kids to pick out their pumpkins, lots of beautiful mums and other fall plants to pick from, and a hay bale maze for all to go through. My little family goes each year and has a ball! This year, we waited to share our local treasure with Gammie and Poppy. I think they enjoyed it just as much as the kids.
What would be more appropriate to follow up the Farm Patch than a good pumpkin carving session? So we did just that. Ainsley's attention was held just so long before we had to find alternate means of entertaining her...a blow up pool and a walk with Poppy and Daddy. Andrew proved to be quite the carving master as he and Gammie tackled their pumpkin with a pre-fab design kit!

When it was all said and done, we were all very pleasantly surprised with each of our finished products. You never can tell until you see the glow through that carved face!

Viva La Mexico

**Thank you to my sweet friend Leann. She was much more Johnny-on-the-Spot and already had her blog of the vacation typed up, so I just copied and pasted hers...with a few modifications to make it my own. Stolen like a true teacher!**

September 27 - October 4, 2009: Josh and I, with two of our best friends, went for a much needed "sunny vacation" to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. While we were, there we enjoyed many of Mexico's finest activities including beach side laying, boogie boarding, outdoor excursions, dolphin swimming, romantic beach side dining and even a few "Umbrella Drinks."

The airport was interesting. We are very fortunate for our American luxuries. As we arrive in the Puerto Vallart airport, the ceiling had various water leaks, they don't use air conditioning, and you are bombarded with begging salesman as you try to get out the door. We literally had to push through them...much like what a quarterback goes through . It reminded us all of those annoying paper flickers that are street side in Vegas.

Our "ride" for the week was this cute little Renault Kangoo Elf. Everything is very different in Mexico..for example, did you know in Mexico they make left turns from the far right lane at a traffic light? Yep.

Our resort was Paradise, as it advertised. Upon arrival, we were met with cold fruit drinks, ice cold wet towels for our sweaty faces and a warm, "Welcome Home!" from all of the attendants. They were very accommodating and hospitable. I'd recommend this place to any who need to be pampered. We stayed on the Marina Side of the resort in a two bedroom suite with a kitchenette.

The resort's property was covered in beautiful foliage, not short of fruit trees, like this banana tree. They were too yummy to pass up! Close to this particular banana tree were some tiger cages. They also had an on site zoo, although we didn't make time for that.

We had done quite a bit of planning before leaving on our trip. Thanks to Leann and her endless Internet searches, we got a good deal on 3 excursions. They ended up being the highlights of our trip. Our first excursion was an "Outdoor Adventure", which certainly lived up to its name!

These Unimogs, used to transport us to and from our outdoor adventure were equipped with seats/seat belts and "oh s*&^" straps to hang on to. They were made "Mercedes Tough" and we were so glad they made the choice to spend the extra money on this vehicle because the roads were a bit scary up to the mountain where we would start our adventure. We were not allowed to take cameras on the outdoor adventure, so we re-enacted our repelling for memory sake! The sign behind us is a true picture of the waterfall repel we took part in on the excursion.

During our outdoor adventure we took a 25 minute mule ride up a very narrow and sludgy trail, zipped down 10 zip lines, rappelled down two waterfalls, trudged through some chilly rivers, across fun bridges and a tequila tasting finale, for a total of 6 hours of fun!! Needless to say, some of us were very sore for the rest of the week, but what an amazing time we had. Now we know how Tarzan feels flying through the trees. Yee Hawww!

On the third night, we took our second excursion. The four of us "shee sheed up" and headed out for a very romantic beach side dinner on a remote island about 25 minutes from the resort. We got there by boat and it was an amazing experience. This was what we saw as we approached the island we'd be having dinner on. It was beautifully lit with many torches and candles. After dinner was an amazing Mexican Heritage show, full with Mexican instrumentation, chants and music, a live python and some interpretive dance depicting the Mexican culture. It was so neat!

The sunset in Mexico is so beautiful against the water. Our boat ride to our romantic dinner was 25 minutes. We were entertained with games, drinks, snacks, and performances by the funny staff. Of course, we couldn't miss out on a romantic kiss!

Our final excursion we Leann's favorite, our dolphin swim. We had a baby and Mama pair of bottle nosed dolphins for our adventure. The hour and a half long experience was full with dolphin facts, mini training session, belly to belly swim with them and lots of belly petting. Dolphins are like big underwater dogs, they love attention!!

In between excursions, we were sure to take a couple of hours to do a bit of shopping at the local flea market. The prices weren't as low as we'd hoped for, but we managed to find a few things for our kids. Wow, it was warm! This is a beautiful church near the market.

Among the many things we did on our vacation, we were sure to stay on our beautiful resort for a lot of the week to enjoy their pools and beach. As adults staying at Paradise Village, one of the luxuries we were granted was access to the relaxing "adult pool." Adults Only? We livened that up in a hurry.

The waves along the beach were so much fun this week. We did lots of boogie boarding and wave conquering. The last day we were there, the waves were around 10 feet tall...that was fun. We all got "bucked off" a time or two. I believe we all got our allowed sodium intake for the rest of the year this week...all but Josh, he started running fever on Tuesday. We immediately thought swine flu, so we called the on-site doctor who came and checked him out, only to report he had a bacterial infection he mostly like got home before coming to Mexico. Safe to say Josh spent much of his time under a teaky hut snapping pictures of the rest of us making fools of ourselves, but loving every minute of it!

What is a vacation without the spa and gold course. That is our deal, Josh gets to play golf while I go to the spa...its a win-win if you ask me! While the ladies enjoyed a few spa days, the guys got to go out to the resort golf course, El Tigre.

Law Enforcement is a bit different, as are many things in Mexico. These men look like they're back from a military tour. No. These are the "cops" in Mexico. They are all armed with, we assume, loaded giant black guns thrown over their shoulder and goodness knows what else that may be hiding. They are on street sides, outside of stores, etc. Leann and I had our own run in with the "cops" on our way back to our resort from another resort. What was supposed to be a relaxing afternoon of spa treatments quickly turned into a nightmare. As we were driving, one of these "cops" STOPPED our car on the road and started speaking spanish at us through the window. Other "cops" had cars pulled over on the side of the road being searching through them while more "cops" were stopping all the passing traffic. Safe to say I jsut knew we were going to jail. All I could say to him was Puerta neither Leann or I spoke spanish. Thankfully that worked for him as well, and we were on our way! Whew...I had never quite been so frightened in all my life.

The week was great, the company was excellent, and a good time was had by all...but, it was sure nice to get home and love on our babies!