1/29/2012

A stupendous, simple, stress-free, spontaneous, Saturday and Sunday.

This weekend was just what I needed. It was totally relaxed, totally unplanned, and totally wonderful. Last week was a bit blah, so I was entirely looking forward to two peaceful days with the hubby doing whatever we wanted. 

You may remember from my previous post that Carl had been promising to cook dinner on Friday night (for the first time ever in 10 years! WOOHOO!). Because of this, I spent all of Friday looking forward to walking in the house where dinner would be sitting, piping hot and ready to be eaten. Since moving out from Mom and Dad's house I have yet to experience this (I'm the foodie in our relationship so I'm the primary chef, ya see) so having dinner cooked for me by Carl was something very special. I didn't get home from school until nearly 6pm (which is a long day considering I got there at 8am and spent the entire time running around after 60 four-year-old-tiny-terrors) so I was absolutely starving and on the verge of gnawing away at my own arm. I'd saved up my WW points all day in preparation for his 'secret' dinner, and the anticipation was killing me. As soon as I unlocked the front door, the waft of fragrant garlic and spicy chicken tickled my nose and I began to drool. No seriously, I did. As I walked into the kitchen the first thing I saw was Carl sporting pot-holders as he pulled his garlic and thyme roast potatoes out of the oven. Ha! Now folks, trust me. This is a drastic change. Previous to this, I'd only ever seen him pop bread in the toaster, flip bacon in a frying pan or stir canned soup on the stove. Of course he's my right hand man, my little sous chef, on holidays for big meals or if I need some help time and time again, but up until now Carl's never made an entire home-made meal, single handedly, from start to finish. I nearly fell backwards at the sight of him looking so...'cheffy.' 
In preparation for his big meal, he researched on the internet for recipes which he felt were 'manageable' and tasty for his first attempt. He was bound determined to do something that I had never made us before (probably so that I couldn't sit there and say 'what did you put in here? This tastes a bit different!' haha) and he refused to let me know the recipe beforehand as he wanted to do it all himself. It was adorable, and I'm so unbelievably proud to say that his dinner was absolutely delicious. I've got a Gordon Ramsay on my hands! Snap!
His dinner was grilled chicken that had been marinated in a spicy tandoori type rub. It had a bit of a kick, but wasn't too hot and had a lovely sweetness to it. In addition to that, he made garlic and thyme oven roasted potatoes (you may be wondering where the veggies are, but keep in mind that this is my fussy boy who despises anything 'healthy' and only just started liking pineapple, so go easy on him. Those nutritious colorful things are still foreign...give me a bit more time, I'm still workin' on it...) Not only was his dinner super yummy, but it was healthy as well and fit right into our Weight Watchers routine. I was so impressed and grateful for a delicious meal made lovingly for me by my honey-bunches-of-oats.. The only downside to all of this is that now I'm aware he can actually cook...he's gonna wish he'd never shown his cards. Ha! Poor bugger! ;)
After dinner, we continued our 'date night' and headed to the movie theatre to see the new  award winning film staring George Clooney (hottie alert!) called 'The Descendants.' To be perfectly blunt, Carl and I were slightly disappointed/annoyed with the way the film had been portrayed via the trailer. Going in, we thought it was a romantic comedy of some sort, but in actuality it's a very dark/deep film. Slightly depressing, if I'm being honest. I think I cried about 9 times throughout the film (however, this could be because I'm an emotional nuisance these days) and although it's undoubtedly a brilliant movie with amazing acting, it's definitely not a 'feel good' kind of film. I'm not trying to deter anyone from watching it, because it's one of the best movies I've seen in a while in terms of the quality, it's just not one that you'd want to see if you're looking for a pick-me-up. Obnoxious film critic rant ending now...

On Saturday morning we woke up late and lazed around the house. While Carl was absorbed in the FA Cup, I cuddled in bed with a cuppa tea reading teaching blogs. I found three new awesome ones that I'll pass along for my fellow teachers now. Cara aka 'Mrs. Carroll'Teacher Tom and Kara all have wonderful education blogs filled to the brim with boatloads of FANTASTIC resources/ideas. I spent a good 3 hours scrolling through their posts borrowing stealing their amazing ideas. Definitely check them out! :) After our lounge-around session, we ventured through town in the freezing cold to Cuthberts Bakehouse (click here to read about my Cuthbert's obsession) and I FINALLY got to eat my long-awaited piece of red velvet cake. (Long story short, twice now since Christmas, Carl and I have trekked all through town - trust me it's quite the haul - to this bloody bakery to find that it was unexpectedly closed. And both times I nearly cried as I'd been full on drooling in anticipation for a piece of their A-MA-ZING cake). I'm ashamed, however, to admit that yesterday, Saturday January 28th, I failed miserably to finish my entire piece. Weight Watchers must truly be doing its job of shrinking my stomach. Even with a good heaping 3 mouthfuls of pure red heaven left on my plate, I basically rolled out of that bakery. I was just too full to finish it and had to admit defeat. But don't worry, I'll save up my points again and, after calling to check opening times, I'll embark in the red velvet adventure once more. Be sure to stayed tuned for that.

These are just a couple of pictures from our cake-fuelled adventure through Liverpool.


Today was another relaxing day. I enjoyed a nice long-distance chat with my Momma while Carl played his beloved acoustic guitar and video games. After that I planned my Continuous Provision for the little kiddies next week. They're going to be learning about "growth and decay" so I've put together a simple photo slide show depicting the life cycle of daffodils. It will play continuously via my digital photo frame Mom and Dad got as Christmas present 3 years ago (Go Mom and Dad!) I bought fresh beautiful daffodils that we'll put in a vase and take pictures of daily to record/show their 'decay' over time. The kids have daffodil coloring pages to 'beautify' (this works on their pincer-grip, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills) and I'll be bringing in The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle (one of my FAVORITE children's authors) and How a Seed Grows by Helene J Jordan to read with them. As another fun little activity, I've also put a piece of bread in a zip-lock baggie for us to watch as mold develops. Ha! 

After I finished my planning, I ventured into the kitchen to experiment with two new recipe's I found via Pinterest (whoda guessed, right?!) The first experiment was Garlic Hassleback Potatoes. Overall I was really pleased with them and I think Carl and I will have them again. They were SO easy and only 6 WW ProPoints! I'm not entirely sure if I liked them any more than I like a good baked potato, but they were a yummy change.
 After that, I made the Weight Watchers Apple Cider Crisp that I've been dying to try. I tweeked the recipe slightly by adding apple juice instead of apple cider (I've yet to see proper apple cider from an orchard here in England. BOO!) and I added 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries as I only had 5 apples hangin' around. It turned out FANTASTIC and I think in the future I'll make it exactly the same way, regardless of my abundance of apples. I'll be dishing this out into Tupperware containers shortly to bring with me to school. Can't wait to eat those bad boys throughout the week! Ha!
While this weekend has gone ridiculously fast (how come I find myself saying this EVERY Sunday?) the peacefulness of it has given me the opportunity to recharge and I am excited to get into school tomorrow and spend the day with the kiddies. I hope that you too enjoyed a stress-free weekend and were presented with the opportunity to enjoy the company of your loved ones, sleep in past 8am, eat good food, and recharge. Here's to another week, may this one be filled with lots of optimism and kick-ass Blueberry Apple Crisp!

1/26/2012

Makes me pee my pants

How did we survive without Pinterest? Seriously? Every day I find myself wasting the majority of my precious free-time 'repinning' various things and screaming to Carl (who most times isn't AT ALL interested in ANY of what I'm showing him):  "OMG! check this recipe out! We're eatin' that!" or "Holy Crap! No way would I have thought of that!" or just plain dying with laughter. Well tonight, especially, I've been hardcore repinning things on my 'Makes me pee my pants' pinboard. And because I'm so generous, I thought I'd share some of my glorious finds with all of you! ;) These are my current favorites...


CAUTION: 
Do NOT continue if you're attempting any of the following as it could result in serious injury: 
Eating, Drinking or Operating heavy machinery. 


Shiny...
'Shcool' is cool.
Sorry about the profanity, but I find this glorious so I just had to post it.
As a teacher I find this especially hilarious
This one made me laugh uncontrollably.
How the hell?!?
Snap! 
'Potatoes gonna potate' BAHA!
BAHAHA!
Pet Peeve! 
Hahahaha All I can think of is Rex from Toy Story when I see this.
HA! I certainly hope you enjoyed those as much as I did :) Before I leave on my merry way, I want to share one other bit of awesomeness that never fails to make me laugh hysterically. I first saw this YouTube video around 2 years ago and I've been watching it ever since. I'll never forget the first time I saw it it because I honestly couldn't see the computer screen through all of the tears. I watched it over 20 times that night and I cried every single time. It's still one of my favorites and I hope you'll enjoy it like I do. Baha!

1/25/2012

The cutest dog on the entire PLANET!

Okay, so this is a completely random post, but one that I just had to do as my infatuation with this little furball is on the verge of obsession/stalking. Also, I've had an absolutely craptastic day today, and flicking through pictures of this little bundle of love has really helped my mood. So, I thought I'd do my good deed and share the happiness with you also, in hopes of brightening a few more days sparing a few husbands from a wife with a foul attitude. 

Love bugs, meet Boo...




SERIOUSLY! HOW ADORABLE IS HE, PLEASE!?!

Now, while I wish I could proudly brag about how Boo is my puppy-dog, I can't. The sad truth is that I've never even seen Boo in person, let alone pet him. I found him on Facebook (I'm one of his 2,836,56 fans...yes you read that number correctly. This pooch has nearly 3 MILLION fans!) and I've giggled at every single photo he's uploaded since (when I say 'he's uploaded' I'm well aware that it wasn't actually him. I haven't completely lost the plot). Nevertheless, this little dog cracks me up, and he's firmly in my category of "so cute I wanna the shit out of bite him" In fact, he's right up there with my Philippe Mario (for those of you who don't know, that's mine and Carl's version of a travelling gnome, he's a Starbucks Bearista Bear in the shape of a gingerbread man and he's freakin' adorable!)

So, if you're ever having a craptastic day and need some sort of a pick-me-up, do as I've done today and check out Boo's Facebook Page as I guarantee it can always be trusted to provoke a toothy smile. And by all means, prove how much of a wonderful friend you are by sharing a bit of Boo with friends and family who may be needing a bit of tender care and love. After all, it's physically impossible for any human being to get too much Boo. For cereal.

Before I go, I just have to take a moment to brag about how wonderful my husband is. He's truly one in a million, my little gem (well, he's almost an entire foot taller than me, so he's about as 'little' as the Jolly Green Giant). I mentioned briefly how today has been a rough day. Lately I've been having a really tough time and feeling horribly homesick. There have been other personal things which have made my days a bit gloomy, but I'm trying to remain optimistic as I know times will get better. I'm determined to pull myself out of this little rut I'm in. I think I've got the January blues, for lack of a better explanation. In addition, there have been recent family issues which have added to it, and my wisdom teeth have become the bane of my existence  Seriously, what is their point? Anyway, I know I really shouldn't be complaining because there are people out there who have far more serious or heartbreaking circumstances, but as silly and insignificant as my craptastic days are it somehow helps to talk/write about them rather than bottling them up. 

I'm so thankful to have a super-awesome hubby who goes out of his way to make me smile and offers loads of encouragement. Today, for instance, he came home early from work and surprised me with a bouquet of gorgeous orange and yellow tulips (I love tulips, especially bright and cheerful ones). What a good boy. 
This wonderful gesture made my insides fuzzy with ooey-gooey wifely love and I feel so blessed. In addition to my pretty flowers, he's also just informed me that, for the first time in 10 years, he's going to cook ME dinner this Friday night! I find it adorable that a man who can barely muster warming tinned soup and toasting bread has gone out of his way to find a recipe and is attempting to make his first ever fancy dinner. I can't wait to  see what he's got up his sleeve and finally taste his cooking.I'm sure it'll be delicious...but if you don't hear from me after Friday you'll know why... 

That's all for today, folks.
Thanks for reading and keep smiling!

1/24/2012

I'm shrinking! Thank you Weight Watchers!

Many of you will already be aware, thanks to my Back on the Weight Watchers Bandwagon post in the beginning of January, that I have been dieting it up in an attempt to lose that last bit of pudge and finally reach my goal weight. And to be honest, I'm not that far off! (Thank the Lord). In total, there's only around 10lbs to go now, which is entirely do-able in my opinion! A piece of cake! Especially if things keep going as positively as they have been. I'm proud to report that since getting back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon, I've already lost 6lbs! SNAP! Ha! I'm so tickled pink with my progress, and for whatever reason, I'm finding dieting so much easier than I have before. I think part of this may have to do with the fact that I'm teaching again. Last placement I was so busy I hardly had time to sit down and actually eat my healthy fruits and salads, nevermind the junk food. I'm finding that with this placement as well. I'm just so busy running around after the kiddos that this whole 'eating' thing goes on the back burner, so by time I've sporadically nibbled on my point-free snacks, fruits and veggies and walked out of the school for home, I've got more than 3/4 of my points left! This does, however, mean that I can indulge a bit in dinner. It's grand! Of course, like every woman dieting, I have those days where I see a massive piece of calorific Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake and temporarily contemplate scoffing the entire thing in 2.3 seconds flat, but I've managed to hold my ground, stayed focussed and reined in the temptation. I have, however, found 2 really really yummy Weight Watchers recipes on Pinterest which have enabled me to eat the food I crave without completely trashing my points. As my good deed for the day, I'm going to share them with you now...

Yummy WW recipe #1: Baked Ziti. This is SO delicious that you'll completely forget you're even on a diet or counting any points. Truly yummy. And the best part is that it's only 7 ProPoints per serving.
Uncooked...
hot out of the oven! (in case you're wondering, that green stuff on the top is fresh basil, not worms for extra protein).
 Yummy WW recipe #2: Carrot Cake. This cake is super moist and super good. If you follow the recipe and make it with the fat-free cream cheese frosting it is 4 ProPoints per cupcake, or per slice. But I opted for bigger slices of frosting-free cake for the same amount of points. P.S. I HATE raisins so I left them out, and I ended up adding 1 tsp of Cloves and 1/2 tsp of Allspice to my cake batter. It was very yummy and a great addition in my opinion. Obviously, you don't have to do this, I just did it because I have an obsession with spice cake, Ha!
Don't ask me WHY the cake looks red in this picture? I blame the camera phone. In real life it was an orange/brown color.  
I've tried many other recipes too which haven't been specifically WW, and I'll pass those along in my next 'Favorite Recipe's' post. But for the time being I thought I'd be a good friend and share these 2 as they have been tried and tested by yours truly. Give them a go and let me know what you think! Also, if any of you have scrum-diddly-umptious Weight Watcher recipes of your own (tried and tested, of courses!) PLEASE pass them along. I'd love to give them a go! :)


Alright friends, I'm afraid that's all that I can muster for today as far as blog posts go. Those 62 adorable children in my classes have well and truly pooped me out. My head is pounding and I'm off for a big fat cat nap. This nap statement makes me laugh though, not only because I'm a poet and I didn't know it (...are you sensing my lack of sleep yet?) but because I remember as a child the time that my mother tried to put me down for a nap and I flat out refused. She insisted I go to sleep as it was 'good for me' and shut my bedroom door. 15 minutes later, as my Grandmother pulled into our dooryard, I was caught with my ass hanging out of my bedroom window as I tried to make my escape. Now, as an adult, all I can think is what the heck was wrong with me? These days I'm trying to make an escape from school (although maybe not by window) so that I CAN nap! I'm clearly getting old...Aaaaah well. Sleep, precious sleep. Nevertheless, please continue to wish me luck in my dieting adventure. I'm sure I'll post again in the near future filling you in on my progress (mark my words...it WILL be progress. I refuse to stay the same weight or gain anything, otherwise heads will roll). I'll also be sharing some of my new favorite WW recipes. 

Thanks for reading, folks!
Take good care,

1/21/2012

Vitameatavegamin

Of course we all have things that remind us of our childhood. The smallest, most random, nonsensical and seemingly insignificant of which can trigger a cascading waterfall of memories. I love that. I hope that never goes away.

It may be the smell of buttered popcorn that reminds you of the very first time Mom took you to see a movie in the theatre, and how you felt like such a big girl sitting in those fancy fold-down seats while the opening credits for 'The Lion King' scrolled across the screen. Or it may be the taste of Marshmallow Fluff mooshed in between two slices of "Country Kitchen Giant" bread that takes you right back to the wooden barstool in Mom and Dads kitchen. Or perhaps the tickle from soft, sticky, soapy rainbow bubbles popping on your fingertips in your bubble bath will remind you of the time your little sister ruined your beautiful long hair by putting gum in it during a bath when you 4. For me it's always the simple things. Totally random and wonderful, that sneak up on me when I'm least expecting it and remind me of all the special experiences I had as a child. They remind me of how I wish I  could turn back the hands of time and do it all again. Because I didn't just enjoy my childhood, I loved it. It was a simple and stress free time filled with tree houses, Freezer Pops, grass stained feet, freckles, bee stings, The Spice Girls, Jello Jigglers, jelly sandals, sprinkles, tacos, Lisa Frank stationary sets, the smell of Mom's homemade cinnamon doughnuts, Grandma's frog cookie jar filled to the brim with Oreo's, Pogs, The Backstreet Boys, "Dan's Van hot dogs", The Addison County Fair and Field Days, Mrs. P, Max our puppy-dog and the ridiculous song Sonya and I invented, lightening bugs, summer thunderstorms, the bogeyman, shooting stars, fairy dust and of course the "I Love Lucy" Vitameatavegamin commercial I used to LOVE watching on TV Land with Grandma Bedard.

Hmmm, random German subtitles? How odd. Don't remember those ;)

Memories like this make me feel nostalgic. Memories like this remind me just how lucky I am to have had a childhood filled with happiness, laughter and love. Memories like this remind me to be appreciative of my beautiful friends and family. Memories like this remind me reflect. Memories like this remind me that time passes too quickly. Memories like this remind me that not all children are so fortunate.  Memories like this remind me how grateful and blessed I am.

1/19/2012

What's inside my bag?

A couple of months ago I noticed that my lovely University friend Lauren (you can find her at Live Today, Think Tomorrow) did a post called 'What's in my bag?' One of her readers had suggested she do it as a great way for others to get to know her better. At the time I read it and thought 'Oh! What a clever idea!' but with the craziness that is my life, never got around to actually doing a post myself. However, today I stumbled upon yet another 'What's inside my bag?' post on Julia's blog and, with time on my side for the moment, I'm embarking on the adventure. 

Before the snooping begins, I'm confessing to you now that there's nothing very interesting or exciting inside my bag. It's all pretty boring, and half the time I can't find whatever the hell it is I need anyway! I refer to it as my 'Mary Poppins bag' as I swear its an endless pit! All kinds of random crud ends up inside. But in order to make this as truthful and honest as possible I haven't altered what's in there to make myself look like a super-cool-cat. So if you think I'm a dork, you'll know I've been honest. Nevertheless, my bag goes with me everywhere, and the more I sit and think about what's inside it I laugh because you really can tell quite a bit about me based on it's contents. So, without further adieu, let's dive on in there.

At the moment my Mary Poppins bag happens to be in the form of a Ted Baker Large Bow Ikon Bag. This was my big Christmas present from the hubby :) I LOVE it
The contents are as follows:

Used and abused Guess wallet/purse that I purchased 4 years ago. Still going strong!
Chanel Coco Mademoiselle - My favorite perfume ever and a Christmas gift from the hubby
My day planner/organizer (I couldn't live without this!)
Pink highlighter for my day planner (OCD much?)
Swarovski Crystal pen - a college graduation present 
University student ID card
My prescription reading glasses
Umbrella - which is broken.
Pack of Ibuprofen (a staple in every woman's bag)
Carmex (best Chapstick ever made!)
Maybelline Super Stay 24 Color "Cherry Pie" - best lip gloss I've ever had!
MAC Dazzleglass 'Like Venus' lip gloss - this was given to me on my wedding day by my make-up artist. I never wear it but I carry it with me everywhere because of it's sentimental value. 
Nail clippers
Bobby pins
Keys 
Juicy Fruit gum
Kelloggs Special K Bar (my 2point WW snack!)
Cell phone
Green iPod
Hand sanitizer (because I work with children - aka walking germ colonies - everyday)
Kleenex
Purple gloves

That's all she wrote! And I must point out that if you've read this entire post, all the way down to here, you've just proven you're just as nosy as the rest of us. Ha! Hope you enjoyed a good snoop and feel as though you know me better. I'd love to snoop in yours too, so please share! :)

P.S.
I know this is totally random and has absolutely nothing to do with what's in my bag...but my good friend Mel (also my hairdresser) popped by today and cut my hair. It's even shorter now than it was before (click here to read about my first hair chopping experience) but I love it! I'm so glad I had the guts to finally get it cut into a bob, I can't believe it took me so long to do it! Just wanted to share my fancy hair-do with all of you too :)

1/18/2012

Make your voice heard!

First and foremost, I must make it very clear that I am not a person who is heavily into politics. In fact, I'm quite the opposite, and I normally distance myself from the whole hoopla as much as possible. But this is something that I (as well as other bloggers, like Megan)  feel strongly about. And as a person who enjoys reading blogs (like this!) or using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter etc, you should too! 

I'm sure a lot of you have heard about the latest fiasco involving the U.S. Congress. They are attempting to pass legislation that will mean that a world where internet is free and open to the public, is no longer. The effects of this proposal have been felt all over the web with featured news articles, Twitter trends, awareness campaigns and petitions galore. Even Wikipedia has dedicated the next 24 hours to the cause by 'blacking out the site' and stating the following:

Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time. Readers who come to English Wikipedia during the blackout will not be able to read the encyclopedia. Instead, you will see messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, encouraging you to share your views with your representatives, and with each other on social media.

SOPA (short for the "Stop Online Piracy Act") and PIPA (an acronym for the "Protect Intellectual Property Act") are two bills that the U.S. Senate are hoping to pass in efforts to stop copyright infringement or 'piracy.' However, these acts would negatively impact millions of people who use the internet freely and openly via social networks (in other words, you and I!) In a statement on their petition website, Google have worded this much better than I ever could, so I'm saying a massive 'ditto!' to the following statement:

Fighting online piracy is important. The most effective way to shut down pirate websites is through targeted legislation that cuts off their funding. There’s no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of U.S. jobs. 

So, if like me, and thousands of others, you feel strongly about this click HERE to sign Google's petition and make your voice heard. Lets work together to make sure we can enjoy an open and free internet in the future.

1/17/2012

Missing you, Momma

It's days like today where I wish plane tickets weren't so damn expensive.
It's days like today where I wish the Atlantic Ocean would just dry up long enough for me to drive across it.  
It's days like today where, even as a married woman, I miss my Mom.
It's days like today where I listen to My Wish on repeat from my iPod as tears stream down my face. Because this is our song, and I still remember the day she put it on the radio in the car and said "this is my song to you, Mandy." Because this song makes me feel closer to her.  Because the line: "I hope you never look back, but ya never forget, All the ones who love you, in the place you left" helps me to stay grounded and feel excited to go back to those loved ones in that place I left. Because this song makes me want to make her proud. Because this song makes all my dreams stay big. Because it reminds me that even though we're 3,105 miles apart she's always there, routing for me. My Mom is my biggest fan. 

My Wish
By: Rascal Flatts
Songwriters: Steele, Jeffrey, Robson, Steve

I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window,
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,

But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

This is my wish
I hope you know somebody loves you
May all your dreams stay big

Missing you very much today, Momma. If someday I have a daughter, I only hope that I have as wonderful of a relationship with her as you and I share. And if I do, I'll pass this on to her as well. 
I love you the mostest. xoxoxo


1/16/2012

Easy Garlic Chicken. Yet ANOTHER Pinterest success.

Easy Garlic Chicken - found on Pinterest

If it weren't for this recipe, it's safe to say that this craptastic day would have been a complete wash! I woke up this morning with a MONSTER migraine (which is still with me, hooray!) and have spent the majority of the day in bed with my head buried under pillows. In addition, I nearly cut the top of my finger off while chopping potatoes, and I burnt myself on a casserole dish...all in all I'm ready to go to bed and wake up to a  new day with better prospects.

But Pinterest has made up for some of today's misfortunes. Yet AGAIN it pulls through and delivers another amazing recipe, which I shall rant and rave about now. Easy Garlic Chicken is, as the name suggests, truly one of the easiest chicken recipe's I've made. Seriously, I'm not telling porkies! You literally warm the garlic in the olive oil, add the brown sugar and pour the mixture over your chicken breasts. Bung it all in the oven for 15-30 minutes and Bob's your Uncle! Dinner is served! And for those of you with little kiddies, the simplicity of this recipe means that it's a quick and easy keeper! The olive oil, brown sugar and garlic cook down into a really yummy, thick, syrupy (yes, it's quite possible I've just made that word up...) sauce over the chicken and it's truly amazing. The hubby (this is the fussiest person on the planet, keep in mind!) ate every single bit off of his plate, licked up all of the extra sauce, and said: "Babe, this is my new favorite! I like it even better than your Chicken Teriyaki!" Now, those of you who have kept up with my blog will understand how profound a statement this truly is. Carl absolutely LOVES my Nigella Lawson Chicken Teriyaki, so this one really must be a winner! Trust me, if my Carl will eat it, your children definitely will! Ha!

Because I'm on Weight Watchers, our chicken was accompanied by sautéed garlic home fries (which I cooked in 1 TBL of olive oil, garlic powder, fresh thyme, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper - so they were really healthy!) and green beans with caramelized onions (no points!) I worked out on my WW Recipe Builder that 100grams of chicken (this is an average size skinless boneless chicken breast) and 2 TBL of the cooked down olive oil/brown sugar/garlic sauce is 9 WW+ points. With my 200grams of sautéed potatoes (4 points) and vegetables (none!) I enjoyed a really filling and delicious dinner for 13 points! Waheeey! Result! Happy days!

So my friends, if you're ever looking for a quick, delicious, and relatively WW friendly dinner, this is definitely for you! I promise you won't be disappointed and you too will rant and rave to friends. Please, give it a go and let me know your thoughts!

Happy eats!


1/15/2012

Baby Tripp

One of my most favorite blogs to read is by a beautiful woman named Megan. I found her months and months ago and ever since I've been addicted. I love reading everything she has to say, and it makes my heart warm when I see her new posts filled with stories and pictures of her adorable twins. Some people may find it odd that I don't know Megan personally and still I smile from ear to ear as I watch her little family grow. But truthfully, her posts make me happy. I know why I feel this way though. It's because in some weird way I feel like I know Megan. Through her blog I've felt the heartache and seen the horrible pain she went through when she and her husband lost their first baby, adorable little Cohen, who went to heaven when he was only a couple of weeks old. I've read all of Cohen's Story and my heart has ached. I've cried uncontrollably in bed as I watched the memorial video her and her husband played at his funeral. Tears have steamed down my face as I read Megan's pregnancy posts where she expressed her excitement of finally getting to meet her precious baby Cohen and how much she couldn't wait to be a Mommy...only to have it all taken away from her. I've felt angry because that isn't fair. No one should ever have to say goodbye to their precious baby only days after they were born.  I've cried as I lay in bed and prayed to God that Carl and I never have to experience what Megan and Brent have gone through. And there have been many times where I've wondered  if I'd ever be able to be as strong as they have. It scares me that I wouldn't be able to pull myself together, pick up the pieces and do my best to create a happy life, regardless of the immense pain. I can't imagine having a hole so big inside my heart, a hole that I'd never be able to patch. Can you? But still, regardless of everything, Megan remains one of the most optimistic, happy, forgiving, humble and appreciative people I know of. I've felt inspired. Because she truly is an inspiration, and I love reading her posts that are full of smiles and stories of her two beautiful blessings who are healthy and happy. I love happy endings, and if you do too I highly recommend following Megan, Brent, Sloane and Knox's journey also.

But as we know, not all stories have happy endings...

Baby Cohen passed away because he was born with Congenital Heart Defects, and one of the reasons Megan has blogged so openly about Baby Cohen, his illness, and his death is by hoping to raise awareness and offer a place of solace for other parents who may be experiencing something similar. In addition, Megan often posts links to other blogs of parents who are trying to cope with/pray for/raise awareness for their child and the sickness they have. With this in mind, one of the children Megan has highlighted and asked her readers to pray for was a little boy called Tripp, who was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa or "EB" which is a terrible terrible skin disease. I've seen prayer requests for him before, so when I saw Megan's post "Baby Tripp" appear today on my home screen I immediately clicked on it hoping that it was an optimistic post filled with good news about this little boy. Unfortunately, it wasn't. It breaks my heart, but yesterday, on January 14th, Baby Tripp lost his battle with EB and went to heaven. If you click on the link above to Megan's post you'll be able to access the link to Courtney's blog (Tripps mother) and read for yourself about this poor little boy who suffered more pain in his 2 years than many people experience in a life time. Now while you're probably thinking "Why are you writing such a depressing and morbid post?" I have to point out that the object of this isn't to bring sadness to others, but it's my personal attempt to do good and contribute to raising awareness. I know that neither of these illnesses directly impact me or anyone in my life, which I am so appreciative of and I thank God I may be so lucky, but I know that Cohen and Tripp's stories have not only touched me, but made me more aware of what Congenital Heart Defects and Epidermolysis Bullosa are. I only hope that by creating this post and continuing to share their stories I can influence and inspire others to raise awareness and share this as well. I pray that if Carl and I ever had to experience something as heartbreaking and awful as the parents above have, my friends and family would do all that they could to spread awareness so that together we could make a difference in the lives of helpless children who are born with such horrible illnesses.

So please, take a moment to share baby Cohen and Tripp's stories, and pray for those children who are battling for their lives every day.




1/13/2012

Flame Grilled Steak, Cranberry Cosmopolitans and a Birthday Boy

I love Chester. In fact, I think it's probably my favorite place in England to visit. Only a hop, skip and jump away from Wales, Chester is a typically English, quaint, oldy-worldy city that's rich in history and only a short drive or train journey away from Liverpool. It's often mine and Carl's number one choice destination for a quick weekend getaway, and last weekend just so happened to be one of them. But, this time it was special. 
As an early birthday present I paid for Carl and I to stay overnight in a little hotel and go out to dinner at his favorite restaurant in Chester,  The Blackhouse Grill. Carl's parent's also accompanied us, and we all had a wonderful time celebrating Carl turning the big 2-8 (which as you know from my previous post was actually on the 10th, but with that falling the middle of the week we decided to celebrate last weekend instead). For the special occasion diets went out the window (any excuse, right?) and we enjoyed all that Chester had to offer, sipping piping hot Starbucks, savoring flame grilled steak, and testing out ice cold cranberry cosmopolitans. We got all dolled up, enjoyed each other's company, celebrated the birthday boy's special day, and laughed until our stomachs hurt. It was a great family weekend away and I'd like to share it with all of you, too! So sit back, put your feet up and experience our Birthday weekend in Chester via the unecessarily large amount of photos I took :) haha
Chester Town Centre
Mama Lynne's hot chocolate and my tea. I <3 Starbucks





Munching Gelato and everyone smiled nicely with their little bowls...apart from Papa Garry. Typical!
I LOVE lace and embellishment. Can't wait until I get my first 'fancy' wedding dress :)
Chester streets at night.

All dressed up for his Birthday dinner :) (what a cutie)
All dolled up
Mwah!
The Blackhouse Grill!



Our starter: Grilled Ciabatta with olive oil and fresh garlic, and fresh bread with local salted butter. YUM!
Mama Lynne's grilled steak with 'chips'
Papa Garry's Steak Pie with leek mash
My Chicken Fajita...A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!
The Birthday Boy's meal! Grilled T-bone steak with chips and peppercorn sauce.
How cute is it that they come out in a little frialator basket. AWW!






As you can see the Sticky Toffee Pudding wasn't bad...(I ate it in 5 seconds flat).
Carl's Chocolate Mint cocktail
Look! He can smile normal! Haha
Mama Lynne and I with our tropical cocktails
Our first time trying Cranberry Cosmopolitans... 
 

"He's still my baby"
Philippe Mario (This little Starbucks teddy bear is like the travelling gnome...goes literally everywhere with us!) had a seat on the Tethering Stone at the old Roman Amphitheatre 

Philippe Mario even went on the Chester Suspension Bridge!
Before we left a rowing team went by...
And these two swans paid a visit!
 We had an absolute ball. I loved every minute that we spent creating new memories.