Welcoming 2014 with open arms

As I reflect on the past year, I am grateful for the love of family and friends, the lessons learned throughout the year, and the hope and possibility that lies in the year ahead. 
Our household survived six months of unemployment. While losing a job is not great, the time I was unemployed allowed me to experience things I otherwise would not have been able to do. I was able to attend Hispanicize in April. I volunteered during the event, getting an insider’s look on how something of this magnitude gets put together and keeps running.  I made amazing social media connections, which have in turn given me the opportunity to participate in various events throughout the year. Hubby also encountered difficulties on the job front. He is no longer involved with the cell store he put his blood, sweat and tears into. He was re-employed at his former job (thankfully!) and has huge goals for the coming year.

I decided that I wanted to pursue a new career in education, and I’m working on getting my teaching degree. Best of all, since I wasn’t working, I was able to spend all summer with my boys, quality time that we’ll always remember. In the fall, I started working at the preschool my boys attended when they were little, which is providing me valuable experience working with children and I can now confirm that a career in education is definitely for me.

The last year brought an end to a longtime friendship, something that saddens me greatly. But with it’s demise a few hard lessons were learned, the most important being the true value of friendship, knowing how to work together to battle the hard times, not just enjoying the easy, fun times.

We lost two dear family members, my great aunt and my great uncle, just months from each other. But through that loss, we learned to value not just the years we had with them, but the impact they made in our lives. For my great uncle’s passing, I was able to travel to New Jersey and say my goodbyes, something I did not think would be financially possible. And while my grandmother, grandfather, and (another) great uncle are declining in health, they are still with us, and for that I am grateful.

Midway through the year, I joined Garage Gym, and I am so please with this decision. It’s a financial sacrifice, but the results are worth it. I am in great shape, and it has served as great cross-training for my runs. I haven’t done as many runs as in years’ past, but I did run Disney (twice), and ran a few local races as well. 

Even through the difficult times, we have been able to look at the positive. Every trial, every tribulation, makes us stronger. Every experience gives us strength and knowledge to do it better the next time. I am thankful for every day of the past year, every smile that was shared and every tear that was shed. It means we are living and learning. I know that 2014 will have a rough start, as we will very likely have to move out of our house early on in the year, but with this comes a new beginning, a fresh start. I look forward to whatever 2014 has in store for me and my family, as well as this blog (which will be 10 years old next month).  We wish you and yours a new year filled with health and love, and lots of hope. There can never be too much hope. 

Posted in Family & Friends, Life Happens | 2 Comments

Holiday recipes featuring cranberries

I came across this video featuring EXTRA’s Maria Menousnos, sharing great recipes using cranberries. These are great for this season’s holiday parties. Check it out!

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Getting into the Christmas spirit with Julep

I don’t know what happened, but I seem to have misplaced my Christmas spirit. Christmas is two weeks away and I’ve yet to decorate. In my head everything is up and beautiful, the lights on the tree are twinkling and the candles are lit and glowing. But the reality is quite different. I knew when Thanksgiving fell so late in the month of November that the holidays would sneak up on me, and I was right. However, over the last few days, I’ve been truly inspired by the posts on Julep, the DIY and design blog from the folks at Minted. I’ve also narrowed down my choices for this year’s holiday card, which was really hard, since Minted has over 600 gorgeous designs to choose from!

I won’t be sharing my final holiday card choice now so as to not ruin the surprise for my recipients, but I will post it after they have made it to their destinations. While I wait patiently for that, here are a few of my favorite holiday posts from Julep:

Scratch Off Activity Advent Cards: It’s a bit late to do this for this year, but I’m excited to make these next year.

I LOVE this New Year’s Eve Party decorating idea! It looks so lovely and festive, and it’s so easy.

But they have great ideas for the rest of the year too! check out these spooky and not so spooky ideas for Kids’ Halloween Parties (the cupcakes with the ruby slippers are my favorite!)

I was drooling when I saw the fruit cobblers features in this post about Seasonal Soirees and End of Summer Parties. YUM!! (And they work for Spring parties too!)

What are you waiting for? Check out Minted and Julep and get inspired! Me? I’m going to go start decorating…and finish ordering my holiday cards!

Disclosure: I was asked to write a post for Minted & Julep and received credit for Minted products. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

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Giving Thanks

Today, I’m thankful for my wonderful husband and amazing boys. I’m thankful for my family, they are my rock. I’m thankful for friends who are there through good and bad. I’m thankful for our health and prosperity. I’m thankful for my job, which allows me the joy of watching children learn every day. I’m thankful for our troops, who sacrifice their lives for our freedom. I’m thankful for both achievements and failures, as they are lessons learned. I’m thankful for this life, because it is filled with blessings large and small.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a great start to this holiday season.

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Star Wars Episode VII in theaters December 18, 2015!

From StarWars.com:

With pre-production in full-swing, a confirmed release date of December 18, 2015, has been set for Lucasfilm’s highly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII.

“We’re very excited to share the official 2015 release date for Star Wars: Episode VII, where it will not only anchor the popular holiday filmgoing season but also ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture,” said Alan Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.

Star Wars: Episode VII will be directed by J. J. Abrams (Super 8, Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek)and is being scripted by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, with Tommy Harper (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Jack Ryan, Star Trek Into Darkness) and Jason McGatlin (Tintin, War of the Worlds) serving as executive producers. John Williams is returning to score Star Wars: Episode VII.

Shooting is scheduled to begin spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios.

Can you tell who is really, really excited about this news??

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Thor: The Dark World in theaters today!!

Disclosure: my family and I were invited to attend a pre-screening of Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World by Disney Pictures. All opinions are my own.

MARVEL STUDIOS’ Thor: The Dark World hits theaters today, November 8th!

The adventures of the Marvel superheroes continues with the release of the latest movie in the franchise, Thor: The Dark World. In the aftermath of Marvel’s Thor and The Avengers, Thor attempts to restore peace to all nine realms while Loki is imprisoned due to his actions in the prior two films. The evil Malekith plans to use the mysterious dark force the Aether to turn the universe into darkness. By sheer happenstance, Jane Foster is exposed to the Aether and becomes its vessel, making her Malekith’s target. Thor, who reluctantly seeks Loki’s help, has to protect her, his home planet Asgard, Earth, as well as the rest of the nine realms before Malekith gets his way.

We are huge fans of The Avengers in our house, and the boys were thrilled to be able to see the film before their friends! The movie was action-packed, and filled with humor too: Brandon can’t decided who’s funnier, Loki or Iron Man!

The film is rated PG-13, but was appropriate for my almost-11 and almost-7 year olds. Because it is a Marvel film, we knew there would be bonus scenes during the credits, and we were right: there were two!!

Check out this featurette showing how with the right locations and sets they made the film worthy of gods.

Go catch this latest installment from the Marvel universe, it won’t disappoint!

Website: Marvel.com/thor
Facebook: facebook.com/Thor
Twitter: twitter.com/ThorMovies

Posted in Disney, Entertain Me, Here's What I Think, Movies | Leave a comment

Delivery Night with Delivery Man, Free Screening on November 6th (Florida Only!)

Remember a few months ago I mentioned that Delivery Man starting Vince Vaughn would be in theaters in November? Well, it’s November! And if you live in Florida and want to attend a very special pre-screening of the film, here’s your chance!

DreamWorks Studios has booked 100 satellite screenings across the country, and nine are in Florida. These screenings will be unique, as Vince Vaughn and Chris Pratt will personally introduce the movie via satellite. Following the movie there will be a twitter chat using hashtag #DeliveryMan with a chance to get your questions answered personally by the stars as well as win a Delivery Man gift box. Want to attend? Click on the link for the city nearest you below:

All screenings are on November 6th at 7pm.




Tampa/St.Petersburg, Sarasota

West Palm Beach

Posted in Around Town, Deals and Discounts, Disney, Entertain Me, Movies | 1 Comment

In charge, sort of

The office manager at work is off for two weeks starting tomorrow, so the school’s director and I are handling things while she’s gone. Thank goodness I had a preemptive spa day today (more on that later on this week), I’m sure I’m going to need another when the next 14 days are over. Wish me luck!

Posted in Life Happens | 2 Comments

Grateful for days like today

Today started a bit scary, Brandon woke up with a bug bite similar to one he had two and a half years ago. Last time, his right eye was swollen shut. We went to his doctor’s office and they ordered a CT Scan to make sure there was no swelling behind the eye (he was in 2nd grade, and was a rockstar about the scan, he reminded me of this this morning!) This time, he had minimal swelling on his lower lid. I gave him some Benadryl and the swelling subsided a bit, but he was not able to participate in basketball practice from the drowsiness. As soon as Matty finished playing we left the park and headed towards home.

Then I remembered that Knaus Berry Farm opened for the season last Tuesday, and suggested we head over there for breakfast. We arrived to a long line for the bakery, but a short line for milkshakes, so I ordered our milkshakes while hubby stood in the other line. About 30 minutes later, we left with our purchase of 2 dozen of the best cinnamon rolls in town. We quickly went home as hubby had to get ready for work.

While hubby got ready for his day, the boys and I headed to Books & Books for the Inside Story Event. I got to chat with my friend Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Claudia arrived and was able to speak with her friend Steven Dos Santos. We were then joined by our friend Wendy, (and even my little sister went for a bit) and we enjoyed a lovely lunch al fresco at the café with all six of our boys around us.

After lunch, the boys and I spent some time at my grandparents’ house, and I was so happy to see them both feeling well and in good spirits. We made a pit-stop at Target on our way home, where I was a frugal goddess and spent less than $23 on a bunch of stuff. We are now winding down for the night, with an extra hour of sleep ahead of us.

With the exception of Brandon’s eye, it was a perfect day, filled with people and things that make me happy, and for that I am grateful.

Posted in Around Town, Family & Friends, Feed Me | 1 Comment

SMCSF Blog Challenge, Day 1

I’ve decided to participate in the Social Media Club South Florida’s Blog Challenge, which starts today (and I just saw the post about an hour ago, almost missed out on Day 1!). While I am active on social media every day, several times a day, via Facebook and Instagram (and sometimes Twitter too), my blogging frequency leaves something to be desired. I’m hoping with this challenge I can step up my blogging game. (Note to self: remember to schedule posts for the crazy-busy days towards the end of the month).

For old friends: Help yourself, you know where things are! For those that are new to my blog: Hi, thanks for stopping by! Can I offer you a beverage, or a cafecito perhaps? I hope you’ll make yourself at home, and stick around for a while. We love having company!

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