Thursday, June 30, 2011

COOKIES!!!

Okay so who doesn't love cookies? Seriously. I LOVE them. Love love love. This can be a problem. Especially since I have a cruise coming up in 3 weeks. I also love to bake. In Pittsburgh, I have no one to bake for. I have found a solution. Bake cookies for people at JP's work! Then, I get to bake and not eat the cookies (okay maybe a few), and JP gets to be that cool guy in the office who brings in goodies for everyone! Sounds like a win-win situation to me. Now usually I wouldn't post just because I made cookies, but I made these cookies from scratch...and a recipe :) So I thought that I would share them with y'all!

Recipe 1: Brown Sugar Blueberry Cookies
- Yes, they are amazing
- Yes, they are soft and fluffy and fruity and cinnamony all at once
- Yes, they are better than blueberry muffins
- How Sweet It Is recipe
- Do it. Make them today.
- I used egg whites, whole wheat flour and the Splenda brown sugar blend to make it a tad bit healthier. Besides that's all that I had :)

Recipe 2: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- In case you forgot, I love peanut butter. A lot. I could eat it with everything.
- Peanut Butter + Chocolate = Heaven
- How Sweet It Is recipe
- Again, I used egg whites, Splenda brown sugar blend and Splenda sugar blend.

Ooops it's sideways. Oh well, cookies look the same from all directions
 Let's just say, tomorrow, I may be the most popular person in JP's office. Mission accomplished!
I promise I'll finish telling you about mine and Julie's adventures soon! Until then, go make some cookies :)

With love and God bless,
Amy, JP and Maggie

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Julie Visits Part 1: Niagara Falls

Before I even begin my post about this wonderful weekend adventure with Julie and JP, I want to say happy happy happy happy happy birthday to one of my closest friends in the world, Kristin Hoffmann! She turned 24 yesterday!!! I have known Kristin since we were 8 years old in 4th grade which means we will have known each other for 16 years this August! 16 years is a long time, it's 2/3's of our lives at this point and we've only lived in the same city for about 2 years total. I think this says a lot about our friendship. We really know what we have to do to make it work. It isn't always easy and of course we have our ups and downs, but we know that we'll be friends for the rest of our lives. I'm so fortunate to have people like Kristin in my life. She is such a beautiful person, with an even more beautiful heart. Kristin, I hope you had a good birthday and I can't wait to be there next year to celebrate the big 2-5! I love you with all my heart and consider this way #4 for me to tell you happy birthday with #5 to come tonight :) I love you so so much missy!

Love this girl!

Bridesmaid, sister, support system and most importantly one of my best friends!
Okay so I too SO MANY pictures this weekend and we crammed an incredible amount of activities into 5 1/2 days that I'm going to split Julie's visit into 2 posts. We'll start with the most exciting part which was obviously the Niagara Falls excursion. It's safe to say I have a lot of pictures and a lot to say about that trip :)

Fast forward to Friday early evening around 4:30pm. Julie, JP and I hop in the Santa Fe and head north to Canada! We hit traffic pretty early on which was expected, so we didn't mind it too much until I asked JP if he had his passport. Of course not, which means we have to turn around. I was pretty peeved, but I suppose that it would have been easier if I had both of our passports in the same place and grabbed them both. However, I just got my brand new Amy Gougler passport so they were in different locations. No passport, no Canada. No Canada, no Niagara Falls. No Niagara Falls, no happy Amy or Julie in sight. This being said, we needed to turn around as soon as possible. Since we were only inching forward in traffic and the next exit wasn't for 2 more miles, JP decided to make his own exit and pulled off the highway and took off across the median. Thank goodness there we no cops! We made it back home and JP was able to grab his passport. JP was also able to track the tar that he stepped in at the gas station all the way up our stairs and across our living room. This turns peeved Amy into incredibly annoyed Amy. Nobody likes to deal with her, so I tried to lighten up. We get back into the car around 5:30pm and are on our way...for real this time!

We decided to trust our GPS and take a different route to get around the traffic on I-79 since we were pretty much just sitting there earlier. It was nice to see different parts of town and Julie got to experience more of Pennsylvania, but I'm not so sure we really saved any time. What we did save was JP's sanity since he really, truly despises traffic. After the detour, we made it back on the highway and shortly after, it was almost 7:30pm and we were hungry. So, Subway it was. After a quick stop, we were back on the road headed towards New York. Once we got into the Empire State, we jumped on the toll road and little did we know, it had only a few small towns and even fewer exits. Julie and I's bladders were not agreeing with us, so we HAD to stop. We were finally able to exit and there was not a gas station or store in sight. We ended up having to drive around a bit and we found this hole in the wall restaurant. We slipped in and just at that time, it seemed as though everyone in the restaurant had to go at the same time and they were not young. Sweet, sweet old ladies, but slow as can be. They ended up asking us weird questions like, "How did you get so tall?" and they were perplexed when they realized we were not sisters. Eventually, we made it back into the car and about an hour later, we saw this:
Yay Canada!
We finally made it to Canada! Luckily, our hotel wasn't far from the border and we were within walking distance from everything, so we quickly changed and headed for the casino. It's safe to say we could use a drink at that point since we turned what should have been a 4 hour trip into a nearly 6 1/2 hour trip :)



The casino was a blast! They had yummy drinks and Julie and I found a new love Absolut Mango. It's delicious, take my word for it. That with cranberry juice is devine. It definitely lightened our moods if you know what I mean ;-) Nobody actually made any money at the casino. Julie and I played some penny slots and JP played some black jack. We each lost only about $20. The entertainment and fun we had at the casino was worth the money. By 1:30am, we were exhausted and we fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow!

Julie and I playing penny slots!
Saturday morning, we were up and at 'em by 9am. We grabbed some breakfast, got ready and were on our way to explore Niagara. Our hotel was within walking distance, so we packed up the car and left it there for the day. On our way to the falls, Julie and I found several picture ops:

In front of the Hershey Store! Don't worry we went back in there later in the day!

Coca-Cola Store

With the Mountie

JP is a Mountie and I am a Moose!
While exploring the streets, we found the Maid of the Mist, which is actually what we were looking for to begin with. This was such an awesome experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who goes to visit the falls!

Ready to get on the boat!

Cookie Monster!!!

I just liked this boat :)

It's definitely misty!


Julie amongst the mist!

He was very happy to be out there!

We have tons of gorgeous pictures like this

JP and his blondes! We missed you Chris!
After the Maid of the Mist tour, we decided to wander around. We walked up and down the parks that line the falls and were able to get some more really great pictures!

<3

Simply Stunning
We walked around the various gift shops and found some pretty neat stuff!
Julie and the moose hat!

Can you tell that Julie really likes the moose :)

The bear/wolf/coyote
After all the exploring we did, it was time for lunch:
This was an excellent decision!
After we refueled, it was time to explore a bit more!
We love chocolate! We got some yummy cookies from the Hershey Store! I wanted to take this guy home too!

It's another moose!

Funniest shirt ever...slightly inappropriate
After exploring all afternoon, we were wiped and ready to head home. Luckily, the trip home consisted of no traffic, no belongings left behind and only 2 instead of 3 stops. We made it back to town in just under 4 hours which was much more preferable to the 6 1/2 the day before. However, we made it back right around 7pm and the night was still young. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to get back on here and let you know about the rest of our weekend adventures! Until next time...

With love and God bless,
Amy, JP and Maggie

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wedding in the Land of Lincoln

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to spend it my daddy in Illinois! Since I live 1,500 miles away from my family, I couldn't believe that I was going to get to spend father's day with the most influential man in my life. And might I say, what a father's day weekend it was!

Daddy and I met up at the airport on Friday evening around 6:30. Since we flew into the same airport and Dad got there before me, he was there waiting for me at the gate when I got off the plane! I mean, when was the last time you had someone waiting for you at your gate?! That hasn't been legal for years! It was quite a nice surprise. After grabbing some drinks for the road, we headed up to the little town of Sycamore, IL where my Uncle Tim (Dad's little brother by just over a year) and his family have lived for as long as I can remember. Once we got to the house, we were greeted by all of our family with lots of hugs and kisses that I missed so much. We spent the evening catching up, telling old stories and as always, embarrassing each other :)

Saturday was Wedding day!!! My cousin Nick was getting married to a wonderful young woman named Samantha McClellan. Nick is my cousin that is closest to me in age. I am actually only 14 months older than he is and we grew up very close to one another until about the time that I went off to college. It had been a while since our families got together and I've missed them WAYYY too much. We spent Saturday morning helping my aunt and uncle set up the reception hall. It actually turned out to be quite fun even though we were up super early (which we all know has never really been a problem for me). It was a crazy  busy day trying to get everything set up. My Aunt Kim (the groom's mom) even made the wedding cake! It turned out beautifully and I got to help decorate it! Here are some pictures taken by my iPhone of the reception hall and the wedding ceremony!

All decorated! Aunt Darlene and I put on ALL of the table cloths...not as quick and easy as you would think!

Bride and Groom's seats

Working hard or hardly working? Who knows :)

The cake! Made by the one and only Kim Timmer!

I helped decorate! Check out those pink and purple flowers!

Pretty church

My hero :)


The moms lighting the unity candle

My cousins: Dan and Cindi - Best Man and Maid of Honor

My cousin Jake and his cousin Haven - so sweet :)

The bride! She was walked down the aisle by her little brother, Dale 


Promising to be there for each other forever!

Time to cut the cake!

First dance!
From here on out I was pretty much on the dance floor with my cousins and their friends for the rest of the night. Thus, no pictures. I kept getting all of the teenage girls out on the dance floor that were too shy to go out by themselves. Let's be honest, I'm not afraid to make a fool of myself and I had no one to impress so why not have a blast!!! We definitely danced the night away :) Then headed to the after party at my uncles house...

On Sunday morning, it was a bit harder for dad and I to get up and moving, but we managed. After a quick breakfast, we decided to drive up to Rockford, which is where my dad lived all his life, to visit my grammy and grampa's graves for Father's day. We got to say hello and say a little prayer for him. Even though it was about a 50 minute drive each way and we were only at the cemetery for 15-20 minutes, I would say it was completely worth it. I miss my grampa terribly and I know that he was there :) Once we were back in Sycamore, we spent a few hours at my aunt and uncle's house before we had to head to the airport. All in all , dad and I had a fantastic weekend and I'm so glad that we got to spend it together and with a bunch of other family!

In just a few hours, Julie is going to land in Pittsburgh and we are going to have a jam packed, fun filled next few days! We're especially looking forward to our trip to Niagra Falls this weekend! Until next time...

With love and God bless,
Amy, JP and Maggie

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Daddy's Day!

Okay, so I know that this is a day late, but I was in Illinois then I spent the remainder of the day travelling back to Pittsburgh. Once I got home, I passed out due to complete exhaustion. Dad and I definitely wore ourselves out this weekend!

Now onto father's day! Happy Father's Day to the most amazing daddy and father-in-law in the whole world. It's safe to say that I am a daddy's girl and I was fortunate enough to send this special weekend with my daddy in Chicago! (Will post on that later!) I also get to see my father-in-law, Phil (and Jody!) in just a few weeks when they come to visit us in Houston.

Me and Daddy Phil before the wedding ceremony!

JP with his heroes :)

My hero and biggest fan during the daddy/daughter dance!

So happy father's day to two men that are amazing fathers. They love their wives, are there for their children and support their families with all of their hearts. So many people don't have dad's to watch and support them as they grow up. JP and I are fortunate to not other have dad's who were there, but they play an active role in our lives to be a shoulder to cry on, a support system, a teacher and coach, a number 1 fan, a best friend and so much more. Thank you Jim/Daddy and Phil/Dad, we love you both more than you know and we hope that you always remember how important you are to us. We LOVE yoU!!!

I love to be playful with my daddy! I can always be myself!

Playing with our iPhones!

I love getting to be his date!
I have the BEST daddy in the whole world :)
Happy father's day to all of the amazing dad's out there. I am so lucky to now have two amazing dad's in my life. Thank you Jesus for both of these blessings!

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