Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty...

I've seen her so many times from my airplane window, drifting past her as I headed into NYC, bound for a further destination, always thinking "oh cool, look ... it's her". I also thought "I'll go see her one day"...

Well, the day came.
We saw her, the lady that offered freedom and hope to many weary travelers, years ago. First generation americans saw her as a new beginning, when they sailed over in ships, full of hope from foreign lands.

The Immigrant monument shares diversity and welcome. A historical depiction in Battery Park, a preparation of the journey ahead.
Today, Lady Liberty is a tourist attraction. If you visit her in the summer you will stand in hours of lines, even with tickets purchased in advance. But trust me, she's worth it. She's still represents liberty, justice and democracy.
We had previously purchased tickets, but still waited in a line for the ferry, for about 45 minutes. The Statue of Liberty is a National Monument and treasure, so you will have to go through strict security. No drinks except water. And absolutely no food. (They took our banana!!)... think of it as Airport security, because it isn't far off, but Ms. Liberty is so worth it!

The ferry will first take you to Liberty Island, you will meet her royal highness and be in complete awe. There are stunning veiws of Manhattan, a large park, places to eat and of course, the opportunity to get to know Lady Liberty.
My personal perception before seeing her, was that she was this massive building, stretching to the sky. However, though she's quite a tall statue, a good portion of her sits on a pedestal.
Your stair climb will be inside of liberty's pedestal, unless of course you're lucky enough to score crown tickets. 
We cheated
We took the elevator to the top of the pedestal, it gets crowded up there, but again... worth it! There is no elevator from the pedestal to the crown.
Lady Liberty's Shadow...
After you've explored Liberty Island you'll wait another 45-60 minutes in line for the return ferry. If you book your tickets early enough you'll also be able to explore Ellis Island and "The Immigration Museum" as well. We had afternoon tickets, so we didn't get off at Ellis Island, the ferry stops there before returning to Battery Park. I completely regret that now, as Ellis Island is rich in American history. Seriously,  what was I thinking (an excuse to return? Perhaps?) Ellis Island is where the vast majority of immigrants stopped before being allowed into the United States. There were families living in quarantine and many obstacles to encounter for the past hopeful settlers. 
Read about the history of Ellis Island here 

Visiting "The Gateway to America" is one of the cheaper tourist destinations in NYC. Manhattan and it's surrounding areas are VERY expensive, so $25 for a Ferry ride to and from two islands, plus entrance into Ms. Liberty, is a bargain!

She's breath taking to sail past...
If you want to book your tickets in advance, watch for scams, many ferry's just sail by and do not stop at Liberty Island. Also, if you want to book a ticket to go into the crown of the statue, you have to book months before you plan to visit. I'd say 4-6 months in advance.
The Official Statue of Liberty site
If you want to know more about why the country of France was so generous with their gift to the US... Read about it here...

A visit to Liberty & Ellis Island will take up the majority of your day, so plan accordingly and enjoy.

The Statue of Liberty does not disappoint!

50 fun Statue of Liberty facts!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dairy Free Rice Krispy Squares

I'm seriously excited about these!
Why you you ask?
Ever since April of 2015 when we found out my son Andy was allergic to dairy, our lives came to a screeching halt... we consumed so much dairy, we probably should have owned a cow.

These treats are so easy to make, I can't believe I haven't made them before now. When my daughter asked me to make rice krispy squares, I thought "well, ok, I guess I'll just use vegan margerine"... seriously though... have you SEEN the chemicals in some of that stuff?

Then, I had an epiphany :)
I only needed a little something to melt the marshmallows. OLIVE OIL it is then!

You'll need (trust me you need these in your life)

10.5 ounce bag of mini marshmallows
1/4 cup olive oil
5-6 (I used 6) cups of rice krispies

Combine the marshmallows and olive oil in a large sauce pan. Warm on medium heat until melted completely. Stirring often.
Suddenly, everyone was a marshmallow melting expert :)
Once the marshmallows are smooth and melted, add in your rice krispies quickly. Stir and coat your the cereal well before putting them in a baking dish of your choice. Press the gooey-sticky mixture down into the dish. Have your teeanger place rice krispy treat in the fridge for an hour (after all, he has nothing better to do :)
We made a double batch which he carefully managed a balancing act of.

After an hour, cut into squares.

They are a sugary delicious vegan treat!
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Just be nice...

Do you ever feel like life needs a "do-over" button?
What about a "that didn't really happen and I'm going to wake up" button?
How about a...
"That really did happen, I feel broken, but I'm alive and I got this"
"It's time to re-group and re-think and re-evaluate what's important to me and my life journey?

Since my mom has passed away, I have felt all 4 of the above. I have learned so much about life, about myself and about what's important.

People... people are important.
Nothing matters more than people. My (everyone's) number one priority should be other people. How we treat them, how we view them, how we love them, how we talk to them, and how we look at them.

When you lose someone close to you, you learn that no one should ever be taken for granted, because life is quick. Life is too quick and life is unfair. It is completely unfair.
But you know what? That's okay, because I have also learned that the saying "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger", Is completely and without doubt... true.
I have stopped in my tracks. I have re-evaluated my life. I have discovered what brings me peace and I know what adds to my stress.
I have a clear vision of what I want from life and I have a plan to conquer my hearts true passions.
I love so many people, and though I will always take into consideration their advice to me, only I know my true hearts desire.
My heart is full. SO full of much curiosity, and much aspiration . I'm blessed that my needs are met. So I'm on to those desires.

My life has taken a slightly new route...

Life Change #1. I've dropped my Degree program. I'm extremely passionate about the environment and I'll be on my soapbox often, but I don't like to work all of the time, like alllllll of the time. I want to travel, a lot, but dang it.. I also need to work. So what's a close 2nd? Teaching. I love teaching. I have enough College/University credits to get me pretty close to a Math Teaching Degree, and guess what? There is a need for Math teachers all over the world, they are on the job shortage list in England! (If I decide to go that route). With teaching I woud get all major holidays off... AND THE WHOLE SUMMER!!!! I have worked for 2 different school districts in Texas, it is so sweet having the summer off! And 2 weeks at Christmas? SHWAAAWING! I start classes the end of August.
Life Change #2. I have opened a slightly higher interest rate savings account, to save for a property in the UK. I won't be able to purchase a property until I have my teaching degree, because my current position of working for the State of Texas, does not afford me the luxury of paying for a mortgage in the UK. However, I hope to pay most of a property off with cash, this girl is saving her buns off... I've also put the money where it's hard to access. I opted for an online saving account. Withdrawals take time, I'm not tempted at all to touch that money.
Life Change #3. I've started investing. More on that as I learn and invest. I've been working with many elderly people lately that are on such a low fixed income... my heart breaks for them. I have taken control of my retirement. I have a 401k with my job, but I just don't feel that's enough. I do have a world to explore, after all!
Life Change #4. I've decided that I am going to be single. For a long time. This is a first for me. I've always had a man in my life, whether married, dating or super serious, there has always been someone. And you know what? Because of that, I have never put my own dreams first. I can continue to be a good mother and do what I want in life (travel, travel, travel). But on the relationship front, I seem to attract men that want to control me, I need to be single for awhile, to also figure out what's up with that mental choice of mine. Oh and just so you know, I LOVE being single. I do not answer to anyone, I go where I please, I never get accused of anything because of jealousy, I can have male friends without question, I spend my money on what I want, I don't have to put up with any BS whatsoever. I feel independent and strong.
I'm not saying there is no such thing as a great relationship, I'm saying it's just not something I want right now, it's not something I need and I like this new peace I have found. I've never had it before and I really like it. I am focusing on me, my children, my career... Life is just where I want it to be, for now.
I hope that life finds you questioning where you are and how you are. By searching, by questioning and by stretching ourselves... by experiencing both pain and joy, we grow.
In closing I'd like to share the number one thing I've learned that will make you a better person, as well as content those around you... "Just be nice". That's it. That's all. Try it, you'll see.