Saturday, July 31, 2010

Domestic Violence ~ Fundraiser of Sorts

Several months ago, I had the complete honor of befriending a pretty, very highly educated, successful young woman while I was at Starbucks, sitting at an outside table, enjoying one of my all time favorite things in the world ~ Grande Caramel Frappiccino with Caramel around the Cup ~ oh so yummy!!


As we got through talking, she shared some very personal stuff with me. I think she just needed an ear, after all, she'd just had the most horrible week of her entire life. And she didn't know what direction her life would go in the weeks to come.

"Julie" had recently been a victim of Domestic Violence, which resulted in her having to stay at a local Women's Haven for a brief period of time. She's a 36 year old woman who has been married to her high school "sweetheart" for 14 years. Both professionals....both basically "at the top" of their careers.

Did she see this coming? Nope. Had he EVER shown signs of Domestic Violence before? Nope. Clearly, something happened to make "Brett" snap totally out of the blue.

I'd met "Julie" three days after "the" night. "The" night that changed her life. She was still in a state of shock, confusion, devastation and felt totally lost. We talked.... we talked about her job... her career... "Brett"... their family... their dreams... their goals... and how everything about her life was now shattered. And finally, we talked about "the" night.

Fast forward to present time. "Julie" is at a much better place in her life with regard to this incident. Did she and "Brett" make ammends? Well, let's just say that she's forgiven "Brett". They've both been in counseling, and they've come to the conclusion that this act of violence on "Brett's" part has done irreparable damage to their marriage. Try as they might, it's something that just isn't salvagable. "Julie" has been forever scarred and cannot get the feeling of fear out of her system. As much as they love each other, after years of being married, it's all done.

A single act of violence has broken what was once a very sound, loving marriage.

I've learned many things from meeting "Julie". We share a common bond. (Perhaps more than just one) But one of the things I've learned is that a Women's Haven is an awesome resource for victims of Domestic Violence. I've had the opportunity to learn all about their services. How they help victims. It goes well beyond just giving women a roof over their heads. It's an organization consisting of a group of dedicated staff and volunteers who share their time by helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Their services are designed to empower and support women in their personal decisions. Women are given the opportunity to safety plan and regain control of their lives. Which is exactly what "Julie" did. Or is doing.

I had the opportunity to visit one of the local "safe houses" for women victims of Domestice Violence. They try and make it a very inviting environment for these ladies. Of course, most of these safe houses are run by non-profit organizations and rely on contributions and fundraisers.

I've decided to help out. I'm going donate products for the Kitchens in these safe houses. The way I'm doing this is by having a Pampered Chef Kitchen Show at a local Club House on Friday, August 6th.


All "free credits" earned will be used to purchase various Kitchen Items available from Pampered Chef. Now I know 95% of my blog readers don't know me personally, but YOU CAN HELP.

Please take a minute to browse this website: www.pamperedchef.biz/darcyd .


If you see anything you'd be interested in purchasing for yourself for your own personal use, or for gifts (Christmas is right around the corner you know ~ these make great Christmas Gifts) please email me directly at: cleverconfections@gmail.com


If you'd like to order items for the Safe Houses only, please email me at cleverconfections@gmail.com as well.

My goal is to reach at least a $500 show (which will give us $140 in free Pampered Chef product to donate). To date, I've received $92 in personal orders and $68 in product orders for the Safe Houses.

Any little bit helps!! Thanks for taking the time to help out if you can!! This is a cause I'm really starting to have a passion for and it means alot that I can share this with my readers!!

xoxoxo

Have a wonderful Saturday!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Beef Brocolli over Pan Fried Noodles

One of my most favorite things to make is my mom's version of Beef Oyster Sauce over Pan Fried Noodles. It is soooo yummy. I don't have a recipe because I just make it the way my mom used to make it, so please bear with my instructions here!



Here's the ingredients list:



1 lb. Flank Steak, cut into thin one inch strips
Soy Sauce
Chicken Broth (Not sure exactly how much I use, but I'd say it's about(2) 15 oz. cans
Cornstarch
Olive Oil
Oyster Sauce
Brocolli
*Baby Corn
*Water Chestnuts

Here's a photo of the Soy Sauce and Oyster Sauce I used:



So, the first thing you do is..... soak (marinate) the beef with about 1/2 cup of Soy Sauce, 1 can of chicken broth and 2 tbls. of Cornstarch. Let it sit for about 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix approximately 3 tbls. of Cornstarch with 1/2 can of chicken broth. Set aside.





Meanwhile, cut brocolli into bite size pieces. Boil it for approximately 15 minutes, drain.







Heat the Oil in a Wok (or in my case, I use an electric skillet. YES, I KNOW... I'm Asian, and I don't even have a Wok). Heat it so it gets really hot!!! Then add the beef mixture. Be sure to mix it quickly as if stir frying.





Once you have the beef to your desired doneness, ( I prefer more on the Medium side) add the Cornstarch mixture and mix in good.

Add 2 tbls. Oyster Sauce and mix well. Bring to a boil stirring frequently, add the Brocolli, Water Chestnuts and Baby Corn, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.



(The picture below doesn't have the Water Chestnuts & Baby Corn)





There you have it! Yummy Beef Brocolli!! You can serve it over Pan Fried Noodles, or Steamed Rice. I love making extra gravy and have leftovers the next day. Gravy and rice. So yummy!!



You can finish it up with dessert! Like an AWESOME Malted Milk Chocolate CuppyCake!!



Goals in 2010 ~ A "re-cap"

I remember at the beginning of this wonderful year, I made a list of 20 things I'd like to do in the year 2010.

For those of you who don't remember my list, here's the post from way back then
----> http://shellisweddingblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/twenty-in-twenty-ten.html

And if you're just too lazy to click on that link above, here's the list:

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1. Read 100 books.

2. Purchase one Christmas gift a month. (So I can have a relaxing December)

3. Shred 6 days out of the week utilizing Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred.

4. Read the Bible in 90 Days. Thank you to Kallay & Mandi for this idea!

5. Cook and eat healthier.

6. Invite a Guest Blogger at least once a month.

7. Stop deleting my Word of the Day daily emails and actually utilize the word in my daily conversations.

8. Spend more time with my family. (Kiddo's, Aunts, Uncles & Cousins that are here in California & local to me)

9. Attend and get involved with Church.

10. Go back to school & pursue my Bachelors . <-------(I'm 41 years old ~ this should be interesting!)

11. Stop worrying about what other people think about me.

12. Put $20 a month away in a 'pickle jar'. (Just to see if I can be disciplined enough to do it)

13. Pay off my Credit Card debt.

14. Write in my blog once a day.

15. Share one NEW photo a day with my readers.

16. Become more Eco-Friendly & Frugal within my household.

17. Have my children come for dinner at least once a month throughout the year.

18. Expand my Clever Confections business as the year progresses.

19. Get married in April on Catalina Island. (Ha! This one's a given)

20. Learn to conquer my OCD traits I have. (I seriously have this problem with washing my hands about 100 times a day unnecessarily)

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Clearly I'm not going to be able to cross some of these things off of my list because I've slacked sooo much. And clearly, I failed at some of the other things, but, there are some which I've already completed! Woot woot!

And yes, I'm talking about #19! That was a blast!!!

So, for the rest of the year, I'm going to pick up where I left off and try to get everything crosssed off my list! And trust me, I will most defintely keep you all posted!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Friendly Friday



There's a Blog that I 'follow' called "Thanks, Mail Carrier". She, along with a couple other bloggers host something called "Friendly Fridays". This is basically a Blog Hop, and bloggers can 'link up' their blogs by adding their blog to the list, and all of the hostesess readers/followers can check them all out!!! This is a great way to see what other blogs are out there in the Bloggesphere!!

I decided to give it a whirl, link up my blogs to the list, and host the Friendly Friday Link Up on my blog today. I think it'll be an awesome way for all of MY followers to have access to other blogs.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your link in the list below, and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and feel free to leave a comment on their blog showing them some blog love. Be sure to follow them through Google Friend Connect.

Love my boys!!!!

DATE DAY THURSDAY


Today for our Date Day Thursday, Brian and I did something a little different!!! We usually start off by getting up bright and early and go to Huckleberry's and have their Early Gator Special which consists of 2 eggs; Hashbrowns; and Toast, biscuit or pancakes for $1.99.

This morning we (okay... I...) decided that we'd skip breakfast at Huckleberrys and instead have a quick one at home. Then..... at about 10 a.m., we'd take Duke and go for a walk. A looonnnnggg walk. (What the heck was I thinking?!?) My thoughts was that we'd go down to the strip mall 'down the street' and stop into Pet Extreme, Target and then have lunch and one of the many restaurants they have around that area. So, that's what we did. Then I thought... oh, while we're all the way over here, let's cross the street and go to the strip mall there! They have Bath & Body Works, TJ Max, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Kohls. So off we went!!!

Then we made our way back home. All the way back home. Like over a mile all the way back home. Needless to say, Duke didn't walk the ENTIRE way. I brought his little Dog Purse (which he loves) and he got to be carried the majority of the 18,395 miles that we walked. (So..that was exaggerating a little)

Here's a photo of Duke snoozing away in his Dog Purse (whatever you call those things) while we were having lunch.



What a little stinker huh?!?

Brian and I did finish off our Date Day Thursday like we used to always do... with $1.50 Margaritas! It was yummy!!

Hope you all had a WONDERFUL Thursday!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Duke Photo Updates

He likes playing Tug-o-War

This was the very first "toy" that we bought for Duke


But this squeaky toy...this is his FAVORITE



Despite the fact that it's just about his size, he likes to pick it up and drag it from the living room to the dining room.


Then he tuckers out and while dad is taking a nap on the floor he nestles himself right in the crook of Brian's arm.

DUKE'S FIRST VET VISIT
Tuesday, July 27, 2010



Poor puppy was so scared! But, his favorite toy calmed him down.

This photo of him with the Vet is cute!!
Duke weighs all of 2.14 lbs. today!





Tuesday, July 27, 2010

~ Tasty Tuesday ~

CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP
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Here's the list of ingredients:

1 Onion, chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 (28 oz.) can Crushed Tomatoes ** I use Diced Tomatoes
1 (10.5 oz) can Condensed Chicken Broth
1 1/4 cup Water
1 cup Whole Corn Kernels, cooked ** I use an entire 15 1/4 oz. can, drained
1 cup White Hominy ** I use an entire 15.5 oz. can, drained
1 (4 oz.) can Chopped Green Chilie Peppers
1 (15 oz.) can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped Fresh Cilantro
2 boneless Chicken Breast Halves, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
Crushed Tortilla Chips
Sliced Avacado
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Chopped Green Onion

(Recipe Courtesy of All Recipes)

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Directions:


In a medium stock pot, heat Olive Oil over medium heat. Saute chopped onion and minced garlic until soft.

Stir in Chili Powder, Oregano, Tomatoes, Chicken Broth and Water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

(Here's two chicken breast halves boiled and chopped into bite sized pieces)

Stir in Corn, Hominy, Green Chilies, Black Beans, Cilantro and Chicken.

Simmer for 15 minutes.


Ladle Soup into individual serving bowls; top with crushed Tortilla Chips, Cheese, Green Onion and Avacado Slices.

Y U M M Y

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MALTED MILK CHOCOLATE CUPPYCAKES

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Here's the list of ingredients for the CuppyCakes:

3/4 cup Water
2 sticks of butter
3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 cup Carnation Malted Milk Chocolate Mix
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Salt
2 large Eggs
2/3 Sour Cream

1/2 cup Crushed Malted Milk Balls for Garnish iced CuppyCakes

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To make the CuppyCakes:

Pre-Heat the Oven to 350 degrees; In a medium size saucepan, melt the butter. Add the Cocoa Powder and Water and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda and Salt.

Using an Electric Stand Up Mixer (Like a KitchenAid), using the paddle attachment, beat together the Eggs and Sour Cream until well blended. Add the Butter/Cocoa mixture and beat just until it's combined.

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients to the Egg/Sour Cream mixture on low speed until just incorporated.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 16 minutes. (Check readiness with a toothpick)

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Here's a list of ingredients for the Butter Cream:

2 sticks of butter
1 cup Carnation Malted Milk Chocolate Mix
2 tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
3 tablespoons of Milk
2 cups Powdered Sugar
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Mix all ingredients together in an Electric Mixer until smooth and to your desired consistency.


Pipe frosting in the center of each CuppyCake

Sprinkle crushed Malted Milk Chocolate Balls on each CuppyCake.

Top with a Malted Milk Chocolate Ball!!



There you have it! Two of my FAVORITE things to make!!!

Try these recipes out and let me know how they turn out!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

I found an AWESOME Give Away today!!

We all know that I LOVE Blog surfing. Heck, I love reading blogs, and I follow a ton of 'em as well.

Today I read a handful of blogs that I follow on a regular basis and there's two that were very interesting to me!

The first one is called: A Few of My Favorite Things. Today, she blogged about a very awesome Give Away!! How cute are these?!?




And if you check out her blog, you'll have the opportunity to enter her GIVEAWAY!!! This is a great Giveaway in that it's not only a CUTE product, but she's giving away TWO sets!! Yay!!


I've entered!! Yeah, yeah, yeah... Brian and I are done with babies and all (with the exception of our newest addition to our family this past weekend).

I'm so excited for a chance to win because a very close couple that we know just shared with us on Saturday that they're expecting their second child!! Woo Hoo! And, what makes it so much more exciting for Brian and I is that we're going to be that baby's Godparents!! :)


If it isn't in the cards for me to win the GiveAway, I know I'll be purchasing the set of Sticky Bellies!!
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The second blog that I found totally interesting in is called Slam Dunks. This particular Blogger writes about 'True Crime' per se, and her perspective of a particular case. She also focuses on Missing Persons.


I have a degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Behavioral and Social Sciences, (I'm a Cake Decorator/Event Coordinator.....go figure) and so blogs like these interest me tremendously!!!


This particular post, is interesting to me because I love the way she correlates all the facts. :)


You all should read her blog periodically. It's very interesting!!!
I think I'm going to do this on a regular basis on Mondays! Share with you all what interesting blogs I've come across! Lucky you guys huh?!?


And, I'm also planning on doing my very own GiveAways again in the very near future! These will be very easy GiveAways though, so be on the lookout!!!


Happy Monday!!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekend Re-Cap (Lots of Photos of Duke)

Lot's of fun stuff this weekend!! Maybe just ONE exciting thing happened. Okay....let's make that two exciting things. :)

Saturday morning Brian, Elyssa and I drove up to Sacramento to meet my older two kiddo's for breakfast at IHOP. We left at about 7 a.m. for our hour and a half long drive. It was nice to have all three kiddos together as we hardly ever get that opportunity! It's either Ashlee and Elyssa; Elyssa and Joseph; Joseph and Ashlee; or something like that.... rarely do I have all three together at one time! (Mostly just Christmas or other major Holidays)

(It was a bittersweet morning however, because Elyssa's dad met us at IHOP to pick her up since she was going to her dad's house, so we all had to say goodbye! )

After we left the restaurant, we headed to Ashlee's house to pick up Duke!! Yay!! Boy was I super excited! We've been waiting for weeks to bring him home!! Woot woot!!

Once we got him home, we played with him for a little bit. He explored the living room, dining room and kitchen. Then I immediately started introducing him to his crate and new bed!

We bought a little Pet Taxi for him, but we were also given a bigger one from my brother-in-law and his wife. (John & Kathy) Some other friends of ours (Bill & Karin) gave us a cushion/bed thingee that goes into the Pet Taxi we got from John and Kathy.

Duke took to his "bed" almost instantly! He loves it!! Can you tell?!?






Throughout the remainder of the day, Duke pretty much slept off and on. Each time he woke up, I immediately took him outside to go potty. He didn't go the first 3 or 4 times I took him out, but later in the evening he went! I was so excited and happy! I praised him and made a big deal out of it so he knows that it was a good thing!!


He didn't eat / drink anything ALL day. It was late evening when I finally was able to get him to eat some of his Puppy Chow. What I did was soak the dry Puppy Chow in some water, and then I rolled one of them on his "placemat" (homemade rug I'm going to use for his feeding area only) and he slowly ate it. I rolled a few more this way, and he ate!! He acted kinda strange at first... pawing at it then backing up. Then when he did pick it up in his mouth, he would walk away and almost hide to eat it, then come back for more. I'm thinking it's because where he was before, he probably had to share his food with his liter mates and almost had to eat it somewhere none of the others would take it away from him. That's just my guess though. Who knows.

I took the opportunity to take tons of pictures of our new "baby" when he was just chilling out. I thought I'd share a few with you guys!

I love this photo below! Amongst all of our numerous Target Bulls-Eye Dogs (Nick and Nora), I squeezed Duke into the line-up. I just HAD to take this photo!!

I couldn't resist!! Isn't it cute?!?


Here's one of Duke with our "Harley" Bulls-Eye Dog. I think that's just about the only thing Duke is bigger than around this place. Seriously....my flip flops are bigger than him!

Our first night home with Duke wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Duke had been going into his crate (bed) on his own and laying down in their whenever he would tire. I don't shut the gate/door on the crate during the day, so he gets used to the fact that he can come and go from the crate. The problem was, if Brian or I would get up from the couch or walk in the living room, he'd come out and follow us.

So, when it was bed time, I told him "Bed" and put him in his crate. He snuggled up in his blankets and got comfortable. I locked the gate/door. I went to bed. AS SOON AS he figured out that nobody was in eyesight, he started his puppy cries. I ignored it. After all, isn't that what you're supposed to do? I was told and I also read online (yes, I did a TON of research) that you're not supposed to go to them when they cry because then they'll think in the future, all they have to do is cry and you'll go to them. Well....Duke would cry and then stop....then cry and then stop. The period in between crying would be at the most... five minutes.... So, what do I do? I don't go and open the gate. Nope. That would be giving in. What I did was this...... I got a pillow and laid down on the floor just to where he could see my head. And viola..he would quiet down and fall asleep. Thank Goodness!!! So I would get up and crawl back into bed.


What felt like maybe oh.... 3 minutes later, (but in reality it was more like an hour) Duke would start to cry again.... so I get up... take him outside to potty; come back in, put him back in his crate, and get down on the floor again. Yeah.. this went about three more times until he finally slept for more than just an hour. (Me crawling into bed only having to get back down on the floor.) Needless to say, it SOUNDS bad, but it wasn't THAT bad. :) I did manage to get a solid 4 hours of sleep from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.


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And today! Guess what we did this fine Sunday afternoon?!? Well, let me show you what our friends Bill & Karin also gave us....





This CUTE doggie purse! It is so cute and I absolutely LOVE it!! Duke is the perfect size for this purse and he still has room to grow!


So, we decided to take Duke out for his first Sally ride! Yep! That's right!!! We took him out on the Motorcycle! Can I just tell you he enjoyed it completely! I thought he'd cry when he was in the purse with the noise and all, but nope. He was having a blast! In fact, he would peek his little face out of the area I had unzipped while we were riding and he loved the sun shining on him and the wind in his face!!! Here's a photo of him while Daddy was putting gas in Sally.


We rode for maybe 15 minutes or so, then we stopped at this awesome park. Played for about another 15 minutes then rode back home! And let me tell you, both Duke and daddy were POOPED out when we got home!!


That's my Weekend Re-Cap!!! Hope you all had an awesome weekend as well!!



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

~DUKE~

In three days we get to pick up our baby!!

I'm excited yet nervous because Brian hasn't been 100% supportive of getting Duke in the first place.

(Despite the fact that all four names we're contemplating on naming the puppy was all his suggestions: Duke, Harley, Max or Hoss. Along with the fact that he went out and bought this cute Crate)


I've been doing a ton of on-line research just to be sure we're (I'm) prepared. My priority is to make sure that he's potty trained. And, I'm hoping that he's not going to be as much of a yelper as everyone tells me he's going to be. Hopefully, if I work with him as soon as we bring him home, he'll get used to us.

On-line, I got a schedule of all puppy vaccinations. And as anal as I am, I wrote down the date next to each of the required shots, so I know when those shots need to be done.

I called our local Pet Smart late last night and spoke with one of their Dog Trainers there. She was a wealth of information and answered a ton of questions I had. How nice of her!
(At least I thought so considering it was like just after 9 p.m.)

They (at Pet Smart) don't allow puppies to enroll in the puppy classes until they're 10 weeks old and have had their second series of shots. So, I won't be able to get Duke into classes until a few weeks after we bring him home. I think that's just perfectly fine though because it'll give us time to bond with Duke and make him comfortable with us.

Today, I went into Pet Smart and spoke to one of the Groomers and received a ton of information from them as well. I had been told in the past that it's quite expensive to have a puppy groomed. Somewhere between $40 and $45. I was totally excited to learn today that at Pet Smart, they have a special for puppies! It's $10.99 for their Bath and Shampoo package which includes a basic shampoo, blow dry; 15 minute brush, nail trim, ear cleaning, sanitary trim, scissoring feet, shaving pads and anal gland cleaning upon request.
(Honestly, I have no clue what some of these entail)

I was also reminded by a friend of mine, author of Hailey's House, that I need to have the following: Collar, Leash, and Puppy Toys. Oh, and puppy food.

So, as I was walking down the aisles at Pet Smart today, I fell in love with the Harley Davidson Collars. (Pictured above) And I'm almost 100% sure that I'll be making that purchase in the near future.

And of course, thanks to Hailey's mom again, she reminded me of the fact that I get to buy STEELER'S gear for Duke!!

This is just one of the many items I found that I NEED to have. Er..I mean that Duke needs to have. :)

Yes, three (technically 2 1/2) days until we bring him home! I am so freaking excited!!




Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day with the Ducks

Amazingly enough, I didn't do one bit of baking and or cooking whatsoever today! Seriously. Not for breakfast. Not for lunch. And not for dinner. Today was one of those days where everyone pretty much had to fend for themselves. Every once in a great while, I don't think there's anything wrong with that!!

It was a very unproductive day ~ "lazy day" I would call it. I suppose it was due to the fact that Brian had to work overnight tonight at work, so he needed to take it easy throughout the day. It's hard to have to adjust your body to the one day of overnights. Only to have to come back in the morning and try to "get back to normal" because your regular shift will come again the next day. (So glad it's him and not me!)

Just to get some family time in this afternoon, we went to A&W so Brian could get a Frosty Mug of Root Beer! After that, we headed to Stanislaus State to go "feed the ducks" despite the fact that we didn't have any bread with us. Lol. Stan State just happens to be where we took our Engagement Photos at. I had Elyssa take a few shots of me up at the top of the 'waterfall' just as I did in our E-Pics. It was fun!

That just about summed up our day! Pretty uneventful to the max!! But here are some awesome photos of our exciting day. :)

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My beautiful Elyssa Lynn


Big Mr. Goose getting a little too close to me


My beautiful Elyssa Lynn again


My beautiful Elyssa Lynn one more time