Thursday, May 30, 2013


Hi friends (at least I hope we're still friends),

Sorry I suck.

I have ignored my poor blog for nearly a week now and it is totally not cool.
(I know you're all clamoring and anxious to hear what I have to share each day, haha)

Anyway, I think I am back for good. I know I said that... well... in my last post, ha! But really, I think I'm just going to get back to the old me/blog, and stop trying to fill a quota.
That's just not me.

Anyway, here are a few things that I've been up to lately:
My Mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, & his lovely lady visited us this past weekend!
We showed them some sights, ate, laughed, and stayed up way too late.
It was a blast!

I applied for another teaching job - prayers are appreciated! (and encouraged )

Three of my dearest friends graduated! (Okay, this was a couple of weeks ago, but I love them so much and this is possibly my favorite picture of all time, so I had to share!)

I got to see Shannon (the goofy gal in the middle of that picture) when she & her brother drove through Pittsburgh in route home/Minnesota!!

Photo by N'tima Preusser
We found out that Dave is fully funded for the summer! Woohoo!! That means that we don't have to pinch pennies as tightly as we originally thought & we may have enough money for a trip to CA!

I started paying more attention to these one minute blurbs by Francis Anfuso and they've been quite encouraging. K-Love features them during my commute, but they're literally a minute long, so I think you can squeeze at least one in a week. (In fact, I demand it!... Kindly.)

Oh, and it's been beautifully warm and sunny the past few days and that makes me one happy lady!

What are some highlights from your week?
Anything I can be praying for?

Friday, May 24, 2013

May Challenge - Day 24

Your top 3 worst traits

1) Not posting daily for the May Challenge

But seriously...

1 - I complain. A lot.
And it's always about little things. I am flexible when it comes to big life changes, needing to move across the state, getting a flat tire, etc. but if I get a paper cut while rushing to get out the door, my husband won't hear the end of it. (He's very patient & I'm very blessed.)

2 - I compare myself to others
I think it's pretty natural for humans to do this - but I don't like it - and it's definitely not good.
I've read that comparison kills joy.
Now, if only I could always remember that...

3 - I'm a perfectionist (or as my husband would say, "nit-picky" and "overly critical")
Although there are some cases where doing things well is important - perfect is not a thing.
Being this way I tend to; give up on certain projects because they aren't "good enough", nag my husband for leaving a few hairs near the sink when he shaves, and fail to try at different things because I know I won't be nearly the best (even if I haven't practiced much at all).

I'm really glad I got back into the challenge today.
It's so important be aware of our faults and work on improving and using them for good!

I hope you guys still like me even though I do all of those things

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend Update

Hi Friends! I know I have been neglecting my blog for the past few days, I hope you don't mind.
I just haven't really been feeling it.

I think that part of it has to do with trying to post everyday for the May challenge (which although is really enjoyable, it's actually quite a bit of work). Also, I've just been tired lately. My body is still getting used to having two jobs, my mind has been overwhelmed by lack of a full-time job, and my heart is just aching for more than this.

Instead of blogging, I've been spending much of my spare time reading.
Reading about God, giving thanks, doing more, wanting less; all good stuff.

That said, I hope that you stick with me during this phase that I seem to be going through.
It's been such a blessing to get to share bits of my life with you and find many ladies who share in similar successes, struggle with similar things, and find joy in many of the little bits life offers.

Now - if you've made it through all that - here's a quick recap of my weekend for you (as usual!)

Friday - Dave and I watched the finale of the Office and cried.
Well, I cried, and he just sulked. It is easily one of our favorite shows and it has really given us something to share together. I know it may sound strange, but we've spent many, many, hours watching, laughing, quoting, joking, (and cuddling!) with and around The Office.

Then, after we wiped away the tears, (joke), we went down to a local sports bar to meet a couple who we've fairly recently befriended to watch the second Penguin playoff game. It was pretty exciting (despite that fact that I can never really hear anything in bars) haha.

All in all, a good night!

Saturday - We woke up bright and early to drive to The South Side and paint some railings.
I heard on K-Love (a Christian radio station) that they had put together some local volunteer opportunities and I was happy that Dave and I had the chance to get involved!

We got there at 7am, scrapped, sanded, and painted a lot of railings/fences along a very well utilized road and also had the chance to meet and chat with two of their DJ's, Scott & Kelli.

It was a lot of fun to venture to a part of the city we hadn't really been yet, as well as meet new people we otherwise wouldn't have had an opportunity to meet!

Sunday - We went to church, had some lunch, did our study on Ephesians, and meet our friends for dinner after a bit of a hiatus. It was great to share a meal and study with everyone again!

Well, that about sums it up.
What did you do this weekend?

 P.S. I haven't really been taking any pictures lately, and I'm not sure why... Maybe my brain checked out of that like it did blogging for a bit? I don't know... Hopefully I'll be back to normal, soon!
(...Sorry my posts are so wordy and not so pretty...)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

May Challenge - Day 16

Something difficult about your "lot in life" and how you're working to overcome it

I've had my fair share of ups and downs - as we all have - but I am also very blessed.

One of my faults (which you'll hear more about on 'Day 24') is how often I complain. I really shouldn't be complaining nearly as much, or really at all, but I do and it's something I am aware of and working on. That said, the first half of this post may seem like a complaint, but I am working on resolving it and I think that's at least a good start.

Something I have really been struggling with my whole life is discovering my gift(s).
My first blog, titled "Jackie of All Trades", was a way for me to embrace the idea of being sort of talented in many areas, and not quite great at any one.

I changed the name of my blog - and part of my thinking - because I didn't want to be stuck in the idea that I wasn't gifted something, unique in a way to me, and that I was just okay all around.
I think that's boring. And I'd like to hope that God has a bigger plan for me.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of soul searching (and whining and crying... shout out to my wonderful hubby for putting up with me!) partly because I am not employed as a full-time teacher (and I've let that get to me) and partly because I'm still not sure what I'm totally passionate about.

A few days ago, though, I think I realized it.

I'll keep you posted with any further developments!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May Challenge - Day 14

Ten things that make you really happy

1.  My husband
2. My mom & family
3. Blue skies/sunshine
4. Animals (because they're so stinking cute!)
5. Traveling
6. Good design
7. FOOD! (Mainly when I can eat it.)
8. Reading 
9. Comedy/Sitcoms (such as Parks & Rec!)
10. Being kind to people and people being kind to you

That about sums it up.
I'm quite simple, really.

What makes you happy?

P.S. I forgot to post yesterday... Sorry about that (that counts as a public apology, right?)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend Update

Friday: Lounged, Hulued (yes, I just made Hulu a verb), ate, repeat.

Saturday: More lounging then work at Anthro.
Which, if I may add, is super fun. I love the fact that I (have to) get dressed up and put make-up on and such. It's the complete opposite of me getting ready for work as a nanny haha

Sunday: To honor our history as Presbyterians, our church 'celebrated' with a Scottish Reformation service and we had a lovely bag piper, men in kilts, delectable Scottish snacks, as well as a group of traditional Scottish dancers! It was such a joy to relive a bit of our trip to Scotland.

Side note... During our freshman year of college Dave and I traveled to Scotland for Spring Break with 60+ other students as part of a "Spring Preview" our university offered.
It was a wonderful trip and we definitely left a piece of our hearts in that lusciously green land!

(Also, I didn't take any picture this weekend - which is weird for me - so I hope you enjoy and don't mind some throwbacks from Scotland!)

How was your weekend?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day | May Challenge - Day 12 | And my 100th post!

First and foremost, I want to take a moment to wish my beautiful mommy a very happy Mother's day!

I've said it a lot lately, but being a single mom definitely isn't a job for the faint of heart.
I am so thankful that my mom raised me on her own, with great morals & values, and she is always there to support and encourage me. (Unfortunately I see people with two parents who can't manage to do all of that.) She was such a selfless mom who was always home to make me dinner, always saved her money to take me back "back to school shopping" and always gave me a shoulder to cry on and an ear to talk to.

Although we're separated by more than 400 miles today (and most days since we live in different states...) I hope that she knows that I love her and think about her every single day.

I will always be thankful for the wonderful mother that she is, has been, and will be to me.
I love you, Mommy!

Now that I've got all that out, day 12's prompt is 'what do you miss?' and to be honest, there aren't many things I miss. There are many things I dream about doing in the future, and I fear that I'll miss my opportunity or chances to do these various things - but generally I'm pretty content about my present and I don't really think about too many things from my past.

That said, I do miss those days when I was a kid and I would spend all day outside with friends.
There are few things I enjoy more than enjoying the warmth of the sun on my skin with some good friends and good fun. I love running around, riding bikes, playing with the hose, climbing trees, playing kickball, picking flowers... I could go on.

Lastly (and probably least - but it's something I'm proud of) this is my 100th post!!

I started this blog two summer ago and although I started it will great intentions, I often completely let it fall by the wayside. I would go through small surges of active blogging, but not until recently (the beginning of this year) did I taking it more seriously and start using it as a tool of accountability.

For this accomplishment, I share with you something that makes me smile.
And adorable camera-loving giraffe.
Click for video
Hope you're having a great day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May Challenge - Day 11

Sell yourself in 10 words or less

 I was totally stumped until I read Jenni's post this morning.
(Why didn't I think of making a list last night? Let's blame exhaustion.)

1. Thoughtful
2. Hardworking
3. Communicative
4. Curious
5. Committed
6. Creative
7. Compassionate
8. Conservationist
9. Detail-Oriented
10. Lighthearted

There you have it. I just hope a potential employer is reading this and is so interested that they contact me with a job opportunity. (I kid. But I do kind of wish that.)

To recognizing our strengths!

Friday, May 10, 2013

May Challenge - Day 9 & 10

This blogging everyday thing is tough!
I'm completely enjoying it, but it's really tricky to be sure to make time to post daily - especially with my spontaneous and adventurous spirit (lol but seriously). So, since I missed yesterday (and almost today!) here's my last minute post.

Since 'Day 9' was a moment in your day and it can be a photo, here you have it:
A quick cup of coffee with my love before an impromptu Iron Man 3 showing!

Day 10 - Most embarrassing moment 
 I really can't think of any big ones - which is probably a good thing.
However, the one I can think of is when I first meet my husband.

We meet within the first two days of our freshman orientation. Three times.
I say we meet three times, because despite the fact that his name is Dave (something quite simple and easy to remember) I could not remember it for the life of me. We kept running into each other and he'd cheerfully say "Hi, Niquelle!" and I'd respond with "Hey! You..."
I felt super bad but third times a charm, and the rest is history

 Off to read some (better) embarrassing stories,

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May Challenge - Day 8

A piece of advice you have for others

Find beauty in the little things.

And share that beauty with others.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May Challenge - Day 7

The thing(s) you are most afraid of...

I try really hard not to get caught up in worrying and being afraid - but of course I sometimes fear things like losing my husband or my mother.

As I think about this prompt, though, I think that I'm more afraid (or at least lately) of not leaving a mark on the world. I don't mean I hope that someone builds a statue of me someday after I've passed, but instead, I hope that when people think of me, they see a bit of Jesus and his love and grace.

I worry sometimes that I am just going through life as a nice person or occasional push-over and that's not who Jesus was. He stood up for his beliefs and he spoke out about God and His love.

I'm afraid I don't do that enough - at least not in person - and I hope and pray that I can do something great in the name of God, before I die.

I mentioned Bob Goff in my last post, and he is definitely someone that inspires me to want to go out and do more. But I just don't know how. I feel like I can't just up and leave my wonderful husband and serve in Africa for a month - and I also feel like when I try to serve where I am (unless it's a structured/planned event) people don't really respond to me.

Do anyone have any words of insight? 
I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

Monday, May 6, 2013

May Challenge - Day 6

 If you couldn't answer with your job, how would you answer the question 'what do you do?'

Using Bob Goff's book "Love Does" as inspiration, here is a list of things "I do".
1. Love God
2. Love & try to serve my husband
3. Love & try to serve my family
4. Practice being patient
5. Try to study the Word
6. Run for charity
7. Try to be kind
8. Try to serve where I am
9. Try to Listen
10. Try my best to be thoughtful
As you can see I wrote "I try" quite a bit on my list.
That is because I am human, and am no where near perfect.
I try and try and try and often fall short - but that's what makes God's grace so great.

What do you "try" to do?

P.S. I skipped day 5, oops! Feel free to check out my "inspired by" column for some of my favorite blogs and ladies that I just adore.

Weekend Update

Friday was different than usual because I stayed home sick and didn't get out of bed to close to 1pm!
I was feeling so strange that I didn't do much of anything at all.
Dave and I watch the newest episodes of the Office and Parck & Rec (naturally), but then I just sat on the couch and read all day and night while sipping on some delicious Cranberry Apple tea.

Saturday Dave was feeling sick, so again we didn't do much of anything.
More reading and lounging followed by a short walk to get us up and moving and then our church service which was moved up due to marathon Sunday.

Service was great and we were visited by a lovely choir from Abington, PA (the town Dave and I used to live in!) Then, we went to a pasta dinner that our church hosted to help prep the runners, introduce the charity we were working with, and get everyone pumped for the marathon!

Sunday was the big day! Since we haven't been around Pittsburgh for a marathon until now, we didn't know exactly what time we should leave home/arrive to our legs and things like that. So we left at 4:30am to be safe... We made it nice and early with quite some time to spare! It was a bit confusing at first, but once we figured everything out, the excitement kicked in.

I ran the second leg (3.5miles) and handed off to Dave who ran the third leg (6.4miles).
It took me 36 minutes to run (a little over my goal of a 10min pace).
And Dave 53 minutes (under his goal! Which is totally awesome because he basically had to climb a mountain at the beginning of his leg.)
It was a TON of fun and our team finished in the top 10% of relay teams!
 (Which helped make me look like a better runner than I am haha)
After the race and trying to figure out how to get home (due to so many road closures) we got our monthly crepes (we go every first Sunday of the month) and got home just before we both passed out from exhaustion. (Waking up at 4am isn't really good for either of us.)

So, besides participating in the relay we had a pretty lazy weekend.
But it was enjoyable nonetheless.

What did you do?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May Challenge - Day 4

Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc.) and why you love it.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself..." Matthew 6:34

I spent a large amount of my younger years worrying.
Part of it, I think, is genetic, but most of it, I know, is a choice.

Growing up with a single-mom was great fun - but it also caused me to be anxious.
What if something happened to my mom?
What would I do without her? How would I go on?
I used to worry myself sick, literally.

The earliest memories I have of this were probably when I was two or three and I would scream, cry, kick, vomit, anything, just to make her stay home from an event. (And being the super-hero single mom that she was, she didn't go out or leave me home often.)

I had a very vivid and morbid imagination and all I could do was worry about her.

Then, one day, I don't know when exactly, I realized that worrying is pointless.
Of course, these thoughts and feelings would still bubble up, but once I was aware of them, I tried to put them in the back of my mind or just distract myself. This worked, to an extent.

Then, when I gave my life to Christ a little over four years ago I found out what it really meant to be at peace. As I mentioned a couple days ago, I have always had faith, but it was then that I really knew that God had a plan and whatever was supposed to be, would be.

This verse is such a great reminder to me that God is in control and my worrying isn't going to do anything, so why bother? Instead I now spend my time and energy being productive and focusing on the things that are I can control like the choices I make and the way I treat people.

What's your favorite?

Friday, May 3, 2013

May Challenge - Day 3

Things that make you uncomfortable

Being Cold
And I'm cold all the time. 
Unless it's 75 degrees, sunny, and I'm outdoors.

When parents are clearly being abusive to their children
I do not like/know how to deal with parents yelling and speaking meanly/abusively to their children.
I understand sometimes you need to lay down the law, but try and be discrete and please don't make me worry about their well-being. I have a big heart for children and I just do not understand why some people don't treat them as humans...

Spider Webs
They look beautiful when they are contained in a bush...

 but when I walk through little strands of them, YUCK! 
Even after I remove it I still feel like there's a phantom web attached to me... I get the chills just thinking about it!

This is such an interesting prompt because there are so many ways to feel uncomfortable and so many different things that make each of us uncomfortable! I'm looking forward to see what everyone else has to say...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May Challenge - Day 2

Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. 

Hm. This one is tough. 

At first I was trying to think of things that I could do really well, but I'm not particularly great at any one thing. Then, I thought about writing a kind of a joke-post about how good I am at things like eating for example. (Step 1: Acquire food. Step 2: Open mount, insert food... you get it.) But I wanted something more than that. Something deeper.

After a bit more thinking, I have decided to share with you something that I both know a bit about and that I am good at - trusting God.

Ever since I was young I have always had a strong sense of faith. Of course I was influenced by my wonderful mom and her strong faith in the Lord, but even when I was very little and may not have totally understood everything what was going on, I knew it was all alright and it was how it was supposed to be. 

We struggled a bit, my mom and I, but we always had faith and God always provided. 
And He always does.
He knows just what you need and when you need it.
He pushes you and stretches you and twists you, but when you have faith, He never breaks you.

I know that I am cared for and loved by a great and powerful God and I am good at having faith in that. I am good at knowing that I don't know much and I may not excel at much but I am who I am and I am designed by God and for God.

My hope is that you'll know that too. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Challenge - Day 1

I am so excited to join Jenni for the Blog Every Day in May Challenge.
I have been looking for some new inspiration lately, and I know this is going to be a fun and thoughtful way to get inspired to share more with y'all.
Today is the first challenge and although it's a bit late - better late than never, right?

The story of your life in 250 words or less 
I was born an only child to a super-hero single mother on Long Island, New York. We laughed a lot, moved a lot, loved a lot, fought and cried (just a bit), dreamed a lot, ate and cooked a lot, sang a lot, and prayed a lot.  Then during my first year of high school we settled down into a home with her caring and generous boyfriend (who is the closest thing I have to a dad.) A few years passed, I didn’t get into any of my dream schools and I ended up going to Arcadia University because they gave me some great scholarships (and they have a castle). Within the first few days I met the man I would marry, within the first year I gave my life to Christ and was freed from sin and death, and I had no idea what I wanted to “do” with my life. (But God does.) Fast forward just a bit, I married my wonderful, caring, loving, goofy, intelligent, handsome husband the summer going into our junior year of college. (I was 19, he was 20). Fast-forward a couple more years, we both graduate (I, with a degree in teaching – He, with a degree in Math) and we move to Pittsburgh so he can pursue his dream of getting a PhD. in I.E. and I can support him and try to find a job teaching. We are head over heels in love; grateful for the many blessings we have received, and excited to see what God has in store!

(Okay, so it’s 258 words… but who’s counting? Also, can anyone tell theirs in "less"?? If so, how? Teach me your ways!)

Join the fun!
And don't forget to follow me via bloglovin' 

The Voice

I was never a fan of singing shows until The Voice premiered four seasons ago.
I instantly fell in love with the idea, the coaches, the talent, and was hooked.

I watched the most recent episode, though, and couldn't help but think that beyond the seasons, I don't know or hear anything about any of the winners. 

I saw Javier win the first season, skipped the middle two due to lack of cable/tons of school work/lack of interest in staring at Christina Aguilera boobs, but now that I'm back into it (thanks, Hulu!) I am a bit broken up about the fact that I most likely won't hear much from the winner, whoever he or she may be.
(Usher thinks that's funny)
Now, I understand not everyone can break through and become a super star (many American Idol winners fall short). However, with the amount of talent these people are packing and the advice/connections they have gotten from the coaches (which are all awesome - and there's so much less boob!) How haven't any of the past three gone on to do great things?! Or any of the other contestants for that matter??

All this got me thinking about why such great "voices" don't make it in "the biz" and I realized it's because most stars are so much more than just a voice.
 They are also artists and personalities.

I do think the coaches are taking this more into account in season four, but I also think that the contestants should have to showcase their artistic abilities and perform original songs in the live shows. This way we could see their multitude of abilities (that ultimately) will make or break their success and we'd get to really pick who and what we want to hear more of.

Now I'm clearly not a superstar, or a gifted vocalist, but I am an advocate for things that are great and things that I love. So, I hope that someone important sees this and takes it into account. Or that the winners would at least go on to make and sell some music - because I think they're awesome and I would love to hear some talent on my radio. 

Anyone else want to add their two cents?