Sunday, January 31, 2010

First Pioneer Woman Meal!

Yesterday was a stressful day at our house. We found out that we are going to have to have yet more work done on our car, which was not good news. We also discovered that I had made a small clerical error that is going to cost us a lot of money. I felt so bad, and I knew that the error was completely my fault. We spent the day yesterday upset and not really sure what to do.

Today I decided that we are not going to stress out about this. We are going to put it in God's hands and just trust. I believe that women can really set the tone and mood in a home ("When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!") So I felt that it was my job to lighten the mood, and stop us from stressing out.

So how did I lighten the mood? First of all, while Luke was at band practice this afternoon, I cleaned the house. The floor badly needed to be mopped, and I know at least MY stress level was decreased significantly when that was accomplished ;-)

Then I decided that I was going to make a nice meal. This month I've been making a lot of the easy go-to meals that I use when I'm not feeling creative or motivated. So I thought I'd try something new today. I've been drooling over Ree's recipes on The Pioneer Woman website for months. I decided it was finally time to make some of them. I looked for some comfort foods, since I was trying to help us chill out and stop worrying.

First of all, I've been wanting to make her Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin for awhile. It looked easy enough, so I made it!It really was so easy, and they were DELICIOUS! I would definitely make these again. It's a great side dish to go with just about anything. I love how Ree has step-by-step directions with pictures on her website! It was SOO helpful! I wish I had discovered her website when I first started to cook a-year-and-a-half ago!

Anyway, here is the finished product. Did I mention that they were delicious??
Next I decided that a sandwich would be good to go with my potatoes. Nothing too fancy or complicated-looking. I decided upon "Marlboro's Man's Second Favorite Sandwich."

It was extremely easy to make, and sooo filling and tasty. It was just chicken breasts seasoned with lemon pepper, topped with peppered bacon and cheddar cheese, served on a hamburger bun. Here it is in the pan when it was just about finished
Mmmm, look at all that cheesy goodness! I think we may have overdone it with the cheese tonight!

I think it was a hit! Luke couldn't even finish his whole sandwich because it was all so filling, but I will definitely make it again. The peppered bacon added so much flavor!

Look how huge it is! No wonder neither one of us could finish them!
So did this meal help to de-stress us? I think so! It's funny how food can do that ;-) I'm ready to just chill out here tonight...maybe pop in a movie later after Luke's done watching the Cavs game. I feel a lot better about everything today! I know God will take care of us :-)

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Night of Netflix

Friday nights are the nights that Luke spends the evening at the church playing basketball with a bunch of his buddies. I usually use this night for a little bit of girly "me time." I like to read books, watch girly movies or marathons of shows like "What not to Wear" or "Bridezillas." Tonight I've decided to finally use our instant queue from Netflix for the first time.

I seriously spent about an hour earlier perusing the titles of all the instant movies. I found some that looked completely interesting. I just have one problem. I don't know what to watch first! ha!

I love the documentaries that I can order instantly from Netflix. Right now I have "Food Inc.," "Supersize Me," "Wal Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," and "Jesus Camp." waiting in my instant queue.

Also, there are lots of great TV shows available instantly. Right now I have seasons 1 and 2 of "Dexter" waiting. The show seems slightly morbid, but I've heard that it's really good, and I'm curious to see what it's all about.

I've also added some movies to my list: "The Cake Eaters," "Rachel Getting Married," "Sunshine Cleaning," "Doubt," and "Fried Green Tomatoes."

There are just too many to pick from, because I know I will only have time for one tonight. I shouldn't have added so will take me a year to watch them all! I'm kind of leaning toward "Sunshine Cleaning" for tonight. It sounds interesting, and I love Amy Adams and Emily Blunt.

Anyway, have you seen any of these? Which ones do you reccomend or not reccomend? And what's your favorite movie or show on your Instant Netflix Queue? I'm absolutely loving this. We've had Netflix instantly for at least a month now through Luke's PS3, and I'm not sure why this is the first time I've ever checked it out!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Why is January so boring? I'm enjoying the month, but there sure hasn't been much going on compared to the previous months! January is my least favorite month, because I just think it is the most boring month. March is a close second.

Anyway, today I just thought I'd share a few updates about my life. I really hope for some more interesting blog material and pictures soon!

Violin Update:
I can officially play a few songs on my violin (very simple songs, as I'm sure you can see if you look at the picture of the music from my beginner's book!) My instructor told me this week that I'm ready for a concert! And no, he was NOT serious. It's a very difficult instrument to play, and after hours of practice I still play squeaky, scratchy, and out-of-tune notes more often than I play good, solid, in-tune notes. But I'm getting better! This instrument has proven to be much more of a challenge than the flute or the piano. Not only is it hard to play, but my arms, neck, and shoulders tire after such a short amount of time, I just can't practice for very long each day (Not that I practice each and every day. But I try to). Part of that is due to the fact that I keep automatically raising my shoulder, which I'm not supposed to do. It's hard not to, and my Ukrainian instructor has to constantly say, "Jessica, don't raise shoulder!" Oops...I'm sure it will start to feel more and more natural as I continue to play. Maybe I'll have to post a video of me playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" or "Hot Cross Buns." :-P

Movie Update:
Last weekend I mentioned that I was going to see the Christian movie "To Save a Life," and I promised to give a review if it was any good. But when Luke and I were in town to see the movie, we ran into his sister and her husband, and they were both going to the same movie theater to see "Avatar" in 3D. I hadn't seen it yet, so we decided to go and sit with them and see "Avatar" instead. So I have no review for you, but I may be going to see it this weekend instead. As for Avatar, it was worth seeing for the effects alone, but I'm really not into that kind of movie, so I didn't get into the story too much. And maybe this is just me, but I didn't like how they portrayed the US Marines as the "bad guys," especially in a time of war. I had to reprogram my mind after the movie and remember that I really do love The Marines, and they are not really evil people! Luke and I had a conversation afterward because we had just seen "The Book of Eli" a week before. Luke likes "Avatar" a lot more. I disagreed, though, and decided that I easily preferred "the Book of Eli." What did you think of either/both movies??

Book Update:
I am really reading a lot these days. Probably due to the fact that January is boring :-P Although I have only finished one book so far this year ("Love and Respect") I should be finishing a few within the next few weeks. I am a few pages from being finished with "White Chocolate Moments," which is a great Christian fiction novel by Lori Wick (very light, easy read). I am also going to be finished with "Crazy Love" in a few weeks when our Bible study ends. I'm also about halfway done with "The Shack." I started reading it, and then took a break because I was in the mood for a romantic novel. I'm a few chapters from being done with "Where the Red Fern Grows" as well. I am reading it along with the 5th grade reading class that I work with. This will be my third time reading it, but I haven't read it as an adult. I think the last time I read it, I was in 6th grade. I had forgotten how great of a book it was, but I remember what happens in the end, and I'm completely dreading that part, because I just know I'm going to shed a few tears in front of all of my students! My guess is that they will be crying as well, though. After all of those books, I have a couple relationship books waiting in the wings. We got "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands" from Luke's parents for Christmas, and I'm really anxious to see what that's all about. And yesterday I was at a Christian bookstore, and picked up "His Needs, Her Needs" because I have heard great things about it. Whew, that's a lot of literature! I'm glad I'm well on my way to meeting my goal of reading 30 books in 2010. And...that was a long paragraph!!

4. House Update
Our attic renovations are sort of on hold for now. Everything is painted and ready to go. The carpet was cleared out weeks ago, and we are just waiting for the new carpet! It is scheduled to be installed on February 3rd (next Wednesday). It took the carpet people almost a month to install the carpet after we ordered it, so we are getting a little antsy about the whole thing. But anyway, once it's in we will be busy moving all the furniture back in there, and then turning our current living room into a dining room! Can't wait to share pictures when it's all done!

5. Life Update

And just a general update on my life. I'm hanging in there at work, and am genuinely enjoying my year. This morning we had a 2 hour delay, which was a complete surprise to me! I didn't even realized that it had snowed! Luke and I have been spending a lot of time hanging out at home, as I've mentioned before. We've been playing a lot of Rock Band, watching TV and movies, and loving our kitties! I personally cannot WAIT until the Winter Olympics! I'm sure our TV will constantly be tuned in. I LOVE the Olympics. And although I prefer Summer Olympics to Winter, I'm still excited. Figure skating is my favorite event. I remember being obsessed with Tara Lipinski when I was in jr. high. Do you remember her?? Seriously, I wanted to BE her. lol...
Anyway I'm rambling now, so I'm going to sign off. Have a great Thursday!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I've been debating for awhile if I should post about this or not, because it's kind of pushing the thin "TMI" line. But I really feel like I want to share an experience I've gone through in the past few months. But this is just my TMI disclaimer...if you're a male, you may not want to read this! (Although I think that Luke and JC are the only guys who occasionally read my blog! Oh, and my dad).

Last summer Callie over at "Through Clouded Glass" shared a post about the birth control pill (which I shall from here on refer to as bc). In a nutshell, she explained that one effect of bc is that it thins the lining of your uterus, making it impossible for a fertilized egg to implant. Therefore, causing it to die. I believe that life begins at the moment of conception, and my pro-life convictions are so strong, I just felt wrong taking a pill that would make it impossible for a baby to survive in my body. I could feel God tugging at my heart on the issue. And what did I do? I disobeyed. I took it into my own hands, and decided that my life is just easier with the bc pill. I ignored my convictions, and just went on with my life. Bad idea! You should never ignore the Lord when you know for a fact that He is trying to tell you something!

Fast forward to last fall. I was sick on and off from September - December. It was MISERABLE. I missed work, parties, even a young adult retreat weekend. I made multiple trips to the doctor, and they never did figure out what was wrong. I couldn't really eat anything, and was losing weight (the only up side. ha!) I would get cramps that were so horrible I felt like my stomach was on fire and in a the same time :-P. I remember one night lying on the bathroom floor for a few hours, shaking and vomiting just from the pain. I seriously thought I was dying that night! (I'm a little melodramatic when it comes to pain). And I can't even imagine labor being worse than that, although I'm sure it is!

Since my doctor was no help, I decided I would try to diagnose myself. I did a lot of research and I'm obviously not sure about this, but I believe that I have some type of Inflamatory Bowel Disease (IBD): either Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Every single symptom checks out, and I would almost bet that that's what it was. I promised myself that the next time I had a flare up, I would rush to my doctor ASAP and ask to see a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy (As absolutely HORRIBLE as that would be!)

Somewhere toward the end of my last flare up, I found something interesting in my research. I found that the bc pill has been found to possibly trigger the onset of Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis in already susceptible women. I decided the stop taking the bc pill, just to see what would happen.

I finally stopped taking the pill. Slowly, the cramps and pains that I was having EVERY time I ate got less and less severe (I was having these pains 100% of the time, whether I was having a real flare-up or not). It was very gradual, but one day I noticed that the pains were completely gone. I never did have to call the doctor, because I haven't had a flare-up since I figured out what I think I have.

The week after Christmas was when I started feeling completely better. Since then I have eaten anything I've wanted (fried foods, dairy, fruits and vegetables...these things would have made me miserable, and probably would have kept me up all night back when I was sick) and not only have I not had any flare ups, but I haven't felt so much as a touch of the cramps that had become SOO familiar every single time I ate anything.

So my lesson in all this? I really think that me getting sick was a kick in the butt from God! I didn't listen the first time when He told me I need to stop taking the bc pill. So he had to do something that would get my attention. I will never take the bc pill again. Not only because I really do think that the hormones and chemicals in the pill are what caused me to become so sick, but also because if I believe that life begins at conception, it is very hypocritical of me to be causing my body to be unable to support a fertilized egg.

So if God is gently nudging you about something today, don't ignore it! It will not be fun if He has to do something drastic to get your attention!

{For the record, although I'm not taking the pill anymore, Luke and I still aren't ready to have a baby...just in case anyone is wondering. Also, I have to admit that I have felt all-around better since I stopped! I never really did feel right about putting those chemicals in my body every day to trick it into thinking I was pregnant, and causing me not to ovulate. It just didn't seem very natural to me!}

Sorry if this was TMI for anyone. I promise tomorrow I will do something more light and fun!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Love

I'm so shocked that I'm not hating winter yet this year! It probably helps that it's been in the upper 40s here lately. This weekend it really has felt like early March with high temperatures and lots of rain. The winter blues have not set in yet, and I think by this time it's safe to say that they're not going to (knock on wood!)

Last year I think I was actually close to being depressed at this time of year. I hated just about every minute of the winter months. I didn't want to leave the house and had no energy. As a result, I laid around and sulked, my house turned into a serious nightmare, and I found no joy whatsoever in my job. I am praising God tonight that this winter hasn't been that way at all. On the contrary, I'm actually quite enjoying it!

I'm loving that I've had a lot of time to just hang out at home. I'm completely content to come home from work, tidy up the house a little bit, watch Dr. Oz, make dinner, eat, and clean up dinner, read a little bit, do some laundry, catch up on blogging, spend some time with Luke and the babies, er, cats, watch a TV show or two, and head to bed early. This is how most of my evenings play out. Call me boring, but I really enjoy it!

Our weekends have been so much fun this winter, too. Since we've been staying in during the week so much, we've been going out and having fun on the weekends. Take last weekend for example...we ordered pizza, played a lot of Rock Band, headed out on the town on Saturday night (we went shopping, out to eat, and to see Avatar in was pretty good! It's worth seeing for the effects alone), hung out a lot with JC who is becoming like a brother to us (A few weeks ago I told him our kids are going to call him Uncle JC! lol), watched some TV and movies at's just a fun time all around!

I am praising God because I was expecting to have an absolutely miserable January (always the month that is the hardest on me) and it has been beyond great! Last fall was hard with all of our car troubles and me being sick all the time (which praise God has also cleared up due to some changes I've made...maybe I'll write about that sometime) and I'm just really glad that this winter has been relatively problem free, and also a whole lot of fun!

I can't lie, though, I'm missing the lazy days of summer. I miss sleeping in, not having an agenda, staying up late, having more exciting things going on and consequently more things to take pictures of and more blog topics. But this winter has been pretty great too.

I think I used entirely too many run-on sentences and parenthesis in this post. I apologize :-P

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Am I Missing Out?

This post is really random, but I just have a question.
I have never eaten sushi. I will never eat sushi. The raw fish thing REALLY freaks me out. I have no desire to eat it, and I hope I am never in a situation where I have to eat it. Yuck.

Okay my question is, am I missing out? It seems like such a trendy thing, and I'm anything but trendy. I'm just wondering why it's so popular and why everyone seems to be eating it?? Isn't the texture just disgusting? Is the taste good?? I just don't get it. Could you please fill me in on what I'm missing?!

Maybe I'm just too picky. I'm really not picky in the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to food that came from the ocean or a lake I am. I barely even ate fish before I started dating Luke. It always freaked me out too. Now I can eat long as it's fried. I don't like shrimp either. I think it's the texture. Which I think would be my problem with sushi.

I know that there is sushi that doesn't necessarily contain raw fish. But still....ewww. It just looks gross to me.

Okay, well that's all for today. Luke and I are headed out on a date tonight! "To Save a Life" is playing at a movie theater nearby. It's a Christian movie, made by a church just like "Fireproof" and "Facing the Giants." (Not the same church, though). I'm curious about it, and excited to see it! I'll let you all know if it's any good!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crazy Love

I had my "Crazy Love" (by Francis Chan) Bible study tonight. It was great! This is another life-changing book like "The Battlefield of the Mind" (Joyce Meyer) was in the fall. It is such a simple book, but really kind of slaps you right in the face. We have only studied the first two chapters, but already I can feel my outlook changing. I thought I'd share some tidbits that really stuck out to me tonight:

*Sometimes we need to stop praying for a minute and acknowledge God. Make sure prayer doesn't just become an automatic thing that is a routine.

*God is evidenced by His intricate creation. If we forget the power of God, we need only to look out our windows at the beauty of His creation. Or even just think about the intricacies of the systems in our bodies and how he has orchestrated them together so that they work just like a well-oiled machine. How can you NOT believe in God when you think about things like that?!

*God has a purpose for all of our lives. But we don't need to think about this "purpose" as something far off that we hope to accomplish sometime in our lives. He has a purpose each and every day for us, and we should concentrate on fulfilling that. Whether it's just helping someone out or showing someone love.

*We were created by God and FOR God. Our true purpose is to bring him glory in every situation, each and every day of our lives.

*We are not guaranteed a tomorrow. Or even a next breath. Today could be the day that we see Jesus face to face. If there's anything you would regret about your life if you saw Jesus today, change it! This is the thing that hit me more than anything else. I am done spending my time worrying because if today was my last day, I would regret that I spent so much time and energy worrying about things that I have no control over anyway. God is in control, and when I worry, I limit his power.

I know I just did a book review yesterday, but this is another GREAT book worth checking out! And I'm only about 50 pages in :-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love and Respect

I decided that this year I would do some reviews of the books that I read. (You can find the list of all the books I've read this year toward the bottom of my sidebar. but, um, there's only one there for 2010!) I won't review all of them...just the books that are really great and that I think others would enjoy as well.

Love and Respect, by Emmerson Eggerichs, is one such book.
This book introduces some ideas that seem so obvious, yet so new all at the same time. The main message is that women desire LOVE more than anything. However, men do not. They desire RESPECT more than anything. Sometimes as women, we try to shower them with love. But that's not what they really desire. They desire respect, and when we show them respect, they will more than likely respond by showing us love.

When I first started reading this book, I was a little confused, because in my mind, love and respect go hand in hand, and are almost the same thing. I mean, if you love someone, you respect them. Right?

Wrong. The book showed me that my idea of respect and a man's idea of respect were a little bit different. Men desire to lead the relationship. They want to be acknowledged and thanked for what they do and NOT nagged. When we put them down, it hurts them more than I think we realize because they naturally put up a strong front and don't let us see when they are upset. This book really opened my eyes to a lot of things!

I don't want to give anything more away, but this was a great book! If you haven't read it, you should definitely check it out!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Long Weekend

I had a 4 day weekend, and I'm really sad to see it end! For the most part, it was great! It included:

*Staying in on friday and finishing season 5 of The Office on Netflix. And eating pizza.
*A spontaneous shopping trip with Luke and our friend JC on Saturday. We looked at puppies at a pet shop, got my violin fixed, checked out some bookstores, and dropped by the mall. And before all of that we ate lunch at Five Guys...yum!
*We Went on over to my parents' house Saturday night for pizza and a movie. We watched "28 Days," which I'd never seen before. We ended out the night by watching a few hilarious home videos.

*After church on Sunday we went over to Luke's parents' for yet more pizza. We ate lunch there and then watched the Dallas/Minnesota game. Glad Minnesota won!

*This morning I went out to lunch with my mom and sister. Then we went to the movie theater to see "The Lovely Bones." It was pretty good! Kind of weird, but good.

*Luke came home tonight with a huge package. Upon opening it, I found that he had bought Rock Band! We used to have Rock Band, and then sold it, but we've been missing it lately, so Luke surprised me by buying it again! He got a really good deal on it, I guess. So it was fun playing for a little while after dinner tonight!

*After our Rock Band session, Luke and I headed out to the movie theater again and saw "The Book of Eli." That's right, I saw two movies in one day :-P But it was a GREAT movie! I was surprised by how much I loved it. There was a lot of violence, but had a lot of Christian messages in it! Plus an amazing ending. LOVED it!

So that was my weekend in a nutshell...lots of movies, and lots of pizza ;-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Pearl Necklace

This morning as I was getting ready for church, I decided to wear my (faux) pearl necklace. I love pearls. I think they are so classy and timeless, and I would choose pearls over diamonds any day. Well, except when it comes to my left ring finger :-P

Anyway, as I was clasping the strand of pearls around my neck, I suddenly remembered a story my old Sunday School teacher had read to our lady's group a year or so ago. It was a story about a pearl necklace, and it brought tears to my eyes. I looked for the story online, and found it! So I thought I'd share it with you today. Please read it! You will really be blessed :-)

"The Pearl Necklace

The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.

"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

"A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents.

On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere--Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess--the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my babydoll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.

"What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver,she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.

He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure."

What are you holding onto today? When I hear this story it helps me to realize that even though change is hard, and it's almost impossible to give up the things that are the most special or important to us, God has so much more planned for us! We need to make sure we are daily surrendering to God, and letting Him have His way in our lives. I know this story has been a great reminder to me this morning!

Have a blessed Sunday :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bad, Bad Blogger

I've been a bad blogger, and I apologize! The reason I say this is because of my lack of attention to my blogroll! It hasn't been updated in, oh, say, 8 months? I have so many fabulous blogs that I LOVE, and I haven't been showcasing a lot of you on my sidebar! For that I apologize. I want to make it a point to update it monthly, along with my header. So check the blogroll on my sidebar for all the blogs I love! I added about 20 today :-)

(If I forgot to add you, or if you would like to be added, just shoot me a comment or email and let me know :-))

Thursday, January 14, 2010


My cats LOVE their treats. Especially Gabby...she would do anything for one of them! I try to always have some on hand. For Christmas, I gave Gabby and Ellie little stockings full of their coveted treats.

I always keep their treats on top of the refrigerator. So I had their two little stockings on top of the refrigerator, and every other day or so, I'd reach up and grab them, the cats would come running, and they'd enjoy a few treats.

Recently Gabby has started to get very demanding of her treats. In the past week or so, every time I even walk toward the kitchen, she runs around the corner, starts crying, and walks to the refrigerator. It's cute and funny, yet also quite annoying.

Tonight, Gabby did her usual routine of crying in front of the refrigerator. I wanted to butter her up before her vet appointment tomorrow, so I decided I'd give her a few. I reached up for the stockings. Lo and behold, they were both completely empty! I know there had been a little bit left in each the last time I got them down. I got up on a chair so I could see if maybe they had spilled or something. As I climbed up on the chair, Gabby made a running start for the window sill. She bounced off of the window sill, onto the radiator, and from there she sprang right up to the top of the fridge! I couldn't believe it! Apparently Gabby had climbed up on the fridge, and proceeded to eat the rest of the treats! What a little sneak! I thought it was adorable, though, and couldn't be mad for long. I guess I'll have to find a new hiding spot!

I'm so glad my cats keep life interesting! Gabby is actually the more mellow cat (albeit the evil, mean one, as well!) Ellie is the real crazy one, because she's still just a kitten. So yeah, there's never a dull moment here with the two of them!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I wrote a post about babies a little bit ago, but really just was not feeling it! So I deleted it, and thought instead I'd just do a quick random post.

*I broke my first string on the violin today! Oops...I was trying to tune it and it just snapped! I think it needed to be replaced anyway. Luckily, Luke is going to Guitar Center on Friday and I'm going to have him pick up a new string for me, and we're going to attempt to replace it. So much for practicing before the weekend!

*I'm in a new Bible study and we are studying the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I haven't started the book yet, because I still haven't gotten my hands on a copy, but from what I heard, it's amazing, and I can't wait! I'll keep ya posted on the book, and let ya know what I think :-)

*Luke and I have now been married for over a year-and-a-half. Which means we've FINALLY been married for as long as we were engaged. I don't know how I was able to stand being engaged for that long. I would not do it that way again. I mean, we had a couple sets of friends who started dating AFTER we got engaged, and got married BEFORE us. Anyway, I can't believe we are already six months into our second married year together! It is going a lot faster than our first year, and sometimes I wish time would just slow down a little bit.

*I have a four-day-weekend coming up with absolutely nothing planned. I sort of wish Luke and I could take a spontaneous weekend trip or something. I almost proposed the idea to him, and then realized we just have way too much going on financially (i.e. buying new carpet, furniture, and a few other things in the works). So I guess I'll just be chilling at home some more. Maybe we can fit a date night or two in there somewhere :-) Or if I'm LUCKY, maybe a trip to Ikea in Pittsburgh. I'm itching to go there since I haven't in SUCH a long time!

*I was bored during my lunch break today and somehow stumbled upon a website that tests to see how many words per minute you can type. So of course I had to take the test! Apparently I type 90 wpm! Which I was excited for, because if you watch The Office at all, then you know that that's how fast Pam types! I think it's all these long blog posts that have increased my typing speed so much :-P

*It's supposed to be almost 40 degrees the next couple of days. That's practically tropical compared to what we've been experiencing in the past few days. I'm pumped! And the sun was actually shining today :-) Haven't seen that in awhile.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First Lesson

Today was a big day for me. I have been wanting to learn how to play the violin for a long time. My parents got me violin lessons for Christmas, plus a violin to borrow from a friend. Today was my first lesson!

I have tried to squeak out a few notes on it before today, but haven't been very successful. It is a LOT harder than I expected. Definitely harder than the flute and the piano, the other two instruments I play.

I was a little nervous for my lesson today since I had absolutely no idea how to hold the instrument, let alone play it. It wasn't too bad, though! I learned so much in just 30 minutes. I learned the correct posture to use while playing. You're supposed to stand up straight, keep your neck up and shoulder down all while remaining relaxed, holding the bow the correct way with your fingers relaxed, curved, and slightly angled, and also keeping your left hand relaxed on the strings, never straightening or tightening the muscles in my fingers. I think it's going to be awhile before I am able to do all of that at once! Today I would concentrate on holding the bow right and I would raise my shoulder, then I would concentrate on relaxing my shoulder and my other hand would tighten up and move from the correct position. It's hard to keep all of that straight!

Did I mention that I must do all of that while keeping my bow exactly perpendicular with the strings? That's the hardest part. Because if my bow is angled at all, it causes the sound to be all squeaky and screechy. Plus I have to learn the correct angle to use with the bow on each of the four strings, and I have to learn the finger positions of all the notes! Yikes, this is going to be tricky.

It was a lot to remember. I'm surprised I even had time to play a few "songs" while I was there. Okay, so they were mostly rhythm exercises played with open strings. Toward the end he taught me how to play the D sharp scale, and Mary Had a Little Lamb. I was so embarrassed because I knew there were bunches of college music majors in the hallway who could hear me playing this scratchy, squeaky, out-of-tune rendition of Mary Had a Little Lamb! My little Ukrainian instructor kept saying, "Good, good!!" It was not good. Not at all. But I'm going to work on everything he taught me so I can be a little less horrible next week!! :-P

I was surprised to learn that the violin is mostly about using your ears. I've played the piano since I was 6 or 7, and obviously didn't have to worry about whether I was in tune or not, because it was already tuned! And I've also played the flute for a long time, and that's easy to tune...just pull the head out to make it lower or push it in to make it higher. But this is so much different. You just have to have a good ear and make little adjustments with your fingers to change the tone. I have a lot more respect for violinists now! I don't know if I'll ever be able to play decently, but I am going to try!

Wow, I didn't realize how much I was going to write about this! I'm excited and can't wait until I'm not so horrendous anymore!! :-P

Now that I've stretched my musical muscles today, I'm really ready for American Idol tonight!! I can't wait to watch it! I'm going to have to keep flipping back and forth from Idol to Biggest Loser...wish they weren't both on at the same time!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Wonderful Weekend

This weekend ended up being so relaxing and just great! It got off to a great start with my snow day on Friday. I stayed home all day and evening and didn't do a whole lot of anything. It was great!

Yesterday Luke and I spent the entire day tearing up the ugly old carpet in the attic. It took us hours because it's a huge room, and we had to take out all the tack strips and staples and everything. Somehow I got the job of taking out the tack strips, and my back is absolutely killing me today! But it did make me feel pretty tough, pounding, smacking, ripping, get the idea :-) We should be getting the new carpet any day now. I've decided not to post any pictures until we're completely finished with the renovations, so stay tuned! ;-)

This morning Luke, our friend JC, and myself headed to our favorite after-church hang out: The Hot Dog Shoppe. This little restaurant has become our favorite. We somehow end up sitting in the same booth every week, and I think pretty much all the waitresses know we come after church most Sundays. It's not a fancy place, but they have the BEST cheesburgers and fries I've ever had. Hands down. I'm not sure what it is about the place, but when we are there, everything feels right with the world :-) Check out my Project 365 blog for a hilarious picture of JC and Luke piggin' out!

I wish I could say I did something productive with my afternoon. But I did not. I spent the entire afternoon playing around in Photoshop. Do you notice the new signature at the bottom of my posts? Yeah, that's what I did with my afternoon. It took me hours to design and then figure out how to add to my blog. HTML codes will be the death of me :-P But do ya like it??

I feel like I'm running out of post topics because not too much has been going on ever since Christmas and New Years. I've basically just been hanging out at home with Luke and the kitties :-) I do have a four-day weekend coming up next weekend, though, so hopefully I'll have SOMETHING to write about then!

Have a blessed week!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Winter Wonderland

As you can probably tell from the pictures above, I had a snow day today!! I got the call at about 5:30 this morning. I had to try to keep my excitement to a minimum, because when I have a snow day, Luke has to go into work 2 hours early to plow. Once Luke had left, I ran to the bedroom, jumped back in bed, and promptly fell asleep...until 10:00. Which means I slept for about 11 hours last night. Wow, apparently I needed it! That's almost double my normal amount of sleep, so I must need to go to bed earlier!

I've spent the day inside, only venturing out once or twice to enjoy the beauty of the snow. I really wish I could have gone out and done something to enjoy it! Like build a snow man, go sled riding, or 4-wheeling. I don't think you're ever too old for these things ;-)

I'm actually super surprised that I'm not completely sick of this weather yet. Usually by this time in January I'm ready to pack up my possessions and move to Florida. But I'm actually not feeling that way yet this year! I'm loving the snow and the beauty it brings. I'm enjoying being somewhat snowed in right now. It's relaxing! It's a lot easier to love it when I'm on the inside looking out. And I've decided that the main thing I hate about winter is scraping the layers of snow and ice off of my car, and then driving in hazardous conditions. Since I didn't have to do any of that today, It's easy to like winter a little bit more ;-)

I hope you all can stay warm, wherever you are!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Flushing Ice

Every kid knows that the best way to GUARANTEE a snow day is to flush ice cubes down the toilet. Or wear your pajamas backwards.

Tonight the kids may not even have to do all of that stuff (although they will, because it's just fun!) I'd say at this point that there's about a 99% chance that we will have a snow day tomorrow! It seems that everything in the universe has lined up just right to make us teachers happy. Because it is supposed to snow nonstop from now until tomorrow afternoon at 4! We are supposed to get about 1-3inches of snow tonight, and 3-5 tomorrow, and that's in addition to all the snow that's piled up from the past week. I think it's safe to say that I won't be going in to work tomorrow. As I sit here, I can hear the snow plows going down the road every so often, and I can see the constant stream of white falling from the sky. It makes me happy!

I'm really hoping that I receive the call letting me know that school is canceled tonight. That would be the BEST kind of snow day. Going to bed knowing that I can blissfully sleep in as late as I want. This is much better than waking up, taking my shower, and then receiving a phone call that school is canceled. it's hard to go back to sleep after a shower has awakened me. I will not complain either way, though!

I know that during most of the cold months, I completely envy all of you who live in the beautiful, sunny state of Florida. Or those of you who live in the southwest and barely know what snow is! Today, though, I am glad that I live in the Midwest, just miles away from the snow belt :-) Today I can sit here and enjoy the beautiful snow from my living room. I can drink hot cocoa and watch a movie, and hope for the call that will bring me complete bliss, and an early start to my weekend. Tonight we may venture out in the storm to go to our friends' house down the street to watch the National Championship game. After that, though, I don't plan on leaving the house until Saturday or maybe even Sunday (um, as long as we in fact DON'T have school tomorrow! I'm jumping the gun a bit). I plan on getting a lot done around here, too!

Just for fun, here is a picture I took of an old schoolhouse across the street on my way to church on Sunday. It was 7 degrees, and at that point, had been snowing off and on since around Thursday. I'll have to take an updated "after" picture sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening. I think we're going to be pretty much buried under all of this snow for a few days. And I'm okay with that :-)

All right, now I have to go do my snow dance ;-) Have a great evening, and stay warm!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Bachelor

Today I can't help but share my thoughts on the Bachelor. Please feel free to agree or disagree with me here! I have no one at my house to discuss the show with, so I would LOVE to discuss it with you, via comments!

First of all, I just love Jake. If I were single I'd probably have a huge crush on him. I think he's completely sweet, a gentleman, and LOVED that he said the most important things in his life were God, family, and friends. In that order.

So far my favorite girl is Tenley. She is the one who was divorced and won the first impression rose. She seemed to be very sweet, innocent, and genuine. I really feel for her since her ex-husband was unfaithful. I, however, did NOT like that she kissed Jake. I feel like that is just too forward, and that the man should make the first move. But I think she was sort of thinking that too, hence the few tears she shed over the whole situation.

I also loved Ali. She seemed very natural and sweet.

Am I wrong or did two girls trip on the show last night?? How embarrassing...sounds just like something I would do! I thought it was cute how the one girl said something like, "I guess I already fell for him!"

Did anyone else have a hard time watching due to the sheer awkwardness of the interactions between the bachelorettes and Jake?? Oh my, I just felt like it was so forced and rehearsed, and just plain weird in some cases. I know it's mostly due to the fact that this was the first time meeting Jake and being on camera. I can't wait until everyone starts acting more natural and their real personalities start showing through.

Some girls that I don't think were right for Jake: Roslyn, the model. I think he only picked her for her looks, and I don't think their relationship will go very deep. Also, Michelle. She was just way too intense and emotional. Jake seems to me like he likes to have a good time and not take life TOO seriously. I just don't see them as a good fit. I think maybe they only left her on to add some drama to the show. And finally, Vienna. Jake is so sweet, I just picture him with a really sweet girl. Vienna was extremely forward and I think she will stir up trouble with the other girls. I don't think Jake will end up with her.

According to the previews of the season, it looks like it will be pretty dramatic. Did you see Jake storm out of the interview room and knock a light over? Hmm, I can't wait to find out what brought that attitude from our sweet Jake! Also, it looks like we will see yet another "crying over the balcony" scene. It wouldn't be The Bachelor without that!

I can't wait to hear what you all have to say about last night's episode! Please leave a comment and share your opinion. Even if your opinion is that this show is trashy and you'd never watch it :-P

Here's to hoping that Jake finds the right girl/the right girl finds Jake :-)

Monday, January 4, 2010


It's been awhile since I've updated my "101 goals in 1,001 days" list, so I thought I'd do that on this beautiful, snowy, Monday evening while I'm sitting here in my Snuggie and slipper boots, waiting for my lasagna to come out of the oven ;-)

So here are some more things I've accomplished since the last time I updated:

On December 13, Luke and I made brunch together, to fulfill #29: "Cook a meal together." I always burn bacon for some reason, so I made some French toast while Luke made the bacon. No, it wasn't an extravagant meal, but we were working together, side-by-side in the kitchen. It was fun and delicious, and I hope to make more meals together :-)

On Christmas, I got to fulfill the very first item in the "My Dreams" category, which was exciting for me: "Try the violin; decide if I want to pursue it." I got the violin (to borrow) for Christmas, and yes, I do want to pursue it. Which brings me to my next item:

"Take a fun Class." I'm not sure if I'm stretching this one a bit or not, but I'm considering my violin lessons as a class. They begin this month. I'm excited, but nervous, too!
Christmas helped me fulfill a few other items, too: "Bake Christmas cookies and send them to friends, neighbors, and relatives." I made a bunch of Christmas treats throughout December, along with friends and family, and shared the wealth with lots of people. I enjoyed this so much, and can't wait to make some more next year!

Another Christmas list item I completed was: "Send Christmas cards." I designed them myself, and our friend JC took the picture. I hope to make sending Christmas cards a yearly tradition.
I have one goal that I sort of half fulfilled recently. Luke's grandparents bought an almost new bright red Mustang convertible not too long ago. They let Luke and I take a little ride in it. Luke drove and I just enjoyed the ride, and it was so nice! The catch is, the top wasn't down because it was FREEZING!! The goal was "Ride in a convertible," and I guess I technically did that. But I'm only giving myself half credit since the top wasn't down!

I also visited another new restaurant, which brings my total to 2/5 new restaurants. I went to IHOP a few weeks before Christmas, and it was my first trip there ever! LOVED their gingerbread pancakes.Also, I began Project 365, which was another one of my goals. Of course I can't really count that one as finished until the end of the year, but at least that one's "in progress."

So that brings my new total to 18 completed goals (well, 17.5 if I'm being picky). Only 83 (83.5) left. (Wow, that seems like a lot left!!) I started in August, so I guess I'm probably about right where I should be as far as progress goes.

Hopefully if I get too bored, or too much cabin fever this winter, I can go to my list and find some fun goals to work on. It has been such a positive thing for me! I don't even know if I would be learning to play the violin right now if I hadn't written it in my goals. I also might not be trying so hard to get to the gym and run my 100 miles. I love this list of short-term goals that are helping me reach my long-term life goals. I have had so much fun with it so far! It is a great idea if you are thinking about starting one! :-)

And P.S...This is completely unrelated to anything, but my neighbors still have their Christmas lights turned on, and they are blinking happily right out my kitchen window. I have to stare at them the whole time I wash dishes every night, and it is just a little sad. Christmas decorations after New Years = depressing in my book. Hopefully they'll take them down before tomorrow night!

P.P.S: Who else is watching The Bachelor tonight?! I can't wait! Only a few hours left before it starts :-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Goodbye, Christmas

Today is my last day of break. A little bittersweet (more bitter than sweet). It has been a fabulous break, but I just don't know what happened to it! It seems like just yesterday we were having our last day Christmas parties with the kids at work!

Yesterday we spent the day packing all of our Christmas decorations into boxes, and placing them in the furthest corner of our attic. I have a hard time with this every year! It's like a physical representation of my favorite time of year ending, and my least favorite time of year beginning. Today Luke took our Christmas tree out and burned it. So sad! It had become such a part of our living room :-P

Although it's sad to see the Christmas season ending, I'm ready for what this winter has in store. Today I went out and bought some workout clothes so I'm ready to get started on my New Year's resolutions (they ended up not fitting, but at least I'm taking steps in the right direction! :-P) Also, I'm having so much fun with Project 365! It's so fun to take pictures throughout the day and then pick just one to post that represents my day on the blog. And I have been reading a lot in order to reach that resolution as well. I'm already halfway through "The Shack," so pretty soon I'll be able to post my very first book on my "Books I've Read in 2010" list! These resolutions are really giving me something to work toward this winter, and distract me from the fact that I hate it so much :-P

Also, Luke and I have so much to keep us busy this winter! that will help keep the winter blues at bay. We are about halfway finished with our attic room renovations, so that will keep us busy. The painting's done, we should have our carpet installed sometime in the next week or two, and after that it's just minor details we have to finish. There has been talk about possibly buying a nice couch, too! I really hope we do. I've decided not to post anymore pictures until we're completely done, though, so I can't wait until the big reveal :-) Also we will then need to turn our current living room into our dining room, and make some more changes in our kitchen. I will share pictures when the time comes!

So although it really stinks that Christmas is over, I think this winter won't be so bad. Last year, winter was really hard on me for some reason. But I think this winter will be much better! :-)

Our pastor did a sermon today about not being afraid, and just trusting God, staying in the word, and just going for it, and reaching our goals this year. It was really inspirational, and just what I needed to hear. Joshua 1:9 was one of the key verses for his sermon, and I really want to make it my key verse for 2010:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." ~ Joshua 1:9

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Celebrations

Here I am, blogging for the first time in 2010! I Love New Year' feels like we get to start fresh and have a whole new 365 days to try new things, grow in our walk with the Lord, make new memories, and become closer to accomplishing our life goals! I wonder where I will be on January 1, 2011? Anyway, I'll just focus on today for now ;-)

You may notice some changes to my blog. A brand new header for January, and a fresh start to my "books I've read..." section. Also, I went back and started putting labels on every single blog post. I've been wanting to do this for awhile, and thought now is as good a time as any since I have some extra time. Also, my very first post is up on my Project 365 blog, so check it out :-)

Okay, now onto my New Years festivities. Every New Year's Eve our friends throw a big party. We usually go to that, but this year decided to skip that and take it a little easy. Luke had a concert anyway, and I didn't really feel like spending time at that party without him. So instead, we hung out at my parents' all evening. Luke didn't get there until around 9:30 because he had a concert to play at earlier, but it ended up being really fun! We were the youngest people at the party by about 25 years, but it was still a good time :-) We played lots of games like Buzz Word and Scene It: Squabble. And I can't forget about all the delicious food!
(I made the cut-outs...I can't resist it. Any excuse to use my cookie cutters and I'm all over it!)

As it got later in the evening, we all went into the living room and watched the DVR'd 20/20 documentary on the real story of Michael Oher from "The Blind Side." Then at about 11:50, Mom brought out the peppermint punch in fancy glasses, and we rang in the new year watching the ball drop :-)
I tried to snap a picture of me and Luke during the first few moments of 2010. We are getting old though, and Luke was tired. He was mid-yawn in this picture yet smiling at the same time. So I thought it looked pretty funny :-)It was a mellow New Year's Eve to say the least, but I loved it. I think I'm a fan of smaller, intimate gatherings for New Year's Eve rather than big parties. I wouldn't even mind just staying home and watching the ball drop from the comfort of our living room next year. I guess I'm just not a fan of being out that late anymore! Ha!

Every New Year's Day we go to a party at our pastor's house. He and my dad and a few other guys were all best friends growing up, and still have a New Year's Day get-together every year. This has been going on for as long as I can remember. I almost consider these people to be a second family to me. It's always a lot of fun to catch up with all of them on New Year's Day. And there is always a lot of great food involved. Good thing one of my resolutions is to work out! ;-)
I brought some more cookies today, too. Even some little footballs, because today Ohio State played Oregon in the Rose Bowl...AND WON!!! :-D
The men stayed in the beautiful living room and watched football ALL DAY
While the women sat at the table and chatted for hours.
Here is a picture of my mom with one of her BFFs, Gale. I thought the reading glasses were cute on both of them ;-)
And here are some of the girls, who are also my dear friends: Kristin, my sister Julie, me, and Lauren.
What a great day! Friends, Family, Food...and it snowed alllll beautiful!
Oh, can't forget about Millie! This dog was so adorable, and I love how her tongue is sticking out in this picture. Makes me want a puppy!
Luke and I spent all afternoon and most of the evening there. Then during half time of the Ohio State game, we left and ventured over to his parents' house for the second half. Everyone sure was excited when Ohio State won!! It's been awhile since they've won a big game under pressure like that :-)

I had a lot of fun ringing in the year 2010! 2009 was a great year, and I only hope that 2010 is just as great :-)