Monday, August 10, 2015

Vacation and Other Random Updates

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and that your week is off to a good start. :) 

At long last, I've finally finished this post after working on it for so long. Part of that is...drumroll, please...I HAVE A DESKTOP COMPUTER AGAIN!!!! YAY!! :D My amazing brother installed a new hard drive, so I can finally blog and browse on a "real" computer rather than just on my phone. :) It's much nicer this way, that's for sure. ;)

In about mid-June, my computer started acting up. When I shut it down and turned it on again, it said I needed to scan my hard drive. But when I followed the prompts, it informed me that my hard drive was not installed. That was the point where I panicked and texted my brother. ;) He said it sounded like a hard drive failure and told me he could check it out for me.

After taking a look at the hard drive, he told me that it was too far gone to recover anything, which meant that all of my pictures and documents were gone forever...unless I wanted to spend a minimum of $500 to recover them. :( As you can imagine, that isn't exactly in our budget at this time. 

Thankfully, I didn't lose any of my book, but all of my pictures, videos, and anything else were gone. So I had a good cry and tried to have a good attitude. It was so painful to think about all of the pictures I'd lost, though. My entire archive of doll pictures, a huge file of pictures I'd taken for future blog posts, and more. The hardest loss was a good three year's worth of pictures and videos of my girls...just gone. No, I did not back them up. The backup system I had was time-consuming and confusing...and I'm an idiot. :}

Then, just this past week, my brother found a new program for the hard drive that sounded promising, and this morning he informed me that he was able to recover all but about thirty pictures! I can't even tell you how thrilled I am to have the majority of my pics and videos back. :D My brother is setting me up with Cloud so that everything will automatically back up and nothing will be lost if this happens again.

So, the moral of the story is, ALWAYS back up your pictures and videos (which you guys already knew, I'm sure). ;) Plus, it always pays to have a wonderful family member available who doesn't give up, even when things seem hopeless. My brother is the best. :)

As you can imagine, this whole episode made blogging, emails, and pretty much most of my other online activity rather limited. So I thought I'd take some time to share some of the other things that have been going on in my life for the past month. :)


First off, in mid-July Hubby and I had a celebratory dinner on one of our rare date nights. :) After nine years of waiting, Hubby is officially a UPS driver! :D He passed his thirty days of probation and has been driving every day ever since. 

Yummy Indian Food! :D

He won't have a route of his own for quite some time, but things are busy enough that even though he's considered "on call" right now, he has plenty of work.

This is the beginning of some great, positive changes for our family. For one thing. Hubby is only working one job now and is on the same schedule we are, so we see him a lot more. He's also getting more sleep, so he has more energy for both work and home. 

There won't be any significant financial changes for a few years, but eventually we should be in a position to pay off all of our debts and have a little more of a financial cushion, which will be lovely. :) 

It's been a long road to get to this point, but Hubby has persevered through it all with a selfless attitude, putting the needs of his family first. I love you, Sweetie! I'm so proud of you. :)


The other huge project that has kept all of us occupied is the great room repaint/rearrange/reassignment for the girls. :) Oldest Gal has her own room again, and Middle Gal and Little Gal are sharing what used to be the playroom. The project started in mid-July, and we're still going through toys and such. We're close to finished now, though. Which is good, since school starts one week from today! 

I decided to wait to take any more pictures until their rooms are all done, but I've taken plenty of the process. I hope you enjoy them! :)

First off, this is what my living room looked like for most of July. For some reason, we didn't have many people over. ;) I'm so glad it doesn't look like this anymore!

We started with Middle Gal and Little Gal's room. My dad came over and showed them how to tape paper down on the floor to protect it from paint. (Unfortunately, we didn't cover the entire floor until the splatter paint stage, so we still ended up with quite a bit on the floor. Oh well, it's an old house with rather crummy floors anyway. Not a huge loss.) ;)

Little Gal taping the floor.

Everyone got a chance to paint. Since the girls are sharing their room, I let each of them have two walls. Middle Gal and Little Gal each chose a base color and a secondary color to splatter paint over the base color. :)

Little Gal painting her base color, a pretty blue/green. You can see the original pink and lavender underneath.

Oldest Gal got to help since we didn't tackle her room until later.

Middle Gal getting ready to paint. She chose a light pink just a shade lighter than the original pink of the upper walls.

The finished walls. The two colors actually work really well together.

Especially in the closet. Doesn't it look like an ice cream shop or something?

I suppose it might have been a good idea to cover the closet floor. ;)

My dad was very sweet with the girls and let them do most of the painting themselves. He also took time out his busy schedule and replaced the second window later in the week (it was an old one from when the house was originally built in the 50s or 60s). My brother and my dad's friend came over to help. I really appreciate all of the work they put into this. I couldn't have done this without them. :)

We let the walls dry overnight and then had our splatter paint day. My dad was not as interested in helping with splatter (wise man), so my mom came over to help.

It was a rather messy day.

Especially when Little Gal was at the helm.

We all had paint in our hair for a week. ;)

But some of it really did get on the wall, too. See? ;) Little Gal's favorite color is red, so she chose this deep pinkish-red color for her splatter.

Middle Gal chose purple (her favorite color) for her splatter.

She was slightly less messy overall.

I wish I could show you the picture of her face, though. She looked like she had purple chicken pox! ;)

Here's what hers looked like on the wall.

And here's a preview of the room after the splatter paint was done. It looks a lot different now, but I haven't taken any pictures yet. Stay tuned for the finished project! :)

I'm so thankful that my mom was willing to come over and help, too. I would have been a lot more stressed trying to do all of it with the girls myself.

Watching movies was a bit challenging during all of this, but we managed to unearth the TV enough to make it possible. :)

We waited a week to start on Oldest Gal's room. It was tough for her, but she had a good attitude about it. I feel bad that I didn't get nearly as many pictures of the process this time. I was so involved in getting it done that I didn't even think to take any until it was already painted. :(

Oldest Gal is a big fan of blue, so she chose light blue for the walls and dark blue for the ceiling.

I love how it looks like a night sky. :)

We painted the closet dark blue, too. Oldest Gal loved being able to paint most of her room on her own. :)

She also had a lot of fun splatter painting the closet with white to look like stars. ;)

I can't wait to show you how the rooms look now! :) Within the next couple of days, the girls should be done going through things and we can give you the grand tour. ;)

It was so much fun giving my girls the opportunity to do this. One of the great advantages of living in an older house is having the freedom to paint the walls. I hope this is a memory the girls enjoy for a long time.

Oh, and here's a look at some of the progress that's been made on my living room.;)

This was phase two, from the hallway...

...and the dining room.

And here's phase three. Much better, right? You can actually see the floor! ;)

It looks even better than this now, except for the drawings scattered all over the rug (the girls are going through their drawing totes now). ;) I'll be sure to share a nice "after" picture of my living room later, too. ;)


Of course, a little painting never stopped me from finding goodies around town. ;) And having a little extra income this summer has been super fun. Here are a few of my favorite finds from the past month. :)

This darling Madame Alexander Favorite Friends was at Ross for a good price. I've been curious about the Favorite Friends ever since the MA company started using the Alexander Girlz face molds for them. I wanted to know if the quality was any better. It's not. :( But she was still cute. Oldest Gal loves her and bought her from me. Her official name is Melissa, and she's a cousin to Oldest Gal's Alexander Girlz doll Dorcas. :) I have a review in the works, so stay tuned. :)

I also found this Cutie Mark Magic Fluttershy and Breezie set for around $5. I've been wanting to add this particular Fluttershy to my collection for a while, so I was happy to find her at the discounted price. :)

Those of you who have been to Target or Toys R Us have probably noticed that Season 3 Shopkins have started turning up. (And they're ADORABLE, as usual.) :D Here's one of the twelve packs I picked up the other day.

There were lots of other tempting sets, like this Shopkins Mega Pack.

It includes twenty Shopkins, six shopping bags, and one shopping basket for $18 plus tax. :)

You might remember my earlier Shopkins Fashion Spree review. Well, now they have Shopkins "Food Fair" sets. They are sooo cute! :D This is the Fast Food Collection...

...and this one is the Cupcake Collection. 

While both of those sets were adorable, I settled on the Cool and Creamy Collection, which is ice cream themed. :) Review to come!

Then, of course, I'm sure you've noticed the Apple Family-themed My Little Pony Blind Bag and Playset ponies that have started showing up around town.

We just found the Blind Bags at Target the other day. They have the nice window in the back so you can tell which pony you're getting. :)

I found this adorable Apple Bucking Applejack at Walmart.

And my mom found the Sweet Apple Acres Barn at Toys R Us. :D I'm so excited to finally have a Granny Smith who is not neon. :)

This wasn't a set that came home with us, but I loved the new mini Anna and Kristoff in their troll wedding gear...complete with two trolls. ;) (Spotted at Walmart.)

We had a few fun finds at Goodwill, too. Little Gal was the queen of the 49 cent table this last visit. She found all of these Bitty Baby items for her Bitty Baby doll. :)

I also found these cute little mini dolls. As near as I can tell, they are from the Fisher Price Sweet Streets line, but I'm not 100% sure on that. The girls had a lot of fun playing with them.

We found this adorable Maximus for my mom's Disney toddler dolls. We're not sure if he's staying quite yet, but he was too cute to leave there. :)

I also found this adorable little doll. I don't remember her name, but she was basically a prototype for the Lalaloopsy dolls. I believe she originally came with a Moxie Girlz doll.

In early June, I placed an order at Hot Topic for a Tenth Doctor Funko Pop, and he finally came at the beginning of July. Isn't he just adorable? :D

He accompanied me for my July writers' meeting. :)

And I was thrilled to find the Season Five Zelfs on the Toys R Us website. Mom and I went in together and bought all of the ones that were available. Mom kept several of them for her collection. My girls each got a new one, and I kept two. :) There's a review to come on these guys, too. ;)


Our summer was full of some other fun activities. Hubby and I taught the girls to play Nertz (it's a lot like Dutch Blitz, but with regular cards), and they loved it. They decided to teach their Zelfs how to play, too. ;) 

I came out to the table to find it all set up, and they asked me to take some pics to share on the blog. :)

The girls and I also had a couple of drawing nights. I love drawing with the girls. It's so fun seeing their creativity, and it's a great way for them to learn by watching me draw. We talk about perspective, shading, and all sorts of things. :)

This was supposed to be a sketch of one of my characters, but I didn't like the end result. ;)

Here she is in pen and ink.

Little Gal's drawing.

Oldest Gal's drawing.

Middle Gal's drawing. She did a whole series of drawings and started writing a story to accompany it. ;)


Our most recent adventure was our annual trip to the ocean. Our dear friends whom we always visit just moved away from Eureka, so for the first time in many years, we didn't get to visit them during our stay. We ended up going over for just a weekend and staying at an RV park instead. 

Hubby was not able to come until Saturday, so my dad drove me and the girls in our truck.

Anjali came along for the ride this time around.

We ended up waiting in road construction for a while... 

...but it was a nice opportunity to take some pictures and listen to my dad's funny stories he made up for the girls to pass the time.

Almost there! :) We ended up just staying in Trinidad this time and never made it to Eureka, which was a little weird after so many years of the same traditions.

We stayed at some villas at an RV park in Trindad. It was the same park I'd gone to as a child with my family for several years, and we have lots of wonderful memories about camping there.

Anjali at one of the villas.

Villa One

The villas had a nice little courtyard in between them where the girls could play. There was also a snug little spa.

Villa Two

Each villa had a little living area...

...with a kitchen and a dining room table. 

Chillaxin' on the futon. 

A closer look at the kitchen.

There were also lofts above the kitchens where people could sleep.

This was my bed for the weekend. I had to remember not to get up quickly in the morning, though. The roof was so low I couldn't stand up all the way! ;)

The stairs were pretty steep, too. ;)

The bathroom.

Each villa had a bedroom at the back, too.

There were sliding glass doors and stairs that led into the courtyard.

The plant life was very pretty in the background.

The design of the villas was really cool, and the people who ran them were very nice, although a little hard to get ahold of. Sadly, though, the villas were not in the best of shape. They hadn't been cleaned or kept up very well, and there were issues with the doors locking (or in some cases, even opening at all), wobbly stairs, and other maintenance problems. The sad thing is, the villas used to be so beautiful when they first opened around ten years ago. With a little fixing up and constant upkeep, they'd be a great place to stay. 

However, one great thing about staying there was getting to introduce my daughters to my very own "Enchanted Forest" from my childhood. The gully behind the RV park was just as fun and full of "scope for the imagination" as I remembered. My girls saw the magic of those woods just as I did as a child. It was so wonderful to experience it again through their eyes. :)

We made several trips down there, once with the girls, once with the girls and my dad, once with Hubby, my dad, and my brother and his wife, and then one last time with Hubby and the girls again. On the trip down with my brother and his wife, we encountered a couple of scruffy, overly-friendly guys drinking beer on the trail, which kind of spoiled my childhood illusion a bit. I decided after that to always have another adult with me when I took the girls down. :{

This is the face I get when I try to take Hubby's picture. ;)

But he really does have a nice smile. ;) (Not sure what my phone did to his head here, but it was kind of nice finally having a head smaller than his for once). ;) 

And, of course, we got to visit our beautiful ocean. I can't even begin to describe the joy that always fills my heart whenever I walk these beaches I've walked since my childhood. These places are like old friends, always eager to welcome me back each summer, ready to share old memories and make new ones. :)

Trinidad Beach was cool and overcast. My favorite sort of beach day. :)

I could stay here forever! :D

By the way, in case you thought I was playing favorites, Oldest Gal is not in any of these pictures because she took off down the beach with her grandpa and uncle, while I stayed with the younger two. ;)

The next day, we walked down the road to visit one of our favorite places, "WindanSea". Anjali stopped on the way to take a picture with this whale sculpture. :)

Waiting for WindanSea to open. :)

Later that afternoon, we traveled to one of our other favorite beaches, Moonstone Beach. It was pretty windy, but other than that a lovely day. :)

I didn't take many pictures of Anjali here, because I knew my girls wanted me to take some pics of their dolls, too. 

It's always so fun watching my girls pose their dolls for pictures. They're learning a lot from watching me, and love setting up realistic shots just as much as I do. :)

Oldest Gal's Kailey, all ready for snorkeling!

Middle Gal's Barbie family, enjoying the beach.

Little Gal's Jane, relaxing in the sand.

When they weren't posing dolls, the girls had fun playing in the waves and climbing rocks.

I had a great time exploring this cave with Hubby. I've always wanted to go inside, and this time, the tide was low enough that I could. 

This location may or may not be important to one of my books. ;)

The sky was incredible that day, too!:D

The weekend went much faster than I wished, and all too soon we were on our way back home. I'm so thankful we got to go get a little taste of our usual vacations, though. It's always nice to stick my toes in the sand and surf at least once a year. ;)

Heading home again!

And that pretty much brings you up to date. Ever since returning from vacation, we've been working on getting the girls' stuff back into their rooms and visiting with family and friends. I ended up with a bit of a flu bug or something at the end of last week. No one else seems to have caught it yet, so I'm hoping it doesn't spread. :{ In the meantime, we'll be working on getting everything together in this last week before school starts up again. Yikes! Where did the summer go?

Bravo to those of you who endured this picture-heavy, lengthy post. I have more to come (lots of reviews, especially), so stay tuned! :)


Karina said...

Yay!!! It was so great to read one of your posts again! =) Glad to hear that your computer is fixed! I loved seeing the pics of all that has been going on in your life recently. =) Gorgeous beach pics as well! Reminds me of the Oregon coast. <3 I'm looking forward to more posts! =)

DisneyWorksGirl said...

Sigh, I know that sad feeling when your photos are gone. Lost. Forever....but on the bright side, you got to visit lots of cool places and got to capture new beautiful photos :)

Anna Catherine said...

Yes, those are Sweet Streets dolls! The one with the blue dress is a teacher from the schoolhouse. I used to have lots of houses and a rug with the neighborhoods and roads plotted out to place them on! I don't have them anymore, but I wish I did.

Sunny_Harper1994 said...

Hubby's head is huge! ;) I'm so happy he will be home more often now that he has one job.
Oldest gal did a fantastic paint job. I wish she splattered the white on the ceiling to give illusions of stars.

DJwolf-Addy said...

sounds awesome!

Anonymous said...

Those little dolls are definitely Sweet Steets, I had three of them when I was little (and might still have them, I'm not sure).

I agree that the colors of Middle Gal and Little Gal's room look like an ice cream shop. ;) They look so mice together!

I'm glad that you didn't lose your book, that would be terrible! I really hope it gets published because I would absolutely love to read it. :)

beastsbelle said...

Thanks, Karina! :) It was nice to be back and be able to freely blog. :)

The beach pics are from the Northern California coast, so it's not that far from the Oregon coast. ;)

Can't wait to share more with you. :)

Hi DisneyWorksGirl! Yes, it's the worst feeling ever to lose photos. I'm so thankful my brother was able to recover them! And yes, I'm very thankful for all the photos I got to take on my trip. I took a lot more than usual to make up for all of the ones I lost (that was before I realized they would end up coming back to me). ;)

Thanks for the info, Anna Catherine! Lol, I guessed that the one was a teacher. She looked the part. ;)

Hi Sunny_Harper1994. :) Yes, poor Hubby. My phone is so weird. ;) We're all very thankful to have him home more. :)

Oldest Gal did do a great job. :) I didn't get any pictures yet, but she did actually splatter paint the ceiling as well, with both white paint and glow-in-the-dark paint. :) She's planning on adding glow-in-the-dark stars eventually, too. :)

MyLittleMegara said...

Sounds like, all in all, you had a wonderful summer! I love that picture in the cave. :)

Farrah Lily said...

Great post and photos! I'm so happy to hear you were able to recover your photos and videos. I haven't been the best at backing things up either, but this is a very good reminder to do so. The rooms look great and I can't wait for the final tour! I think it's amazing that you are so laid back about letting the girls choose their colors and do the painting themselves...I know it can be a stressful process, but you're right...they will always remember this!
Congratulations on Hubby's promotion! How wonderful to have a goal finally achieved. I hope he has many happy years ahead. It's nice to finally envision a future where the debt becomes less and less, isn't it? :)
I'm looking forward to all of the upcoming doll and toy reviews...I love all the treats you picked up!
Lastly, thanks for sharing your vacation photos...the ocean looks amazing. So different from our East coast beaches!

MoxieFun said...

Amazing photos! Gal is very talented! Lov ya guys!

Anonymous said...

I love Indian food! :P What's your favourite?

beastsbelle said...

Yikes! Sorry I missed these last few comments! :(

MyLittleMegara, we had a great summer. :) The picture in the cave is one of my favorites, too. Great "scope for the imagination," as Anne would say. ;)

Thanks so much, Farrah Lily. :) Glad you enjoyed everything. I'm relieved about my pictures and videos, too. Every time I look at them now, I feel like hugging my brother. ;)

I'm pleased with how the rooms turned out, too. :) The girls are very happy with them, and they really showcase each of their personalities. I'm hoping to get some "final" pictures up this weekend. :)

I'm so thrilled for Hubby. I'll pass along your congratulations. :) It's been a long time coming, but he's doing really well. And yes, having a bit more financial security sounds WONDERFUL. ;)

I've got to get going on all of those promised reviews. Yikes!

I've never been to beaches on the East Coast, but I know how fun it is to see the differences between different parts of the country. I love the cold, foggy beach days here in Northern California. :D

Have a great weekend!

Thanks, MoxieFun! :D

Anonymous, my favorites are Chicken Tikka Masala, garlic Naan, and Mango Lassi. Oh, Gulab Jamun, too! :D