oh the places we'll go : England

My dad put the practically-impossible idea in my head that I should visit our life-long friends in England as my 'Big Gift' for my 30th birthday. I've always been terrified of flying, but after this last trip to Missouri all by myself I have gained a tremendous amount of strength. With that in place, I can't seem to get the hair-brained idea that my dad planted out of my mind.
Of course I have no immediate plans to visit, but one day I certainly will. I will see my beautiful family friends (they've been here to the US tons and tons of times). I can't even imagine exactly what it would be like, I know it would be life-changing. And how I would love to see the smiling faces of Jan and James, and even moreso the giggle of my Matt.
One day. It will happen.
In the meantime, I've been drifting through photos like these to satisfy my thoughts and dreams.

(Click on photos for credits)
London, England.
England's Green and Pleasant Land...
Bodiam Castle, East Sussex, England, 11 October 2005
Old Farm Cottage, Chipping Campden, England
House of Parliament, London, England - August 2009
Whitehall, London, England
Westminster Abbey, London, England - August 2009
England, Stonehenge
P8120050-Burford, England
London Nights
London Bridge (Tower Bridge) : Reflection on the River Thames
London Eye in Night Light Motion
Victoria Memorial, London, England
Anglican All-Saints-Church / Anglikanische Allheiligen-Kirche in Biddenden, Grafschaft Kent, England, UK
London, England
Leeds castle, Leeds England

my weekend went like this...

FRIDAY: My work computer was *still down... it had been a week, and I felt like I was drowning in the paperwork and stress and black clouds surrounding my office. I have quarterly taxes, annual taxes, and W2s to get through. Not to mention late payments due to not having a working computer for over a week. Ugh.
I rushed home to prepare for my Pampered Chef Party that night. I absolutely love everything the Pampered Chef has! My party was quite successful, and I'm still gathering outside orders.
SATURDAY:  I finished New Moon early in the morning. I was seriously in a state of sadness that I didn't get a copy of book 3 (Eclipse) lined up. I was eager to spend the gloomy day reading. Instead, I decided to give the movie Twilight another shot (the first time I watched it I couldn't stop complaining and yelling that things were not playing out the way they were in the book). It seemed to go much better the second time around. I was much more forgiving.
The hubs had to work all day, but came home with a surprise for me...
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer: Download Cover
I finished it in two days! No joke!
SUNDAY:  I woke up late (due to staying up so late reading the night before) and it felt nice to get a little more uninterrupted rest. Did a little more reading. hehe. But eventually I had to get up and get ready for my beautiful princess niece's 3rd birthday at Peter Piper Pizza. That was an adventure. Kids running and screaming, hopped up on sugar and pizza. lol. We were able to watch the Indianapolis Colts beat the New York Jets at the pizza place. Afterward, like a good girl, I went to the gym and watched the first quarter of the Minnesota / New Orleans game while doing my cardio. Yay me!
I came home, and litterally 'read' the night away. I finished the beloved third book this morning somewheres around 2am. lol. Yep, I've become a freak.
MONDAY (TODAY):  My wonderful computer team was able to get me up and running and I've been working away. Taxes taxes taxes. Not my fav, but a total and complete necessity. I think the hubs is gonna take me to see New Moon tonight. And when I get back...
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer: Download Cover
will be waiting for me. (I've already read chapter one. hehe)

Enjoy your Monday!!

Friday Skies

It's been this way the majority of the week.
I really like it.
I like to listen to Classical Music when the skies look like this.
Is that weird?

you're gonna get so bored with me, i know!

but this is truly and seriously amazing stuff!!
in less than one week i finished reading this...

yes! me! the slow reader! all 544 pages of it! believe me, it surprised the crap outta me... but i absolutely could not put this book down. i started last friday night (jan.15) and last night (jan.19) or better, 1am this morning, i finished it! never in my life has a book made my heart pound the way it did while flying through chapters at a time taking in all that i could. it was insane! madness, straight madness i tell ya!
i can't wait to start

tonight! lol. the poor hubs can't believe i've had my 'nose stuck in a book' for so long. lol. sorry, 3 more books to go!! hehe

In other news...
gym day one (monday) sucked in the biggest way. i got no cardio in, and the 'introductory training session' was basically a ploy to show exactly how out of shape i am while asking to do some of the most embarrasing moves in front of meatheads and hardbodies. nice.
so i'll be signing up with a trainer. lol!
gym day two (tuesday) was much better. i didn't feel 'as awkward' walking in. i went to the cardio area (my comfort zone) jumped onto a treadmill and took a leisurely 45 minute speed walk while watching 'The Office'. Not too bad, and after the day I had (total other story... it was terrrible!) I ended up coming home feeling a thousand times better with my spirits up.
gym day three is today. and honestly, i'm flippin' sore from day one still, and the hubs went this morning (at 530am) with the neighbor leaving me to 'fend for myself' this afternoon. so, i can choose to see if my mama wants to go with on a guest pass with me, i can choose to go by myself, or i can choose not to go at all. i'll keep ya updated. :-)
Allright kiddos. I'd better let you go. I'm sure something much more meaningful in life than this blog is calling.
Have a super awesome day!!

Book Review: Best Friends Forever

Okay, so inspired by the lovely Danielle's inquiry, and in a serious effort to read 'one-book-a-month' (I can't believe I just put that out there)... (yes, I would like to read a combined total of at least 12 books at least in 2010)... I have decided to write my own book review of what I have read.
My Review. My Notes. My Rules.
I am in no way, shape, or form an 'avid reader' like so many people out there. Like I've said before, I was good to read half a book a year. My book reviews are my personal interpretation. Thats it. It might not be fair, or pc, or happy, or sad or anything. It's just me talking about a book I read. Got it? lol. Okay.
Without further ado...

Cover Image
I decided to read this book because A) my sister just got done reading it and said that it was such a great book, B) it was written by the same chick that wrote 'In Her Shoes' which I haven't read but truly loved the movie (definitely one of my top 12) and C) it was available on the library shelf. :-)
The book opened with a hot and steamy and suspenseful list of scenes. Being a slow reader, thats probably what I needed to keep me involved. lol. As the second chapter began, it didn't flow from the first one, and one I got into the book a few chapters, I saw why. The entire book goes between character to character, as well as back and forth from past to present. This threw me off a few times, but was easily picked back up.
I really enjoyed the characters, the main girl 'Addie' reminded me of so many girls I have known (and still know) and she just melts your heart. I found her to be the most intriguing, from her family life, to her artistic ability, to her obsession with food. Just everything this girl goes through, ugh. I wanted to hug her the entire time.
The story pretty much goes Addie and Val were neighbors, complete opposites who I think balanced each other out, and who were the best of childhood friends. (We all had one). Like everywhere else in life, high school came. With all the drama and issues. Ultimately the girls friendship didn't make it through and it was devastating. I've been through that. I've been on both sides of that. And reading it reminded me of that pain. The book doesn't go much into Val's life during the girls seperate lives, but they do share in detail the solitary life that Addie leads and her decisions to control her own life. There is one part of the book that didn't sit well with me, and that is when Addie 'gets a man'. Its heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. As she falls in love with this man who from the beginning stated the rules. Plus he's old, and married, and a doctor, and European. And the book goes into some 'private detail' that I could have done without. Don't get me wrong, if thats your cup of tea then drink up. I guess don't knock it til ya try it? lol. Just kidding (I think). hehe. Anyway, in the end the girls reconcile under a very unnatural situation that occurs (a maybe-murder), but what I got out of it was that everybody has their own road. If you're lucky, your road will intersect and continue on with the people in life who really matter the most to you. Making the journey well worth it.

B is for Brussel Sprouts

Don't get all ewww on me!
I promise you, this is good stuff, even non-brussel sprout lovers will likey... or at least give a good try. And seriously, this is the easiest thing to make ever!!

Brussel Sprouts with Onions and Bacon
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound brussel sprouts
*Cut bottoms off of each brussel sprout, and cut in half. Set aside in bowl.
* Cook bacon over medium high heat.
*When bacon is soft and 'grease' is released, add onion.
*When onion is translucent and bacon is 75% cooked, add brussel sprouts.
*Mix all the goodies.
*Bring heat to med low heat and cover.
*Mix goodies every 5 minutes or so, making sure not to char any ingredients.
*When brussel sprouts are soft through, serve.

Just try it. Then at least you can say you really do or don't like them!
Bon 'Appetit

back to normal blogging life... i'm pretty sure...

I've totally been off the blogging wagon lately. My reasons.. here goes (and these are gonna be honest... eek)

*I'VE BEEN WORKING ON ME... What does that even mean. I know. Well, for me, it means walking away from the ever-consuming computer world and opening up myself to real-life experiences. Difficult really to put into words at this very moment in time (oh, the pressure) but I do actually hope to blog on this / these experiences and adventures often. I've been making concious changes to my daily life (which can sometimes feel like the rat race in a hampster wheel). The biggest change for me is...

*I'VE BEEN 110% ATTENTIVE TO MY HEALTH... The hubs and I joined a gym. Big step. We have our 'Introductory Training Session' tonight. And I ain't gonna lie... I'm a lil scrrred. Aside from that, we are both fully committed (me more than him I think) to eating healthier. No fast food, no junk, less sugar and carbs (well, no sugar or carbs in my case). Because they say you should always consult a physician before you start any diet or workout regimine, that is exactly what I did. Right now I am having some food testing and lab work done. Nothing scary or severe, but my diet is under doctor supervision for the next five weeks (week one has sucked big time) but I am really happy that I am doing this. I'm sure it has to do with the whole 'turning 30' thing, but a huge part of it all for me is feeling good. I've spent several years in some deep holes that involved some deep problems within myself, and I am pulling up my boot staps, being a big girl and taking charge of my healty life!!

*I'VE BECOME A READER... Yes, Me. The one who's reading averages 1/2 a book per year. I guess it goes along the lines of 'Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthy Soul'. But I actually finished my very first book of the year...

and quickly jumped into my second...

okay don't hate. I of all the people in the world was anti-Twilight because of all the hype and the drama and it all just seemed like a waste of time and life. I mean c'mon people were litterally 'throwing themselves' at these hot young actors. After letting my daughter read it (with my mil's approval since she owns all four books and has read them at least 4 times each)... our recent trip to CA all my girlfriends were talking about it (I just couldn't believe it) and swearing by it that it is an absolutely amazing series of books and well written and blah blah blah. So I caved. I caved to the peer pressure. And dag-namit.... I got suckered like the biggest dope ever. I began reading late friday night, and couldn't put it down until I reached chapter 3 (almost a hundered pages in). You're talking to a seriously-slow reader. Saturday was the same way, and I have to admit, I stayed awake until midnight last night because I just *had to get through chapter 13. This is insane, and I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. So... whatev. I formally apologizing for my anti-Twilight behavior and vow never to say another negative word about it. hehe

Well... I didn't expect to blog so much! It's a bit of a novel (must be the reading influencing me. lol)
I promisecakes to be back on top and making you all laugh with my dorkiness!
Who loves you!!!

And the Winner Is..

Congratulations my darling my dear!!
Please Email Me with you address and I will get your winnings out!!
Thank you all for playing!

I promise to be back with some blogging... I've been 'away'.. hehe


So, seriously... this is my first *ever giveaway here on my bloggy, and I'm suuuper excited about that!
((How about you??))

Before we get into that... I just wanted to say that I am really *really truly grateful for each and every one of you who read by blog (and double for those who comment). hehe j/k j/k
No.. in all seriousness... I really am thankful for your acknowledgement, and very grateful for the wonderful friendships I have made through blogging.  Truly, you mean so much to me!!

And now...
((drumroll please))
On With The Giveaway!!

This Giveaway includes:
*Funky Orange Dinner Tray (also used as a painter's palette)
*8x8 'Wooden Box' Album (comes with 8x8 white cardstock)
*8x8 Green Cardstock Album
*Making Memories Distressing Kit
*5x9 Green Zipper Album
*Green Bazzil Envelope filled with Making Memories 'goodies'
*Two Jeweled Zipper Pulls
*Handmade Beaded Ring
*Hair Flower
**BONUS: A few extra 'goodies' that I am choosing to keep a secret (because I didn't get to photograph them and because 'who doesn't love a surprise...duh! hahaha)

So.... all you have to do is:
1.  Follow Me
2.  Blog Me
3. Tweet Me
Leave your name, your email addy, and the numbers (1, 2, and/or 3). Each number is ONE Entry (so you have up to 3 entries possible). And I will pick a *Winner Winner Chicken Dinner* on Sunday (January 17th)... so hurry hurry hurry!

so. i know i've been absent...

but i've been in cali since thursday...
and today is sunday...

and we stayed to watch the Cards game and they beat Green Bay!!!
So we are staying an extra day in SoCal and I promisecakes I'll be back on Tuesday with some giveaway goodies!!!
Stay Tuned...
Yay for GIVEAWAYS!!!


i've gotten several really sweet compliments on my nails here. i totally have the best nail girl ever! and i've known her for like 10 years. sweetie heart!!
anyway, i thought today i'd share some yummy eye candy (ahem, nail candy)!
hope you likes!!
(all images found on We Heart It)

Yay!! Thanks to the amazing Ashley I have a cutie blog button!! I am sooo stinkin' excited about it! You MUST add it! It'll totally pimp out your blog! haha. (i kid. i kid) haha

Check it ------------------------------------------------------------------------->
If you would like me to add your bloggy button, leave a link in the comments section!

A is for Ahi (and Asparagus)

So, in an effort to eat better, and eat more Fruits and Veggies...
Yesterday for Lunch I made this:
Picture of Seared Ahi Tuna and Salad of Mixed Greens with Wasabi Vinaigrette Recipe
And I kid you not, it looked just like this pic (borrowed from Food Network to better entice you to try it). It literally took me less than 20 minutes to make and it was oh-so delicious! Even the hubs liked it (and he can be suuper picky).

On to Dinner... King Crab Legs were on sale at the market, so I treated ourselves and of course they were delicious. I paired them with fresh organic Asparagus and some Couscous. Now, I don't mean to 'toot-my-own-horn' here, but it is my blog, so I'll go ahead and tell you that I can cook asparagus pretty darn perfectly.
After washing and snapping, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium shallow pan over med-high heat. Add asparagus and toss (or roll, like they do on the fancy cooking shows) to evenly coat all asparagus. Add salt and cracked pepper and continue to toss every two or three minutes for approx 15-20 minutes. This will leave the asparagus tender on the outside but crisp on the inside (not soggy like when you steam it) plus you don't get rid of all the goods (nutrients) that asparagus has to offer.

Now go try it for yourselves!!

peace... pass it on....

Miss Janel is having a really wonderful giveaway. And peace is what its about, man! hehe

(Below) is my entry, and also your formal introduction to....

The Balancing Coffee
(my son chose the name of our series)
A total collaboration of my dear son's balancing skillz and my eagerness to learn more about my camera. 2010

Please visit the series (an ongoing Mom & Son project) at The Balancing Coffee

P.S. Speaking of Giveaways... hop on over to Miss Jamie's to see what I won!! Yay Me! hehe

family fun filled weekend

I know I've been absent. Sissy was in the Fiesta Day Parade on Saturday... that pretty much took up the entire day. I found this amazing painted wall and played around with Bubba and my new camera lens.
We had two hours before the parade actually started so we decided to walk around and create a photography series. I'll post that next. Its silly.
Today (Sunday) I've pretty well been on the couch keeping up with football. Even though the AZ Cardinals are already guaranteed into the playoffs, I liked watching the other teams fight for position. (Note, this does not mean you play like poo... I'm talkin' to you Cards!!)
I've been going back and forth on this one, but I have decided to have my very first ever Giveaway.
Whatcha think?
Details on that to come.


Cheers To A New Year!
© something Big is coming...
Maira Gall