Holiday

Easter Sunday 2016

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Happy Easter! He is risen! We hosted a big family Easter feast at our house this year! I was pretty nervous about the cooking, but my apprehension led to some highly successful advance planning! I would say that this is our first truly successful time entertaining. I wasn’t running around, sweating, wondering why in the world the pot roast is taking two hours too long or forgetting to put out glasses and napkins. Yay! We cooked up two pot roasts, a leg of lamb, and a ham, as well as baked a carrot cake from scratch, and everything was ready at party-time, if you can believe it. I’m still in disbelief. 

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We even attended sunrise Easter service, which is my favorite! It’s so beautiful and joyful with the birds singing! I made a few bird-inspired Easter eggs this year, copying the awesome blog StudioDIY’s project. Seriously creative and an adorable twist on Easter eggs!

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We somehow managed to comfortably fit twenty people in our house for the Easter feast. I enjoyed decorating with lovely and inexpensive flowers from Aldi’s (my favorite grocery store), as well as an adorable carrot garland from Michael’s, and my swan and flamingo Easter eggs.

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Part of our secret to Easter’s entertaining success was having guests bring side dishes, which were amazingly delicious! We had scratch-made egg rolls, Mexican rice, twice-baked potatoes, and so much more! It was way better than we could have done, and made it so much easier on us.

It was a warm, beautiful day (although it had been threatening to rain), and everyone enjoyed the sunshine as they searched for cascarones! Remember this cascarones battle last year? This year’s was even bigger!

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Eek! Jonathan is coming to get me! I snapped this photo right before I got a confetti egg smashed on my head. Oh, well – part of the fun I suppose!

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I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! He is risen!

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Snowy Sequoia

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Our first taste of winter this year happened in Sequoia National Park, which we visited on our Thanksgiving trip to California. It was stunningly beautiful and Jonathan’s first time to see the giant trees! We had an amazing time, enjoying the snowy weather!

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We stayed at the Wuksachi Lodge at Sequoia National Park so we could be based on the mountain during our brief stay. It looks almost like a gingerbread house covered with powdered sugar!

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We had to drive with chains, even with a jeep. It felt like driving around in a tank, but we felt super secure. We saw many other 4 wheel drives slipping and sliding on the steep roads. It was best not to risk it.

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We played and hiked in the snow. It was pretty cold on a long hike we went on, so we really bundled up! I could hardly put my arms down. We hiked for about 3 hours round trip to Moro Rock, since the roads to it were closed. It was very cold, and it snowed heavily. We clipped the water bottles to my belt, and the water froze during the hike!

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Happy Independence Day!

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We had a fantastic 4th of July! We had friends come on over for brisket bbq and fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks. Jonathan definitely has a thing for fireworks, and he purchased two cartloads of fireworks. I still can’t believe we went through all of them (though it did take five hours, seriously). Last year, actually, our neighbors told us that it seemed like World War III was going on in our backyard! I made a strawberry and blueberry shortcake to help us celebrate patriotically. I also read the Declaration of Independence again (I have a pocket Constitution with the Declaration – very handy). We decided to cater (okay, I decided, since I wasn’t up to cooking that much; the shortcake was enough), and the whole hangout went so smoothly. Plus it was tons of fun! Happy Independence Day!

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It was hot and humid, and it actually rained when we ate, so we ate inside, but other than that, we were outside throwing firecrackers and more! We had pretty lights strung up and plenty of citronella torches. Our patio is quite different from when we first moved in, with the paving stones and picnic table and hammock, etc.

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As it got dark, we started firing off fireworks! The guys could hardly wait. The sun had barely set before they were setting everything up, starting with sparklers.

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As I said, it was humid (I don’t even notice the humidity anymore, truly), but my camera did. It fogged up for several minutes when I took it outside, but I decided to shoot anyways. I was amazed by how beautiful the foggy camera shots of the fireworks were! The first photo was not fogged, but these next two are. Isn’t that so lovely?  The bursts of fireworks are just iridescent with color and light. I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July, too! The Declaration of Independence is so incredible, and I am proud to be part of a country that expressed itself so eloquently and nobly for the cause of democracy and independence. It changed the world, and still is.

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Easter 2015

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I know it’s been a little while, but here our pictures from our Easter celebration! He is risen!

Jonathan and I woke up extremely early to attend the outdoor sunrise mass that our church does each Easter. It was lovely to celebrate mass and Easter with the sky growing gradually lighter and the birds beginning to sing! Afterward we napped for a few hours before waking up and checking out our shared Easter basket. See’s Candies is always a traditional must-have. I usually handpick a pound, but I couldn’t resist the adorable bunnies and poppies baskets and egg! I themed the basket around the bunnies and the orange and purple poppy colors.

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We hosted Easter at our home for a small crowd of family and friends, and to mix things up, we grilled burgers! I gave up hamburgers for lent, and it was high time I had a burger! Luckily the predicted thunderstorm held off, and we were able to eat on our patio. Like I did the year before, I baked a tiered carrot cake from scratch; I’ve decided that’s going to be a new Easter tradition. It’s absolutely delicious, and, frankly, a ton of work, so I can only manage it once a year!

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Cascarones, or real egg shells filled with confetti are a popular Easter activity in Texas. I don’t particularly remember cascarones in California, but maybe they were there, too, and not as popular? Anyway, so many stores here have cascarones at Easter time. My mother-in-law hid cascarones and regular plastic Easter eggs all over the yard. After our Easter lunch, and before dessert, we ran around finding all the eggs and throwing the cascarones at each other!

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The confetti seemed to easily fall out of everyone’s hair but mine! I had so much confetti tangled up into my ponytail. But it was so much fun – this has been one of my very favorite Easter celebrations! Happy Easter! He is risen!

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A Downton Abbey Valentine’s Tea

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My wonderful sister Jackie gave me a Downton Abbey inspired cookbook for Christmas, and I knew I just had to have a quintessential English tea party! The recipes were so delicious, and although I’m not sure how quintessentially English my tea party turned out to be, it was lots of fun. The scones, in particular, with the cream and jam? YUM. So good.

The Menu:

Croissant chicken salad sandwiches

Smoked salmon sandwiches

Cucumber sandwiches

Scones with jam and cream

Oh, and berries!

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I played episodes of Downton Abbey in the background, but we mostly enjoyed our tea outside. It did feel a bit like the English countryside (or at least what I imagine the English countryside to be like) because our grass is so long. Wildflowers have bloomed all over our lawn, and I haven’t had the heart to let Jonathan mow them!

All in all it was a great way to celebrate Valentine’s day!

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Starting 2015 With A Bang!

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Happy New Year! We celebrated New Year’s Eve with a bang! We fired off fireworks for hours with friends and family! It was a great way to end the old year and ring in the new.

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2014 has been so so good to us. Sure, there were some hardships, but I still can’t believe how fortunate we are. There was so much to celebrate!

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[Above] We are getting so much use out of our new fire pit!

So long, 2014! It was a beautiful year.

A few wants for 2015:

I want to spend more time cooking and less time house-cleaning. More fun and more tolerance for clutter! I want to try gardening and to not give up when it’s probably not going to go so well! (I surmise that I have a black thumb.) I want to carve out a little more time to blog on both my blogs. I want to learn photography. I want to document our lives better! I want to keep in touch better – more phone calls, more Facebook messages, and more letters. It’s never too late to reach out!

I want to get better at my job and take every opportunity for more training and involvement. I want to keep learning economics – holding on to what I do know and learning more of what I don’t.

I want to read more! I usually get nervous about reading, because I get SO INTO books that I can’t manage to do anything else – but I’m going to do it anyway this year, starting with my books I got for Christmas! I also want to put a bit more effort into fashion and make-up. I’ve been getting lazy and letting that sort of thing slide for the past year. I seem to walk this line of being interested in fashion and also not caring enough – there are bigger issues. But I think it would do me some good to actually wear some lipstick, paint my nails more often (I used to), and to have some fun with fashion.

But most of all, I want to be myself – fearlessly – this year. I have been succeeding at this for a few years now; with each passing year, I am more comfortably myself. I am going to be me no matter how odd I may seem to others!

And of course, I want to be a better wife, sister, and daughter. ♥

I wonder what 2015 has in store! Happy New Year!

[Below] Our kitties aren’t afraid of fireworks! Isn’t that odd? They wanted to watch all the excitement.

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California Christmas

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My husband and I spent Christmas in California this year with my family! It was the most wonderful trip, full of fun and Christmas cheer! My sisters had the house bursting with Christmas treasures and treats. It was so nice to be back in California!

[Below] Sisters reunited!

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We flew into sunny San Diego and stayed a few days at my aunt’s and grandma’s home in Coronado. We explored the bay via harbor cruise and climbed all over the ships and submarines at the maritime museum. It was so nice getting to walk along the beach and put our toes in the sand, too!

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While in San Diego, my dad took Jonathan and I to the Pointsettia Bowl. We had a blast. It was such an exciting game with a nerve-wracking win for Navy!

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[Above] There was a fantastic fireworks show at halftime! The Navy football team celebrating with their band!

The next day we headed a few hours north to my parents’ house, stopping to visit relatives along the way. My sisters had headed back earlier, and they had festooned the house to the rafters with Christmas trinkets and one very adorable kitten – a Christmas present for my youngest sister!

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Christmas Eve was a lovely mass followed by a feast of clams and crab legs! Christmas morning was bright and sunny with gift giving and eating chocolates and my mom’s soufflé. I got my favorite – books!!! Later, we had dinner with my grandparents. Isn’t it just the loveliest and coziest home? Everything was a blur of fun and family! I can’t believe how fortunate we are. What a Christmas!

[Below] Can you spot the sweet little kitten?

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[Above] Hustle bustle and serve dinner beautifully! My sisters had adorable figurines for each person’s place setting at Christmas Eve dinner, and Christmas breakfast and dinner. They also baked all those delectable cookies.

I know it’s a lot of pictures, but I actually feel like there aren’t enough! There were so many walks and hugs and celebrating that was so special. I have been away from California for a year, and being back in my childhood home was just so heartfelt. My family was so eager to treat us to such wonderful outings. It was such a lovely, lovely time. I will treasure this Christmas for a very long time to come! ♥

Merry Christmas! Joy to the world!

Christmas Came Early

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Christmas came early this year! Two kittens and a longed-for piano joined us last weekend! My heart is overflowing!

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[Above] Meet our kitten, Ford! Adorable. [Below] Our beautiful Wurlitzer piano!

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When we moved into our house I knew that wall was where our eventual piano would go. I even put up the pictures in anticipation of the piano below them. Sure enough, when we put the piano into place, it fit perfectly! I am just so happy! I keep playing and playing it.

[Below] Meet our kitten, Zaphod! So cute and mischievous, too.

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Happy holidays!

Blast from the Past: Boardgames and Beer Bonanza

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2013-12-28 19.48.19Boardgames! Jonathan and I love boardgames. Even better is having all your best buds/groomsmen over for awesome board-games and beer.

This round of boardgames and beer happened last holiday season. We’re going to be away for Christmas this year, so we might not get the chance to have all the guys over for another round, so I’d thought I’d share our fun time from last year. I have all the great photos, so why not?

It was a great night. We were all up ’til 3 in the morning playing.

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It was so much fun. Hopefully, we’ll be breaking out the boardgames again soon. Jonathan has had this new boardgame for a while now without playing it, so we definitely need to figure it out and play it.

Here’s to more boardgames and beer and late nights! And holiday cheer!

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Aww these pictures make me think of our sweet little apartment.