20150126

H Turns One

We started the year off with H's first birthday party.. and I am so happy to report it was a huge success.. everything went smoothly, all the kids especially my two boys had a blast.. the birthday boy was tear free!

I was no sure about a theme at first.. one thing I knew was that I wanted.. needed it to be something simple and cute.. and what is cuter that a rubber ducky? We sent out evites.. thank God for evite.. it makes things so much easier.

Favors: from Oriental Trading


Cake: I went with delicious adorable cupcakes made by my oh so talented friend.. and a little smash cake for little H.



from Walmart I got these little blue cardboard cupcake stands...cute and easy to assemble.






Decor: Except for a few balloon near the cake table me did no extra decoration.. we were already in a nice restaurant and it just didn't seem worth the hassle. 

Entertainment: Since we had a majority of older kids including D we needed to keep them entertained.. so we called the Party Maniacs.. they were awesome.. balloon animals, face painting and tons of musical games involving balloon, bubble wrap and tissue paper rolls attached to a leaf blower.. the kids had a blast!









Happy Birthday Baby Boy!

here's a look at D's first birthday party

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20150119

Reading in 2014


1. Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert - I started the year off by finishing what I had started the year before. the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker, a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction, into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. It started with promise.. the middle was interesting and not all that I had expected but it was the end that was a let down.. which seemed to drag on a little longer than needed. But all in all a good read.

2. Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn - Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. I tackled another Gillian Flynn book this year and whoa was it messed up. This is some really dark stuff.. makes Gone Girl seem tame and harmless. And while it was a good read I don't plan on reading any more of her books.. Hurts to think the world is really this f$%ed up which i know it is but i really rather not think about it.

3. Rough Country - John Sanford - Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension gets a call while muskie fishing from his boss who orders Virgil to look into the shooting death of Erica McDill, an ad agency exec from Minneapolis and a big supporter of the Democratic Party, who was staying at the Eagle Nest Lodge in nearby Grand Rapids. A talk with lodge owner Margery Stanhope turns up unusual details: Margery's clientele is mostly lesbian; an all-female rock band is involved; guests who are so inclined can buy young men for an evening's pleasure; and financial reasons could explain the murder. It's a complicated case, but Virgil is up to the task, and, as always, he's funny, smart and tough when he needs to be—and catnip to the ladies. It was an okay read.. nothing wrong with it really, just not my kind of book.

4. Delancey - Molly Wizenberg - In this funny, frank, tender memoir and New York Times bestseller, the author of A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette recounts how opening a restaurant sparked the first crisis of her young marriage. This was a very quick read and I enjoyed it immensely. It was such a simple story, dealing with issues so many marriages face. Supporting your spouse even when their dream is not yours while trying to have an honest and healthy relationship.

5. Game of Thrones - George R R Martin - I am a huge fan of the show and was craving some GOT during their unbelievably long breaks so I picked up the first book. Surprisingly I enjoyed it.. I skipped the Jon Snow chapters and skipped paragraphs here and there but for the most part I liked it.. especially after already watching the show. I learnt things I may have missed or details they hadn't gotten into in the show. Had it been the other way around, reading before watching I may not have liked it so much. Plan on reading the second book this year.

6. East of Eden - John Steinbeck - Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. I have attempted to read many of the so called classics.. some I have finished and others have been left midway.. rarely have I seen the wow in them. I see why East of Eden is considered a classic.. I loved it.. especially since it was not the story of Cain and Abel I had expected. I would consider it a must read for anyone who considers themselves a lover of literature.

7. Me Before You - Jojo Moyes - Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time. This was a great read.. highly recommend it. You laugh a little and cry a lot. It was also an eye opening look into the life of the disabled.

8. A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness - At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. This is a young adult novel. I didn't realize it until after I had already begun to read it.. and I can now say with certainty.. I do not enjoy young adult books.

9. The Brutal Telling - Louise Penny - With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness. Another whodunit. I liked it more than Rough Country.. mainly because the characters were much more interesting..

10. Ten Tiny Breaths - K.A Tucker - Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything—anything but her mysterious neighbor. Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart - even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds. This book seemed to have promise but the twist in the story was too predictable and most of it just seemed forced.

11. Rebecca - Daphne du Mauier - Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers... After seeing the rave reviews and the fact that a movie was based on the book it was unbearably boring and tedious. A nice little twist at the end.. but I had to skip a lot of paragraphs to get to it.

12. The Bird's Song - Timothy M Burke - Former prosecutor Timothy Burke recounts the separate tragedies that entwine three very different women in his true-crime drama The Bird’s Song. Taking place amid the racially tense backdrop of 1980s Boston, these tragic cases weave together to form a tale of lost justice, faith, love, and redemption. Three women come together after each experiencing unspeakable horror: the rape victim whose rapist has eluded capture, the widow whose husband was brutally murdered by a drug dealer who is later acquitted, and the mother whose young son dies inexplicably at a Boston hospital. All three are forced to adjust to a radically new life, each one relying on Burke as their lawyer and case advocate in order to bring them some measure of justice. I had never read something like this.. a true crime novel and was not sure how interesting it would be reading legal non fiction.. but it was very interesting.. getting a glimpse behind how case are won and lost and how bad guys so free.

13. Bloodline - James Rollins - A yacht bearing a young American couple is attacked by Somali pirates, leading to bloodshed and the violent kidnapping of the pregnant woman on board. To aid in her rescue from the lawless and war-torn jungles of coastal Africa, Sigma Force enlists the aid of a unique search team: former army ranger Captain Tucker Wayne and his military war dog, Kane. But what appears to be a straightforward mission turns into a fiery ambush and betrayal--for this most valuable hostage is in fact the president's daughter. This book was not at all what I expected. It was one crazy ass roller coaster! And just when you thought things couldn't get any more crazy they did. While this is really not my kind of book.. with the elite force and all but it was a really fun quick mindless read, which is sometimes exactly what you need. 

I did better than last year. 13 books read and nothing left unfinished. See what I read in 2013 2012 2011 

Waiting on my nightstand is All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr.. what are you reading? what was your favorite read of 2014? I'm always looking to add more book to m ever growing list.


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20150112

Looking back at 2014

Here we are.. twenty fifteen! I am ready.. 2014 was a bit exhausting.. and I am tired.

We started our year off with a bang.. when little H came into our world.

             and his big brother celebrate a birthday too.. D turned four!

Most of the year was spent working on house projects. The living room, our command center and the pantry and we started work on the basement and we planned to give our formal dinning room a new function. And it is so near completion.. I can hardly wait!


There were no long trips or exotic travels this year :(  Instead the year was full of day trips to the zooPhiladelphiaapple picking and the Jersey Shore


and a few weekend getaway's Upstate New YorkGreat Wolf Lodge and Niagara Falls.. including a trip a Lion Safari.



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20150105

A New Year

I hope you all had a wonderful love, family and food filled Holiday season.. and a great New Year. The last few days of our year were spent spending time with family. My mom has been visiting for the past few months and around Christmas my dad flew in and will be spending a little over a month with us. D had been counting down the days and is now ecstatic. We spent and still are doing weekly movie nights Home Alone was a huge hit in our house, sipping hot coco and playing games, UNO, Dominos, Foosball


We also spent those days wrapping things up.. M took over a week off work and we tied up all the loose ends on our home projects.. pictures and details will come soon. While it was exhausting towards the end seeing the projects come to a close have been also very exciting and rewarding. You can take a look at some of our other home projects here



Other days were spent doing a few last minute tasks for Hasan's big birthday bash.. yup can you believe it, he is one! With us as a community first birthdays are a big deal.. meaning a big party and a big guest list.. it would have been huge if we were back home.. hundreds of people.. seriously. Pictures to come.


And if things couldn't get anymore exciting we.. I am busy planning a trip to Orlando! A day in the Magic Kingdom, a day in Lego Land and a Day in Sea World. Tips, tricks and food recommendations welcome.


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20141215

It's Been 7 Years

It's been seven years since M and I have been married. Ten years since we met and while it did not start out with crazy mad love.. not much love at all actually.. you can read more about our story here But now here we are seven years strong and truly madly oh so deeply crazy in love.








Here's too many many more..

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20141208

Canada's African Lion Safari

After spending the day in Niagara we woke up the next morning ready to head back home.. but first my favorite meal of the day breakfast and then some lions.

We had breakfast at the Flying Saucer.. another very satisfying meal. The place is shaped like a giant flying saucer! and of course no meal is complete without the boys both sitting on me while I eat.



Next stop the Lion Safari. The African Lion Safari is in a town called Hamilton an hour northeast of Niagara. M and I had both separately been there before and while I had a great time his was a bit lackluster. On our way there it started to rain.. a heavy downpour that made us think we should probably turn back and head home.. there was no way the animals would be in a good mood with all the rain. But D wanted to see the lions.. so we had no choice but to go on and hope for the best.. well i'm glad we did.. because the rain stopped when we neared the park and by the time me bought tickets the sun started to peak out through the gray clouds.. and like magic it was a perfect day.

 The elephants take a swim in the pond

a llama or alpaca sit in the middle of the road.. just because they can.

beautiful giraffes

white lions


and the monkeys.. oh so funny monkeys had us all amused as they sat on cars and played with antennas.. they were the MVP's of the park.



rhino talking a stroll




and if you ask H about the animals he'll ask 'Animal's? What animals?


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20141201

Niagara Falls

I wanted to thank you all for coming back each and every week and reading my little blog and leaving such wonderful comments.. I apologize for being so disconnected these past few weeks.. I love visiting all of your blogs and catching up with you and I haven't been able to do so :(

In September we took a little weekend trip to Canada. The plan was to leave in the afternoon and drive the eight something hours so that we could get there at night and be able to wake up bright and early the next day and start the seeing.. well the afternoon turned to evening and driving at night was harder than we had anticipated. We got to the hotel (Marriott Courtyard) around three instead of the planned midnight and hurried off to sleep.

We started the morning with a delicious breakfast at the Blue Line Diner. It is owned by the oh so nice daughter of a famous hockey player, Marcel Dionne. The place is a hockey fans dream and the breakfast yum, huge portions and the coffee divine. If you don't believe me ask H.


The rest of the day we spent enjoying the beautiful falls..





the maid of the mist


We had lunch at Antica Pizzeria and the pizza's were delicious.. dinner at the Sandstone Grill was less awesome, despite the raving reviews they over cooked our steaks and when we asked them about it they said they were cooked exactly how we had requested. Their complimentary bread which was stuffed with cheese on the other hand was omg! But dry steaks is a real appetite killer.

we ended the night by watching the fireworks right from our hotel window!



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