Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wedding Wednesday

On this Wedding Wednesday, I have decided to share pictures of all the little details that made our day special:

Pink lilies (My mom did all the flowers)
The cake which was Luke's grandma's gift to us. It was adorned with many flowers, as you can see.
The groom's cake made by my sister
The favors: we found these tiny, adorable little vases at Flower Factory for a very low price. We then ripped our hair out tying tiny pink and brown bows to each one, filling them with water at the reception hall with a little dropper, and placing a tiny rosebud or other flowers left over in each vase. I thought it was a cute idea, and I'd never seen it done before. But making them was a pain in the butt :-P

I just loved all the little details on our special day. My mom and sister are very creative when it comes to things like this, so I'm lucky! The pink and brown colors were just so "me" and I loved every last detail!

Stay tuned next Wednesday for my last installment of the Wedding Wednesday series! And then it will be our anniversary, and we will have been married for two years. I guess we are getting close to exiting the "newlywed" phase of our marriage, but I am going to cling to it for as long as possible. ha! I hope we always have that little bit of excitement in our marriage so that we always feel a little bit like newlyweds!

A Delicious Summer Dinner

It hit me last night that July 4 is this weekend! And as I mentioned yesterday, we really don't have any plans other than going to the park to watch fireworks. Normally Luke and his friends buy a bunch of fireworks and set them off at a cookout. This year, though, most of his friends are going to be out of town. And maybe they're getting a little old for that anyway...I don't know. But since I think we are both secretly a little bummed that as of yet we have no plans for the holiday, I decided that I want to make the whole week fun and festive for the two of us :-)

Last night was a beautiful night. Sunny, blue skies, and relatively low, comfortable temperatures for the end of June. The perfect night to cook out! So to begin our fun week, Luke grilled burgers outside while I cooked the side dishes inside. I ran to Giant Eagle quickly before Luke got home from work to buy a few last minute things. And thanks to couponing and stockpiling, we are very ahead this month in our grocery budget, so I splurged a little bit in the produce section (my grocery store weakness!) We had fun making dinner together, and it turned out pretty good if we do say so ourselves ;-)

First of all, I made guacamole for the first time ever. Just for fun and to have something to snack on while the rest of the meal was being prepared. I actually had to Google "how to skin an avocado," because I had never handled one before. It turned out to be pretty easy, suprisingly. Avocados are just pretty, don't you think?
I didn't really follow any specific recipe, but instead mixed and matched some I found online based on the ingredients I had. It was so easy to make! I just threw 1 avocado, half a chopped onion, half a chopped tomato, 1 clove of garlic, minced, a teaspoon of lemon juice (it was supposed to be lime juice, but I had to improvise) and a bit of salt and pepper in my blender. I mixed them all together, and voila....guacamole! It was good, too...even with the lemon juice instead of lime juice.
While Luke was outside grilling the burgers, I stayed in to make parsley potatoes and steam the asparagus.I then melted some butter over the asparagus and sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese, and it was delicious.
It took us awhile to make all of this, but it was gone in a matter of minutes. And I have plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow, too. Yum! This meal was just so summery, and I loved it!

After dinner, Luke went to work outside getting rid of this hideous bush beside our walkway. It is actually on our neighbor's property but was very overgrown, and was starting to block our walkway. So Luke was granted permission to pull it out tonight, and we're really excited that we don't have to look at it's ugliness anymore! We completed the landscaping in the front of the house earlier this year, and now we are working on the landscaping on the side leading up to our apartment. I will share pictures when we have the flowers planted!
Later last night we watched "Twilight" in order to get ready for Eclipse. And by "we" I mean "I." haha...I also rented "New Moon" and that is on the agenda for tomorrow! I wanted to go see "Eclipse" at the midnight showing last night with a friend, but we were too late in ordering tickets. You snooze, you lose, I guess! I'm hoping to catch a matinee sometime later this week (anyone wanna come with me?? ;-))

I will have to think of some more ways to make this week fun so Luke doesn't feel the void of his friends missing! ha! I'm sure we will have fun together :-)

Wedding Wednesday post will be up later today! Only two more Wednesdays before our anniversary!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mish Mash

This post is going to be all over the place!

- Yesterday was an amazing Monday for me! I slept in super late and only had a half hour to get ready for my lunch/movie date with my mom and sister. Monday is sort of our unofficial day to hang out since Mom and Julie both have the day off. Anyway, we went to see a movie first: Knight and Day.I'll be honest and say that although all the previews claimed it to be "The best grown up movie of the summer," I was not excited to see it. I'm not into action movies. However, I was so pleasantly surprised! There was never a dull moment and it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It was hilarious, and had lots of plot twists that kept us guessing. I really enjoyed it, and if I liked it, I think anyone would like it! I think Luke was a little bummed that I went to see it without him, but he'll find a friend to go see it with him!

- After the movie, we went to lunch at Applebees since it's right by the theater. When our waitress came by, she asked my sister and I if we were twins! I thought we were looking more and more different as we got older, but maybe I was wrong. What do you think? I think we look nothing alike. To be fair, though, I think our posture, voices, body make-up, and mannerisms are close to identical, and that could be part of the reason...and you can't see that in a picture! How funny, because our personalities couldn't be more different.(Normally we have the same hair, too, but back when this was taken last August, my hair was straightened and Julie's was not her natural color).

-Last night Luke and I had a little adventure. If you've been reading for long at all, you know that we've had a LOT of car problems this year costing us a LOT of money. We bought the VW Passat last fall, and when it works, I love it. However, it doesn't seem to be working very much of the time. And while it is in perfect working order at the moment, we sort of look at it as a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at any minute with more problems. We are thinking about selling it or trading it in for something cheaper and American-made. Last night we looked at a possible trade-in car...a Pontiac Grand Prix. Luke was driving a black Grand Prix six years ago, back when we started dating. And for some reason, he just LOVED that car and really misses it! lol...It didn't work out, and we're not even entirely sure if we're going to sell the Passat, but it was fun to look :-)

- After looking at the car, we decided to eat dinner at Grinders (Yay, I got to eat out twice yesterday!) While we were waiting for our food, we played Family Feud on Luke's phone, and it was just fun! I'm so glad we can still have fun together doing little things like that. I love the song "Then" by Brad Paisley. That's how I feel about our relationship right now, and I love it. Like I've said many times before, I'm really trying to enjoy this time in our lives when it's just the two of us, before the stress of kids gets involved.

- Yesterday I had some good talks with my mom and sister about two specific health problems I'm having. My mom thinks they are both linked to stress. I am such a stressed-out person. Even when I trust God and feel like I've let go of all of my worries, I can still feel my body being tense. It's like my mind is saying that I'm not stressed out, but my body won't listen. Does this happen to anyone else? Anyway, my mom thinks a good solution is to start exercising daily to work off some of that nervous energy. So I'm going to start walking/running around the neighborhood daily, and if the weather's bad, I have a bunch of dance workout videos in my Instant Netflix queue. This morning I woke up and was sick like I am a lot of mornings, so I decided I didn't want to walk in case a bad cramp hit when I was miles away from my house. So instead I did one of the dance videos. It was "Ten Minute Solutions: Fat Burning Dance Mix." I only did 2 of the 10-minute segments, but it was a pretty good workout! And fun, too :-) I love to dance when no one is watching. haha..anyway, I feel good, and I hope this helps!

-This morning I discovered an addicting website for me: "Ta-Da Lists" . It is simply a website where you can type out to-do lists, and check them off when you are done. I'm addicted to the feeling I get when I check something off of a to-do list, so I really like this website! It's just easier than writing it all out by hand. I made four lists just this morning: today's to-do list, a list of important things I need to do soon (schedule appointments, make calls, etc.), a list of fun things I want to do this summer, and a list of all the movies I want to see this summer. Who knew something so simple could excite me so much? :-P

- What are your plans for 4th of July weekend? We actually don't really have any yet! Except to go to the park and watch fireworks. Hopefully we will find something to do in the next few days! haha.

Have a great Tuesday! I'm off to go tackle a few more items on my to-do list! [Blog post: CHECK!]

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Speck

Yesterday our pastor did a sermon about how small we are in comparison to the universe. We are nothing but a speck in the grand scheme of things. And yet God cares for us and loves us so much, that He sacrificed His Son to save each and every one of us. Our pastor also spoke about the glory of creation and how we can see God's evidence through it. The same God who created the universe created you and me. What an overwhelming thought!

Our God is an incredible artist.

I took some pictures today while riding in the car with Luke. Even on a cloudy, rainy day, his creation is so beautiful!

He created the flowers
And the ocean
And what can match the beauty of a twilight sky? Every single night we get to see the sky change colors as the sun sets. Not to mention we get to experience a different display in different colors every single night.
Speaking of colors, I cannot forget to mention rainbows. One of my favorite of God's creations :-)
As if that's not enough, He created the four seasons so that we can experience the world in four vastly different and uniquely majestic ways
And these are just a small fraction of the pictures I've captured of God's beautiful creation in the past year. Just from my little neck of the woods and the places I've visited. It blows my mind. There is proof of God's majesty and fingerprints around every corner. He blesses us with it every day if we just open our eyes. Not only that, but He created the earth so that everything works together like a beautiful symphony. The creator of all that created you and me.

How on earth can we NOT trust Him with our little lives when he's done all this and more??

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekend Blessings

Last Day of VBS
Afternoon spent by the pool
Evening date with Luke
"Grown Ups" at the movie was good!

Watched episodes of "Lie to Me" all morning
Pulled weeds, cleaned the house and the grill allll day
Luke and his dad fixed our car!
Visited my parents and sister in the evening
Homemade pizza
A walk to get ice cream

Fish fry at Luke's aunt and uncle's
More swimming!

It was a busy and productive weekend! I'm completely sore from working outside most of the day yesterday, but it is a good feeling :-) We've got some exciting things coming up this week! I promise to post more often now that VBS is finished. And in two weeks we have our two-year anniversary! I seriously can't believe it's been two years already. Time flies!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Two Lost Weeks

I seem to have gotten caught up in the freedom of summer. I've been out and about and very busy with VBS the past two weeks. I have been spending most of my time while I'm at home outside. And somehow during all of my outings and adventures in the past two weeks, my camera has been forgotten at home.

I unlike me, right?? Usually my camera is permanently attached to me at all times! Unfortunately, due to the fact that I have abandoned my camera, I only have pictures from a few days in the past two weeks. So I slipped with my project 365. I've been wondering what I should do. Quitting is not an option, because I've almost made it 6 months into the project! So what I decided to do, is to pick up where I left off tomorrow, and then finish two weeks into 2011. Not exactly how I wanted to do my project, but I think it is better than completely abandoning the whole thing after completing so much of it!

So if you are following along over there, regular posting will resume next week.

This blog has been a little neglected as well lately, but I have a feeling some exciting things are coming up in the next few weeks! So stay tuned ;-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wedding Wednesday

Today I thought I would share some of my very favorite images from our wedding:

Have you ever seen "27 Dresses" when Katherine Heigl's character says her favorite part of a wedding is the look on the groom's face as the bride walks down the aisle? That's why I love this picture :-)
And here we are as husband and wife for the first time
I love this one of us in the limo...we were so happy!
I really like this nice formal of the wedding party. I gotta say, I really loved those bridesmaid dresses! Although I have a sneaking suspicion that my bridesmaids DIDN'T. ;-)
Most people say this is their favorite, so I decided to share it. Although I really think the look on my face is just funny.
After the cake-cutting
I just feel like this one is very "us."
And he looks so cute in this one, I had to share it!
This is my absolute favorite picture. It somehow encapsulates the feeling of the entire evening :-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm Alive!

I know it's been awhile since I've written (at least for me) so I just wanted to check in and let everyone know that I'm still alive and well ;-) haha...I've just been super busy! I've been:

Going to lots of softball games
Hanging out with friends by the pool
Having girl's nights
Watching movies with Luke
Bridesmaids dress shopping with my sister
Spending Father's Day with our families
Very busy with VBS this has been going pretty smoothly so far
Going with my cousin to pick out a cute baby kitten (okay, this only happened once, obviously, but the kitten was so cute, it's worth mentioning. I wish I had gotten pictures!)
Taking care of the house and grocery shopping

See? I've been pretty busy! I am very behind in my blog reading too, so if you haven't heard from me, that's why. Hopefully I will get caught up sometime this week! And I hope everyone had a great Father's are some pictures of ours...we ate lunch with Luke's family and then spent some time with mine before I had to go set up my space for VBS.

Here is a beautiful bouquet at my parents' house that my mom made...she used to be a florist.
More of their beautiful flowers
Here is my sister Julie and her dog, Opa (you can sorta see her new engagement ring, too!)
And my dad and grandpa enjoying some cake :-)

Hopefully I will be back to regular posting after the crazy busy weekend. Now that VBS has begun, the planning is basically finished and I have a little more time :-) Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Strange Week...

What a strange week it has been! I mean, really, one of the strangest. There have been such crazy things happening all around. Including, but not limited to: my sister got engaged, I found out three of my friends are pregnant, one of whom is my cousin, my other cousin's husband broke his jaw in two places sliding into base at softball (Luke is on his team and saw it was pretty brutal and he blacked out from the pain. He is one of Luke's best friends, and also is the band leader and singer for the young adult worship service on Sunday mornings) He had to have surgery last night to wire his jaw shut for two weeks, and will be on a liquid diet for 5 weeks :-( Poor guy...anyway, there's still more crazy stuff: we WERE expecting about 60 preschoolers next week for VBS, but a ton have signed up and now we're expecting 100...just 4-6 yr. olds! So we've had a mad rush this week trying to prepare for all the extra kids. Oh, and my sister and I decided to try to plan a trip to Chicago ASAP. On top of that, Father's Day is this weekend, and I still need to get my dad's present!

Because of all that, and some other things that I'd rather not share at this point, it has been just a roller coaster of emotions. Monday and Tuesday were brutal days for me, and I was trying to keep myself busy every second of the day so that I wouldn't dwell on things. It was miserable, and I was being very whiny and hard to live with, and then Luke got in a frustrated mood, and it just wasn't good.

Yesterday, though, it was like something switched and everything started to turn around and I stared to get things figured out, and literally walked around in a sort of high all day with my head in the clouds.

See? It's been a strange week. And I know that this all doesn't make sense because I can't share all the details, but all I can say is that I can't believe I thought life would be stress-free once I was done with work for the year. Ha! It seems like life is always throwing us curve balls, especially when we're least expecting it.

I'm looking forward to a hopefully less-crazy and more fun weekend! I think I need something fun to do...I'm going a little stir crazy spending so much time at home, and I'm getting out a lot this weekend, so that will be good :-) I'm looking forward to a girls' night, a softball game, church, celebrating Father's Day with our families, last minute VBS set-up and prep, and going wedding shopping with my mom and sister! (That's the part I'm most excited about :-)) Also, I think my sister is starting a wedding a blog, which I am going to help her set up (Yay!!)

I just hope nothing else crazy happens between now and then! :-P

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wedding Wednesday {plus} The News!

This Wedding Wednesday I am highlighting pictures of my sister! And the reason is because (here is the announcement I have been waiting to tell)

My little sister got engaged last weekend!!!

She is now engaged to her high school sweetheart :-) They dated for about 3 or 4 years in high school and the beginning of college, then broke up because I think they both wanted a taste of freedom in college, but ultimately got back together because I guess they were meant to be ;-) So this past weekend, her now fiance proposed at the beach!

I hope she doesn't mind me posting this, but the first picture I'm going to post is of her ring. I think it's so unique and beautiful!And just for fun, here is a picture of the happy couple...taken last Christmas in Florida, but this is the best picture I could find. Stolen from her facebook page, so again, I hope she doesn't mind :-PI'm so happy for her! So anyway, on to normal Wedding Wednesday. Here are some pictures of my sister, my best friend, my m.o.h ;-)

She had to keep Luke's ring with her until we were ready for it in the ceremony. It was quite a task, as the ring was about 6 sizes too big for her THUMB. lol

And here she is giving her toast at the reception...she must have been saying something funny! lol
And...those are the only real close-up pictures the photographer got of my sister/maid of honor. Ridiculous. Even if I had actually gotten my pictures from her, I would have been dissatisfied. Anyway, there's a starting point for my sister's wedding planning: she knows exactly who NOT to hire to be her photographer!

Anyway, congratulations Julie and Andy!!!

Sweet, Sweet Memories

I realized the other day that I went on my first mission trip ten years ago! Wow, I can't believe it's been that long! I was a mere 15 years old when I traveled to Belize with part of my youth group. Even though it was forever ago, I still remember the sweet faces of the children we met there. I was changed that week. I learned so much and grew so close to the Lord. Today I dug out the journal I brought with me, and read through the entire week-long account. It brought back so many memories! I wish I could go back! i can't believe that all the little children are now the age that I was when I went. Wow, time flies.

Today I thought I'd share a little bit of my experience, straight from the pages of my journal :-) So I guess today you are going to hear from 15-year-old Jessica ;-)

We were in Belize, Central America for nine days. While there, we stayed at YWAM (basically some cabins in the rain forest. Ha!). We spent most of our time at the King's Children Home where we led a Bible School, spent a lot of time with the kids, made some repairs, painted, and tiled the kitchen floor. What a special week!

"July 20, 2000

I am on the plane on the way home right now, but I thought I'd write a little about yesterday and today.

I felt a lot better yesterday [Sidenote: I had just recovered from a pretty scary bout of heat exhaustion earlier that week] so I decided I could go with everyone on our "fun day." We were going to go to the zoo, out to eat, and swimming at The Blue Hole, and then shopping.

Stanley drove us to the zoo first. It looked like it was going to rain. But there were some really cool and cute animals at the zoo. I even saw an ocelot (I have an obsession with them!) But halfway through the tour of the zoo, it just started pouring. But we kept on going anyway. By the time we went back to the bus, we were all soaked from head to toe! I was freezing! So I wrapped myself up in my towel. We decided not to go swimming in The Blue Hole because of the weather. So we went to a hotel to eat next, instead.

We got there and they said we couldn't swim at the hotel either. So we changed into our bathing suits anyways, so they would dry all of our wet clothes. We felt pretty weird eating in our bathing suits!

I got a cheeseburger and fries. But the cheeseburger didn't taste very good because Aunt Beth made me crush up an Advil in it
[Back then I was a big wuss and couldn't swallow pills! lol] I still had a small fever from the heat exhaustion.

After we ate, we drove to a little gift shop. I bought some stuff for my grandparents.

Even though things didn't go as we planned on our fun day trip, we still had lots of fun!

Back at YWAM, we got ready for our little "hoe-down" party. We all braided our hair in pig-tails and wore overalls, because we were going to be square dancing.

Supper was good, and no one had to do set up or clean up since it was party night. After we ate, we played a few games and then started square dancing. Aunt Beth was my partner :-) But I quit halfway through because I was feeling exhausted and dizzy since I was not totally better yet from the day before.

After that we all just talked for a long time. I talked to Katie a lot
[Katie was a girl who was working at YWAM for the summer, and our group really bonded with her] We all wanted to take her with us when we left!

Okay, now for today, the day we left Belize.

I woke up and got everything packed. Then we all just kinda hung around Katie because we didn't want to leave her, like I said before. But finally we had to. Some of us cried a little bit.

At the Children's Home it was SO HARD to say goodbye. They all gave us a little plaque with their picture, and on the back they all signed it for us. That's when I just lost it. I started to cry so hard. Luckily I stopped long enough to have a few pictures taken with the group, but as soon as they were done, I started to cry again. All the girls were crying so hard. I saw Ezekiel crying and it made me cry even harder. The last thing I did before I left was hug Trinidad. I'm going to miss him so much.
[Ezekiel and Trinidad were two of the cute little boys from the children's home who I really bonded with.]

We left for lunch and some of the kids came with us. Lunch was pretty good. I got a cheeseburger and fries again.

Next we went to the airport. When we got on the plane, I was able to move my seat and sit with Sarah and Lyndsay. As the plane took off, I saw everyone waving with Stanley on the balcony of the airport. Of course the three of us started crying all over again. It's so sad to think that I'll never see them again after I have fallen so in love with them all!

Well, the rest of the plane ride was good. Lyndsay, Sarah and I talked almost the whole way to Dallas about the kids.

At the airport in Dallas I was sooo happy to be back in the U.S! Now I'm on the next plane on the way to Cleveland. I can't wait to get there! I miss everyone at home so much."

Aww, reading those words brings back so many memories! What a special time that was. A time of serving and loving the kids, but also a time of growing in the Lord and in my relationships with all the people from my church who went on the trip with me. We were all on almost a high for the first few weeks when we got back, and we felt so bonded to one another. I was an awkward teenager, and I will forever remember this trip as the first time I felt really, totally accepted by a group of friends. I feel like the summer of 2000 changed me forever, and I can't believe it's been ten years already! It has been fun to look back a little bit today, and I hope to be able to go on another international mission trip someday! It is an experience not matched by any other, and I think everyone should try it at least once!

[P.S...the news I shared about yesterday will have to wait a little longer! Sorry! Haha...hopefully tomorrow!]

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Blessings

Visited the church to see all the progress being made on the new building

Ran into an unexpected deal at Family Video and rented two blu-rays for only $1.50 total!

Began watching "Leap Year" cute!

Made a new recipe for dinner and it turned out pretty good

Attended a surprise 50th birthday party for my Aunt Beth! Where I...
-Tried black bean brownies...and kinda liked 'em :-P
-Visited with my family
-Walked around to look at my aunt's beautiful gardens
-Sat around a campfire and visited some more!

Afterward, I ended the evening by watching a scary movie with Luke.

Spent the morning with Max, because after a week-long visit, his owners picked him up that morning

Found out some very exciting news!! But...I can't share what it is until probably tomorrow because the secret is not out yet ('s not that I'm pregnant, so don't bother asking me in the comment section! lol)

Finished watching "Leap Year" and LOVED it! I want to visit Ireland!

Admired our favorite flower

Went out for a spontaneous dinner at Applebees with Luke...
It was $5 burger night!! Surprise! :-)
Ate the most delicious quesadilla burger and onion rings
Had some nice conversation with Luke
Decided to buy an iPod Touch, so my iPhone jealousy will be somewhat relieved :-P (I think a whole post about this one may be popping up here in the future).
Took the back roads home and it was beautiful

Came home to get cozy on the couch and spent the night reading half of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (See? I'm already making progress on my list this summer!)

Went to an earlier church service than normal since Luke didn't have to play the felt like the day lasted so much longer with that extra hour-and-a-half in the morning!

Cooked and ate brunch with Luke

Spent the day doing laundry and watching a DVR'd marathon of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." Judege me now...I deserve it :-P But can I just talk about Teresa for a sec? When she is not table-flipping, I love her!! She is so funny and adorable. And probably the only honest-to-goodness REAL housewife with small children on the show. Ahh to have four little daughters like that...hahaha. She just cracks me up. (Especially in the labor scene with little Audriana! Too funny). And the fact that she doesn't seem to worry about what anyone else thinks about her really makes me admire her. Maybe some people would think that that's a bad trait, but I sometimes care way too much what other's think, and I wish I could be more like her in that way. NOT in other ways though...

I baked chocolate chip cookies...some for Luke to take to work and some for my grandma. It has been awhile since I baked anything.

Luke finished our flagstone walkway leading up to our stairs...I love it!

Had a Rock Band duel with Luke in the evening. Unfortunately, he won, but I was beating him by a LOT toward the beginning. I started choking around the ninth or tenth song :-P
And that concludes my weekend blessings. I hadn't realized it until I wrote that all out, but this weekend was chock-full of everyday blessings. I realize today that I feel content for the first time in awhile. I don't need to worry so much about the future, or even wish so much that things were different, because they're pretty good the way they are :-) For right now, anyway!