Saturday, February 22, 2014


Many moons ago, I decided that I would love to one day have seen all 50 of our beautiful states. Our country is so big and there are so many different settings and landscapes that I see in pictures or on billboards, and I decided that it wasn't enough.  I wanted to get to see these places with my own two eyes. Thankfully, I married a man who loves to travel and who was raised with a childhood that included adventure and discovery. He's been all over the place - however, the majority of his travels include those abroad. He's done a lot of cool things on our soil as well, but most of it was done so long ago that he wanted/s to do them all again...this time with me :).  
On January 5, 2010 I wrote a blog about how many places in the United States I have visited. You can see that blog post here. At that time, I had visited 18 states, making my travels around the U.S. come to about 36% of what this country has to offer.  Here is a look of the map of my travels at that time:

With summer making its way to us (slowly but surely), Stephen and I are making travel plans and decisions. I decided to venture back to that website and see how different my map looked after 4 years with my adventure-seeking husband (the man loves a road trip - even if it means driving 12 hours to Texas for the weekend...I love him, but he's wearing me out!).  Now, normally I love blue over red, but I was happy to see more red pop up on my map this time around:

visited 26 states (52%)

One day, I'd love for the entire thing to be red to symbolize all the magnificent sites and evidence of God's creation that I was blessed to see in our huge country.

Now, don't get me wrong...while I think traveling is glorious and offers wonderful adventures, by no means do I think that it's super important and something to worship or live for.  However, it's a lot of fun and a great way to experience God's beauty and love for us - that He would create such a remarkable landscape for us to constantly be reminded of Him.  Can I get an Amen?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 - What a Year!

You know you're old say things like, "time flies!" and you really mean it.  I mean, come on!  How is it that we're already wrapping up 2013 and welcoming in 2014?  Also, how is it that I'm still so horrrrrrible about capturing moments by taking pictures?  I don't know if I'll ever master snapping photos, and because of that, this post is pretty lame photo-less...(okay, I lied...I creeped on instagram and got pics off my phone - this post ended up being photo-filled!  It's a Christmas miracle...or something like that)

Here's a look back on a super fast year - 2013, you were pretty uneventful, but that's okay with me!

-Embarked upon my self-appointed "No-Jiggle-January" and was rather successful at losing a few pounds.
-Celebrated having Princeton one full year!
-Bought this dresser off Craigslist and turned it into a t.v. stand for our family room.
-Found out I was going to be an aunt (again!) because my sister (Melissa) was pregnant!

-Convinced my husband to ditch the tube television and get a 40" flat-screen.  That was a hard task! (total first world problem)
-Enjoyed a week off of school thanks to built-in-snow-days.
-Traveled to Johnson City, TN with my 2 sisters and nephew to visit my Aunt Shirley, Uncle Gene and cousins Tressa and Wendell.
-Continued on with No-Flab-February and continued to rock it out.

-Worked hard to get through this month.  Totally ready for Spring but still suffering from winter-like weather in KY.
-Started the seeds for my garden (better late than never, right?)

-Came down with strep throat...uggggggghhhhh
-Longed for a break!
-Fell off the wagon and jumped ship on No-Munchy March (maybe it was because the name was lame?)

-Ventured to Destin with my good friends Julie, Katie, and Jenna for Spring Break.
-Officially began rereading the Harry Potter series (yesssssss!!!!)

-Feverishly awaited the arrival of couldn't come fast enough!
-Transferred my seeds to the garden out back.
-Opened our pool for the second year, but this time we did it ourselves and were very successful at it!
-Made cake balls in the design of a flag...lame to include that in here, but as a teacher that was quite a feat to accomplish during the school year!

-Hung a new light fixture in our foyer.

-Completed my 2nd year teaching in Louisville and my 5th year teaching altogether.
-Weeding the backyard took over my life.
-Continued reading the Harry Potter series...why hello book 3!
-Began taking doors off the hinges and repainted all of them.

-Attempted a return to blogging...decided that good things can't be forced.
-Began running with the help of Couch to 5K.

-Hosted a 4th of July swimming party during the middle of a monsoon in Louisville.
-Stephen passed his CFP courses and tests!
-Ventured to Outerbanks, NC with Stephen's family.

-Continued running with the help of Couch to 5K.
-Began reaping the benefits of a backyard garden!  Tomatoes, peppers and squash, oh my!
-Spent a weekend in Chicago for my dear friend Debbie and Stephen's wedding.

-Kept on trucking through HP - I forgot how much I love you, book 4.

-Began prepping for my 3rd year of teaching at my current school.
- Cut 13 inches off my hair (despite Stephen's pleas not to) and donated ( planning on donating) it.

-Ventured to Pittsburgh for Stephen's cousins wedding.
-Continued running - thank you, Couch to 5K.
-School started and I vowed my life would not end just because of this.
-Keepin' it moving with HP...oh book 5, how long and a little painful you proved to be.

-My niece (YAY!  We didn't know if she were a boy or girl until she came!), Emerson Lee joined us :).

- Running became harder, although I was trying really hard to keep up with it.
-Hosted a co-ed Baby Shower for my good friends, Katie and Kyle.
-Reading began to slooow began to take over....noooooooooooooo!!!

-Stephen and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary.
-To celebrate, we hit up the Bourbon Trail.
 -I came down with Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease (you just read that correctly).
-Hand, Foot, Mouth officially ended my love-affair with running.
-Our good friends Mike, Amanda (their daughter Emma), Stephen and Debbie came to visit from Chicago.
-We enjoyed a trip to Hubers Apple Orchard and Pumpkin Patch with our Young Life friends.
-We celebrated with our friends, Katie and Brad as they got married here in Louisville.
-Stephen and I were characters from Shrek for Halloween (I was Donkey {or an @$$ if you ask Stephen} and he was Gingerbread Man) along with our friends, Seth and Julie.

-Stephen and I officially became adults when we got new windows for the front of our house...and were excited about it.

-We drove...yes DROVE to Dallas, Texas for our good friend's (Brian and his now-wife Amber's) wedding and got to hang out with a handful of great friends there!
-Despite the pain I endured in book 5, I welcomed HP book 6 into my life.
-We headed north to Chicago for our friend, Emily's wedding.
-My best friend, Katie, had her baby!  As of today, I still have not met this bundle of sweetness...stay tuned...

-We followed along in last year's steps and got another real tree to decorate in our dining room.
-I got 2 snow days....ugh - so early in the year...I'm fearful for January and February!
-Finished book 6 and reluctantly began book 7 - I want to finish HP so badly, and yet I don't want it to end!
-We celebrated Christmas in Kentucky this year, which made my break seem so much longer and more relaxing, although I did miss seeing our Pittsburgh family!
-I turned the big 3-1 and got to spend some quality time with my bestie, Donielle.
-Stephen and I were officially old hags: we stayed home on NYE, watched HP and ate left-overs.  Ugh.  At least my company was good :).

What a year!  I look forward to making this list again a year from now - I wonder what all will be on it then?  What fun did you embark upon in 2013?  Did you begin running and actually stick with it? What about a diet - did you stick with that as well?  Am I the only one who made these resolutions and then fell off the resolution boat?!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Aren't my boys handsome?!  I love so many things about these cards: the pictures my sister took, the fact that they were taken where we got married 4 years ago, Tiny Prints and their awesome Christmas designs, and the fact that I was able to personalize this card with my home state.

I'm off to go and wrap presents (procrastinator) and get ready to spend some time with family.  Praying that you and yours may know and experience the true meaning of this holiday season. Check out a video made by some of my Chicago peeps :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

DIY: Advent Calendar

It all started when I was perusing Pinterest and I saw tons of different versions of felt Advent calendars and they instantly took me back to my childhood.  When I was growing up, we had a felt calendar that my mom had bought at the church Christmas sale.  I loved that calendar!
It looked a little something like this (found here

I remember looking forward to pulling out the stuffed animal to add to the tree and to read the verse of the day.  This helped build anticipation for my child self, and it also helped me understand that Christmas was so much more than Santa and presents.  I instantly starting pinning my little heart out and began searching and pinning for all sorts of Advent inspirations.  Here are some of the different calendars that inspired me:

                                            here                                                          here

here                                                         here    

While I love these different calendars, I knew mine needed to be a little bit different.  My first preference was size.  I didn't want a really big calendar because I knew I didn't have a good place to put it - it needed to be reasonably sized.  My other preference was simple, similar to the first calendar, only I didn't want to use clay tags, I wanted to use patterned paper ones.  With all these thoughts swimming in my head, I headed to Hobby Lobby (along with the rest of the the Western world searching for the "just right" Christmas supply/gift/decoration).  Here is what I ended up with:

I picked up the mini clothes pins (the only thing that wasn't on sale) for $2.99, the 8x10 picture frame (50% off) for $7 and then 6 Christmas colored scrapbook paper and 1 piece of burlap-looking paper (all were 50% off as well).  I'm pretty sure this entire project cost somewhere around $12.  What is not shown above that I did use was jute twine (already had it) and white cardstock (already had it).  

Originally I was going to just purchase the tags at Hobby Lobby and cover them with the patterned paper, only they weren't small enough to fit on an 8x10 picture frame. That's when I decided to bust out my Silhouette and cut my own tags.  If you don't own a cutting device, while tedious, you could hand cut your own tags if you need them smaller than the ones available at the store. 

My next step was to cut out a bunch of different tags on the different papers so that I had options with my layout.  I then arranged the different tags (there were 3) and the different patterns (3) in a random assortment. 

Now that my layout and design was decided, I was ready to add the verses.  I used this pin to choose my verses.  I decided to add one for December 25th, and I added Romans 5:1 (There being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ). Once I knew the tag size order, I knew the verse that needed to correspond to the right shape to fit my design.  I got on my Silhouette and added the verses and cut them out on white cardstock and then glued them to the back of the patterned paper that it went with:

Then I decided to cut small circles out on white cardstock that had the numbers 1-25 on them to add to the front of my tags. Once I cut them out, I glued them on the front of all my tags so I knew which tag went with Dec. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.


And then I was in business!  I was ready to finish assembling my calendar so that it was usable.  I decided to take the glass out of the frame and attach three strings of the jute twine.  I would use the twine to pin my tags to.  I figured out where I wanted the placement of my twine and marked it on the inside of the frame. I then hot glued it down.

Once the jute was in place, I was ready to put the rest of the frame together. I took the burlap paper and put it in the frame in back of the jute. Then I put the back on the frame and started adding my tags to the twine using the small pins that I had bought.  As it was coming together, I was getting more and more excited...I loved the way it was looking!

And once all the tags were in their place, I was in love!

I couldn't love it more! I love how it looks, I love it's size, and I love how functional it is!  I know that this will be a well-loved and used Christmas decoration for many years to come!  I still love the felt calendar, and look forward to one day when my life requires one - but this year ain't the year for that! 

***I also found on Pinterest this great resource: a free download of "Good News Great Joy - Daily Readings for Advent" from John Piper Ministries. If you haven't already, check it out!

What about you?  Do you have an Advent Calendar that your family uses every year?  What kind is yours?

I'm linking up to: