Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hello, Goodbye, and a Recipe

Hello, friends. I can't believe it's already been more then a week since my last check in with you guys.

But time has once again gotten away from me this week. Daniel left on Friday and I've been working as many hours as I could to make up for the hours i'll be missing when I leave for vacation tomorrow.
It's likely you won't be hearing much (if at all) from me in the next week. 

I'll be relaxing on the beach and soaking up all the sunshine, hopefully, although the current forecast looks like rain every day. I'm praying to the weather gods that that changes although I think thats just par for the course at this time in Florida and Mexico. 

Anyway, to leave you guys on this Thursday, I thought I'd share a family recipe with you. I made this on Saturday after Daniel left because apparently I bake and eat all the dessert when I'm sad. 

My grandma used to make this recipe for every holiday that I can remember. It's so fluffy and the icing is the perfect consistency! Although, I could be a little biased. Don't you love the stuff your grandma makes for you? 

It's a little bit of work but it's so worth it. I just couldn't keep it to myself, so here you go! 

All you need is: 
1 Box Angel Food Cake
1 Angel Food Cake Pan 
3T Flour
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Imperial Margarine (You MUST use the imperial brand otherwise it will not come out right!)
1 t. Vanilla 
Chocolate Chips 

1. Make the cake according to the directions on the box, this part is easy. Fill the angel food cake pan with the cake batter. Dust 1 cup of the chocolate chips in flour and sprinkle them into the batter right before you put it into the oven. 

2. The cake takes a long time to cook and cool (about 40 minutes to cook and an hour and a half to cool) so you don't have to start the icing process right away. 

3. When you have about an hour left in the cooling process start the icing. 

4. First, in a pot on the stove mix together the 3T of flour, 1 cup of milk, and a pinch of salt. Cook until it thickens and then put in the fridge to cool. *Pro Tip: Don't let it cool too long (you'll know it's too long if the top layer becomes hard) otherwise it won't mix as well later. 

5. In a mixing bowl, add 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup imperial margarine, 1t. vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Cream these items together. This part takes forever! It needs to be a pretty white/cream color. 

6. Add in the mixture that's been cooling in the fridge and beat together until the consistency is fluffy. The icing will be soft and taste like sweet air. Sounds weird, I know. But it's so good. 

7. Ice the cake once it has completely cooled. This works best if your kitchen isn't too hot either. 

8. Sprinkle some chocolate chips onto the top of the cake, and enjoy! 

I hope you like this recipe as much as I do! What are some of your favorite family recipes? Share below!

Check back in a week for all the vacation photos. Do you have any favorite places in the Daytona or Cancun area? Let me know! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Disneyland Tips and Tricks

At minimum, Daniel and I make a trip to Disneyland at least once a year. It's usually more like three times because they run a really amazing military special on three day tickets, but this year has gotten away from us. 

Since he's leaving at the end of the week we decided that this weekend was the perfect time to fit in a last minute trip to Disney before the end of summer. We knew that going on a Saturday in the week before school was starting might not be the best idea. But since we've been so many times, we've really done all of the things we've ever wanted to do there and can make it a much more relaxing and fun trip. 

During our past couple of trips we've learned a few things, and I thought I'd share some tips with you in case you're thinking about planning a Disneyland trip any time soon. So, here we go. 

The first step in planning a great Disney trip is to decide what time of year you want to be there (aka what type of decorations you want to take all the pictures of). My favorite time to go is right around Halloween. There are pumpkins everywhere and it's like walking through Halloween town. Christmas time is just as magical. 

After you've decided on a time, you have to decide on a day. If you can avoid the weekends then do that. I don't know why but Tuesday's sound like a good day to go, crowd wise. The weekends will generally be more busy then during the week but it also depends on the time of year. If you can go right after school starts thats generally a great time with a lot less people. Any holidays will be packed so steer clear! 

Make a game plan for your day, especially if you've never been before. Pinterest will be filled with all the things you need to do at Disneyland. Go through some posts and decide what you absolutely don't want to miss. Maybe you need a picture in front of the castle, or you don't want to miss out on a certain ride like space mountain. Make a list! There are apps that will show you maps and wait times for the rides on the day of your trip. 

Part of making a game plan is deciding whether you want to come early, or stay late (or both if you've got more will power than me). We live about an hour away from the park, so we usually have to make the decision about whether or not we want to go right when it opens and spend the day, or if we want to come later in the day to stay for the night time fireworks and water show. A benefit of staying in a nearby hotel is that you can do both, but they are really expensive. We've done both and I can honestly say that each has it's benefits but it all depends on what you want to see. My favorite show is the World of Color at California Adventure and it usually starts at 9pm!

Make a list of the characters you want to see and take pictures with. They're usually only out for around 15 minutes at a time so keep track on the Disney app for their locations. We've taken pictures with all kinds of characters. They sell autograph books and pens in all of the shops if you want some signatures!

Eat all the food. Some of my favorites include: Dole whip, turkey leg, ice cream cone from the ice cream shop on main street, frozen margaritas (sold in California adventure only), corn dogs, frozen bananas, clam chowder sourdough bowls. Plus pretty much everything else. If you want to eat at any of the restaurants, make a reservation far in advance. The restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride always looks like it would be so good, but we always forget about it until it's too late. 

Use the fast passes to your advantage. They don't cost anything, and you can get two at a time. If you're unfamiliar with fast passes they're basically a little ticket that you get for a busy ride, to come back an hour or so later and walk on. We usually get fast passes right away for rides like Tower of Terror and the Cars ride, and then wait in line for the less busy rides. It saves so much time and is a life saver on a hot day because you're basically waiting in air conditioning while you ride the other rides. 

Have you ever been to Disneyland? What would you suggest not missing out on?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Surviving Long Distance

Just two days ago, Daniel and I got the news that once again a military obligation will be calling him away from me for a few months, four to be exact.

In all fairness, we've been waiting for this since November when he started his time in the National Guard. And in the grand scheme of things, four months is a relatively short time compared to other times we've had to spend apart. Especially because he's leaving for a school, and won't be in any immediate danger which is a huge relief.

But he's leaving in just one short week. Not exactly enough time to fit in all of the things we would like to, but we'll make due.

Since he's been home, this is actually the longest time we've consecutively had together without him having to go away for some reason or another. That's 10 months out of almost four years of marriage without some kind of separation. To many people that seems crazy, but for us it's like a small victory.

Long distance relationships can be difficult in any situation, but long distance marriage is something tough, and something that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

When you get used to having your best friend wake up next to you every morning, or get excited with you about little things like Bachelor in Paradise being on Hulu, it's hard to have that taken away even for a short time. Even when you know that soon you'll have it back, because that person is your life and without them it just doesn't feel right.

If you're currently in a long distance relationship, or it's looking like it might turn out that way soon then I've got some advice for you. These are just little things that worked for us as a couple over the last few years, and maybe it might work for you too.

Make the most of the days leading up to your significant other leaving. Whatever that means for you, just don't take for granted the time you have in the last week, or month or day that you have together. You have so much time to be sad after they leave, that you'll feel better if you can look back on the last few days and remember a lot of smiling and laughing and just overall embracing the love you have between each other. For Daniel and I, that means planning a trip to Disneyland this weekend and pretending to have no responsibilities for awhile.

Write little notes and sneak them away into their packed bags. I used to always put a little letter into Daniels backpack that he would bring with him on the airplane, just to remind him that I'd still be thinking of him and waiting for him when he got back. Even for just a minute if it put a smile on his face then that was good for me.

Don't stop communicating. It's easy to get caught up in the day to day of what you're doing back home while you're trying to make time speed up before they get back. But it's so important to spend all day texting your person if they have the ability, or to spend all night talking to them on the phone. If there is something concerning you then this is even more important, just talk it out like you would if that person was right next to you.

Visit them if you have the means. Daniel is going to be in Texas, a place I've never been and kind of want to visit. Some of our most fun trips happened when Daniel and I met in places we'd never been before for short vacations. New Orleans is one of our favorite memories because we met there and explored a totally new place for both of us. If you are able to, don't miss out on visiting the place that they're in, you might just fall in love with somewhere new.

Remember that the time spent apart won't get easier, but you will get stronger. You're going to have bad days. You're going to want to cry, and pout and be upset that you can't see the person you want to see all day everyday. But just because the time apart doesn't seem to be getting easier, doesn't mean that you won't be getting stronger as a person, and as a couple. Daniel and I grew so much while we were apart that it took two incredibly strong people to come together and see how our time separated could be meshed into one loving couple, and we're stronger then ever for it today.

Take something from the time apart. Use the time to learn a new skill, or find a new hobby. Or maybe just take the time as reflection upon yourself. Are there certain parts of your relationship that you take for granted? Chances are that time apart will show you, which you can then use to better yourself and your relationship once they're back home.

Don't be afraid to look for support in unlikely places. There are so many people who have gone through the same thing as you, and were made better for it. The blogging community is an amazing resources for finding people in similar situations. Look for support if you need it, even if that just means finding someone to ask questions to once in awhile. There are absolutely people willing to make this easier on you.

Keep in mind that this isn't forever. The time apart will come to an end. You will have that amazing and wonderful moment where you are reunited and everything will be as it should. Mark the day on your calendar for when they're supposed to be home as a reminder that soon you'll get to see them. You're strong enough to make it last, and don't let anyone tell you any differently.

Do you have any tips for long distance relationships? How did you make it work?