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!

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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.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mars Hill (Part 1)

As many of you know, Dave and I spent the past week in Mars Hill, NC.
We traveled to Mars Hill College where we lived with, ate with, served with, and laughed with nearly 70 other people, church goers and non-church goers alike.
Dave and I arrived in NC on Sunday evening just in time to check into our really lovely accommodations and then head down to worship with everyone else who traveled to Mars Hill for this inspiring and soul-filling mission trip.

After worship, we were promptly assigned the titles of "co-team leaders" which meant we would be in charge of organizing the tasks and projects that were required for our assigned home and family.

We learned that we would be working with a man, Mr. G, in his 100+ year old log cabin.
We were told most of the work would involve cleaning, since Mr. G has dementia and is unable to care for himself or his home very much at all. Thankfully, God has blessed him (and in turn us) with a wonderfully caring (and hilarious!) older sister, C, and very good friend and neighbor, C.

We also learned that we would be working with a diverse team of 5 people.
2 teenaged boys
1 young adult
and a married couple... with a 7 month old!
They were all incredibly hard-working, caring, and thoughtful & I'm so grateful we were a team!
None of us knew exactly what to expect besides "dirty" but our first impression was quite overwhelming. We walked into a living room that was covered in piles of dust, dirt, and dog and mouse poop. The walls were also an ashy-brown from layers of soot that had built up over the years. (Mr. G heats his home with a wood burning furnace and likes to watch the fire.)

Then, we walked into the kitchen and were taken aback by the amount of mouse droppings, spiders, and cobwebs that covered the space. Along with the soot covered walls and misc. things.
This picture doesn't really capture the feelings we experienced, but it was so very messy and most of the stuff hadn't been touched in years. (We found prescriptions from '97 and food that was older.)

We were all so struck by the state of things that we got to cleaning up right away.
We wore gloves, masks, and long pants in fear that any of this would touch us.
We felt sad about having to cover up so much.
This is someones home. This is someones life.
Here we were tearing through it, (though being extra careful not to throw out anything - besides old food and drugs - without asking), we were repulsed. It was a mentally tiring first day.

The best part about our day, though, was that we got along great with Mr. G, his sister, and neighbor.
They were all so welcoming, kind, and funny! We were so glad to find out that they were eager to clear the space just as much as we were. (At least C & C made it clear they were... Mr. G didn't clearly come around till later in the week.)

Another highlight of our first days were the cows and dogs.
Mr. G has three beautiful sheep dogs and a dozen cows that have free range of his 140+ acre farm.
I'll leave you with this video of the cows licking our car. Yes, a real life cowlick.
Check back tomorrow for more about our trip!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Few Words From Ed Norton... I Mean, Dave.

 Hey y'all! Today I'm linking up with Stephanie & Mal again!
(better late than never, right?)

Anyway, here's Dave with some answers for your reading pleasure:

1. What celebrity would (you like to) play you in a movie about your life?
Ed Norton.  He is a brilliant actor and I think that he can capture the extraordinary that is cloaked by the mundane.  I like to think my life has a lot of sneaky mystique wrapped up in the everyday.

2. What is your dream car?
KITT from Knight Rider.
3. Do you have any tattoos? What, where, why?
4. Boxers or briefs?
Boxer-briefs.  It affords the best of both worlds. Now I admit they aren't the most attractive of undergarments, but I'm too practical of a person to let that stop me.

5. List 3 random facts about yourself...    
1. I have always fancied the idea of being an actor.
2. I have been known to eat salsa. Yes, just salsa, via spoon.
3.  I often sleep folded in half with my head atop my feet.

-N & D (*a man of many words)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Update!

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This weekend was filled with so many amazing things I can hardly put them into words...
 so I figured I'd just show you instead!

Friday - We ended our incredible adventure in Mars Hill and left this home and these folks:

Saturday - We drove home from Mars Hill with B and a new friend, M. 
We decided to do some exploring in route home, and part of that included stopping at every overlook.
 We also discovered a cave exploration tour, and unanimously agreed to do it.
Then, to end our exciting day the sun set magically as we were nearing the end of our drive.
Sunday - The exciting events continued when we got home.
We had brunch with some new church friends (not photographed)
and then went golfing with three awesome friends... until it down poured.
Finally, we ended our night with dinner and study with four of our favorite couples in Pittsburgh.

It was such a fantastic weekend!

How was yours?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Project 365

I am ecstatic to share this project that I have been working on for about a month now.

Inspired by One Thousand Gifts and this video:
I decided to join Vine and document one thing I am thankful for each day, for one year.

I am really enjoying this project and the challenge that posting a video a day has poses. I am reflecting on the wonderful gifts God gives each day, and growing creatively as I make each video. Ultimately I would like to combine all of the videos into some sort of "masterpiece" but as the days go on, and I create each unique video, I wonder how I'll conclude this project (and often find myself thinking I'll just go on and record something everyday, for the rest of my days!)

There's a little teaser video I posted last week:

I would be thrilled if you guys would follow along - @Project365 - on Vine.

To being thankful!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trip Update & A Guest Post!

Hi Friends! As you're reading this I'm probably working on building a deck, or roofing a house, you know, the usual. Anyway, I just wanted to share with you that our trip is going really well and we're meeting so many wonderful folks!

I'll have a bunch more to share with you when we get back, but for now, you have a chance to meet someone new - her name is Mary & she blogs over at Secret Obsession - take it away, sweet lady!

Hi everyone! It's such a pleasure to be guest posting here on Niquelle's blog! I'm Mary, a 20 year old girl living in the suburbs of the Philippines, and Secret Obsession is my home on the world wide web. I'm currently in my senior year of college and I can't wait to be in the world out there. It seems scary but you really never know what you're gonna get, right? So I say just live life and grab every opportunity that comes your way...

1. Why do you blog?
Just like everyone else, I blog mainly to express and share. Blogging can be a really powerful tool to reach other people and tell them what you have to say. Blogging is an experience where one can learn a lot about life and places through other people! I guess it's also a tool in self-realization and improvement (because when you write what you feel, you can actually come up with a better conclusion or solution, even an idea)! :)

2. On average, how long does it take you to write a blog post?
  About 30 - 45 minutes! Though some ideas just come out rushing like a flood, some ideas need to be squeezed out or some words replaced to make it wonderful to read. :)

3. If you could move to a different country which would you choose and why?
 (I love these kind of questions! Haha) That would be Australia! Because, come on guys, Australia is such a beautiful place! Need I say more? :) I've never been there but I know it! And they've got pretty beaches there too!

4. Tea or Coffee?
  I guess it has to be coffee. :) Honestly, though tea is healthier, I sort of don't like how it tastes. :/
5. Where is your favorite place to hang out in your town/city?
The Mall? Hahaha. Honestly, I really don't know since I spend most of my time in school. But yeah, I guess that would be the mall since we love to window shop! XD And at the mall, you can find me either at Booksale or National Book Store. They're my favorite spots at the mall (and to think we're talking about town/city)!

6. How did you come up with your blog name?
My first blog name was Maryiad which is a combination of Mary and myriad. Lol! The name just hit me. A few days/weeks later I changed it to my current url which is secretobsessionblog. Every night, my parents would always wonder what's keeping me busy till midnight. Little do they know that I'm busy blogging. Hahah! So as not to let them catch me typing my posts or editing my html, I always have my facebook tab ready. Whenever they would enter my room, I'll just switch to the facebook tab! Perhaps they're thinking I'm staying up all night just facebooking! So no one (except my sister and a couple of people I know or knows me) knows that I blog. Thus, it's a secret. I've been blogging for merely two years but ever since I got into it, I was addicted-slash-obsessed. And there you have it. Blogging is my secret obsession. ;)
Be sure to check out Mary's blog and show her some love!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend Update!

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This weekend was the start to a wonderful new adventure in North Carolina!
Here's what we did to prepare.
Friday - I worked until 8pm and then we ate dinner and watched Parks & Rec.
Nothing out of the usual here! 
Saturday - I worked again, until 3:15 (I got out early!) and I also bought a pair of jeans today. From Anthropologie. For $10! They were originally $168. Ladies, DO NOT miss their sale room, there are hidden treasures such as this, daily! I was so glad I got called into work today haha  After I got home, we grabbed a bite to eat at a great place around here, Hello Bistro, and then we made lists and packed and packed.
These are the essentials. Yes, Bananagrams, Taboo, Cards, and Frisbees are essential.
Sunday - We scooped up a new friend from church, B, and drove straight from Pittsburgh to Mars Hill. It was about a 7.5 hours drive through some incredibly beautiful areas.
We also stopped at a wonderful place called Tamarack in WV and explored there a bit, thanks to a recommendation from our new friend, B!
It was an indoor art-fair is sorts, which also sold really delicious chicken pot pie. A personal favorite. 
Anyway, we had a great drive (thanks for your prayers for safety!) and we're looking forward to serving some great folks down in NC. Don't forget that this is a link up and I look forward to reading all of your updates as well!
Time to link up!
1. Char @ char|treuth  2. Kelly @ Walkin' on Sunshine  
Or use the new Add link method ?
(Submissions close in 1d 6h 7m)
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Cheers, -N