Sloooooooooow January

and I'm okay with that. 

I think I'm still recovering from the chaos of what was our October - December season...

I keep thinking, "I need to update my blog. I need to blog about this. Oh I am totally going to post this amazing recipe." 

annnnd then I don't. :)

I've succumb to couch-sitting, piano-playing, photography-editing, kitchen-cooking, Pinterest-pinning, book-reading and HGTV-watching in the quietness of our home on the weekends. My weekdays are rushed and focused, and my evenings are diligent and dedicated to my home and my husband. After what we went through for the past several months, a quiet reprieve is just what we need. These days, we are often retreating to our home instead of going out for dates and happy hour, because let's face it: we just love our house. :)

Weekends represent the week ending for me, and I love to relish in what they offer (mainly Saturdays). Sundays are a time of reflection and our church family, and sometimes they include naps. I'm not stepping away from the blog in any way, but the regularity of posts seems to be taking a winter hibernation. 

A few changes on the horizon for us:

*I've vamped up my offerings as a photographer including mucho upgrades to my equipment list. This is translating to a bit of a rise in pricing, but is offset by the 150% better quality of photos and attention clients will receive, as well as the new offering of a second shooter at all events. I'm excited about what this year holds in terms of opportunities and adventures in photography! My website has also been re-designed... check it out if you haven't already!

*Travel season oh-twelve is off and running. We are going to give cruising the Mexican Riviera one last go from our bad experience last year (because let's face it, you just can't beat the price and these chilly, damp Oregonians are ready for some hot March sunshine). We're crusin on the Disney Cruise Line, and as a lover-of-all-things-Disney, I'm feeling like I won't really care that spring break on a Disney Cruise kid-wise is probably equivalent to the madness that spring break in Cabo will be.

*This summer will be spent tackling a lot of house projects, exploring local venues, doing some freelance writing, shooting weddings and taking a quick jaunt to visit fam in the Carolinas and explore the east coast. It's going to be a lot slower of a summer than last, and I'm okay with that. :)

*School is going fabulously for both of us. There is mucky water in the paper these days regarding education, but we just keep our heads high and focus on all of the good things that are taking place. Don't believe everything you read. ;)


Project 12

One of my favorite editing companies that I use with Photoshop is MCP Actions. Jodi Friedman, the owner, has a yearly photo project for both hobbyist and professional photographers alike to break out of the rut of portrait photos and dabble into more unique creativity. She gives us a monthly "theme" and we go to town with it. 

This month's theme is: resolutions. 

If you remember from my previous blog entry this month, one of my resolutions is to cook more since I have a beautiful new kitchen and equipment that has (ahem) rarely been used since our wedding...

My resolution was to cook more, to have more people over, and to take more pictures. This picture represents check, check and check. We have had so many of our dear friends over for parties and dinners, and tonight had my sister and her kids over for Slow-Cooker Southwestern Stacks, courtesy of my favorite recipe website, Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

We feel so blessed to have a cozy house that we love, an abundance of friends and family and a New Seasons just around the corner. Excited to see what February brings!


Travel Season twentytweleve

Before you judge me all over the place and think in your head, "didn't they just buy a house?
" aren't they just teachers?" (yes and yes), something that's really important to T and I is traveling. We will always be travelers, we'll figure out ways to travel whenever we can, we'll take our kids traveling when we can (even if it's just camping)-- getting away is in our blood. We can't help it. We have a very specific travel fund set up for such endeavors and we're always planning our next trip! Saving $$$ is also important which is why we live off Priceline deals, last-minute travel specials, Entertainment book & Costco savings and frequent flier/hotel-ing points. 

With that said, we need help. 

We have a budget. We have a week off. We have no idea where to go. 

Help us plan our next adventure! 

We've tossed some ideas around on where to go on a budget, which kind of takes flying out of the picture. I want warm and relaxing, T wants adventure. 

Where can we go that is a beautiful combination of all three that we can (preferably) drive to? 

(PS- sadly, Disneyland is out of the picture and so is anything north of Portland)


Prayer Blessing of 2012

Last Sunday, our pastor (Randy Remington) prayed an amazing blessing over us with every word taken directly from Scripture and compiled together in something really powerful. He asked us to open our palms out towards God to receive the blessing of truth he spoke over us and it was truly moving. I thought I would share it with you to believe and be encouraged in as we begin another new year together. 


“In the Name of Jesus Christ, I bless you with the promises of God which are ‘yea and amen.’ The Holy Spirit make you healthy and strong in body, mind, and spirit, to move in faith and expectancy. May God’s angels be with you to protect and keep you."

“Be blessed with supernatural strength to turn your eyes from foolish, worthless, and evil things. Instead, may you behold the beauty of things that God has planned for you as you obey His Word."

“I bless your ears to hear the lovely, the uplifting, and the encouraging, and to shut out the demeaning and the negative. May your feet walk in holiness and your steps be ordered by the Lord. May your hands be tender, helping hands to those in need, hands that bless. May your heart be humble and receptive to one another, and to the things of God, and not to the world. May your mind be strong, disciplined, balanced, and faith-filled."

“God’s grace be upon your home, that it may be a sanctuary of rest and renewal, a haven of peace where sounds of joy and laughter grace its walls, where love and unconditional acceptance of one another is consistent."

“God give you success and prosperity in your business and places of labor as you acknowledge and put Him first in all things.

“God give you spiritual strength to overcome the evil one and avoid temptation. God’s grace be upon you to fulfill your dreams and visions. May goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your long life."

“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace."

Happy New Year, my friends. I hope 2012 is the best year you've lived, yet.


I need to cook well, people.

There's nothing like post-holiday depression in the form of too-tight-favorite-weekend-leggings. Sigh. 

My excuse for not cooking well was because we had no counter space. No room for appliances. No room for cutting. Therefore, standard crockpot or one-skillet dinners became the norm. There's not much in the way of healthiness with weekly burrito bowls, skillet lasagna, Wednesday pizza and weekend happy hours.

So here's where I'm at you guys. We have a spacious kitchen, all of the appliances we need to cook and eat well, and what's holding me up? 

I'm not very good at cooking. :(

People I try and cook for have been kind to me in the past as they politely gulped down or wrestled with over-cooked meat or bland pasta. 

I have received wonderful cookbooks and follow amazing cooking blogs, but I'm terrified to actually try because I really have no clue what I'm doing. How do I know when the meat is ready? How do I know when the vegetables are done?
I need to start small, people. And I need all the help I can get. 

What do you say? Can you help a girl out?

Send me your favorite (easy!) healthy recipes that don't include onions or sour cream. I have pretty much every cooking appliance... just need to learn to use them!


New year, no fear.

Yesterday I became very aware and very convicted about a particular flaw of mine that I let define a lot of the way I live my life.

Subconsciously, consciously, sneakily, blatantly and everything in creeps up when I least expect it and it screams at me loudly in the face. In fact, its ever-presence in my life sometimes causes me to miss out on pretty cool opportunities. 

2012 is the year I want its rent to be up. Its eviction from dwelling in me. Its residency getting foreclosed on. 

My big, ugly, uninvited flaw is worry. 

It's quite embarrassing, actually, because I realized after a lot of thinking and reflecting that I worry. A lot. 

Afraid of heights, afraid of snakes and spiders, afraid of flying, afraid of something bad happening to my family, afraid of getting sick, afraid of finances, afraid of the unknown, afraid of a continually turbulent world & economy...
Pretty much anything legitimately bad that could go wrong... I'm probably afraid of it in some way. Insurance companies love me.

I don't let fear completely cripple me; I have a little bit of sense for that. However, I do have frequent pep-talks and prayer time to get over many of my fears. I have a lot of coping mechanisms; a lot of strategies to get me through those times when I'm tempted to be really afraid.

But you know what? It stinks. It takes a lot of time and a lot of joy out of things when I'm analyzing and wondering and worrying and pondering. I think it comes from a deeper desire to want to be in control of my own life and know what's going on all of the time, and that's when it hit me. 

If I'm trying to figure my own life out, of course I'm going to be afraid all the time because I've only had 27 years of experience and I don't sit enthroned on the world. Fear is going to be a natural result of me trying to control my own life & the world in general, because I don't really know how to do it. 
When the Bible says that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound-mind {patience; peace; self-discipline), it means it. If I am letting God truly guide my life, why would I have anything to be afraid of if He is in control of everything?

I'm afraid of my own bad choices and the consequences of those; I'm afraid of messing up and it being too late; I'm afraid or forgetting something and not being prepared; of a lot of "what ifs?" or "did I...?"

I have been known to leave my house and turn back around because I couldn't remember if I locked my door... or unplugged my straightener... or turned off my coffee maker...

This week I have tried really, really hard to "live on the wild side" and try not to care or think about if I did or didn't unplug my straightener.

Like the other day: I was at New Seasons and hadn't washed my hands since all the kiddo germs from my classroom. I decided to pick up my apples with a plastic bag instead of just directly touching them... (I know, I know...). however, when I brought my goods to the line for check-out, the dude checking me out accidentally dropped apples from my bag DIRECTLY ON THE DIRTY CONVEYOR BELT! GASP! I had a minor freak out in my brain but didn't want to look like a total jerk and ask him to get me new apples. So, I swallowed my apprehension and didn't want to throw away $1.89 worth of apples... and I ate them (after washing them in what I thought was thoroughly clean water). And I survived! Hooray!!

And on Wednesday, T asked me if I could stop unplugging the coffee maker every day because he has to re-set the time every night. This caused me to panic a little because, you know, what if the house burned down or something? However, I decided to test myself and oblige to his requests... and I left the coffee maker plugged in all day! (Of course I did turn the button off, though). And the house didn't burn down!!!

I'm hoping this week I can graduate towards eating something that is within a day of its expiration date instead of throwing something out on January 12th when it expires on January 13th... 

Baby steps, baby steps.

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