Happy Birthday, Blog!

Happy Birthday, blog!

My blog turned two two days ago.

I’ve really enjoyed having my blog, but more than that, I’ve really enjoyed all of you.

I love logging in and seeing your comments, likes, and even views.

So without you, this really wouldn’t have been all that fun.

So thank you to everyone who takes time out of their day to stop by, even just once.

Thank you so everyone who liked a post.

Thank you to everyone who ever left a comment.

So now for the stats: on my first bloggy birthday I had 132 posts, 7,976 views, 410 comments, and 70 followers.

Now I have 239 posts, 16,820 views, 789 comments, and 94 followers.

Thank you.

Charlottesville, VA

Our last stop was 10 or so days near Charlottesville, Virginia (we were in Nellysford, specifically).  This is the city where I was born, and we were able to be there over my 18th birthday, which was quite fun.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

We arrived at the rental house (have I mentioned how much I love VRBO?!) at, oh, 9-ish on Wednesday, the same day we’d toured the Capital

*Important urgent update*  I can’t remember everything we did and in what order it was done.  We spent some days just chilling, so I will recap the highlights in the order I remember.

The first day (Thursday) we drove by the hospital building where I was born (the hospital has now moved), Dad’s old work building, and Mom and Dad’s old home.  We also stopped by the home of some of our previous neighbors, and my first baby sitter.  🙂  We also did the necessary grocery shopping.

Friday was my birthday.  I chose to spend it quietly at the rental, and not go anywhere.  Dad and the younger children went in to town to get the car looked at, because the brakes were squeaking.  (We were staying up on a mountain, which was a *little* rough on the car.)  I opted to stay home.  I believe I updated my “About” page.  I painted my toenails a cute red.  And I made some AWESOME grain-free chocolate chip cookies, a recipe that I had gotten from a good friend.  They were so good, the batter even was good (one of my tests to see if a recipe will turn out).  We made pizza for dinner, and I made this delicious grain-free pizza crust.  LOVE it!

It had been a rather warm day, and we had had the windows open most of the afternoon.  We also had the front door open, as there was a storm door.  When we were just about done with dessert, Mom looked up and said, “Noah, was that you?”

Noah was loading a dish in the kitchen.

“Did you make that noise?”

Noah was peeking around the corner toward the front door.  “No, it came from over there.”

Mom sent Drake over to look.  Drake took a quick look. “Dad?  You need to come over here.”

Dad quickly marched over to the door and slammed it.  As the front door was glass, we could still see outside.  Dad flicked on the outside light, and it revealed…


A good-sized black bear had smelled the cooking and had come around to see what was going on.  He had opened the storm door (yes, you read that right) and was standing on the threshold, ready to come inside, but he hesitated and had turned around, which gave Dad time to shut the door.  He stood up on his hind legs and put his paws on the glass.  And pushed.

I must confess.  I was pretty scared.  Yes, my knees were knocking.  So before you peg me as being brave, imagine me standing around the corner, knees knocking, asking if *just maybe* we should call the police.


We did call the police, but by the time the police came (they came quite quickly), the bear had left.  While we were waiting for them to arrive, Mom noticed that the lights in the van were on.  After asking everyone, it was ascertained that no one had left the door open.  When the police came, they told us that it was the bear.  The bear had opened two doors on our van, and had rifled through the whole thing. 

There was dirt and pollen all in the car.  On. Every. Chair.

There hadn’t been any food in there, but the bear had helped himself to a few Kleenex boxes, a water bottle, a cup, and the wipe container.  He had put a few rips in the back seat of the car.

Sadly, I GOT NO PICTURES of the bear.  But I did get photos of some of his damage.


One of the Kleenex boxes


Apparently he liked wipes




He didn’t get the top off 🙂

The next day we went to Monticello, which was quite interesting.  It has beautiful views.  Given, there are beautiful views EVERYWHERE in Virginia.  But Monticello had beautiful views.


Heading to Monticello – Blue Ridge Mountains




The sundial




A hallway that goes underneath Monticello.  Monticello is built on a mountain (Monticello means Little Mountain), and things are built on levels as you go down the mountain.  The roof of part of this hallway is the terrace that comes out of Monticello.  Off to the right are the old slaves’ quarters (not down the hallway, but off to the right in the picture).  It’s a rather interesting set-up.  Anyways, down this hall is the wine cellar.


LOVE the blue sky!


The gardens


Some local grape juice that we purchased.  It taste like raisins.  Very…interesting.  I’d get the purple kind next time.  🙂

The next week Mom took us to Montpelier (Dad was working).  Montpelier was my favorite of the three president’s homes that we visited.  It was the least recreated, but it is just gorgeous.  And the view.  Oh the view.  (You’ll see it below).


We stopped at a scenic overlook on the way to Montpelier.  I believe this is looking toward Charlottesville.


More mountains




Pansies at the Montpelier Welcome Center




The view from Montpelier’s front porch


If you look very carefully at the horizon, you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains.  They are 20 miles away.  B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.


Madison’s front door




In the gardens




Drake’s legs were sore, so he went to chill in the shade.  Meiling joined him.




On the way home

Mom took Noah, Meiling, and I to Market Street in Charlottesville to walk around.  It is blocked off so no cars are there.  It is chock full of cute little shops.


Market Street – The Mole Hole was a neat little shop


Mom loves giraffes.  🙂


When my parents lived in Charlottesville, they visited this restaurant often.  It was Sylvia’s Pizza then.  Now it’s Vita Nova.


We stopped at this little gelato shop.  It. Was. AWESOME!!!!


My ice cream.  I had a chocolate sorbet and a dulce de leche ice cream.  Oh my.  The dulce de leche ice cream was SO VERY VERY good.  I got one ice cream and one sorbet, so at least I was HALF good.  🙂


On the way home we stopped at a creek that ran along the side of the road, and I played with shutter speed.




On a walk with everyone


You’ve got to LOVE the view


King of the hill 🙂


This *officially* concludes all the posts about our trip.  I’m really glad that it’s done now, as I have some exciting things to post!  Well, I hope you enjoyed!



On Thursday my aunt and two youngest cousins on my dad’s side came down to spend a few days at our home.  There was lots of jokes, snow ball fights, games, and Nerf gun wars.  And talking.  And eating, of course.  🙂

We also celebrated Noah’s birthday while they were here, since it was last weekend and we didn’t get to celebrate it then.  Happy birthday, Noah!  It’s hard to believe that he is 15 already…

I didn’t take quite as many photos as I would have liked to, since I was still feeling under the weather.  Anyways, here are a few from their stay.


Drake playing Hannah’s ukulele (he makes me laugh)


Looking at books


Getting ready to sing (I really liked how these turned out, so there are several :))






Drawing for “Cranium


We had just picked up “Cranium” at a resale shop a few weeks ago, and got to try it out this weekend!




Hannah really enjoyed getting to snuggle with Lucy


Ready for the Nerf war (or tag – I think they were playing Nerf tag)


Their “cool-guy” poses


These next few are just plain fun with cousins 🙂






Hannah and Lucy snuggling again



Thanks for coming!  And come back soon!  ❤

Drake’s Birthday

Yesterday was my brother Drake’s birthday.  To celebrate his birthday, Drake picked to go see Avengers in the theater.  It was great – I hope to see it again!

I love you lots, Drake!  Happy Birthday!


Drake started the day with pulling out our old Nintendo game consuls and playing games.  Other people also took turns.


Chipotle for lunch, before the movie – Like father, like son.


Drake and Mom


Drake, waiting in line


Drake likes to make funny faces.


Noah and I were waiting – reserving a table – while everyone else went through the line.  I was a little bored, so I started taking pictures.




Our table




The ceiling


This one is rather tipped, but I still liked it






Tabasco sauce!  I didn’t use any. 🙂


Drake suggested this for my lens picture.  He even supplied the burrito! 🙂


Going to see Avengers – Iron Man is Drake’s favorite.  He wants the suit.  The funny face is because he kept closing his eyes and was trying to keep them open.


Waiting for the movie to start – I like how this shot turned out, even if it is too red.


Drake kindly took a picture of me with my favorite Avengers character.  Don’t mind Thor looking over my shoulder.  I’m not tall enough to block him out. 🙂  I can’t quite pick a favorite Avenger – she was definitely my favorite at the moment, though.


Meiling’s favorite Avenger, or as she says, ‘Venger.


Eating dinner




…and French fries


Drake and his birthday pie!


Don’t forget – if you haven’t entered the giveaway, you still have time!  Go here to enter!


Yesterday I turned seventeen.  It’s rather hard to believe that I am seventeen.  I don’t feel quite as grown-up as I used to think I would when I was seventeen (or when I was sixteen, for that matter).  I remember wanting to be “grown-up.”  Now that I am seventeen, I’m realizing that it really isn’t all that grown-up.  Growing up has impressed me with a feeling, though, of everything not being the same way forever.  I am beginning to realize that the time I have here in my father’s house is probably limited, and even if it isn’t, I won’t have this time to speak into my siblings’ lives the way I do now.  We will always be friends, but someday I may be living in a home of my own or they will be living in a home of their own, and it won’t always be like it is today.  So to all you younger ladies out there who just can’t wait to grow up:  don’t try to push growing up.  I know this is hard, because there are times that I can’t wait to be more grown-up.  But remember – what you have today won’t be the same tomorrow.  Your little siblings grow up and things change.  Use the time and opportunities that He has given you today wisely, and don’t yearn after tomorrow – don’t worry, it will come.

So yesterday was my birthday.  Daddy was planning on taking the day off, but he was having a problem at work, and we were not sure whether he would be able to take the day off.  Thankfully he only had to work until ten or so, and was able to have the rest of the day off.  After lunch and opening gifts, we went to downtown St. Charles to walk around and go to antique stores.  It was fun, even though we didn’t find anything.  St. Charles has many cute little stores, and it is fun to go down there and look around.  After that, we stopped and got some cookies at Grandma’s Cookies (a cute little bakery on Main Street) and got some drinks at Starbucks (you know it – MOCHA!).  Mom made me chicken and potato bake for dinner – delicious and pretty simple.  After dinner we watched a few episodes of Cake Boss, which is a show about an Italian family-owned bakery in New Jersey.  It was a wonderful day!


In the window of an antique shop – old meets new


I like the railroad track.  Unfortunately, that dumpster was in the way.  It was a little big for me to move, so I had to have it in the picture. 🙂





In an antique store


A pretty quilt



See anything that doesn’t quite belong?  Tell me!




This little mouse was sitting outside of Starbucks.  Dad gave him a little piece of his cookie.  We tried to warn them – if you give a mouse a cookie…


What was left of the cookies




Lens cap


On the way home

Jeweled Jell-O Cups

Today is my little sister’s birthday (previously mentioned here).  It is our tradition to make the birthday person the dinner and dessert of there choice on their birthday.  Meiling requested Sloppy Joes for dinner and Jell-O for dessert.  Not just any Jell-O, but specifically red and orange Jell-O.  Today I made Jell-O.

I haven’t made Jell-O in years.  It was so long ago, I can barely even remember the last time I (or anyone in our family, for that matter) made Jell-O. 

Well, it wouldn’t be any fun to just make two bowls of Jell-O, especially since they were to be two different colors.  I considered layering them in a bowl, and making a batch of the Jell-o Jigglers on the side.  Mom then suggested to me what her dad used to do with Jell-O:  Make individual-sized servings in stemmed glasses, pouring each color as a layer and chilling in-between to make each layer distinct.  She said that he used to take the glasses and put them in a fridge with a wire rack, then tip them while they set, so that the layers were on angles to each other.

As our only fridge with wire shelves is downstairs and my toe is pretty sore from a procedure that was done yesterday (no details – trust me, you don’t want to know), that idea was pushed aside pretty early.

After some thinking and crafting, this is what I came up with.

Jeweled Jell-O Cups

3 – small packages Jell-O, either two of one flavor and one of a third flavor, or all three different flavors
1 – small package Jell-O, different flavor that the ones above, made into Jigglers and chilled according to package directions

1.  Collect 7-8 stemmed glasses, each with a capacity of about 1 cup.  If you want the serving sizes/layers to be smaller, use more glasses.  I used 7.

2. Make 1 package of the Jell-O according to package directions, then divide (somewhat) evenly between the glasses.  If you are using a total of 2 colors, you should be using the color that you have 2 boxes of.


Refrigerate until firm.  They don’t need to be super firm – about 1 1/2 – 2 hours is fine.


In the fridge

3.  In the meantime, cut up the Jigglers into little pieces.  The biggest side should be less than 1/2-inch in length.  Vary the sizes!  It will make this more fun.


4.  Remove the glasses from the fridge, and place 4-7 of the Jiggler pieces in each glass (these are the jewels).  Return to fridge.


Not the best picture – those lumps are the Jiggler pieces.

5.  If using 2 colors, mix up the contrasting color as directed on package, except don’t add the cold water just yet.  Let the hot molten Jell-O liquid cool for at least 10 minutes.  Once it has cooled,  add the cold water.  After you add the cold water, stick your finger in it to test the temperature.  It should be just warm.  Remember, you don’t want the Jell-O to harden in the bowl.

6.  Divide (somewhat) evenly between the glasses.  Return to fridge for about 20 minutes.


Starting to look pretty!

7. Once the Jell-O is semi set, take it out and drop more Jiggler pieces on top. You want them to go into the second layer, so you may have to use a knife or some other tool to push them in.  Refrigerate until second layer is firm.


8.  Mix up the last box of Jell-O, just like you did for the second layer with the cooling.  Divide that (somewhat) evenly between the glasses.  Refrigerate until set.  Voila! You’re done!  There are all kinds of variations – different colored Jiggler pieces, more thinner layers, three different color layers, and the jewels in the first and third layers instead of in the second layer.  The possibilities are endless!


All three layers


You can see the colors a little better in the glass on the right


A fun picture – doesn’t this look like wine a little?  It’s Jell-O, though!