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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New York

On Sunday, November 13, 2011, I received an email which read, “You’ve been chosen the grand prize winner of the iVillage Ultimate Twilight Saga Fan Sweepstakes – Congratulations! We hope you can join us in New York City for the advance screening of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1…” My response was, “What? Really? Is this real?”

But let me back up just a moment. About a week earlier my husband Matt suggested we enter a contest for a trip to see the Premier of Breaking Dawn. I scoffed at the idea. “Seriously? Why waste our time entering? There are probably ten thousand people entering” I said. “Someone has to win,” he replied. So we entered and…WON!

Sunday afternoon I received a call from Jessica Cordero, Acquisition Marketing Manager at iVillage congratulating us and asking for some information to get started with our itinerary. iVillage is an online, “daily destination” for women. They call New York City home and are part of the NBC Universal Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks Group.

As soon as I hung up the phone with Jessica, Matt and I started making arrangements to take time off from work, get our children taken care of and wind up some last minute details. Then, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, we were on a plane headed to the east coast.

iVillage arranged for us to be picked up at the airport. Coolness! I have never had a driver waiting for me, holding a sign with my name on it; so exciting right from the start. Arriving at the Renaissance Hotel, Times Square, I was like a kid in a candy shop. With eyes wide open and jaw on the floor, Matt and I took a quick inventory of our 12th floor room with a view, and then headed down to check out Times Square, better known as the the site of the annual New Year's Eve ball drop.

Wow! My senses shifted into over-drive. The bright lights and revolving advertising signage captured my attention first. Signs in Times Square are actually termed "spectaculars" and the largest spectaculars are named "jumbotrons." But it wasn’t just my sense of sight kicking into high gear; my other senses were enticed as well. My taste buds were treated to many new foods, like Chocolate Nutella Cake with strawberries and vanilla gelato. 

The next morning we braved the cold and headed over to Rockefellar Center. We were just in time to see and listen to the Today Show as Ann Curry came out and chatted with children, gave hugs and posed for pictures. Then we crossed the street to see the Rockefellar Center’s infamous ice rink and Christmas tree. We learned that this year’s tree is about 75 years old and stands just over 74 feet high. It was surrounded by scaffolding so workers could string nearly 5 miles of lights around it before the official lighting on the 30th of November.  We also learned of the amazing way this tree “gives back” after the holidays by becoming lumber for houses built by Habitat for Humanity.

After Rockefellar Center, we did what many New Yorkers do each day; we jumped on the subway. Our first ride took us down into the financial district with our final destination being the site of the World Trade Center. As we exited the subway car, we noticed a large group of New York Police officers dressed in riot gear and wondered if this was normal or if something was going on. We quickly realized we had just stepped into the start of a protest. So I did what any inquisitive writer would do; I grabbed my camera (and by “my” I mean the fabulous loan from Frankie Leal) and started capturing the protest until my more reasonable husband suggested we leave before we became a part of the chaos.

So we left the subway terminal and strolled the streets of the financial district. When we arrived at the World Trade Center Memorial site the exciting energy I felt earlier was replaced with the sound of silence. Each time I tried to speak I choked up and couldn’t find the words to clearly express what I was feeling. Seeing the names etched into the bronze panels touched me in a way I cannot adequately capture with words. Unfortunately it began to rain and didn’t let up, so we left sooner than we would have liked. To read about and see a virtual tour of the 9/11 Memorial, you can log on to

On our way back to the subway, we once again found ourselves in the midst of the “Occupy” movement. We snapped some photos to show our family and friends and watched until we saw NYPD busses rolling in. At that same time, a NYPD officer passed me with at least a hundred zip ties in his hand, a good sign that people were going to be arrested and it was time for Matt and I to head to the subway and back to the hotel.

That evening iVillage so graciously arranged dinner for us at Del Frisco’s, a top rate Steak and Seafood Restaurant. We devoured every bite of our meal, from the creamy avocado goddess dressing on our salads to the tender and equally delicious entrees of lobster and filet mignon. As if that wasn’t enough, I also said “yes” to dessert. The baker in me could not resist a slice of their six layer lemon cake. It was a perfect marriage of tart and sweet filling resting in between cushions of moist lemon cake.

After dessert, we headed off to the premier of Breaking Dawn. I checked in at the iVillage table in the front of the theater and was immediately greeted with “Congratulations” and “Wait Here, someone wants to meet you…” I felt like a star! We were taken upstairs and photographed with some fun Twilight-esk props and then given complimentary popcorn and drinks. Breaking Dawn was great! The best in the Twilight Saga yet. But for more about Breaking Dawn, you will have to go and see it for yourself or read the book-no spoilers here.

The next morning, we boarded the E train heading downtown and exited at the 14th street station. We then made our way to the corner of 16th and 9th, also known as the Chelsea Market. You may have heard about Chelsea Market from one of your favorite Food Network stars like Emeril Lagasse or Rachel Ray. Originally the site of the National Biscuit Company, and the place where Saltines were made and the Oreo Cookie was born, the Chelsea Market now plays host to bakeries, restaurants and other vendors. Above the market are offices for businesses like the Food Network, and my new friends, iVillage. Jessica gave us a tour of the iVillage and Oxygen offices. It was fun to see where “it all happens.”  

Then we headed outside of the market to stroll on the High Line, a public park, much like Reedley’s Rails To Trails, which has been created out of an old railroad track. The difference between Reedley’s Rails to Trails and The High Line is the “high.”  This beautiful park is elevated above the streets, offering views of Manhattan’s West Side and the Hudson River. I could even see the Statue of Liberty from the High Line’s pathway. After working up an appetite on our walk we headed back inside.

As we made our way through the market, it felt like we were walking through an underground subway that had been carefully restored and improved upon, combining interesting industrial d├ęcor with relics from the past. The aroma emanating from the bakeries was intoxicating. Somehow I resisted buying any sweets, but I had a really tasty wrap filled with avocado, turkey and sprouts for lunch. Ending our trip at the Chelsea
Market was truly the “icing on the cake” for me.

Saying “thank you,” even saying it several times, doesn’t adequately convey how much I appreciate all of the work Jessica and the iVillage staff put into awarding us the iVillage Ultimate Twilight Saga Fan Sweepstakes Grand Prize Winners. The accommodations, transportation and extras they provided were beyond anything we could have dreamed up. I kept telling them, “This is the best date night ever!” And it was. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been chosen and even more blessed to have been able to experience it all with my husband. I don’t know if we will ever make it back to New York, but if the opportunity presented itself, I would do it all over again, because as their state song says, “New York is special. New York is diff'rent. 'Cause there's no place else on earth quite like New York...And that's why I Love New York.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Breaking Dawn

Did you read that?
Thank you amazing husband for thinking of entering and more importantly, a HUGE THANK YOU to iVillage for choosing us as the Grand Prize WINNERS!
We are so darn excited (Can you tell?)
If you want to know who iVillage is
click here for more info and a link to their site.
Oh and thank you to my amazing In-laws
 for staying at our house,
 managing our children and their busy lives :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Katelyn crafts!

Look what my 5th grader just made with her two little hands :)
Good job Katelyn :)

She's very proud :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup
So yummy
So, so, so very
Everyone in the house loved it
Perfect for a rainy day
Thanks Farm Girl :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breast and Ovarian Cancer Screening

I know, it's been way too long...But, I have taken off one of my hats and am now free-er to work on my business plan for the cupcakery and blog! (well, after doing laundry, cooking, hanging with my family-not necessarily in that order)

So what better way to get back into it than to tell you about a super fabulous giveaway from Just Ask. I am really excited about the possibility of winning an amazing camera. But, I'm entering for more than just that possibility. My cousin Katie died from cancer last year. I don't know if it would have made a difference if her cancer was detected earlier. I don't know if it would make a difference for any of us. But, isn't it worth checking out? I am sure you know someone who has or has had cancer.  I want to encourage you to educate yourself and consider early cancer screening. It could save your life or the life of someone you love.

So educate yourself. And in the process, enter for your chance to win a camera to document all of the special moments you share with your loved ones. Read below:

This is my entry in the Just Ask Bucket List Getaway Giveaway. Just Ask offers a breast and ovarian cancer screening and is encouraging people to share 15 things that I want to enjoy in my lifetime as a reminder to be aware of my health. Want to enter? Head over to to get the details.

15 Things on My Bucket List

1~Work alongside my husband and children serving children and families who are less fortunate. Specifically, I would like to be able to join with WIGU, the charity our church created to "empower children in extreme poverty."

2~Open a bakery selling my super yummy cupcakes as well as self serve frozen yogurt :)

3~Learn to speak Spanish fluently and then go back and visit Spain again.

4~Become a better photographer and document life as it happens.

5~(Related to number 4) Learn how to use Photoshop.

6~Travel to Italy with my husband and kiss under the Bridge of Sighs. Ahhhh

7~Take a cross country vacation with my family in an RV.

8~Cook with a famous chef, like Emeril or Giada.

9~Surf a wave in Hawaii with Daniel.

10~Skydive with my lil' Katelyn.

11~Spend a weekend with Emily just hanging out; just the two of us.

12~Walk in some of the same places that Jesus walked.

13~Train for and run a half marathon (and finish).

14~Ride a Harley and feel the wind blowing my hair out of the bottom of my helmet.

15~Try at least 20 of the ideas/recipes I have pinned to Pinterest!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer 2011 Fun

We have been spending much of our time on the lake this year.  
Daniel loves to tube and always has a smile on his face! 
Katelyn's a bit more serious on the boat :) 
I can't believe my first born is almost 12! (beautiful girl too) 
Momma skiing 
Katelyn got a good ride on the wakeboard and left me hanging by the shore waiting for a pick up :) 
Cutest flag guy ever!!! 
Emily's first time up on the skis!!!! Way to go! 
The kids are so impressed when Matt skis (me too :) )
The lake is about 99% full here and completely covering the bathroom at Island Park Campground. 
Here's a shot from the dam, again showing how much water there is this year!
We are so blessed to have a boat and a lake so close by that we can just head up a for a few hours of fun whenever we want. Good, clean family fun :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer List progress

Well I have "sorta" made some progress on my Summer To Do List:
This wreath came out great (the picture is a bit bright though)

And... when I saw Target had these window coverings back in stock, well I decided not to make my own and buy these. They are a bit short so I think I will buy another panel and take it apart to add one more ruffle to each panel.
At some point I hope to get to the other projects, but we've been busy with Marlins, boating, baking and such! Stay tuned for those pictures :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer "To Do" List

Here are some inspired ideas I would like to accomplish this summer. Click on the Title to follow the link for the Creative Gal and her tutoial. Be sure to comment on her blog and thank her for sharing.

1) Faux Scroll work (to adorn my living room walls)
2) Faux Wainscoting (for my stairway walls)
3) Patriotic Wreath (to hang on the front door, of course!)
4) Curtains (for master bedroom) using a shower curtain tutorial

What's on your "Summer To Do List?"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ladies' Night Out!

 Almost every month one of my friends has a birthday or other reason to celebrate! This month we celebrated Denise's birthday by all attending "Ladie's Night Out" hosted by the Reedley Downtown Association. It was so much fun; but then again, any night out with my best friends is always filled with lots of fun and many, many laughs! Love you all very much GIRLS!
 Shinn Photo takes AmaZiNg Photos! Don't you agree?

Happy Birthday Toast! Photos by Ashley Testa-Burk, Reedley Exponent

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Date Your Mate

After a 2 month blogging hiatus I am back!  My super fabulous, beautiful on the inside and out, amazingly creative, sister-in-law, Erin (Burns, that is), asked me to share for “Date Your Mate Fridays.”   To read about the basics, CLICK HERE but be sure to come back J

I LOVED the Date Your Mate Fridays and looked forward to seeing what super fun, creative, silly or romantic ideas would be posted. I can honestly say that my husband Matt and I do “Date.” But like many couples, could probably date more often. I love Matt dearly, but let’s get real…Life happens. I am not always “in love” and goo, goo, gah, gah over him. It takes work. But, the “work” is so worth it and has made us more deeply love than when we first met. So, here is what WE think about Dating Your Mate (Broken done into organized lists-because that’s just how I am. I love lists and post-its!)

DONE IT… (Ideas we have done at least once)
~Shared a romantic dinner in the place we met (Booth #2 at Kelley’s)
~Taken the boat out for a sunset cruise on the river.
~Gone out of town. Alone. No kids.
~Hidden in the garage (curled up in the back seat of our boat with a blanket and the lights off). This is a super hilarious story I will have to share another time.
~Gone for a drive with no destination in mind.

DO IT… (Things we do regularly to stay connected)
~Volunteer/Serve together at church. I know you may be asking how this “fits” into a date night, so I will explain. On Wednesday nights the kids go to Kidzspace at our church. Our family and another family serve the kids dinner every week. Then when they head off to their classes, we eat together and spend time alone before it’s time to clean up and pick up our children. It’s been a huge blessing that’s really drawn us closer to God and to each other.
~Meet with other couples to share God’s Word, discuss a book, play games, eat good food, build friendships, and share lots of laughter. I guess you could say this is a “group date.”
~Relax in our Jacuzzi tub together. Sometimes we jump in at the end of a long day to “catch up” with each other. Other times, we just start the day off with a relaxing Jacuzzi and simply enjoy each other’s company.
~Cuddle on the lounge in the backyard and star gaze (although the dog I recently rescued now thinks the lounge is his bed).
 ~Garden together. We both appreciate a beautiful garden, so we work at it together.
~Take our children to Matt’s parents for the evening and then have a date night at home alone.
~Cook together during the summer.
~Run errands together. Yes, I know that doesn’t sound “romantic” and it’s not really. But, we call it a “date” and look forward to time to talk, have lunch and get things done without having to worry about anyone else but ourselves for awhile.
~Flirt with each other: in person, through love notes, and texting. After all, we flirted when we were first “courting” each other so why stop just because we are married?

DESIRE TO DO IT… (some things we would like to put in the DONE list)
~A Roll of quarters date-Each of us gets a roll of quarters and together we brainstorm what we can do using only our rolls of quarters on our next date.
~An old fashioned picnic, with a blanket, bottle of wine, cheese, crackers, salami and o.k. even the ants!
~ A let’s be kids again” date where we do lots of fun and silly kids stuff, like roller skating, laser tag, ice cream for dinner, etc.
~(Matt says) A car show date where we jump in our 57 wagon (of course after it is finished being restored) and head out to a car show, preferably out of town J
~An auction. We both love old stuff and would like to go to an antique auction just for the fun of it.
~A letter of the alphabet date where everything we eat and do starts with a particular letter of the alphabet.

There are so many things you can do with your spouse for a date night. Be creative. Think out of the box. It can be any time of day, fancy or casual, an hour or a day, practical or foolish, planned or impromptu… it really doesn’t matter. What matters most is taking the time to create “moments” and show each other love so when the business of life happens you have strength to power through until your next date night.  

Monday, March 28, 2011


Dear Blogger Friends,
Yes, I now, 3 weeks since I blogged. Life is busy. I miss blogging. But...playing catch up with school and "life."
Hope to be back soon :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Creating and waiting for Spring

What have I been up to? Maybe the better question is "What haven't I been up to?" Seriously, besides being wife, mom and teacher, I have been sewing, garage sale-ing, sanding, painting, glue gunning, and oh so much more. Take a look!
I bet you are wondering what I am up to? Well, if so, you will have to wait until my projects are complete :)
In the meantime...
I will be dreaming of the ocean and all things spring.
Enjoy your Tuesday. Hope it's filled with all good things

Monday, March 7, 2011

Creative Estates, Here I come!!!

It's Official! I am registered to attend! I have Hotel reservations. Now for a flight to AZ. Oh,  and how cool would it be to win a free pass from No Biggie?   SuPeR DuPeR CoOl!  Just go here to check it out yourself. Oh, I hope I win! This would be the best early BDay present!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Creative Estates Conference

Oh my goodness! I am sooo excited! This is even better than entering the Sihouette giveaway!!!
I am entering for a chance to win a pass to the Creative Estates Conference.
I hope I win, I hope I win, I hope I win!
Havn't heard of Creative Estates? Check it our here

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I found another amazing blog. I have been stalking her since 2am. OK not every minute since then, but really you have to go and see for yourself at Ruffles and Stuff

Her name is Disney. really it is. But you will have to go to her site and read more. She is so stinkin cute! So is her little girl (model of all that's supper fabulous for children)
I came across her Ruffles (and up-cycled) T-Shirt Scarf and couldn't resist making my own. 
Go here  and see her darling scarf for her daughter.

Here is mine :)
 Here is my lil Katelyn using my scraps to make a head band.
 Look what a great job she did!!! She is a much better model than me!

Beautiful girl :)

Thanks Disney for the tutorial! Katelyn and I had a fun time :)
If/when I get permission, I will post a tutorial here for you all to see. I did a different bottom that I thought would be fun :)
Have a good night!

February Pictures!

It has been a very busy month. School prep has kept me too busy to blog :(
So here are a few shots of what we have been up to. Have a blessed Sunday!
I made this wall vignette and think it came out rather well. What do you think?

 And...I have been using my chalkboard a lot more!

I am so proud of Daniel!!! The character of the month was Caring/Considerate.
 The "Emily's" decided they would swim because the sun was out! Silly girls! It's cold!!
 Daniel got in too!
This is what my hubbie got me at the "Re-Store" I am sanding and using chalkboard paint on some and using my Silhouette on some others!
Here is Daniel frosting and putting sprinkles on his cupcake for his Valentines party
Katelyn went with a chocolate covered strawberry on top!
These are my little Katie Bug's! Oops, I mean Katelyn's. She doesn't like us calling her that anymore :(
 And here are my strawberries! Can you say YUMMY? I dipped some in just in chocolate, some in toasted coconut and then some in salty bacon. Oh my gosh! They were amazing!!! I think this is why my pants are getting tighter :)

That's it for now. I have been working on some other projects with my Super Fab Silhouette! I will try to share later.


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