Tuesday, November 30, 2010



Outside my window... it is fair and sunny and in the 80s. It does not feel like Fall or Winter but we are trying to get into the Christmas spirit by putting up the lights on the house. 

I am thinking... it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere we go…


I am thankful for... quality time spent with family and friends. It is rare that we get time to visit with family and friends and when I get the chance I am so grateful for the opportunity.

From the kitchen... I am hoping to learn a new Christmas recipe or two to share with family and friends this Christmas.

I am wearing... comfy shorts and tee to help my husband put up lights all around the house and decorate the house for our first married Christmas.

I am creating... more holiday memories. I love this time of year with all the holidays in a row and getting to spend it with family and friends. This year is full of memories as we are celebrating our first married holidays.

I am going went... to the store to buy the rest of the lights and decorations for the house.

I am (still) reading... House Rules by Jodi Picoult and looking forward to the next Jodi Picoult book I will read.

I am hoping praying... that everyone have joy, peace, and love this Christmas season. May everyone always have happiness, good health, and prosperity throughout the coming year.

I am hearing... the sound of the washing machine as I continue with the daily/weekly house chores that need to be done.

Around the house... are a few Christmas decorations. We do not have much in the way of decorations but I hope to make it feel a little like Christmas around the house.

One of my favorite things... the smell of fresh baked pies, cookies, cakes, and other holiday treats.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Friday: Visit family in St. Petersburg
Saturday: Prayer group breakfast
Continue decorating the house for Christmas

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

We are getting ready for the holidays.

We added some lights to the front of the house
With all the lights lit up
Christmas Lights!!!
Our wreathe on the front door
Our two small trees up high so the cat does not take the ornaments.
With the tree and angel lit up
True to Florida Christmas -- Our first Christmas palm
The Nativity scene under our Christmas palm
The stocking is hung on the bookcase with care

The Simple Woman's Daybook is a brief outline for women/mothers who blog to use as a way to compose thoughts, plan the week, and keep a grateful heart. It is typically published once a week on Tuesdays.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Honeymoon: Roaming Rome

After I made the big move from, we spent a week in Rome for our honeymoon. We enjoyed visiting the Vatican and all the sights throughout Rome despite a small volcano eruption in Iceland that affected most of the airports in Europe during our stay. Fortunately, we did not experience any delays in our return flight home.

Here are some picture highlights from our visit to Rome.

Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Termini in central Rome. On our first day we walked around nearby places and mapped out the rest of our visit to Rome using the maps and brochures we picked up along the way.

There was a small museum beside our hotel and we stopped to walk the open grounds to take pictures.

We thought the statue needed a new head...
...but neither of our heads looked just right.

On our second day in Rome, we purchased tickets for the open double-decker tour bus to see the sights around Rome. One of the first places we decided to visit was Vatican City.

The tour also offered an audio tour...
...in various languages.
When we first arrived in Vatican City...
...we purchased postcards to mail home to our family and friends.

One of the first things we did in Vatican City was to climb to the top of St. Peter's Basilica. There were two ways to the top of the cupola. The first way was to take an elevator to the roof and then climb the 320 steps to the very top. The other way was to climb the steps all the way to the roof and then another 320 steps to the very top. Kris of course chose to climb all the way without the help of the elevator.

On the roof of St. Peter's Basilica
I was thankful...
...there was a fence all the way around so you could not fall from the roof.

When we were on the roof, I thought we were done. I did not want to think we had to climb higher but Kris was eager to continue climbing. The remaining 320 stairs were narrow and slanted as you got closer to the top of the cupola.

You can see the terror in my face when we made it to the very top.
Kris was able to take a picture of all of Rome from the very top.
It was a big accomplishment for both of us...
...to have made it to the very top of the cupola.

We saw various other sights from while riding on the tour bus.

Castel Sant'Angelo used as the Pope's fortress
The Colosseum
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II)

One of the sights we took a closer look at was The Colosseum. We took a guided tour of to see all the intricate details and hear more about the history.

The view of the underground...

...from both sides of the Colosseum.
We learned so much about the Colosseum...
...and bought souvenirs for the kids.

The guided tour for the Colosseum included an optional guided tour of Palantine Hill across from the Colosseum. It was interesting to hear the story of Romulus and Remus and how each new emperor built their palace on this hill.

Another couple was kind enough to take our picture from the top of the hill.
You could see a nice view of the Colosseum from the top of the Palantine Hill.
This is my favorite picture from the honeymoon.

We took a quick walk over to the Spanish Steps from the Palantine Hill and climbed all 138 steps to the very top before heading back to our hotel.

Spanish Steps

One of my favorite sights to see was the Trevi Fountain. We had to walk far to finally make it there but what a sight it was to finally see it. We saw a couple taking their wedding pictures while we were there.

Trevi Fountain
Sharing a special moment at Trevi Fountain
We made sure to make a wish...
...in hopes to return someday.

One of the last places we visited was the Vatican Museum. A local Italian name Pablo gave us a very informative tour of the museum that led us to the very end -- the Sistine Chapel.

We found a tour guide who helped cut our long wait in line to get into the museum.

We enjoyed our one week stay in Rome and wish we had more time to take a closer look at some more of the sights. We hope to make it back again someday to see more of Rome and other parts of Italy. For now, we will always have our honeymoon as a reminder of our time spent in Rome.

Thanksgiving: A Year Full of Thanks

This Thanksgiving I was looking back on 2010 and all the previous Thanksgivings that Kris and I have been together. I can honestly say that this year has been the best year we have ever had. There has been so much that we are thankful for this year. The great things that happened this year started to happen even before the year ever began. Even probably before 2009 even began. I made personal changes way back in 2008 that eventually lead to the many changes that happened in 2010. Life was getting better and better with each new year but I did not think that life would ever be this good.

I am so thankful for everyone who has been a part of our amazing journey so far -- for those who were a part of our past and helped us to get here, for those who are a part of our present and help us to remember the good times and the bad, and for those who will be a part of our future and will help us continue along on this journey. Thank you for being a part of our past, present, and future. We look forward to many more Thanksgivings to share with our family and friends. We are truly blessed to have each one of you in our lives.

I hope that this streak of good blessings continues on for many more years to come. We have had a blessed first Thanksgiving with family and looking forward to many more blessings that 2011 will bring.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010



Outside my window... it is a quiet crisp, cool fall afternoon. The streets are so quiet you can hear the sounds from I-75 off in a distance. All the front lawns have been well kept in anticipation of Thanksgiving and the arrival of family and friends.

The view of our house from across the street

I am thinking... how much work needs to be done to get the house in order before the holidays. Even though we do not plan on having family here for the holidays, I am hoping to still keep my home organized so there is not much to do when all the holiday festivities have passed.

I am thankful for... quality time we get to spend with our family and friends during our first holiday season married.

From the kitchen... there is always something going on whether it is cooking a fancy meal or just soup and sandwiches, washing the dishes, or sweeping and mopping the floor. The kitchen is my domain where I like to spend most of my time and where the heart and joy of all my work can be found.

I am wearing... comfortable clothing to continue my daily chores and finish the work that needs to be done for the holidays.

I am creating... a photo collage of the past year (with the help of a good friend) for our first family Christmas card.

I am writing… our first annual holiday letter to share our joys and blessings from the past year with our family and friends.

I am going... nowhere today. There is much to be done at home. I have plenty of housework to catch up on today before the holiday festivities start.

I am reading... Facebook statuses of my friends and family as they prepare for the holiday festivities with their families and friends.  I enjoy reading interesting articles and blogs that I find on the Internet through links on my friend’s Facebook pages.

I am hoping praying... safe travels for all those who are traveling this week for Thanksgiving and in the upcoming weeks for Christmas. I pray we all have safe travels whether they are flying thousands of miles away or just a few minutes to a neighbor’s home to celebrate. May all have a thankful and blessed holiday season.

I am hearing... the sounds of the washing machine and dryer as I finish some of the housework that has remained undone for the last few days.

Around the house... there is always work to be done. You can sweep, mop, clean, and organize but after it is all said and done, the cycle starts all over again. A housewife’s work is NEVER done.

One of my favorite things... spending quality time with family and friends and making new memories that can be cherished for a lifetime.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Thursday: Thanksgiving with my in-laws
Friday: Day off and quality time with my husband
Saturday: Florida vs. Florida State football game and a visit with friends in Orlando.


Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

The start of holiday decorations for our first Christmas in our new home

The first signs of Christmas at our new house

All our Christmas decorations which have only been in storage for six months

The Simple Woman's Daybook is a brief outline for women/mothers who blog to use as a way to compose thoughts, plan the week, and keep a grateful heart. It is typically published once a week Tuesdays.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lessons through Cooking: Baking with my Mother-in-law

One can tell that my father-in-law really enjoys cooking. We make it a ritual to buy him a new dressing, spice, or something he can use in his kitchen whenever we go on vacations. He loves to find recipes that are easy to make and modify it according to what he or his guests prefer. Mom and Dad often invite us over for dinner. Dad especially enjoys cooking for others. He takes his time and extra care even though each meal is simple. I always enjoy the meals he prepares for us. I always appreciate the simplicity of each meal and enjoy every bite. He knows how to make the simple comfort meal look like more than what it is. 

When I cook in our home for Kris, I try to make similar meals. I want to be done in the kitchen so we can enjoy our meal together yet I still take extra care to add the things that Kris really enjoys. I make my own modifications and add other ingredients to make the meal more complete. Kris never has been into fancy food so I stick to comfort foods with a special twist. 

I am not much of a baker. I can follow a boxed mix pretty well but I rarely try to bake from scratch. When I do, it does not come out like the picture shown in the recipe. Before we left on vacation, I learned my mother-in-law has always been quite the baker although she has not had much of a chance to do much baking. I was happy to hear this as perhaps I could learn a trick or two and perhaps some recipes that Kris might have enjoyed as a child.

The chance to learn something came much sooner than I expected. My mother-in-law had asked me to come over and help her bake a few things since I was going to be in town. Kris was going to be up in Pasco County, and I would be spending some time with my in-laws by myself. I had not had a chance to spend time with them alone since we were married. I had spent time with them before we were married but it was not more than an hour or so and I never had the chance to spend time with just my mother-in-law. I did not know what to expect but I was excited to learn a new recipe or two that I could try at home.

We started off by making a simple 5-minute diet key lime pie. She had never made it before but wanted to try it to see if she could maybe make it for Thanksgiving. It was made from sugar free lime gelatin, fat free key lime pie yogurt, and light whipped topping. It was simple and easy with no baking. It did not look like a real key lime pie but it tasted like one. It was more like a key lime flavored Jell-O pie.

The next thing we made was simple three-minute fudge (Super-Easy Chocolate Fudge except we used 12oz milk chocolate chips and 6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips) They were so rich that you could eat only one at a time. We poured them into rubber molds to make different shapes. We had hearts, shells, flowers, and butterflies. The molds were actually butter molds but Mom used them for fudge. Since the molds were deeper, the hearts and shells came out easier than the butterflies and flowers. I am sure that whoever eats them will not be looking at how pretty (or not so pretty) each shape turned out.

The last thing we made was a plum wine bundt cake. I had never made a bundt cake before much less a liquor or wine flavored cake. The recipe we used was for a whiskey cake that she had cut out from an old newspaper many years ago. As an expert baker, she had made some modifications to the recipe and I followed her lead. I was happy to see that the recipe called for a box pound cake mix as our base ingredient. It helped keep the recipe simple and easy to repeat when I got home. We both made our own bundt cake and I just followed the recipe just as she was doing. She had made the recipe before with whiskey but not with a plum wine. It was something new for both of us although she had much more baking experience than I did.

Whiskey cake recipe

(The recipe originally called for 2 boxes and was made in a 9-10 inch spring foam pan and served 15 to 20 people. We only used one box each and used a bundt pan instead)

1 box pound cake mix
Eggs – as many as box recipe calls for
Butter (we left this out but you will need as much as the box recipe calls for)
Bourbon (We used plum wine) & Heavy whipping cream (amounts will depend on how much liquid necessary for pound cake)

1. Preheat oven to temperature required for bundt cake. Lightly grease and flour bundt cake pan.
2. Prepare pound cake as per directions on the box. Use 2 parts bourbon to 1 part heavy cream in place of the liquid needed for cake. (For example, if 1 and ½ cups of milk is needed, then use 1 cup bourbon and ½ cup of cream)  -- Mom modified the recipe to one to one rather than two to one.
3. Pour batter into pan.
4. Bake according to directions on box.

Mom gave me some of the fudge we made and the heart and shell molds so that I can make fudge here at home. She also gave me the bundt cake I made. I decided to add a glaze to the bundtbundt cake.

Glazed Plum Wine Bundt Cake
The cake was so good...
...I had three slices!

Shell and heart shaped molds for fudge
Heart shaped fudge
Shell, flower, and butterfly shaped fudge

I am so glad that I got to spend this time with Mom. I look forward to spending time with Mom again and learning more new recipes that I can share with our kids someday.

Lessons learned through cooking:

1. Always grease AND flour the pan when baking. The flour will stick to the grease and help keep the cake from sticking to the pan.
2. Baking is not as intimidating or scary as I used to think.
3. Special moments shared with loves ones are to be cherished for a lifetime.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adjusting to Married Life

After 7 months of marriage there are still a few things that catch me off guard. I find myself still happily surprised by a few changes that happen only after you are married. Sometimes it is complete and utter shock yet other times it is a just a smile or a blush. It is a tingle at times. I have even gotten Goosebumps a time or two. So what are the things that make me feel this way?

Here is a list of a few:

1) Husband and wife

It still sounds strange when I hear Kris refer to me as his wife. Whether he is on the phone or I am standing right next to him, I find myself without words. It takes a moment or two to realize that it is ME he is calling his wife. I slight smile can be seen as he talks about his wife to his friends and family. I find myself it difficult to say “my husband” when I am talking to other people about Kris. The words still do not roll off my tongue so easily that I refer to him as just Kris at times. I still get chills when I refer to him as my husband.

My Dad introduced us using my maiden last name.
He said it was because I was the last Mendoza to get married
Sharing a kiss before our first dance
Our first dance - Endless Love Sung by my Uncle and Marie
A tender moment during our first dance

After nearly nine years together, I am still shocked that we are finally husband and wife. There were times that I did not think this moment would ever be. When I would visit him when we were engaged, it was so hard to leave him and go home to Orlando and now it is strange to be here by myself on a Sunday night when he goes to work. I find myself still checking that it is really him next to me when we go to bed at night and check again in the morning when I awake. As if he were to disappear in the night and return again in the morning. Each time I see him still there, you can see a big smile on my face from ear to ear.

2) The name

It is hard for me to find my name when looking at a list. I instinctively look for my maiden last name and read right over my own name wondering if I am on the list at all. I read the list over and over. I read my own name several times and it does not hit me that it is MY name. The name is vaguely familiar. The first name is right but I do not recognize the last name as being mine. After reading the name about 4 or 5 times, I realize the vaguely familiar name is MY name. The vaguely familiar last name is my NEW last name. Again, a smile on my face can be seen.

When I am waiting to be seen at the doctor’s office, it takes a moment to realize that my name is being called. I hear them call my name but I do not think that they are calling me. I am usually there with Kris and I think they perhaps are calling his name. But I am the one with the appointment. After a second or two, I realize that they are calling MY name.

Signing my name has been a bit difficult as well. I have to stop and pause a moment before completing the signature. I have to remind myself to sign a K rather than an M. The only thing I changed about my signature was the K instead of an M. If I do not pause then I will sign an M without a second thought. I have had to resign documents and rewrite checks after signing the wrong name.

3) The ring

When Kris and I were first engaged last year, I found myself checking if my ring was still there. I had to remind myself of that moment he asked me to be his wife. I had to verify that it was still real. After a while, I got used to having it on and stopped checking to see if it was still there. When it would come into my line of vision, I would be shocked to see it there. I would be reminded all over again of the moment he proposed and I said yes. I was reminded of the reality that someday soon we would be husband and wife. When that reality hit me, my heart would just skip a beat.

The same thing happened after we were married. I find myself not only checking my rings but checking to see if Kris still had his on, too. I check it every night before we go to bed. I check to make sure he has it on when he cuddles me good night. Without fail, it has been there. It is very rare that I see him take it off. He is quite comfortable wearing it. I am surprised, as he has never been big on any kind of jewelry with the exception of his Crucifix. Not only can a smile be seen on my face but my heart sings as well and I can rest knowing that he proudly wears his ring for all to see.

Proudly wearing our rings

Occasionally when I am driving I do not see my ring as my hand grips the steering wheel. I am driving along the highway, singing along to the songs playing from the radio, and as I turn my hand slightly my rings come into view, I am again shocked to see them there. The reality of being married sets in yet again, a truth that I have yet to grasp completely in only 7 months of marriage. For a moment, my heart skips a beat. Reality sets in that I am married now.

Sometimes when I drive I cannot see my rings...

...but just a slight turn and they come into view.

There are still many things that we both are adjusting to. There have been many changes in both of our lives and we are enjoying every minute together. We are still learning new things about each other despite being together for nearly nine years before getting married. We have our ups and downs but with each new experience we are both learning how to be better husband and wife.    

(P.S. Writing this post has made me smile, my heart skip a beat, sent shivers up my spine, and given me Goosebumps as I write and rewrite every detail)