Thursday, December 30, 2010

December Movie Reviews

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 : I was a bit afraid I would not like this one much because everybody kept talking about how dark it is and I do not usually like dark movies. But I think this would have to be one of my favorite of the Harry Potter series. Yes, it is dark, but the dark side of the movie is balanced out by the humor they add. Speaking of which, the humor in the movie is excellent. I laughed so much at some of the hilarious parts. It does leave you wanting more at the end, but how could it not, considering it is part 1?   LOVED IT!

The Chronicals of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader : If you have seen the other two Narnia movies, you must see this one as well. It wasn't my favorite one of the series, but it was still very enjoyable. My main complaint with the movie was the story telling part of it. They kind of condensed everything and the movie felt very rushed. There were elements in the story that could have been drawn out a lot more. Other than that, I felt the acting was decent, as well as the casting. As for seeing it in 3D...DON'T waste your money. It was not made for 3D at all and many scenes were too blurry for me.

Tangled : Anyone that knows me well, knows I am not a super huge Disney fan. As a kid, I liked some of their movies, but I was not the kid who wanted to own them all and watch them over and over (the Disney video games were more entertaining for me). So when I said I wanted to see this, my husband was a bit surprised. Everyone who had seen Tangled loved it though, so I had to give it a shot. The movie started out a bit slow, at least for the other people I sat with. But once the movie started picking up more, we all enjoyed it. The music was a bit churchy and sappy but still good. The story was super cute and fit in well with the other princess Disney movies. The characters were very well done. And the animation was great. I recommend this to anyone who loves a cute classic Disney movie, and to anybody looking for a clean movie to take the kids too. I think this will be a must own for many families.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty. - Imelda Marcos

I asked for these

for my birthday and my husband complied but I have decided that they look better in the picture and are not that practical for me. So I am trying to find another pair of shoes that I can exchange them for.

I kind of like these:

Can't decide though. Maybe I will go shopping tomorrow and look around before I make up my mind.

By the way, I am on the search for new boots but I always have a hard time finding any because of my thin legs. So far no luck. If anybody has found boots they like or knows of any that might fit me, please do share.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Christmas.....


I hope you enjoy your Christmas, that you will be surrounded by those you love, and that you get lots of delicious food.

Here are some short videos to remind us of what this Christmas season really is all about.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel has been on my Netflix list for a while but because of it's topic, my husband kept putting other movies ahead of it. I finally got to watch it the other night after convincing him that it was my turn to pick the movie.

Coco Chanel is about the life of Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel, a French haute coutour fashion designer.  While this movie goes through the many stages of her life, it heavily focuses on two things: her love life and how she built her business. On the business end, you learn of the first accessory she makes, how Chanel No. 5 came about, and where we got the little black dress from.

Coco revolutionized fashion by focusing on how to make woman comfortable and fashionable.  Her philosophy was that woman should dress for themselves, not for their men. And fashion came from the streets, or it wasn't fashion. She was a bit wild spirited for the times, and a feminist for sure.

As I have read a bit more about her life, I have come to realize that the movie does leave out an important part of her life. While it touches on WWI, it skips WWII. And according to everything I have read, she barely escaped being arrested for ties to the Nazis. That would have been interesting to learn about but perhaps due to its controversially nature or the length of the movie, it was not included.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. The acting was good enough (if you can forgive the lack of French accents) and the story was interesting. I have never been into following current high fashion, but I do love watching movies and reading books that talk about the history of fashion designers. I would recommend this movie to anybody that has a similar interest in fashion.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mom has the best pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. In fact, I love them so much I had my dad make them for my wedding reception (my mom was a bit too stressed to deal with baking). I have been wanting to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for a while but haven't gotten around to getting the recipe yet so Saturday I compromised and I went with a random recipe from They turned good. Not as awesome as my moms, but close enough.

Click here for the recipe.

The only changes I made were based on the reviews. I added a few more spices to it. I added nutmeg, clove, and ginger as most other similiar recipes call for those spices to be added.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin

Candle in the Darkness is another book that I randomly grabbed off the shelves of the library. It is a historical novel about a girl who grows up in Richmond, Virginia during the time of slavery. She begins to find herself, as well as love, just as the Civil War starts. It is a story about love, hate, hope, struggle, sacrifices, and faith.

This novel took me a while to get through. It wasn't because I didn't like it, but because I have less time to read now and it is not necessarily a light and quick read (at least not for me). But I enjoyed every moment of this book and was a bit sad when I finished it.

I have read quite a bit of history about the Civil War and there tends to be debates about why the war happened, why the war ended, whose fault it was, etc., etc., But this book really put the war and that time period in perspective for me, and through the eyes of someone around my age.  It was a time of hard decisions, loss, and hatred. People on each side felt that their cause, and/or beliefs,  were more just than the other sides, whether they were or not. It happens in every time period and is the cause of many wars. I have just been getting into historical novels and have really enjoyed the perspective they give me, without having to read just hard cold facts. It is as if I am there. As if I can touch, feel, and taste what is going on.

Something unique about this novel, compared to the other historical novels I have read, is that is has a religious overtone to it. I quite enjoyed it. It talked a lot about God and Jesus Christ and the role they play in our lives. It made me ponder how often I put all my trust in God and give myself to him, rather than tell him how I want my life to be. It made me want to have more hope and faith, something I am always struggling with.

I am not a good critic of great writing but I do feel this book was well written. It flowed well, it fit the time period the story took place during, and it was descriptive without being too much so. I also thought the author did a good job in letting us get to know the different characters through their roles in the story, as well as through the dialogue. 

Overall, I would recommend this book to any girl/woman who likes historical novels and wouldn't mind the religious overtones of the book. It really gives the reader an interesting perspective of the Civil War.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." - Albert Einstein

I think giving to others is a very important aspect of life and is one of the most important virtues you could teach your children. With all the technology we have these days, how we can almost live our lives without stepping a foot out of our home because of the web access we have, being self centered as become very easy. But that does not make service obsolete or unimportant. It just serves to make it more important. Lives and societies are built and improved through sacrifice, service, giving, and random acts of kindness.

This Christmas season is an especially good time of year to help others. Christmas has gained the reputation, and perhaps a negative one at that, of being all about giving presents to your children and other loved ones. But it should not be all about you, and what you can provide for your kids or other family members. It should also be about Christ and everyone around us, especially the less fortunate. It is so easy to give, even if you have no extra money. Giving of your time or talents can be just as important.

It is so easy to form service focused Christmas traditions in your family.

You could:

Sacrifice some of your Christmas budget to buy toys for Toys for Tots.
Help at your local cold weather shelter.
Donate items to the cold weather shelter or other humanitarian groups.
Give money to organizations that help soldiers and their families.
Drop money in the red buckets of the bell ringers.
Pick a less fortunate family and fill in for Santa.
Secretly drop off treats to a neighbor.
Provide dinner for those working on Christmas Eve or Christmas.
Visit your older neighbors and help them decorate for Christmas or help them wrap their presents.

There are just so many things you could do. I can't even begin to touch on all of them. But I can urge you to find an act of service, or two, or three, that you can perform this Christmas season. And perhaps, if you enjoy it as much as I think you will, you can continue to perform acts of service throughout the new year.

For more ideas and information, read the post on Simple Moms about giving: Click Here!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hi Blog!

I have been working 10 + hour days this week. Thus the lack of blogging. But today it snowed so I got out of work a 1/2 hour early. Or 2 1/2 hours early compared to the rest of this week.  So I've decided to use the extra time to post a blog. A blog explaining the lack of blogging.

Happy Snow Day!!!

The End!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus

Our church is doing the Hallelujah Chorus on Sunday and I am hoping to go. Can't wait.

I am slow on posting this video up. It already made the rounds but I kept forgetting to post it. So too bad. You get to watch it yet again.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Best Taco Soup Recipe

I tried out Paula Deen's taco soup recipe the other night. Get it here!

It was sooo good. Everybody loved it. I have tried many taco soup recipes and I think this one was the best. I did make adaptions though, so below is my version of it:


  • 1 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pink kidney beans
  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chilies*
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix 
  • 2/3 of a can of chicken stock  (this adds flavor as well as makes it more soupy)
  • Crackers or tortilla chips, for serving
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Grated cheese, for garnish 

I actually halved the original recipe to the best of my ability so if you want to make the full amount you would have to adjust the amounts of beef, beans, tomatos, chilies, and chicken stock (refer to the original recipe for this).

Cook the beef and add some of your taco seasoning to it while it cooks. Then add everything to a crock pot, including the rest of the taco seasoning. Cook on low for at least 8 hours.

*I usually make this with green chiles and either put a few diced jalapenos in or put them in a bowl for others to add in on their own. When I made this the other day, I taste tested it and thought it was more spicy than usual. So I warned my mother in law about it. She tasted it and thought it was awesome but as she noticed how spicy it was too. When everyone noticed it, we discussed what would be making the soup so spicy. I was clueless at what it could be as diced chilies are not that spicy. Come to find out the can of green chilies I used was actually a can of diced jalapenos. And I used the whole can. Needles to say, everyone that loved hot food was happy I did it. My mother in law loved the soup but was only able to eat so much of it. I think if we ever had more people present for dinner,  I would make a full recipe and do half with green chilies and half with the jalapenos.

Tip: This soup freezes really well. So make room in your freezer and cook extra.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Recommendations and Tips for a Trip to Williamsburg:

1. If you are a history buff, you will need quite a few days here. There is historical Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.

2. There are many fun shops like the Christmas Mouse and General Stour that are fun to go to.

3. We didn't do much of the historical site seeing. The only place we really toured was historical Jamestown. I am still debating with myself if we should have done the tour of historical Williamsburg. You don't need to pay to go, but you do if you want to go in most of the buildings. We didn't do it because it is a lot of money, but I think we will the next time we go. You miss quite a bit if you don't pay for the site seeing pass. For me, it wasn't so much about not seeing the insides of the buildings, though I do wish we had seen the Governors Mansion, but more about not getting all the historical tid bits from the tour guides.

4. There is a post office in historical Williamsburg. It also doubles as a store and this is where we purchased our one souvenir. The post office is actually a running post office and they still hand cancel the stamps there. Many people like to bring their Christmas cards there. One guy used to mail them a box of Christmas cards for them to hand cancel and send out each year. I find it fascinating. Maybe one year you receive a card sent from the historical Williamsburg post office. 

5. Jamestown is split up into two parts. There is the historical part which is $10 per person. It has a lot of history there so you can spend quite a few hours there. There is also the part of Jamestown, called Jamestown Settlement, that is set up with actors in a fake village so people can get the feel of what life was like back then. We did not do this because we didn't have any time left. But if you go with your kids, plan on taking them there. I forget how much it is, but I do know that it was more than $10 per person.

6. They have historical taverns that are still used as restaurants. Based on my research, they are fun to go to but a bit expensive. And you may need reservations to get in. If you ever go and want to have a historical eating experience, plan it ahead of time. I have never done this but I think it would be fun.

7. There are many ghost tours you can do. I do not know what the best one is, though I wish I did. We did  the mock witch trial. If you have any interest in that part of the history, I recommend it. It was so fun. It tied in perfectly with our honeymoon because Salem has a lot of witch trial history, which is one of the reasons we choose to do it over a ghost tour. I liked how they had actors for it but that they also gave the spectators (us) a chance to participate. They did a great job of bringing that time period to life.

8. Eat at SAL's by VICTOR. The guy that did our presentation recommend this restaurant so we decided to test it out. SO GOOD! It is authentic Italian food. I ordered the Pizza Caprese, even though I never order pizza at restaurants. And it did not let me down. It was one of the best Caprese pizzas I have ever had (Jon orders it a lot). It had so many tomatoes on it and so much flavor. This restaurant is not super expensive and you get fed well. My pizza was much bigger than I expected. I can't wait to go back the next time we are in Williamsburg.

9. If you love amusement parks, Bush Gardens is well known, much loved, and close by.

10. It is easy to make a day trip to the beach from Williamsburg.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Williamsburg, VA

As I mentioned over Thanksgiving break, Jon and I took a short trip to Williamsburg, VA. I was a little worried about it but it ended up being a great little mini vacation.

As I also mentioned in that post, we basically got the trip for free because we sat through one of those presentations where they try to sell you a vacation time share. First let me start out by saying that the presentation was not that bad. It went about an hour longer than it was suppose to, and the last 1/2 was a bit brutal because they spend that time trying to tell you that every excuse you have not to buy it, is not a valid excuse. But Jon and I knew what our goals were in life and that at the moment, spending money on a  time share did not fit into our plans. They did have a very convincing presentation though. I wouldn't be able to do this sort of thing all the time, but to do it every now and then wouldn't be too bad. Especially for a free vacation.

We went with the mentality that we were not paying much for this trip and that our focus would be to have fun and do lots of relaxing. Williamsburg is not a huge drive for us so we did not need to push ourselves to see everything. It was very nice to relax. We both really needed it and it gave us plenty of time to enjoy each other without worrying about what we should be doing. It was also fun to have that treat on my birthday.

But between the movies and the napping, we did do and see quite a few fun things.

 I seriously loved the Yankee Candle store. They have various rooms that sell different things like candles and christmas decorations. But the best part is the room where it's Christmas all year round. The room also has Santa and snow all year round. Seriously so cool. Just leave your money at home if you don't want to spend anything because as hard as I tried, I couldn't leave without buying something. The candles smelled too good.

 This church is very old. Many of our founding fathers went here.

They believe this baptismal font came from Europe and that it might be the one that was used to baptize Pocahontas.

 How would you love to live here at the Governors Mansion?

If you look closely, you will notice that there are apples in all of the crevices. Very unique. 

We walked around the William & Mary campus. It is a very old school but they have a pretty campus. This is a picture of me with my buddy. Can you guess who it is?

One of the historically important things about the land here is that it has many bodies of water. 

A very big blessing for America. 

Back in the day, someone donated a bunch of money to Williamsburg to refurbish it. After that, they passed a bunch of laws that keep Williamsburg from becoming developed. One of the benefits of this is the amount of wild animals around.

If you go to Jamestown, be sure to visit the glass making shop.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Little Blessings Yesterday

1st Blessing: I ran out yesterday to run a bunch of errands. And when I say a bunch, I mean a bunch. I was gone for about 5 hours. I accidentally locked my keys and my purse in my car in the parking lot of my third errand. I calmly went into the shop and asked if I could borrow a phone thinking I could call my parents house and they could call my husband who could then bring me my spare key. My old house number is the only number I still have memorized. Well as luck would have it, my parents had changed their number a few months ago and I completely forgot about that. When I realized I had no other numbers to call I became a bit panicky and about cried in front of all these strangers. But then I decided to go look on the windows of my car and see if there was a roadside assistant number on it. There was and after a brief call someone was sent out to help me. It took less than a 1/2 hour for them to get there and get my car unlocked, and it was free thanks to the company I bought my car from. I was soo grateful for that.

2nd Blessing: I was debating whether to buy a particular Groupon a couple of weeks ago. It was $24 for $50 worth of clothing at Nordstrom Rack. After days of debating I decided to buy it it because I do like that store, especially for their shoes. I was very surprised to find out I had $20 worth of credit on my account so I ended up getting the Groupon for $5. I went yesterday and when I got into the store and started to look around I began to wonder if it was a good idea to buy the Groupon. The main reason being that the Groupon was only good for a month and I wasn't sure if I would find anything in that period of time. The selection yesterday was not the greatest. After much looking around, I found a dress that was really cute. I tried it on though I was sure the size would be off and that it would make me look to old. But it was the only article of clothing I tried on that fit and looked good. I was in love. I ended up getting a pair of sweater tights and a dress for only $5 out of pocket. I have been wanting a new dress but it is rare for me to find one that fits and is modest. I am very thankful that I found one and that I basically got it for free.

3rd Blessing: The gift of friendship. I had begun to worry about whether a particular friendship of ours would hold up for very long because we no longer went to church together and were both very busy. But last night we went over there and hung out with them and a few other friends and it was so fun. Friendships take work, especially as you get older and life is no longer centered around hanging out, but they are worth the effort. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I don't often highlight giveaways on my blog but this particular giveaway showcases a very awesome company. Take a look at the giveaway yourself. And at the company. Maybe the product is a bit cheesy, but I think it is pretty cool despite that.