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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Romantic Dinner

Last night I took Chuck out for a romantic dinner. In my sweepstakes entry earlier on this blog, some of you may remember that I had won a $100 Visa Card and wanted to take Chuck out with it. Boy, it was like pulling teeth to get him to allow me to pay. I really have a gem of a guy here because he still wants to pay for everything, and he really wanted me to spend the gift card on myself. But I finally convinced him to let me pay since this was free money anyway. Of course he paid for the wine and the tip. It was the only compromise he would agree to.

We had a lot of choices of restaurants and we couldn't decide which one to go to. Since I wanted something romantic, we finally decided on an Italian restaurant in a nearby town. It was romantic alright, but so dark we could barely see the menu...of course it might be that we are getting old and our eyes are going...LOL! We have had this problem at other restaurants as well, so there may be something to that. Chuck even said the next time we go out to dinner he will make sure to bring his glasses and a flashlight! I even had to have him read me what was on the menu as he was closest to the light, and he could make it out better than me. We ended up each having salad and pasta, and with the wine it was very good. We both had garlic dressing on our salad. We have an unspoken rule that either neither of us has garlic at dinner, or both of us do. If you have ever tried to kiss someone without having had garlic at your last meal, and they did, you'll know exactly why we do that! But when 2 people both have had garlic, they don't notice. I have friends who think we are crazy for doing this...they just order what they want. I think there should still be consideration between couples, even when, or maybe especially when they are married! The tables were pretty close together, and it was noisy at the restaurant so we had to sit rather close together to hear each other, which again was romantic. We had a chance to talk about things we might not normally have, and it was a very good night. Ah, I do so love romance!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Love Email!

I received the most wonderful, loving, uplifting email from Chuck the other day. For no special reason, just because he wanted to let me know he appreciates me. It brought tears to my eyes to read it, and I have gone back and read it again a few times since I received it. Sometimes I have written him loving emails, and he prints them out and tells me that one "is a keeper." It is so nice to be with a man who appreciates me and loves me and is not afraid to show it. I had heard myths about these men before I got reconnected with Chuck, but I didn't think they existed in reality. I thought they were figments of people's imaginations...or the few that were out there must already be taken by a few fortunate women. Imagine my surprise when I found one in front of me! There are times even now when I am still surprised by who he is, and by how much he loves me. And I know that he does love me because he is not afraid to say it, or show it. We have a mutual admiration society going on, and we have told each other that as long as we keep appreciating each other, and letting each other know it, and we show it, then we should have a pretty good marriage. Some couples get lost in the hum drum of every day life, and forget to remind the one they love of how much they care about them. I know it's easy to do, especially if you have children in the mix. But it's so important to remind each other of that. I love email too...it's so easy to just send a quick message in the middle of the day, or at night when you're checking your email. And of course now we have texting as well...even easier because texts tend to be shorter. I'm still more comfortable with email than texting. Of course that may be because I don't have a keyboard on my phone, BUT I think any message of love sent in any way is welcomed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas Article

Well, I just wrote an article on 12 experience ideas you can use instead of gifts for Valentine's Day. I am not supposed to put it in 2 places on the internet, so here's the link if you're interested:

http://karenhellier.hubpages.com/hub/Valentines-Day-Gifts-Give-the-Gift-of-an-Experience

Have a wonderful day of romance!

Karen

Monday, January 16, 2012

Love Notes

I have been thinking about something I started doing awhile ago and it's really fun and easy to do. When I am at home and Chuck is gone,working or traveling, I sit down for 20 minutes or so and write out some love notes...just small pieces of paper with little messages on them, sometimes it's just that I love him, and other times it's a special memory we shared and I remind him of how special it was or that I had been thinking about it recently. Sometimes it's just something I appreciate about him. The most challenging part about this is not writing the notes, but finding good places to hide them. Sometimes I use a coat pocket, sometimes his dress shoes, sometimes in his desk drawer, or tucked away in a pair of socks. For the past year or so I have been putting dates on them, and it's like a game to see how long it takes him to find them. I think the longest one was about 9 months. He's always very appreciative of them, and we laugh at the dates. Sometimes he finds them right away and that's not as much fun, but still gets the message across. I do a few at a time, and when I think he's found most of them, I will do another round. He's at a working lunch right now so as soon as I am finished typing this, I am off to write some love notes!!!

Any comments on this? Has anyone else tried this before?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy Wife, Happy Life!

A few years ago Chuck and I were watching a comedian on a dvd a friend had let us borrow. Most of his theme was about marriage and what he has learned since being married. It was hilarious and the biggest theme was this, "happy wife, happy life." He realized that when his wife was happy, all was right in his world, and of course she didn't nag him as much so that also made him happy. We laughed and Chuck said he would have to remember that saying. Since that time, we have heard that saying quite a bit, and Chuck has put it into practice. I am the fortunate one who has reaped the benefits. Of course I try not to be the kind of wife that nags, or is mean to him. But sometimes things come up, and he often goes with the flow, and says, "happy wife, happy life" to me. I just smile and give him a kiss. But in my past marriage things were not like that at all. I am definitely a dreamer and have all kinds of ideas, some a bit crazy, and some not, but unless they are really out there, Chuck supports me totally. I have always wanted to work from home, especially when my kids were little, but even now, it's still a dream of mine. I like the idea of my working around my life, and having the flexibility to work at midnight if I want and be free to do other things during the daytime. I don't want to have to live my life around my work. That's usually how people have to live...they go to work, put in the time that's needed to get a paycheck, and then whatever time is left over is their time. I had a job where most of what I did was from home, and I left to go out to meetings maybe, but also chose to do work related things on my computer at midnight if I felt like it. The main job I had like that lasted 5 years, then ended.I now work a regular job from 7:30 a.m. till 3:45 p.m. But since the other job ended in 2005,I have been trying to get back to that type of schedule. I have sold Avon, and Silpada jewelry, hoping that both would allow me to make enough money to work from home. They didn't and although some people can make a living from those types of companies it didn't work for me. I have written a newsletter online for families, but LOST money on that one. And through it all Chuck has been supportive and let me learn life's lessons on my own. I am branching out now and trying my hand at writing...this blog, and some online articles, and as always, Chuck is supportive. I have always wanted to be a writer and he knows that and has been encouraging. Maybe someday I will be able to do this and make a living at writing. And it may work out, and it may not, but Chuck has made me a very happy wife. I hope it means he's having a happy life! One thing's for sure...it's certainly not a dull one!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

i carry your heart with me, a poem by e. e. cummings

I work at a high school, and one of the students I work with asked me about a sterling silver bracelet that I wear every day. It is a solid bracelet with the words from an e e cummings poem on it, "i carry your heart with me". e.e. cummings always wrote in lower case, so no, that's not a typo!!! The story behind the bracelet is that one night I was watching the movie, "In Her Shoes" starring Cameron Diaz. It's a story about 2 sisters and how intertwined their lives are due to their childhood experiences. At the end of the movie, there is a wedding, and Cameron Diaz's character reads this poem. It was so romantic, and I loved it from the very first time I heard it. A few weeks later, I happened to see this bracelet in a catalog, and it has that poem etched in very small cursive letters all around the bracelet. I showed Chuck the bracelet and told him I had first heard the poem in a movie, and loved it. A few months later, Chuck surprised me with it for Christmas. I had forgotten all about the bracelet and was very happily surprised to receive it as a gift. In fact, I love it so much, I never take it off. It's part of me now, and not only do I carry Chuck's heart with me, but the bracelet too! Here's the poem, for those of you who have never heard of it:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Honeymoon Cruise

The other day, my daughter asked me why I had added" Adventures of Chuck and Karen" in the title of this blog, and I realized that so far, I haven't shared any of our adventures. We have had a lot because we like to travel together. So, the first, and probably most romantic adventure I will share with you is our honeymoon cruise.

We got married on August 1st, 2010. On August 6th we left for Miami to stay overnight before catching our cruise ship, the Norwegian Epic. We stayed in a fantastic hotel in Miami, overlooking a bay, and we had a balcony with a beautiful view of the water. It was probably the most amazing view I have ever seen from a hotel room balcony. On Saturday, August 7th, we boarded our ship. We like cruising, and previous to going on NCL, we had been on Princess and Holland America. I was a bit apprehensive about going on Norwegian because it looked like the economy class of cruise lines, and Chuck usually likes Holland America which is more expensive and very classy. BUT I had found a great deal on a 2 week cruise Caribbean on the brand new ship, NCL's Epic, so we booked it, and I hoped for the best. Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised. We read a lot of reviews on this ship in advance,which was a good thing. The ship had actually started sailing in June, 2010. Many of the reviews were not that complimentary, because the design of the ship was very different from most cruise ships. But the things that people complained about seemed rather silly, and other reviews mentioned planning ahead, so we did. We had a balcony stateroom, and on the Epic, they were designed with curved walls, which sounded a bit odd, but was fine. We walked into our room, and were thrilled.The bed was rounded at the end, and very comfortable, There was so much storage that we didn't even use it all, and sometimes couldn't remember where we had stored our items because there were so many choices of drawers and cupboards. This much storage is unusual in a cruise ship room, but very welcome. One of the problems people had with this ship was the sink, which was small and modern, but was placed outside of the bathroom area, near the bed.People said the sinks splashed water all over, but we knew as long as we didn't put the water on full blast, it would be fine. We had no problems with the sink. The bathroom configuration was a bit odd, I must admit. When you first walked into the room, there was a frosted sliding glass door to your right, which housed a toilet and waste basket. On your left was a very large shower, also with frosted glass sliding doors. At the end of the sliding glass doors though was a curtain that you could just pull for privacy, so that was fine. Some people complained about it not being private enough, but you couldn't actually see anything but shadows through the frosted glass, and the curtain made it private.The sink was on the other side of the curtain, so people could use it without having to wait for someone to get out of the bathroom. The balcony was a nice size, and we got in the habit of having a glass of wine out there at night before dinner. The food on this cruise was fantastic, and they had a 24 hour Irish Pub restaurant so you had access to food all night long. The entertainment was very unusual. On the other 2 cruise lines I mentioned, there were a lot of musical Broadway type shows, a magician and a comic. Standard cruise line entertainment. The Epic was very different. We saw the Blue Man group, a Cirque De Soleil dinner show, and one bar had a 2nd City comedy improv group most nights. There were also choice of lounges to hear piano music, and another one for dancing, and a jazz club. Oh, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Ice Bar. We never made it in there because they charge you $20 to go in, and you get 2 drinks with admission, a choice of non-alcoholic or vodka based. We didn't want to spend $40 for that. But a lot of people really enjoyed the experience. In the atrium, there was a huge floor to ceiling screen that showed high intensity pictures of various places from all around the world. And they had a musical duo, "Wildfire" in front of the screen that played almost nightly. Their instruments were a keyboard and an electronic violin. They were fantastic, and we even bought 2 of their CDs, but they aren't on the Epic any longer. One of our favorite spots to hang out was called "Spice H2o". It was an adults only sunning area with a small pool, on the back of the ship. Above the pool, there was another large screen, and they also showed beautiful scenes from around the world. With no loud kids around, it was very relaxing and any day we weren't on a tour, we spent some time back there relaxing in the sun. We were on this ship for 2 weeks, and we used one of our wedding gifts the second week. Friends of ours (thanks again guys!), who are very frequent cruisers, gave us a gift certificate to use on board the ship. We decided to check out the spa, and they offered a one week pass for 2, that was the exact amount of money we had been given. The pass gave us access to a very relaxing experience. We had access to a coed spa. In the main area, there were coed saunas with an ocean view, a hot tub, and a wonderful spa pool that offered streams of water that you could stand under to massage your shoulders, indentations in the pool that you could stand up against and water would gush out on your back, and an amazing area that consisted of curved long metal pipes under water that you could lay on and they curved to support your body, like a lounge chair would. Then water came bubbling up from the pipes so you were getting a massage while you laid there. This was a very romantic experience because Chuck and I could lay next to each other on the pipes and hold hands under the water. It was so relaxing that it felt like we were out floating on the sea together.There were also heated thermal lounges which felt so good...I now understand why lizards like to sun themselves on rocks! The effect was so relaxing, it was hard to move to get up. There was also Chuck's favorite place in the spa, a back balcony which was actually situated on the back of the ship so you could lay in a lounge chair and see where we had just come from, and hear the water being spewed out of the back of the ship. It was also very relaxing and the sound the water made could lull you to sleep.There was also a relaxation room that offered lounge chairs, ice water, and hot herbal tea. Spending time here each day after we worked out was a real treat that we looked forward to.

The food was great on the Epic. The best dining experience we had in the free restaurants, was dining in the Manhattan Room, a large restaurant with floor to ceiling windows at the back. A band played there each night so people could get up and dance any time they wanted. The food and service were great, and the dancing added just the right romantic touch.

Since this was our honeymoon, Chuck splurged and booked us the Honeymoon/Anniversary package, which included a bottle of wine, a dinner at the French restaurant on board, Le Bistro, and a party with cake and champagne for all the honeymoon/anniversary couples. One of the nice things about Norwegian is that they don't have any designated formal nights. They have a night during each week of the cruise that they called, "Dress Up If You Want" night, where dressing formally was optional. We did dress up the night that we went to Le Bistro, and we had a very romantic dinner, with the best food we had on the whole cruise. It was truly amazing and the service was wonderful. I felt like a queen! Then the party for couples was really fun. We all had to introduce ourselves and tell either when we had gotten married and how we met, or how long we had been married if they were celebrating an anniversary. There was a huge congratulations cake, and we all had our picture taken near it. It was nice because we would periodically run into some of these couples during the rest of the cruise, and it was nice to see some friendly faces. Chuck did a wonderful job of explaining how we met, etc. It made me very proud to be his wife.


Now that I have told you about the ship and our experience on it, I want to mention the places that we went. This was a back to back cruise, which meant we left from Miami on a Saturday and spent one week in the Western Caribbean, and came back to Miami the next Saturday, then left again that Saturday afternoon and went to the Eastern Caribbean for a week. We went in August and I had never been the the Western Caribbean before. Well, it was SOOOOO hot that I will never go to the Western Caribbean again in the Summer, but I am glad we went. In the Western Caribbean waters, saw a lot of dolphins swimming by the ship, and that was quite exciting. We saw the Mayan ruins in Costa Mesa ( probably the hottest day of my life but the ruins were really interesting), then we saw sea turtle nests and a quaint museum in Cozumel,and we just walked around the shops in Roatan. And of course we went to the cruise line's island from which we took some beautiful pictures. We got off the ship for the day when we came back to Miami, and were taken out to lunch by Chuck's cousin and his wife and daughter who live near there. We went to Bubba Gumps in Miami, but did not do very well on the quiz they gave us because I have only seen Forrest Gump once, and I'm not sure Chuck has seen it at all! It was quite the dining experience though, especially for fans of the movie. The next week we went to the Eastern Caribbean, which included St. Thomas where we went to the beach at Megan's Bay ( beautiful beach but it started to rain while we were there), shopped for souvenirs in St. Martin ( a true test of Chuck's love for me because I dragged him up and down streets and into markets looking for a necklace for my daughter and we couldn't find one). He was hot and frustrated, but was patient, and we finally sat down under an umbrella for sodas on the main boardwalk, and discovered a beautiful beach right in front of us where we could have spent the day in the sunshine and water, and been cool and content. Oh well, if we ever have a cruise stop in St. Martin again, we know where we will spend the day! Our third stop in the Eastern Caribbean was Nassau in the Bahamas. I had never been to Nassau before, and was amazed at the beautiful blue color of the water. We went snorkeling on this stop, and I almost drowned a few times because no one told me to breathe in to get the mask tight to my face. There were so many people in the water that Chuck and I drifted apart, and at one point I honestly thought I was going to drown. Up to that point though, I had seen some amazing views in the water, and got scared by a few fish who happened to swim right by my nose and startled me.I wished we could have had more time in Nassau because the views were so beautiful.This was the last stop on our 2 week cruise, and was absolutely amazing, and it was hard to come back to the real world after such a romantic getaway.But there are more to come, so stay tuned... I highly recommend cruising for a romantic vacation...honeymoon or not!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Prince Charming

A friend of mine called me today at work to tell me she had read the blog and she jokingly said it was sickening...all the sweet and "lovey dovey" things I had said in the blog about Chuck. I told her I really do feel that way about him. Then it suddenly dawned on me why Chuck is so supportive and encouraging about this blog...he comes across as a pretty wonderful guy in it!!!Almost a Prince Charming you might say. And of course he is to me...but it made me chuckle! ( No pun intended! ) Funny thing is that before he and I got together, if I had seen a couple acting the way we do, "lovey dovey" etc. I would have thought it was an act. And maybe that the 2 of them ought to get a life! You know...the "gag me with a spoon" reference from the eighties, or at least I think that was the decade. But it's real, and I am blessed and I wish the same happiness for everyone out there that reads this. :0)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sweepstakes Can Be Romantic!

Back in May, I met a woman who told me that she enters sweepstakes for a living. I was rather surprised and dubious, especially when she told me that she is so successful at it that her husband was able to quit his job!!! That sounded like something I wanted to know more about. But I actually never got around to looking at her website till June. I went to her website and found she has hundreds of sweepstakes listed for people to enter...for FREE! And her website is free to access as well. This seemed to be too good to be true, but I started reading the stories of people who entered and what they won, and I was hooked! I started entering sweepstakes that I found listed on her website. The very first thing I won was a coupon for a free bottle of Axe body wash...which was great because my 20 year old son uses it. We went to the store and he found a bottle with a free Axe shampoo sample attached. So we not only won the body wash but shampoo as well. Now I was definitely hooked. In August, I happened to discover a show on TV about people who also entered sweepstakes for a living. It was very exciting, although those people enter daily, and some do it 8 hours per day, as a job. And they win big. So I continued to enter sweepstakes. Over the Summer, things were a bit slow, but by Fall, they began to pick up. I do believe that Chuck was a bit doubtful about my new hobby. But being the loving husband that he is, and already knowing I am a little bit crazy, he went along with it, and I have to give him credit, he NEVER told me I was wasting my time. Slowly, I started to win things, and he is on board now. Here's a list of what I won in 2011: 1 bottle of Axe Body wash, 1 Fleece blanket from Sealy Posturpedic, 1 Toilet paper roll cover from Cottonelle (this was my funniest win), 4 Uno Card games, including a battery operated game, AND 26 coupons for a free family sized Stouffer's frozen meal( a combined sweepstakes offered by the makers of UNO and Stouffers), a large tea mug and 1 quart of Chai tea, another blanket, this one from Robittussin, a blue diamond, a $10 gift card to Amazon.com, and my 2 favorite prizes...just in time for the holidays...a Merry Little Makeover from a local hair salon, which gave me $350 worth of hair care services ( had to be used all at once on one day), AND this just came last week: a $100 American Express Gift card!!! That was so exciting. I used the Merry Little Makeover prize in time to look great to go out to dinner with Chuck on New Year's Eve, and I am going to use the $100 gift card to take him out for a nice romantic dinner somewhere because, being the gentleman that he is, whenever we go out to dinner, he pays the bill. Now for once, I get to treat him. It is so much fun to enter sweepstakes with the hopes of winning. I don't have time to do it daily, but I try to. If you are at home, work from home, or work part time, you probably can do this daily. If not, and you work full time, you can still fit sweepstakes into your life by entering whenever you have an extra hour or two. And you never know what fun things you might win, to add a little excitement to your life, and be able to treat your spouse to something fun. There are all kinds of prizes offered, depending on which sweepstakes you enter. There are prizes of money, trips, clothing, gift cards, food, cars, furniture, household goods, computers, TVs, ipods,etc. Everything you can imagine. The goal of the sweepstakes site that I have been finding sweepstakes on is "to win what you can't afford." And it's SO much fun. If you are interested in starting to enter sweepstakes yourself, go to this website, and start finding out all about this great hobby...and maybe you can treat your spouse to something extra too: http://sweetiessweeps.com/

Have fun, and let me know if you win anything!