"Coffee Treat" Obsession

Unfortunately there's one bad habit of ours we just can't seem to quit. Coffee. In the last 4 years we've both given up so many addictions, but this truly is the last one that just hangs on for dear life for some reason. We've quit several times, even going as long as 6+ months without touching a single drop of espresso or home brew.  I never drank coffee until I moved to the Pacific Northwest. I was probably 27 years old before I even tried it.  Something changes in you internally, I swear when you move to an area where there's a Starbucks literally on every corner and coffee shacks line every major road.  It's everywhere, you can't get away from it. 

So while I'm not proud of the addiction itself, and I swear I'm working on it, what I am proud of is that I've found a way my family can save money on it.  The term "coffee treat" is well known in our house. Whether it's Becca asking to go for a double chip, chocolate chip frap (the one without coffee of course), or Erick craving a TRENTA iced coffee, or myself desiring one of those famous "skinny" holiday drinks they offer, we all know and love the term "Coffee Treat"!  

I knew we had a problem when we were in the drive-thru line and my 11 year old was happily teaching my 12 month old to say "Starbucks". (which she still says with ultimate joy and happiness in her tiny, squeaky voice...)  Great. My baby who won't even say "Momma" knows what "Starbucks" is. Fabulous.  I felt robbed, and that was BEFORE we got to the window to drop our $18.00 on "Coffee Treats" for the family. "$18.00? On what? You've got to be kidding me."  I said such lines everyday as we drove through, made our orders and sipped on our over-priced beverages.  Daily. 

Something had to change, and it did. We drove to "Cash-n-Carry" the restaurant supply, that's open to the public and got everything we needed. 

Sugar Free Syrups (4)
Heavy Cream (1 gallon)
Whipped Cream (2 cans)
and Plastic Cups with Lids (150 sets)

Less than $35.00!  That's like 2 trips to the coffee place for my family.

So instead of us sipping away on drinks filled with nothing but sugar and carbs, we found an alternative and I even like mine better than the $6.00 beverage I was ordering from Starbucks.  Mine has 0g Sugar, 60 Calories, and 1 Carb.   Guilt free and frugal. Love it. 

New Years Eve Throwback, 2011

Written Jan. 1st, 2012 (Oakland/San Fransisco)-- "For our last night in the bay area, and to celebrate New Years Eve, Erick spoiled me rotten by treating me to dinner at Skates.  5 star. Superb food.  When we arrived, we were told there was quite a wait unless we could find a table that didn't have a reserved place card on it in the bar.  We walked through the entire bar and all of the good window views had a reserved place card. Disappointed we wouldn't have a table with a view, I turned around and out of the corner of my eye saw a table that had been freshly cleared and without a reserved place card. It was a corner window view. 180' of pure water view, secluded, and the best table in the house. We rushed over and sat down. We knew we had snagged a table that someone had forgot to place a card on it.  We spent the next three and a half hours drinking fabulous cocktails and eating some of the best food we've ever had.  

We started our meal with a crab and artichoke cheese dip with asiago cheese bread. Divine.  For our entree's Erick ordered himself the handcut rib eye, and I chose the roasted dijon chicken with silky truffle potatoes and spinach.  Talk about first class. Everyone was envious of our table seating and our view. Throughout our meal you could see diners and staff alike starring at us at the highly desired table with a view. The table clearly had been meant to be used as a reserved seating area for some special guests to ring in the new year. We weren't budging...

Dessert followed our entree's with a smooth and creamy key lime pie with a lemon mint sorbet. 
For $200.00 you can't enjoy a better meal with better scenery.  Only I'd highly suggest a reservation if you ever visit Skates on a holiday. We merely lucked out thanks to a waiters neglect by not putting a reserved card on the table before we sat down. 

2011 has been one of the best years of my life. 2012 will bring only more wonderful experiences with the love of my life and my sweet little family.

Life is sweet. Beautiful. I'll never forget looking at Erick during dinner as he sat back as tears welled up in both of our eyes. He told me how he would not rather be anywhere else, with anyone else that he was with right then and there.  I'm so blessed to have found the man of my dreams. The man who treats me like a queen, the man who has always been my very best friend, my better half. I love you Erick. Happy 2012, and thank you not only for a beautiful dinner and evening...but a beautiful life. Everyday is a treat, and an adventure with you. "

I wonder what this New Years Eve will bring?...

Gardening On My Mind...

Maybe it's because Christmas has passed, and the New Year is right around the corner.  January is when we start ordering our seeds and making diagrams of how we'll be laying out the garden. As I laid in bed last night making pretty diagrams of the garden beds I realized that we have kind of been slacking in keeping up with the beds and garden spaces ever since the cold and blustery weather blew in a few months ago...

This morning after Erick made us breakfast, we got ready to go out and do some yard work.  All of the beds needed to be raked and the old stuff pulled out and hauled away. 

I hadn't even raked the leaves that had come down this fall. That's just how far behind we were. I gave the front yard a good rake. Wow, you can actually see the moss now, I mean the lawn now. 

This bed got a major clean out.  I trimmed the lavender bushes back myself too. 
This space doesn't look like much now, but trust me, at the first sight of spring it will be popping with color from my lovely tulips that come up each year.  After the tulips, it takes on several different stages of growth with other perennials that make an appearance through the months...

Erick cleaned out the garage! Pretty excited about that.  Loaded up the old, blue, work truck with a full bed of trash ready for the dump this week.  

So now that the front spaces are cleaned up and ready to go for spring, the next project is going to be tackling the backyard. These beds and greenhouse are going to be cleaned out next weekend. It will most likely take us two days to get it all finished and cleared out.  

After the long day outside, we came in for some family game time and Noahh ate beef ravioli's as she watched.  Yes, our tree is still up. Both of them are.  When do you all usually take down your Christmas decor? I have a tendency to pull them down the 2nd week of January, after the New Year has begun.  I like to make the magic last as long as possible...

Genealogy, we are Doing It!

Today Erick and I worked on our Genealogy. It all started because Erick kept calling me from work totally excited as he dug further and further back on his family tree.  He's been using the church's "Familysearch" website to piece together his family tree. 
Each time the phone would ring, I knew it was because he found another branch dating back further than either of us would believe.
As soon as he walked through the door from work, he sat down on the laptop and started his research.  He didn't even change his clothes, just went straight to work on his genealogy.
Seeing his enthusiasm made me want to get busy too. After all, I had all of November and December to send off to the print lab.  I usually keep up pretty good with my photo albums, but with the holidays I had fallen a bit behind. 

About a month and a half of photos.
2 hr. upload time. 
 1 hr. photo turned into more than 6 hours of their machine time.
4 large boxes.
774 total prints.

This is my drug of choice.
Happy memories of my sweet family tucked away into photo albums for my kids and their kids, and hopefully even further down to enjoy.

This is a blissful Friday night for me. 

A Blessed Christmas Day

Well...Santa came after all! Like I really ever had any doubts... My two girls have been the "nicest" they could have been all year long. I'm so blessed to be the mommy of both Noahh and Becca. They are just amazingly beautiful, inside and out. 

Becca wasted no time digging into her stocking. She loves her sweets!

A new cell phone found it's way onto Santa's sleigh for Becca too! What a lucky gal! I'm using a phone that barely works and is like 3 years old. Maybe I should have asked Santa for a new phone!

Opening presents was a real treat. Noahh didn't seem to interested. She was mildly annoyed I think that she got woke up. She just wanted a bottle, her blank, and her "moo" cow.

After we got through all of our gifts, we sat down for some orange rolls and a family game of Empire Monopoly. Erick whooped us both good!  
Christmas dinner was spent at Steve and Judy's. Their home was beautifully decorated for the holidays and dinner was absolutely delicious. 
Uncle Steve carved up the most delicious Prime Rib I think I've ever had! So yum!
Cousin Karah, has been more like a Sister to both Erick and I over the last 4 years.  She has been such a blessing to Erick and I not to mention the kids. She's the only Auntie they have here in Washington and they just LOVE Auntie Karah. She's always buying them purses, and leopard print.(which Erick just loves...ha.a ha.)
In short, I don't know what we'd do without her.
 She's the sister I never had, and the one I'll never grow apart from.

Danny and Karah are such a beautiful couple. I love watching "new love" blossom. It reminds me of when Erick and I had just met and there's always something magical in it.  Little Noahh just adores her Uncle Danny! They can play together, uninterrupted, forever. He's so sweet to her and she just loves his playful spirit.

...oh Steve and Judy!
We love these two people more than they probably know.  They are the Patriarch and Matriarch of this family and hold it all together. These two loving individuals have brought more understanding of how life and families work, to Erick and I, more than anyone else. We are so thankful for their encouragement, their guidance, their example and unconditional love.  If Erick and I can model our lives after the one they have made for themselves, we could call our marriage a success.
And here are all of the most special people to us, on this side of Erick's family! Don't you just love the hats? We bought everyone a hat, and set of gloves for Christmas this year!  Everyone was in hysterics laughing as they each opened their new hats!  I think we did pretty darn well with them all!
Later, Erick met me in the hallway for a hug. He wrapped his arms around me for several minutes. The hug was unusually long and tender. When I pulled back finally and looked at him he had tears in his eyes, but was smiling. I asked him what was wrong and he said "Nothing's wrong. I just love you so much and I don't want today to end. It's been perfect. I just don't want Christmas to be over"...
We hope everyone had a blessed Christmas just like we did!

The Merriest Christmas Eve

This Christmas Eve was probably one of the best we've ever had! We had a relaxing, blissful evening just with the two girls and Papa Hank and Nanny Waibel.
They came bearing armfuls of goodies for the girls, which  we were all very thankful for. They brought Becca a new bike for her AG dolls, and a new dress as well! Super cute!  Noahh got spoiled with some warm fuzzy outfits and her first official "Little People" house. Noahh just loves those little people figurines. She's been playing with them all night.
Becca left all of Santa's reindeer a carrot, and wrote the cutest note for them. She placed the carrots and card out in the front yard so when Santa's sleigh found a place to park, the reindeer would have something to munch on.
Erick, myself, Hank, Marylyn, Becca and Noahh all together on Christmas Eve. It really was the "Merriest".
Erick made beef wellingtons for the main dish and he did such a fantastic job. It was delicious. I'm so proud of him for them turning out as wonderful as they did!
My sweet babies. Well, one really isn't a baby anymore but she'll always be my baby. Love these two ladies more than anything in this world and I'm so thankful God blessed me to be their momma. 
I really hope the two of them have the "Merriest" Christmas ever!

Makes my heart happy to see Noahh with her Papa. We are all just so blessed this miracle has happened in our lives.  Getting to know Hank and Marylyn has been the best thing to happen to Erick and I during the last four years we've been together. They really have enriched our family.
Speaking of family, we were extremely touched they thought of us and brought us a basket full of old photographs of Hank and his family.

This is the greatest gift of all. Your heritage is one of life's greatest blessings and as we begin to fill in the missing pieces of not only Erick's family history, but to close those gaps for Noahh is priceless. Such an amazing gift.  I've had to fight back tears all night while we have been going over these cherished new keepsakes.

These photographs are just amazing.  Being able to touch and see these memories of Hank, as the gap closes for Erick's broken family history is absolutely remarkable.  These photographs will be cherished forever.

Well wouldn't you know! We found Erick's Great Grandparents, receipt for their wedding license tucked away into the basket.  The county clerk took their $2.25 and issued them a marriage license. How sweet is that? 
Before we got the girls tucked into bed we played a family game of "Life". Erick was the banker, and we all tried to re-teach ourselves how to play this classic game. Somehow it seemed a lot more difficult than it did when Erick and I last played it as small children. Did they really change the rules? Maybe we just never knew the real rules? or Maybe we're just getting old and can't remember stuff like this?...
We nibbled on homemade goodies brought to us by our neighbors and friends while we took turns playing the game of LIFE.  Noahh sat next to us and cheered us on while she ate her "nom nom's"
Before we went to bed, Becca presented Erick and I with a gift she picked out for us with her own money. It was a lovely white star Christmas ornament.  This thoughtful gal of ours never forgets that giving is more important than receiving this time of year. I love her so much and I'm so proud of her for being as thoughtful and kind as she is. Merry, Merry Christmas sweetie. 

Christmas Eve, Eve

Christmas Eve, Eve.
We are so excited! We had a great day today prepping for our Christmas Eve dinner, listening to Christmas music, and just spending the day with one another. 
We made several batches of cookies too!
 This evening we stopped at Starbucks for a "coffee treat" before driving around town to look at Christmas lights. There were some great houses this year!
We picked up some dinner, and then came home so daddy could read us all the "Elf on the Shelf" book one more time. Henry our Elf has been around for years. Erick first spotted Henry the Elf out in the garage probably 3 years ago and ever since then, we've had random sightings of him.  This year things are different. Erick felt bad he was hiding in the garage most of the time and with it being so cold out, he gave him a key to the house. He's been having quite the adventures!   He's been spotted taking a bath, toilet papering the Christmas tree, dancing with our Santa figurine, stealing butter-tips in the middle of the night, taking pictures, hanging from the ceiling, hiding in the dryer,...oh the places he keeps showing up!
 Before bed, Daddy and the girls surprised me with a "Christmas Eve, Eve" card too. Love them!
Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

American Girl Christmas Traditions

Late last night we let Becca open up her new American Girl Doll dresses and she loved them! We got all of her dolls dressed up in their new Christmas attire, freshened up their hair and got them all ready for their big day out the following morning.
It was time for our Annual Christmas American Girl Doll Store trip!
We woke up at 6 am, which was just enough time to get everyone ready, fed, and loaded up into the car to make the drive into Lynnwood. Once we got there, we still had just a few minutes to spare before the store opened.  We took the girls into the mall's "play area" where Noahh could stretch her legs and walk around a little bit. She did a great job walking today!
After we were finished playing, we gave Becca her AG bags to open. Inside she found Noahh's Christmas Card with $100 spending cash, and one for her with $200.00.  Becca couldn't WAIT to get inside the AG store.
Oh did I mention the dolls just HAD to come with us? All of them? 
I must say, watching Erick proudly push a stoller with not only one real baby, but 5 other ones hitching a ride, was pretty sweet.

Here we are! Waiting for the doors to open!
Inside it was a magical playground for girls of every age.  Becca knew exactly which doll she was going to get!...
"My American Girl Doll" #57
Looks JUST like Ms. Becca herself!

'til next time American Girl! It was so much fun! Can't wait to go back! We usually make another trip during summertime as well.

After leaving Lynnwood, we stopped in Seattle for some famous "Dicks" burgers and shakes. Oh man, I'm telling you...eating healthy during the holidays is just NO FUN!
We got home and Becca started opening up all of the dolls and accessories.
 Noahh's Bitty Twins...

Becca's #57 doll...

Becca also got a white shawl for her new doll as well as the Skateboard Kit and outfit!

Playtime! Mommy fell asleep not to long after Becca opened up all of the new toys, and when she woke up, she found dad, Becca and Noahh surrounded by all of the doll toys having quite a good time!
Noahh can literally fit inside this doll R.V. Camper.  It's the cutest thing ever.

I love seeing my girls this happy and content. I'm thankful we found something we can enjoy doing for them, as a family. Merry Christmas Noahh and Becca. You've been very good this year and deserve all the happiness in this world. xoxo.mom

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