Tuesday, September 28, 2010

a hard thing

My grandma Jean (dad's mom) had a stroke on Saturday and she is not expected to live past this week. After I got back from Rockbridge (more on that later) my sister picked me up and we drove to Springfield together to be with grandma before she passes.

She looks nothing like herself and she can't speak. Her eyes flutter occasionally. She likes to have her hand held. I painted her nails this morning and my sister put decorative pillows around her to glam up her bed. We brought an ipod in and got classical music going. My grandma is a queen. We like to think that she can hear the music, that she feels pretty even in her hospital gown and that she senses being surrounded by friends and family.

I feel at peace about her dying. She lived life so fully and with such passion and I know she will enjoy dancing on the streets of gold in heaven. I don't like thinking of her not being around, especially for holidays. I don't like thinking that my children will never meet her. I don't like thinking that my dad will have lost both parents this year. She will always be alive in our hearts, though, and that will never change.

Surely goodness and love have followed her all the days of her life, and she will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

why am I writing when I have a million things to do?!!?!

3 miles at gym- cried while watching Dr. Phil.

showered and got ready- almost cried again thinking about Dr. Phil

parked on Grattan St. and walked to Top Dog on campus- almost cried because each step to get there was so familiar and I wanted so badly to be going in as a student and not an alumni and the freshman looked like such babies and then my sadness/sentimentality lifted because the menu had changed and there are now dumpling MEALS so I got thai chicken basil dumplings with noodles and thai sauce and it was delicious.

now I'm home and I have laundry to put away and I have to pack for Rockbridge (going to a retreat center to chaperone the Aletheia youth group while we serve the JMUers there for the weekend) AND I have a jillion dishes and vases and wine glasses to put away because we got a gorgeous china cabinet from my grandma and my stuff is currently covering every square inch of my kitchen counters.

phew. well, I'm already exhausted (but thankfully not in tears).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

content with my portion

Here is one of the greatest little pleasures of all:

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

What does it mean, that God is my portion? I see it as this: God is enough. God will fill me up. If everything in my life were pieces of a pie, the God slice would be all I need. What He gives me, what His plan is for me- those things should satisfy me.

It has been a trial for me to hear about my friends receiving jobs since graduation. It made me question my talents, my abilities. It made me wonder why I wasn't good enough to have a professional job. It made me wonder if my family was disappointed in me. It made me wonder if people talked about me. My flesh and heart were failing. I was being swayed by the world into thinking that my worth comes from how much money I make. In doing so, I was questioning God's faithfulness.

Oh, but He is faithful! Remember my post on rearranging? The past few weeks have been filled with wonderful times with friends, time to work out, time to plan and cook healthy meals, time to study the Bible, time to read, time to take long walks, time to travel, time to organize my closet... :)

I am happier than ever. I am more content than ever. I truly mean that. I know so many people who are consumed by making money and getting better jobs and having more than others and it breaks my heart.  I have all that I need in the Lord, plus some pretty awesome bonuses...(hot husband)! I hope I never lose sight of that. 

Guess what? I got a job. In a couple of weeks I will begin a video editing project for a friend of the family. I get to work from home and choose my own hours. I don't know how long the project will take and what will happen when it ends, but God knows the desires of my heart: I get to use my degree in Media Arts and Design while still having time to devote to my husband, myself and our home. BIG sigh of contentment.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

not so busy at home

I guess you could say I took the day off of not working, but I got all but one thing done on my to-do list for the day. My tasks took about 1/4 of the time I thought they would. I wanted to get my glasses prescription figured out at Costco (my new ones give me a headache), take some clothes to Plato's Closet and Goodwill, go to the gym and read. I thought the Costco errand would take ages because the Harrisonburg Costco's optical center isn't directly affiliated with the one in Springfield, which is where I had my prescription made. It's all very confusing.

Well, I figured my errands+the gym would take all afternoon and that I could have the morning to do my reading. I woke up around nine thirty, called the dog to get up on the bed, snuggled and day-dreamed for a while and then decided to read a book. I had started The Carousel by Rosamunde Pilcher last night but only got a few pages in. It's only two hundred some pages and I wanted to see if I could finish the whole thing by 11am. I finished at 10:52! It was a good story to read in bed.

Then I did pretty much nothing for a solid hour and a half, which is rather depressing. Oh wait, I did the dishes. Whoopee. My errands took all of half an hour (the lady at Costco said I should make myself wear my glasses for a week because I'm used to my old/bad prescription and I just need to adjust, I got $3.30 from Plato's Closet for two shirts that were worth over $80, went to Goodwill to donate for the first time and realized it's as easy as dumping items in a box) so I went to Barnes and Noble and browsed and read some of Gods and Generals and sipped cinnamon tea for an hour and a half. It was marvelous. I put in 3 miles at the gym, 1.7 on the the elliptical and 1.3 on the treadmill. After my shower I trimmed my nails, plucked my eyebrows and went to Bible study with DRY hair and NOT wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt and looking like a hot mess. That was marvelous too.

As unproductive as this day was compared to yesterday, indulging in reading was lovely. Today was restful, which I am glad for. Tomorrow will be busy, which I am also glad for.

What really made my day, though, was a card in the mail from my friend Amy. She wrote the sweetest note of encouragement for me as I try to figure out a job situation and what God's plan is for me right now. Snail mail has got to be one of my top five favorite things to receive. The rest? Hm. Affection, gifts, phone calls from close friends and forgiveness.

Monday, September 20, 2010

busy at home

Isn't checking off a list wonderful? I have started using Google Tasks and now every time I check my e-mail (a jillion times a day) my to-do list stares me in the face. Thankfully, I had a wide open day to complete my tasks and get in some Seinfeld+snuggle time with my cute husband.

-wash dishes, clean kitchen
-finish unpacking suitcase (from last weekend...)
-organize closet
-clean out purses
-errands: grocery returns, grocery shopping, Bed Bath and Beyond shopping
-dry and put away dishes
-mail letter
-walk dog
-organize coupons
-organize papers clipped to fridge
-go to the gym
-strength workout at home
-homework for discipleship

Here are some pics of my newly organized closet!
I'm dropping off 7 pairs of shoes tomorrow at Goodwill. These were the survivors.
Some are hidden by the clothes.
color-coded summer+fall clothes (winter still packed away)
my floppy boots, my brand new Real Simple purse organizer
(which wasn't as awesome as I had hoped because most of my bags don't fit well
and it doesn't look nearly as neat and tidy as the sample pics)
sweaters up top with pants and skirts (not pictured) below

My homework for discipleship time w/ my friend and incredible mentor Jenny was to research what God says about the work of women. I chose this assignment for myself because I am not making an income right now and I get easily frustrated and saddened when people ask "what do you do?" and then give me a blank look when I say that I am a homemaker. I was greatly encouraged and motivated after reading the following verses!

Proverbs 14:1 (think about what the foolish wife would be like)
Proverbs 31:10-31 (my life goal!!!)
1 Timothy 5:9-15 (this is referring to widows, but I still found it helpful)
Titus 2:3-5 (where I took the title of this post from)

I really focused on the Proverbs 31 woman during my study. She is one classy lady! Based on the passage, these are the reasons I came up with for why her husband had full confidence in her:
He can depend on her to care of the house
He doesn’t have to wonder if she is being lazy
He knows she will feed and clothe her family
She is kind to others, she has many skills, she is physically fit, she brings in an income, she has poise, is respectable, has confidence in herself, she is wise, she speaks the truth, she has joy
His children praise their mother for living a holy life
His wife has faith in God

Here is the NIV translation of Proverbs 31:10-31 (author's emphasis)

10 A wife of noble character who can find?

She is worth far more than rubies.
 11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
 12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
 13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
 14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
 15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
 16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
 17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
 18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
 19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
 20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
 22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
 24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
 26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
 27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
 29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
 31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

grocery bill update

A note to my readers: please pardon my incorrect use of the word sauté. I've been writing "sautee" because I thought there were two e's and I didn't think blogger would have the acute mark for the e. I apologize for making you read the wrong word. I really don't like it when other people make those kind of mistakes.

Moving on...

Since Sept 1st we have spent roughly $150 on groceries, which comes out to $8.33 on food for two people a day. If we keep that up we'll only pay $250 on groceries for the month of September! I'm on it.

Yesterday Andy and I declared that we're going to have a eat-out-of-pantry-and-freezer week. We will continue to purchase fruit as needed, but we will try to avoid buying meat (which we're completely out of).
We have toons of pasta and should have enough soup, tuna and frozen veggies to last us a week. Granted, we won't be having gorgeous dinners, but they will be healthy and they won't have cost us any extra money! We try to do this at least once a month. It's shocking to learn how much food you already have in your house.

Yesterday I boiled Ronzoni Garden Delight fettucini (each 4oz serving of pasta has a serving of vegetables in it) while sautéing about 3 cups worth of onion and bell pepper strips and microwaving a bag of broccoli. When the broccoli was done I tossed it in with the onion and peppers along with some garlic and salt and pepper. Then I added 2 tbsp of sour cream, a dash of skim milk, and 2 tbsp of shredded cheese and stirred to make a (very) light sauce. I drained the pasta and dumped it in with the veggies and sauce and tossed to coat.

The meal would've tasted even better with some spicy Italian sausage, but it was still delicious and low in calories for a pasta dish.

Tonight I'm going to cook up some onion with the squash and zucchini I picked up from the farmer's market this morning. Depending on what Andy wants we'll either have it with pasta or we'll eat the veggies as a side w/ soup.

Any creative ideas for using the things in my pantry/freezer? I might do some salmon cakes tomorrow.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

dancing dog

Tears are streaming down my face because I'm laughing so hard. You know the feeling when you are laughing at something but your body is a little shivery because you're creeped out by whatever is making you laugh? Yeah. I've tried to watch it the whole way through and I just can't do it.

a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils

appropriate You've Got Mail quote: "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

What is it with school supplies? How can pens and notebooks be so exciting? They just are! At least half of my girl friends are obsessed with school supplies. Maybe that's why we are friends.

School supplies signify not learning so much, but doodling the names of your crushes, practicing your new and totally way more cool handwriting (come on, I'm not the only one who did that), writing poems or songs and designing floor plans. Yes, I did that. Since seventh grade. I love a good floor plan.

I am not looking forward to the expense of future school supply lists, but I get all giddy at the thought of picking out fun-colored folders and tricked out binders with my future kids. I'll let you in on a secret: I've already bought my future child a notebook. It was too awesome not to buy. It has tiny robots all over the cover! I added it to my "hope chest" which is really a cardboard box that used to house a printer. Now it holds little things that I've bought over the past couple of years for our future children.

Children is a REALLY ugly word. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

highs and lows

- spent Friday and Saturday babysitting children that I've sat for since high school, which means I changed their diapers and now they are listening to the Jonas Brothers (maybe that part should go under "lows")
- received a hefty check for babysitting
- spent much of Sunday curled up with a book and endless cups of chai tea
- went for long walks with my mom 
- discovering how delicious plain oatmeal+1 tsp peanut butter+1 tsp maple syrup+a few crushed walnuts+cinnamon is
- got a free ipod shuffle 
- watched You've Got Mail with the cutest parents ever (mine!)
- was treated to a delicious lunch of calamari and hickory grilled grouper at Mike's American Grill, part of the BEST chain of restaurants everrrr
- iced mocha with my pseudo little sister Joanna
- saw the movie "The Switch" w/ my mom, Aunt Kathy and Joanna
- seeing my friend Chris the happiest I've ever seen him when I met him and his gf Emily at Barnes and Noble (location was also a high)
- my mom sent me home with a few groceries PLUS two chairs and a table for me to fix up

- runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat, headache. all weekend.
- hormones. cramps. craving salt and chocolate 24/7 and (mostly) denying myself of them
- not being with my guy all weekend
- missing church because I felt miserable
- "Voices in Summer" by Rosamunde Pilcher (one of my fav authors) was completely predictable and rather dull
- not seeing enough of my daddy
- both of my grandmas getting older
- I forgot to take the hall table up to NOVA with me (I was going to paint it there)
- trying to figure out how to inexpensively make chicken enchiladas for my small group (which ain't so small) and deciding to buy beef instead and those enchilada kits....discovering when I got home that the kits come with ITSY BITSY tortillas which meant I didn't really have enough for everyone and THEN discovering that I didn't have my baking dishes because I had taken food to a friend's house and hadn't gotten my dishes back yet and THEN calling a million people trying to borrow me some daggone Pyrex and not getting through to a single person and THEN all of them calling back at the same time and THEN Andy comes home in the middle of all this and I haven't seen him in days and I'm torn between trying to figure out dinner and attacking my man, so then I took the advice of a friend (a High starts here) and gave up on the idea of taking enchiladas, spent a solid half hour snuggling and catching up with my husband and combined my taco seasoned ground beef with other people's "mexican" contributions to create a taco salad smorgasbord.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

lots of flavor, no guilt.

Andy and I are trying to eat dinners that are 500 calories or less, with half of our plate filled with veggies, a quarter with protein and the remaining quarter with a starch. We made two dinners from a package of 4 turkey cutlets, one package of steamed broccoli, one package of boil-in-a-bag whole grain rice, 1/4 onion, two bell peppers and 3 shallots.

Last night I lightly floured each turkey cutlet and seasoned them with salt, pepper, parsley and basil. I chopped the 1/4 onion we had in the fridge, threw it in a pan with olive oil, a bit of refrigerated garlic and a little splash of lemon juice over medium heat and added the turkey cutlets. I cooked the cutlets for about 5 minutes on each side. Normally I use this recipe for turkey cutlets, which has you cook them on med-high for 3 min/side. It's a fabulous recipe, but higher in calories.

Tonight I didn't have an onion to work with, so I sauteed one yellow bell pepper and one orange in olive oil with three chopped shallots and a bit of garlic. I microwaved the leftover cutlets, broccoli and rice.

According to the website I use, sparkpeople.com, here is the caloric content of our meal tonight:
1 Shady Brook Farm Turkey Cutlet: 110
1 tbsp flour (for one cutlet): 50ish (hard to find a common number)
1/2 cup Success Boil in a Bag Whole Grain Rice: 45
1/2 Tbsp butter: 50
1 tbsp olive oil: 119
1 cup bell pepper: 25
1/2 cup broccoli: 27

=426 calories
cheap AND healthy AND delicious AND filling. booyah.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

furniture makeover: hall table

After months of saying I would do it, I'm finally going to paint this little sucker! I love where it is in the house (between the living room and dining room) and that it has a drawer for our menus and notepads and a shelf for our cookbooks. Please ignore the random item that is leaning against the right side of the shelf...what is that!? It is not there any more. I took this picture a long time ago.

I am painting the table black. My only hesitation is that the table in itself is not my style (each side has a small cut-out heart) and I wonder how long we will use it before replacing it with something else. 

**see finished table here**

I just watched Emily Henderson's "Secrets From a Stylist" and was immediately relieved when she stated that her client has three styles and she wanted to incorporate each style into the room she was designing. I have been trying to define my style in a simple phrase ever since freshman year of college when I was starting to create my own space, and it's hard! My mom decorates in a very traditional way w/ a hint of country charm- like a Pottery Barn catalog. During my first year as a wife I realized that a LOT of my home decor was looking more country than I wanted (note the black star above hall table). I love what I have, but I noticed my bent towards these items came from years of living among them, not years of picturing it in my head. In my head I picture our home with clean lines, exposed beams, built-ins, dark wood tones, modern yet inviting furniture, vintage accessories and pops of color. 

Oh, to own a home. No more white chair rail with fancy wallpaper! No more peach accent wall! No more beadboarded basement! 

I have to share with you this mid century modern wall unit that I found online. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.

Add caption
I'm dyyying for a long, sturdy wooden credenza to replace our ridiculously ugly black media console. This one, pictured below, is just what I'm looking for. I tried to buy a credenza off Craigslist this week but never heard back from the buyer. It was tiny and wouldn't have held up our TV for a minute, but it was adorable and affordable. I need to stay off Craigslist until we either have a child or move.
Credenza is a fun word to say. I wish my style could be defined as: credenza. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

dolla dolla bill ya'll

Remember when I had a budget challenge for the month of December? Andy and I only spent $50 on groceries in the month of December. We had a few surprise food donations from my mom and ate out of our pantry and freezer as much as possible. After accomplishing that challenge I tried to spend no more than $52 a week in groceries in 2010 but gave that up after a couple of months. Now we have $100/week in our grocery budget and I know we can spend less. I want to prove that it's possible to eat fresh and healthful foods without breaking the bank. I'm loving Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta- it's inexpensive and has a full serving of vegetables in every 4oz portion. Grapes are extra cheap in September and are super low in calories. My grocery splurge is Barbara's Peanut Butter Puffins cereal. I slice half of a large banana over 3/4 of a cup of cereal and pour a 1/2 cup of skim milk over. It's sweet, crunchy and filling for a total of 278 calories. I crave it.

How do you save money on groceries, or on anything?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


> our budget. I am currently unemployed, so my paycheck will no longer go towards paying off the van and adding to our savings. Andy and I sat down to take a long look at where our money is going and it's pretty disgusting how quickly things add up when you're using one income to pay for everything AND the car payment AND padding savings. At the same time, it's disgusting to think about how easy it has been for us to spend money.

> my days. I can't stand having nothing to do, especially when "nothing" = I could organize my closet, go through our over-flowing box of odds and ends, scrub the drip pans... stuff I may as well do but don't necessarily feel like doing. This week is the perfect opportunity to get those not-so-nothings taken care of.

> our furniture. Well, not quite yet, but soon. We're getting my grandma's dining room table and chairs, china cabinet and chaise lounge. Andy is beside himself about the chaise (truly. it's adorable) and has already come up with a new arrangement plan for our living room furniture to accommodate it.

> my diet. I haven't been this happy about myself or had this much energy since before last Christmas! I'm consuming way less calories than I was a week ago but I'm not having any issues with it. I haven't gone to bed hungry. TESTIMONIAL: Yesterday I only ate half of a chocolate cupcake. HALF. I couldn't believe it, either! Oh and get this: I didn't eat a single bagel or pastry at church this morning. I LIVED for Sunday morning bagels and pastries! It wasn't like I didn't want it, but the choice to pass it up was much easier than I ever would have expected. I did not want to go home and have all those calories and carbs messing up my so far so good daily nutritional breakdown.

> my fitness. Chuckle. I had the whole sedentary, maaaybe lightly active thing going on for a while there. It was pretty lame. Whenever I start becoming the definition of lazy (like my friend Ariel) I think of freshman year of high school and jogging two miles each afternoon for field hockey. I remember struggling with the distance and overcoming it by jogging/sprinting the straights of the track and walking the curves (according to a runner friend of mine that is a terrible way to build endurance, but it worked wonders for me). I remember how my body changed and how it didn't take long for my body to enjoy the workout. Now that I'm back in the gym I don't let myself leave until I've  completed at least two miles, even if some of it is done on the treadmill instead of elliptical. My body doesn't enjoy it yet, but it's only been four days! I'm trying to decide if my end goal should be to add speed or distance. Thoughts?

Friday, September 3, 2010


1 grande iced nonfat chai latte
2 racerback tops on clearance
1 robe
1 pair of pajama bottoms
1 season of Seinfeld on sale
1 pack of Sharpies on sale
1 4-pack of notebooks on clearance
2 boxes of Annie's assorted bunnies on sale
2 cans of pineapple on sale
1 2-pack of dog bones on sale + manufacturer's coup
1 pack of hair ties
1 toilet brush
1 2-pack of toilet bowl cleaner

the best part? looking down at my pedometer and discovering that I walked .7 of a mile while shopping.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

a weight on my back (and everywhere else too)

I have been trying to lose weight since the beginning of the year with absolutely zero results. In fact, I've gained a few more pounds since then. There are a lot of factors: I stopped exercising. I was eating sugars and carbs like there was no tomorrow. I ate out a lot. I ate a lot of ice cream. I changed birth control pills. I spent a lot of time on the couch watching Netflix and Hulu and checking emails and reading blogs. All of these things, plus the fact that I'm five years older (blasted hormone levels), have contributed to why I no longer look like this: 
At Blue Hole circa fall 2005
look at those tiny arms! I mourn those tiny arms!

Weight wise, the past year has been pretty miserable. I didn't talk about it for a loooong time because I didn't want to be one of those people who complains about their weight and then doesn't do anything about it. I really thought I was trying...I would make more healthful dinners, eat salads for lunch, walk the dog...but I never had the endurance to keep up the good habits. I hated not being able to hide it. For a long time I refused to buy new clothes because I didn't want to be accepting a body that I didn't want. 

Here's the thing about weight. We're all different. I have friends who lead healthier lifestyles than I do who are the same size or bigger than I am. A lot of it has to do with genes, and my genes say I'm supposed to be thin with a booty. I know my "happy" weight and I know I'm not at it right now, and guess what? I'm not happy about that! I'm extremely disappointed in myself. 

So here's what I'm doing about it: On Monday I decided to start being completely honest with myself about what I put into my mouth and how much exercise I get. I made a profile on sparkpeople.com, which lets me track my meals and how much I work out. I also bought a digital scale for weigh-ins and dug out the food scale that I've had for months and never used. I am hoping to reach my weight goal by my 24th birthday. A present to myself!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

august: in remembrance

How is it September already? Summer flew by. As wonderful as it was to have sunshine after such a cold winter, I think most of us are ready for breezy t-shirt and jeans weather. Here are my little pleasures from August, without pics because I'm trying to make it short and sweet:

1. the movie Eat Pray Love 
2. our vacation in the Outer Banks
3. my new carmex moisture plus lip balm
4. getting a bag full of clothes from the lovely Katie Stoops (technically this did not happen in August. shh)
5. If You Lived Here by Dana Sachs
6. not buying stuff I don't really need. I don't think I bought anything decorative for the house, any shoes, any pieces of jewelry, any purses...I need to remember to tell Andy this!
7. going back to the gym. not really a pleasure right now, but eventually....

Now, on to September!