Friday, November 30, 2012

friday finds & favorites #11

A few highlights from my week:
Time with dear friends. Our trip allowed us to spend some time with a friend I've known since I was in high school. And I also got to catch up with two of my former roommates last night while my husband was in class.

A girl's night with a new friend.

Quality time with my husband this week.

Other stuff I love:

I haven't started decorating for Christmas, but it will happen this weekend! This garland idea, collection of Christmas printables, and kraft paper (pictured above) have left me inspired.

Need some gift ideas?! If you're in the creative mood, check this out but if you want to go more traditional read on.


And for all my friends who love to read, this Christmas tree idea is for you. Actually, I may suggest it to the Mr. since we surely have enough books!

My love of pumpkin will never die and I'm trying to think of a reason to bake this.

I'm not usually one for wall paper, but these patterned paint rollers have me thinking about what room they'd work for in our house!

Have a great weekend!
I hope you'll grab a button and link up your post with me and Erika!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

30 days of thanksgiving ((wrap up))

Sometimes blog plans don't go as intended. I had mapped out this entire month of things to blog about daily to express my gratitude. I'm not exactly sure when things fell apart. I was inspired to share more than the things I am thankful for, to be more spontaneous in my writing and at times I worried it would bore you.


I'll end this series with a list of the things I've shared on Instagram and blogged about or meant to blog about.

1 -a second vehicle
2 -blog partnerships
3 -my husband
4 -my family
5 -all the work we've done on our home renovations
6 -living in a free country
7 -being married to a man who loves to cook
8 -our dog, Milton
9 -neighbors
10 -church community
11 -my family's military heritage
12 -online community of She Reads Truth
13 -blog friends
14 -a closet full of clothes
15 -hospitality
16 -inspiration from bloggers
17 -emails/texts from friends
18 -time off from work to recharge
19 -colleagues who inspire me
20 -anticipating Christmas season
21 -intentional rest
22 -quality time with friends
23 -ease of travel in the US
24 -spending time with relatives
25 -lifelong friendships
26 -heritage of faith
27 -baking
28 -ease of listening to Christmas music (Pandora, Spotify, etc.)
29 -my health
30 -my job

((I'm linking up with Carina today))

What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 26, 2012

turkey day + weekend

We ate.
We laughed.
We rested.
We traveled.
We shopped (with a gift card).
We visited.
We cooked.


I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and for those outside the US, December is quickly approaching and everyone will soon be in the Holiday spirit! We enjoyed good food on Thanksgiving day, time with friends and a weekend filled with some travel and seeing some family. It was quite lovely all around.

Have you started playing Christmas music yet?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

seeking rest

Our lives are scheduled and the nights we find ourselves both home with no meeting to run off to are rare. Because of the various commitments my husband and I have, we often feel like life can be a juggling act. There may only be two of us, but there are appointments, classes, work schedules, volunteer roles and more to track.

We share a google calendar, rather than a paper one hanging in our kitchen/office. We are more likely to be away from home when we're making plans and by updating the shared calendar we can keep tabs on the other. In addition to the shared google calendar, I have my work calendar and my blog calendar, all of which sync to my phone and iPad.

Source: cl.ly via Federico on Pinterest


I'm pretty sure I'm not alone when I think I am over-scheduled. It has taken months to make dinner plans happen with another couple in our church. In our culture of busy-ness, it's as if you're not busy, you must not be doing anything worthwhile or so you're made to think.

As Thanksgiving draws near, I will be out of the office for five consecutive days, and I find myself anticipating rest. We have plans to travel to see family several states away, but I am looking forward to a break from our daily routine. If all goes as "planned" we will eat too much, watch television/movies and catch up with loved ones while wearing our slippers.

Rest can be a hard concept for us to grasp in a culture that praises synced calendars and glorifies multi-tasking. December is just around the corner and it's often the busiest season of all, with holiday parties to attend, shopping to be done and goodies to be baked. This year, I want to reclaim the season and seek rest. It will likely mean saying no more than usual and letting a few people down. But quieting our weary bodies and resting our overactive minds will allow us to find joy in the true reason for Christmas.

How do you rest?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

anticipating advent + a giveaway

Advent is one of my favorite things about December. Not only, do I love listening to Christmas music, but I love reminders in our home of the coming of Christ. I love celebrating the weeks leading up to Christmas and have done so in a variety of ways over the years.

Source: flickr.com via Darla on Pinterest


Growing up, my mom often made an event of advent, having interactive calendars for me and my brother to follow each day of December leading up to Christmas. I once bought a book that was a compilation of 31 devotionals based on Christmas hymns, but most of the hymns I had never even heard of.

Earlier this fall, I heard Heather Borersma was writing an eBook focused on advent devotions. I was thrilled when she sent me a copy of her new eBook last week. I have been looking it over and am so excited to dig in!

She uses Scripture in each day's devotional reading, dividing the weeks up into four sections: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The layout of the book is beautiful, with four full color pages for each section.


Guess what?! You can win a copy of Heather's eBook, We Will Wait: An Advent Devotional Guide! To enter the giveaway, use rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 19, 2012

exhausted + grateful

Ah, it's finally the week of Thanksgiving. I'm reminded I'll soon be sharing a holiday meal with friends and having a repeat of turkey dinner days later with my grandparents. But I am already exhausted. As I mentioned last week, and you may have noticed if you follow me on Instagram, I spent my weekend in conference mode with my professional association.

The time away from home, surrounded by colleagues and college students was both energizing and exhausting. As one of a team of about twenty who worked to plan the conference for the past 10 months, I spent the weekend knowing the schedule ins and outs, yet trouble-shooting as unforeseen but small issues came up.

Being with others who have a similar job to me is refreshing. They get what I mean when I say I have to go to work at 8pm for a "late night event" or understand my excitement over building signage. These are the people who speak my work language.

Whether you're a single gal, double-income no kids (DINK) couple, or a stay at home momma, I bet we've all experienced finding those friends who get it when we talk about our everyday life and don't have to explain what we mean because those friends have experienced similar situations.

When I was packing last week, I had fun putting together a few business casual outfits for the weekend. And what's funny is that I ended up not wearing two of those pictured. Oh well, you can only plan so much, right?!


These are my people. The ones who speak my language of working in student affairs. They work tirelessly with college students to mentor, inspire and care for them in their life outside of the classroom, planning co-curricular programs, offering on-campus jobs and teaching them life skills.


I'm grateful to have a job I love. I am thankful for this community of colleagues. I am blessed to be where I am in my career. My career does not define me, but it's given me colleagues I can look to for support and that is truly more than I could have asked for when I embarked on this path years ago.

As Thanksgiving approaches, what are you grateful for?

Friday, November 16, 2012

friday finds & favorites #10

Happy Friday!
I'm in Connecticut for work this weekend, but I have to tell you the conference theme (I'm on the conference planning team, so I have been living, eating and breathing this stuff all week). Our theme is Where UCONNect and the conference is being held at UConn (University of Connecticut).

Since I'm all about connecting (at least I try to be around here), what better Friday Finds than to share what blogs this month's sponsors read. I asked each of those lovely ladies over there --->  to share their must daily read blogs.

Heidi from Row House 14 reads:
Kendi Everyday // Julie Ann Art // Bubby & Bean

Molly from Still Being Molly reads:
What2WearBlog // Marionberry Style // Clarabelle

Julie of This Gal Cooks reads:
Frugal Foodie Mama // Call Me PMc // White Lights on Wednesdays

Amber from Life Unscripted reads:
Take Heart // Happy Days // Along for the Ride

Maddie of Thriftary reads:
Elise Joy // Two Hoots & a Holler // Living in Yellow

Allison from Whatever the Circumstances reads:
Today's Letters // Big Mama // Words of Williams 

Beth from Until Only Love Remains reads:
Jenny Highsmith // Today's Letters // Maiedae

Other stuff I love:
>> Ready for Thanksgiving? Don't miss this give thanks free printable

>> A recipe for sweet potato hash I wanna try

>> Holiday card update from Heidi

>> Courtney asked some excellent questions about being sponsor-worthy

>> Hospitality away from home

Have a great weekend! I hope you'll grab a button and link up your post with me and Erika!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

hospitality

I love inviting friends into our home. It's such a gift to be able to prepare a meal and share it with friends. Since we've been renovating the kitchen (and other spaces) in our home, we don't have people over too often. Earlier this week, my husband told me how he loves that our somewhat in-hospitable home drives me crazy (think half painted walls and unfinished counter tops) because it reminds him of how much hosting means to me.

I've been thinking a lot about hospitality because Thanksgiving is getting close. I haven't had what most would consider a traditional American Thanksgiving in years. Growing up, my Thanksgiving usually consisted of sharing a meal with my nuclear family of four. We always lived a good day's drive from other relatives, so getting together for turkey was a rare occasion.

And then when my mom passed away in 2001, I learned how to cook a turkey (and the whole Thanksgiving meal). Even though it was a lot of work for three people, I will always treasure those years of calling my Granny when it came time to put the gravy together. For about four years, I would pull out my notes from the previous turkey dinner, and review with her just when to add the flour/water mixture to my boiling turkey drippings (seriously, gravy still haunts me).

source
Since I was in high school, I dreamed of having a big family like they always show in the movies, with a children's table and lots of adults gathered around a large beautiful table brimming with food. I thought I would marry into a big family and I'd get to take part in something like I'd imagined. I looked forward to the day I'd be one of many, rather than three or four sitting around the Thanksgiving table.

We'll share our Thanksgiving meal with friends in Boston for the third year in a row. We often end up with a group of young professionals living hundreds of miles from our families. It may not look like a movie scene or have a perfectly decorated table. But hospitality isn't about looking like you labored to create a perfectly picturesque meal. It is about making people feel welcome and loved.

Even though my Thanksgiving meal may not be what I at one time imagined, I wouldn't trade our friends for anything. It's only a week away and while I may not know everyone I'll eat with. I do know there will be too much food. We will laugh, share stories and eat pie. And best of all, we will give thanks.

source

Where will you spend your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

closet challenge {take 1}

I have a lot of clothes. I know I'm not alone in having a closet full of clothing. If I don't think about it, I may not even wear a good portion of what is in my closet. Thankfully, I'm not alone in realizing I need to make a conscious effort in actually wearing EVERYTHING in my closet thanks to Hayley who first pointed this out in her eBook The No Brainer Wardrobe earlier this year.

Last month, Jen introduced an idea she calls the Closet Challenge and I love it! I have been participating, chipping away at wearing every.single.piece of clothing in my closet. Rather than going shopping when I want a new style or look, I "shop" my closet first. I've put together outfits I hadn't thought of before.

Here's how I'm tackling the Closet Challenge:
>> I don't take a photo of every outfit I wear (I haven't taken any outfit photos to be honest)
>> To track worn items, I turn around my coat hangers
>> I don't always plan my outfit the day before
>> I wear items on the hanger backwards
>> Sometimes I start with an accessory (or more than one) I love to wear

My closet isn't glamorous by any means. We've talked about building new his & hers closets since we have a very large bedroom, but it hasn't happened yet. Because my husband and I share one closet, I find myself cleaning it out more often.


I organize my closet by:
1 - scardigans, shirts (loosely grouped by color)
2 - pants + skirts + blazers
3 - shoe rack (I also have a shoe rack on another door in our room)
not pictured: dresses (on far right)


I'm linking up with Jen and Erika today for the Closet Challenge

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

question of the month

This month, I asked my sponsors what they're thankful for. 


blog // shop // facebook
blog // facebook // twitter
blog // twitter // facebook
blog // shop // twitter
blog // twitter // facebook
blog // twitter // instagram
blog // instagram
Won't you join them in sharing, what are you thankful for this month?

Monday, November 12, 2012

She Reads Truth {online community}

I know I've said it before, but I am so thankful for the She Reads Truth community that flourished over the summer. Over the years, I have struggled to stay motivated with reading the Bible on my own. I have fallen short when it comes to keeping up with digging into the Word daily. But being part of this online community has breathed new life into my spiritual journey in three ways.


Accountability
Whether it's training for a half marathon (as I did way back in 2007), or reading my Bible daily, I need people to ask me about it and how it's going. Although I don't have people asking me each day if I read, I am reminded every time I open Instagram or Twitter and see what others are saying/sharing.

Community
Because of She Reads Truth, I am connected to a much larger network of women who are like-minded in their pursuit of Christ. We may not have the same political views or even attend the same church if we lived in the same area, but we have the same desire: to grow in Jesus' truth and that's a beautiful thing.

Convenience
Using an app I can access from my smartphone or iPad has helped me a ton. I still love to pick up my Bible and read straight from the beautiful leather bound book, but there is something to be said for the ease of pulling up the reading and the questions/commentary that go along with the Scripture in one place (the app). For days when my morning routine was too rushed, I can easily turn to the reading on my lunch break or elsewhere.

Friday, November 9, 2012

friday finds + favorites #9

Today, I'm thankful for internet friends! I'm talking about those people I hadn't met in real life before we became friends. I probably found them through their blog and connected with them via Twitter or by writing comments on their blog and emailing back and forth.

Having friends in the blog world are priceless. Over the years, I've gotten to meet a few of them in person. I've also skyped and texted with them. I've collaborated on projects and learned from them. I encourage you to take the step to connect with your favorite bloggers if you haven't already tried to do so. I'm so grateful that many blogging friendships have been life-giving.

And here's a totally unrelated photo, but I thought it was a good one and we took it last weekend, so there ya go!


A few highlights from my week:
My first red cup of the season from Starbucks. I tried the salted caramel mocha and must say I like it better than a pumpkin spice latte...hope we can still be friends ;-)

Looking at the calendar got me really excited for some quality time with friends and family later this month!

We had our first snowfall of the season. It wasn't pretty because it rained right after,  but it was snow all the same.

Other stuff I love:
Three secrets to creating that perfect focal wall made me rethink what's on our living room walls.

I didn't even think about wearing red, white and blue on Tuesday, but I was so inspired by Molly's outfit post I pinned it!

Inspiration from Allison's living room made lovely.

Looking for a craft project inspired by the season? You'll love this recycled leather leaf necklace DIY from Maddie.

Can't get enough DIY home upgrades? Alli shows off a simple change that added curb appeal.

Have a great weekend!
I hope you'll grab a button and link up your post with me and Erika!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

we love our doggie ((+ #30daysofthankgiving week 1))

Over the last week, I have been tracking the things I'm grateful for via Instagram while also blogging about them. The things I write about aren't the same as what I photograph, mostly because there are way more than 30 things to be thankful for this month.

A week into the challenge, I like having to make an effort each day to consider what to photograph to represent my gratitude. I find myself drawn to photographing actual objects, rather than getting creative.


Today, I'm thankful for Milton, our doggie. He's the most loyal dog I know. He loves to be in the same room as us, and often on the couch in between us. Sometimes he curls himself into a ball and other times he stretches himself out as much as possible. His tail never stops wagging.

And because I'm linking up for a recap of the past week of #30daysofthanksgiving via Instagram, here are my images:


1 a new laptop charger cord (so I could use my computer again) // 2 my husband's good cooking // 3 getting organized // 4 our doggie // 5 a cozy + warm bed // 6 praying for one another for She Reads Truth // 7 warm slippers (it's gotten colder here and we even woke up to our first snow today)

I'm linking up with Amanda and Carina

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

kiss the cook {recipe roundup}

Today, I'm thankful for my husband who loves to cook. I love that he puts his creative energy into our meals, making up soups and other dishes on a whim. This is not to say that I don't cook; I actually enjoy cooking quite a bit, but this season he is the one who is home from work first and since he buys most of the groceries, has a better handle on what can be thrown together for dinner.

I often share recipes on this blog that my husband has pulled together on his own, but I also modify recipes I cook myself. The weather has gotten significantly colder here in New England. It's like November came and the thermometer got stuck and can't make it above 50! So, I'm dreaming of soups and other savory dishes this time of year. Below are several I've blogged about previously and thought you might appreciate.
1 French onion soup // 2 roasted beet + potato soup // 3 curried chicken stew over brown rice // 4 zucchini stuffed chicken // 5 pumpkin + barley soup // 6 sweet potato 'pasta' alfredo // 7 caramelized brussel sprouts

Have you cooked up anything delicious lately? Leave your me a note or link in the comments!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

freedom

Today, is going to be an interesting one. It's election day in the US and I am quite anxious to see what the outcome of the presidential election is going to be. Don't worry, I'm not going to badger you one way or another about my political views, but this day makes me thankful I live in a democratic nation.

Last week, I heard an unsettling NPR interview with a Chinese woman who was displaced from the home she owned and has been forced to live in an apartment for the past nine years. They government promised she will get a new home, yet nothing has changed in nine years. Being an American, I cannot even fathom being evicted from my own home and forcing me to live in an apartment, not to mention the other despicable things the report shared.


In gratitude for my freedom, I choose to vote. I believe it's my civic duty to make an informed decision and cast my vote. Check out VoteSmart or Electful, non-partisan sites offering information about candidates and issues before you head to the polls today!

Monday, November 5, 2012

our home {renovation update}

Happy Monday! I hope your weekend was restful. My poor husband raked 18 bags of leaves in our backyard on Saturday! I've had a nagging cough, so I wasn't much help.

Continuing with 30 days of Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for our home. We've lived here for just over a year and a half, and while there are parts that look unfinished or aren't as done as we would like them to be, it's still our home. The very very first house we've ever owned and it's the first house we've gotten to make changes to.

We started with the kitchen, which led to the second bathroom and laundry room because all the areas are so close together. The door from the bathroom was moved because it opened rather awkwardly into the kitchen and now you have to go through the laundry room to get to the bathroom. These are before and current shots (I wouldn't say any of them are done, so no 'after' just yet).




Although we haven't completely finished the above areas ((they are completely functional)), we moved on to re-do the upstairs bathroom. Check out the full post on this project for details on how we renovated under $300!


The front door was another great update we've made. We found an unfinished pre-hung door, which my husband was able to finish and install. It's beautiful and I have yet to hang a wreath on it (as I once said I was going to).


The living room was another undertaking. Just a month after moving in, the bathtub leaked, causing a lot of water damage in the room below. Because the ceiling and walls are made of plaster, we ended up pulling down the entire ceiling. We lived for over a year with no ceiling in our living room! The good thing was that it allowed my husband to install recessed lighting and at Christmas, I strung lights around the open beams. Thankfully, we were able to install a ceiling this summer and had a lot of help (remember when I wrote about that?) Though the ceiling isn't painted or the floor boards installed, it's a huge improvement to our living room.


I can't choose just one thing about our home I am most thankful for with so many great updates. But each update has brought a new feeling of this place being ours. We are blessed to leave our mark on this 90 year old home for the time that it is entrusted to our care.

What about your home makes you thankful?

Friday, November 2, 2012

friday finds & favorites #8

This has been a busy week! It may have started slow with two days at home thanks to Hurricane Sandy, but it's been go-go-go ever since. While, I was home I did enjoy reading more of Seven by Jen Hatmaker and it totally inspired me to purge a bit. I even took a trip to the Salvation Army to make a donation.

#30daysof Thanksgiving
Today, I'm thankful for blog partnerships. As much as I love blogging, I love getting to know other bloggers and collaborate with them. Recently, I worked with Amber for the apron swap and I love co-hosting Friday Finds & Favorites with Erika!

Other Stuff I love:
Have you loved seeing photos of costumes this week as much as I have?! This Kate Middleton costume tickled me along with these adorable pups in costume!

I just adore this super cute poppin pumpkin DIY idea from Christa.

Do you crave sushi as much as I do?! Check out this idea for making your own Spicy California Sushi Bowl and save some moolah!

I loved these tips for how to get more done. I'm terrible at jumping from one thing to another!

I'm a sucker for finding analytics tools and these 10 free social media tips are worth looking into when considering your reach.

Some advice for eliminating sugar cravings this time of year.

Have a great weekend!
I hope you'll grab a button and link up your post with me and Erika!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

an unexpected provision

Happy November!

I've written sporadically about being grateful ((grateful girl series)) in the past and participated in Thankful on Paper the last two Novembers, but I felt that this year calls for something different. Each day, I will reflect on one ((or more)) people/things/places/foods I'm thankful for as away to focus on life's many blessings.


To get started, let me say I am grateful for our second car. I haven't shared much about this, but it's a huge blessing and a story worth telling. Up until about a month ago, we only had one car in our 2+ years of marriage.

In early September we realized this season would would look different than expected. I’m often thankful things didn’t go the way I had planned because I’ve seen how God’s plan is better for me. Over the past few months I’ve been reminded of how planning and anticipating that life will look a certain way is often met by a reality that doesn’t match and it has left me leaning on God in new ways.

Over the summer, we were anticipating that my husband would begin an internship at our church this fall and that would change his “job.” We worked to fund raise his salary for the internship and planned that he would quit his part-time job at Home Depot to work for the church while he’s also taking classes.

For the past year and a half, the Home Depot job presented its fair share of challenges, with its retail schedule changing from week-to-week, so we never knew his work schedule more than two weeks out. By early August, it appeared we would not have the full funding raised for him to quit his job at Home Depot and rely solely on a small income from the internship.

A week before the internship was to start, a full-time position opened at Home Depot and it was one of the few roles there with a set weekly schedule. It appealed to Brandon because it was only Monday through Friday and the hours wouldn’t change from week to week.

At first I thought he was crazy to want to work more hours. That would mean balancing four graduate courses, the church internship and a 40 hour/week job? After some consideration, prayer, and a conversation with our pastor, Brandon applied for the full-time position and, by God’s grace, he got it.

It's certainly a stretch for both of us to have our days so filled and this season has been most taxing on my husband. Balancing these multiple roles is not what we expected this time would look like, but we are so grateful for the opportunities that have opened up and we remind ourselves it is only for a season.

We also had hoped to buy a second car this fall, to alleviate the strain of sharing one car without the use of public transportation. We looked at a few cars and even considered selling the one car we do own to be able to put two down payments on two older cars. While talking to a friend from church about this idea, she suggested we use their third vehicle that had been sitting un-registered in the driveway for months.

Of course, there were details to work out, but it was truly a gift that they would lend us their perfectly working vehicle.

Last month was our first as a two-car couple. I am so grateful for God’s provision of both a job that allows Brandon a consistent schedule from one week to the next, and a car that allows me not to have to go in early or work late based on when I can get a ride. The Lord has blessed us with more than we could have imagined in this season and I am increasingly in awe of the way He provides.

Have you been blessed in surprising ways lately?

((I'm linking up with Amanda for her #30daysofthanksgiving series and Carina for Oh So Thankful))