Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Prep

We are getting excited for Christmas! Right after we got home from Thanksgiving, we started to set the mood for the "most wonderful time of the year." We even started buying Christmas gifts on Black Friday - so we have a few tucked away under our Charlie Brown Christmas tree. We don't have a lot of decorations up yet though, but there will be more to come as we have time. In the meantime, we've hung our stockings and trimmed the tree! :)

Caitlin, with the help of her grandma, made our stockings. We found similar ones at Kringle Candle, but they were $45 each. I'm so lucky to have such a talented wife - can you believe that she can sew!? That's a skill I've never even attempted. 

And of course, we had to take a picture in our Christmas corner. We are loving having everything up - and we light up the tree almost every night. 

Speaking of tree - here is the beauty! I absolutely love it. It's small, and fake, but it's our first one and it's perfect. Hopefully you all are putting up your Christmas junk and listening to holiday music. We are becoming so festive up here, the only thing that would add to the Christmas feeling would be snow! But we're not wishing that upon anyone. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Second Thanksgiving

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers. Eating turkey sandwiches on homemade rolls. It is truly divine. But since we spent Thanksgiving 3,000 miles away from home, we didn't have any leftovers in the fridge. 

So... we decided to cook a turkey, rolls and stuffing for a second Thanksgiving dinner. We had never cooked a turkey before, but it turned out amazing! We cooked it all day long while we were at church and then made gravy and stuffing from the drippings. It was very delicious. 

While I was playing around with the turkey, Caitlin was at work making rolls. She has made rolls in the past, but they have always been a bit dense. Now she has perfected the recipe. These rolls were perfect. Light and fluffy and delicious. Such the best 2nd Thanksgiving dinner.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lost Generation

In one of my classes we watched this really cool video and I thought I would share it with you. It is a reverse poem, so be prepared to be blown away. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wednesday Thanksgiving

Caitlin's sister Lindsey is going on a mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints next week, so all the family gathered together to see her off for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, we could not afford to fly out after Thanksgiving day, so we ended up flying on Thanksgiving and celebrating a day early. Everything felt like Thanksgiving (except no Black Friday ads for Caitlin to look at).

I was in charge of the yams/sweet potatoes. Caitlin's mom doesn't like them, so she let me cook them for everyone. I'm pretty sure they were a hit, cause there weren't a lot left over.

Caitlin was really excited to make pies this year, so the ladies in the house spent the afternoon baking up a storm. She made an Oreo pie, Amber made an apple, Lindsey made a banana, and Teresa made a chocolate one. DELICIOUS!

Teresa also did an amazing job cooking turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and many other delightful Thanksgiving foods. It was such a great time to spend with family, and we LOVED being with everyone in San Diego. The worst part was that after we flew home, we had no leftover turkey to eat. :(

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Playing on the Playa

This year for Thanksgiving we went to San Diego. Having in-laws live in San Diego is one of the perks to marrying Caitlin (among many others). We enjoyed an entire week basking in the beautiful sun, yet only went to the beach twice. 

The first day was kind of cold. Well, it wasn't really cold, but the wind made it chilly. We eventually got off the beach and played in the park next to the sand in our sweatshirts. 

We are getting really good at jumping!

Here are Caitlin's mom, sisters, and brother.

I really wanted to take a nap on the beach, but Elaine didn't feel the same. She came and started piling sand on my legs, then decided to climb on top of me. I would have gotten grumpy, but she's so cute that I couldn't be mad. :)

A few days later we went to the beach with Andrea, one of Caitlin's YW leaders from back in the day. We went to a cool eatery that had a balcony overlooking the beach and ate lunch. Then we walked along the beach and enjoyed soaking up the sun for a few minutes. 

Now we're back in Massachusetts, and it's 34 degrees. Makes my heart pine for some San Diego beaches.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mormon Helping Hands

Yesterday we had an amazing opportunity to go to Connecticut and help clean up after Hurricane Sandy. It was quite the experience. We met up with the Mormon Helping Hands and about 300 other volunteers. Many had worked the previous weekend as well. 

We went down to Milford, Connecticut and worked right on the shoreline. I can't believe how hard this small community was hit by the hurricane. There were several places we saw that only had stilts, or foundations where houses used to be. We helped scrub basements, clear out insulation and other debris, move furniture, shovel/rake mountains of sand, and crawl around in dirty crawl spaces under houses. It was quite the day of dirtyness.

Mormon Helping Hands provided lunch for us and we sat along a fence with a handful of missionaries. Then FEMA came around and started videotaping us eating. I'm wondering what that video will be used for. If we find out, we'll be sure and post it on here. 

Behind Caitlin there used to be three houses. Now there is just a bunch of debris. The ocean was beautiful and I can see why someone would want to live right there, but it is so tragic what happened to their homes. 

After a long days work we were exhausted, but we felt so good. It is amazing how great service feels. The last house we were in we got so dirty pulling out wet insulation out of a MUDDY basement, but afterward we spoke with the owner and she was telling us how she and her sons can't even stay in the house because there is no electricity, water, or heat. She was so grateful we were able to help so that they can move more quickly into their home. Two of the three houses around hers were demolished. She said that on the bright side, she now had oceanfront property. What a positive attitude. 
We love giving service, and are so grateful for the opportunity the church provides for us, because we doubt we would've tried to organize something like that on our own. Our prayers and thoughts go continually to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

From Sea to Shining Sea

Caitlin and I set the goal to visit all 50 states separately before we were married. We are now working on that goal, and we are actually getting pretty close. Here's how our maps are looking:
Caitlin has visited 25 states. She is only really missing the north and the south. We'll for sure hit up a few more states while we are out east - hopefully making it all the way down to Florida.

I've been to 36 states (only 14 left!), but really not a whole lot in the south. Alaska is going to be tricky as well. Maybe when we're old we'll have to take an Alaskan cruise. :)

If anyone has the same life goal, we encourage you to come out to New England while we're here. We're becoming quite good at giving tours. And you can cross off 5 or 6 states in a weekend. 

I Recall Central Park in Fall

First things first. Push play on this lovely song. Then proceed to read about our trip to NYC.

Before Hurricane Sandy hit, we decided we needed to head to New York and show Carley and Mike the biggest city in the US. We are only about 3 hours north of the city, so we hopped in the car and drove down to Bronxville, where we caught the train to Manhattan. 

We spent the majority of the first day walking around the city seeing famous sights. It's crazy how big New York is compared to other cities. You get completely lost, even though Manhattan isn't big in area.

Last time I was in New York I didn't get to visit Brooklyn, so this time we made sure to walk across the Brooklyn bridge. The view of Manhattan was breathtaking. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk, and decided to grab some New York pizza on the waterfront in Brooklyn.

Mike and Carley experiencing their first New York pizza in New York.

After visiting Brooklyn, we went to Ground Zero, then rode the subway to Time Square. It was completely packed! Weekends in New York are crazy. It was brighter and busier than Las Vegas. We couldn't really handle to amount of crowds, so we ventured off to Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center was really cool since the skating rink was open. We are really excited to see what it looks like during Christmas. 

On Sunday, Caitlin and I went to church while Mike & Carley went to the top of the Empire State Building. After going to church, we met up with Carley and Mike in Central Park and enjoyed the fall foliage (which is why I chose Donke Schoen for the blog song).

Under this bridge there were a few people singing gospel songs. They were amazing! The acoustics under the bridge were phenomenal. We really could've listened all day - but the subways were closing early so we decided to keep moving.

After Central Park we went to back to Times Square (where it was much less crowded than the night before) and we stopped into the M&M store. We had our "M&M Mood Color" analyzed while we were there. Caitlin is white, and I am green. Funny thing is, I totally predicted that she would be white. 

And that is the end of our trip to NYC. Since Sandy was coming in, and the subways and trains were shutting down at 7:00, we knew we needed to leave early, so we took off around 3:00. The skies were pretty cloudy, but we only got a small sprinkle of rain as we drove back to Massachusetts. We feel lucky to have seen everything before the storm. Caitlin and I are going back on December 1st, so we'll let you know how different the city is after a month of post hurricane cleanup.