Exploring New Lands

Well, friends, I have finally decided to put off cleaning my dirty, messy house and blog on my last day before Kevin returns (again).

Just so you know that I haven't forgotten about my few readers, I want to let you know what has happened since my London trip that has kept me from writing. I got back from London and prepared my house for my mom, Aunt Debi, and Miss Kim to spend several days with me! So, once I got back to a normal sleeping schedule, I cleaned the house and got ready for them to take a peek into my new place.
During their visit, I had my interview for my current job. They agreed to being dropped off at the Cherry Hill mall while I did this. It was like pulling teeth to get them there!! Ha, that's a big fat joke. They were thrilled to explore the mall for me, having not been inside myself.
While they were here we went to New York for an overnight trip. While we were there, we shopped at Saks Fifth Ave., Tiffany's, Bloomingdale's, H&M, Forever 21, and plenty more. We were able to see PHANTOM!!! I was thrilled to see it in New York. We saw Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Today Show set, Good Morning America set, American Doll, F.A.O Schwarz, and SO much more. Sadly, this trip was cut short, due to the wonderful hurricane. I got them to the airport just in time, and then I prepared myself for a night with a friend, so I wouldn't be alone. I'll have you know, the damage done around my neighborhood amounted to a few leaves on the ground and puddles in a few potholes. Good thing I bought the last waters and tuna at the store! We never lost power.

The Monday after the hurricane passed through, I had my first day of work as a preschool teacher. I am the head teacher of the 3 and a half year old class. It took a little adjustment, but I am enjoying each day......... even with the temper tantrums (from myself and the kids!).

A couple weeks into my job, Kevin came back from being deployed! It was so good to have him back in the house. Again, I had someone to talk to when I got home, and noise that wasn't my own.

Within the week he got home, we decided to get a puppy. Long reasoning and story short, she came out of her shell once we got back to the house, and we soon realized she needed to have a place to run and play during the day - a place we couldn't provide.

Soon after we took our Reese back, Kevin left for a week and a two days for a trip over seas, oceans, and lakes.

And that brings me to where I am now. Saturday, the day before he comes home, I am sitting here thinking of the long list of things to do and putting it off to blog!

I guess the biggest post that needs to be done is of my London trip; a place I've never seen before!

So, here it is!

 Carol came to my house to fly to London with me. Our first leg of the trip was on the New Jersey Transit at Hamilton Station to Newark Airport!

One of my favorite differences between here and London was the phrase "Mind the Gap." What made it so much better was the British lady's accent as she warned the passengers entering and exiting. It sounded so polite compared to "Watch your step."

Once we got there we took a cute little taxi cab to the house and went straight to sleep, after saying hello to the lovely host (Jason) and hostess (Cristen).

Our first day started with greeting Margaret and heading out for breakfast at Peter Jones. I had my first Eggs Benedict, and LOVED it! From there we made our way to Clarence House for a tour. They didn't allow pictures once inside the walls, so I had nothing to show for this place. But, I'm sure you can look it up online! :)

It's always sooo incredible to see the interior details of fabulous buildings and homes. I kept thinking of all the different decor ideas I want to have in my house when I become rich and royal.

From there, we had Tea at the St. James Hotel. It was our first tea of many for the trip. We had a room all to ourselves and couches to rest our little bodies from jet lag and walking all morning/afternoon.
 We had DELICIOUS desserts on top. Let me just tell you. Do you see the chocolate cake square right there, I call it death. It was So good. After eating all the sandwiches, scones and tea, I had a hard time fitting in dessert. But, I made room for this. I rejected the shot glass dessert; just couldn't handle it.

 Of course we had the smoked salmon, egg salad, and cucumber sandwiches, all of which were good.
I must say, I have taken a love for scones. I prefer a sweet scone with creme fresh and preserves!
When we finally decided we could move again from stuffing ourselves, we got off those couches and made a trip to Fortnum and Mason and got a snack from Laduree. Let me just tell you, these people are picky about you taking pictures of their yummy and delicate foods! I tried the vanilla macaron. There is nothing like this fluffy, crisp, airy, moist delight of a treat.

That night we met up with Jason to take him out for his birthday, which was just days before. We went to China Town and ate at a wonderful restaurant for dinner. It was refreshing to be able to sit and drink water. Favorite moment of the dinner, the employees not believing that we could use chopsticks. We may be from America, but that doesn't mean you can judge our Chinese abilities! Okay, maybe our ONE ability. But, we conquered and showed them up.

Saturday brought a day of pure bliss, for me. It was a day preparing for WICKED!!! The entire day my mind was gearing up for the wonderful Elphaba and Glinda :) But, before our show that evening, we toured the Duke of York Square (market). It was a fun place to walk around. All kinds of treats, sandwiches, cheeses, fresh fruit, and much more. I didn't take any pictures, afraid to look like an insane tourist. (I care too much about drawing unnecessary attention to myself.) So, imagine with me, people walking around with strollers, coconuts in hand with straws, machines blending almost complete oranges into juices. Ahh! And now I've found that there are places like that RIGHT HERE IN NEW JERSEY every weekend! The farmers' markets. (I've been told there are some that have fresh produce and everything for sell, like a flee market.) Anyway, after we circled that a couple times, we made our way to Harrod's!
Harrod's. Who knew there could be such a HUGE place that carried anything and everything you could possibly need!! Levels and levels, sections and sections of shopping!

After our big adventure there, we had lunch at Laduree. After getting our food, we all realized we should have shared our meals. The sandwiches were HUGE. To top off the meal, I got another macaron - coconut!

We floated our way through Harrod's a bit more, and made it to the Pet Palace of all palaces! Jif would have a blast in this place! But sad to say, he would not be walking out with any souvenirs. For a small collar, he would have to pay a pretty penny.
After going back to the house to change, we walked to dinner at The Orange, a pub and restaurant a few blocks from the house. The bread and pizza there was wonderful!! If you ever pop in, I recommend the tomato, basil, and mozzarella pizza!
When dinner was complete we made our way to see WICKED!! I was excited to see it in London so that I could compare it to the shows in Houston and New York. It was so different seeing it in London. The talent was beyond amazing, except for Fiyero - wished we didn't have the understudy. I think my favorite character to hear was Nessarose. She was flawless and sounded so pure. But, the fun part was hearing the accents in their voices. It made the play come to life an entirely different way!

To finish the weekend, we went to The Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels. If only they would sell those, we could solve world hunger and maybe some of the debt in the US. Only kidding, but really. Come on! When we got outside, Cristen and I attempted to take a picture in front of the Tower Bridge without extra friends, but it wasn't incredibly successful.

We also went on a walking tour around Westminster Abbey. We got to see the Parliament, Big Ben, and back roads to where famous people lived. By that point I was super tired, couldn't understand the tour guide, and a bit weak on my feet. But, here are a couple pictures I was able to capture.
Westminster Bridge

Big Ben and a man on a Horse

 The tour guide talked about this man and horse, but I had NO idea what he was saying. His accent was soo strong. So, Aunt Debi, what can you tell me about him??
 Different view of Big Ben :)
There he is!! Big Ben!
 Did you know "Big Ben" is not the entire tower. Big Ben is the name of  the bell, which extends to the clock and tower.
Westminster Abbey
 There you can see Carol and Margaret making their way to the doors!
 This place is HUGE! And way to long to fit into my lens, from where I was standing.
 See what I mean??
Westminster Abbey
 Look familiar?? Here comes the Bride!

Everyone needs a picture of this, right?

I believe I am going to have to say "And, Scene" to this post. The house is yelling for me to clean it.
There is much more to come!


London later - Jetlag now

I realize that I have not submitted a new post in a little bit, but do not fear. I have been to LONDON and back, and have many exciting places to share with accompanying pictures! From this side of the trip, I have experience a little jetlag, which has put me to bed NO LATER than 9 pm the past two nights. I have forced myself to stay up until then, but have increased my "sleeping in" by 2 hours! I rolled out of bed this morning at 8:15 am, not able to force my eyes to stay closed any longer. But, that did allow me to enjoy a bowl of cereal, cup of coffee, half of a movie, and a 20 minute lazy rest in bed ALL before I had to get ready for church! Thankful that worship service doesn't start until 11 am!

I hope to get a blog in soon, but tomorrow is a day full of cleaning, grocery shopping and trip planning for when my mom, Debi, and Miss Kim come to visit on Tuesday! (That just means I'll be 2 blogs behind...)

Keep a look out! And just a friendly suggestion... Mind the Gap!


This is Home

Prepare for a long post, because you are about to enter in to a passion of mine... family and my twin brother.

I just returned from my first summer vacations: Home. Even with all of my Stuff here in my own house in New Jersey, nothing will be more comforting, fun, and uneventfully pleasant as being with family. While I was home, I enjoyed the company of many friends and family members.
My first reason and motivation to come home was to watch my twin brother, Joel, race his dirt bike on a Saturday night. For those of you who are unaware, this is a renewed love from when he was younger. He used to ride and "race" when he was in his preteen years, but as expensive as it gets, he quit when his bike became ridiculously too small. This past summer, my uncle sparked a great deal with Joel to sell Joel his KTM dirt bike, due to having knee surgery and two little ones to watch on the track. So, Joel made payments, repaired, and took a big spill before he traded it for a different used one. With his new bike, he raced once and realized it was a lemon. Okay, I called it that and made fun of him for buying from a random guy on the internet. He came out with a GREAT bill of repairs. With that, he and my parents negotiated to repair it only to sell the bike when it was finished. In the mean time, Joel bought himself a BRAND NEW bike! (And, sold the other to another racer from the track.)

Taking off to the starting gate.

All that to say, I had yet to see him race this new bike. A bike without problems?? Joel could really step up his game, right? Not only that, do you see the brightly-colored, star-covered clothing he has on? Well, let me just say that he has gotten himself on a team, y'all. Team Drenaline Cycles! After joining this team, he has been given great deals on gear, stickers, etc. You'll notice he has his last name on the jersey as well as his number, 336. He basically looks like a pro. Now, all he needs to do is keep up the good work and improvement and he can make some money off of winning races! Some of his teammates raced this weekend, too. And when they are there together, it's all about camaraderie!

See the matching pants? It's a team thing.

An added perk to these race nights is the simple pleasure of family. I have 3 cousins that race, along with Joel. Marco and Sebastian race and travel to different tracks regularly. My other cousin, Alex, races mostly at the local tracks. But, I tell you what. Those boys look up to Joel for everything :  Advice, where to get good deals, what to do on certain turns, what kind of gear to buy, how to become sponsored, and so much more.

Alex, Sebastian, and Joel.

There's no a better sight than to see and to feel the support family can provide. My dad's brother, Edward, and his wife Betsy (parents of Marco and Sebastian) bring out their RV and grill, and we have an all day long feast. My aunt, grandparents, and little cousin joined us, as well as some family friends. We laugh, eat, and cheer each racer on as they fly by us on the sidelines. There isn't anywhere else I'd rather be on a Saturday night than right there.

So, let's just get to the good stuff. Joel raced in two different races. He raced with 18 racers that have the same size bike - 250s- then raced with guys who have slightly bigger bikes with a bigger engine - 450s - that had a racers of a class above his. To our surprise, this weekend and last weekend, he did exceptionally well up against these more advanced guys. They race two rounds, making Joel to race 4 times that night. Let me tell ya, he comes back after the first or second race WIPED OUT!! Even still, he always pushes on.

He has a love for this sport, and continues to gain confidence and skill as he improves. But, with every improvement seems to come a fallback. This weekend it was another rider. Joel was on his last race, the one that made Eric and Heather drop everything to come out to watch, after deciding to stay at home. Joel had gotten 1st place in the first round of this race, and we were thrilled and excited and nervous. He hadn't fallen, gotten hurt, or pulled any muscles at all this night!! Something had to go wrong sooner or later. It was his last race; they were at the starting line. Engines rev and they cross the gate. We always try to spot him before he makes the hairpin curve to enter the track. So far, he was doing well, being close to the front. Then seconds later we realize he never passed. We spotted him right at the entrance of the track, struggling to move or get his bike going. We then realize he is stuck, due to a rider falling in front of him and not moving his bike. Joel was ticked. But, he never gave up, and maneuvered his way around and got his bike started again. Our heads were hanging low, as we thought there wasn't a chance. We watched as he got onto the track and started catching up, then passing other riders. Before you knew it, Joel was back in the race and holding on to 4th place. He never gave up, and went home with a overall 3rd place, when both races combined.

Persistence and patience is all it takes to motivate your success. He got a trophy, and went home feeling more accomplished than ever before. For only racing here and there for the past year, he has come a long way. You never know, you may see him on TV some day!! Ha, or maybe just making a few bucks from state tournaments.

To top it off, I had a winning ticket at got a free Ultimate t-shirt! Go me!

But at the end of the day, all that really matters are memories made and coming together as a family to enjoy one another and our love for our riders.

Marco looks up to Joel like crazy. He has Joel number, and he bought "highlighter gear" because Joel has some.

Keep your head up, and always know that you can do anything you set your mind to. But, remember the One who makes it all happen.

God Bless, everyone.


Tastefully Simple

This evening my mom hosted a Tastefully Simple party. For those of you who are not familiar, these parties are tastings of food products that are made with the mix plus one or two additional ingredients. The added ingredients are simple, and probably in your kitchen pantry or refrigerator! So, in lieu of dinner, we had a tasting of all sorts of dips, cheese balls, breads, sauces, and desserts! I forgot to take pictures during the actual event, but we had 20+ guests and over 20 samples of different foods!

Each guest was given a brochure and order form. Below is a picture of the brochure from tonight. It has items highlighted for the time of year, which always sound wonderful.

Inside this booklet, I took a couple pictures of items I am requesting to order. One is a new bread called Tuscan Tomato Focaccia Bread. It was delicious! The other is something we didn't try, but I am interested in giving it a shot ;) Their Samba Sangria Slush looks and sounds delicious! Pictures have a bit of a glare, but it looks delicious, any way.

In these brochures are SO many more great products. What I'm most excited about is the little gift I received after the smoke cleared...

My neighbor, the woman that heads all of this, gave me this as a wedding gift!! These are 6 of their best selling spices. She told me that there are thousands of recipes to see online, for ideas of how to use these! I'm not sure how I'm going to get them on the plane without going over my 50 lb limit, but I'll make it work!

That's all for now. It's time to video chat with my hubby!

Eat well, y'all.

Hello, and Welcome!

Well, I've joined everyone in the blogging world. I'm hoping to post current pictures, write about my New Jersey road trips, and fill everyone up to date with different adventures we take! Hang in there with me; it may take me a while to get going. But, I already have plans on a possible post tonight from my mom's Tastefully Simple party! Stay tuned!

Hopeful Upcoming Post:
Tastefully Simple
Ultimate Races
From House to Home