Friday, March 30, 2012

Food I Ate Fridays - Martha Stewart Coconut Cupcakes

I absolutely adore coconut, so this week I wanted to share a recipe with you for coconut cupcakes that I found on Martha Stewart's wesbite.  I made them back on Valtninte's Day for some of my favorite people, and I added a raspberry on top.  Mine did not turn out quite as pretty as the website showed, so I used their picture instead.  You can find the link here

What I liked most about these cakes was the denseness.  Now don't get me wrong, I also love light and fluffy, but the heaviness of each cupcake made it feel like it was worth the calories :)  They will melt in your mouth and bring a smile to your face.  Isn't that what good eating is all about - smiling... :)

I got lazy and used pre-made frosting, but I will also include the recipe on this post for the frosting Martha recommends.  If you make it, let me know how it goes!


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed sweet shredded coconut
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups large-flake unsweetened coconut


1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Cream butter and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

2. Reduce speed to low.  Mix any remaining wet ingreidents in a bowl if needed.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry.  Scrape sides of bowl.  Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

3. Bake cupcake until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes.  Let cool in tins on wire racks.  Cupcake will keep, covered, for up to 3 days, unless otherwise noted.

For a link to the Frosting Recipe, click here

Bake something this weekend. 
Tell me all about it next week!

On a personal note, I start a new job on Monday (yay!), it is a promotion and an exciting opportunity!  However, I anticipate exhaustion and overwhelmedness, as it involves a hefty commute... All that goes to say, I may not be giving you a post every day, until I have adjusted to my new life!

I promise to do as much as I can, as this is therapy for me, and is something I have found myself needing.

Love you all! Have a lovely weekend :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Reflection Of Myself - Painted In Red

Sometimes a song really reflects my heart, and this Sara Bareilles song does just that.  The way she puts her struggle is beautiful and poetic, and I hope you gain from this song and that her self expression helps you to see your own.  This is my story from way back, and something I have overcome.  I love how she puts it, because this journey of doubt and frustration never ends.

I want to encourage you to be sure to write out your feelings, whether it is a personal journal or a public blog.  It is worth the energy - it clarifies.  If you are someone who struggles to express yourself in words, allow yourself to reflect others expressions.  Whether it be a musical artist, a poet, or an author; allow their expression to help clarify your own personal journey.  Their words can ring clear something you are having trouble expressing.  Listen without judgement.  Allow others words to wash over you and help you understand yourself.

I've Been Down, I've Been Out
I Did It All On My Own
It Seems Growing Up
Didn't Take Long

I Feel Strange, I Feel Good
I Feel Better With You
You've Changed, You Should
'Cause I Think I Did Too

I Made My Mistakes
I Did A Few Things Right
But It Will Take What It Will Take
And Baby That's Life

You Cannot Change What You Do Not Own
Everybody Knows
But If You Live Deep And Love Strong
You Get Pretty Damn Close

It Moves Fast And It Scares Me
I Close My Eyes, Oh, But I Still See

I'm Fading In & Out
What Are You Supposed To Do? Save Me Now
From All Of This Danger You Don't Know, How
And I'll Find My Way Out When I'm In The Red

Listening To Strangers Inside My Head
The Darkening Angels Beneath The Bed
I See Everything You Said, Crimson In Red

I Shake And I Smile 'Cause You Said
Baby Girl It May Take Awhile
But Take The Good From The Bad
And Never Minds Are Never Sure
So Never Leave Them Wanting More

What Are You Waiting For?
How You Love Is Who You Are
I Dive In And I Sink In
And I Find New Colors To Think In

I'm Fading In & Out
What Are You Supposed To Do? Save Me Now
From All Of This Danger You Don't Know, How
And I'll Find My Way Out When I'm In The Red

Listening To Strangers Inside My Head
The Darkening Angels Beneath The Bed
I See Everything You Said, Crimson In Red

In The Distance Is A Line Defining Where I've Been
The State I'm In And Ever Since
It Began To Slip From Two Hands I've Been
Taunting Fires, Touching Wires, Been Believing Liars
Everything They Said, Painted In Red
Painted In Red, Painted In Red

Sara Bareilles - "Red"

What song speaks to your personal journey? 
I would love to hear it and take the words into my heart.

Have a Wonderful Thursday Dear Friends :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trading Spaces - Hannah with Grounded Parenting

As I am sure you remember from this previous post, Hannah Ground Herman and I traded places about a month ago.  Her words of wisdom and experience were not forgotten by me, and we are trading again today because it really blessed us both to share our personal space and open up our world to the other’s audience.  Make sure you read every word of her heart.  She consistently lays it all out there.  Be encouraged by her dear friends, she is a busy mother of 2 who takes the time to write to you and encourage you in your walk.  She is just like me, a woman of God working to sort things out.  Give her both your ears, and open up your heart today.

"The following are her beautiful words...

"Books don't change people; paragraphs do, sometimes even sentences."
~ John Piper, A Godward Life

Think back to a really great book you've read. One that somehow altered the way you thought, changed your perspective, shifted your view. Maybe it was so engaging that you devoured it in one sitting. Or maybe you were so absorbed in the idea being developed that you slowly savored each page.

Now, what do you remember from that book? What about it was so meaningful?

 In high school, I read the book, The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. The narrative itself was riveting, but if you asked me today, I couldn't recite to you every detail of the story. In fact, I probably would leave out a great majority of the events. It's a single sentence from the preface of the book, before the story even begins, that echoed in my mind while I read it and one that I still hold on to.

A single sentence changed me.

"Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives
is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see." 
~ Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

But would I have remembered that sentence were it not for the story that followed? Would it have made such an impact if I had not been given an example of it demonstrated in Corrie Ten Boom's life? 

Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader feeds fly by fast. There are so many words and so many sentences. I even found the John Piper quote through Twitter! It stuck out to me a couple days ago. I even "re-tweeted" it. It's a good sentence! It's dynamic, it's thought provoking, and it easily fits within the 140 character limit with plenty of wiggle room. But when I looked it up to find the source, I wasn't surprised to find that it was a quote taken from a book filled with sentences. I think the reason that quote makes such an impact is because it carries behind it the weight of many other less "tweetable" words.

Those quotes that concisely verbalize grand ideas to make a difference only do so because the author or speaker spent time and energy honing many experiences down to one point.

"If what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful,
it won't make a life meaningful either"

In his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller presents the idea that our lives were meant to tell a story. The stories in books are the condensing of life. Stories take all the events, arranges them in a line, and points them in one direction, to reveal the overarching meaning and send a message. So, he asks, what are we pointing to in the story of our lives? Wake up, coffee, work, eat, sleep?

I'm not proposing that we strive to boil our lives down to a 140 character limit. We need the weight of experience to drive those messages. But if we preface our actions with a powerful intent, maybe the circumstances that follow will echo back that message.

When someone hears the story of your life, what single sentence will they be able to hold on to?"

GP Button

Also, make sure to check out my post on HER page today!  The goal of this is to get more people reading both of our words and to touch as many lives as we can through what God is teaching us.  I write on being blessed by little things, and what I am looking forward to today.  Make sure to check it out!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Faith & Josh - I Treasure You Both

This is my beautiful sister and her wonderful boyfriend.  They are such an unbelievably talented couple.  Now, I know you are probably thinking I am biased, and I guess that is partially true, but if you had been there this night you would not be able to deny it for one moment.  This was the night of their senior recital, and I welled up with tears quite a few times realizing how amazing it is that God blessed them with so much musical ability, and that he brought them together to understand each other as a beautiful couple.

When my parents were in town a few weeks back, this is the main reason they were here.  Faith and Josh spent a lot of time putting this night together, and it is really important to have as much support as they can.  She sang in at least 4 different languages, and he played many difficult pieces of music.  Every time they walked on the stage, I was absolutely blown away.  My degree was in International Business, and this world would be so foreign to me.  I would love to say I am this talented at what I do, but honestly it just comes so naturally to them and it is impossible to compare.  Apples and Oranges...  I walked away in awe of all they had accomplished in their degrees as music students.

Apart from being wonderful musicians, they are a beautiful couple.  They love each other in a very special way, and it is always something you want for your baby sisters to  experience in such a genuine way.  Josh treats Faith as she should be treated, and vice versa.  The love they share is what best friendships are made of.  They love each other down to their toes, and you can see that in the way they are around each other.  They have learned a ton through this first season of their relationship in school, and I am looking forward to seeing them grow as they move into graduation and past college.

Bill and I care for these two so deeply, and it is more than just because Faith is my sister.  It is not out of obligation or because we need to hang out with them that we do, it is because we truly enjoy each others company.  They make us smile, and they are people we love dearly.  

Faith and Josh, I am so proud of you both for getting through school and for finishing strong.  Faith, I am excited to have you as one of my maids of honor in the fall, and I know I always have your strong support and open arms.  Josh, you are such a wonderful addition to our crazy family!  Thanks for taking care of my little sis and always being so open to everything that comes across your path.

Love you guys!

Faith and Josh are pictured below with her roomies and close friends :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Food I Ate Friday - Cooking Pho

I have told you about my love for Vietnamese Pho multiple times, but Bill and I took it to a new level when we attempted to make it from home.  Let me tell you, it turned out awesome!

Now, I know if you are a traditionalist, when you see the “Spice Paste” packet, you roll your eyes and say I have no idea what I am doing.  However, I tend to disagree.  I didn’t say it was as good as traditional Pho cooked for hours from scratch, I just said it was great.  My favorite part about Pho is the fresh ingredients and how they taste in the hot soup.  The spicy flavors and the crunch of the fresh ingredients mixed with the soft noodles and meat.  Ugh, it’s just so good!

 Following the directions was easy, and we have noted a few things we would change the next time around, but I just want to encourage you on this “Food I Ate Friday” to try new things at home.  It is so easy to get sucked into routine, pick up food on your way home, or eat something unhealthy because it is “easy”.  This didn’t even take us long, and it was so fun to try something we had eaten out a million times.  PLUS it cost about half as much! 

Take a chance this week, and then come back and let me know what you tried!  I would really love to hear more feedback on what you guys are cooking J  I am hoping to post recipes in the coming weeks for this Series, and I’d like to keep them simple for all those that do not have a lot of time on their hands.  I have also been really into experimenting with baking so you might see a few of those pop up! 

Have a wonderful weekend friends.  You are all so dear to me and I appreciate every time you read my heart.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Oh What A Beautiful Birthday!

Oh what a birthday we had this year! 

Just as a reminder, Bill, Chris and I all share a birthday.  This year, Dannae and I sent Bill and Chris on a scavenger hunt where they saw everyone pictured.  We met under the pretenses of going to dinner as a group of four, and then Dannae and I dropped a note at the front door and drove off in a cloud of smoke!  The boys went to a park around the corner, a Trader Joes with wine tasting, a revolving sushi bar, and then to Peet’s coffee.  At each stop were dear friends and lovely treats.  They LOVED it.  We knew they would, but they just really milked it and soaked it in.  I love love love being able to do this for people that I love.  They came back smiling and ready for more.

Once they had returned to Chris and Dannae’s for the surprise and hugging, we headed out as a giant group to get Pho, and enjoyed the night together.  It was so fun to just be out celebrating, and it is such a rare occasion to have 3 birthdays in the same group of friends J  We all lingered over the table, laughed, and just enjoyed each other.  Every person there is so wonderful and important to us, and it was great to be surrounded by this much love. 

This day made me so thankful.  I’d like to encourage you in moments like this to not get hung up on the food you are eating, any complaints you have about life, the person in the group who rubbed you wrong by one thing they said, or the fact that you don’t have gas in your car.  Focus on being blessed to afford dinner out, on having even one good friend you feel 100% comfortable with, for relationship and laughter, and for never going to sleep hungry.  It was not just about it being my birthday, it was about wanting for nothing.  I am blessed beyond measure. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

C'est La Vie - A Red Canoe In The Mountains

I stole this wording from a previous C'est La Vie Post, but it still rings so true I decided to use it again! 

"I want to make this section of my blog relaxing images.  When I hear this phrase, I feel tension release.  I imagine a hundred different scenes that all transport me into a place that would make me rest easy.  Isn't it amazing that we each have different places and things that speak to our hearts?

My goal with this is to give you images that can transport you elsewhere into a relaxing realm.  Every time you see a C'est la Vie post, take a deep breath and remember that life is a blessing."
I hope this image speak to someone today.  I know I can imagine myself with the fresh mountain breeze in my face in that little red canoe, and all my troubles melt away.
Relax today my friend.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Be Encouraged - Between The Rains

As I mentioned in this previous post,  I have been doing a Bible study on James over the last few months, and loving the teaching I am receiving.  Beth Moore recently discussed her idea of what it means to be "Between the Rains".  I love the explanation she offered, and I hope I do it justice when I share it with you today.

She begins by explaining that we all have seasons of our life where we feel blessed and taken care of.  We feel untouchable and like everything is going according to plan.  These are the seasons of rain.  Sometimes a light mist, and sometimes a deluge, but all the same they are seasons of rain.  We feel an outpouring of blessing in our circles and directly onto us.  Our lives are exciting and we wake up with a bounce in our step every morning.  We are not scrounging or wanting.  Everything seems good and not stressful. 

However, there are also seasons of drought.  Where we feel like God is far away.  We don’t understand why things are happening for other people and not for ourselves.  We start to question all we know, and decide if God was out there he would come to our rescue.  We get bitter and cynical and lose our hope.

This is not an acceptable pattern.  We are supposed to be learning lessons in our draughts.  We need to see God in both seasons of rain AND seasons of drought.  Instead of pushing him away, play in other peoples rain storms!  Splash around in those puddles friend J  God’s eye has not left you, but he will not always be pouring out his blessing on YOU - give other people a shot.  How bold are we to expect constant blessing and outpouring?!? 

He is available to us at any moment, but we will not always be receiving gifts.  It is not an ATM type situation!  Sometimes he is just support in our drought seasons.  Remember to not treat God that way, and to remember things were never guaranteed to be easy, but to have faith because if you are in a drought you are just between the seasons of rain. 

Play in the sunshine AND the rain. 
Use everything as an opportunity to learn. 
Share in times of blessing, and receive in times of drought.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Season Of Reading - The Hunger Games

I haven’t been withholding from you and not reporting on books I’ve read; I just took a reading hiatus while I was focused on 5k training and Bible Study.  However, my life is leveling out, and I tore through a book last week I want to tell you about. 

Now just FYI, whenever I see a book blow up in popularity, I am very skeptical.  I am sure you are too.  This was no exception.  However, when a lot of my friends had read and raved, I started thinking I just needed to commit and jump aboard the train.  So, I borrowed it from some friends, and sat down to give it a chance. 

If I am honest, I was hooked from the beginning.  It is absolutely not a nice story.  In fact it is full of evil, deceit, manipulation, fear and so much more.  What caught my attention at first was that I relate to the way the main character (and many other characters) responded to the ideals presented by the Capitol in the book.  Her sense of moral and understanding of the way the system was set-up as unequal and frustrating was something that resonated in my spirit.  To even begin to outline the story would give too much away, but what you need to know is that it is a book about power.  Not just power of people, but also the power of fear. 

So why did I love it?  In short, it really transports you into their world.   I love reading about someone conquering fear.  You feel like you are there with them, brushing through the trees, panting for water, and fighting for your life… Or at least a member of the audience watching in anticipation.  The concept is also baffling.  As each new detail unfolds you find yourself more and more intrigued by where the author is going with it all.  It keeps you on the edge of your seat like a movie would, and the words jump off the page.  I felt my heart racing when situations got intense, and I found myself frustrated and disgusted when something happened I didn’t agree with.  I guess you can just say, it came alive.  You can't stop turning the pages...

This will be the first time I have read the book before seeing the movie (which premieres next weekend).  I am so excited to have accomplished that task!  I love that I will be able to be one of the people who compares the book and the movie as I walk out of the theatre.  I will have to report back to you my thoughts on the matter!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Food I Ate Friday - Mongolian Barbeque Birthday Dinner

Oh my how I love this stuff.  I love anything interactive as far as food goes.  Salad Bars, taco nights, making sushi, and Mongolian barbeque are some of my favorites (that list could go on for awhile).  There is something so fun about getting a plate and having every option available to you that you could imagine.  I love being able to try new combinations and flavors together. 

When my roommate, Mikaela, asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner, I got really excited to try a Mongolian Barbeque place in Southern California; since it used to be my favorite thing to do with my mom!   We walked in to a mostly empty restaurant, and I instantly got excited.  The Asian décor, fish tank at the front door, and hot tea poured upon our arrival all made me smile.  I love these places!

We ordered chicken and pork and piled veggies on top, after they grilled it all up we returned to our seats to find fun little appetizers waiting for us.  Sweet and Sour sauce, deep fried shrimp, and mini eggrolls after our delicious soup had been enjoyed.  I love the crunchy noodles sprinkled atop the soup.  And the bread...Oh, it was warm and yummy.  Ugh, just looking at these pictures is making me want it again!

It always nice to be taken out to dinner for your birthday!  I really love being with Mikaela and just talking.  It is rare to find a friend you can literally talk with whenever about whatever and they are never tired of it.  Mikaela is such a wonderful friend and this birthday treat was just what I needed :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things - Oh Polyvore

As if I needed another obsession, I was admittedly Facebook stalking the other day, and courtesy of my dear friend Hannah @ Grounded Parenting, I started playing with a website called Polyvore.  Ay ay ay, it has become an addiction quickly.  I do not dress this way, or find clothes to be particularly important in my life, but I do love creating.  This allows me to do so!  Bringing colors and prints together IS something I love, and whether or not I do this on my own body is a totally different story!

The looks I have put together below are all soft and have pops of color that I love.  I would absolutely wear all of these outfits.  What is most important to me is that an outfit really speak of a person's personality, and somehow these clothes represent mine!  Simple and basic, yet fun and cozy.

So take a moment to scroll through these 3 outfits, and let me know what you like best!  I have a few favorite items, but you will have to ask to find out what they are :) 

I love soft materials and solid colors.  My pops usually come in accessories or shoes.  While I like to joke around and describe my style as boring, I really love the way I dress most of the time. 

I hope you love what you see! 

Thanks for humoring me on this silly little outfit post, trust me, it won't be my last!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Family and Flowers

My parents pictured top, Bill's parents and aunt kath with Bill & I in the bottom

I already told you about my Farmer’s market love here, but I did not include pictures of being there with people we love.  My parents were in town last week, and while I had to work every day, just knowing I could see them when I got off work was so lovely. On the Saturday before they headed back to Maryland, we got to spend a blissful Saturday entirely together.  My parents were staying at Bill’s Parents house, and we spent so much time in the sunshine becoming a family.  It was wonderful to see them all getting along so well! 

Bill and my birthday was celebrated that night with Pizza and family and friends.  That morning was spent walking around the market and buying oysters, pizza toppings, and chapstick.  As mentioned before, I love everything this setting, but spending it with people I love is even more rewarding.  The colors and the experience feels more vibrant when I get to share it with family.  That morning truly refreshed me.

Bill was super sneaky and bought me these beautiful flowers.  He asked me which were my favorite at the flower stand, and I walked around looking at them all and then picked these.  What a sweetheart!  He lingered behind and quickly brought them over to me with a big smile on his face.  I am a very lucky girl J

These pictures will always make me smile.  This was such a beautiful wonderful experience.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The One And Only Seattle

I only gave you a sneak peak of Seattle last week, but now I want to tell you a little more about our trip!

Bill and I flew up to meet my little brother and his girl in Seattle last month, and let me tell you it was wonderful.   We arrived and met at the hotel to get a good night’s sleep and head into downtown early the next morning.  After an amazing breakfast, we spent our first day walking through Pike’s Place Market, sampling everything handed to us, and breathing in the fresh rainy air.  It was great to have time spent with these two, and not having to split our attention.  We just enjoy each other’s company… So much.  We laughed and talked and just enjoyed the setting. 

Bill’s uncle lives near this beautiful place, and his aunt happened to be up there the same weekend we were, and they spent so much time showing us around and telling us all their favorite hidden gems throughout the area and the market.  We could not thank them enough!  They took us to their favorite bars and it was so wonderful to see pieces of our families blend is this new city.  I loved having Kath and Al join us.  They were amazing hosts in the city that they love.

The second day was Stephen’s birthday, and we did it up right!!  Donuts and coffee, the Space needle, shopping, walking, drinking, eating, and so much more!  I LOVED having Stephen with me to celebrate him, it is a rarity that we can do those things together.  Nikki, Stephen’s beautiful girlfriend, had bought him a pie from outside the city.  We took a taxi out to the bakery and then spent some time in Freemont and met the troll under the bridge.  It was so fun to just explore.  We stumbled upon a Farmer’s Market and outdoor market and it was so fun to have no agenda.  Such a fantastic day ending in delicious food and drinks to celebrate the birth of my wonderful brother J  To be with him and Nikki was so amazing.  I really love them.  Nikki is a lovelt addition to our family, and I can’t wait to see these two grow in their love for each other over the coming years.

The last day we were there was mostly spent with Bill’s dear friend James.  We walked around and checked out a few places friends had told us about.  I have written about him before here, and I love their friendship.  It is not only special to Bill, but it is truly special to me.  We enjoyed time with him after Stephen and Nikki headed to the airport, and when we walked away from them my heart sank a little.  I miss them always and wish they lived closer.  I just want to show them my life out here! 

It was such a wonderful trip and a preview of a city I have a good feeling Bill and I will be spending alot more time in!  We will miss you Seattle :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Penny For Your Thoughts - The Healing Takes Time

A lot of people tell me they could never be “as nice as I am.”  While I consider it a compliment that people recognize that characteristic in me, it also makes me sad to hear that.  It is a daily decision to die to my desire to lash out and treat people disrespectfully, and to actively give people respect and kindness.  I am not naïve to how nice I am, it is completely intentional.  I strongly believe that anyone can make the decision to make kindness a lifestyle as well.  I often think of the thousands of ways the world would improve if people would just be nicer.  I do not act this way out of a desire to appear like a better person; it is deep inside of me and a choice I made awhile back.  It gets easier every day.

I have not always been this nice of a person.  In high school and the beginning of college I blended in with everyone else who talked smack and didn’t have any intention of mending burned bridges.  I have grown leaps and bounds and intend to continue to do so.  I want to find a way to teach girls at a young age to respect others.  I regret so many things I said and did to other girls when I was much younger, and I wish I had treated people better from day 1.  I also wish I had been treated better, because I think a lot of the reasons people are the way they are is the way they were treated at a young age.  Kids are brutal.

This has been a burden on my heart lately.  It seems impossible to talk sense into kids, because they do not get the results of their actions until they are too old to fix them.  The damage is done.  Middle school and high school were my toughest years, and I believe I am just now recovering - at 26!  There were so many hurtful things said, that I carry with me.  Those are the building years that take a hit on your pride.  I will be completely honest and say that people were mean to me.  Cruel even.  Both to my face and behind my back.  It was hard not to get hard to people.  In fact, I did.  I ran away from my problems at first, but I just kept getting stepped on.

Being kind is a choice, and because of the way I was treated, I will always be this way.  It is tough to think back on that stage of my life, it brings up a lot of hurt.  I never felt beautiful or like I belonged.  I had a lot of rejection.  I started presenting myself as less than a person because I didn’t feel I deserved respect after not getting it from people for a long time.  I didn’t even require it from men.  I understand a woman’s sense of self worth going down, but it is not necessarily from men talking down to them. 

Women talking down to each other was equally as big of a problem, and comparing themselves to each other is the worst kind of temptation.  Women have done as much damage to me as men.  Men treating me like an object is equally as hurtful as women treating me like I do not deserve anymore than that.  The good news is my current girlfriends and my wonderful fiancé have rebuilt my trust in people. 

The healing takes time.

I pray for those I am able to connect with on this issue, that it will not impact others as it impacted me. 
Remember that damage is damage and anyone can make you feel unworthy. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Food I Ate Friday - Fresh From The Market

Farmer’s Markets fill me up with joy.  I LOVE the fruit and the veggies and the samples.  The smells and the freshness.  Ugh, just thinking about it overwhelms me with happiness.  I love being in the sunshine and the bright colors I am surrounded by.  I love tasting all the hybrid fruits with so much juice you cannot contain it and it drips all over the ground.  I love the people who are so passionate about the product that they grow and why the natural route is the best.  I love walking around amidst the people and the puppies and the music and the laughter.  I love the fresh picked flowers.  I love the seafood packed on ice. 

Bill and I spent Saturday morning with his parents, my parents, and his aunt meandering our new favorite farmers market in Orange (more pictures to come!), and it was such a refreshing experience.  We all sampled and smiled and just enjoyed the sunshine.  I can’t understand how someone would not enjoy that environment, it is SO relaxing and healthy.  I loved spending that time with my parents and showing them a piece of my world.  Pictures of this (and other times) we were together last week will appear in the coming week, but just marvel in the beautiful produce for now!

In case it isn't clear, I love Farmers Markets ;) 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Engagement Pictures Revealed!

Just looking at these photos fills my heart up.  There are so many I loved, so I picked some of favorites to share here.  Know that none of this is an act; I am so in love with this boy. 


Engagement pictures were something I had been looking forward to since the day we got engaged, and they turned out better than I ever dreamed.  This was a perfect morning with my perfect boy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our Honeymoon Plans

 We have officially booked our resort in Phuket, Thailand!  I can’t believe we are going to go on this amazing adventure.  We will be getting Thai massages, eating tons of Thai food, riding elephants through the jungles and bays, and going to Thai cooking school.  My parents gave us a week of their time share, and the resort looks absolutely breathtaking. 

It is so amazing to have a boy who wants to do these things with me.  I am looking forward to language barriers, strange unidentifiable food, and lots of interactions with some of the happiest people on earth in the land of smiles.  It is going to be an adventure we will never forget.

Sometimes people feel like it is strange to travel so far away for such a short period of time.  Some people don’t understand why someone would want to go somewhere so unique for a trip like this.  However, we know that this will be something we will never regret.  We are planning to soak it all up and love every moment of it.

I can’t wait to get there and relax with my future husband.  Six months feels so far away! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Be Encouraged - Forgiveness and Apology

I think there is something to be said for actually saying when you are sorry, you were wrong, or you were in denial.  I always hear people say they have moved on, but in reality, they have not - based on their actions, words, or aggression towards the other person.  Even if it is passive aggressive, it is still not a healthy way to approach someone or something. 

I strongly believe, in order to move on in your heart and head and life, you MUST verbally and/or publicly apologize.  People hide behind emails and text messages these days, when what is important is to have the awkward conversation.  Sometimes distance prevents the actual conversation, and an email is all you have.  However, there is something about sitting in front of a person and pouring your heart out to them.  They feel your pain and they see your hurt.  If it is possible, it should be your first resort, not the last one.  Technology prevents honest conversation often.

I recently had an encounter with someone that I constantly claimed I had “moved on” from.  Our friendship disintegrated years ago, and it was something that still burned in my heart.  When I thought of this girl, I cringed.  It was a huge hole and something I needed to address.  I struggled with trust in my female friendships that stemmed directly from this.  I am not proud to say, I spoke unkindly of her – and I realized that was from the hurt I had endured.  However, THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR POOR BEHAVIOR.  No one makes you act immature or inconsistent.  Everyone (and I do mean everyone) deserves respect.

I can say with assuredness, that I was not proud of the way I treated this girl.  I sent her an email (which I know I just preached against, but we are 3000 miles away and it was our only option) and took the time to apologize for the way I spoke of her, the way I acted about how our friendship ended, and the way I have been approaching her since.  I told her I loved her and would be praying for her future.  I asked for healing and grace.  She understood and mirrored my feelings.  However, if she had not felt the same way, it did not change the fact that I needed to do it.  It brought healing.  What is equally important is ACTUALLY being sorry.  Get to the point in your spirit where you are humble before the other person, regardless of what they did. 

I want to encourage you today.  Please, for yourself and for others, find forgiveness in your heart.  Mend broken relationships and give people a second chance.  If anyone has popped into your head during this post, please contact them and offer them your love.  Life is fragile and time is precious.

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's My Birthday... And All These Guys Too!

Today is such a special day.  It always has been.  I have always shared this day with my twin brother Christian, pictured above.  We truly have a unique "twin bond", and he is without a doubt one of my very best friends.  I love him differently than anyone else.  I miss him constantly.  I love that we always have this day to focus on each other and our friendship, and to remind ourselves to invest in each other.  Not just because we are related, but because we love each other so much :)

I also have the pleasure to share my birthday with the gentlemen pictured below!  Bill, my fiance you have heard all about, and Chris, a wonderful friend of ours who makes everything more fun. 

They make my life better. 

Bill is the love of my life and I cannot imagine my day to day without him.  It's fun to share our birthday and to make it really special and a week of celebrating!  We have already had a few days of fun, and it will continue throughtout the week.  Chris is someone who you have never met before, but you should know he always sets me at ease.  He makes me laugh constantly and is one of the most inclusive people I have ever met.  He meets no one with judgement, which is amazing.

I love birthdays, and this day is so fun because I love all the people I share it with.

Happy Brthday Gntlemen!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Seattle Sneak Peak

I recently returned from Seattle and was overwhelmed with my love for that city.  It is hard to put that love into words, but I will take a stab at it for you.

I love the smells of fresh seafood and baking goods. 
I love the markets full of fresh flowers and fragrant fruit.
I love all the happy dogs.
I love the light rain and lack of umbrellas.
I love the coffee cups in everyone’s hands.
I love that the city wasn’t pretentious at all.
I love how fresh the seafood was.
I love that everything we wanted to do was in walking distance.
I love that the people of Seattle are active and outdoorsy.
I love that I instantly felt like I belonged.
I love the crisp feeling in the air.

I love Seattle.