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...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Seven Questions

One thing I love about blogging is how everyone feels like one big family. People let you into their lives while you let them see a little (or a lot) about yours and soon you've made new friends. For me, one of those friends is Callie, from Through Clouded Glass. I came across her blog while following the blog of a friend from college. Right when I needed it, God showed me her story, how she went through exactly what I've gone through this summer with my health. She gave me such hope talking about how God granted her the desires of her heart and now she's expecting her first child. God is so faithful. Callie recently tagged me in a question-and-answer chain, so I thought I'd let you in on a little more about me. You're supposed to then tag seven friends to answer the questions, too, but seeing as I only have four "official" blog followers, I don't think I'll be able to keep up that end of the bargain. Here we go:

1. What do you like best about your current profession (stay-at-home mom or student both count as professions to me)?
I work in an office with 12 other people. You'd think that the odds of us all getting along and being friends would be soooo small, but really, we have a great time together. It's rare to be able to talk about faith in God in a workplace, but we do all the time. I don't think I could work with a better group of people.

2. What is your favorite color and why?
My favorite color is blue. I love most shades of blue and blue-green ranging from aqua to teal to periwinkle. I guess they just make me happy!

3. How did you come to know the Lord?
I grew up being taught that you had to be baptized to be saved. Now I know that it just takes faith and repenting of sin and asking the Lord to come into your heart (in a nutshell), but as a child, my belief terrified me. I was so shy and couldn't bear the thought of being in front of our church and being water baptized. So, I went to bed every night for about three years thinking that I was going to go to hell because I wouldn't get baptized. At the beginning of eighth grade, my Bible teacher taught us the steps of salvation and we went through them every day at the start of class. Then one day, our teacher asked us to bow our heads and close our eyes. He asked how many of us had asked Jesus to be the Lord of our lives and then if anyone wanted to receive salvation. I raised my hand, scared and nervous, and prayed along with him in class that day. Over the next year and a half, I processed through what I had been taught in church versus what I'd been taught in my Christian school. I decided that my upbringing wasn't all correct. My experiences at school really helped shape me into who I am today since I had a lot of encouragement from teachers and some of my peers.

4. What was your favorite family tradition growing up?
This question had me stumped for a while. I don't think we had a lot of traditions when I was growing up. I'm glad that we always ate dinner together as a family, and not while we were parked in front of the tv. We did that sometimes, too, but it was a rarity. In today's society, everyone is so busy, kids are involved in a million extracurricular activities and families don't spend as much time together. I never want to take family for granted and I want to connect with my kids and my husband regularly so that we know what's going on with each other and can provide support for one another in the good times and the hard times.

5. What is your favorite girl movie (always looking for a good chick flick!)?
I've always loved Little Women with Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Clare Danes, Christian Bale, and Kirsten Dunst. We had it on VHS and I always watched it when I was home sick from school. It's such a classic. I have two older sisters, but we didn't grow up together. I wonder what it would have been like to grow up together and go on adventures.

6. What is one book that you would say is a "must-read"?
The first book that comes to mind is Francine Rivers' "Redeeming Love". It's just the purest love story I've ever read. I love how the author made the story of Hosea come to life in a riveting way. It's rare that I want to read a book or watch a movie more than once, but I think I've read this book three times. As far as non-fiction, a friend loaned me "Created to be His Helpmeet" by Debbi Pearl and it taught me sooo much. At first, I thought Mrs. Pearl was a bit crazy for her ideas about the role of a wife, but as I kept reading, I saw where she was coming from and wanted to be a better helper to my husband. This is definitely a must-read for wives or soon-to-be wives!

7. What is one thing that you would like to do for or with your future children?
These questions are hard! As far as something I would like to do for my future children, I want to show them that love can last a lifetime and be an example of what God intends marriage to be. I want to show them Christ's love and teach them scriptures that they will remember throughout their lives that "they might not sin against God". I also dream about traveling with my children and giving them many many opportunities to learn about history, science and other cultures first hand. I'd love to take a trip across the US and Canada to see the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Canadian Rockies and so much more. Hopefully we'll be homeschooling, so our schedule could potentially be flexible enough to accommodate such an adventure (we'll see if finances are as flexible!).

If you've stuck with me til the end of this post, bless you! :) That's a little look into my life!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Falling for a Fall Wedding

I've heard that October is the second most popular month for weddings. After attending the wedding of my friend and co-worker, Rachael, last weekend, I understand why so many people choose to tie the knot during this month. Alex and I chose October for our wedding more for the timing factor rather than for the beauty of changing leaves and cooler weather. Upon seeing Rachael's decor, I wish I could go back and have a more "fall-ish" themed wedding! Look at these decorations! And her creative-like-I've-never-seen-before-and-wish-I-could-be-like-her sister made everything. All of it. Herself. Holy cow!

This was the first thing we saw when we walked into the church:

Instead of a traditional guest book that gets lost in a bookcase and never looked at again, each guest wrote his or her name on a leaf in gold or silver metallic inc and hung the leaf on the branches. Then there was a canvas (not pictured) that the wonderfully crafty sister painted a tree on. The signature-covered leaves would then be transferred to the canvas to cover the tree and hang somewhere in the newlywed's home. How clever is that?! I love that idea! And the best part about these branches? They came from someone's backyard and were spray painted. How thrifty!

Next, we walked into the sanctuary and saw the hand-painted, custom monogrammed aisle runner, again, made by the sister of the bride:

This picture was taken after the wedding ceremony, hence the leaves covering the runner. The flower girl dropped leaves instead of flower petals, which was, again, oh so cute for a Fall wedding!

There were rose topiaries flanking the sanctuary entrance:

Look past my pitiful photography skills and see the branches and topiaries around the altar and the personalized monograms hanging on the wall:

Who would have imagined using burlap for decorations, but it was unique and looked great!

The head table:

One of many different table centerpieces (I love this ribbon!):

And the piece de resistance...the cake!

There is that gorgeous ribbon again! I bought the same ribbon only it was pink and white, and gave it away since I couldn't think of anything to do with it. If I had gotten this brown and cream I would have done all sorts of pretty things! It's just inspiring!

These pictures don't do the decor justice. I want to grab some branches from my yard and put them all over the house! On the fireplace, on the dining room table, everywhere. I adore the idea and how easy and inexpensive it is (if you spray paint them instead of going for the "natural" look). I'm so in the mood to decorate for the season! Hooray for inspiration!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Doggie Daycare

So, I've been dog-sitting for a co-worker this week while she and her new hubby are honeymooning somewhere in the Caribbean Ocean (they're on a cruise! FUN!). Alex has been in Virginia on a business trip since Monday and I've been "mom" to three boxers. Layla is in her element! She was awake all night the first night they were here, hoping to play with them. Poor Alex didn't get much sleep before his trip since she kept waking him up, hoping he'd let her out of our bedroom to go see them in the living room. Rowdy and Casey are a year older than Layla and are sooooooo calm compared to her. Maybe that means there's hope that she will be less hyper someday???? Oh, how I hope! I love her to death, but she is so high maintenance when it comes to exercise.

Rowdy is quite the ladies' man. I don't like a dog on my lap while I'm trying to blog. Thankfully he was quickly distracted by an animal in the yard and jumped down quickly! Doesn't he look like Layla?!

Sky was quite smitten, too. He asked me to take his picture with the dogs, but he kept making goofy faces! He also asked to sleep on the couch since he wasn't feeling well, and immediately cuddled up with Casey, using her body as a pillow.

Whatever will Layla do when her new friends go home???

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ravioli Soup

Everyone seems to love eating soup in the Fall and Winter, except me, but this year is going to be different. I'm branching out and trying new things. My mom gave me her recipe for Ravioli Soup, so I made it this weekend, with a couple small changes since I didn't have all the ingredients on hand (and I just went grocery shopping last night! don't you hate that?!). Here's the recipe:

Ravioli Soup

4 cans beef or chicken broth (or you can use 2 of each, like my mom and I do)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, or 1 medium onion, minced
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 lb ground turkey
28 oz diced tomatoes (I used 2 small cans that were 15 oz each, and I prefer petite diced, so that there are no huge chunks)
1 can white beans of your choice (which I didn't not have on hand)
1 bag beef ravioli
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach
Parmesan cheese, optional

Saute carrots, garlic and onion in olive oil until lightly browned. Remove from frying pan and put in soup pot. Add broth to veggies. Brown ground turkey in frying pan, add to soup pot. Add tomatoes, spinach and beans and heat until simmering. Add about 20 ravioli to the soup (more or less, depending on your preference). Cook until ravioli are tender. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!