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Daily happenings

First Cruise!

The kids have started school (high school and junior high)! Unfortunately, my back-to-school pictures are blurry shots of carpet and body parts since they dodged the camera and my efforts to get their photo! We are settling into our school routine and as I sit here in gymnastics, I have a few minutes to update on my recent cruise. My husband and I returned from our first cruise ever on Sunday. I am so glad I ignored the Debbie Downers who started listing everything that could go wrong with a cruise.  Sure, things can happen on a cruise but they can happen in an airplane or driving down the road to the grocery store. This cruise experience was absolutely amazing! I was hoping for a fun-filled week to celebrate our upcoming 15 yr anniversary where I could be athletic during the day and do the girly dress-up in the evenings. I was hoping to see beautiful scenery and experience new things. I was hoping for a spiritual revival and nice weather. I was hoping for excitement and relaxation. I got everything I wished for and more! We visited Cozumel, Belize and Honduras.  I got to swim with dolphins, scuba dive, snorkel, climb ancient Mayan ruins, climb a rock wall and do some Flowriding on the ship, take a sushi-making class, got pampered all week and more! I have over 1000 pictures spread out over our “good” camera, underwater camera, and phones. I will share some of my experiences and tips in various posts as I slowly go through the pictures. In the mean time, here are some of the photos we purchased through the Royal Caribbean cruiseline. The photographers were eager to take photos and we appreciated their attention to little details. The picture below is my favorite. The young man  posed us and even suggested I place my hand in such a way to show “that thing on your hands” (flash tattoos).

Royal Caribbean Photography

I literally felt like Pretty Woman. The scene where she’s in the red dress walking through the hotel, turning heads…I got to experience that every night walking through the ship and entering the dining room! But to me, the best thing was not the men or women who turned their heads, stared or complimented. It was the little girls’ reactions that I loved. My 11 yr old daughter did give her stamp of approval on my outfits afterall 🙂

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This pant outfit was so comfortable, I wore it twice! I ditched the clubbing dress in favor of wearing this twice!

I love the picture below because you can see my freckles! Everybody thought we were newly weds and were in total disbelief that we were celebrating 15 years of marriage 🙂

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Some of the pics taken with our cameras:

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_MG_0475And my husband was such a trooper for carrying all my luggage! (I did carry a 75lb backpack for two hours as we went through customs)!

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And the bonus? I didn’t gain an ounce! I lost 18 pounds since January in preparation for this vacation and after all my efforts, didn’t want to gain it back! Breakfast consisted of fruit, lunch was a light sandwich and I ate half my dinner (including dessert) in the main dining room. I am now ready to start planning my next cruise, this time with my kids too!!

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Vacation Slimdown Underway

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There is no better motivation to get in shape than an upcoming vacation! I had lost 10 pounds since January then kind of got bored and gained 3 pounds back. Knowing that my long-awaited vacation is right around the corner, I decided to get serious about my fitness and three weeks ago made the decision to focus almost exclusively on weight training instead of cardio. This is new to me because for the past 10 years or so I have been the cardio queen doing everything from Insanity to kickboxing, step aerobics, running etc. I can’t be more pleased with the results I’m seeing. I lost 5 more pounds in the 3 weeks (half the weight I lost in 6 months)! I have a few more weeks until my vacation and can’t wait to see how much more progress I make. I know, I know this is nothing impressive but for me it is. I haven’t been at this weight in over 5 years and I’m especially pleased because I have accomplished this with no gym membership, just working out at home. IMG_2983IMG_2794This is after just 3 weeks and not lifting very heavy at all (10 lb dumbbells, circuit training). This week I did start using the gym in my neighborhood just so I can go up on the weights (now doing 12 and 15 lb dumbbells).

IMG_2986 (2)The pic above is from 3 weeks ago (4th of July weekend). I even dusted off my sewing machine and started making some of my clothes more fitted.

IMG_2938These pics were taken on the same day. Quite amazing the difference a fitted shirt can make. Here’s to another 5 pounds before my vacation!

Anniversary Photography

It is so nice to have a hubs who loves photography. We get to take pictures whenever we like free of charge. This weekend we took some anniversary photos celebrating our 13th anniversary.

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Anniversary Fondant Cake

In celebration of our 13th wedding anniversary, and because I had a day off from work while the kids were in school, I decided to make my first fondant cake. The fondant and buttercream icing were both homemade. It was quite a bit of work, mainly because it was my first time attempting fondant. I loved baking as a child, then life happened and I got busy with school, kids and work. About a year ago, I finally got back into baking and have been enjoying every little chance I get to bake. So this is only my 6th cake to bake and first attempt with fondant and when I try something, I go all the way (no ready-to-make, instant stuff). I loved the way it turned out and will be using these recipes again (without so many mistakes)! The buttercream icing recipe is here http://savorysweetlife.com/2010/03/buttercream-frosting/ and the marshmallow fondant recipe is here http://allrecipes.com/recipe/marshmallow-fondant/ .

Fondant Cake Completed

Fondant Cake

 

Garage Sailing

I am so excited that our neighborhood will be having the fall garage sale soon! I have found some great deals! From bikes to all kinds of furniture. I found a beautiful mahogany desk for the kids for $20 (even delivered to my home). My most recent find was a beautiful antique Chippendale-style sideboard buffet with skeleton keys included. I am a sucker for old, unique pieces. I have spent a pretty penny buying handmade, reclaimed furniture from  http://www.homesourcetx.com. I purchased some handmade saddle stools and a dining set made from a reclaimed barn door. I absolutely love their furniture but it can get quite expensive :). I had gone to the garage to purchase a table saw for my hubs and saw this gorgeous buffet. I was fortunate to have gone first thing in the morning and snatched it up right away. This time I am hoping to find something I can restore/paint because so far all the stuff I have found, I believe to be too pretty to paint. I definitely need some color though because I have learned that I LOVE dark wood, Virtually every piece of furniture we have is dark. Here’s the buffet I purchased for $200 and it was delivered to my home too 🙂 I’ve seen similar pieces for $1500-2000.

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Labor Day Weekend

We decided to spend the weekend in Galveston for Labor Day. Who would’ve thought it looked so nice? Apparently, they have revamped East Beach. I immediately noticed how much nicer it was and mentioned it to my family a few times. They thought I was crazy so I decided to look it up online and sure enough there was a recent renovation. I still cannot handle being at the beach for more than a couple of days though. Not sure what it is but, unlike most people, I do not feel relaxed afterwards. I usually feel exhausted but I recommend you check it out! Here are some pics below:

Jamaica Beach

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East Beach

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Back to School Shopping!

This year I started something different for the kids’ back-to-school shopping. Normally, being that I worked in the Galleria-area, I would shop then bring home what I bought for the kids. This year I decided to give the kids each a budget broken down into four weeks. They get a cash envelope (Dave Ramsey method) and have to stick to their budget. I advised that I would not contribute any more than what they had. The first two weeks have gone great! Below are the many benefits:

1. I hate shopping (despite being a girl) and can only do it in small doses. Four weekends is much easier on me than spending a whole day, or two, shopping.

2. Four weekends give the kids more opportunities to practice with a budget.

3. Four weekends give the kids a bigger variety of sales (my daughter got a $25 off $50 future Justice purchase – 50% savings). Coupons come in each week, so more opportunities to save money.

4. It is a lot less painful for my thrifty self to split with a little money each week versus a big amount at once.

5. Splitting their money up gives ME more control of their money LOL. Even though I told them their money was for them to use however they wanted (one thing or several), I knew that it would be less likely for them to “blow it” if they had smaller portions. For example, if I gave them each $500 at once, it would be easy for them to spend $100 on one thing and then split the remaining $400 on other things. By giving them $125 a week, they are not likely to drop that week’s money on just one thing!

The second weekend the kids wanted to get their shoes at Famous Footwear (FF). FF was having the buy one, get one half price sale. The kids have learned the value of coupons so they each had a coupon (they actually call dibs on them when they see them in the mail)! My son picked out a $69.99 pair and a $44.99 pair. My daughter picked out a $69.99 pair and a $36.99 pair. I was so proud to hear my son explain to my daughter why they should combine the two $69.99 pairs (to save more money) and then combine the cheaper pairs in a separate transaction. After the promotion and coupon their Nike Flex Runs came out to $41.99 each (plus it was tax-free weekend).

I had the opportunity to even show them some algebra! The second transaction wasn’t quite as easy as splitting the total in half because the shoes were different prices. One pair was $8 more than the other. I did some algebra and was ecstatic to hear my son say he was going to be more attentive in math because now he knows it IS useful in everyday life 🙂

Here is a picture of the algebra I used to find the price of each pair (after the buy one get one half price promotion). Luckily it was tax-free so it made it nice and easy.

School Shopping

And here is a picture of their Nikes that they got for $41.99 (reg 69.99).

FF Purchase

I am so proud of their choices and glad to see them appreciate the value of money. I am glad they didn’t drop all their money on just one thing. Some things are worth spending money on, like a good quality pair of jeans, a nice handbag, a nice coat (stuff you can use repeatedly), but I try to teach them that it’s not practical to spend a lot of money on things that are too trendy and will be out of style soon, or things that would be obvious that you “already wore that” like a party dress.

It has been a great shopping and learning experience for all of us 🙂

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