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Monday, December 30, 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, waiting for it to dry, gluing the hearts down, weighing them down with paint cans to make sure they really stuck and waiting for the glue to dry. 


Stepping back to look at the final product made my heart so happy, and when this hangs over my bed, I will smile everyday.  A bunch of people keep saying that we won't want it in our house forever because we will not longer be "Just Married".  I sincerely believe our love will always feel new and exciting and that it will not fade, and that "Just Married" is a mentality.  While life enters a day to day mode where you just get things done, we do not have to be that way as well!  We can hold onto little things that make us new and happy.  A million years with Bill would not be enough for me!

He loved this gift, and said we can keep it in our room forever :)  This life is just a blip in the span of time, and we will always be "Just Married". 

Did anyone get crafty with me for Christmas gifts? 

Share please :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

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 everyone sent.  I love those people on the screen so much and facetime really allowed me to feel connected to them despite the miles.  I am so thankful for technology.

Disclaimer: This photo is not from Christmas day, but it's such an accurate picture of our regular facetime sessions :)
3. TWO sets of incredible parents - I am SO blessed to have not only the world's best parents, but also the world's best mother and father in law.  All four of these people are incredible examples of marriage and love Bill AND I without abandon.  We spent the holidays with Bill's family this year and it was a pleasure to be around his parents as much as possible :)  

We spent Christmas eve just the four of us, eating Chinese and Sushi (a Wecker family tradition) and watching It's a Wonderful Life.  What a blessing it is to have such a safe home away from home right around the corner from our house.

Bill's dad captured the top left moment, and I couldn't help but include it in this collage!

4. Holiday Favorite Foods - I can't post on a Friday and not talk about food!  I look forward to the holidays every year because of the incredible food that gets cooked up, and this year was no exception.  Whether it is my mom's home made eggnog and corn chowder or Bill's mom's baked goods, that she starts immediately following Thanksgiving; I am going to gain a few pounds :) This year, I was surprised to contribute a meal  to the mix!

Bill and I prepared his parents and aunt and uncle a Christmas dinner thanking them for always hosting us all year long.  We made a slow roasted pork shoulder, scalloped potatoes, raw and baked oyster appetizers, and honey mustard and pecan green beans.  We also made a few cocktails and had some really yummy Corley Family Vineyards Cabernet with dinner.  We had the most lovely evening that night, and I wish I had pictures to share!  I was having too good of a time to remember to take any!


As always, my loving husband was one of my favorite parts of the holidays.  He loves it all and really wants to the spirit of the season to be remembered, and I felt like this year we were really able to remember what is important.  I am so happy to spend every day with him, and Christmas is no exception to that.  Check back on Monday for a post about a gift I made him that will forever remind me of our wedding day :)

Love you guys!  
Be sure to tell me about your holiday moments that stand out!



Friday, December 20, 2013

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 decided this would be a new tradition for our little family.  Bill's parents are truly welcoming, and this was such a fun way to spend a weekend with them.

Merry Christmas Friends!  

Bake something this weekend!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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 same with "perfect" bodies and waist lines and hair and makeup.   He had no image of what was "perfect" when he created you and how far from it he was placing you.  Why are we all trying to be the same, when we were intended to be different??   

Please, for your sake, stop wishing you were someone else and just learn to love the person that you are inside AND out.  It is really easy to fake this, but I am learning I will never wear a size zero, I will always have short legs, and I will never have blonde hair.  Why do I feel the need to fight reality so hard?  I am just as guilty as anyone else.  However, I am choosing to be healthy and I am choosing to see people the way God sees them.  It will take a daily decision to be happy in my own skin, not constantly figuring out how to tweak and alter it and make it look more similar to what is popular or fashionable or young.

...

I think it is equally important to realize the battle of being overweight, because it pains my heart in a different way.  Both being over and under weight shows me there is hurt and there is a lack of respect for your body and the temple that God has granted you, and maybe our bodies aren't even being viewed that way.  But what being overweight also shows me is a sense of giving up and being defeated.  Being healthy just isn't a priority, and to me that’s hard to swallow.  It should be at the top of our list.  

I do not think that taking care of ourselves equals buying new clothes all the time and letting consumerism take over whenever we need a pick me up.  We are called to take care of the temple of the Lord, and what we have been given to house him is our earthly bodies.  This does not mean I need be a crossfit trainer, but it means I need to respect my body and keep it running as well as I know how.  This means diet, exercise, and a healthy mind set are all necessary.  It does not mean I cannot eat a cookie or need to feel guilty for having a glass of wine either… everything in moderation and above all, be honest with yourself.  Where do you stand and why? 

Being healthy is a mind battle, and it looks different on different people.  People's resting healthy weights are different.  We HAVE to stop comparing ourselves to others, and we need to focus on our minds and why we do what we do.  Why are we binge eating? Why are we starving ourselves?  Is it for attention?  Is it a cry for help? Is it for control? Do we feel inadequate?  Do we have something to prove? Do we feel like no one will notice?  Is it just a test of our will?  Are you anxious?  The list goes on and on…

she was beautiful, deep down to her soul.

I relate to it all.  My weight fluctuates and I diet and exercise and binge eat and over eat.  I am anxious and search for control and feel inadequate and want attention.  So I write to you from my heart.  If you are a person reading this who struggles with the battle of weight, know that my heart is with you.  I want to challenge you to challenge yourself and to stop making excuses.  This is not about your physical appearance as much as it is about your heart.  As cheesy as it sounds, there is no time like the present to take control.  See the beauty in being healthy, and speak with the Lord on learning to take better care of his temple.  I have times where I do this well and times where I don't, and that's OK.  No matter what type of weight challenge you face, God sees you as his perfect creation.  Honestly.  Believe that.  Stop seeing yourself as less than you are because you aren't "perfect" in your eyes when you look in the mirror, because you are perfect in his. 

We all have different struggles, but I have found this one in particular to be so common.  While we all have different versions of what is healthiness, work hard to focus on your own decisions and not worry about how others are doing it.  Do your research and find out why your body is the way it is.  In this technology filled world, we truly have no excuse. 

Thank you for considering my heart and opinion and knowing that I am figuring this out as well.  Talk openly to me about this friends.  There is no judgement in true friendship, and that comes through quality conversation and no ill intention, and I offer you both.

Monday, December 16, 2013

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 decorations throughout homes.  I love good quality time during this time of year, it just feels so special :)  I pray that every person that reads these words seeks out something simple to celebrate the holidays.  Turn off your television and be present with the people you love.  Get to know them better, and make sure to tell them how much you love them.  God only gave us so much time together and so many holiday seasons to celebrate.  Do not waste one minute of this life :)  Dive in head first this holiday season and celebrate having people in your life.  Even if all you get for Christmas is a new toothbrush, focus on the people around you, and you will feel blessed.

You might ask where this is coming from, and I guess it is just that I hear SO many ungrateful people, or see people who are trying to buy each other's love or complain openly about how much they dislike their families.  I want to yell at them and shake them and tell them that being together should be what they are looking forward to!  That is what the holidays are about.  Gifts are lovely when done in the right spirit, and I absolutely love giving them, so don't get me wrong.  I just see so many people who complain their way through the holidays, and I guess it has damaged my heart a little.  If you are miserable, do not rob others of their joy. 

Thanks for reading through my thought process!  I guess I just want to preserve the innocence and magic of the holiday season.  My intention is just to push you to focus on what's important and let the rest go this season.  If you want quality time and a hearty meal, my door is genuinely always open.  Happy Holidays :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

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 hours before serving.


Comments

I did not follow this recipe exactly.  

Also, I did not make fresh whipped cream; I bought cool whip, and guess what, it was still delicious!  

I didn't have Allspice or nutmeg and I didn't measure my spices.  

Despite all that, everyone who had this told me they loved it.  So if you like a little extra cinnamon, feel free to go for it!  I'd also recommend a little pumpkin pie spice!  

Also, if you attempt this, know that the pumpkin and butterscotch pudding is delicious, but really thick, so a good quality spatula would be best for spreading :)

Eat well my friends!


For your reference, this recipe came from Here.

Friday, December 6, 2013

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 be like her, with stories of the world and yummy treats for people.  I remember it being a warm place, and even very young I could tell we filled her heart with joy (and exhausted her :).  It was such a dear place to us, and the familiar smell and taste of the Kringala made me feel home and nostalgic. 

This food I ate Friday is special, because I will not be sharing the recipe.  You can find lots of recipes for Kringala online, but this one is just one I'd rather keep close to my heart.  She considered us family, and so I consider it a family recipe.  I would, however, be happy to bake you some if you give me some notice :)  They are truly a wonderful treat with a cup of tea and warm with a touch of butter. 

Does baking make you feel nostalgic?  
Let me know some of your favorite holiday treats!  

(One day lots of people will comment on my posts like other people's blogs, but for now I will just dream of that day and continue to ask questions at the end as if I have a large following ;)