Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Initials in Pretty Frames: a DIY Project

What happens when you are stuck inside with nothing to do except read blogs all day?

You get the uncontrollable urge to create something! At least I did on Tuesday. I had been browsing through gorgeous blogs full of fun projects for 2 days straight, and I just had to make something of my own!

I went into town on Tuesday afternoon, simply because I had cabin fever and HAD TO GET OUT!!

When I left the house, I had no idea what I was going to make. But as I walked through the aisles of Family Dollar and Walmart, an idea (very simple though it was!) came to mind.

I bought the following:

6 picture frames, ranging in price from $1-$2 (I did not use them all)

Plus these:
White and Deep Ocean Blue acrylic paint and a set of paint brushes totalling about $11. But I will use these again!

And finally, this:
A book of neutral scrapbook paper, $5...which I will also use again

First of all, I picked my scrapbook paper patterns and cut them to the size of the frames
{Mistake #1: picking light paper for the big frame when I was planning on painting the frames white...}

Then, I sanded the frames and painted the big ones white, and the little ones blue. I still wasn't sure what I would do with the small ones yet, but had a tentative plan to fill them with little pictures of us or favorite scripture verses.

Next, I printed out our initials in a pretty font that I liked. And then used an Exacto knife to cut around the letters and make stencils

Finally, I used the stencils to paint a letter on each piece of scrapbook paper. They weren't perfect when I peeled the paper back, but I fixed the mistakes by hand.

Once I put everything together, I realized the paper I had chosen for the "W" was too light since I had painted the frame white. So I repainted the frame blue.
{Mistake #2}

Then I decided that it all just didn't look right together!

Home decorating is all about trial and error anyway, right?? So I didn't feel so bad. I decided to just hang the "L" and the "J" in our bedroom, and I threw the "W" picture in the tiny laundry room where I could enjoy it, but no one else will really be able to see it. Haha!

I hung the "L" and "J" pictures in the bedroom. It looked nice, but the stark white against my brown walls was a little abrupt. On a whim, I grabbed one of the blue frames to see if it would fit inside the white frames..
And voila! It fit perfectly! The colors did not translate perfectly in this cell phone pic, but I love the finished product :-) Like I said, home-decorating is all about trial and error :-)


I'm going to let you all in on a little secret. At the beginning of the year, I wrote about how I was not going to share any of my New Year's Resolutions because I NEVER EVER keep them. Well, I wrote them all out (and there were a lot) in a Word document, and have been keeping track since January 1. And to tell you the truth, I think keeping them a secret was the trick, because I am making strides toward meeting all of them!

Anyway, I'm going to share one of them with you today. One of my goals is to complete 6 do-it-yourself projects this year. I figured I could do one every two months. And guess what! I've already completed two! I'm ahead of the game!

#1: Made (okay, altered) curtains for the attic room:

And #2: The project I shared today:

Only 4 to go, guys! Something tells me I'm going to exceed my goal here! :-)

Happy Thursday!

What I'm Cooking Wednesday: Pork Tenderloin

One of the first things I learned to cook was pork tenderloin. My friend Cookie made it with me one day while she was giving me cooking lessons. It is still one of my favorite things to make and eat!

In case you don't know what pork tenderloin looks like to buy it (because I didn't before I made it with Cookie) here is a picture of it in the package. Eww, raw meat.
Lately I've been shopping at Aldi's a lot because I need to stop going over our budgeted amount for groceries each month!! Anyway, I bought this at Aldi's, and it was just as good as any I've ever had before. Check out the amazing price...
The good thing is that pork tenderloin leftovers are delicious in a sandwich! So $4.10 is an amazing price for more than one meal.

Today instead of typing out a formal recipe, I thought I would just explain to you how I season and cook my pork tenderloin (the way Cookie taught me). Because it really is just that simple.

First you preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Then wash the meat, and spray it with butter spray on all sides.

Next, you sprinkle on garlic and ground fennel, to taste. Don't be afraid of putting a little too much want it to be flavorful and not bland. I like to rub the garlic and fennel into the meat. I'm not sure if this helps it soak up more of the flavor or not, but it can't hurt, right??

Then you're ready to throw it in the oven...20 minutes per pound.

Be really careful not to overcook it! You'll know it's done when it is no longer pink in the middle, and the juices run dry.

It is absolutely delicious. SUCH a tender meat! It practically melts in your mouth. Serve it with a vegetable and a salad and you're good to go!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Back!

I can't believe I took this picture on Friday:

It was warm, sunny and beautiful! I kind of thought that we might have an early spring...

I couldn't have been more wrong. Last night, the skies opened up and buried us in snow. It seemed to happen all at once! I don't think any of us were expecting it to be so brutal. Roads disappeared, traffic stood still, and cars were abandoned.

I, thankfully, was spending a cozy evening at home, and bundled up for just a few moments to go out on the landing and capture the beauty. By the end of February, I hate winter just as much as most of my fellow Ohioans, but I couldn't help but appreciate the beauty last night.
This will probably be our last snow storm of the year, and I wanted to enjoy the beauty one last time. The big snow flakes were everywhere, and the whole world was blanketed in white.
Luke ventured out (practically across the street) to pick up some pizza and wings for dinner, and then we both holed up in the living room, each spread out over a side of the couch, and enjoyed the warmth of the house. It was a refreshing and peaceful night, one that we both needed.

17 hours later, it has stopped snowing, but I still can't see the road. I'm inside enjoying my 6th snow day of the school year.

I am happy today that after all these years, I am finally able to appreciate winter and find the beauty in it. It's all about perspective.

What situation are you in today? Are you going to grumble and complain because it is uncomfortable and difficult? Or are you going to choose to let God show you the beauty in it?

Today, I choose the latter.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
~Philippians 4:11-13

Monday, February 21, 2011

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

I thought I would do a post on some of the things I'm loving lately.

1. Desperate Housewives
With my obsession with housewifery, I don't know why I've never watched this show before. But during a snow day, I was looking through the movies and shows available instantly through Netflix, and I found the first 6 seasons of DH there. I watched an episode, and was immediately hooked. I'm in the middle of season 2 right now, and still loving it.

2. Parks and Recreation
While we're on the subject of TV shows, I can't forget this one. Luke loves this show, especially since he's a Parks and Recreation worker himself. I've only seen a few episodes, but I plan to continue watching because it is hilarious! Fair warning, though: this is one of those shows that you have to have a certain sense of humor to appreciate, just like The Office.

3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I read most of this on the plane rides from Tucson, to San Fransisco, to Pittsburgh. It grabbed my attention immediately, and I couldn't put it down. It was a very easy read, full of lots of action. I learned a lot, too! I loved it, and it has been made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson! It comes out on April 22, and I can't wait to see it! You can watch the trailer HERE

4. Fruit Ninja
This is my second favorite game on my iPhone! Basically, fruit is shot up into your screen, and you have to slice it, without hitting any bombs. It is addicting!

5. Angry Birds
And this is my #1 favorite game on the iPhone. You've probably already tried it if you have one or an iPod Touch. It is so addicting! Luke beat the entire game because he just could not stop playing.

6. My new glass water bottle from World Market
I love how tall it is, and that it's glass. My mom bought one for each of us when we were out shopping the other day. Lately I've been drinking water pretty much exclusively other than maybe 1 glass of iced tea or pop a day. So I've just been carrying this thing around with me everywhere.

7. This bridesmaids Dress (Alfred Sung):
I'm not the bride, so I guess it's okay if I show MY dress! Haha...I found this online, and haven't found anything else that I like nearly as much (Julie is letting us pick out our own dresses). So I think I'm going to go for it and order it. It will be black instead of pink. What do you think?
Here's the back:

8. Warm weather
The warm weather is gone now, but it was nice while it lasted last week. As you can see, I was outside on Friday wearing ballet flats, and there was no snow to be seen. That is not the case today ;-/

What things are you loving lately?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Relationship Resources

I wrote this post awhile ago to save for a day when I have no inspiration. Well, today I have inspiration, but it's just too beautiful of a day to spend it at my computer! So here is a post I wrote about my favorite books about relationships, since Valentines Day was this week.

Also, I wrote a post over at In My Twenties about practicing love as a verb instead of just a feeling. Go check it out!

For Single Women:

Wait for Me by Rebecca St. James - A book about waiting for the perfect person, and cultivating a pure relationship

SHE by Rebecca St. James and Linda Hunter Bjorklund - A book about becoming "The Woman You're made to be - Safe, Healthy, Empowered." This book had a big impact on my life.

For Engaged Couples:

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book teaches about how we all "speak" in different love languages, and I found it to be very insightful and helpful to read right before we got married.

The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly LaHaye. This book is especially good to read if you are saving yourself for marriage. It gives a lot of information and takes a little bit of the stress and pressure off!

For Married Couples:

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. This is the most helpful relationship book I have ever read, and explains that men need respect while women need love. It sounds simple, but this book changed the way I treat and see my husband in almost every area.

His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr. This book will help you understand your spouse and how he (or she...but I doubt any men are reading this ;-) likes to be treated..

What are your favorite books about relationships?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I'm Cooking Wednesday: Easy Lemon Pie

This week's recipe is one that Luke's grandma made while we were in Arizona. She shared the recipe with me because I thought it was so delicious! So last week when I was shopping at Aldi's, I saw some lemons and couldn't get that pie out of my mind. I decided I must buy them and make it! So last night, that's what I did. This was so easy and sooo delicious!

It is a dessert that is very light and summery. And if you use fat free Cool Whip like I did, it's really not all that terrible for you ;-)

here's the recipe!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hr, 10 minutes
Serves: 8

1 graham cracker pie crust
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip
Lemon zest

Mix lemon juice, sweetened condensed milk, cool whip, and lemon zest. Pour into pie crust. Chill for 1 hour.

That's it!!

I know I've been sharing very simple recipes lately and this one is no exception. It seriously took me 10 minutes to make it! Easy peasy lemon sqeezy (I had to say it!)

Plus I had fun feeling like Rachael Ray, rolling the lemons and then squeezing the juice out with my hands like she always does ;-)

I thought this recipe was delicious, and to be honest, I don't even like lemon all that much! It was the perfect thing to make for dessert last night, because there is the teeniest little hint of spring in the air!

Anyway, make this, and you won't be disappointed!
Next week I'll be sharing one of my favorite entrees: melt-in-your-mouth pork tenderloin. Delicious!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Date Night 10: Valentines Date Night

Luke and I had our Valentines date last night. The past two years I've cooked a big dinner for Valentines Day. This year we decided to go out to dinner instead, and I can't even begin to tell you how much I preferred that! I love making big meals for Luke because I feel like that's one way to show him that I love him, but at the same time, it is a little stressful and takes a lot of time. Last night since we went out, we could both just relax and enjoy our evening together!

First we went out to eat at Grinders. We got there somewhat early, and got a table right away! I was a little nervous because I thought the crowds might be bad, but they weren't at all! I ordered a chicken fajita wrap with fries, and Luke ordered his usual potato skins. We had a nice time talking and enjoying our food.

After dinner, we went to the movie theater. We couldn't remember whose turn it was to pick the date because we had gone out a few times the week before and we weren't sure if we were technically calling those "date nights" or not. Haha! So I let Luke pick the movie. He picked Sanctum

This was not the most romantic date movie. It was about a bunch of people who get stuck in a cave and can't find their way out. It's not really scary, but it's very suspenseful. I have nightmares all the time about water: that I get stuck out in the water and can't find the shore or that I go underwater and get all turned around and can't find the surface (I wonder what that means, by the way!) So [slight spoiler alert] I basically almost had a panic attack during some of the scenes where people got caught underwater and couldn't find a way out. Not exactly romantic :-P But I guess it was a good movie anyway, even though I didn't particularly enjoy the subject matter!

When we got home, we exchanged Valentines gifts. I had gotten Luke a blu ray and chocolate-covered pretzels, and he got me lots of chocolate. This is our seventh Valentines Day together, and I guess in all those years, Luke has figured out that he can't go wrong with chocolate!! Especially dark chocolate and Reeses :-)
After that, we fell asleep on the couch at around 10, I think. We are turning into such old people!! Haha

Anyway, I love Valentines Day, and I'm so happy to get to spend another one with Luke. I sure do love him!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Project Get Skinny

When Luke and I got married, I was no more in shape than I am now. Yet somehow, in the 2.5 years that we've been married, I have gained around 15 pounds. Not cool. I had a doctor's appointment on Thursday, and I did not like the number I saw when I stepped on that scale!

I guess I attribute my weight gain to the fact that my metabolism has really slowed down!

At any rate, I can no longer sit around and eat whatever I want without seeing the consequences when I step on a scale. Darn. It was nice while it lasted!

I have decided to challenge myself to lose those 15 pounds before my sister's wedding on June 25. Here is my inspiration picture, taken on my wedding day. I want to look like this girl again!
My stomach was pretty flat (although admittedly it was not can sort of tell if you look closely. haha!) My arms were much smaller, my face didn't look swollen, and my legs looked a lot better.

(I took some "before" pictures today so I'll have something to compare myself to in June. But I don't have the guts to show those right now when there's no "After" pictures yet. haha!)

So anyway, what are my reasons for getting in shape and losing this weight? First of all, as I mentioned earlier, Julie's wedding is coming up in a few months, and I don't want to feel self-conscious in my dress. I absolutely shudder at the thought that my arms are going to be bare. My arms are my least favorite physical feature! Also, I just realized that this is probably the last little stretch of my life that I can say that I've never been pregnant. I know once I become pregnant and have a baby, it will be MUCH harder to lose the weight. So I guess I'm trying to stay ahead of the game there. And also, just because I hate the way I look and feel right now, and I know I'm not taking care of my body.

I can't deny the fact that buying my iPhone was a huge motivator to getting in shape. I found the BEST nutrition and fitness app, and I love it: Daily Burn. Does anyone else use this? You should get it if you have a smart phone or iPod Touch. Here is a brief example of what it can do:

My favorite part is the "Track Nutrition" feature. Here you can search for just about any food imaginable, and it will bring up all the nutrition information and serving sizes for that food. You type in what you ate and how many servings you consumed, and it calculates your caloric intake. Based on what kind of diet you have programed (low carb, low fat, high protein, balanced diet, etc. I chose "balanced diet"), it will set a daily limit to your calories. If you look above at the "Track Nutrition" section, you can see how many calories I had left for the day after breakfast.

Here is where I programmed my breakfast foods. It took probably 3 minutes. I love this app!
As I was typing in my breakfast foods, I couldn't find the vegetable oil spread I had used. So I went in and made my own entry! So easyThen I wondered...what if I go out to eat? So I searched for one of my favorite meals at Olive Garden, and found all the nutrion information! It was depressing though, because look how many calories are in Olive Garden's Fettuccine Alfredo...the LUNCH size780!! And that was one of the dishes with lower calories! You don't want to know how many calories are in the chicken scampi, which is another entree I like to order. *Shudder*

And if you are willing to spend $4.99, you can get the UPC scanning feature. With this, you can take a picture of the bar code on any food item, and it will automatically fill in all the nutrition information for you. Being new to the wonders of the iPhone, this just blew my mind. Unfortunately, I am not willing to spend the money at this point to buy that feature. But it is really cool!

Along with the nutrition feature, you can track your workouts. You can choose a whole workout regimen if you want to. I decided to do the 30-Day Shred instead, though. I'm starting it today! And if I record my heart rate during the workout, the app will tell me how many calories I burned! Pretty cool.

Other features include a weight-tracker, and a graph to show weight-loss progress.

By the way, the basic app is FREE! I love it.

All that to say, I'm really excited about this, and very motivated too! Let's hope I can keep up the motivation for the next 4 months!

I'll probably be updating monthly on my progress or lack thereof. Haha...This blog helps to keep me accountable with things like this! I can't wait to feel good about myself, not be embarrassed by my arms anymore, and not see people staring at my abdomen, wondering if that's a baby in there or just flab. One of the worst feelings in life is to be mistaken for a pregnant woman when you're not one!

Have a happy Monday!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Just a little plug to start out: My first post is up on the In My Twenties blog! It's all about dating and making quality time for our significant others. Go check it out! :-)


Life has become even easier to document now that I have my iPhone! Like any blogger, I of course find this absolutely thrilling!

Since I have no time for a real post, here are a few snapshots from this week. And as a side-note, this phone takes better pictures than my camera if the lighting is good. There's no denying it...

Saturday: Ellie was being her adorable self, sleeping on my stomach while I browsed for apps all morning.
Sunday: Gabby had a rare moment of not-being-demon-possessed and she jumped up on the recliner to lounge with JC during our Super Bowl party.
She's evil AND she's obsese, but who wouldn't love that face?!

Monday: Loving the entertainment center Luke made so much that I took a picture of it. This is after making my first vlog about itTuesday: I saw this at Walmart and thought it was so funny that I couldn't NOT take a pictureThis was also the night that I made my chili.

Wednesday: Baked some of these Pillsbury pre-made cookies. I love them so much, and they are way too cute
Thursday: I had a 2-hour delay this morning because of the Arctic temperatures. Gabby thought it was cold too, so she snuggled up under the covers while I was in the shower and before I had made the bed
And this afternoon I had a chance to tour the children's wing of our new church building. It is getting close to being finished! Check out these amazing paintings, painted right on the wall!Love it!!

That's all I can muster for this evening. I'm looking forward to a restful weekend after this crazy week!