Chatting Over Chocolate

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five Loves on Friday!

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope you're enjoying a gorgeous week!  It has been unseasonably cool here in the Midwest.  I couldn't be more giddy about the glorious breeze and spectacular sunshine that I'm currently welcoming into the window beside me!  

On to those fab 5 loves!  We spent last weekend enjoying an annual event in our area called Railroad Days.  This was our sixth summer attending.  It has become such a fun tradition for us!  A family pass grants us entrance to 5 local attractions, among those are a few historical homes (including one of a Civil War General and friend of Abraham Lincoln), multiple museums, a restored train depot, and a breathtaking botanical center.  Normally a one day admission ticket to each of these attractions would total $94 for our family of four, but during Railroad Days we can pick up a 2-day family pass to all five for just $15!  It's such a bargain!  They also offer free transportation from one venue to the next via Ollie the Trolleys and buses.  It truly feels like we've enjoyed a fun (& frugal) vacation right here at home!  Over the weekend I took 576 pics.  (I'm a lit'l snap happy! :))  So, I had to break the fun down into categories to share in my loves today! ;)

1.  Botanical Garden Goodness
Saturday morning's stroll through the gardens was too gorgeous for words, so I'll let the photos speak for themselves...
The photo of Little One stopping to smell the roses is a candid, not a posed photo. :)

2.  Terrific Trains!
It's what the event is about after all. ;) 
We sat next to the Conductor while dining at a museum's soda fountain on Saturday.  Little One requested her photo be taken with him.  He handed her his lantern and commented that it's not every day that he has such a cute helper! :) 

New to the event this year, Union Pacific brought the actual simulator that they train their employees in.  Jason and the girls became certified (Jr.) Engineers by completing a train ride in the Union Pacific mobile simulator.  We have a new appreciation and understanding of what it takes to operate this terrific vehicles!

3.  Crafty Cuties
They always offer such fun activities at Railroad Days!  A couple that the girls really enjoyed this year were thumbprint train art and spray painting their own lit'l masterpieces.
Little One spray painted a railroad worker ringing a train bell.  Princess had fun painting her initials.

4.    Family Fun!
The BEST part of the 2-day event was by far the FUN we had enjoying it all together!  What a sweet blessing family truly is!
Photos, Left to Right, Top to Bottom:  1. A trolley all to ourselves.  2.  Jason and girls on the staircase of the 100+ year old library turned railroad museum.  We have a fantastic new public library in our city, but every time we visit this beautiful old building I recall climbing these stairs to check out books as a child.  Sweet memories!  3. Little One and I sharing a rocking chair in front of a home exhibit.  4. Lunch at the Soda Fountain.  5. If you've watched my husband's Eat, Sleep, Dis, Repeat vids, you know that Princess and I LOVE a good rock and talk break!  6. Jason and Princess being silly on a train.  7. ...and again at lunch. :)  8. Sisters enjoying a swing in the botanical gardens.

5.  A Special Lunch Guest
My dad had a vacation day to use this week and with my mom still working, had no plans for the day.  The girls and I snatched up the opportunity to invite him over for lunch.  We enjoyed a nice time together, eating, chatting, and laughing over BLTs and root beer floats.  It was a treat of a day!

I so appreciate you taking the time to visit today, friends!  Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five Loves on Friday!

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope you're all enjoying a fabulous July!!  We sure have been and I'm so excited to take a moment to share a bit of it with you now!

1.  A Zoorific Day!
(This one is actually from last week as I didn't post on the 4th of July.  It was such a fantastic day that its memory carries over as a "love" this week.  Such fun must be documented! ;))

My parents purchased a "Grandparents Zoo Pass" this year.  During their vacation week from their jobs they sweetly treated the girls and I to wild time at our incredible local zoo! 
Little One wore a lovely live butterfly as a gorgeous accessory, we giggled while passing over rhinos and monkeys on the skyfari, and many beautiful memories were created!  Thanks again for the fun day together, Mom & Dad!

I marvel at the creativity and awesomeness of our Creator!

2.  Independence Day 2014
Jason surprised us taking a 4-day weekend for the 4th of July!  We soaked up every lit'l bit of that spectacular family time!!!  Here are a few snapshots of the fun and festive Independence Day that kicked off our fab long weekend together ... 

We began the day with homemade patriotic pancakes and ended it with sparklers and s'more covered smiles!  Every detail of the day made my heart smile! 

3.  {Post} Independence Day Fun & Hydrant Party!
Tuesday my mom hosted an Independence Day party for her daycare.  She also extended invites to my niece and nephew, the girls and I, and a few kiddos she babysat in previous years.  We all enjoyed catching up over a yummy lunch and festive desserts, then headed to a hydrant party that local firefighters hosted in our area.  It was a fun day for all!

4.   Game Time!
This week I broke out my ATARI to share some old school gaming goodness with my lit'l gamer girls!! SO. Much. FUN!

Each Sunday afternoon my family gathers around our Mac to check out how Jason has creatively put together more of our favorite Disney memories to share on his YouTube channel.  I especially enjoyed this week's vid!!  I hope you have/will too!

 It's hard to believe that after a few more videos he'll have completely documented our September/October trip.  Be sure to subscribe to see what he'll share next! ;)

Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to visit!  Have a beautiful weekend!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five Loves on Friday!

Happy Friday, friends!  I'm looking forward to sharing my favorite bits of these past seven undeserved days God has blessed me with! So let's get right to it! ...

1.  Little One's Night

My parents had Princess spend the night last weekend so that she can join them early the next morning for an out of town swap meet.  This gave Jason and I an opportunity to give Little One our undivided attention. :)  We started the night grabbing dinner at one of her favorite restaurants Chick-Fil-A (SO GOOD!) and headed to one of our favorite Summer spots, the lake!  Afterward we surprised her with a stop at Culver's for some frozen custard. (I have always have a stash of the free scoop tickets that the girls have gotten from kids' meals there over the years.  Makes for a fun surprise now and then!)  Next we made the drive to Trader Joe's.  We had never been and were very excited to finally check it out!  What a fantastic store!  We grabbed some eats we'd never tried and anticipated taking our tastebuds on an adventure later that night.  As soon as we arrived back home we suited up for a splashin' good time in the pool.  We concluded the evening trying those new nibbles.  First new to us eat - falafels.  Not a fan, I'll leave it at that! Ha.  The second new thing to nosh was shrimp gyoza.  While I usually steer clear of shrimp, I did enjoy these.  Best for last, a new (to me) delight, Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.  I'd been wanting to try these for a long time after hearing missglamorazzi rave about them continually.  They were super yummy! (Yes, I used the word "were" because they did not last here for long! ;))


2.  Belated Father's Day Picnic
My parents invited us over on Wednesday night for a cookout in {belated} celebration of Father's Day.  We enjoyed a fantastic evening together filled with delicious eats, fun conversation, much laughter, and the giving of gifts created with love for my two best guys!!  The girls decorated some new apparel for Grandpa Bob.  Little one created a hat for him, and Princess decked out a tee in his honor.  My parents gifted Jason a t-shirt as well, along with a big batch of his favorite sweet from my mom's kitchen, her homemade chocolate chip cookies split between a Disney tin and a retro Mickey Mouse cup (so fun!), and a box of his favorite candies for good measure!  It was a sweet night all around!

A beautiful summer evening with family!

3.  These are the moments that make my heart smile...
Little One requested a "cannon ball" from daddy.  This snapshot makes my heart happy!  I adore my family and I'm so thankful for every moment we enjoy together!  (:

4.  Girls Day Out
The girls and I had such a fun girls day out and about this week!  Princess and I got in about 3 miles of walking (& plenty of talking :)) during Little One's morning taekwondo class, then we headed out for some shopping goodness!  We started at Hobby Lobby picking up supplies for the gifts in #2.  The girls also spotted some {budget friendly} treasures.  Princess' eyes lit up when she saw this painting and at around 70% off I was able to get it for her bedroom.  That made both of our hearts happy! (Smiley, her parakeet, seems to like it too! ;))  Little One found a cute lit'l fur ball (marked down to $2) so she left with a fluffy new friend. :)  

Here's a look at some of the other fun had in those fabulous aisles...  

Anyone get the "Don't Blink" reference? (See two snapshots in the bottom right.)  That was the girls' idea! Ahaha! They are so much fun!!

More Girls Day Snapshots...

Loving the DEALS:  For the first time ever I made money off a trip to Target! (I went there to return some things and resisted buying anything! Still in shock over that one! ;))  We enjoyed donuts marked down because they were at the "best buy" date at the store = half a dozen donuts/just over a dollar! (...and they tasted fabulously fresh!)  We lunched during Taco Bell's Happier Hour and all eat for just over $6!  (Sadly their machine for $1 freezes was defrosting ...but my non-soda drinking girls were happy with ice cold water on that hot day = freebie!)  All in all it was a day filled with fun, laughter, and bargains with my favorite girlies!!!

5.  Beauty and Rest
Check out this breathtaking sight from my front yard last night, a double rainbow!! Rainbows always fill my heart with such gladness and thanksgiving as they remind me of the faithfulness, patience, and lovingkindness of God!  

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth {Genesis 9:16}

"I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life." -  Genesis 9:13-15

During clear days and stormy nights alike, my soul finds such rest in Him as I know His Word is faithful and true!  Do you have such a hope?  It is rooted in the unshakable foundation of Christ alone.  Ultimately it comes from the peace of knowing that I have been made right with Him, not by any work I have done, but through what He has done on my behalf.  The grace He offers truly is amazing!!!  To learn more visit

Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to visit!  Have a beautiful weekend!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Five Loves on Friday!

Happy Friday, friends!  I think this is the first time I've sat down at my computer since last Friday.  I've been soaking up the summertime goodness with my family and haven't missed my Mac a bit! ;)

Here's a short 'n sweet recap of my loves since this time last week...

1.  Walk & Talk
Friday evening Little One went to a fun End of the School Year Party at taekwondo which allowed Jason and I some sweet one on one time with Princess.  We savored every delicious bite of our Firehouse Subs dinner, then hit the trails for a great walk and talk.  We met up with a turkey family along the path.  They must've been out enjoying the gorgeous walking weather too! ;)

2.  Family Gathering Goodness
Saturday my in-laws opened up their home for a fantastic family get together.  Some of the out-of-town family members I met for the very first time, others Jason and I hadn't seen in over a decade!  It was a great afternoon at Grandma Lou Ann (who you can see that Princess is almost as tall as now!) and Grandpa Kevin's home catching up with everyone.

3.  Father's Day 2014
The girls and I so enjoyed celebrating Jason on Father's Day. He is such an amazing dad to our girls!  I praise God for the blessing he is to our family as he strives to honor God in every area of our family life.

4.  Light Up the Night
There's nothing quite like catching the first lightning bugs of the season.  My cuties had a blast!  Check out Princess -  a jar of glowing beauties in one hand and a pop-ice in the other.  Ahh, summertime!

5.  Lunch at the Lake
Food tastes so much better with this view!  

Thanks so much for visiting today!  Have a fabulous weekend!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Five Loves on Friday!

Happy Friday!!!  It's been such a funtastic week!  Check it out y'all!...

1.  A Sandy Sunday!
Sunday we packed a picnic lunch and headed to the park for some family fun.  Lunch always tastes better in the sunshine surrounded by those you love the most!  Afterward we strolled through an annual fundraising event in our area, Sand in the City.  I'm always so impressed by the incredible {& incredibly cute} sculptures there!

Our favorite sand sculpted sweetness at Sand in the City ...

2.  Exploring Lewis and Clark Visitors Center

3.  Cheesing it up Downtown

4.  Mommy/Daughter Day & a Fabulous Night with Family

On Thursday my mom invited Princess to come to a birthday party for one of her daycare kiddos during Little One's morning taekwondo class.   She stayed through the afternoon enjoying herself while lending her Grandma Kathy a helpful hand.  Meanwhile, Little One and I enjoyed a pretty AMAZING Mommy/Daughter Day!!  {I adore one on one time with my sweeties!}  We started it off with one of her favorite things, {the aforementioned} black belt class.  Afterwards we headed to the library and let my girly's curiosity roam free!  She LOVES learning and found a lot of books that sparked her interest.  In the coming week she'll be learning all about whales, whale sharks, dolphins, bees, and how taste buds work.  We also found a few fun movies and some cds to sing our hearts out to! ;)  Next we headed to Taco Bell for their Happier Hour.  Cheers to inexpensive yumminess!  We made a quick trip home to drop off our library goodies and for a wardrobe change, then headed out for a walk and talk to visit TWO different playgrounds.  Why two? Because two is better than one, of course!  She enjoyed many a slide, several swings, and we giggled and sighed happy sighs.  It was a GOOD day!  In fact, Little One declared it "The BEST day EVER!" :)

As soon as we got home a text came in saying that my parents and Princess were heading our way to pick us up for a pizza dinner date...
Yummy eats with Grandpa Bob & Grandma Kathy!

...followed by treats and talk at their house!  Then my sweet hubby got off work earlier than I'd expected so we had a long(er) evening together too!  Days just don't get much better than that!

5.  Little One's Crafty Cuteness
With a handful of crafting supplies this cutie will create her own lit'l toy with "character"!
Fiercely cute!

Thanks so much for visiting today!  Have a fabulous weekend!