Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Cards 2010

My computer has been giving me trouble lately, so my computer-nerd hubby is going to reinstall Windows soon. I figured I'd better blog one last time before he does that since I may or may not have access to my photos any time soon if he doesn't get it all worked out right away (I know, all you Mac lovers out there never have problems like this. Rub it in.). I need to finish making our Christmas cards tonight so I can mail them out tomorrow for our family out of state. Because I LOVE Stampin' Up's medallion stamp so much, I had to use it for our cards!

I found this card idea/color combo while Googling images of the medallion stamp. I used Versamark to stamp the design and then used white embossing powder to make it stand out. It kind of looks like a snowflake, I think. Now, if only we'd get some more snow and have a white Christmas this year! Fingers crossed! I finally finished my shopping yesterday. Are you ready for your holiday festivities?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Alex!

Alex turned 26 today. He likes to keep birthday festivities low-key, but I can't help but try to make the day special doing things that the birthday boy likes because I think birthdays are time for celebration and fun. I asked him what he wanted to eat for birthday dinner and dessert since that was always a tradition in my family when I was growing up. He wanted a chicken dish that his mom makes, so we made plans to have dinner with his family and my mom came, too (dad had to work). Last week, the big stinker guessed that I was going to have his car windows tinted (which he's been dying for!), but he has to wait until Monday to have it done. How the heck he guessed that with no clues is beyond me; I hadn't said a word about it!

Here are a few pictures to remember the day (Sky was being so cute today, as usual, and he was pretending to be a dog, in the last picture):

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekend Recap

Some friends of ours got engaged yesterday, so to celebrate we went to a Japanese hibachi grill in Richmond called Koto. The last and only time I've ever been to a hibachi was in high school. Both experiences were great! The chef was oh so entertaining and had lots of fancy cutlery skills to impress us with and there was enough food that we ate the leftovers for lunch on Sunday. Considering what a meal cost, it was a very good thing that we each got two meals out of it (and it helps that I have a smaller appetite than Alex. Otherwise there wouldn't have been any leftovers). Since we happened to wear coordinating outfits, it was the perfect photo op:

Sunday has been a lazy day of sorts. I finally put the finishing touches on my niece's Christmas present so that it can be wrapped and sent in the mail tomorrow. I also decided to whip up some more decorations for our house. A few Christmases ago, I received two hurricanes and had lost them for over a year after our move. While digging around in the attic looking for toys for Sky, I finally found the missing box! I dug out the hurricanes and added extra Christmas balls that I got at Kmart two years ago.

They now reside on our tv table to camouflage the surround sound speakers:

As an end to a relaxing weekend, the snow practically hasn't stopped falling all day and it's so peaceful outside. Maybe we'll actually get a white Christmas this year! Oh, I sure hope so!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Homemade Christmas Part 4

Today is the last part of the Homemade Christmas "mini-series". You survived! ;) This last gift was probably the most fun to make because what started as a simple ruffled skirt for my five-year old niece ended up as a skirt with a cute bow and a matching hair clip and purse. Of course, I can't take all the credit, because a friend gave me a LOT of supplies, made the rosette for the hair clip and suggested that I make a purse. Two really are better than one. I love it when a second person can add to ideas that you already have and then the end result becomes way better than you originally imagined. I hope Caitlin enjoys her new flirty skirt and accessories! And, I must add, that I reeeeeeeally wanted to ask Alex to model the hair clip and purse for your entertainment pleasure, but I just didn't have the guts to subject him to that. What a great photo that would have been for some Christmas cards! :)

Hair clip:

And because every girl needs a matching purse:

I'm getting more in the Christmas spirit with each passing day. Christmas will be here before we know it! Now I have to make and mail cards, mail gifts and wrap presents!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Homemade Christmas Part 3

Welcome back! I can't believe that the year is almost over! Why does time go by faster and faster the older you get? I'm not so sure that I like it...

Before I show you my next sewing project, I have a confession to make. I'm not entirely in the Christmas spirit. There. I said it. Don't throw things at me! I've decided that I really don't like Christmas music unless it's instrumental only. Well, I'll make an exception for certain classic songs, but don't give me any of the stuff by Brittney Spears or anything like that. My halls aren't decked with holly and I don't turn on my tree lights in order to save electricity (Alex has always been the tree light Nazi. He wants them on all. the. time.). I haven't even baked the first batch of Christmas cookies or candy and I really don't want to. In fact, I'm craving Sour Patch Kids instead. But, despite my lack of traditional Christmas spirit, I am really in the giving mood. It's been fun to try and find the perfect gifts to give loved ones. I've so deeply enjoyed sewing these gifts for the kids and learning more about sewing that I want to do it all year long. I especially want to keep making stuffed animals like the ones that I made for our youngest nieces. Remember the lion and the cat stuffed animals? Well, I wanted to try my hand at another animal, so I made little Kalei a bunny rabbit. This is the first animal that I've made entirely on my own, but I did have guidance from a friend when I appliquéd the face. The zig-zag stitch is very scary, if you ask me!

The face and inside of the ears is soft, fuzzy fabric perfect for cuddling up with. I hope Kalei enjoys playing or snuggling with this little friend!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Homemade Christmas Part 2

My second Christmas project was a tool belt for our nephew, Sky. He is quite the little handy man, even at 5 years old! I came up with the pattern on my own and put it together with a little experimentation. The main fabric (red) is heavy weight canvas from JoAnn's and the striped fabric was leftover from the play tent that I made for his birthday. It is actually a piece from the top of one of the bed sheets that I chose it because of the horizontal stripe detail and the finished edges, which meant less hemming for me! I also had some blue ribbon leftover from the tent as well, which were perfect for the ties. Here's how it turned out:

I'd like to get his name monogrammed across the top in the middle of the horizontal stripes to finish it off. My mom is looking for some kid-sized real tools to accompany this gift for Christmas. I hope Sky likes it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Homemade Christmas Part 1

As I've said before, I'm making gifts for our nieces and nephew for Christmas this year. By the end of my vacation (Why does it have to end!? Back to work tomorrow...), I had finished gifts for all the kids. I thought I'd show you one gift a day for the next few days so as not to overwhelm you with pictures all at once (and it's motivation for me to blog more!). The first gift I finished was a tote bag for my oldest niece, Ashley. She's only 7, but she picked out the pattern and, as it turns out, the bag is as big as she is! I hope she likes it and can use it for many years to come!

Pleated front

Button detail

Inside (I couldn't find the right shade or brown, pink, or turquoise to line it with, so I went with boring white)

Here's the pattern I used, on sale at Hobby Lobby for .99 cents! Sure beats Wal-Mart's price of $8 or $9!

Stay tuned to more sewing projects throughout the rest of the week!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quit Apologizing Already

I remember telling my mom once that it seemed like the house got cleaned faster and better when company was coming and that maybe we should have people over more often so that the house would stay clean. No only was that statement true about my parents' house, but now it's true of my house. I've spend the last six days of my "staycation" doing nothing productive around the house (I've been told that's what vacation is for, but I'm not so sure). In fact, it has become even messier since I started painting the trim and windows in our family room.

Today I had a friend coming over with her two young children. I had spent several hours at another friend's house earlier in the day working on a sewing project and got home just before my other company was due to arrive. In a frenzy, I loaded up the dishwasher, washed a few remaining dishes, swept the floor in the living room, cleaned half the junk off the kitchen island, wiped down the dining room table and kitchen countertops, put misplaced shoes in our bedroom and put a load of clothes in the dryer all in about 30 minutes. I did't want her baby crawling around on a floor covered in wood shavings from the fireplace or something like that.

I swear, I'm so much more productive if I break up the cleaning into short increments like that. On our first Christmas as a married couple, Alex and I came back to our apartment after spending the day with family and instituted our "30-minute clean-ups" because wrapping paper, boxes and bags littered our living room. Usually, we got on a roll and the "clean-ups" ended up lasting an hour or more, but by the end, the whole house was cleaned and we felt quite good about ourselves and our home.

Why do we feel that our homes must be perfect when others come over and stress out over every last speck of dust? If we are transparent with our friends and accept them for who they are and not for how organized their homes are, then why do we think that they will judge us if there are dishes in our sink? My friends and I are always apologizing to each other for things being out of place, for toys being on the floor, for last night's dinner plates still being on the counter, for laundry laying on the couch waiting to be folded, but there's no point to it. I don't think any less of them for these things and I know they don't judge me either, but we still stress out needlessly. Maybe it's because we subconsciously find some of our worth as women, as housekeepers, wives, mothers, in how we maintain our homes. We are our own worst critics. I don't know why we're like that, but I do know that I really don't want to be this way anymore. Please take me as I am; accept me despite the fact that there will always be dishes in the sink (dishes are technically Alex's job anyway ;), there will be dog fur floating around somewhere no matter how many times I've swept. I'll try to stop apologizing when my house isn't perfectly clean and I promise not to judge you either. Care to join me and let go of the insecurity and self-criticism?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Apple Dumplins a.k.a. My New Food Addiction

Before Thanksgiving, I bought four Granny Smith apples to bake with. I originally intended to just fry them up as a side dish for dinner, but that never happened, so a lady at work suggested that I make "dumplins" instead (as a former New Yorker, I really want to call them "dumplings", but I will go with the flow here). At first, I thought the Mountain Dew/Pillsbury crescent roll combo sounded gross compared to from-scratch home-cooking, but I was wrong. Oh, how I was wrong! I LOVED them!!! I loved them so much that I had THREE helpings. And tomorrow I will finally break in my eyesore of a stationary bicycle to burn off all the extra calories. Here's the recipe:

Apple Dumplins

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
2 packages of crescent rolls
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 granny smith apples
1 12 oz can Mountain Dew

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter with sugar and cinnamon on stovetop. Peel apples and cut each into 8 slices. Put one slice inside of an individual crescent "triangle" and roll up, pressing edges together to seal the apple inside. Roll all apples up inside the crescent rolls and place in a greased 9x13 inch pan. Pour butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture over the top of the dumplins and then pour Mountain Dew on top of that. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Pig out!

I improvised a little because I had 4 apples and didn't want to use two whole sticks of butter (it's a precious commodity in our house at the moment. Long story.). I also had one package of jumbo crescents and one package of regular, so I wrapped 2-3 apple slices in each crescent. There was alot of juice in the pan in the end, but, since it was just for the two of us and not for company, I really didn't care. This is such a tasty treat for a cold Fall night. Or a Winter night. Or any night. They're just so good I'm going to have to go eat another one.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Partial Foyer Makeover and Other Home Improvements

We've lived in our house for 18 months and it still seems like we've barely put a dent in decorating it. It just doesn't seem homey enough, but hopefully that's going to change quickly. For example, I've been wanting to put a small table or bench in our foyer, but am too cheap to buy anything. Today I had an epiphany and decided to take our old coffee table that was being used to store toys in the family room and move it into foyer to use as a bench. Here's the before (I need to repaint, but wallpaper must be taken down for that to happen and I'm not ready to tackle that!):

I had three pillows stored away in the closet that were from our apartment and didn't match our new living room color scheme. After a good dusting off, here's how the foyer looks:

Now there's a place to put shoes on before taking Layla for a walk. A woven basket or two underneath the "bench" for shoes, hats, mittens and such would complete the look, I think, and save me room in the coat closet opposite this wall for other "stuff".

As part of our Black Friday shopping endeavors (no, we did not go out at 4 am. I did go out at 7:30 for an hour and then went out at noon with Alex), we stopped at Lowe's to look, once again, at their area rugs. This has been another project that was 18 months in the making. I bought a rug six months ago and promptly returned it when it began to get worn out after owning it three weeks. Today we found this one:

I hate to say it, but I'm not in love with the olive green color. I'm trying to let it grow on me because I really love the icy blue color so much and the lightest tan color matches our couch perfectly. The picture doesn't capture the exact colors very well. I think the living room is just about complete and is feeling much cozier just in time for winter!

Lastly, we bought a new computer desk for Alex and are going to move his office out of one of the spare bedrooms and into the family room. The plan is for me to paint the trim in the family room next week while we're on vacation so that it matches the rest of the house. His old office will eventually be a nursery, but for now, we are just ready for a change. With his office in a different part of the house, we can be together even if we're both doing separate things. I'm excited to integrate the family room into part of our home instead of it being a pass-through to the backyard and a storage room. Here's a teaser of sorts as to what the family room is going to look like. I'll post pictures when it's a little further along:

And, last but not least, Layla "helping" build the desk, or just looking cute ;) :

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoyed time with loved ones! Enjoy the weekend! I know we're going to enjoy a week of "staycation"! Woohoo!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Dandy Lion

After taking a two-month siesta from sewing, it was time to get moving on some more Christmas presents. I knew just what I wanted to sew for my three-year-old niece, Bella, but my beginner sewing skills limited me when it came to the finer arts of embroidery and appliqué. Thankfully, a hero came to my rescue and saved the day by fixing my disastrous attempt at embroidery (seriously, it looked like a toddler had gotten a hold of a needle and thread!) and even offered to do the appliqué, too (Thank you, Hannah!)!!! I would have taken the time to learn how to appliqué myself, but that wasn't possible under the circumstances this week. Here's the end result:

Is she not the cutest girly little lion you've ever seen?! I'm in love! But, alas, she seemed a little lonely, so I decided to send a little kitty along to keep her company:

Best friends! I really hope that Bella enjoys playing with them. I'll have to sew another cat or maybe a bunny to give to our youngest niece for Christmas since Bella will now have these two cuties, but that just gives me more opportunity to practice and learn new sewing skills. The pattern for these animals came from Bit of Whimsy's store on Etsy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November Resolutions, or Why There is an Eyesore in My Family Room

I got a jump start on my New Year's resolutions by moving an old (and I mean OLD) stationary bicycle out of the garage and into our family room/Sky's playroom in hopes that I'll actually exercise once in a while. My parents bought it at an estate sale a few years ago and left it behind when they moved out. Over a year ago. When I asked my mom if I could have it, she promptly told me "no" and that she was ready to move it to her house. She said that like three weeks ago, and since it had already been sitting out there for 18 months, I thought it was safe to ignore her and make the bike my own :) This exercise equipment eyesore isn't as painful to look at my ever-atrophying muscles so I figure it's time to get back in shape. I even bought a yoga mat yesterday, which Alex says is a waste of money. I told him that it was too painful to do crunches and pilates on our hardwood floors, that I needed a cushion on my back and if he was ok with his spare tire, that was fine with me, but I'm tired of mine! He's gonna have a smokin' hot wife again someday and he's gonna like it! We'll see if I actually get anywhere with all my great intentions, but for now, moving the exercise bike into the house is a start. I hope that I'll be much more likely to use it if I don't have to trek across the backyard to get to it. That's such a treacherous journey to walk a hundred feet, you know? And what if it's cold or rainy or windy? I'll never go out there to exercise in those weather conditions! Wish me luck! Or rather, wish me willpower!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day and Some Wall Art

Thank you to all our military, past and present, that have given their lives to protect our country's freedom! And thank you to all the military families who also sacrifice by moving where every duty calls and enduring long separations from loved ones. You are all heroes in my book.

Today is Veteran's Day and I'm off work. I'm glad that banks observe this holiday because I was excited to get away from the piles of tax returns sitting on my desk ;) I went to a friend's house, whom I happen to work with, to cut out a saying for her foyer wall. She's been planning for weeks how she wanted it to look and I finally came up with something she liked. After four hours or so, this is what we ended up with:

Having to cut it out in 4 sections and then piece it all together was hard, and I don't think that all the words are perfectly level, but by the end, I was too tired to try and fix it. Beverly was able to straighten it out after I left (she's brave to attempt that!) This is another design we made a few weeks ago:

She has always loved this little saying because she has three dachshunds that are, of course, long and short and oh so cute! I'm vinyl wall decor-ed out! Nap time! Well, more like clean-the-house-so-Alex-doesn't-come-home-from-work-and-think-I've-been-lazy-all-day time. Maybe I'll get a nap in this weekend. A girl can dream!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Answered Prayers

Have you ever prayed for a situation thinking that there were only two different ways that God could answer, such as yes or no, now or later, etc and then God surprises you with another alternative? While I was thinking about Sky's situation in my limited human mind, I felt like there were only two possible solutions, neither of which were fantastic. But God came through today like He always does and allowed the perfect decision to be made - one that nobody had really considered an option before. Sky will be staying right where he's at with his grandparents, but his mom will be moving to Kentucky to be near him and hopefully get a fresh start. We're all so excited about this since it means that Sky can stay in his current school (which he loves!), continue to have stability and a routine and have all his family around him to love on him. It means that he probably won't be staying at our house much, but I'll cherish the memories we made with him and we'll just have to go visit my in-laws at their house instead of at ours. I'm overjoyed at how today turned out and am in awe of my God who knows all things. I'm so glad that He has a plan for our lives and that those plans are far better than anything we could think up on our own!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Birthday Gift

For my mother-in-law's birthday a couple weeks ago, I etched her gifts.

The grandkids call her "Memere", which is French for grandmother:

Last name blurred out to protect the innocent ;)

And her card:

Audrey is a great cook and makes everything from scratch, so I hope she enjoys baking in her new personalized dishes. I always prayed for great in-laws, and God has certainly answered my prayers. My mother-in-law has certainly been a blessing in my life!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

FWF (Family Wrestling Federation)

Here's how we wrapped up our weekend with Sky (I can't resist taking pictures when the subjects are so cute!):

I don't know exactly what's going on in that last one...maybe Sky's feeding Alex a dog treat...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Changing Seasons of Life

As the leaves have turned colors and fallen from the trees and the air has turned from humid to cold, another season in our lives may be about to change. Next Wednesday, a decision will be made to determine our nephew's future. I'm torn as to what the best decision would be, so I've been praying for God's will to be done. These last seven and a half months have flown by. Alex and I kept Sky this weekend so that my in-laws could have a weekend away and I took advantage of the opportunity to create a few good memories in case this is the last such weekend we have with Sky.

We played in a pile of leaves:

And roasted marshmallows in the fireplace:

I'm thankful that Fall has given us a different variety of activities to do than what we've done the rest of the year. And on that note, several friends have started lists of things they're thankful for this month. Here are a few of the things that top my list, in no particular order:

1. The opportunity to get to know Sky and hopefully fill his life with lots of love and happiness.
2. Our second year of marriage. Although we haven't had as many milestones as during our first year, when we got a dog (our first child! Haha), changed positions at both our jobs and bought a house, this second year has brought us many opportunities to grow as a couple. I've grown more in my relationship with God this year than ever before, and our struggles have been worth it.
3. My job. Even thought it can be monotonous sometimes, I'm blessed to be employed.
4. Family and friends. They've supported me and taught me so much this year. It would take a year to list all the many reasons why I'm thankful for each one of them.

Be blessed, my friends, as this holiday season fast approaches! Each of you has blessed me more than you could know!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Throw on Your Rain Boots and Praise God Through the Storm

I've noticed that it seems like every Wednesday I hit a wall. I hadn't been to a Wednesday night church service in several years because of college classes and then being lazy after graduation, but I've started going again this year and I'm loving it. Even though I know that I'll learn something, that God will move, I still fight going. Today was a hard day because of emotions, too much talk of babies, leftover junk that wasn't resolved from the day before, etc and I've just been a basket case. The weather was gloomy and rainy, to add to my less than "sunshiny" mood. I came home from work and tried on my new rain boots and decided to crank up some worship music and dance through the house with Layla. Life has been an emotional roller coaster since June and I'm ready for breakthrough! I'm praising God through this storm! Quite perfectly, this song came up on Pandora while I was running through the house with the dog:

Hillsong: Desert Song

This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides

Verse 2:
And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

Verse 3:
And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Verse 4:
This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be empited again
The seed I've recieved I will sow

I serve and AWESOME God and He meets my needs even when I least expect it. He never ceases to amaze me. I have a reason to sing and a reason to worship. He is worthy of all my praise and of my life and I am so thankful for His love. I am even thankful for this storm in my life because there is sunshine when the storm is over and God will still be there with open arms.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hooray for a Weekend Getaway!

My mom and I are driving to North Carolina tomorrow to visit my cousin, Tynette, meet her two and a half year old daughter, Jocelyn, and catch up with my aunt Brenda from NY who is down visiting them. I haven't seen my cousin in three years (when she was still pregnant) and I haven't seen my aunt since our wedding two years ago. I'm super excited to see family, drive my mom's new car (of course, she would buy the very SUV that I would have bought if I had wanted a car payment! What a tease!) and stop at Hobby Lobby to hopefully find some pretty Fall decor for our house and use my birthday giftcard. It'll also be wonderful to have a three-day weekend away from work! With a six-hour car ride, I'm sure my mom and I will have plenty of time to talk, listen to "girly music" and enjoy each other's company, all while I'm driving since it's terrifying when she's behind the wheel! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Encouragement From The Story Of Hannah

My heart is so full, I don't know where to begin! My friend, Callie, has been a huge encouragement to me during a time when my body hasn't been working right, I've been stressed out, trying to praise God through the storm and stay positive that God's plan will prevail. Tonight, Callie shared a link with me for a sermon on Hannah and motherhood. (Here's the link to the sermon, and it's a free download) I listened to the message as I prepared beef stew for a crockpot dinner for tomorrow night. I was vaguely familiar with the story of Hannah, but now I know so much more than I did before! It just hit me that 1) God puts the right people in your life at the right time, as only He can do and 2) How crazy awesome is it that a women who lived thousands of years ago went through the same thing as me and God cared enough to put her story in His Word to encourage me today?!

I've always wanted to be a mom. Ever since I was probably 6 or 7 years old, I've counted down the years until I thought I might be married and have a family. Sometimes, it seems like fewer and fewer women my age look forward to being moms for various reasons and I feel kinda like a weirdo for having such an insatiable desire to have children. It breaks my heart and infuriates me all at the same time when people, especially Christians, tell me that I can't afford to raise more than two kids or that it's just so difficult to have a "big" family. I'm not going to go down that path because this post will never end...

Hannah had an insatiable desire to have children, too, but she was barren. Her husband loved her and understood her pain and sadness, but he still decided to marry another woman who could give him children. Still, Hannah prayed and believed for a child, and God heard her and she had Samuel. And she rejoiced! Oh, how she praised the Lord! And then, God gave her 3 more sons and two daughters. I don't want to lose faith. I want to rejoice in all things, like Hannah. Sure, she wept, she was sad, she probably threw herself a huge pity party once in a while, too. She and I would have probably been good friends. Her story gives me so much hope, that, even though I struggle to stay positive sometimes, even though I have bad moments where I can't stop crying, God has the perfect plan for me and Alex and that we will become parents in His perfect timing. Looking back, I'm glad that things didn't happen the way we thought they would. God has used these last few months to teach me so much about my attitude, relationships and more. And I'm so thankful to have awesome friends there beside me to encourage me, pass down maternity clothes and baby gear for when my time comes, share Scriptures and sermons, and pray with me. God truly puts the right people in our path right when we need them, and for those people, I am so grateful.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oh, the Places You Will Go!

I love learning about and experiencing different cultures. Honestly, I don't try ethnic cuisine very often and the countries that I have visited haven't been drastically different than my own, but I would still like to travel and learn more in my lifetime. Here's my list of places I'd like to visit someday (yes, some are in the US, too):

1. Tuscany, Venice, Rome (I've been to Venice and Rome and LOVED them! I love the Tuscan culture with open-air markets, beautiful countryside and quaint, old villas.
2. Panama Canal
3. French countryside
4. Paris
5. Great Wall in China
5. South Africa
6. Yellowstone National Park
7. Grand Canyon
8. London and the English countryside (have you noticed a trend here? Countryside...)
9. Greece
10. Ljubljana, Slovenija (I went here on my first mission trip. It holds a special place in my heart. Plus, I'd love to see my dear friend, Ajda and meet her beautiful baby girl! Thank the Lord for email and being able to keep friendships that are an ocean apart!)

It would be a miracle to get to see all these places in my lifetime, but we sure could rack up some serious air miles along the way! I am intimidated by the idea of planning trips and figuring out where all the best places to stay, eat and explore are. We went to Toronto for our anniversary last year and left early because I got to overwhelmed and didn't know where to go. Well, maybe that's a slight simplification, but that was pretty much what happened. Now I'd like to go back and have a re-do. Luckily, it's only 2.5 hours from my sister's house in NY, so it's not outside the realm of possibility! Where do you want to travel to in your lifetime?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One of Those Days...

So today has been an up and down kinda day. First, I was on top of the world for hearing good news from the insurance adjuster. My car is totaled (yes, this is good news to me) and is worth more than I thought. To top it off, the insurance company offered me TWICE what I had anticipated, therefore allowing me to slightly increase what we can afford for a newer car (hopefully this means I can get something a little newer than planner or with fewer miles!). Then, the adjuster told me other news that should help prove that the accident wasn't my fault. I was on cloud nine! What an answered prayer!

Then I went stupid. I opened my mouth without thinking (which I don't think is really like me), hurt someone that I care about, made a big fat jerk of myself in front of co-workers, got my feelings hurt in the process, went home crying from being hurt and from being angry at myself for being so thoughtless, called a friend to talk about it, got a "tough love" speech, cried some more for feeling so stupid and sinful, wrote an apology card and prayed that tomorrow would be better. What a day. Forgive me Lord where I fall short of Your glory and help me to overcome this garbage that I so desperately want to get rid of!!!

There is hope, for tomorrow is a new day and His mercies are new every morning. His love never fails, and I am a NEW creation in Him! "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

It's no secret that I have a sweet tooth. I've tried to cut back, but now it's approaching that wonderful time of year filled with holiday baking, sugar-induced comas and the dreaded post-holiday weight gain followed by New Year's resolutions to lose those extra pounds. Maybe that's a little over-dramatized, but you get my drift. To get in the spirit of things, I pulled out my latest (and last) issue of Taste of Home magazine and made the second recipe I've ever made in the two years I've been a subscriber. Nothing against TOH, but I'm picky. And cheap. A lot of their recipies don't cater to us picky, cheap people, hence, why this was my last issue. These cute little cinnamon roll cookies caught my eye, and they were described as a combination of snickerdoodles (one of my faves) and, of course, cinnamon rolls.

The recipe said to take a "heaping tablespoon" of dough and roll it into a 6-inch log, roll in cinnamon sugar and then wrap the dough around into a swirl. I pretty much stunk at this step. My cookies didn't turn out as adorable as the picture in the magazine (imagine that!).

Soon, I gave up on the whole "swirl" thing and started rolling the dough into balls and flattening it:

So much faster and easier! Each cookie was covered top and bottom in cinnamon sugar.

See? Making cookies is so much fun!

I had to use a wisk on my mixer since the beaters were being washed in the dishwasher. Alex made fun of me for wanting to have a picture of my cookie baking. Men just don't understand the blogging world and the need for lots of pictures! But, he was a good sport and helped me out. You can't quite tell, by that's a Mrs. Claus apron, to get into the holiday spirit! Yes, it's not even Halloween yet, but I don't have a wide assortment of aprons.

After the cookies were baked, I drizzled cinnamon sugar glaze on top.

Then we proceeded to pig out and all was well with the world! If you'd like the recipe, email or facebook me!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Life in Review

Oh, how the little things in life get me excited! I now have 5 followers! Yahoo! Thanks, Megan, for coming on board! :) And this is my 50th post! My, how time flies! Another little thing to be excited about is that our built in bookcase project is now officially complete since I repainted the living room wall. Here are the befores:

And the after:

I'd love to reupholster that ugly green chair someday. And I still haven't put anything on our new built-in bookcase on the other side of that wall! I hope to hang some wedding pictures up on this wall and maybe cut out another vinyl wall decal or words to go along with it. All in good time...

I also finished painting my "knick-knack rack" (say that 10 times, fast!):

I just can't seem to find things to go in the narrow tall spots. All the little square cubbies are filled with sewing thread and embossing powder.

On a different note, it seems that I may be getting a newer car. I'm waiting to hear from my insurance adjuster to see if my car is totaled from this little mishap that occurred Wednesday afternoon:

My first car accident. A lady ran a red light and I couldn't stop in time to miss her. I hit her front driver's side door. She got to drive her car away, while mine was towed. It's amazing that amount of damage that it caused from only going 20 mph. After the police report came out, it appears that the lady isn't admitting to running the light, thus we have conflicting stories. I had handled the whole incident rather calmly until I got that news. I broke down and cried. Just kinda figured she would have been honest, her insurance would pay to fix or replace my car, and I'd go on without an increase in my premium. But, now there's a bit of a waiting game to see who the insurance companies believe to be at fault. And in KY, we can each be held responsible for 50% of the accident. Not exactly how I thought this would all turn out. Please keep the situation in your prayers, that the truth would be known to all and that it won't hurt my driving record. Luckily, my insurance adjuster thinks it's in my favor that I crossed 5 lanes of traffic on the busiest road in town without an accident before hitting this lady. Hopefully that will help my story that I had a green light and she did not. I'll keep you posted.

On a positive note, tomorrow is our two-year wedding anniversary! Our original celebration plans have been put on hold for another week (if we decide to go that route at all), so we're still trying to decide how to celebrate since we both have tomorrow off (hooray for banking holidays and my husband's vacation time!). We might take advantage of the lovely weather and go hiking with Layla. We'll see...