Friday, July 21, 2017

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

10 Reasons to Visit Cozumel, Mexico

I keep mentioning Cozumel and our trip. Are you sick of hearing about it yet without hearing about it? Yeah, me too! haha. So here is 1 of a couple posts on Cozumel... But this one is Why You Should Visit Cozumel!

1. The SCUBA Diving! Oh my gosh, the SCUBA diving in Cozumel is amazing. The water temperature is like 80-84 degrees F year round (26-29˚C). The sealife is out of this world. There are reef and nurse sharks, turtles galore, fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and so much more, including if you're lucky a potential Hammer Head Shark AND Seahorses. No, the sharks aren't scary. At first I thought they would be, but they aren't. When people yell or give the Shark sign, others go running, camera in hand. The visibility seems endless. You could be at the surface, see the ocean floor, take off for it and it's sitting at 80-100 feet down. I mean the visibility is a dream.

2. SCUBA Diving isn't your thing, No Problem! Check out these Gorgeous Sunsets! I'm sure the Sunrises are just as amazing, but we tend to stay on the West side of the island so sunsets are what we get. There are views galore both from hotels, restaurants, shorelines, and even downtown. The sun tends to set around 7pm, roughly. They don't do daylight Savings Time like we do in the United States, so in the winter months they are Eastern Standard Time and during the Summer months they are on Central Daylight Savings Time.

3. Okay so you say Sunsets and SCUBA diving don't do it for you... Try this one... The Food! The food is amazing. I'm fully on the mindset that if you go to a new place, eat their local cuisine. Submerge yourself in their culture as best you can, I mean you chose to go there on vacation after all, right? So, the first one is Chocolate Ice Cream, Grady style... 2 bowls... lol. The second photo is a Chile Relleno from La Mission. The Third is a Lobster Sandwich from Le Chef. I'm not a huge fish person and that Lobster Sandwich was good (I tasted a bite). There are a lot of local restaurants, plus those chain restaurants all throughout the island so plenty of food options to try.

4. Not sold yet? Okay... how about Vitamin D & Vitamin Sea. We all joke that we need more Vitamin Sea in our life... well truthfully, there have been studies that say that vacations (or Holidays if you prefer) do the body good. I doubt we were put on this earth to pay taxes and die only. There is a large world out there and vacations are a necessity. Now if we can all figure out how to make enough money in 2 days to live the rest of the 5 in a week. You know... 7 days per week.... Maybe work 2 24 hour shifts? Probably not.

5. The Memories and Stories. When you go with a friend, a spouse, a group, or by yourself, there are always memories and stories to be had. On our trip, there were 22 of us at one point or another. Can you just imagine the stories. They range from sprained ankles (guilty),  to dive computers not working (guilty again), to not setting up dive gear properly (not guilty), to wearing the wrong dive suit (guilty), to getting a car towed (guilty), to telling the two year old she can drink chocolate milk until midnight (not guilty but I helped with that one). And those are just a few of the stories. It's always best to keep a running log of the days activities so you don't forget. That's sometimes what this blog serves as, but also I now have a travel journal because there is always way to much to be able to record here or just in my brain. The stories and memories are endless. After recently losing my husband's grandmother, it's just another reminder as to why we need to get out and enjoy and live life!

6. Stamp on your passport. Watching TV, it seems like everyone whether they live in the United States or Europe, or South America own a passport, when the reality is it seems like I know more people who don't have one than who do. I do. I've been to Cozumel Mexico twice now and Costa Rica once. 3 stamps in 2 passports. I wish they lasted longer than 10 years, that way my old passport would have all three stamps but I guess I did have a last name change in there.... Anyway... This goes back to the previous one. Travel. Experience Life. There is so much out there to learn. Hey, I have a goal to visit all 50 United States. I've been to like 27 or something like that so far. Take away... Travel and while you're at it, get that passport and visit Cozumel because why not.

7. Real Coca Cola. In the United States finding the Coke with real sugar is almost impossible. Hey, at this point you're on vacation so eat within reason, but don't just totally diet and not experience stuff. If you have to, go exercise a little more. What better way to exercise than SCUBA diving which in my opinion is the #1 reason to visit Cozumel. Bam. Full circle, even though I have 3 more points to address.

8. Punta Sur/Mayan Ruins. Punta Sur is the South Lighthouse area. There is a beach, there is a crocodile pit (is that what you call it?), there is the lighthouse, and more. It cost us like $14 to enter (May 2017). Not bad, right? I learned that the Lighthouse has 134 steps. Hey, there's that workout so that you can have that Real Coca Cola. See, they all tie in together. And that view from the top of the lighthouse is AMAZING! The history that lies around this place both with the Lighthouse and the Mayan Ruins. I'm sure I could visit these places again and be amazed every time while learning something new. They say you're supposed to learn something new every day, right? Well, I have you covered with this one... what more could you ask for?

9. Shopping/Negotiating. The shopping here is great. Now I heard one person say that once you've been in one store you've seen it all, and while sometimes that is true, it's not always true. I think they get a rush in negotiating as much as the tourists do. I have to tell you though... I always feel bad trying to negotiate. Guilty. I would also say, carry low bills. Most places accept American Dollars, but you can also convert to Mexican Peso's and sometimes that might work in your favor. Whatever you're paying with, carry small bills, especially if you're into that negotiating. If you negotiate down to a couple dollars and try to pay with a larger bill... they might not be so happy with you... just saying.

10. Finally you can Kiss a Mexican Girl. haha. That's what they told us when we went to Dolphinaris. It's one of the places on the island where you can swim with the dolphins. In fact, The guy who was our dolphin trainer, my husband was the only guy in our group, he brought him up and said, have you ever kissed a Mexican Girl. Then when the rest of our group got dolphin kisses, he reiterated that statement.

So if you're not sold yet, let's chat. I'll see what else I can do to sway your opinion. AdiĆ³s!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Did You Make It?!?!

You see this pier right here? I have a fun story about this pier.... Hold on....

So in May, I've mentioned in passing a few times, we went to Cozumel, Mexico. When you board a dive boat, right there under that roof is usually where people enter the dive boat they are going out on.. that and a little bit to this side even. You know, those big pillars are to tie boats off to to keep them at the dock.

I'm not sure exactly how deep it is right there at the end of the peer, but it's deep enough that dive boats can get in easily. I've heard around 20 feet... I now my friend Grady accidentally had his gear dropped off a boat and they had to free dive down to get it.

Okay, so now that you have a little back ground history.... Let's proceed with today's story.

The last night we were in Cozumel, around dinner time I ran out to get sunset pictures (the above photo is from the first night....). There were 3 people, appeared to be a mother and 2 kids possibly. The girl I assume was daughter was probably early 20's and the guy I assume to be son was late teens. So guesstimate mom's age by those numbers... if she was near 20 when she had said daughter, we're looking at least at age 40.

They were getting ready to go out and do a night dive. They didn't seem real confident in their diving abilities based off their conversations of, how do I put this on, where does this go, did I set this up correctly, etc. Hey, as a new diver I was there too. It happens to everyone until you get some dives in under your belt.

Now, those things on your feet, they're called fins, not flipper. In our group if you call them flipper's someone starts singing "Flipper, Flipper, Faster than Lightning"... you know the theme song from the show Flipper form the 70's.... <crickets>

You don't walk in fins. You walk to where you're going, right before you get in the water you place your fins on, then you're ready to go. Or if you get in the water, say at the lake from the shore, you get in the water until the water helps support you through air in your BC, then you put your fins on. Let's just say Fins are not easy to walk in and you'll likely fall if you try. It's a balance, coordination, un-grace thing.

So the boy decides he wants to go to the end of the dock and do a giant stride entry. Mom isn't sure the water is deep enough to do that. At this point, I hear the conversation and I know the answer but I didn't totally want to say anything either. So I continued to listen.

The boy proceeds to put his fins on and try and walk down the dock in them, all while mom is saying that she doesn't think it's deep enough for him to do a giant stride entry. Now I have my camera in hand remember because I went to take sunset pictures, but I could have always taken pictures of him crashing face first too. I mean..... Luckily after one attempted step, he realized he couldn't walk in the fins and took them off.

Meanwhile, mom and daughter are still trying to put together dive gear and discussing if they have it set up correctly, etc. I kept having to bite my tongue to answer them, not because I was trying to be a know-it-all, but just trying to be helpful.

Okay, so son walks to the end of the peer, puts fins on, does a correct giant stride entry, surfaces, puts air in his BC, and then swims back to where mom and sister are entering the water via latter. All looked correct. He gets a gold star for the day. Then I kid you not, Mom looks at him and says, "Did you make it?"

Here is where I about lost it people, because if he didn't make it, I'm not sure he would have been swimming back to mom and sister. I had to hide my laughter and quickly get out of the area so I could giggle. It just struck a funny bone in me and I couldn't help myself.

Now that I'm done being childish about it... Have you ever had any moments like that? Please share, I need a good laugh! Best medicine is a laugh a day (or 2 or 3 or 12).

Thursday, July 6, 2017

We Lost Her

If you remember here recently I asked for some prayers for my husband's grandmother. At that time we weren't sure if she'd ever leave the hospital, but she did. She pulled through and they released her. It actually got to the point she'd have good days where you knew she knew who you were and then there were days like in the hospital when she'd look at you dazed and confused.

About 6 months ago when she was in the hospital she signed a DNR. That right there was difficult for most of the family to understand, but she knew her place with God and was ready to go home when he called. She didn't want to stay alive on machines only.

June 29, a few friends came up from Texas. Their first goal was to see Grandma W. Hubby and I ran in to town to see both Gary and Ruthie, but also Grandma W. The whole time we were there she never opened her eyes and she had very difficult shallow breathing. The nurses told the family to prepare for her to not make it through the night. She did.

Hubby's cousin was coming down from Nebraska the next day. I've always heard that when people are preparing to leave this earth that there are people they are expecting/waiting to see. Once they've seen them, then they move on. I whole heartedly believe that.

My Grandpa was alive until I made it to Southern Oklahoma to see him. I remember driving down Father's Day weekend 2008. I stayed with him and talked to him. He didn't know I was there but they all said he did. My dad went down with me. My mom originally didn't want me to see him like that because she didn't want me to remember him like that. I told my mom, just stop me. I don't usually speak that way, but I was going no matter what. I'm so glad I did and while I remember how he looked, that's not how I remember him. I left around 7pm that night to make 5 1/2 hour trek back home. My mom called at 2am to say he'd passed away. I believe he was waiting to see me. And while maybe that sounds a little conceited... I still believe that with my whole heart.

So maybe that's what Grandma W was waiting for. The whole family knew Gary and Ruthie were coming up. Maybe she wanted to see them one last night. We knew that Shelly would be down on the 30th... Maybe that was who she was waiting for, one last time. Shelly's daughter came with her. At this point it's just speculation on our part, but Grandma W left this earth and her family around 8:15pm Friday June 30. We got the phone call almost immediately and the photo above was what the sky looked like that that particular moment in time. It was crazy.

Some of the cousins got together and decided to get tattoo's in honor of her. While they were at the tattoo parlor she passed away. The tattoo includes her birth date and the day she left us. Most people say that the hard part is over, but that's just not true... The hard part is just beginning, for us. The earth family. The learning to live with that void. The wanting to pick up the phone and not being able to.

Here is the tattoo they got in honor of Grandma. I wish I knew the total significance behind it but at this point I don't.

Until we meet again, you will be extremely missed and never forgotten!


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sundae Cupcakes

I'm really hoping that one thing I will gain from this Cupcake Challenge I put on myself is to learn to make the most perfect, most consistent cupcakes. So far.... It hasn't happened, but I am getting closer.... maybe...

I truly think that out of all of these cupcakes, this is one that most everyone was looking forward to. I know I was kind of dreaming about them. And they definitely top the cake over last months. maybe top the cupcake? Would that be icing... like the icing on the cake. Okay, I'll stop now!

This month I started almost running out of time to get them made. I got there, but I think everyone who knows about the challenge to myself started to wonder. I baked the cupcakes last Thursday. I already had the oven on, I was making cupcakes and cookies for my baby girl's birthday party (only 2 things she asked for... only 2, no toys, no food, just cupcakes/cake and cookies) Anyway I figured since I already had the oven on, I'd just dual purpose it and bake these while I was at it.

I have to say this is the most consistent my cupcakes have looked so far. Still not there, but by golly I'm sure trying. Maybe after 6 more I'll be a pro? That is 6 more cupcakes at 12 cupcakes per batch. Math I don't want to do in my head because I know I'll screw it up. Where's the paper and pencil so I can verify myself :). I don't need a calculator... just good old paper and pencil. And just think, I used to be able to do square roots, even imperfect square roots in my head. Oy! The things you lose when you don't practice all the time.

The icing was a bit sweet, but after you covered it in the chocolate, it toned it down just a bit. It really was sweet enough that my teeth were screaming at me when I tried it. Hubby's not a huge fan of sweet icing, I think it might have been a bit much for him too. Deb said that 1 cupcake was about her max. I wonder if you cut down on the sweetness of the icing if it would have been better? I don't know. I'm just trying to follow these directions to a T.

I say follow the directions to a T then I have to point out what I did. I intentionally left the nuts out because hubby doesn't do so well with them. I also intentionally left out the sugar cones because I didn't want to have to buy a huge box and have left overs for just the 2 the recipe called for. Then I got carried away with the batter, I tasted it and thought WOW this is excellent to the point I forgot to add the mashed banana into the batter.

My only other set of notes on this is once you add the Coconut Oil to the Chocolate to cover the icing, it lowers the melting point of the chocolate. You put the cupcakes in the refrigerator 30 minutes to overnight to let the chocolate harden. When I pulled them out, we had to drive to the lake which is like an hour and a half or something. By the time we got there (and it's June, but a milder June), the chocolate on the icing had started to melt. So we ate cupcakes for breakfast, otherwise they wouldn't have lasted.

Hubby's only complaint was he would have left the sprinkles off because he doesn't like Sprinkles. I have to say this was one of my favorite cupcake recipes so far, by far. Bring on the next 6 months!


Sundae Cupcake

(Food Network Magazine, January/February 2017, Vol 10 number 1, Page 63)

For the cupcakes:

For the frosting:

For the chocolate shell:


Directions

1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners. Combine the butter and unsweetened chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly, then whisk in the granulated sugar and eggs until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; whisk until just combined. Add the milk and whisk until smooth, then stir in the banana and peanuts.

2. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters of the way. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

3. Meanwhile, make the frosting: Beat the butter, confectioners¿ sugar and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until combined. Add the vanilla and milk; increase the speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed sugar cones and beat 1 more minute. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Arrange the cupcakes on a baking sheet; pipe tall swirls of frosting onto the cupcakes. Refrigerate until the frosting is firm, about 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the chocolate shell: Combine the semisweet chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly, then pour into a short wide drinking glass for dunking the cupcakes. One at a time, turn each cupcake upside down and dunk the frosting in the melted chocolate; rotate to coat and let the excess drip off. Return to the baking sheet and decorate with sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet. Refrigerate until set, at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Yearly Answers


Answers at 3 year old.

1. Why do you like being a kid? I like being a little girl

2. What is your happiest memory? Kissing a dolphin (She talks about this ALL the time)


3. What do you like to do for fun? Kiss a dolphin (She's only done this once... she also likes to ride horses....)

4. What was the nicest thing you ever did for someone else? When I was at home, Tbug was at her mom's house (I don't know nor do I understand.. haha)

5. What do you think you'll be doing 10 years from now? Be a big girl

6. What do you think your mom & dad do for jobs? Mommy: gets me a monkey daddy: Play with me

7. What is the grossest thing you can imagine? Poop is yucky (haha... yup)

8. What is your favorite thing to do with your family? talk to you guys

9. What is your favorite color? Pink

10. What is your favorite toy? Doc McStuffins (She got this ambulance for her birthday that is Doc McStuffins, plus a doctor kit. Prior to her birthday she always played doctor and cooking at least once a day....)

11. What is your favorite fruit? Watermelon

12. What is your favorite tv show? Sophia the First (Also likes Doc McStuffins, Princess Elena of Avalor, Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, and NO, she doesn't watch TV all the time)

13. What is your favorite food? Macaroni and Cheese

14. What is your favorite outfit? A dress

15. What is your favorite game? Something on my toy I have in the truck (She has a leapster laptop thingy she's referring to)

16. What is your favorite snack? Cake (and applesauce and SmartPop Popcorn (has to be the black bag, not the white bag that is the Walmart version), Peanut Butter and Bread)

17. What is your favorite animal? Elephant no Lion (haha, okay....?)

18. What is your favorite song? Miss Me When I'm Gone.

19. What is your favorite book? Tiger, (I Love You, Dad)

20. Who is your best friend? Tbug

21. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Chores

22. What is your favorite drink? Tea Tea (Sweet Tea)

23. What is your favorite holiday? Halloween

24. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Minnie and Monkey (and sometimes purple Minnie)

25. What do you want to be when you grow up? Stand up High and higher and higher and higher so Tbug can reach me so I can get bigger and bigger. (sure, why not)


Friday, June 23, 2017

Father's Day 2017

Breakfast consisted of Pancakes. My aunt got me this really cool new cookbook, Back in the Day Bakery. If you can't tell... the pancake recipe is from that cookbook :).

Tomatoes out of my garden, that I fried up like Fried Green Tomatoes. OMG, they were dreamy!

Lunch consisted of grilled chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and fried tomatoes.

Dessert was this Deep Chocolate Cake. This is my all time favorite cake, I swear! And the Fudgy icing on top is just the icing on the cake. haha.

The hubby got to spend time with his girls and be "doctored." Abug's new favorite thing to play is doctor.

Father's Day was very low key. This is about what it consisted of. Hopefully my dad and husband had a great Father's Day. What more can I say about it? It came and it went.

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