Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Introduce Yourself! (and some updates)

There will be no "What I'm Cooking Wednesday" post today, because I'm just not feelin' it. Maybe next week. I have been having a hard time keeping up with things lately because I've been busy with lots of things to do and plans to make! It's a good kind of busy.

Lately I've been noticing a lot of new commenters here. And I always mean to check out each and every blog, but sometimes I forget! So today I thought it would be a good idea if you could introduce yourself if I'm not already a follower of your blog. Then I will go through and visit all of your blogs too! I love making new blog-friends :-)


I guess I'd like to update on life a little bit today too. First of all, our small group is still going great! We all had a great time at group on Monday. And on Tuesdays, some of our husbands play wallyball (that's right...not volleyball) together, so all of the women hung out together at our friend Karen's house while the guys played last night. We talked and played with her adorable dog and watched Biggest Loser. It was a fun night! I've mentioned before that I have weird issues of feeling like I'm behind in life or something because most of my friends are already moms. But these ladies are all in the same place as I am...young married couples who don't have kids yet. It just feels easier hanging out with them, I guess. Does this make sense at all? I guess I'm rambling...but anyway, it has been a lot of fun to make some new friends!


Sometime in February, I wrote about how I wanted to lose weight for my sister's wedding. I did really well for about a week! And then I had a really bad week and found out some tragic news, and honestly used food to cope with things. Not a good plan. I haven't really gotten back into working out again. BUT...I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and found that I managed to lose 1 lb. in the last month. haha! So I guess that's something. At least I didn't gain weight. I plan on trying to begin again this month.


It's snowing right now. And I mean REALLY snowing. It depresses me. I wish I were exaggerating...


I mentioned in my week in review post that Luke, JC, and I are planning on buying bikes soon. I'm so excited about this! Luke and JC are actually out right now looking at some, but I opted to stay home and have some chill time since I'm not quite ready to buy one just yet. Anyway, I hope to spend many hours on bike trails this spring and summer. Hopefully it will help me get in shape for Julie's wedding, too!
And I think that's all I have for today! Have a fabulous Wednesday :-) Hopefully it's not snowing where you are...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week in Review Returns!

I feel like I've been in hibernation mode ever since we returned from Arizona in January. That's why I haven't been doing "Week in Review" posts. Life just hasn't been exciting. I thought I'd start it up again since it's spring (or so the calendar tells me. I have yet to see any proof).

Sunday 3/20 - After church, I headed to Grinders for lunch with Luke and JC. We enjoyed the sunshine on the drive. And then Luke and I came home and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening napping, watching basketball, and just being together. Typical Sunday!

Monday 3/21 - After grocery shopping and dinner, we had our second week of connect group at our house. I am absolutely loving this group! The actual Bible study is great. We have some really smart people in our group who ask great questions and have great ideas. It's been such a blessing to be a part of this! And it's always fun to talk and hang out afterward too. I think this group is going to be a highlight of my weeks :-)

Tuesday 3/22 - This day was so boring it barely deserves to be written about. I did things like clean, watch Desperate Housewives, and paint my nails for the first time in months. Exciting, I know.
Essie - Mochacino...I kinda like it :-)

Wednesday 3/23 - Wednesday was pretty much exactly the same as Tuesday. I did try a new recipe, though (saucy Mexican chicken), and I thought it turned out to be pretty good.

Thursday 3/24 - This was a fun day! I had watched my friend Kim's dog Max a few weeks ago. She was out of town again this week, and her old neighbor was watching him. Well the neighbor had gotten a pretty bad cold, and wasn't up to watching him for the rest of the week. So we got to pick him up and watch him. He was so cute and such a blessing for a few days! Luke and I spent the evening chilling out with him, and watching basketball, The Office, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock. Thursday is TV night around here :-)

Friday 3/25 - We had a late party for the Ohio State basketball game on Friday night. It didn't begin until 10:00 PM! It was fun to hang out with some friends and watch the game, even though Ohio State lost. Since then, my bracket has died a slow and painful death.

Saturday 3/26 - I had a meeting at the church on Saturday morning for the library committee. It was pretty exciting, because the new wing of the church will be done in a month, and the library will be ready soon after that! We all took a box of books home from the meeting to start adding them into the electronic system. We're finally moving into a computer system as opposed to a card system :-) Anyway, after that I went out shopping with my mom. It was a fun afternoon out with her. And soon after that, I went out to see the movie Sucker Punch with my friend Kristin. The visuals, music, and fight scenes in the movie were amazing. But the story and ending were disappointing in my opinion, so I don't know if I'd recommend it or not. Anyway, Saturday was a busy day, and a lot of fun!
Milestones this week: Made a big, life-changing decision this week! I will explain in due time.

Movies I watched this week: Sucker Punch (C+)

Books I'm reading this week: The Bible - I Chronicles, finished Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (and loved it even more the third time!) and began Here Burns my Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs.

Songs I'm loving this week: Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars, and anything country!

Things I'm looking forward to next week: connect group, probably seeing my sister next weekend, and hopefully buying a mountain bike along with Luke and JC! We are going to have so much fun this spring/summer :-)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


For some reason, lately I've been really nostalgic about 7 years ago when Luke and I started dating. I keep thinking about that time, because it was one of the best times of my life. Today I'm spilling some secrets about the beginning of our relationship.

~ I knew I was going to marry Luke before we started dating. I even wrote about it in my journal.

~ Our first kiss happened after we had been dating for over a month. I was in the middle of a sentence when Luke leaned over and kissed me. I was stunned, but actually finished the rest of the sentence afterward. I'm sure he doesn't remember this at all, but it was funny.

~ I knew Luke before we began dating because we had been in the same youth group in high school. I'm pretty sure he thought I was a nerd, and I kind of thought he was a "player" for lack of a better word. Although I thought he was cute, I never really had a crush on him or wanted to date him. ...Until one day when everything changed. We were both helping with the junior high youth group at church about 2 years after high school (3 for him). He was playing basketball and I was standing and talking with a group of girls. I looked at him, and he looked at me, and I literally felt like a jolt of electricity had gone through me. I mean, I physically felt something. From that moment on, I have been in love with him. Well, okay, maybe it was infatuation at first, but it turned into love quickly.

~ I was absolutely head-over-heels for Luke for the entire summer of 2004. We helped with the youth group together, saw each other at church activities, and hung out together with mutual friends. But we were so shy we barely spoke. Which is funny, because I'm sure Luke wishes for a few moments each day now when I would just shut up!! Anyway, it was a miracle we ever ended up going out on our first date, because we were both shy about it. I think the fact that I was so shy made Luke a little more shy than normal. If that makes sense.

~One of the things that really made me fall for Luke was his laugh. Before we had started dating, we went to see Anchorman with mutual friends. His laugh was so loud and distinctive and I just loved it. Hearing it made me laugh even harder at already one of the funniest movies of all time. And to this day it's one of my favorite things about him. It always makes me smile.

~ I also couldn't resist Luke's blue eyes. I would seriously daydream about his eyes for more time than is probably normal. I really hope our kids get his blue eyes!!

~ Sometimes I still can't believe we ended up together. In high school, Luke was the guy all the girls had crushes on, and more than a couple of my friends dated him. I feel so blessed to realize that he picked me! Thinking back to those first months together brings the butterflies back like it was just yesterday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What I'm Cooking Wednesday: Saucy Mexican Chicken

Luke and I have been trying to save money on our groceries the past few months, which means making simple recipes with less ingredients.

Also, when I get home from work, I just want to throw something together as quickly and easily as possible. But of course I still want it to be delicious. I want the best of both worlds, I guess.

The recipe I'm going to share today was so simple, I can barely even call it a "recipe." It has 4 ingredients (3 for us, because we don't like black beans), and took about 15 minutes to prepare AND cook. The best part? It was delicious! And I think it's worth sharing for anyone out there like me who works full-time and needs something easy to fix for dinner! I give you...

I found this recipe HERE. I'm not going to type it all out here, because it was just too simple. I'll just walk you through the simple process. I didn't really measure anything out anyway :-P

First you cook some chicken in a skillet (I used about two chicken breast halves and cut them into smaller pieces).

Then you cover it with Salsa, cover the skillet, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

And then you cover it all with cheddar cheese, remove from heat, and put the lid back on until the cheese is melted.

Couldn't be easier. I served it over rice and topped it with sour cream. It was delicious! I will definitely be making this again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Window Shopping

Yesterday I did a little "window shopping," virtual style. It's spring, and I not only want some new additions to my wardrobe, but I desperately NEED some!

Yesterday I was specifically looking for cute dresses (I'll need one for Easter Sunday and I want to buy a new one for my sister's bridal shower in May), bathing suits, and shoes.

Here are some of the dresses I love. Hopefully I'll end up buying one of these:

From JC Penney:

I'd probably wear the one above with a brown shrug or cardigan to match the color of the belt
Found Here

I've been into purple lately
Found Here

And I always love anything with ruffles
Found here

This one is the front-runner. Again, I would wear something over it because it will NOT be warm enough for spaghetti straps by the end of April. Probably.
Found Here

From Target:
I thought this one was just simple and sweet, and I love the color
Found Here

From Kohl's:
I've also been into floral prints lately.
Found Here

I have a lot to choose from. Which dress do you like best? Maybe you can help me narrow it down ;-)

Now for swimsuits. I'm to the point where I don't think I can pull off a two piece anymore, unless it's a tankini. Luckily, I found some REALLY cute tankinis and one-pieces when I was looking!

From Victoria's Secret:

Again with the purple. This is the front-runner for bathing suits
Found Here

Ignore the seductive look on her face. haha! This is the cutest one-piece I've ever seen. It also comes in pink, but surprisingly, I like the blue better.
Found Here

This one is crocheted, and I LOVE the halter. Very unique and cute!
Found Here

From JC Penney

In addition to purple, I've also been into yellow. I love the stripes and retro feel of this one!
Found Here

Okay, now onto shoes. I'm more into ballet flats than I am into sandals or flip flops. I don't like my feet :-P

From Payless (I know they're poor quality, but they're pretty much the only place where I can get my size! Which is size 5)
Found Here

Again, loving the yellow! And the flowers. I love flowers almost as much as I love ruffles
Found Here

Now that I'm looking at all these cute, spring clothes, it puts me in the mood to buy some nail polish for some reason. I haven't painted my nails (fingers, not toes. My toes are always painted) in probably over a year. And lately I've just gotten the itch to start again. I want to feel girly since it's springtime!

Here are some colors I love, from Essie
Playa Del Platinum


Strawberry Shortcake

From OPI:

Wow, that was a lot. What can I say? Spring just puts me in the mood to shop, I guess!

Happy second day of spring!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Moving on

ately I've had to realize that my plans for my life do not match God's plans. It's hard, because I wanted my life to look a certain way and I wasn't willing to let go of that image or those dreams.

After 9 exhausting months of wrestling with the Lord about these things, I finally realize this is no way to live. I was telling myself that I wanted to let God have control of my life, and yet I was subconsciously clinging to one little aspect of it with all I had in me because I thought it would be too painful to let it go.

Turns out the real pain was in holding on to it for as long as I did. I recently read a quote in my devotional book by Joyce Meyer: "The pain of staying the same is much worse than the pain of changing." I know this first hand now, and I totally agree.

Now that I've let go of my own desires, I have real hope for the future. My life ahead of me looks a lot different than it did just a few days ago, and I'm planning some BIG changes.

I know the Lord is leading me in this, because the peace I feel is consuming every part of me. I have not felt so free in such a long time...maybe ever!

I shared this story sometime last year, and I feel just like the little girl in the story who was so heartbroken when she had to give up her fake, $2.00 pearl necklace. But when she gave up the fake pearls, her father gave her real pearls in exchange. "He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure."

Last night while I was thinking about all of this, the song "I'm Moving on" by Rascal Flatts came on my Pandora station. I thought it was fitting for where I am today. Especially this part:

"I'm moving on
At last I can see
Life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there's no guarantees
But I'm not alone
There comes a time in everyone's life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind
That those days are gone."

I know I've posted this question multiple times before, but what are you holding onto today? Take a very close look, because I was blinded for months about the fact that I was holding out on the Lord, afraid to give Him this one part of my life. But I'm so glad I finally surrendered it all. I'm feeling so much freedom today!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What I'm Cooking Wednesday: Shamrock Cupcakes

(This is reposted from In My Twenties. I mentioned that I made these the other day, and I thought they turned out pretty good, so I thought I'd share them here, too).

I love Shamrock Shakes! They are one of my favorite things about the month of March. Lately the idea of turning a Shamrock Shake into a cupcake has been haunting me, so I finally tried my hand at it. I give you...

They are so, so easy to make! I could have slaved away making homemade cupcakes from scratch, but why? Especially after a long day at work...

So I used a cake mix that I bought at the grocery store (I made two batches: one white and one chocolate). But I added a little something extra to the batter:
Crushed Andes Mints (about 1 1/2 cups per batch of 24)

For the icing I used a buttercream frosting and added about a half teaspoon of peppermint extract. Admittedly, it did not turn out to be the right texture or consistency. But it was nearing 9:00 PM when I finished the frosting, and I was not about to mess around with it! It tasted fine, so after piping it on 2 or 3 cookies, I realized it was not going to cooperate. So I simply slathered it on the rest of it on the cupcakes with a knife. I thought they still looked cute :-)

I topped each one off with an Andes Mint and chocolate sprinkles. I thought they looked nice and festive!

And a select few have a surprise inside...
They're green! Told ya they were festive ;-) The perfect St. Patty's Day treat!

These were good and so simple to make! Next time I will work a little harder on making the frosting perfect, but I just didn't have it in me when I made them.

The best part is that they double as cute St. Pattrick's Day decor on the cake stand in my kitchen :-) I don't usually decorate for this holiday, but decorating with food is the perfect little touch.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Monday, March 14, 2011


I like to try to write a good, quality blog post on Mondays to kick off the week. But this week I've got nothin'. I have no stories to tell, no insight to bring to any topic or situation. And I've had a long day and can't even seem to put together a decent, complete thought. I have been sitting here for the past half-hour starting post after post about random topics that come to mind, and I just can't form a coherent or interesting thought about any of them.

I'm in a blogging slump, to say the least. March is a boring month.

I promise things will get more interesting around here when winter stops showing off and lets spring make an appearance.

Until then, you'll just have to deal with more of this snow day cuteness (taken on Friday afternoon during my Desperate Housewives Marathon):

Friday, March 11, 2011

Another Snow Day?!

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Today is our eighth snow day of the school year. We're going to be making up these days until halfway through June! But I have to admit, an unexpected day off is always nice.

Get ready for the most random post ever, with random pictures weaved in and out!

~ Last night I spent part of my evening creating Shamrock (chocolate-mint) Cupcakes. I thought they were perfect for March. You can read more about them at In My Twenties, where I'm blogging today!

~ Let's continue to pray for Japan after the earthquakes, and Hawaii as a tsunami is heading their way. My friend/cousin Laura is living in Kauai, which is expected to get hit first and hardest. Luckily it sounds like she is in a safe place! (Check out her blog! She is a writer and her blog is all about her time in Hawaii. So interesting!)

~ Luke and I are starting something new this week, and I am both excited and nervous about it. We are starting a Connect Group Bible Study at our house on Monday nights for young married couples without children. We will be doing a church-wide 50-day study on "The AmazinGrace." It's a study through the gospels and the teachings and life of Jesus, all leading up to Easter Sunday. I think the study itself will be great, and also the fellowship. I know Luke and I have been having a bit of a struggle finding a place to feel like we really "fit in" in church (I wrote about this struggle a little in a post back in September: "That Seventh-Grade Insecure Feeling"). There were connect groups in our church specifically for singles and young families (with kids) but not for couples like us. And I know I've spoken to a few other people at church who have felt the same way we have. So this should be a great study, and I hope our group can form a bond since we are in similar situations in life! I have felt such a peace and excitement about it from the moment it was suggested to us in January, so I'm really excited to see what God has in store!

~Luke and I have been seriously slacking on our date nights. We haven't had one since Valentines Day! I'm hoping to plan one for this weekend sometime. Sometimes you just need to reconnect when the busyness of life gets in the way, know what I mean?

~Since I can get all classic books for free on the iBooks App, I have decided to read through the entire Anne of Green Gables series. I've read the first book twice already, but I've never read the others! I'm halfway through of the first book (again), and it's so good! It brings me back to when I was little and used to spend my snow days watching the movies. The only bad thing is that reading the books makes me long for a daughter to read them to. Hopefully someday!

~ My friend Kristin is coming over for a girl's night tonight. We are going to catch up and watch some Hulu Plus and eat chocolate. It should be fabulous :-)

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


What I'm Cooking Wednesday will return next week. It's been a long week, and I just can't find the time or muster the energy this week to try a new recipe!

Anyway, tonight I was thinking about how I've started a sort of unofficial housework schedule in my home. It is something that has evolved in the past [almost] three years, and I seem to have found a system that really works for me!

It was a struggle for me to stay on top of housework when we first got married. We bought and renovated a house just four months after we were married, and it took a long time for me to feel organized in the midst of all that chaos! Things are a lot better now, and I know it's because I have a routine that I follow now. My house may not be the cleanest house in the world, but at least the essential things are always completed now, like dishes and laundry.

Here is a little taste of what my schedule is like.

I follow a routine every single week day when I get home from work:
  • I go to the post office everyday on my way home
  • I make my bed as soon as I get home because Luke is the last one out of bed in the mornings, and I don't think I could pay him to make i :-P
  • Do any dishes from breakfast or Luke's late-night snack the night before
  • Clean out the litter box.
Then I give myself a little break, and at 5:00 I pick it up again:

  • I make dinner
  • I clean the kitchen, wash dishes and sweep the floor (okay, the sweeping the floor part doesn't get done EVERY day :-P)
  • I do all other chores that need to be done that evening
  • Before turning in for the night, I try to go through each room of the house and clean up any clutter left from the day. Except the office room. That room has become the catch-all, and I honestly avoid going in there because it's so messy. Hey, just being honest here!
This schedule works well for me, because I do a few easy things when I get home from work, then give myself a little down-time so I can unwind from a long day, and then focus on the more difficult chores after I've rested for a bit and eaten dinner with Luke.

There are also certain chores I do on certain days of the week, in addition to the regular every day chores:

  • Clean out refrigerator
  • Clean bathroom
  • Grocery shopping and errand-running
  • Laundry Night
  • Clean bathroom
  • Dust (confession: this is the chore that most often gets pushed to the back burner for some reason!)
  • Visit Grandma (not that this is a CHORE, but just something I like to try to do each week!)
  • Clean downstairs floors
  • Free evening! I do my everyday chores, and try to keep the rest of the evening clear since I usually have plans (even if those plans sometimes include watching a chick flick by myself while Luke plays basketball with his friends!)
  • Sweep upstairs
  • Laundry day (including sheets and sometimes comforter)
  • I always try to do at least one big project on Saturday...usually something I've been putting cleaning out a closet or organizing bathroom cabinets.
  • Clean bathroom
  • Make lunch and dinner
  • Deep clean kitchen
  • Any other miscellaneous chores that were put off all week.
Since I work full time, I have to try to get a lot done on Saturdays when I have the time and energy.

I believe strongly in keeping Sunday as a day of rest and using it to worship and spend time with loved ones. So I really don't do a whole lot on Sundays. We go to church every Sunday without fail unless one of us is dying or we're on vacation, and then we almost always go out to lunch after church with friends or family. I believe this is such an important time for fellowship and worship! But that is another post for another time. Anyway, once we get home from lunch sometime mid-afternoon, Luke and I almost always curl up on the couch for a nap or just relaxation time (reading, watching a movie, being entertained by the antics of Miss Gabby and Ellie, etc) which lasts the entire afternoon. Then I usually make a simple, late dinner, and do the following chores:
  • Clean the litter box
  • Clean the kitchen and do dishes
  • Make bed. And yes, sometimes I don't get to this until the evening! I have many weird quirks, and one of them is that I can't sleep in a bed that hasn't been made. Honestly, there have been times when I've made the bed at 11:00PM, just to crawl right under the covers an go to sleep a minute later. There is nothing better than nice, smooth sheets, and I can't fall asleep in a rumpled mess. Anyone else like this? Just me??
  • Get ready for work the following week
  • Tidy up the house.
These chores usually take very little time, and I have the rest of the evening to spend with Luke just chilling out. I look at Sundays as God's gift to us as a day of rest to focus on things and people who are important. I know that I have a lot more energy and motivation for the week ahead when I've made sure to slow down a bit on Sundays!

So anyway, that's the schedule that I've come to follow. Do I follow it perfectly every single day? Absolutely not! But it's something to aim for, a general guideline, and it helps me to stay organized. And like I said, my house is certainly not the cleanest house in the world at all...but at least I've finally gotten to the point where the sink is usually empty and the laundry is clean and in its place. Baby steps :-)

What kind of schedule do you follow for housework? How strict are you in following it? I would love to hear your input! What is your favorite chore? (I love doing laundry. LOVE it. Weird.) And your least favorite? (dishes, dishes, DISHES!!! What I wouldn't give for a dishwasher!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Life, in Spite of Me: A Book Review

I mentioned this when I did my first review about a month ago, but sometime before Christmas, I joined a program called Blogging for Books through the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing group. It is a great program! Basically, I get free books just by reviewing them on my blog. If you like to read, you should sign up!

For my second book I chose Life, in Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson, with Tricia Goyer. This book sounded very interesting to me just by the description on the back cover: "She wanted to die; God had other plans."

The book had me hooked from the very first page. It is Kristen's story, chronicling her life before and after her failed suicide attempt at just 17 years old. Her story is unbelievable and miraculous, and simply reading it has strengthened my faith.

We see a dramatic transformation in Kristen's life during the book, which is my favorite part. She changes form a young woman who thought all hope was lost and life wasn't worth living into a woman who found her hope in the Lord and saw amazing things happen because of it. Truly inspirational.

The only little complaint I have is that I thought the book was too short! I would have liked to read more details about Kristen's story. It felt like a brief summary of the events leading up to and following her accident. I would have loved something a little more in depth!

That being said, it was an excellent book, and a very easy read. It helped me to reexamine my faith in God: that He can do the impossible. It also reminded me that God has amazing plans in store for all of us. This book has the potential to change lives, so I highly recommend it.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this Review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Project 365 - February

Today I'm posting all of my pictures from the month of February from my Project 365 blog. This is what my world looked like last month :-)

February 1: Iced in

February 2: How I spent my snow day

February 3: Ohio State/Michigan basketball game

February 4: Our icy walkway

February 5: New curtains, hemmed by me!

February 6: Gabby, intently watching the Superbowl

February 7: New entertainment center made by Luke

February 8: Really, Walmart? Is this necessary?

February 9: Valentines Day cookies

February 10: Gabby thought it was cold on this morning!

February 11: A visit with Grandma and Grandpa

February 12: JC brought us a delicious present!

February 13: Aunt Viv, Grandma, and Dad at Grandma's 87th birthday party

February 14: Happy Valentines Day!

February 15: Ready to make a lemon pie

February 16: The ridiculous amount of Valentines Day chocolate we accumulated

February 17: Gabby loves clothes baskets

February 18: Snow gone and ballet flats on!

February 19: Girls day out

February 20: The snow returns

February 21: An unexpected blizzard

February 22: More winter beauty: lots of snow in the trees!

February 23: Latest project

February 24: Ellie, staying warm

February 25: Girls night with Julie

February 26: Meeting baby Elin for the first time

February 27: Max visits

February 28: Touring the church construction, seeing the new library light fixture

And that was February, 2011: lots and lots of snow and ice, lots of pictures of my cats because I was stuck inside so much, and a few fun excursions and highlights here and there. Let's hope my March post has some more sunny, outdoor photos!!