The Happiest Place on Earth: Part Two

You can read part one of this post here.

If you have been following along then you already know that I went to Disneyland for one day with my nieces a few weeks ago. Disneyland offers the military and their families a 3 day park-hopper pass for $140. That's $100 off their normal 3 day park-hopper price! I purchased a 3 day park hopper pass and only used one of the days up until this last weekend.

I convinced my family to come up from Arizona to use the last two days of my ticket with me. My grandparents, parents and sister came along for the adventure. It was a whirlwind of a trip and I'm thankful that they live close and were able to come.

This weekend was different then when I went a few weeks ago because they had Halloween decorations up! Main street and the entrance of Disneyland was my favorite part of the park. They decorate it to look like the town in the movie, Halloweentown. In the movie, they have a gigantic pumpkin in the middle of the town and in Disneyland they had the same thing except the pumpkin was shaped to look like Mickey's head. I love decorating for different holidays in my own home so I was especially excited to see that Disneyland goes all out for Halloween. It makes the park feel even more magical to me.

Stress is a Choice

Stress is a choice. This is something that a friend used to say to me all the time. Throughout high school, college and most of my life, so far, I have always seemed to be stressed about something. Whether it was a big test that I had coming up or something as simple as what I was going to eat for dinner, I was always finding myself feeling stressed. Stress can be extremely hard on you and it was really hard on me. Not only can stress cause you to be more irritable but it can also have a negative impact on your health. Your body needs a chance to relax.

I never understood what my friend meant by stress was a choice. I would just look at her and say "I'm not choosing to be this way! It's because of the circumstances that I feel stressed!” Recently, I realized how wrong I was. Your attitude and how you react to things is a choice. Rather than choosing to be stressed for a big test this week, I could choose to have a positive attitude knowing that I would do well on it because I knew the material. Or rather than being stressed out that I don't have enough time in the day to accomplish everything that I want to do, I could choose to be happy knowing that I am doing the best that I can.

Stress is such a useless emotion. It's hard to be productive and focused when you're stressed so just don't be. Instead, try looking at it from a new perspective. I started doing this in my own life and I have noticed how little I should be stressing.

I came up with a list of 5 ways to reduce stress in your life:

I Loved Her First: Daddy-Daughter Dance

I have always had a close relationship with my parents. My sisters used to make fun of me growing up, because I'd tell my mom and dad everything, I just couldn't help it. Even now I still can't seem to keep a secret from either of them. I think that's part of the reason why I'm so close to them to this day. When I was younger, My dad and I used to go on a lot of walks together. on those walks, I would vent to him about all the problems going on in my life. He would always listen to me and give me sound advice, which was usually just what I needed to get through a hard day. My dad and I have very similar personalities, which is another reason why I think we get along so well. He has always been there for me whenever I need him and I am so thankful for the relationship we have. He's caring, encouraging, compassionate, hardworking, thoughtful, loving and so much more. I really couldn't ask for a better father.
All images © by Sasha Reiko Photography |

Fried Chicken in the Park

I was born and raised in Washington State. I moved away in the 7th grade but the majority of my childhood memories are from my time in Washington. My childhood house had a huge back yard with a creek running through it. My favorite thing to do in those days was to have a picnic by that creek. There was nothing more relaxing then just sitting in the grass listening to the rushing water. When my family and I did have a picnic by the creek, we didn't have the traditional sandwiches. Instead, we'd always get Kentucky Fried Chicken. I vividly remember sitting on a blanket in the grass on warm summer days, eating fried chicken while talking with my family. It was pure happiness.  The only time that my family would ever have KFC was if we were having a picnic; so naturally, KFC still reminds me of my childhood to this day.

Friday Favorites: My First Edition!

I'm still fairly new to the blogging world, and this week I wanted to try something I haven't done before: Friday Favorites! If you aren't familiar with this, it's basically where bloggers talk about their favorite parts of the week. Sometimes it's called 5 on Friday because people will share 5 of their favorite things about the week. The reason why I would like to incorporate this into this blog is because I think it will make me focus on the positive things happening each week in my life.
Here are my Friday Favorites for this week:

4 Years Down, 1 To Go. Our Military Story.

This last Saturday, September 10th, was Tanner's 4 year mark in the Marines. I cannot believe that 4 years have already come and gone! I still remember saying goodbye to him Labor Day weekend of 2012. We weren't dating then, but we were the best of friends. We both liked each other but neither of us wanted to pursue a long distance relationship. After a short but exciting weekend, I said my final goodbyes to him and went back to Arizona. A I gave him a big hug and cried my eyes out when he dropped me off at the airport and I cried even harder when I said goodbye to him on the phone a couple of days later.
Family Day 
The Marines have a 13 week long boot camp and during that time you can only communicate by letters that are few and far between. At the time, I was in my freshman year of college in a dorm. I remember going downstairs everyday and asking the people at the front desk of the dorm if the mail had come yet. By the end of the 13 weeks, every front desk employee knew me by name and without me having to ask, they'd tell me whether or not the mail had come. It was a tough 13 weeks but in some crazy way, it brought us closer together. I was able to go to family day which takes place the day before graduation from boot camp. It is the first time that families are able to see their new Marines after 3 long months. I was so excited to see him and so proud. It was the best feeling to get a hug from him and just be around him. The day came and went much too quickly. Unfortunately, I had to catch a flight back to Arizona that night to take a college final so I had to miss graduation. However, I was grateful for those few hours together.

Fall Bucket List: All things Apple

This weekend, Tanner and I decided to do a couple of the items on my fall bucket list. We woke up Saturday morning, bright and early, and rushed off to our big adventure. We went apple picking! This is something that we normally wouldn’t have done but it was on the list and something that I was excited to try.
There's a town called Julian that’s only about an hour away from our house. The drive there is beautiful because trees and mountains surround you. Julian is a pretty small, cute town. There is the main street that has a couple of antique shops and a few restaurants. If you continue past the main street there's quite a few different types of farms and orchards. We went to an apple orchard called “Volcan Valley Apple Farms”. When we arrived, there were many different apple trees as far as the eye could see. At this particular farm they charge $12 for a bag and then you can pick as many apples that will fit in the bag. They also allow you to try the different apples while you're picking. Tanner and I had a blast and ate more apples then I'd care to admit. We enjoyed apple picking so much that we decided its something we’ll definitely be doing again. It was so fun searching through the trees to try to find the best, store-quality apples.

Fall Bucket List

I LOVE FALL. I love everything about this time of year. I adore the holiday season and fall signifies the start of that for me.  The holiday season is my favorite time of year because the weather gets cooler which reminds me of living in Washington and I get to spend more time with my family.

Last October, Tanner returned from his deployment which meant October and November were jam packed with him re-adjusting and us getting our apartment set up. Because of this, we weren’t able to really enjoy fall last year. This year, now that things have settled down, I’m ready to create some fall traditions!

To accomplish this, I decided to create a fall bucket list. My goal is to complete everything on this list by the time Thanksgiving comes. I plan on making a post here each time that I accomplish something on my fall bucket list. That way I can share my thoughts and experiences with you, the reader, in hopes that you try out some of these activities in your home this season.  I hope that Tanner and I enjoy doing some of the items on the list so much that they become traditions for us. So without further ado, here is my 2016 fall bucket list! Please feel free to join me in completing the fun activities on my list. I would also love to hear some of your fall traditions!

Brooklynn's 2nd Birthday

This last weekend was a BLAST. As I've mentioned before, I have two nieces that live in Washington. I was able to fly to Washington this last weekend for my niece, Brooklynn's second birthday.

My adventure began Friday night, leaving San Diego and flying to Washington. When I landed, I called my dad only to find out that the airport was packed... That wasn't too surprising considering it was a Friday night of a holiday weekend but it did take my dad quite awhile to meet up with me. When I finally did meet up with him, we headed straight for my aunt Kelly's house. It was late by the time I finally got settled in so we all headed to bed not long after. 

Saturday was when the fun began. That morning we woke up, got ready, and headed to my sister's house. Brooklynn is obsessed with cows and pretty much all farm animals. She also LOVES Minnie Mouse. My sister combined my nieces two favorite things making it a farm/cowgirl/minnie party. It was ADORABLE and probably one of the more unique combinations I've seen.. All the snacks were themed and Brooklynn even had a customized shirt that fit in nicely with the theme. I had so much fun running around chasing Brooklynn and Sofia (my other niece). I probably spent around an hour total playing "pretend" restaurant with the girls. They pretended that the bottom half of the playset was a restaurant and they had me stand on one side while they stood on the other taking my orders. I can't tell you how many pretend pizzas and hot dogs I ordered and "ate" ;)  It's so much fun watching the girls play and run around. After awhile, Brooklynn opened her gifts. Tanner and I had given her an easel and since that's a hard gift to wrap, I gave it to her just before her party started. I told her who it was from, and her grandma asked her if she liked it and she said "Yeah! Auntie Cole!" pointing to me. I was so glad she understood the gift was from us and she seemed to like it! I got Sofia an easel as well when she was younger and I still see her playing with it. I think it's something she'll be able to use for years to come! After Brooklynn opened all of her gifts, it was time for the best part of all birthday parties.. cake. Right before we started singing, I was holding Brooklynn and I was practicing blowing out pretend candles with her. I have to say that after we finished singing, she nailed the blowing out the candles part :) 

Monthly Meal Planning

It's September 1st! A brand new month. I don't know about you guys, but I love the first day of a new month. Something about it just makes me feel like I have a clean slate ahead of me. I decided today would be a great day to share how I like to meal plan.

Tanner came home from deployment last October. Before he came home, I only had to worry about what I would have for dinner. I only made meals for myself so I didn't have to take anyone else's opinion into account. When Tanner first came home, I was always asking him each night what he wanted for dinner the next night. He'd look at me like I was crazy since we had JUST eaten. The reason I asked a whole day early was because if he wanted chicken for example, I needed to set it out to defrost the night before.

Eventually, I realized that method just wouldn't work for us. Tanner would get frustrated with me asking that question all the time, and I would get frustrated not having a plan. So I came up with a solution: I would plan all of our dinners out  a month at a time. I've been doing that for almost a  year now and it's wonderful. Here's what I do:

First, I print out a calendar, for the month, usually just a cute simple one that I find online.  Then, I go through Pinterest and Google to find recipes that Tanner and I would enjoy. I don't usually put meals on the weekends because we're so busy that we usually just grab something while we're out, or we find something easy to make at home. That leaves me with only planning for 5 days a week (20 days in a 4 week month). Typically, I don't pick a new recipe out to try every single night of the week. That would just be insane and I'm not the best at cooking so it takes a lot for me to actually cook a complicated recipe! Here's what a normal week looks like: