Thursday, May 30, 2013

Saying Goodbye


Yesterday, I went to my Great Aunt Arlene's funeral with Bill. She had a beautiful service where they sang On Eagle's Wings, Amazing Grace, and What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Bill and I both liked On Eagle's Wings the best. The other songs are of course beautiful too. I admired the pastor for doing a great funeral service for my aunt but also for sharing the gospel with everyone by preaching about Jesus's sacrifice on the cross for us. I loved that he did that.

At the cemetery, my cousins who are closer to my dad's age came up to me and were so excited to meet Bill. It was so sweet. They were so happy I was there and really appreciated it. When I was walking by my aunt's casket for the last time, my cousin Jim told me I could pick up a flower. I know I picked up one of the filler flowers, but I know this one will be special to me.

I couldn't have been more happy that I called Arlene when I did, since her sons didn't have the right phone number to get a hold of us. Of course, I would have liked to have called her earlier and been able to visit her, but I'm so glad I didn't miss her visitation and funeral. That would have been heartbreaking. I'm also glad I got to be there for the family and be surrounded by the people Aunt Arlene loved. I'm truly going to miss her.

Don't wait to call or visit with one of your dear relatives. Life is too short. Give one of your loved ones a call. It will make their day.


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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Easy Vanilla Cup Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting



I've been on a sugar fix lately. I made these Vanilla cupcakes yesterday because of said sweet tooth. They are from the Pioneer Woman's blog. You can find them here. I love trying out her recipes. I'm thinking I will be posting more of her recipes that I try out. They're too good to pass up.

For the cupcakes, I didn't have cake flour so I added two tablespoons of corn starch. I read that somewhere online, and I wouldn't suggest doing that. Your cupcakes will taste like corn bread. Next time, I will just use regular flour if I don't have cake flour. Fortunately, the delicious cream cheese frosting masked that corn bread taste. You have to try the recipe for her frosting. It's amazing! Just make sure to put in a hard workout that day. They're is four cups of powdered sugar! They're worth it though.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients

  • CUPCAKES
  • 1 cup Vegetable Shortening
  • 1-3/4 cup Sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups Cake Flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 whole Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract (or The Caviar From 1 Vanilla Bean)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Vinegar
  • Icing
  • 1 stick Butter, Softened
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 4 cups Sifted Powdered Sugar (more If Needed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract (or The Caviar From 1 Vanilla Bean)

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with cupcake liner papers.
Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Set aside.
Sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
Mix eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, and vinegar in a separate bowl.
Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the shortening mixture, mixing after each addition. Mix until totally combined.
Pour batter into cupcake liners. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until just done. Remove from oven, then remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely. Ice when cooled and decorate with sugar sprinkles, berries, candied ginger, etc.
ICING
Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until totally combined. Ice cooled cupcakes.



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Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!


 Maxwell Street Days 2013

Happy Memorial Day, friends! I hope you're enjoying this long weekend. We're going to Bill's parent's house for lunch and mine family's house for dinner. After that, we're all watching the season premiere of The Bachelorette. Watch the exclusive first look here. Hope you're having a great weekend!

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Things that school didn't teach me.




I never learned the same way that they taught me in school... I remember taking really good notes in class but not absorbing all of the information. I had tried to grasp the topics while in class, but I don't think I'm an auditory learner. I never was able to fully understand what they were talking about when I was in class.

 I would go home and read and reread my notes to learn the information. Sometimes, I would make lists or graphs and memorize my notes. I could memorize all the information for a test and it would be ingrained in my brain. I could think about my study sheet and picture the information in my brain. It worked like a charm.

If I studied that way, I would get an A on the test, no problem. I learned at an early age, that I learn the best visually. It worked for me, and I continued to use that method in college.

I've also learned a few lessons completely separate from school.

Here are a few of them.

It's OK to not know where you're going or have everything planned out... I like to know when things are going to happen and how they'll work out. I know that I can't possibly know how my whole life will play out. I've learned how to be patient. I really have. It is such a gift to be able to wait for things and earn them yourself. I'm a happier person when I'm patient and not always waiting for something to happen to me.

It's OK to be different... Don't be afraid to express your views if they're different from another person's opinion.. This one is a big one for me. I feel like sometimes in the past, I would hold back on expressing what I'm thinking because it differed from someone's point of view. I try my hardest no to do that anymore.

You want to know one of the most important lessons I've learned? Here it is...

Never take any moment with a loved one for granted. Life is too short to do that...

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Favorite Posts


Day 21... Share a few of your favorite posts from your blog. There's only a few days left to this challenge! Yay! I skipped one day and then was late posting the topics over the weekend, but I think it was worth it to do this challenge. Here are my favorite posts. Enjoy!


A Special Moment ~ I wrote about the experience me, my mom, and my aunt had with my grandpa the day before he died. I realized how present God is in our lives even more.

Hair and Make Up by Beautiful People ~ I was very happy to share my experience with having my hair and make up done professionally on our wedding day. (I'm going to write about the actual ceremony after this challenge is over.)

That time I chose to eat breakfast food ~ I chose to eat breakfast when I was out for brunch with my mom this January. Bill later told me that Red Velvet pancakes are fu-fu pancakes. I think they still count. :)

Not even the MINT ~ This post makes me laugh. Bill and I were on a date and absolutely everything that could go wrong went wrong. We were able to laugh about it together.

Hanging out with Dad ~ I like rereading about the visits I have with my dad since he's living so far away right now.

Family Photos from Our Reception ~ I will treasure these photos for a long time. We made some good memories at our reception.


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Monday, May 20, 2013

Share a Struggle


Day 20... Share one of your struggles.

These past couple of months, I have been wanting to lose 15 pounds. I was frustrated during those months, because I would lose three pounds only to gain it back. I also found out that protein bars or fiber bars were making me bloat up a lot, and I got horrible stomach aches from them. It took me 4 months to figure out what was giving me the stomach pains.

Now, that I have that figured out, I'm not gaining the water weight that comes from bloating. That was encouraging. Last month, I tried working out more by running. Running can sometimes be pretty painful on my knees so I wasn't doing it regularly, and I wasn't loosing the weight that I wanted to lose.

This last week, I started working out more to my DVD workouts. I use Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, Hard Body, Extrememe Shred & Shred, and her Banish Fat Boost Metabolism. I have a lot of them! I'm working on her 30 Day Shred, and right now, I'm on day 5. I love that I can do cardio in my home without a machine with this workout. I sweat so much from it.

I think that I'm coming out of my struggle to lose these fifteen pounds. Today, I got on the scale, and I had lost four pounds since last week. It was a very welcomed surprise! I can't wait to be thin again. :)

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A Vivid Memory and My Favorite Blogs

Day 18 and 19.... A vivid memory from my childhood and a few of my favorite blogs.

I'm combining these two days, because I didn't want to blog over the weekend. I like coming back to my blog feeling refreshed, and I don't want to blog because I feel like I have an obligation. So I took a break.

A vivid memory from my childhood...

I was 8 or 9, and my brother must have been 5 or 6 years old. Phil is three years younger than me. We had gone over to my parent's friends house in Sycamore for the Pumpkin parade. Phil and I were playing in their backyard. I think Meg was with my mom and dad.

Their friends had this tree house with zip wire that went from the tree house to the other side of the yard. I have no idea why I wanted to try it. I'm scared of heights, and it was twelve feet in the air! Phil was still playing in the backyard when I decided to climb up in the tree house and try it out.

I grabbed the handles for the zip wire and pushed off the tree house. Halfway through, I could feel my hands getting tired, and I couldn't believe how high up I was. My hands slipped before I could do anything to stop it, and I fell really hard on tree stump in the middle of their yard.

I landed on my left side facing away from Phil. It was the weirdest experience. I didn't cry or scream...

I just laid there for a few minutes, and I remember Phil saying, "That has to hurt."

I can hear him saying that as clear as if it was just yesterday.

I got up eventually, and we walked to my mom who was watching the parade. I told her how I fell and that my arm hurt. I wasn't crying or anything so she didn't think it was that bad. I went a few days without going to the doctor, and then one night, I felt nauseous. My mom had to bring a bucket to my room.

The next day we went to a park with some of our friends, and my mom told her friend what happened and how I was nauseous the night before. She was slightly panicked when her friend told her that you can get nauseous when you have a broken bone.

We went to the emergency room right after that to get my arm checked out. When the doctor came back with the x-ray, he couldn't believe that my arm was broken clean through. I remember that it felt weird to move my arm. I felt the bone move separately inside my flesh. It was the weirdest feeling ever. I learned at a young age that I have a strong tolerance for pain. The doctor couldn't believe there was a clean cut since I wasn't in pain.

Do you have childhood memory you remember vividly?


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Day 19. Here are some of my favorite blogs that I read regularly:

The Pioneer Woman

~ I adore Ree's blog. I read every post, and I love just exploring her whole blog on a daily basis. I just finished her book Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. I definitely recommend reading it.


Undressed Skeleton

~ I love this blog for all the fitness tips, advice, and encouragement. There are also plenty of healthy recipes as well.

Cupcakes and Cashmere

~ I read this blog for any fashion advice or for tips on home decor. There's so many good things on this blog. I also got my challah recipe there too.

Dancing Branflakes

~ Tiffany's blog is by far one of my very favorites. She's a dancer and a great writer. There are a lot of whimsical pictures and posts on her blog, and I love her writing.


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Friday, May 17, 2013

A Favorite Photo

Day 17... A favorite photo of myself and why.


This picture is from my wedding last January. It wasn't posed at all. Completely candid. I think the candid photos make for the best memories. I'm pretty sure that I was looking at Bill and the bridal party in this one a few minutes after we were married. I like this picture, because I look so happy and peaceful. Ready to embark on my new life.

I also miss wearing the wedding dress. I had gotten my make up and hair professionally done that morning. I loved that.

I want to always remember that moment where I stood back and soaked in all the happiness of that day.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

COMPLAINT FREE

Day 16 of the challenge... Something difficult about your "lot in life" and how you're working to overcome it.



I've thought a lot about this post. My life is going really well right now, and I honestly can't think about something that is particularly hard at the moment...

Sure I've had some hard things in my life. My mom has been through a lot of strife with her family, and I don't know her family that well. That was difficult. I've learned that your friends can also be your family. They don't have to be blood related.
On a less serious note, I'm missing my dad and sister like crazy while they're living far away. My dad is in Afghanistan working as a heating and air conditioning contractor for the foreseeable future. He's doing really well working there and traveling every few months practically. I'm happy for him.

I am hoping my sister isn't in Hawaii for too long... I miss her like crazy! I want to hang out and be goofy with her. I guess I'll try to be patient until she decides she wants to possibly move back. Haha

I recently learned I can't eat protein bars without getting a huge stomach ache. I think the whey protein does it to me. No biggie, I didn't like them that much anyway. ;)

With all that said, I don't know how to write about what's hard in my life that well... Everyone has something difficult about their life. Since, I'm a glass-is-half-full  kind of person, I find it hard to write about depressingly hard things.

Life is good!



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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy List

Day 14 of the challenge! This post was supposed to be on the blog yesterday... Oh well! I'll post today's actual challenge in a few hours.

Here are some of the things that make me happy.

1. Lots of time with Bill. Love love love him!

2. Spending time with both of our families. 
3. His smile always make me happy.

4. Kevin our duck. (I wish I was the one who named him that.) He is the cutest. Kev knows his name and will run up to me and give me a hug when I call to him.
5. Kittle always puts a smile on  my face. Don't bother trying to give her a kiss when she's looking out at the neighborhood. No time for that. She's our little watch dog. ;)

6. Sweet snuggly little babies. I love being around them. I'm holding our God daughter in this picture.

7. Long hair is one of the top ten things that makes me happy. I'm working on getting my hair that long again. Maybe, I'll be there in 4 to 6 months!

8. Going on run/walks with my Kittle. She gets so hyper and excited whenever we go somewhere in the car, and when she figures out we're going on our favorite trail she starts shaking from excitement!

9. Pushing myself during a workout. I love finding out that I can do a real push up.

10. Visits from the neighbors who happen to be my family. Reese and Lanie, our nieces, came over and gave us a video controller eraser for Uncle Billy. They're so sweet. They brought their brother, Dustin, too. He's only one, and has one of the cutest smiles I've seen. I love getting a chance to hold that sweet little pea. I might have slight case of baby fever. Don't tell anyone, K? K. :)


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Monday, May 13, 2013

My apologies! (Day 13)

Day 13 of the challenge, make a public apology. My first thought about this post was to apologize to my body for not eating enough fruit and eating chips on occasion. Then I thought that was lame and not at all what I wanted to write about on my blog. I honestly couldn't think about anything else I would apologize for in this post.

Then I thought about the abundance of dog and farm animal pictures I post here on a weekly basis. I can't promise that those will go away anytime soon.

I'm not that sorry for those sweet and adorable pictures. There might be a lot more of them on a weekly basis, and I apologize for that but there's nothing I can really do about it. Ha I mean, how could I not post that picture of my sweet Kittle yawning and stretching at the same time? If you figure that out, let me know!

Until then, there is my weak apology.


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What I miss... (Day 12)


I miss having my sister live in Illinois... Hint. Hint, Meg! Ha I miss going to movies with her or just hanging out in my mom's basement talking for hours. We saw Pitch Perfect back in November, and I remember tearing up on the way there. I knew we weren't going to be able to hang out for a while, and that really hurts.

I love my sister a lot and miss her so much.

I also wished my dad was living closer. He's not even in the country. I love when he comes home and visits with us, but the visits feel so short.

After writing this, I'm feeling a little on the sad side. Time to focus on the things I can change. :)


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Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Special Moment

Happy Mother's Day to everyone! This post is a special request by my mom. It's been almost a year that her dad died, and she wanted me to write down the moments we had with him before he died, specifically the day before he passed. Here's to you, mom! I love you so very much.

My grandpa (my mom's dad) didn't have many hours left to live. I was working my full time job and getting ready in the morning when my mom called me to let me know that I should come see him if I was able to. I knew it wasn't going to be long before we would say goodbye to him. I left a message with my boss letting her know, I wouldn't be in that day. I was actually at my mom's house when she called from Dundee, where my grandpa lived. (I stopped by my mom's in the morning on my way to work, almost everyday to visit with them.) Megan was there that day. I told her I was going to leave to see him. She said she would come later.

A little history: My family had been estranged from my mom's side for a while. I had memories of my grandpa from when I was younger. I held them dear to my heart since most of the memories were from when I was very young. I had also written letters to him when I was twelve or thirteen after my grandma had passed away. He always wrote back. Even though he hadn't been a part of my entire life, I still felt some attachment to him. After all, he is my mom's dad.

I drove to his house in Dundee right away. My arms and legs were shaking a little as I drove.

I knew I didn't have much time left to talk to him. After not having much time with him in general, I was hoping we would have a meaningful visit.

One where we could all talk to him.

My aunt Amy greeted me when I got there. She could tell I was shaking as well. After a few hours of me being there, we all went to sit with him in the back room. My aunt could tell he wanted to talk so she gave him oxygen.

Mom was sitting across from me when she asked him, "Can I read some verses to you, dad?"

He responded, "They expect you to."

He said that without hesitating. This was after he told us he was talking to Jesus. I got the chills and goosebumps covered my arms and legs. I felt like God was giving us all a gift by witnessing my Grandpa be more connected to God.

My mom read several verses after that. I watched my Grandpa and my mom as she read.  I could tell my mom knew that God was speaking to her dad in his last days, but she read from the Bible like she always does with confidence and a knowledge that you can just sense. While she was reading them, she looked up at her dad. 

My Grandpa was smiling and looked really joyful. At one point, he even giggled. A laugh that expressed pure happiness. His attention was directed towards the corner of the room.

My mom stopped reading and asked, "What do you see dad?"

"Don't you see their wings?" he asked.

He was overjoyed in that moment. Staring at the corner of the room, he was happily staring at angels. Angels!

I stared at the corner of the room and then back at my Grandpa. I couldn't see them, but I knew he could. I remember my aunt Amy nudging me and gave me a look that said, "Can you believe this?"

I definitely believed it.

My mom was amazed as well. We all kept looking at my Grandpa. You could see the beauty of the angels in his eyes.

Yes, he had cancer and wasn't doing well. He had hours to live on this Earth. None of that mattered when he was looking at those angels. God was preparing him for a life with him. A life where he wouldn't get sick or die. A life where we are happy and joyous. There will be no pain or struggle like there is on Earth.

I held onto that moment in the days ahead. Things were rough between family relationships days after that and hurtful things were said. None of that mattered though. In comparison to what we had seen though, that stuff really didn't matter. I was so grateful that we all got to experience God speaking to my Grandpa. I can't believe I've been in the presence of angels. Thank you Lord for that. You amaze me.

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Happy Mother's Day, mom! Thank you for teaching me about Jesus and his love for us. My life wouldn't be as full or lovely without you. Love you!

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

10 Words or less. (Day 11)


This is really late today! Ooops. I've been busy getting ready for mother's day by wrapping gifts and making dessert for tomorrow. I also have a special post planned for tomorrow that my mom requested. I'm excited to post it tomorrow.

I thought I would write today's challenge. Sell myself in 10 words or less... Here goes.

Creative.
Analyzer. 
Confident.
Organized.
Sensitive.
Motivated.
Faithful.
Passionate.
Sympathetic.
Devoted.

How would you describe yourself?

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Friday, May 10, 2013

An Embarassing Moment (Day 10)

 An awkward photo of me to go with an awkward and embarassing moment.

A couple of years ago, I was over at Bill's house (now it's the house live in together) and we were going to go pick up his tractor at the Tractor Bee. I know this makes me sound like a country farm girl even though I don't always feel like that. ha

Anyways, it was late August. The tractor bee had eneded a week ago, and we needed to pick it up. I drove with Bill to where the show is held, probably 5 miles from our house. When we got there he told me which way to turn out of the place... In my defense, he didn't specify whether it would be a left or right turn. Yes, I should have remembered which way he pointed and which way I had come from but I didn't.

I wanted to get it right. I so desperately wanted to get it right. Bill told me later when I pulled out in the wrong direction, he couldn't stop laughing. I went a few miles in the wrong direction. By then, I knew it was the wrong direction.

My palms were sweating. I was feeling anxious. I ended up calling my future sister and brother-in-law who would be my neighbors. Dan gave me directions back home, and I eventually made it back to Bill's house.

A lot of my embarassing moments have to do with me being directionally challenged.

I had a hard time thinking of an embarrasing moment, but now that I written this little story, I remember a time that me and Bill drove to Chicago for one of my friend's birthday parties. We got to the right bar... None of my friends were there. I didn't recognize anyone. I knew something was wrong. I panicked a little, but assumed that they were just late, perhaps?

I called one of my friends and found out I was there on the wrong weekend! The party was planned for the weekend after that.

That really sucked. I double and triple check everything now for good reasons.

Do you have any embarrassing moments that stick out to you?


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Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Moment In My Day (Day 9)


Woohooo! I made it to day 9!! My days look a little bit different lately, and I wasn't sure what specific moment I wanted to capture for my blog... So here goes nothing.

Throughout the week, I go on a couple of run/walks with Kittle or I keep her company when my mom has errands to run after work.

This is a picture I snapped of Kittle when I came over this afternoon. I'm here to scratch her head and giver her a tummy rub. She's a sweet little pea who likes full body massages several times a day. What can I say, she's a spoiled little pooch.

I can't deprive her of her normal accommodations. ;)

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Throw a Party like The Office (Day 8)


I decided not to write for yesterday's challenge. Such a rule breaker. ;) The challenge yesterday was to write about the thing(s) you're most afraid of. I'm most afraid of losing the people I love. I didn't want to dedicate a whole post about that though. It would be too sad and depressing for this happy blog.

Instead, I rather share with you today different tips on how to create a party similar to the ones on The Office for today's challenge when I teach you something valuable and very important!

via Google

Without further adieu, here are my all time favorite things I learned about partying from The Office:

There's nothing like a Christmas party without exchanging gifts and then turning it into a White Elephant game when you get a lame present. Be like Michael and complain about receiving an oven mitten from Phyllis. You're bound to make the party a hit by insulting a coworker's gift.


If you're looking to plant a huge twist in the albeit boring party Phyllis threw for Christmas look no further than Meredith Palmer who is widely known as the alcoholic in the office. Nothing says a party like throwing a impromptu intervention for her when you catch her drunk and her hair on fire.

Onto the wedding of the century...

Have Dwight play detective for you before a big office wedding, like Jim and Pam's, to find out about all the hot singles. The main problem? He only found out about one of Pam's friends, Josselyn. What a shame for Michael since Dwight ended up stealing her. Also, Dwight only found out that Josselyn's sold a mountain bike last year! FAIL.

If you find yourself pregnant at your wedding like Pam, you should try your hardest not to let it slip that you conceived a child before your actual wedding day if you are in fact keeping it a secret. That is until the secret can no longer be kept when your soon-to-be-husband finds it unavoidable when he is finishing his toast at the rehearsal dinner.

Poor poor Jim. He let it slip right out of his mouth that Pam shouldn't be drinking when finishing his toast. Of course, this made the party before the wedding more interesting and dramatic. The only problem? Your mima will take offense to your pregnancy and threaten not to attend said wedding. This will therefore throw off the whole mood for a little bit until your boss, Michael Scott, tells her your going to name the baby after her. Then everything is just peachy keen.

Looking to make a fashion statement at the wedding?

Kevin's example is a pretty classic one if you ask me. When you find your shoes missing in the morning, go down to the main desk and ask about your fancy shoes. After the staff politely informs you that they had to incinerate your shoes for health concerns, all you have to do is find two Kleenex boxes. Empty the Kleenex boxes and wear them as your shoes. You're bound to make a lasting impression.

Ready for my favorite piece of party advice from The Office?

Looking to spice up things in the office? Pull a Dwight and insinuate a fake fire that gets everyone's heart really pumping and drives people to throw chairs and various equipment out the window and push copiers up against doors in an attempt to get the heck out of the office. Nothing starts a crazier party. All in the name of safety training. haha


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Monday, May 6, 2013

Treasures at the Flea Market


The wagon me and my siblings rode in when we were young. 

 On Saturday, I went with my mom and Bill to the flea market! My mom had never been there before, and it was actually her idea to go there this time. I hadn't told Bill any of that before telling him I was going to there on Saturday. He was shocked, and of course, I invited him along. I know how he loves going to things like that.

While we were there, we decided to split off and look at different things. Bill went to scope out the video games while I went with my mom to browse the plants, candles, and other fascinating trinkets like the prince frog in the wagon above. Isn't he adorable? The candles we bought were pretty amazing too. I got two different scents Creme Brulee (smells like vanilla) and Monkey Farts (sounds horrible. But it smells like everything they eat. Pineapple, banana, strawberry, apples, and kiwi. I believe).

You might have notice that big beautiful pink plant in the wagon? That my friends is one popular plant. The vendor there told us they started out with fifty of them in the morning and had 4 left by 1p.m. It's called a bougainvillea. They're from the south, and they are absolutely gorgeous. After we picked up that one, there were probably 3 or 4 people who came up to us to ask us about this beautiful plant.

I had such a good time with my mom and Bill. We'll definitely be making another trip there this summer!
A close up of the bougainvillea. I love the contrast between the white and dark pink.

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