Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy 3 years, my love

Man, time flies when you're having fun.  Today is our third anniversary and I am so thrilled to be celebrating with this man.  

This anniversary is even more special since it's the last one before we welcome our little babe into the family!  


I could go on and on and on about the ways I love this man and how incredibly thankful I am for the way he loves me and maybe one day I'll write some of the things I've learned in marriage.  But man oh man, I am thankful to do life with this one.  

This has been one of the most fun and challenging years of marriage yet and I can honestly say that I am more in love today than I knew I could be three years ago.  We have both grown so much in so many ways.  We've seen God at work in our marriage and in our lives in truly awesome ways in our marriage.  So, happy 3 years, my love.  Here's to infinity more.  

I love you, hun.  Today and all the others.  We make a really great team.  


Monday, June 29, 2015

Tips & Tricks for Cruising Comfortably

We recently took an awesome babymoon vacation to Cozumel and Grand Cayman on Carnival Cruises.  I had so much fun sharing with y'all about our trip that I decided to share a separate post with tips and tricks for a cruising comfortably.  Some of these tips are exclusive to traveling pregnant and others are just things I wish I had remembered before we went.  

When we decided to cruise, I was a little nervous.  To be honest, I was a little nervous about the trip anyway in the beginning because I wanted to be sure no matter what we did was safe for the babe.  Carnival lets you cruise up to 24 weeks pregnant and requires confirmation from your doctor that this is the case prior to allowing you to travel.  My doctor didn't express any concern, so we decided to go for it.  That said, it was still shockingly hard to find tips from people who had cruised while pregnant before.  So, hopefully, if you're pregnant and considering a cruise, this will help a little.  If you're not pregnant and going on a cruise, I think there are so pretty good tips here for you, too.  


1. Make a packing list.  And yes, you should write it down..  I actually promised hubs I would do this ahead of time.  After our honeymoon in 2012 and our first cruise back in 2013, I finally learned my lesson about packing.  On each trip I WAY over packed actually to the point of feeling bad for having to have hubs carry my luggage around.  

Most cruises are casual.  That is, you do not need to take 3 pairs of sandals, wedges, and heels on your trip.  I took 1 pair of walking sandals, a pair of flip flops, and a flat pair of sandals that I just liked.  You need a swimsuit and sunscreen, but skip the towels - they've got them on board.  I packed cotton dresses that folded easily for dinners and tank tops/t-shirts/athletic shorts for each day.  Of course this isn't an extensive list, but the point is to really think about what your're going to do each day and pack only what you need.  They've also got shampoo on board, so don't bring your bulk sized product...

2.  Take a watch.    This is the one thing I really wished I had remembered.  When we were out of the country, we kept our phones on airplane mode the whole time, but we still had to carry them with us since we used them to track time.  I can assure you, it would have been WAY easier to just where a watch on excursions and at port than to have had to carry an expensive phone around everywhere just to be sure we knew the time.  I will definitely have a cheap digital watch the next time we travel.  
3.  Take an empty water bottle to fill and carry at port.  Again, useful for anyone, but being pregnant, I really wanted to stay hydrated and didn't want to have to buy water off the ship or drink local drinks.  We packed an empty water bottle for each of us and filled it up on the ship prior to leaving so we could sip on it throughout our days at port. 

4.  Also, snacks.  You don't need to pack your pantry and good grief is there ever enough food on the ship, but us pregnant ladies sometimes need to snack.  And when you're off the ship, or if you don't have time to get breakfast because you slept in before your excursion, you'll want that little granola bar.  

5. Ask for extra pillows.  I needed the extra pillows to sleep comfortably with my growing belly.  The ship staff are so wonderfully and accommodating.  Seriously, ask and you shall receive.  


6.  Pack medicine for motion sickness.  I don't get motion sickness.  Never really have unless I read in the backseat of a car.  I even asked my doctor to confirm medicine that I could take (of course, you should always talk to your doctor first) and then totally forgot to pick some up for the trip.  I regretted this of course on the first day at sea when our ship was rocking the entire day.  Everyone (at least at our dinner table) even mentioned it.  It really threw me off and while I don't think it was totally a pregnancy thing, I would have had a much better day had I not been feeling so unstable.  

7.  Take advantage of priority check-in.  Seriously.  It's there for you.  I certainly didn't feel disabled or even incapable of waiting in the long check-in lines to board.  But, my feet definitely appreciated being able to quickly get on board and sit.  You're pregnant.  You qualify for priority.  Take advantage of it.  Just trust me on this.  

8.  Don't be afraid to go on an excursion.  Cruises don't typically have pregnancy special excursions, but some of them are definitely do-able and a lot of fun even while pregnant.  We went on a city tour, visited a turtle farm, went to the beach, and toured Mayan ruins all during this trip.  Talk with your doctor about what you can do and don't be afraid to ask the excursion specialists on board.  There is plenty to do and enjoy!


I really wish I could think of an extra 2 tips to make this an even 10, but that's what I've got for now.  I might have more after our next cruise, but for now this is it.  We have really loved both of the cruises we've been on  and look forward to more in the future with our growing family!



  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The time our AC went out in the middle of the summer

Our air conditioning is broken.
Our air conditioning has been broken since last Monday.  
That's 10 days ago and I think the lowest high that we've had in those days has probably been 93.  It was 100 yesterday.  
Our house has been a nice 85-93 degrees.  
It is blazing hot in here. 

Good things happen to those who sweat. @Lorna Riojas Jane @Harriet Adkins Approach #lornajanespringclean
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And would you think I was crazy if I told you it was okay?  

Our neighbor has a window AC unit that we've installed in our master bedroom, which has actually been keeping the bedroom/master bathroom pretty nice and cool while the rest of the house is essentially sweltering.  

Is it ideal?  No.  But, to be honest, I think it's been a good lesson in patience and perspective.  

I'm learning to not take things like air conditioning for granted.  Everyone doesn't have central air, and how fortunate am I that this is not a regular state for our family in the summer time?  Perspective.

I'm learning that when a situation is beyond your control, it's better if you figure out the best way to deal with it rather than complaining.  Complaining makes you more aggravated and causes you to focus on the perceived problem and isn't that helpful in finding a solution.  Complaining make you less patient and less tolerant of your teammates.  Hubs and I make a really good team.  We were actually sitting on the couch just the other night surrounded by fans with all the windows open to let in the cool[er] night air and I just realized that just how thankful I am to do life with that man.  He's a good partner and we really make a good team.  There's no one else I'd rather be stuck in a hot house with than him.  Patience. 

I'm learning that outside isn't a bad place to hang out.  There's a breeze out there, HELLO!

I'm also reminded that we have an awesome group of friends and neighbors. We've got a borrowed window unit running nicely beside me now.  We've got lots of borrowed fans that pull in the morning and evening air when we get home from work.  And we've got extra places to stay if for some reason the window unit stops keeping the bedroom cool...or if we just wanted to go somewhere different.  

We're working with our warranty company and service providers to agree on the way forward. But essentially, the unit is original to the house and it's most likely going to have to be replaced.  And we hope that happens soon.  Then we will bask in the coolness of circulating air conditioning and probably not even know what to do with ourselves.  

Until then, I want to remember all of this.  We'll tuck this away in our mental memories bin and we'll smile when we think about that time our AC stopped working smack dab in the middle of summer. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Easy Cheesecake Recipe

To follow up on our strawberry date, as soon as we got home from picking our fresh berries, I immediately wanted to make a cheesecake.  I'd never made one, but I got a spring form pan for Christmas specifically so I could learn.  And let's be real, what better time to learn than a weekend after just picking fresh strawberries with the one you love?  


Naturally then, I hopped over to Pinterest to see what I could find.  After looking through several recipes, I decided to add the word "easy" to my search and found a lovely little recipe from Plain Chicken.  (If you've never checked out Plain Chicken, I HIGHLY recommend it.  It's packed with tons of great recipes that are clear and easy to follow.) So, when I saw it was from a favorite blog already (and it used fewer ingredients than some of the others I found, I immediately jotted it down and began to bake.  

The original recipe is here.  

Basically, you'll need to make the crust and cake separately.  You could also use a pre-made crust, but I wouldn't recommend it.  

INGREDIENTS

Crust:
1.5 cups of graham cracker crumbs (about half a box).  We crushed ours in a big bowl with a wooden spoon.  It was hubs' idea and it worked WAY better than me trying to break them all by hand.

5 tbsp sugar

1/3 cup melted butter.  


Cake: 
(3) 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened (don't microwave, just let it sit on the counter while you make the crust)

1.5 cups sugar

4 eggs, separated (save the yolk and whites though)

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp vanilla (original recipe calls for 1, but I really like it, so 2)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325. 

For the crust, combine all ingredients in a bowl and press against the bottom of a greased 9-inch spring form pan.  



For the cake:

Mix cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, and vanilla.  I used a hand mixer and it worked great for this step.

In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until stiff.  I added a pinch of extra sugar here to help them stiffen, but you don't have to if you're more patient than me.

Fold the stiffened whites into the cake mix and empty bowl into spring form pan.





(Thanks, hubs for the action shots.)

Once it's put together, bake at 325 for 35 minutes.  Then turn the oven off, but leave the door closed and continue baking for an hour.  

You'll know the cake is down when the edges look firm, but the middle is still a little wiggly. Take it out, cool it to room temperature on a wire cooling rack and move to the freezer for a couple of hours.  


Serve however you like, but I like strawberries and whipped cream.  


Just want to say again, although I adapted this recipe and added my own little notes from my baking experience, the original recipe is found over at Plain Chicken.  Check her out for real.  



Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer date: Strawberry Picking

Does anyone else love a good date night/day?  I love when hubs plans a fun date for us, but I also realize that the burden shouldn't totally be on him to always come up with ideas for us.  I recently made a list for us of fun date ideas for the summer of things I would like to do and places I'd like to go.  These are all things that are local to us because the summer weekends pile up so quickly with traveling and other events that I really enjoy spending time close to home.  


I plan on creating a full post of all the fun dates that we've got planned for the summer - especially since they were planned to be local, simple, and relatively inexpensive.  Spoiler alert:  they are mostly fun things that we forget about doing, but that are really fun when we can do together. 


Recently, we checked off the first of our summer date list ideas - picking strawberries at a local farm!  We have actually never been to pick strawberries or any fruit together and it was a fun way to spend an early Saturday morning before it got too hot in the day.


Because we waited until June to pick, the berries were a little limited to be honest.  We really had to search for some good ones since it's getting close to the end of the harvest.  But, we managed to make it through and found some really good, fresh berries to bring home.  Props to the hubs for the photos on this date.  He knew I'd like to blog about it and wanted to be sure it I had good photos.  Love him!


We ended up with a full box lid of berries to take home for part two of our date - making a cheesecake!  Another thing I'd never tried to do before, but have been wanting to.  I actually got a spring form pan for Christmas that had been just waiting to be used.


It turned out to be delicious.  (Recipe forthcoming)  We had such a fun and perfect morning.  We followed this little date with home chores, lunch with family, and a fun afternoon with friends.  

Normal things really can be the best things when you do them intentionally with people that you love.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Babymoon: Part 3 - Cozumel

Our second port of call for our vacation was to Cozumel, Mexico.  I was super pumped about this since we'd gone to Cancun on our honeymoon and had an absolute ball.  I knew that Cozumel would be different since we'd be there only for the day and not for a full week, but I was happy happy happy to get back to Mexico.  


We booked a shorter excursion to tour Mayan ruins at San Gervasio.  We went to Chichen Itza on our honeymoon and it was by far a highlight of the trip.  We just really love walking around old places and learning new things.  Had I not been pregnant, I would have opted to go into the mainland all day to tour Tulum, but it wasn't recommended that I take up that hike and I was happy to follow safety precautions for the babe.  Next time though...


San Gervasio ended up being really great though.  Our tour guide was excellent and the site was really well preserved.  There is enough walking to feel like you've had an active day, but it was something that I could easily do and our group was pretty mixed in terms of ages and everyone seemed to have a really good time.  


The weather was perfect for exploring also.  It was really overcast and even lightly sprinkling rain on and off.  I walked around comfortably without an umbrella, but I was thankful for my light weight sweater in the morning for sure.  I don't think the people with all day beach excursions loved the weather, but it was perfect for our excursion.  Cool and comfortable.




After we left the ruins, our tour guide took us to a local beach where we got to spend some time in the hammocks, walk around, and just enjoy being on the beach.  And I found this cute little sign on the side of the road.  We didn't see horses, nor did we go horseback riding, but I thought the bright colors were so festive and vacation like.  It looks like a postcard to me.  


And of course, the beach was beautiful.  Everywhere we went, I loved to see the different shades of blue, green, and turquoise out on the ocean.  It's incredible to me to really stop and think about the ocean - it's really magnificent - like a whole other world under there.  





And of course once we got back, we showered and got ready for dinner.  Somehow, we didn't get a ton of photos on the ship, since we spent our time playing trivia, eating, and laying out by the pool.  We did manage to get one good shot of both of us though on our last night.  


We actually drove all the way home once we got back from Tampa instead of breaking our trip up.  I like travelling more slowly on the way, but once vacation is over, I was ready to get back home.  

We truly had a wonderful little babymoon.  Even though we were only at week 20, it felt like a big last hoorah while it's just the two of us.  Next week, I think I'll write a post of cruise travel tips both in general and while pregnant with some of the things I forgot about from our first cruise and learned on this cruise.  But for now, I'm just basking in the memories of our vacation and thinking about getting in the pool this weekend.  




Monday, June 15, 2015

Babymoon: Part 2 - Grand Cayman

After we left St. Augustine and made it down to Tampa, we set off our on cruise.  We traveled on the Carnival Paradise down to Grand Cayman and Cozumel.  We opted for a cabin on the main deck with port holes.  We don't spend a ton of time in our room when we cruise, so we prefer to have the little port holes rather than a big window or balcony.  


Our first day was out at sea, so we actually arrived at Grand Cayman on the second full day of the cruise.  What I didn't realize until the day before was that Grand Cayman is surrounded by a reef, so we had to dock out at sea and take a smaller boat with other cruise guests to actually get onto the island.  


How beautiful is that?!  The island was just stunning.  For our excursion, we took a submarine boat tour (not exactly a submarine...but a boat with an underwater cabin with windows.  They made very clear that the boat was not intended to be submerged.)  This lasted for about 45 minutes to an hour, but we got to see lots of the reef, a couple of shipwrecks, schools of fish, and a few really unique fish. I would definitely recommend this to someone who wants to see the reef, but not go snorkeling (or who is pregnant and unable to go snorkeling).


Once we got off of the boat, we had a city tour where we saw lots of local landmarks, beaches, and the Rum Cake Factory.  Apparently this is a big deal, but I didn't try it, so I can't tell you that.  I can tell you though that our tour guide was awesome and the weather was perfect!  




And finally, our last stop was the Turtle Farm  where we got to learn about the turtles and some of the wildlife, and even hold some of the smaller turtles in the pools.  There were smaller pools where kids could get in with the turtles, but I wasn't taking my chances on that.  I didn't have a towel, or a swim suit and knowing me, I would have definitely fallen.


Hubs was awesome at catching the little guys swimming around!


And finally, just before we got back on the boat, we snagged a photo at the port.  (Tip - to avoid standing in the long line to get back on the ship, just sit in the shade while the line passes in front of you.  When it gets to the end, stand up and get in line.  You'll be on the last boat in, but you won't be exhausted from standing in the long line...That was hubs idea and it was brilliant.)


We really loved Grand Cayman.  It was clean and beautiful and the people were so friendly.  It is one of my favorite places we've been.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

5 on Friday

Y'all.  3 posts in a week.  Am I blogging again?   I'm super excited to feel like I'm getting back in the swing of things here on the blog and even more excited to be sharing my top 5 this week!  It's getting warmer and more and more like summer.  Things are busy as ever over here, but fun as always and I'm happy to have blog world back in my life!  I'm linking up today with ChristinaAprilDarciNatasha , Amanda over at Meet @ the Barre and Karli with September Farm. for Friday 5 and Friday Favorites.  

1. Productivity
I've been feeling so productive around home these days.  Hubs and I always have a goals list and house updates we'd like to make list, but the day-to-day gets jumbled up sometimes.  About a week ago, we created a google doc with all of our random tasks that need to be done - the day to day, mundane things that we really need to get done.  It has been super nice to have and has really been keeping us on track.  We can easily see what needs to be done and work together to get things done without having to repeat the list to one another multiple times.  
15 Simple Moves That Will Change Your Career #refinery29  http://www.refinery29.com/work-life-productivity-tips#slide1  1. Get specific about your goals and keep them visible.  Julie got into the business after realizing how chaotic her own life was. "It was chaos. I always lost things, and I lived out of piles — it was just a mess." But, when her daughter was born, she realized, "'I can do this to myself, but I can’t do it to another human being.'" That's the crux of her No. 1 tip: Always ...
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2.  This lamp shade. 
As a part of our productivity, we've started moving things around in the house to prep for the babe.  
One thing that means is that the future nursery looks much like a storage area, but I was able to start and finish a fun little craft project with this lamp that we actually got from a friend who was moving out of their apartment a couple of years ago and I'm excited that it is going to have a new little home in babe's nursery.  

3.  This cheesecake. 
I made my very first cheesecake recently and I think that's really all I need to say about that.  It was delicious and I'm excited to share the recipe I used with y'all soon!

4.  The beach.  
Hubs and I have been to the beach a couple of times this summer so far and we're planning a few more trips down hopefully really soon. 


5.  Babymoon.  I could be on vacation with hubs over and over again.  Parts 2 and 3 are coming up on the blog next week!  We had a blast and I'm excited to be able to share our vacation with y'all!!

Also, this week seems like it has flown by.  We're spending time with friends this weekend and it's sure to be a fun time.  

What fun things are you up to this summer?  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Maternity Style: White deconstructed jeans

Maternity clothes...love them and hate them.  Love getting new clothes.  Hate HAVING to buy new clothes.  I am really fortunate though to have a few girlfriends that have had kids in the last couple of years with maternity clothes sitting in their closets, so I've been able to borrow a lot of what I'm wearing these days and buy things that I love when I find them on sale.  


I put off getting any maternity clothes as long as I could.  And then one day I was at work and actually had to sit with my jeans unbuttoned.  That's when I knew.  But honestly, it was so discouraging to see how expensive full priced clothes can be and to feel like you don't want to spend that much on them, but you also have to have clothes to wear.


So I borrowed almost all of my clothes.  I've bought several things myself, but I have been able to put away the stress of HAVING to go shop.  I packed away almost all of the clothes in my closet that don't fit anymore so I wouldn't confuse them and have replaced them with a nice little mix of my things and my friends' things for now.  

It's actually been really nice to have fewer clothes in my closet and I think that once I'm back into my old clothes, I am going to be much more selective about what goes back in.  


One thing I bought early on before our cruise was these sandals.  They're Crocs Really Sexi sandal and I LOVE them.  They have been so good to my feet and I wear them almost everyday.  I love cute shoes, but I really am loving some comfort these days.  And frankly, I think these are cute.  


This outfit is a good little mix of mine and borrowed.  White deconstructed jeans (big deal because these are my first white jeans - behind the times, I know.  AND my first pair of deconstructed jeans) are mine from Destination Maternity.  The top is borrowed from a friend from Old Navy.  This was a fun outift for the office in the summer time.  

I'm hoping to get back into the swing of what I wore posts - especially with the babe...and to show off some of my friends' good fashion sense.  (I can say that since they picked the clothes out...)  

Also, I see white jeans in my non-maternity closet next summer for sure.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Babymoon: part 1 - Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine

We didn't take a big vacation last year and decided early on that we would take an awesome vacation this year in 2015.  We didn't have big plans, but there are definitely some things that I've learned that I wanted to do.  I loved Savannah when we went in 2013 and I love anywhere (at least anywhere I've been) in the Caribbean.  I also knew that I wanted our vacation to be all-inclusive if we could because let's be real, it is so nice to feel pampered and totally spoiled while you're on vacation.  

When we found out in January that we were expecting, we knew that we needed to push the timeline for vacation up significantly and ended up booking a cruise when I would be at 20 weeks.  It ended up being the perfect time to travel.  


Our cruise left from Tampa, so we drove down to Florida the day before.  Through a fun little turn of events (hotel being overbooked and us not finding out until 10:00PM when we arrived and getting a free upgrade, but 45 minutes away), we ended up spending the night in St. Augustine.  I had never been there, but when we arrived I realized that our hotel was about half a mile from a trolley stop.  

So, the next morning instead of hitting the road so quickly, we took advantage of the hotel breakfast, walked to the trolley stop to get some ideas about things we could do around the city.  We decided on the Fountain of Youth historical park.  


The Fountain of Youth is the cite where Ponce de Leon explored in 1513 and was later settled in 1565.  The archaeological park is full of historic things and exhibits, but is easily walkable in a few hours.  Perfect for pregnancy.




A white peacock!  I thought he was so pretty!  He did not like that little bird though, and opened full feathers to get the other bird away.


I was so excited for our little detour!  It was an unexpected turn of events for sure, but it ended up being a little pre-vacation.  I thought St. Augustine was a wonderfully cute and fun city and I easily could have spent longer there if we didn't have a cruise to catch the next morning,