Saturday, December 28, 2013

23 by 24

It's been quite a while. But that's nothing to dwell on.

I created this blog to keep myself accountable. I felt, and still feel, if I declare things to the world then I can commit myself more fully to doing them. 

 Something about keeping my word - which I believe is one of the most valuable things in this world. 

I tested this theory this past year when I made a list of 13 things to do in 2013.
And I accomplished them - more or less. 

Today, I declare the 23 things I would like to accomplish before I turn 24. 
Today I turn 23 - so I have exactly one year. 

1) Visit and explore a state I haven't yet been to
2) Join an Ultimate Frisbee League
3) Buy a stranger their groceries - without them knowing.
4) Run a half marathon
5) Master French on Duolingo Bike to work for at least one month*
6) Create an awesome geocache
7) Bake a pumpkin pie from scratch
8) Own a coocoo clock
9) Make a new friend - who was formerly a complete stranger
10) Substitute teach
11) Have a table at a craft fair
12) Read the bible, cover to cover
13) Write my sponsored children monthly
14) Have a Harry Potter marathon
15) Build a Rube Goldberg machine
16) Finish all the books I've started
17) Learn the words "hello", "thank you", "peace", and "love" in 10 languages
18) Go an entire day without speaking
19) Cover random objects in my town with googly eyes
20) Go on an over night hiking trip (maybe to the Appalachian trail?)
21) Spend an entire day doing things for strangers - work at a soup kitchen, hand out free coffee, etc. 
22) Eat only local food for a week
23) Have a scavenger hunt with friends

I will use this blog to chronicle my experiences and reflect upon each. 

This is my kind of blogging.


*I amended this list after thinking more realistically about how I can commit my time. After doing some research, I found that mastering a language on Duolingo takes about one hour a day for least 8-10 months - something that would be more feasible if I didn't want to spread my time across many of these other goals. I still plan on staying active on Duolingo and practicing french at my leisure.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Halloween Cards

 I just stocked up the shop with some new cards for Halloween!
Perfect for kiddos, friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, & well, just about everyone!

(I mean, really, who doesn't love getting a little snail mail??)

Take a second to check out the new designs over here!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Notes from the sloth...

I know I'm a tad late in posting this, but I finally got around to asking Dave to take over my blog one last time, so for your reading pleasure... 
1. If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
I would be a sloth.  Probably a three-toed sloth to be a little more precise.  Hanging from trees.  Sleeping.  Eating.  Sounds pretty great.

2. What is your favorite meal?
A good Mediterranean spread.  Some tabbouleh, dolma, hummus and kebabs.

3. Do you use any forms of Social Media? What is your favorite?
I use Facebook.  So I suppose it's my favorite.  Most notably, however, it is my least favorite.

4. Beer, wine, liquor, other, or none of the above?
I like most beers and all wines except for the very dry red wines.  As far as liquor is concerned I'd rather eat chalk.

5. Complete the sentence: "Never have I ever..."
...gone streaking.


(Phew, am I glad to hear that!)

We had such fun with this link up, thanks for putting it together, gals!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Few of my Favorite Things; Food

It's officially Fall. 
Which means winter's coming & I'll be packing on my hibernation weight. 
(I think I was designed to hibernate... True story.)

Anyway, with that in mind, and cold weather on the way (and already here some days), I figured I'd share with you a few of my favorite foods. They're great all year round really, but since I eat just about double in the colder months, I thought now would be a good time to share. 
TJ's Dark Chocolate

Considering how much of it we eat, I'm rather price conscience of it. We used to buy our quinoa at Costco, but recently they switched suppliers which raised the prices - boo. Now we're getting it from our local grocer, which sells their own by weight, and is actually super affordable. Do a little price comparison before you buy it. You may be surprised where you find a good deal.
One of our favorite ways to eat it is in this casserole.

Goat cheese, Feta, Gruyere, Cheddar, Brie... you name it, I'll eat it.
Whether it's feta tossed in a salad, Gruyere in my favorite (quinoa) patties, or shredded cheddar on a tortilla as a quick lunch, we always have it stocked in our fridge.
Also, Brie is particularly popular this time of year as a side or appetizer to any dinner party.
Bake it, pair it with a favorite jam, and tasty crackers, and your mouth with thank you.

Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans... again, I'll each just about all of them.
After making salsa and cold bean salads in the summer you can take these into the winter and make some tasty chili's, soups, and stews.

Corn Muffins
These are a bit of a comfort food, but oh-so-easy and scrumptious! 
I always have a box or two on hand, and every once in a while I'll pop a batch in the oven (wait impatiently for 15-20 minutes) and then gobble them up. 
You can also pair these with your chili and stew from those aforementioned beans, yum!

What are some of your favorite things - food wise?

This post is part of a short series of my favorite things
I'm always looking to share and exchange favorites/traditions/recipes, etc. so I figured this would be a fun way to try and do that. Feel free to write your own post, share some of your favorites in the comments, and/or link-up below!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Open!

After a summer full of hard work & preparations, I have opened (the virtual doors) of my Etsy shop!

I am so excited to be able to share my creations with you all!
Here's a sample:
Take a look for yourselves, and let me know what you think
(Seriously, I'd love to hear your feedback!)


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So Long Sweet Summer

This past weekend Dave and I soaked up every last bit of the beautiful warm summer weather.

We went on a (long overdue) picnic, relaxed under a clear blue sky, meandered through a museum, played volleyball with strangers, then enjoyed 9-holes of disc golf, and came home to a tasty surprise.
We had sandwiches (or "sammies" as Tom Haverford calls them), sour cream & onion chips, a favorite salad, pickles, and fruit salad. All in that adorable picnic basket my mother-in-law got us!
 Then we just laid there. In the warm sun. It was glorious.
Then we went here,
 and admired this guy's artwork.
(Here's a sample - not my photo)
It is an incredibly detailed and thought-filled collage of Van Gogh's famous piece, Wheat Field with Cypresses. It was breath-taking. 

After that, we headed to our favorite coffee shop to welcome the on-coming fall season with a pumpkin spice latte for me, and a caramel latte for the fella.

We headed home - decided we hadn't gotten our fill of the perfect weather - and went back out.

We were invited to play volleyball with strangers (who were very kind - I am very bad at volleyball).
We tossed a few discs around, and then called it a day. 

We came home to this package from my aunt:
It, too, is an indicator of the on-coming season, and a personal favorite treat.

I knew what it was the second I saw it.
Ah, what a wonderful way to end the day.
And summer.

How are you spending the last days of summer?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Things like this make me miss college...
The goofy ideas and totally "go-for-it" attitude just don't flow the same in the "real world"
What a shame.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

...While grocery shopping

 Just a quick post about things that I think about while grocery shopping.

1) Gosh, I'm so hungry - why didn't I eat before doing this!?
1) If you have an Aldi near buy, make sure you shop there as much as you can!
Here are a few reasons to back that up:
a) They offer a lot of really great products, at really great prices
b) They take care of their employees. The cashiers start at $11/hr
c) They work with local farms which not only lowers their costs, and thus their prices, but also gives you the chance to support your local farmers! (Of course farmer's markets are a great way to do this as well, but their hours and locations may not be as convenient.)
d) They encourage all of their shoppers to bring reusable bags - by charging .25/bag. Again, this helps keeps costs down, but it's also great for Mama earth!

2)There is no difference between brown eggs and white eggs.
While at Trader Joe's the other day (a parent company to Aldi, actually), I noticed they were charging $2.50 for a half dozen brown eggs and $1.50 for a full dozen white eggs.
Do you want to know where brown eggs come from?
Chickens with brown/reddish feathers and lobes.
Do you want to know where white eggs come from?
Chickens with white feathers and lobes.
That's it.
(Now stop overpaying for eggs.)

3) Star fruit is not only super cool to look at, but it's also pretty great for you.
It has a ton of antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin C - but it also doesn't have a ton of sugar or acid.
Although we need natural sugar in our daily diet, many fruits are quite high in sugar and can count against some diet and weight-loss programs. Also, since it is not very acidic and it still kind of tastes like a citrus fruit, you can eat them more frequently without harming the enamel on your teeth.
Bonus! - #4 - My regional grocer recently started selling ostrich eggs.
I only have one question... 

Until I think of other things while grocery shopping,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My life

This is the story of my life 
(Clearly this is blogging gold.)
((You're welcome))

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mystery Trip

For our anniversary this year, I asked Dave to take charge of the planning.
I told him I didn't care if we drove to a random state and explored there, or if we took advantage of all our city had to offer. I just wanted it to be a complete surprise. 
And it was.

Turns out, he went above and beyond in his planning and took me to...
wait for it...

Niagara Falls, Canada!! 

We stayed here,
visited the falls,
went here,
and here,
hiked here,
ate these,
and had a truly magical time.

I am so thankful for a husband who carefully planned every little detail and gave us a trip that we will never forget.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Welp, I failed.

But that's life, right?
We're all human, and that's what we do.

We try. We fail. We try again.

Thankfully when we fail big, (and small too) we have a great God whose love and mercy never ends.
Of course, it's not that big of a deal that I've failed at blogging. Even after I said I would do better.(Oops.) But here I am, trying again. And I will keep trying as long as I enjoy writing, have people interested in reading, and a desire to share my thoughts and life with y'all.

Today my only thought to share is to keep at it.
Whatever "it" is for you. If that's searching for a job, remodeling a piece of furniture, or even finishing a puzzle (like Dave and I), just know that you can do it! And it's okay to take breaks, or to mess up along the way, as long as you give it your best, then count it a success.

Tomorrow I will have some wonderful stories from our three year anniversary!
Until then, sit here, enjoy this:
And try again at something you may have failed at recently.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Playing Catch-Up

I haven't posted much because I've been caught up with living life.
And it's been quite nice.

Although I really enjoy blogging, sometimes it becomes a chore, or just another "to-do" and at that time my body starts to reject the idea until it can even itself out again.

I think my priorities are now back in their place and thus I'd like to play catch-up.

Let's start with last week, when I started my new job with the CCO!
It's a part-time position in the finance department, which I am loving!
I am utilizing some old skills, learning some new things, and above all I'm interacting with Godly, kind, thoughtful, and genuinely happy people!
It is such an incredible environment that I could go on, and on - so I will end it here. (For now!)

Balancing a new job and an old job has been a little tricky (as I have worked my 9th day straight today) but I am beyond grateful for this new opportunity and know that I will figure out scheduling and adjust in the weeks ahead. 
We've also been quite busy outside of work, Dave and I. 
Over the past week we had dinner with friends, went disc golfing, crafted a gift and celebrated the pregnancy of a dear friend, visited my favorite place in Pittsburgh, took an impromptu trip to our newly married friends home in Waynesburg, played poker with new friends, and did errands. 
Our days (and nights!) have been chock-full of great company and exciting events.

But then we felt tired. And lazy.
And so we decided to watch Netflix.
And then we lost some hours, but it's okay. Sometimes that's just what you need. 

Anyway, all this to say, I have not had/made much time for blogging.
And that's okay, too. 

But, alas, I will be back to posting more regularly very soon.
I will also be opening the (imaginary) doors of my Etsy shop very soon!
Something I am so, so, thrilled to do.

Thanks for sticking around through the down time.
I appreciate it and you a whole lot!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Simple Summer Salad

Since it's August already (how did that happen?) I wanted to share one of our favorite summer salads that's super easy to make and incredibly tasty!  

It's also makes a great side for a BBQ, a quick fix for a lazy summer evening, or a light lunch
Here's what you'll need:
2 cucumbers, very thinly sliced
2 or 3 vine tomatoes, cubed
1/2 Vidalia Onion, very thinly sliced
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp white vinegar
salt, pepper, and dill weed to taste
Feta (optional)

It's best made a day before you plan to eat it so everything can really marinate, but it's so tasty you might find yourself sneaking a few bites right after you make it! (No judging here.)

Enjoy and let me know if you try it!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Update!

I know, I know, I've been posting a lot of "updates" lately... but one of the main reasons I started this blog was to keep myself accountable, so I hope you don't mind
This month has been... interesting... productivity wise.
Of my original list of goals I have mastered some and completely ditched some others.

This month I feel pretty great about:
1) My blogging quality & quantity
2) My Etsy shop prep!
3) General time spent reading
4) Studying the bible
5) Exploring Pittsburgh
6) Composting
7) Getting off the couch

I am still working on mastering:
1) Running (this month we totally slacked on training!)
2) Following my cleaning schedule. Ugh.
3) Praying without ceasing!
4) Volunteering

I have all but given up on:
1) Teaching.
I don't know if it's mainly because of my struggle to find work as a teacher, but I have just been feeling called to try new/different things while I'm here in Pittsburgh. I actually just got another part-time job working for The CCO and I could not be more excited! I'm hoping that God uses this opportunity to help me figure out exactly what I'm made for. As always, prayers are appreciated
 2) Working on our scrapbook.
Like I said, I'm doing lots of prep to open my Etsy shop, and our dining room table just isn't big enough for the two of them haha

I have definitely picked up a lot of momentum in some of my endeavors, and fell quite flat in others, but I'm still pretty happy that I'm making any progress at all - especially since we're already 8 months into the year!

How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekend Update!

Grab a button!
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This weekend was loaded with adventure!

Friday - We were planning on leaving for our camping trip, but we were a bit delayed. So, instead of pitching a tent in the dark, dark, night, our dear friends (M&K who were taking us camping) invited us over for a bonfire and s'mores! (A camping preview if you will.)
Dave built a pretty beautiful fire (and I helped find some kindling and tinder) and then we ate a lot of s'mores. Probably s'more than we should have! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Saturday - We got up bright and early for our drive to Maryland.
Of course we were able to squeeze in a cute(/cheesy) photo, first!
Then we drove for about 2.5 hours to Swallow Falls State Park and built our home:
 After we got all of the tent pitching out of the way, we went for a hike in the park.
It was magical! 
We also picniced on top of a rock!
It was quite a distance from the ground and we got to do a little rock climbing which was great fun.
 (That rock Dave is standing on is not the ground... haha)
Plus, there was this beautiful view!
After a bit more hiking, we found a disc golf course near by and gave that a shot.
Dave and I had never played before but we really enjoyed it & will definitely be trying it again, soon!
Once we got back to our tent we built up our fire, made some moon-pies for dinner, ate s'mores for until our hearts were content, and then played cards until we fell asleep.
It was a lovely (first) camping experience!

Sunday - We packed up our cars around 10am and headed out to do a little antiquing and leave sometime for lunch at Cracker Barrel (a family favorite!)
Once we made it back to Pittsburgh, we unloaded the car, cleaned up, and headed out to dinner with M&K and W&L for our regular Sunday night dinner and study.

W made a deeee-licious pasta dish and we finished off the night with coffee (and vanilla ice cream), rice crispy treats, a study of the last chapter of Ephesians and great company.
I don't think it gets much better than this.

What adventures did you go on this weekend?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mars Hill (Part 2)

Yesterday I left off with how mentally exhausted we all were from the initial shock of the home.
Today I want to talk about God's amazing strength and how He helped us complete all of our tasks, and then some, with smiles on our faces and a team that didn't complain once.

After the initial day, Dave and I (along with Ms. C), compiled a list of things that we'd wanted to accomplish. We all agreed that we needed to prime and paint the walls of the living room and kitchen as well as the ceiling of the living room and dining room. We also needed to replace some window panes, fix a hole in the dining room floor, re-tile the living room floor, clean the kitchen cabinets (inside and out), re-screen several windows, replace the kitchen counter top, and remove all of the cobwebs, dust, and critters from everywhere.

With a team of seven incredible individuals, a handful of people praying for our strength and success, and an all powerful God, we were able to do it all while enjoying the company of Ms. C and Mr. G.
We even finished an hour ahead of schedule!

Here are a few photos of the progress during our time at the log cabin.
After Day 1
After Day 2
After Day 3
After Day 4
Our Final Day
The pictures may not accurately capture the sense of transformation that took place, but trust me, it was quite a change from day one to day five and we were very happy with the progress.

It was such a blessing to visibly see the transformation of Mr. G's home but it also stirred up some of our selfish desires. As we were cleaning we kept talking about how much we hoped it would stay this clean and how sad we'd be if we came back next year and saw it went back to being covered in dirt and grime. Then, my teammate T shared something with me that her pastor S had shared with her the previous night when she was discussing this with him. 

He explained that this is exactly what God goes through with us. He puts in a lot of work and sees some great transformations in us, and then we go a throw it away the next day or year. 
But He keeps helping and teaching and giving.
His mercies are new each day and He never gives up on us.
It's truly a marvelous gift and all we have to do is accept it. 

This trip taught me a lot about myself, my husband, my church, the church as a whole, and the great work that needs to be done; in all of us.