Saturday, January 22, 2011

What a Sweet Surprise

Let me start out with a little background info and some personal thoughts before I delve into my main point (that is totally a woman for you! Details, details and then finally getting around to the point!). In my little town, I'm just about the only one in my group of friends that isn't a stay at home mom. As you know, a Boxer dog is the closest thing to a child in my life. This fact has bothered me on and off throughout the last few years as people were getting married and starting families and I was still in college trying to earn a degree while enduring a two-year long-distance relationship with Alex and a two and a half year long engagement. Now I'm at a place where all that doesn't bother me (most days). I've realized though that just about all my friends and I have a lot of other things in common. It's almost uncanny. We're conservative Christians, most of us want to home school our kids someday, several of us have an interest in sustainable living (I'm just jumping on this bandwagon and it's really been fascinating!), many of us are thrifty, frugal or just plain CHEAP! We also all share a love of being creative. We sew, cook, crochet, make cards or scrapbooks, have a Cricut or Silhouette machine, etch glass, cut vinyl wall designs and just love to make handmade gifts in general. Now a new theme is emerging. Embroidery. All of a sudden, it would be the greatest thing in the world to own an embroidery machine and personalize every sewing project to run across our sewing machines. Now several friends have such machines or are looking to purchase them to take their crafting to a "new level". I must admit, this idea intrigues me, but my frugal side says it's just too expensive. Dave Ramsey's voice is in my head saying, "NO. It's not in the budget. Don't steal from your emergency fund. This is NO emergency!" Dagnabolies. Ah, but then, a friend wants to sell her embroidery machine and Alex tells me to go for it if I want one. But, oh, the guilt! I can't! Stupid Dave Ramsey and your crazy budget!

After Alex got home and we were getting ready to fall asleep, he got his wallet and took out his remaining spending money from his trip. His company had given each person $40 a day for food (and breakfast was free at the hotel). My husband likes, no LOVES, to eat out, but even $20 per meal is high for him. He had $225 left over and handed it to me, saying, "This is for you so you can buy that embroidery machine." I wanted to cry! He had just told me earlier in the day that he was probably going to use the money to buy an Xbox (shoot me now!) and I told him that we could pay bills or save or spend the money more wisely than that! I am so blessed! And I'm so excited to save up the remaining money to buy the machine from a friend. My head has been swirling with all the ideas of things I can personalize. Watch out! We're gonna have monogrammed everything before long! And if you're in the market for a monogrammed gift, let me know and I'll help you out!

God is so good! Alex was really selfless for giving up that money to support my creative endeavors (which may or may not include a little Etsy store in the future. We'll see.). I want to be selfless like that. To bless someone else instead of hoarding something good to save it for myself. God has blessed us abundantly beyond what we could ever have hoped for. I want to pass it on, to be used by Him to change someone else's life, to give them hope, to give them joy and share God's love. And I think sharing some handmade, personalized gifts is a good place for me to start.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Homecoming and Discovery

Alex gets home from Texas around midnight tonight and I'm so excited! He also found out that he doesn't have to go back for another two week stint like he was originally told. Great news all around! As for that to-do list that I wanted to tackle while he was gone, I've completed 3 of the 7 items and have made a small dent in my office/war zone. I'm just pumped up about life right now!

God has been teaching me many things the past few weeks. I've let go of some baggage, let go of fear and bad attitudes. These breakthroughs have given me such energy and new life that I literally can't stop smiling! I'm really longing to understand God in a deeper way. During a conversation with a friend last night, we talked about the different types of relationships that are all wrapped up in a relationship with God. I tend not to see him as a lover, but more like a powerful ruler that we must obey or else we suffer consequences. Sure, there should be obedience and reverence and fear there, but God is also gentle, loving, kind, slow to anger and abounding in love. He is our best friend, our daddy, our teacher, healer, lover, savior, and so much more! I want God to show me more of Himself in these different lights so that I can grow in my understanding of who He is. It amazes me to think about how limited our human understanding is compared to the Creator of the universe. Even if I spent every minute of the rest of my life having a conversation with God, I'd still never fully understand Him. It is crazy to me how He can be everywhere all at once and listen to a billion prayers at once and know who each one of us is deep inside and the plans He has for our lives.

Several people have spoken into my life recently and have given me courage to believe in myself as a worship leader and to pursue God in a new way. To be honest, I've been a huge slacker when it comes to reading my Bible. Singing songs to God comes much more easily and naturally to me, and doesn't require much sacrifice on my part. I've known for a long time that in order for me to grow I was going to have to resist distraction and give God my precious time. Even though I don't always come away with some great new revelation, I'm still finding myself enjoying the moment. As I read, I anticipate discovering a new piece of God's heart in His word and it's exciting! I am so thankful to those who have been bold enough to send me a text message out of the blue to lift me up, give me focus and challenge me to allow God deeper into my life. I'm privileged to be part of a worship team that cheers one another on as we grow and pursue the glory of God. One of my favorite songs right now is I Have Found by Kim Walker. The chorus represents what is bursting out of my heart:

You are all I want, You are all I need
Everything my heart could hope for
We are longing for the glory of the Lord
'Cause we know there's so much more

Here's a link to the song on Youtube. I challenge you to give God more of your time, to look at Him from a new perspective, to give Him the opportunity to reveal Himself to you in a new way. I don't want to get to heaven and have only a minute understanding of who God is. I know there is so much more in store of myself and for other Christians if we would just seek Him. I think God will blow us away by His glory, His power, by the sheer intensity of being in His presence, if we would only pursue Him passionately! I'm so excited to be along for this journey that God is leading me on! Want to join me?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Yummy Sausage Bread

Growing up, my mom often made her own whole wheat pizza crust for our traditional Friday night pizza dinners. Somewhere along the way, she started making sausage bread to change things up a bit. This stuff is so good! We even took it on long road trips to snack on in the car. Since Alex isn't sentimentally attached to the recipe like I am (read: he's picky!), I decided to make it for myself while he's out of town.

Sausage Bread - total prep & bake time: 30-45 minutes

1 pkg refrigerated pizza dough
1/2 lb ground sausage (or turkey sausage)
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder
Marinara sauce

Personally, making homemade dough without a bread machine (like mom did) sounds too complicated, so I opted for Pillsbury thin crust refrigerated dough. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook sausage, drain grease from pan. Roll the dough out onto a rectangular cookie sheet. Sprinkle half the cheese longways down the center of the dough. Sprinkle sausage on top of the cheese, then add spinach and remaining cheese. Sprinkle the top with garlic powder.

Fold the dough over the filling and seal up the ends of the dough, forming a long roll. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into slices, dip in marinara and enjoy! It looks like this baked a little too long, but once it cooled down, it wasn't even crispy. My mom's dough was chewy, which I liked better than the refrigerated dough.

Aren't my photography skills amazing?! It's almost embarrassing how sorry these pictures are...Anyway, there are so many different ways to change this recipe up. You could leave out the spinach and add peppers and onions, or use pepperoni instead of sausage. My mom always made a plain sausage and cheese one for me and my brother and one with veggies for her and my dad. A co-worker used Steak-ums and made a philly cheese steak version and dipped it in A1 sauce. There are endless possibilities! I hope you enjoy it like I do!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (and gives me an excuse to tackle my to-do list)

In two days, Alex leaves for Texas for a long business trip. He'll be gone for two weeks, then home for a weekend and then gone for another two weeks. In no way am I looking forward to him being away, but I'm trying to stay positive and strong about it. Plenty of friends and family have suggested get togethers, sleep overs, and shopping trips to keep me busy, but the idea of staying home and completing an ever-growing to-do list sounds pretty appealing to me, too. Not to say that I'll never leave the house (besides work) and enjoy time with loved ones, but I'm not going to be afraid to be alone in an empty house, in the dark of night. Yes, I'm afraid of the dark. I can admit it. If I actually finish a few of the things on my to-do list, I'll feel pretty accomplished and Alex might just come home to a sparkling clean, organized home (and a sexier, healthier wife!). Here's my list:

1. Clean the laundry room. No offense to my mom, but when she lived in our house, this was the one room that always needed help. There's a counter top desk space that could never be found under the mounds of random stuff that cluttered it. I think I've inherited her lack of organization when it comes to this room, but, by golly, it's going to look fabulous when I get done with it!

2. Prime (and possibly paint) Alex's old office. It's currently painted black (a true man-cave!) and needs to be primed if we're ever going to repaint. Which we are. Definitely.

3. Finish sewing project for co-worker's baby shower. This has to be done as soon as Alex leaves because the shower is in less than a week!

4. Color my hair. I think I'm going to take the plunge again and go darker. Most people's roots grow out and they have to color again, but my hair doesn't seem to want to hold color for more than a few weeks, so there are no roots to deal with. But, I think it's time for a change. And it will be a surprise for Alex when he gets home.

5. Eat healthier. Most of my co-workers have started a weight loss competition and are either counting calories, doing Weight Watchers, or just trying to eat healthier in general. I didn't really want to pay the $20 entry fee (because I'm cheap!), but I would like to eat healthier and lose a few pounds. If we're going to have a baby someday, I want to be as healthy as possible and I certainly have room for improvement. I've already stocked up on fruits and veggies, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, fish and healthy snacks that Alex normally won't eat. This is the one thing I'm looking forward to most about him being away. I won't have to cook or eat meat and potatoes at all, unless I want to. Which I won't. Yuck. He doesn't like fish, I'm sure he wouldn't touch a veggie burger and he doesn't like veggies cooked the same way that I do, so I'm going to enjoy eating "chick food" for the next month.

6. Decorate the master bedroom. I bought a big wooden window with no glass in it over the summer and it's still just sitting on the floor in our room. Maybe I'll finally figure out where to hang it and other decor in our house. Our walls have been bare for far too long.

7. Clean my office. It seriously looks like a bomb went off in there and I can't handle it anymore. I've had to move all craft projects to the dining room table and can't find ANYTHING when I go digging through the mess in my office. It's embarrassing.

So that's it. Seven things in four weeks. I'd say that's quite doable. Hopefully these next few weeks will fly by and my to-do list will keep my body and mind busy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!!! and a pirate bunny named Coco...

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed time with loved ones. Our holiday was pretty low-key and simple, the way it was meant to be, in my opinion. Alex caught some sort of bug involving lots of congestion and sinus junk which he passed along to me in time for the new year. I ended up going to bed on New Year's Eve around 9:30 to enjoy a wonderful Nyquil-induced sleep.

I feel like I've had no inspiration for blogging lately. My dear friend Jamie always writes interesting things and she somehow manages to post daily. I wish I could be like that. If you haven't read her blog, check her out here! She's a compelling author, an awesome cook, a self-professed home-birthing hippie, mother of two cute little boys, and a faithful friend. She and I might be going on a "date" later this month while Alex is away on a business trip, so hopefully I'll have some more blogging material from that!!!

The most exciting thing to happen lately has been a burst of sewing creativity. Sky wanted to come over after church yesterday to check out Alex's remote controlled helicopter, so while they were playing with that, I got started on another stuffed animal for a friend. Sky saw what I was doing and wanted me to make him a bunny. He picked out all the fabric himself, and I must say he has great taste because this is my new favorite! The body and head are corduroy and the ears are a combo of a velvety fabric (brown, outside) and a mink-like material (white, inside). It wasn't quite finished before he had to go back home, so he'll get it tomorrow. Sky named him Coco (also the name of his dog and the name he asks to be called when he's pretending to be a dog. Kids are crazy.):

So, his head is a little lopsided, but I've been assured that it just makes him more "whimsical". I'm not so sure I agree, but if Sky's happy, then I'm happy! The pattern is from Bit of Whimsy on