Monday, December 26, 2011

Bloggie Hiatus

Hi everyone!

Still here. Taking a break as you have figured out to more fully enjoy the 'rents and other family visiting. Also, I'm crazy busy sucking down coffee to keep up with the late night/early morning routine we've got going.

In the meantime, be jealous. We're at the beach for the next few days and I. Can't. Wait. We haven't been to the beach at all for two and a half years! A very sad truth.

And I heard there's a Starbucks near the condo... Oh yeah!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Fun, Take 2

So our house exploded with Christmas decorations this year, and my sweet, darling hubby went all Buddy the Elf crazy the other night while I was at work.

This is the first year we've not put up outside Christmas lights, and we kept going back and forth about whether or not to do it. He came home from work determined to be sweet and do them for me. But then, he told me, he came inside thinking how sad it is that unless you're outside, you can't see them really. So he decided to put them all over the INSIDE of the apartment!

These pics don't do them justice at all, but they're GORGEOUS! With the other lights off, it's still bright enough to see to do anything, but they create a very soft, romantic feel. Just lovely. I'm half tempted to leave them up year-round.

Aren't they so pretty?

And just to better explain why Scout needs so much therapy...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Fun

A little Christmas funny for you, courtesy of last week's SNL....

What fun have you been having this season?

We've been busy but in all the best ways! This year we've been reading the Christmas story in The Message version of the Bible. I always love rereading the history but especially the older I get. I always get something different out of it, based on where I am in life at that moment.

Tonight before our beloved family descends upon us, CC and I are doing our Christmas gift-giving. I'm a little nervous about not having ANYTHING to open on Christmas Day itself, but I think this is best for us this particular year. Can't wait for family to get here though!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Road Trip

"Over the river and through the woods, to my brother's house we went...
The car knows the way to carry us there, through bright and wintry snooooowwwww!"

Hmm, no snow. Not even close. 60s and 70s actually.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas... just like the ones I've never known...."

Yep, never had a white Christmas. Sob.

Anyway, yesterday we drove three hours away to where my brother now lives with his wifey. We stayed for lunch and spent two hours with them, then drove three hours home. Made for quite the day! I of course had full intentions of getting lots of great photos, but alas, completely forgot and got nada!

They have a lovely home and I very much enjoyed seeing it, but it was beyond wonderful to be with Gabriel and Carolyn in person. We haven't gotten to see them much and it was so fun! It was wonderful to catch up and be with them!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pinterest Party!

Traditionally in the past, for years I hosted a cookie exchange before Christmas. The past few years have been too crazy to do it but I was really hoping again this year to pull it off. With a twist. I invited ten ladies (had to limit it) to come exchange cookies and make crafts. The plan was you could either gift away what you made or keep it for yourself. The problem came in that I only had two ladies RSVP with a yes (crazy time of year) and they were skittish about having to make bazillion dozens of cookies. So the cookie exchange was nixed in favor of what turned out to be my first Pinterest party! I totally admit to stealing the "Crafts and Crap" name from Emily. I thought it was hilarious and hope she'll forgive me.

I got some Pinterest-inspired Stovetop Potpourri going so the apartment smelled amazing...

I had no orange, just a lemon, but it still worked. The problem is the site linked to Pinterest says you can use it for the whole month. Not true. The scent died after about a week and a half. And it looked disgusting (although the site warns you about that).

I made Kim's Brie. Which was. AMAZING. I didn't use craisins, I used leftover homemade cranberry sauce. Yeah, I think I maybe licked the pan when everyone left. I'm not admitting to that though.

We made bath salts and Christmas magnets...

And teased my coworker, Larry (yes a man), about being invited and not coming and how we were going to bombard him with Christmas gifts of bath salts. We made lavender, apple, and sugar cookie scented salts. Very easy. Super fun. The lavender will most definitely be given away as I hate the scent of lavender. But all in all a very fun evening. I've had many requests for the next Pinterest party and ideas are already cooking!

While I think, I keep relaxing with my new Christmas mug from the hubby.

Ain't he a sweetie?!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Catch-up

I don't know about you, but I often get these grandiose ideas for blog posts... photos I want to share, spiritual thoughts I want to share, questions I want to ask you, and on and on and on... and then, life gets in the way. I forget all that I had to talk about or ask about. Photos get lost or forgotten. Etcetera etcetera etcetera.

So in light of that and not being able to remember hardly ANY of what I want to blog about, here's a super long Christmas catch-up that shares with you what we've been up to!

We got our Christmas cards sent out last week- yay! One more thing crossed off our list!

Scout's been in the Christmas spirit... a new stocking from Daddy and her 'Elf-sized' tshirt!

Surely we can afford to get me this for Christmas, right, CC?

Sorry, wiping the drool away! More Scout- she got a new coat, but we might take it back. It's not working out so well but doesn't it make her adorable?!

Christmas parties mean fun green nails (called 'Emerald City')! I just love them! Ignore the super dry hands and horrible nails, just wanted you to see the fun color. I read a tip for subtle shine in a magazine and tried it out. Paint one coat of color, one coat of glitter, then top with another coat of color. I love it! The glitter doesn't spread everywhere and it's shiny without being obvious.

I attempted to make sea salt chocolate caramel candy (from the Food Network magazine, ripped off from Ina Garten) this week. What a disappointment. The process tasted delicious and I had visions of the pretzel crack from earlier this year being available in candy form.

Looks great, right? I stirred this puppy for over an hour (literally!) to get it up to the right temperature. I think I hate CC's thermometer because I don't think it's accurate.

In the end (after all that work!), I ended up with a hard caramel BRICK that couldn't be cut with even our sharpest knife! (or the other knives we tried)

So sad. We went with homemade fudge for gifts instead. And they turned out well. Yay!

Working for a church (err, for Jesus) during the Christmas season is definitely fun but a lot of hours and hard work. A busy busy time for sure! Still trying to find the time to update you all about the accidental Pinterest party we had. Hoping I can get that out soon!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

It Figures...

This, coming after yesterday's post...

Hubby needed an oil change so here we sit at the Just Tires waiting. Only he needs new tires and a new battery. After last week when I needed a new battery.

I think it's interesting timing with paying off that debt, don't you? God knew it would happen but it still makes me laugh at the timing of it all.

Friday, December 02, 2011

I Heart Dave Ramsey!

Today is a very special day. Why, you ask? Because today has been a L-O-N-G time coming. Are you on the edge of your seat wondering and dying to know what I'm talking about? Okay, I'll go ahead and share.

Today, December 02, 2011, is the day we FINALLY pay off the biggest debt we've ever had in our ten years of marriage (and before, if we're counting). The only thing we owe that's bigger is our student loans. Eight or so years ago, we thought we were being smart by consolidating ALL our current debt into one gigantor line of credit. (For those of you wondering, Dave Ramsey would've called us dumb for doing this.) We thought we'd have it paid off in six years (or less), but life happened and stupid decision-making happened and that didn't happen (you follow?).

So today, we are making our FINAL payment. Taking it down to ZERO. Praise God! He's pretty amazing, isn't He? This will leave us with student loans and two other much smaller debts to still pay off, before we can shout from the rooftops that we're debt-free. But it's coming and it's much closer than it used to be. Again, all glory to God!

What's really amazing is we're paying it off early. We're paying it off earlier than even our early plan. It's being taken care of in December, our worst month, financially, with Christmas and all. God is so amazing!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

November PinterTesting!

Happy Merry December!

Linking up with Jessica for this month's PinterTest Kitchen...

In our house this month, we did a couple of PinterTests... we all use Pinterest (admit it, people think you've started a cult. No? just me then.) to pin five gagillion million things that we MUST have, buy, make, eat, or do. But do you actually go back and get, buy, make, eat, or do any of them? Fortunately, I do. Not many compared to all the pins I have, but several.

Here are the two I'm linking up with today.

GROUT REFRESH! Supposedly the best way to restore grout between tiles to pretty, newness. So Hubby and I tested it. And it works! Basically, you're using the stuff to 'paint' the grout, which is why it works. It was only about $10 and since it was our first time, it did take a while. We spent about four hours on the project total (including cleaning ahead of time, waiting, cleaning after). I will say I was ridiculously sore for about 4 or 5 days after being on my hands and knees for that many hours. Pretty painful. But totally worth it!

As you can see above, our grout was pretty grody (apartment living)-- a year and a half's worth of grime ground down into the grout. The second photo from the left is the process during, and the last two show the pretty and clean afters. Such a major improvement!

Then, this Monday was our last day off for Thanksgiving vacation. We decided to use our
nifty new super-cheap-accidental-Black-Friday-doorbuster-deal of a crockpot to make Hawaiian Barbeque Chicken. Three ingredients + Crockpot = Easy, right? Well actually, yes.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, crushed pineapple, and hawaiian-style bbq sauce from Target. Cook on low for 6 hours, eat the yumminess. Those are almost literally the directions.

Here's where our problem was. Our new crockpot is programmable- on high, for four or six hours. On low, for eight or ten hours. The directions said LOW for SIX hours. What to do? We put it on low for 8 hours. What would you have done? Well, I think it would've been yummy but ours turned out overcooked. Poor chicken.

Here's the final product!

This unappetizing photo brought to you by my hungry self...

We also had rice and broccoli so it was a healthier, more meatless meal than it looks in the moment. Hubby said it needed more salt to add flavor. I'm not sure I agree with that part, but the overdone chicken certainly didn't help. Not sure if we'd try it again or what. The idea of mixing chicken and a sauce and letting it cook all day is extremely appealing. Maybe we'll try a variation....

This weekend I'm sort of hosting a Pinterest party, so I'll keep you posted on how that goes...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Spirit!

We've fast been getting into our Christmas spirit around here! Since I haven't posted in a while, I'm sorry to say this post is crazy long.

Before Thanksgiving, we had our city Christmas parade, which was a lot of fun. We don't go every year (usually just watch it on tv), but this year our friends wanted to go and I'm so glad we went!

We even stayed to the very end! Santa was really great this year. And unlike past years, the reindeer didn't have evil devil-red eyes anymore. Yay!

Even our milk got in the Christmas spirit! (Am I the only one who buys the specific carton of milk based on the expiration date being a special date?)

Our Thanksgiving was wonderful! This year was different because instead of hosting and cooking for up to 30 people, we only had three others come. It was a blast though, more intimate and relaxed, than running around all crazy. We ate, we laughed, we played at the playground for the toddler that came, we ate some more.... good times. (sorry, no pictures of the good times. I did get one photo of the stuffing I made, which was yummy, but I figure that might be a bit anticlimactic.)

After Thanksgiving, as is our tradition, we spent Black Friday getting our Christmas tree up and the house decorated. We rocked us some Christmas decor this year! Lots of garland, lots more ornaments, lots more as much as I can cram into our apartment! You can't really tell here, but there's tons. Trust me. CC's letting it fly this year, but I'm sure he's having red and green nightmares every night.

Here's my Black Friday find at Kohl's... the Shark Steam Mop I scored for $45! SOOOOO happy!

The weekend after Thanksgiving, we helped decorate the church. See my pretty tree?

Okay, it's not MY tree, but I did help with it. We put more stuff on it after this, so now it is rockin' the pretty Christmas... I was GLOWing by the time I left the church that day. SO much glitter. Those that know me well know that I like glitter when it can be contained. I do NOT like glitter that stays with you in odd places for weeks on end. This was the latter type of glitter. The good news? Hubby took one shiny glance at me when I got home and made me go take a shower. Fortunately, that gets rid of the glitter apparently.

Also, helping with our Christmas spirit... peppermint mochas from Starbucks! Woot! Woot! We went after watching "Arthur Christmas" which was AWESOME! What was hilarious was walking into the place and seeing every table taken up with a laptop, and only one person at each table.

Are you all playing Words With Friends or having virtual small group? We weren't sure, but this chica definitely knew I was trying to snag a photo. I must not be as sneaky as I think I am.

We stayed and talked and hung out for a while at the 'Bucks. Love that place. Fond memories. Like this one.

My hubby App store loves me. Awww!


I know. I know. I've been MIA for about two weeks. A really great two weeks. Of staycating, of thanking, of eating, of baking, of shopping, of decorating, of crockpoting, of Pintertesting, of connecting with my hubby, and on and on and on the list goes! I promise I have some posts in the works, but I wanted to ask you to please hang in there until I can get them up!

I've dearly missed the blog world these past two weeks and am looking forward very much to reconnecting with you! During this season of gratefulness, it's been impressed upon my heart how thankful and blessed I am to have you be a part of my life. So thank you!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Love You, Erin Condren!

For those of you who don't yet know this, I am OBSESSED with office supplies. I get them for my birthday, Christmas, anytime of the year works for me! My hubby used to call me the Pen Queen because I was always on the ever-elusive search for the perfect pen. If we're ever at Target and he's looking for me, I can usually be found on the pen aisle (he can be found on the video game aisle).

So you can imagine my excitement that my planner from Erin Condren is FINALLY here! I am in LOVE! I've drooled over it for the two days it's been in my possession, talked about it endlessly (the guys I work with are sick of hearing about it), shown it to as many people as I possible can, facebooked Erin herself to thank her, and on and on and on... (in fact, you might be sick of hearing about it!).

Well, once I saw the cuteness in person, I decided nothing but the best would do and I proceeded to order new colored pens so I can color-coordinate my work items from my personal items. I typically do this, but boring blue and black ink wasn't going to cut it for the adorableness that is the planner.

Staples finally delivered (Ha! Do you like my pun?) and the pens are here! I'm so happy. Heaven! Okay, anyway, so yes, I did just post an entire blog entry about the planner arriving and pens that make me happy. And I'm not sorry you just spent your time reading that. Okay, maybe a little, but now that I can write in my planner, I'm happy again. (Are you as confused as I seem to be? Here's the summary: Pens + Planner + Susie = Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For The Hubby

Today marks CC's and my 15th year together. Almost half my life has been spent side by side with my bestie. (We dated for five and a half years before we got married. When you date for that long, you can start counting with the marriage, but you don't ignore those first dating years.) Our first date was November 16, 1996. In case you haven't heard what our first date included, here we go- keep in mind, this is the VERY condensed version so you don't have to spend the next eight hours reading!

To start with, CC and I were both in the same high school youth group at our church (where we still attend). We didn't go to the same high school, but that was okay because we had youth group together. I met his entire family (two parents, two brothers) before I ever met him. Loved them all immediately. Wondered who the mystery brother was. Finally met him when I was 14. Fell in "LUV" immediately. Pined away for two years. TWO years. Forlorn, beet-red blushing girl I was, he had no clue. You want proof of clueless males? Exhibit A.

Had no clue until my "friend" told him. TOLD HIM! At 16. In front of me. Mortifying. Again with the blushing.

Fortunately, we had the same group of friends and hung out all the time. He was extremely shy and quiet. But when he opened his mouth, he was hysterically funny. And his dimples showed. Oh the dimples!

On a retreat one weekend in November (in 1996, if you hadn't yet guessed) that same 'friend' orchestrated a double date that became a single date. CC SAYS he asked me out officially, but he didn't actually. It just kind of worked out. I think he might have actually asked my mom if he could take me out, but never to me. Kinda funny. Well, after the retreat I was having eye surgery and wouldn't be able to see for a few days until I got a new pair of glasses.

My mom told him I could go if he'd take me to Lenscrafters that Friday night to get me some glasses. (Kill two birds with one stone? Sure!) So CC being the sweetie pie that he is, he for some reason said yes.

To make a long story short, I couldn't see him the following Friday when he picked me up in the big brown Bessie minivan. I'm blind as a bat without help and I literally could not see the guy for my first ever date. It was weird.

We drove forty five minutes away to the mall where Lenscrafters was. He had to pick out the frames because I couldn't see anything. Fortunately, he has some killer taste. We had an hour to kill, so we MET HIS MOM to switch cars. We got the super-cool date car, the Ford Taurus. We used that car for almost every date we had after that. Miss that car. Saw some other people from church who knew we were on our first date, so they waved and ran away so it wouldn't be weird. Haha!

After we got my glasses and the other car, we did go to dinner and a play that was at his school. It was a lovely evening and obviously things went well, but I find it hilarious that I couldn't see him and we spent part of our first date with his mother (who I love dearly). I don't know if you find that funny but we sure do!

All these years later, I still love you, baby! In fact, more every day. Happy dating anniversary, Lovey!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

No More Cushy Life!

For those of you that don't know, we got tired of Scout stealing the bacon and not contributing to bringing home any-- we got her a job! No more cushy life for her!

Here's the thing about our beloved little puppy... as small as she is, she's a chewer. And not just a chewer, but a destroyer of all things good and happy. She doesn't just chew toys and MacBook cords, she EATS them. Literally eats. It's a good thing her toys don't have calories, because she goes to town on anything we let her chew. A chronic problem we have is trying to keep her entertained with toys and treats and various and sundry not-sock items that she's allowed to have.

Last week she got a dog toy in the mail to product test. Supposedly, this company makes nearly indestructible toys. They say "nearly" because apparently 99% of all dogs that've tested their products can't destroy their toys (They have to account for the 1% that can destroy their toys, so thus the 'nearly.'). So I asked them if they'd let Scout participate and test them, since she's such a ferocious beast.

They happily shipped us a 'sample' which apparently means free actual toy. This is what came in the mail. Looks durable, right? The videos on their website show all the ways they've tested the awesomeness of the toys. Blending for a dog toy milkshake, punching it with a metal machine, more blending, a lab taking a crack at it... I especially love the competitive test result video, which shows all the other toys that were destroyed while the Bionic toys remained intact.

Okay, to be clear, I think it's AWESOME and AMAZING that they sent us a sample toy and agreed to let Scout test it. I hope we can continue this. People are often surprised at how chompy Scout can be, especially when they find out how little she is (12 lbs., 13 on a bloaty day).

We waited for us both to be home since CC and I both wanted to see what happened. Scout LOVED her bone toy from the second she realized the box was for her. I guess she could smell it. She's really smart about knowing when something we bring home is for her, versus for us. Crazy how brilliant she can be (yet, still stubborn and sometimes disobedient. Crazy dog.). Anyway, we were both home and let her go to town with it.

And here were our results...

1. Scout LOVED it! She was obsessed with it the entire time we let her have it. To the exclusion of all else. Nothing else mattered. Not her mama. Not her daddy. Not her other toys. Not the TV she loves to watch. Nothing. Bright neon orange goodness was all she cared about.

2. In less than ten minutes, she had deep gashes in the toy. Uh oh. This isn't going like we were hoping it would.

3. In fifteen minutes, she had a chunk bit out of it. Fished it out of her mouth since it's not edible. Hmm, this seems more normal to us.

4. In about thirty minutes, Scout had three chunks chewed off and we had to take it away from her. She was NOT HAPPY. I repeat, NOT happy. Forlorn, angry, lots of glaring in our general, specific, pointed direction. We had lost all coolness points with the furbaby. Who is apparently a truly ferocious beasty beast.

Yeah, so our little furbaby's back to the pitiful chewer we had before. No toys. No fun. Sigh. I emailed video and the photos above to the company to see what they thought, but I haven't heard back yet. I am hopeful that they'll let her continue to test their products, but I don't have high hopes. I'd think Scout will throw their numbers if they let her keep testing. At least for thirty minutes she was a working girl...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day Seven

Yesterday's final act for the Happy Day project was to donate a Blessing Bag to a homeless person. I hate to do it, but yet again, I adapted this for me personally. Since the idea was to bless someone less fortunate with needed supplies, I'm donating food again, but this time in a different way.

Our church participates with a ministry we call Canning Hunger, which provides non-perishable food items to our local food bank. We usually donate to them several times throughout the year, and this is what I'm counting for the final day's project.

Many of you may know this, but for those of you that don't, I grew up pretty poor. Ghetto poor. Inner city poor. Almost evicted and evicted often poor. Often hungry poor. I don't say this for pity or sympathy, I say this to encourage you. People in your community are hurting. They need Jesus if they don't already have Him. You may give one can of green beans to a local food bank and never realize what a blessing it is. If you don't already serve or donate food or gifts or time or money to some organization that helps the less fortunate in your community, please consider doing this. Often. It is so easy to see how blessed we are and to give like we've been doing this week.

There's always a way to help someone else. If you don't have the money, give your time. If you don't have the time, give items or money. If you don't have either, please PRAY for these people. Many of them are actually working hard to not stay in the system, to better themselves and their families, to break the cycle of dysfunction and poverty. Not everyone is being lazy, or taking drugs, or who knows what else. Jesus is powerful. Jesus can heal these situations. You can be Jesus to someone.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day Six

Today's action is all about the 'little people.' those folks who do so much for us that we may or may not ever think about or realize. A chance to show our gratitude and appreciation- to let them know we do see them and care.

Being a lazy Saturday around the house makes this one a bit tricky, seeing as how I haven't encountered but a couple people today. But like I was thinking, I could appreciate my brother.

Since yesterday was Veterans' Day, I had facebooked my gratefulness, but my Luddite brother never saw it. So today, I sent him an email to personally thank him for being the amazing Marine that he is. I also thanked Carolyn, his wife, for supporting him in the wonderful, loving way she does. Feels a little bit like a cop-out, honestly, after the other actions, but email is about all I have with my brother at the moment (He's not so great at the communication, and he now lives elsewhere.). However, I know how much it will mean to them both to read it.

Still curious what tomorrow's Blessing Bag is all about. Can't wait to find out!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Day: Day 5

Today's Happy Day project was to 'refresh someone.' Having no clue where Julie and Jeanett were going with that, I had to wait until later this morning to find out. Turns out they encouraged everyone to gift a bottle of water to some random person you run into (like a construction worker or someone like that), to be a smile and a blessing. I thought I'd just end up donating to the charity: water organization, which is the alternative to today's action, but then I thought of our amazing maintenance men here where we live. The fact that we happened to have a case of water already in the pantry (highly unusual) certainly helped.

It really worked out because I happened to have some card stock that hadn't sold on Craig's List yet, so I was able to use the ADORABLE printables. So the water bottles were ready. Yay! Then reality set in. Having no clue where in our large neighborhood the guys would be today, I thought several times about driving around like the crazy lady I am, and hunting them down one by one so I could bless them. (scary how my brain works!) In the end, I decided against that and decided to take them to the leasing office to drop them off. But then!

I couldn't take a treat to the guys and not take anything to the ladies who work in the office! So, since I still had to complete Day One: Treat to a neighbor (I'd given myself today as the deadline to get this done, or I knew it wouldn't happen.), I opted to do treats for the neighbor AND the office girls (thanks, Hannah!). Overachiever here, ladies and gentlemen.

The wrench in the plan for today: Scout's annual vet visit to see one of the loves of her life, Dr. Lester (no joke, THE best vet in the world, except for my SIL, who's also amazing- but doesn't live here anymore). Well, it went well but certainly interfered with the baking. We came home from the vet (all went well), and got to baking. Brownies, plain. Almost free with the super double coupons and sales last week. Totally worked out that I had the mix! I am still in shock that I made boring brownies. I ALWAYS add nuts and possibly marshmallows or caramel or something to jazz them up, but since they were for others, I wanted to be careful with allergies. So no nuts. Sad lonely pecans. Sigh.

While they cooled, I ran to Michael's and bought those super cute treat boxes, went home, slapped on the also super cute printables from Monday, and we were good to go. One box went to our actual next-door neighbor at their door (they weren't home), and the other box and the waters went to the office.

The office peeps loved everything and were super excited. My favorite maintenance man (the one who CLIMBED in the dumpster to fish out my keys!) was there so I handed him his water personally. I was hoping to see him since he's always sweet and extra helpful to us, so I was excited about that. I was really happy when I found out I got there right before the office closed early for the holiday! Close call, but God obviously was in this!

It was such a relief to be done with both days! I love doing this, but the random stranger part is so far outside of my comfort zone, and that's been the hardest part for me in all of this this week. So needless to say, I was beyond thrilled when it was over. Happy and blessed to do it, but exhausted!

CC came home early from work today (yay!) and I asked him to see if Carrie (our neighbor) had gotten their box yet. He walked in carrying their box! I was so confused! They gave it back to us! Oh no! Now what?!

I didn't want to go back and CC said I'd have to KNOCK. Talk to them. Let them know it was from us, not for us. (Kim, slight glitch with putting our name and apt. number!) eek! God didn't want me to go back did He? Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! My darling hubby kept after me (I can only assume as God intended for him to), and I got cold. So I put on my jacket. Then my shoes. Then I grabbed the box and bolted out the door before I could lose my teeny tiny nerve.

I knocked the lightest, most inaudible knock you may have ever heard, but they heard it. Their sweet daughter answered the door and they did think it was for us. I explained that we wanted to bless them and it was for them after all. She had such a lovely smile! Beautiful girl. And then I ran back inside and calmed down after my angsty heart attack that was having to go to the neighbor TWICE!

So there you go. Sorry it was so long, but aren't most God stories long and involved? My hubby's beyond proud of me (he keeps saying so), but more than that, I think God was glorified today and I was obedient.

I'm curious what the next two days will bring as the weekend wraps up the Happy Day project. Tomorrow is about serving our military I think, so hopefully I can do something for my brother (Marine), but we'll see. Sunday calls for a Blessing Bag, so like today, I can't wait to see which direction we're headed. What an adventure this has turned out to be! There's still time to participate if you aren't yet doing so. Jump in and join our fun!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day Four

(What is up with the stupid formatting that won't show my paragraphs?! Grr.)

(Sheepishly after seeing the post: Never mind. The paragraphs showed up. Bizarro.)

Today's love action for the Happy Day project is to gift a book to a friend. Adapting again to make it more personal for me, I decided to go 'whole hog' with this one. You see, I LOVE to read. I adore it. I do it all the time. I also read really quickly, so I've been told. No lie, I once read 11 books in a 10 day period of time. (I think that was about six months ago, maybe.) So I'm forever in need of a new book to read. It's the best way I can relax.

That being said, I have MANY books and being in a little, nonexistent extra storage, apartment, no room for all of these books. I've been trying to decide what to do with the ones that didn't become favorites for a while now, and the Happy Day project helped me figure this out. For today's action, I'm going to take the giant pile o' books and donate them to our church library! I'm happy to do this and I can't wait. Only problem? I forgot them at home today, so I have to wait to do this day's project. Sadness. I'll bring them Sunday when I'm here next and it'll still count, but I was bummed when I realized I'd left them home and wouldn't be participating on the actual day.

What is your favorite book that you'd love to share with someone? Mine is, has been, and always will be Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. And anything by Lori Wick. LOVE!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Happy Day Project: Days Two & Three

As you know, I've been participating with the Happy Day project. I'm loving it! However, it's been way more challenging than I ever thought it would. In a good way. God is using it in some pretty powerful ways.

Yesterday was Day Two: write a handwritten note to someone. I won't say who it is since the person hasn't gotten it yet, but I will say it was long overdue and a really great reminder that it's not a hard or stressful thing to send someone actual mail. Via the USPS. Not hard. Anyone can do it. It took almost no time and will make someone's day. I wanted to write about ten thousand of them yesterday, but I couldn't. At least now it's at the forefront of my mind so hopefully I will write more often. If you don't mind sending me your mailing address, I'd love to add it to my address book for future notes of happiness.

Yesterday's act of love (and in fact, the whole week of spreading joy and Jesus to others) prompted a Happy Merry Chris Night/date last night. I 'kidnapped' my hubby and made him drive us to get his car cleaned (because he wanted that), we ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (which we never do), and he got to go to the Lego store to buy Lego men (because he's a 'minifigure collector'). We got Starbucks for me and had very deep and spiritual, REAL discussions. We talked to each other, we reconnected, we fell more in love, AND THEN... we went home where he got more surprises! I did dishes, I dusted (his job), and I CLEANED OUR ENTIRE BATHROOM BY MYSELF! (this was the clincher because I HATE cleaning our bathroom. It's the only room in the house that NEVER stays clean because you use it every stinkin' day. I hate cleaning the bathroom.) All of it made for a wonderful night, and I had a blast surprising him! I strongly recommend a surprise hubby day/night if you can swing it. It was definitely an unusual but very welcome change to our routine.

Today is Day Three: give a giftcard to a homeless person. I am taking license with this one. Putting that right out there. I have my reasons for not doing this one by the letter, mostly relating to how I grew up. I did not grow up homeless, praise the Lord, but we were often very close to being homeless and were many times evicted or came close to being evicted from our homes. Because of my upbringing, a ministry our church partners with is very close to my heart. H.O.P.E. ministry provides food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas presents to the inner-city children of our community every year. Every year CC and I participate to help provide these hungry people with food and joy and Jesus. I am counting this ministry opportunity as my action for Day Three. Since the goal is to help hungry people, I feel this still counts.

Update on Day One: I have not yet provided actual happiness to my neighbors, but I'm getting closer. I have everything ready to go, except the actual treat. I've decided on which neighbors I'm going to hopefully bless, and I hope to do it Thursday night after work. Please keep praying I stay with it!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day One

(I preface this by saying I don't know why the formatting is messed up. I have nice, neat paragraphs while I type, but then it screws up when I publish. I apologize in advance.)

So yesterday began the Happy Day project I mentioned last week. Super exciting! However, what I didn't anticipate was super convicting. I wonder if any of you know where I'm going with this.

Yesterday kicked off with a "Treat Your Neighbor" day. We sort of know our neighbors (We live in an apartment building.). We wave and say hi, ask how each others' doing, that type of thing. We even have neighbors that we know are Christians, so they should be 'safe' to take a treat to, right?

I was even off yesterday, with a whole day of baking treats for neighbors stretching before me. Well, plain and simple, I was scared. Scared of what would happen by taking someone a treat. Scared to come out of my comfort zone to say hello on a deeper level. I truly care for our neighbors, all of them, but it's hard isn't it? Hard to not just talk Jesus to people, but to actually live it.

Well needless to say, the day came and went with many thoughts of what to do, and no actual action. I'm ashamed to say it, but fear got the best of me.

We decided to donate to Sharlie instead. It felt good, and it felt right. A very deserving lady. I was moved by her story. However, God's not done with me on this issue and I can tell. By the end of the week, treats must be delivered to someone. I love that sweet Hannah took them to her apartment's office. A fabulous idea and one I've been thinking of doing for months. But God's telling me to do something different for this particular week and I have to obey.

If you think of it, please pray for me that I stay obedient. I want to do this and I know now that I need to. To me, it's already interesting how God is using the Happy Day project. It's obvious He's moving in our communities as I've read the recaps from other blog friends.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Fall Foliage

Because this tree stopped me in my tracks...

Because God is amazing and beautiful...

Because it's lovely...

Friday, November 04, 2011

Happy Day!

Julie and Jeanett have launched the Happy Day project! I've been dying to know more about it, and here you go! I hope it's okay, but I'm going to quote from Jeanett's post about it, since obviously she knows more about it than I do:

With the crazy that is the holiday season just around the corner, we wanted to take one last breath and share some goodness, kindness, and happiness with those around us.

Beginning Monday, Julie and I will each be blogging the day’s task on our respective blogs.

To make it even happier, we’ve collaborated with bloggers from around the web who have provided a free printable to help you carry out the Happy Day task! So you get to spread happy in the cutest way possible!!!

You should see these printables you guys. I died. Every time one popped up in my inbox. Squealing could be heard. No lie.

Does this sound fun, but you’re worried you might not be able to squeeze in a task every day? Maybe you have an especially crazy jam packed day on Tuesday and there’s no way you can pull it off, but you still really want to participate? Say you live in the country and the nearest neighbor is 27 miles away?

No worries! Each task has been paired with a virtual way to fulfill it.

You can still spread the happy by visiting the charity we’ve suggested and making a small donation! See? We’ve made it as easy as pie for you! (or, if you’re an overachiever, you can do both: the task and donate.)

Here’s a sneaky peeky:

So aren't you dying to get plugged in? Link up to either Julie or Jeanett and participate! It's going to be a wonderful time of blessing our communities, and I can't wait for Monday to get started!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Hopes & Dreams

Like everyone, I have hopes and dreams. The ones others know about, and the secret, deep-down-dark ones that only God and my husband know about. The ones that are "unspoken" prayer requests in larger group settings, but form the very desires of your heart. The reasons you get up on the days you don't want to get out of bed. The reasons you have pity parties on the hard days. The reasons for secret hurts you feel when others accidentally say or do things that affect your secret hopes and dreams. The secret dreams you cry out to the Lord for, waiting for HIS timing, and praying it aligns soon with your own timing.

My sweet husband gave me a new Bible the other day. It was going to be my super big, awesome Christmas present, but I've been wanting it for so long that he just couldn't wait. He's super sweet like that. All the time, pretty much. It's the parallel between the NIV study and the Message. Never read the Message before, but I love the way the words come together at certain times. This is just one of those times.

'"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."' Jeremiah 29:11, NIV, 1984

Sounds great, right? We've all heard it thousands of times, and I still love it, especially the part about hope. I love that for my secret hopes, God has a future. It may or may not involve my dreams, but God will in His own way, according to His will, resolve the situation for me. And closure either way, for me, is a good thing. Then I can move on to the rest of what He has for me.

Even better in these words...

'"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out-- plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for."' Jeremiah 29:11, the Message

I love that this says the same thing, but the love God has for me and my dreams comes through more here to me than with the NIV.

And that's the crux of this, isn't it? Do I truly know, in my heart where the secret hopes and dreams live, that God loves ME and WANTS to give me the desires of my heart?

'He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them.' Psalm 145:19, NIV, 1984

'He does what's best for those who fear Him-- hears them call out, and saves them.' Psalm 145:19, the Message

I read all this and still have those same hopes and dreams for my future, but in the end I am beyond grateful my Jesus saved me and I am in His will for my life. Because in the end, isn't that what is going to bring Him glory? I can still cry out in prayer for what I long for, but I do it knowing that He loves me, He won't abandon me, and He will continue to save me. And in the end, that's the biggest hope and dream we all have, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween Recap

Last night was our first Halloween home in years, so I was really excited to pass out candy to the cute little princesses and superheroes that showed up at our door. Imagine our disappointment when we had a TOTAL of three children. Really quite depressing. It was very cold and rainy here, so we think that had a lot to do with it. Scout wore her Jack-o-lantern tshirt, but CC took one look at the photo and decided she looked like the Slutty Pumpkin from "How I Met Your Mother." Not what I was going for, but I thought it was hilarious. (Especially considering that's what we saw on tv last night)

Now the problem is what to do with the fun-size M&Ms we have still in the house. Trouble is brewing... must. get. it. out!

Monday, October 31, 2011


Happy Halloween! (courtesy of Melissa totally inspired by Pinterest)

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Finally, the long-awaited Applepalooza post!

What's Applepalooza you ask? Well, the ONE thing I wanted to do during last week's vacation/staycation was to go apple picking. I've wanted to for years, but work always gets in the way. Silly work.

Anyhoodle, we were finally able to go! We went to Carter Mountain Orchards,which was UHmazing! It was a three and a half hour drive. One way. We were there maybe an hour in total. Then we drove home. To.tally. worth. the. drive. Seriously. WORTH IT.

See? I told you. I took about five thousand photos just of the drive up there. For your sanity, I give you these.

I don't know if I'm sheltered or what, but I'd never seen a water tower any color but white. It was a pretty color of blue (NOT Carolina blue) so thought I'd share it with you.

We spent about forty minutes admiring the beauty and God's amazingness. We only picked for maybe 4 minutes. The other 16 minutes were spent huffing and puffing our way up and down the mountain. Who knew a mountain orchard would actually BE on top of a mountain?

1. The first pick! (We picked Fujis. Amazingness.) Aren't you jealous of my hobo gloves? I usually wear them at work during services. Freezing fingers are not a good thing when you're running lyrics and sermon notes. 2. CC is not playing stickball. They have these grabby things you use to get the apples that are up high. You tall people wouldn't understand. 3. For Steve Jobs. 4. Apple cider doughnuts! Because we forgot to eat lunch before we drove three hours through nothingness. 5. The haul.

The results! Apple tart. Applesauce. Apple crisp. Apple panini. Apple Mac... Applebee's... oh wait. Sorry. Got carried away.

Scout was all up in my face trying to get in on the bounty. She did not win but you see she tried to use her cute wiles, don't you? Those ears! The paw on the shoulder trick! The puppy eyes! The submissive pose! She almost got me.

I am *almost* appled out for now, but I have gobs of applesauce in the freezer and about 6 actual apples left. I've been using them for sea salt caramel apples (thanks, Ree!). I already can't wait to go next year. I love that I wanted this to be the epitome of Autumn and it totally was!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Staycation Continued (PicFrame)

This was our super fun fair day. I've discovered PicFrame (thanks a lot, Kim!) and now I'm obsessed. Seriously, you'll believe me soon enough. We went to the fair with Mom and our friend, Melissa. She's a hoot and together, neither of them know a stranger. It took us an hour to find food because they kept talking to people. Lots of fun, but it took awhile to find the food. Just sayin'.

I did NOT eat the krispy kreme burger. Rule number one: NEVER EVER contaminate a krispy kreme with anything, but especially with meat. Wrong. So very wrong. NC is the home of the Mt. Olive pickle. They're delish! CC liked the deep-fried Koolaid. I thought it was pointless. But free, so yay! We ate many other things, but if you knew how much.... well, let's just move on to the next photo, shall we?

Because something had to be done after Fair Day... my 'age' changes daily. I liked when it thought I was 29 but 40? Not so much. Of course, the other day one of the worship team kids thought I was 58... I got upset until he called someone younger 6 million years old. Better now.

The precursor to Applepalooza... Very exciting going into it, I must say. Stay tuned tomorrow for Applepalooza!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Vacation Recap! (Autumnal version)

Here it finally is! What we did during our staycation last week. I promise in advance, we had a blast, and did some stuff, but not sure you'll really find it all that fascinating (too much build-up, not enough to deliver? you be the judge.). I will tell you that we had not only a whole week off, but two glorious Sundays visiting the local Bedside Baptist church. Jammies, coffee, Fall mornings, coupons, and extra sleep and Schnuggles. Total blissdom.

The first weekend we had off, CC's mom (my beloved mil) came to town from far, far way. The one thing she asked to do was hit up the state fair (oh yes!) and spend time together. Requests granted! So we basically hung out at home and Wallyworld until Fair Day. Or as I like to call it-- Stuff Your Face With Random Fried 'Food' You Think Is Okay To Eat Because It's Only Once A Year Day. See, Fair Day is easier and faster and shorter to say.

This photo won't prove it, but Scouty was VERY happy to see Grandma. They played, they schnuggled, Scout got DRENCHED with the water bottle... good times.

It's apparently not good to watch SPCA videos and look at the available animals for adoption. If you do, your hubby will put the smack-down on you. Especially if you want a kitten even if you're a dog person and he's allergic to cats. Especially then.

Fun at Wallyworld. CC found this irresistible and yet, I did not come home with the cute hat. Hmm... (please excuse the lack of hair and make-up. I believe in afro frizz when it comes to vacation days)

Just before he left for staycay, Hubby found an UNUSED IPAD just laying around at work! InconCEIVABLE! So of course he usurped it for our seriously professional usage. We got the free Sesame Street Grover book code from Starbucks. Yes, our dog apparently likes to watch Grover on the iPad. She's highly advanced. She starts college in January.

And because you haven't begged for mercy from puppy pictures, this is Scout's face after I put a tshirt on her. In my defense, she was shivering from the Fall air. You can't see the shivering, but it's there. Can't you see her gratefulness to be clothed? As Julie called it and I'm adapting for this purpose... rich puppy problems.

More tomorrow!