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Showing posts from 2013

Gettin' Crafty - A Project For My Husband

I had been working on a secret project for Bill for a few weeks leading up to Christmas, and it makes me really happy to share it now (and I will post another photo of the art work hanging over our bed).  I decided to make a "headboard" out of a palette and some hearts our wedding party held in our wedding photos (pictured above).  I included the entire collage from a previous blog post, because this project will always remind me of our wedding day, which was hands down the best day of my life, and these photos really capture my heart.  Sigh… I still swoon thinking about it.  This project made me feel like I was preserving our day forever :)
I borrowed the materials necessary (paint can opener, some left over stain from a previous project, and a drop cloth) from my father in law and purchased wood glue and a paint brush and got to work.  Honestly, it was SUCH a simple project, because I already had the hearts made from our wedding!  It was just about staining the wood, waitin…

List Love - All I Got For Christmas

1. Facetime for my Sister's Engagement - The fact that I was able to be present for a moment that changed my sister, Faith's life was incredible.  I felt so connected to it I started crying and couldn't believe it really felt like I was able to be there.  Her boyfriend, now Fiance, Josh got down on one knee and said the sweetest things to his girl, and for just a moment all was still in a house generally full of movement.  He really loves my little sister, and to see her say yes to the man who holds her heart was all I really needed for Christmas.

2. Facetime With My Family Christmas Morning - Bill and I woke up at 5:30 am on Christmas morning to open gifts together then at 6:15 am we talked to my twin brother, his wife and their sweet daughter in Pittsburgh and at 6:30 am we facetimed with my parents, younger brother, two younger sisters, and my sister's fiance and his entire family.  My heart was full by 6:40 am Christmas morning, without even considering the gifts ev…

Food I Ate Friday - Gingerbread Goodness

I've never made Gingerbread men before, so when Bill told me he used to always make them with his parents and that he wanted to bring the tradition back, suffice it to say that I was really excited.  We followed a recipe Bill's mom had in a cookie cook book she uses every Christmas, and refrigerated the dough overnight.  The anticipation was killing me.
There is something about the smell of Gingerbread that makes me feel all warm and cozy inside, and it filled the house with the smells of the holidays.  Baking in general warms up the house and fills it with excitement.  We put all the cookies on the kitchen table and filled pastry bags with icing and started creating our little men.  Most of them were silly, and by no means are we professionals, but they were absolutely adorable.  Everytime we completed one we showed the group and shared our triumphs and defeats.

Not only did they turn out great, but we had a really lovely time.  We laughed and drank coffee and chatted and decid…

Be Encouraged - God Overcoming My Struggle With Weight

Self-Image.   What a loaded phrase.  
It has a lot of debate, and I truly hope none of these words offend anyone, but I am realizing more and more that all women struggle with their body, and I want to dive into the why today.  With such a sensitive subject, I want to be sure we all understand, I believe any struggle with weight is valid and there is more going on that just the surface shows.
It pains me when women can't see their beauty.  It pains me when beautiful Christian women complain about their stretch marks or hips or anything they view as imperfect.  It hurts my heart to watch women starve themselves over a few pounds.  I hate seeing women obsess over the way they look.  I hate seeing women who have had work done to themselves to make themselves feel more beautiful.  To me, they aren't getting God's intentions.   He didn't curse you with a flabby stomach or straight hair or big feet or small boobs.  He created you to be unique, he did not want us to all look the…

A Penny For Your Thoughts- Holiday Focus

I think it's assumed when I stop blogging I am too busy, however lately I do not feel that has been keeping me from here.  I have lovely things to say about the holidays and how I have been swept up in them in different ways this year, but mostly I have been spending time with friends, family and my dear sweet husband.  As always, I am counting my blessings and remembering how much I have to be grateful for, but even more so I am realizing that I literally want for nothing.  When people ask what I want for Christmas, there is nothing I need.  Sure I have a list, but if I got nothing on it, I would be fine.  How amazingly blessed am I?  It makes me want to give away a bunch of my stuff, which to some may sound awful, but to me makes me feel like God has given me more than I could have ever imagined :)
I love the holidays for the old school reasons.  Being around family and friends, sharing meals and conversation, carols celebrating Jesus, baking, hand written cards and beautiful dec…

Food I Ate Fridays - Pumpkin Trifle

Ingredients
2-3 cups of leftover spice cake, muffins, or gingerbread (I used spice cake) 1 16 ounce can pumpkin puree 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 2 1/2 cups cold milk 4 (3.4 ounce) packages instant butterscotch pudding mix 2 cups whipped cream

Directions
1) Set aside 1/4 cup of cake crumbs for top. Divide remaining crumbs into four portions; sprinkle one portion into the bottom of a trifle bowl or 3-qt. serving bowl. 
2) In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, spices, milk and pudding mixes; mix until smooth. Spoon half into the serving bowl. 
3) Sprinkle with a second portion of crumbs. 
4) Whip cream until stiff; spoon half into bowl. 
5) Sprinkle with a third portion of crumbs. Top with the remaining pumpkin mixture, then last portion of crumbs and remaining whipped cream. 
6) Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top, around the edge of the bowl. Place cherries in the center if desired. 
7) Cover and chill at least 2 hour…

Food I Ate Fridays - Sister Baking Day Featuring Kringala

Last Friday, my sister Faith and I spent the day baking together and it was simply lovely.  We woke up early, had french press coffee with peppermint mocha creamer, and just sunk into our first holiday celebration day.  In comfy pajama pants and messy buns on top of our heads, we baked 5 dozen chocolate chip cookies, completed a tray of peppermint bark and made a batch of these little beauties pictured above called Kringala. 
Kringala hold a dear place in our hearts, and they taste just like childhood to us.  When we were really young, we used to visit an elderly woman, affectionatly referred to as Mrs. Z (her last name was Zebawa), and she always welcomed us with a basket of warm Kringala fresh from the oven.  We spent hours at her home, which I remember as quite an adventure, despite it's size and layout.   She had an assortment of interesting items: vases she had collected, unique napkin rings, paint brushes, and colorful tapestries; and she loved having us there.  I wanted to …

Life Lessons - A Perspective on Thankfulness

A lovely woman has included me on an email list that has a devotional called, Jesus Calling, sent directly to my inbox everyday. It is written from the Lord's perspective, and often times is exactly what I need to hear. If you are interested in hearing more about it, here is at link to the book reviews on Amazon to take a look at! Below is a recent Jesus Calling excerpt that really touched my heart and made me focus even harder on being grateful for what I have now and always.
As I prepare for Thanksgiving day, I always reflect on what I have to be thankful for, and this year is no exception. While it sounds cheesy, I wish people lived everyday this way instead of just making an effort during this season. It would make such a huge difference in America. Please, for your sake, start thinking more about what you do have and not focusing so much on what you want. 
I KNOW that I am blessed. Just having the freedom to write these words is so incredible. Do not take your freedoms …

Sharing the Wealth in my Season of Reading

Bill and I have a problem.  We have officially run out of bookshelf space.  We have small stacks of books piling up around our home and I have decided, as a result of this recent dilemma, as I finish a book, I will send it someone who would enjoy reading it, to make room in my house for more books in the future and to send someone a little joy at the same time.   
SO, if after reading my short review (and potentially doing a little research of your own) you are interested in having any book you see on here in your collection, just leave me a comment and I will arrange to have it sent to you so you can sit in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea and be transported elsewhere, even for just a few minutes a day.  Reading is wonderful, and hoarding books, especially ones I have finished, seems like a crime.  I want to share the wealth!
The being said, I'd love to tell you about this lovely read.  It is a collection of short stories of women who lived over seas and excerpts of their live…

Away For the Weekend - Vegas Here I Come!

I am heading to Vegas this weekend, and as is always the case when I say those words, I am really excited. 
I just love it.  Maybe it is because I am very responsible, I have a structured job, I make a meal plan every week, and I go to church every Sunday.  I am organized and clean and do laundry and don't make spontaneous purchases.  I am very methodical about my life.  I do not buy junk food, never stay up past 10 pm, wake up at 6 am everyday and (attempt to) always put others first. 
And then I go to Vegas…  I sleep in, eat big breakfasts, play games, drink oversized drinks, stay up til 2 am, eat fast food and snacks, do not have a plan, and do what I want.  I think because it is always in short spurts, I really enjoy just existing there for awhile.  Other places I go for vacation, I feel like I need to be productive and see it all and have a plan of attack, but not when I am there.  People say Vegas is dirty and raunchy, but I think that Vegas is what you make of it.  The casi…

My Family's Contagious Joy

This picture brings my heart joy and is currently my desktop background at work. 
My family has a contagious energy and my siblings are beyond a blessing to me.
I miss them more than words can describe, but feel peace in my heart about our individual journeys.
This picture is a throwback to the night before my wedding :)

Food I Ate Friday - Almond Biscotti

There is something about biscotti to me...  Maybe it reminds me of my time in Italy, maybe it is my fascination with different kinds of baking, but whatever it is, they make me happy and I love them in a unique way.  I cannot have them without a cup of tea or coffee to dunk in, and my preference is black tea with milk and a hint of sugar.  
As usual, I did not make up the recipe this week.  I found it on Pinterest, and the pin led me to the Hungry Brownie Blog.    If you are foodie, I encourage you to explore the rest of the blog.  There are definitely a few more recipes I want to try on there!  The photo and the recipe both belong to the blog referenced above... I really need to start focusing on the pictures I am taking!

Almond Biscotti
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt 3 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract (or 1/2 teaspoon amaretto) 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon anise extract (optional) 1 cup of almonds, toasted and chopped, but…

Be Encouraged - My First 10K

I want to take this opportunity to encourage anyone that doesn't think they can do something, because I genuinely and sincerely did not think that running a 10K was ever a possibility for me.  I am not lazy or unmotivated, but I just never enjoyed running.  I would always literally laugh at people who signed up for races because it sounded that absurd to me.  I ran a 5K last year, and left it feeling accomplished and like I never needed to push harder than that because it would be out of my reach… well I was wrong.
I know how cheesy it is, but I really do think all you have to do is put your mind to something.  In training for this, I learned a lot about my body, what it can handle, how diet effects exercise and why it is important to push yourself to do a task you do not believe you can do.  
That morning, when I started the 6.2 mile journey to the finish line, I remember thinking that if I didn't give up mentally and kept believing my body could handle it, I could jog the enti…

Food I Ate Friday - Chicken Tikka Masala

Watch out people, I got a crock pot and I am becoming obsessed with it.

Honestly, this recipe could not be much easier or more delicious!  It came from Real Simple magazine (as many of my recipes do) and it can be found here for your reference.  It turned out so good the first time we made it, we immediately made it again the next week.  I recommend shredding the chicken and serving it with the frozen Trader Joe's Naan bread :) 
Ingredients
1 15-ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes 1 Medium Onion, Chopped 2 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste 2 Teaspoons Garam Masala (Indian Spice Blend) Kosher Salt and Black Pepper 1 1/2 Pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs 1/2 English Cucumber, halved and thinly sliced 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice 1 Cup Basmati or some other long grain white rice 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

Directions
1) In a 4-6 Quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Place the …

Happy Birthday Daddy

This is my dad.
Today is his 56th birthday.
He is my biggest fan, the first man I ever loved and the best example of selflessness I have ever known.  He lives his life to make those around him more comfortable, and he is such an incredible husband, father and grandpa.  Growing up makes you see your parents differently, and while some may find their parents not everything they thought they were, I certainly have had the opposite experience.  He is everything I need him to be and is ALWAYS there for me when I need him.  Walking down the aisle with him was an honor because I am SO proud to be his little girl.  

My dad is a man who enjoys the little things.  A cup of blueberry coffee, a walk on a brisk morning and a cabin in the woods are things that make him smile.  He loves the trees changing in the fall and can't wait until the next time he gets to be in Maine.  Sam Adams, tubs of tri-flavored popcorn and Halls cough drops always make me think of him.  Isn't it funny what will mak…

Oh Hello Friend Party and Quality Time with My Girls

Me and two of my best girls went to a 5 Year Anniversary Party for a blog we have admired for a few years; and while I was so happy to be there and experience it, I was most excited about spending time with my girls.  They are both so dear to me, and I just love any quality time we can spend together.  We laughed in the car and gawked at the cute items and I just loved being around them for something like this.  We had the best time, and it reminded me that no matter what I envy in the blog world, I have it all in my reality.

I did a poor job getting pictures of the event, it was absolutely adorable.  There was cute food and drinks, fun colorful decor, someone who created silhouettes of attendees, a calligraphy artist, a fabulous band playing, a photo booth and a cotton candy machine.  It was a true celebration.

We looked through the shop that opened after the blog gained popularity, which was right around the corner from the party, and you can tell it is a dream of the owner's …

A Season of Reading - A Lovely Italian Adventure

This book is an Italy loving foodie's dream.  I definitely could not get enough of it.  It was like going on vacation whenever I picked it up, because I dream of being the woman who wrote this when I "grow up" :)  She writes with such poise and confidence and makes her meals sound like the most incredible experiences I can even imagine.
The recipes are so sumptuous, and every dish described can almost be tasted from the amount of detail.  Oh my gosh, I just wanted to jump in the pages and be sitting at the table with them!  I can picture myself with a glass of deep red wine soaking it all in sitting in a rustic, yet comfortable wooden chair around a table filled with laughter, candles and conversation.
I have been daydreaming about a trip my family and I are planning to Paris, Germany and Tuscany in the fall of 2015.  While that is only 2 years away, it feels like an eternity.  I cannot wait to be there, living in the setting of this book.  I miss living in Italy everyday…

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - My Husband, Weekend Trips and Great Food

To say our first anniversary was wonderful would be such an understatement.  We took the train down to San Diego and stayed in Little Italy and had the most incredible weekend filled with amazing food, lots of walking, and heartfelt conversation.  It is so amazing to watch a year go by and see how far you have come.  While we were in San Diego, I realized how much more I love Bill than I ever have before and how amazing it is that love can grow.

He was so thoughtful and brought coffee mugs to make our room feel homey, made sure I treated myself to what I really wanted and brought a smile to my face every moment that he could.  I made the little banner pictured above for our room (1st year anniversary is paper) and gave him a few little gifts, but our focus was taking time out to  just be together.  Sometimes it is more important to be present than to buy presents :)


The morning after we got back, I had flowers delivered at my work with a sweet note and have been receiving more of a puzz…

Eli John - My Best Friend's Answer to Prayers

My best friend is having a baby boy.   She put a lot of pressure on me, letting me know this post would go in the baby book and most likely be something she treasured always, so I feel like I want to do even better than I generally desire in presenting my words eloquently.  So here goes nothing :)
Heather Simone and I are not best friend's for superficial reasons, our relationship runs deep.  It is more than just a girlfriend I chat with or shop with, this girl can literally predict the words that are about to come out of my mouth.  She is more like a sister than a friend.  We have not always been this way, but God absolutely had these plans when he brought us into each other's lives.  He dropped us in front of each other when we were both searching for real and true friendship, and what he led us into is such an amazing testimony to what the Lord can do when two people decide to become the people they know they are meant to be.
She inspires me.  She really pays attention to the…

Wine Tasting and Walking - A Long Weekend in Napa and San Francisco

Bill and I headed up to San Francisco and Napa for a couple of free nights because we sat through a timeshare presentation, and while this was earlier in the summer I wanted to share a little about it because it was just so lovely.

We started out the trip with an afternoon in San Francisco.  We showed up without a plan and with wandering spirits, and really enjoyed our time walking together.  We check out China town, strolled through an independent book store, ate soup out of bread bowls, and took in the city.


We headed up to Napa to stay at a fantastic time share property which had a vineyard on site, amongst many other amenities, and just sunk into it all.  This was Bill's last week as a wine distributor and we capitalized on his connections and got lots of free tastings and discounts.  Everyone in Napa was so nice to us, and we ate so much decadent and delicious food.   It was such a different trip for me, because I had no agenda, we just did what we felt like doing.  The culture…

C'est La Vie - A Collection of Woodsy Loveliness

While many people covet my 5 minute drive to the beach, there is something about a cabin in the woods that strikes my fancy much more.  We all find beauty in different part's of God's creative hands, and these pictures make my heart race.  Pine trees, the changing of the seasons, warm mugs full to the brim with steam coming off and coziness abounding.  Man oh man... 











Now I just have to figure out how to work from home and make plenty of money so I can live in a little cabin in the middle of nowhere with my handsome husband... Any suggestions?

Missing My Favorite Season

For those of you lucky enough to live somewhere where it is crisp and breezy, the leaves are changing colors and you actually need scarves and boots...I am jealous of you.
I love the fall.  This is the season I miss the most.  While it gets cool in the evenings here in sunny Southern California, I could do without this 80 degree weather during the days!
I envy those enjoying this season in all its glory.  I still participate in all things fall, but it just is not the same...

Friendship and Sunshine - Summer Came and Went

I mean I seriously feel like it happened fast.  I didn't share ANY of my summer adventures and I feel like I want to play a little catch up.  I had such a lovely time this summer just being present with people and spending time outside in the sunshine.  Life moved so rapidly, that I had to take a moment to look back at the pictures on my phone and remember how lovely it has been the past couple of months.  Birthdays, babies, friendship, family and outdoor concerts are what I treausured most this summer. 

Here is to a fall equally full of lasting memories :)

Wedding Week in Baltimore - My Little Brother's Wedding

Family.
My most recent trip to Baltimore reminded me how blessed I am to have the family that I call mine. 
I had the privilege to be in my little brother's wedding and stand next to a couple who's love for each other is incredibly sweet and just continues to surprise me.  I have always been proud to be his sister and her friend, but this week was proof that our family is better for adding Nikki.
The entire week felt like a blur.  So many incredible memories were made and I am thrilled to have been there for as long as I was.  I also got to spend time with my bestie, who is having a baby in the spring, and to say I am incredibly grateful for that time is an understatement.  She is family to me.  Gosh, life seems to be flying by.  

The day of the wedding was not the most beautiful day by a weatherman's standards, but the wedding itself was magical and incredibly memorable.  As the rain fell on the guests, and Stephen held an umbrella over himself and his beautiful bride, I had …