Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More cute Ornaments

I have truly loved making ornaments and really believe it will be a new (maybe reborn is a better word, because we did this growing up a good bit) tradition. I made this ornament for my friends Hart and Vanessa because their anniversary is the same WEEK as Christmas. I call it...Love Birds!

Andrew wanted me to pain over their names and put ours on it instead.
Christmas Anniversary or not...I will be making this one again.

For a sweet 1 year old!
I love this...I can't wait to try owls and elephants.

Cassie LOVES horses...self explanatory.

Tis the Season to...Bake!

I'm a Christmas baby...well kind of. My birthday was December 11th (it's exactly two weeks before Christmas and 3 before New Years, so once I know what day my bday will fall on I also know what day those 2 holidays will be as well, you probably didn't care). I got the coolest Kitchenaid Mixer; which is perfect, because it's time to bake. I made Chocolate Chip cookies for a youth group girls spend the night on Saturday and woke up at 5:30 to bake Banana Nut Bread for my coworkers today.  (Vanessa, you would be happy to know my recipe calls for 1/2 tsp + dash of baking soda, hilarious...glad I have those new measuring spoons) Vanessa got me measuring spoons that measure a dash, smidgen, and ??? (can't remember the other thing), because they had a sailboat charm hanging from the ring. She knows I love everything sailboat; it's true! I also love teal, and I'm pretty picky about what shade of teal. It has to be the right balance of green and blue, and it never photographs well (you'll see). My husband knows this and got me a "Bay Leaf" Artisan Kitchenaid Mixer....hooray!

Ain't it purdy!

First batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies.
This is closer to true color.
Banana Nut Mini Loaves

P.S. I use the Nestle Chocolate Chip Recipe on the back of the
bag...that's actually the bag laying there under the measuring cup :)
But I used Publix brand chocolate chips...oh well!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ornament Making

A while back my mom, Andrew, and me went to the Carolina Craftsman Christmas Classic (seriously long title). I saw some ornaments that I thought were super cute. My mom, being way more artistic than I, said you don't need to buy those (like $20/ornament for the baby ornaments and $13 for the light ones) we can make those. Starting that next weekend we became ornament making machines!!! So far I've made 5 first Christmas ornaments, 7 couples lights, 3 candy canes, a horse, and a tractor, and two others I will post later. My mom has made some trains, santa's, and starts. It's called a bread dough ornament and consists of flour, salt, and water, molding into whatever you like, baking on low heat for several hours, and painting and glazing. This has been very inexpensive, however, I've spent a good bit of time on these.

Baby's First Christmas Ornaments
(I love these babies on their moons)
For the twins...Solomon and Micaiah

Christmas Lights...You turn me on!

I also did purple and orange lights for my Clemson family.
My nephew is obsessed with TRACTORS!

And something traditional...Candy Canes

More to come soon!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stationery card

Wishes Of Love Christmas Card
Send Christmas cards personalized with your favorite photos.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sleeping At Last

I have been getting more interested in music (again) lately. I went to see Breaking Dawn and fell in love with a lot of the music. I was like that with the O.C. you peeps out there who knew me in high school will remember. I could hear a song and tell you what episode it was from. I know, sick. For someone who is rather untalented at making music, I sure do love it, intensely.  I "shazamed" one of the songs during the movie, to find out it was "Turning Page" by Sleeping at Last. I read the lyrics to that song, and it is a beautiful imagery of marriage. "...nothing prepared me for what the privilege of being yours would do" & "I surrender who I've been for who you are, for nothing makes me stronger than your fragile heart". Each day I have a choice: to love my husband or myself more. If I deny my wants for his we both benefit. Have you ever been in an argument and not said something for the benefit of the other person...that's what I think about in that "fragile heart" line.

I know that you can tell the song was written for Twilight, which it was. But that is one thing I love about the imagery of Edwards sacrificial love for Bella. It's ridiculous, like Christ's love and sacrifice for us. Ridiculous that Jesus loved us that much. Nothing else will ever be that strong, but we love to watch movies, read books, and hear songs that allow us a glimpse at that. The world loves it, they just don't know why they do. Andrew asked me why I thought people loved Twilight...I think that's it...they want a love that's ridiculous and survives...well look no further Jesus did it. I have looked at a few other songs and they have some really neat lyrics..Night Must End. The lead singer/writer supports a foundation, "To Write Love on Her Arms" that helps fight depression. It seems that Night Must End is about that, but I have no proof. Disclaimer: I know nothing about that organization!

Pretty album artwork.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin- Pecan Cheesecake

It turned out fabulous. I left the pecans off the top...
just didn't feel like it. The recipe is linked above.

30 Days

30 Days to a Greater Happiness. I don't believe this to be dead on, but worthy of sharing. It caused me to reflect on how I spend my time, and to try and be a little more purposeful with some of my moments. Some of these things aren't dead on...I usually do not care for self-help stuff, but I will share some of what this provoked in my thoughts (in purple).
30 Days to Greater Happiness

1)Start a hobby. People who engage in captivating activities are more satisfied with life. Lose yourself (and your worries) by sewing, writing, cooking, or dancing.

I've been making Christmas ornaments lately with a simple recipe. I will share this recipe and some pics soon!

2) Get plenty of sleep. Keep a consistent sleep schedule and get 7-8 hours each night for more energy and less moodiness.

I worked nights for about 15 months...I never slept more than 6 hours and during that time I slept less and less. Before I finished, I slept only 4.5 hours before working 12 hours. During that time, I often wept, for no real reason, felt angered and saddened very easily. I started working days, got some real sleep, and within a week felt like my stable self again. I know the power of sleep.

3)Develop your spirituality. Research shows that people who are spiritual tend to be both happier and healthier than those who are not.Consider meditation, spiritual readings, prayer or other religious practices.

Does anything help you cope as much as unloading your burdens on your Heavenly Father? Me either. Scripture is dynamic...sometimes it's a cutting sword...empowering you to deny yourself, sometimes it is a soothing balm to a festering sore.

4) Cultivate friendships. The happiest people spend the least time alone. Attend social gatherings, host a party, and call your close friends to catch up as often as possible.

I do not 100% agree. I love some good alone time. I also, love people, but I am probably one of those people who can be content with either.

5) Take action. If you don't like your job or other life circumstances, make a plan and take charge. You create of your own reality, and you can change your life if you're unhappy. Start today!
You do not create your own reality...I'm sorry. The rest of that seems good.

6) Find meaningful work. The nature of your job isn't as important as how you approach it. A positive attitude and a focus on the meaning behind your work make it more rewarding.

7) Smile! Grinning, even if you don't feel happy, releases serotonin in the brain, instantly lifts your mood and makes you feel better. Plus, smiling people are viewed as sincere, attractive, and sociable.

This quote seems to apply in a philosophical way to both 6 and 7:
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”  - C.S. Lewis

8) Make time for yourself. Pursuing personal growth is just as important as spending time with others. Pencil in some "me" time, even if it's just a few minutes each day.

I would emphasize the "just a few minutes each day" of focusing on yourself. I like alone time, but typically not just focusing on myself.

9) Savor every bite. Eat in a calm environment and use all of your senses to explore the texture, smell, appearance and flavor of your food. You'll be more satisfied after every meal.

This seems like such a simple way to enjoy life more. I mean I love instead of eating more I should savor more.

10) Simplify your life. Unburden yourself of possessions that lock you in the "rat race" of earning more money to pay for more things you don't really need. Spend time and resources on things that add real meaning to your life.

This was ingrained in me at an early age. We always went through our clothes several times a year and weeded out the unworn or outgrown. This doesn't mean you aren't allowed to have sentimental items...just that they shouldn't be taking over your life or house.  My mom once said, "you can either have enough room for you or your stuff."

11) Start a journal. Use it to record positive experiences and things you are thankful for. Read your own words during times when you feel down to remember how fortunate you truly are.

Also nice to write down your prayer requests and how God has answered them.

12)Eat chocolate! Dark chocolate is healthy in moderation, but it can also increase well-being and boost your mood. Savor a small piece to satisfy that craving.


13) Be optimistic. A positive outlook is associated with better health, a longer life, and greater joy. When you look to the bright side and believe people are good, you directly increase your own happiness.

Don't be fake. But again the C.S. Lewis quote applies.

14) Exercise regularly. Physical activity produces "feel good chemicals" (endorphins) in the brain, which promote satisfaction and well-being. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, most days of the week.

I've been working on this...I got a bike for my anniversary and I've been riding the block and taking my walk/jogs in the woods with Gage. I would love just a few more minutes of daylight...not complaining though.

15) Don't compare yourself to others. Happy people judge themselves by their own yardsticks, never against what others do or have. Keep up with yourself-not the Joneses.

Yeah...if you won't a sober view of yourself look at the Cross. But remember that work has been applied to your life. That is what allows you to breath, knowing you have been saved from your self.

16) Play with your pet. Simply petting an animal can decrease anxiety, depression, and blood pressure. So give your pet a little extra attention and you'll increase your own calmness and pleasure.

Sweet Baby Gage we love you!
17) Forgive and forget. Refusing to forgive fosters anger and resentment, which makes your own life miserable. Let go and put your energy into something positive so that you can be happier. Beat stress.

Forgive as you have been forgiven. Bitterness drowns people...they lose their life to bitterness. Have you met bitter people...they are hard to be feel like you are constantly throwing life preservers and watching them swim away from them.

18) Help others. Sharing your time or talents with the less fortunate can help you appreciate how much you truly have and feel better about your circumstances.

This is a great time of year to also give, if you can, to those who may not be expecting a joyful Christmas season.

19) Beat stress. Life's difficulties can take a toll on your mood. But stress busters like exercising, talking to a
friend, and journaling can help clear your head and calm you down.

20) Get some sun. Sunlight improves your mood and can help prevent the onset of seasonal depression. Don't forget the SPF!

21)Maintain your health. The healthier you are, the more likely you are to be happy. Eating right, exercising, getting preventive care, and reducing your stress level can all enhance health and happiness.

22) Spend time outside. Getting closer to nature can help you feel more connected to the world at large. Spend time outside today walking, biking, picnicking, or raking, or planting a tree.

Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." This verse (and surrounding) is showing God's coming wrath and our lack of excuse, but it also states that "God's invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen, by what he has made"...When we were out West I remember just constantly thinking of how AWESOME God was and really being in AWE. Since I have been home, I've appreciated the beauty in nature here more too.  My Mom's Dad always said he felt closest to God in the woods.  I think I feel closest to God in breathtaking views of nature as well.  There is an overwhelming awareness of God's abilities to create-maintain-sustain, his power, his presence. I'm a country girl...I like the God made so much more than the man made.

23) Just say no. If you're already overworked and over scheduled, don't take on more tasks in order to please others. You have to remember to please yourself too.

24) Create a mantra. Does a particular word, phrase or quote make you feel better? Make it your mantra. Write it, think it, and repeat it any time you need a little perspective or a pick me-up.

In college, my entire nursing class seemed to have mild (or sometimes not so mild) panic/anxiety attacks before tests. Like every test...I remember sophomore year realizing it was a problem for me.  I knew I needed to do something. I found a picture of my niece, she was almost 3 then, she had jelly smeared on her face and a huge grin.  I also put two verses with the picture in the front of my binder:
Philippians 4:6-7 "6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Matthew 6:33 " But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Cassie was one of the few things that when I looked at her face, it would completely distract me, then I would focus on laying my anxieties on Christ and believing that his kingdom came first. I studied...I didn't just pray for A's, but I trusted and committed my studies to him. This helped so much for my anxiety. It still helps and has become my mantra to say these verses to myself.

25)Connect with your family. Make time for your loved ones, partner and children each day. Reminisce, celebrate, and just have fun together! Enrich your life with family memories for greater purpose and satisfaction.

Andrew and I have really enjoyed our families over the holidays. We've also started cutting back on TV (a little) he's pulled out his guitar some and we've been painting ornaments.

26) Do your best. Your accomplishments are important and deserve recognition, so be proud of a job well done. Mastering skills and meeting goals can increase your own self esteem and self-worth.

We should do everything to the best of our abilities, because God is our audience, not for recognition.  If you have noticed you may have lots of people who don't do their best in your office, working hard with a content attitude I believe shows who you are working for. "Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance." C.S. Lewis (I can't wait until heaven, I hope I run into him)

27) Grow a garden.Watching plants grow and thrive under you care is a great experience! Dig in with cheer, knowing you're beating stress, becoming more active, and surrounding your home with beauty.

I love it! It's so fun to watch plants grow...really! I'm also a little "granola, organic, tree-hugging, close-to-the-earth" b/c after all God made it, shouldn't we do our best to take care of it.

28) Make a donation. Clear the clutter in your home and give all those "extras" you don't use to someone who needs them. By downsizing, organizing and giving, you'll help yourself and others at the same time.

It feels good to get rid of stuff, and know that someone else that may need it can use it.

29) Laugh out loud. Visit a comedy club or watch a funny show. Laughing makes you feel good, so make time for fun and humor every day.

Slacker Radio...great app for this...Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, and Brian Regan are some of my favorites and for the most part pretty clean.

30) Ask for help--if you need it. If you feel unhappy most of the time, talk to a therapist, career counselor, or spiritual advisor to help you find what makes you happy.

We all need some help at some point.

Anyway, I just thought this stuff was kinda good. These are the posts my husband doesn't love...too many words, not enough pictures.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Excited about Thanksgiving!

I have been staring at the cover of Southern Living for weeks now...drooling over the Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake. We are having Thanksgiving with my sister and my side of the family. We are actually going to have the entire day over there...activities like baking together, walking in the woods, and enjoying time together, maybe even watching Elf. I hope you have wonderful plans for your day. Remember to remember all that you have to be thankful for. I know I have so many blessings that I forget to count. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Did you know?

Ok...this may be dumb to you, but did you know that you have to make adjustments when baking if you live at different altitudes? I had no idea!!! I was just at this site (food blog) and read this:

 "Hello, I currently attend a school in Colorado with an altitude up to 7,000. Could you offer any suggestions for baking at high altitudes? Maybe some standard measurements of conversion or tips? I would love to use some of your recipes. Thank you!"

hmmmph....who knew?

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Possible this might be the BEST WEEKEND EVER!

So...tonight Andrew and I are starting the evening with something yummy from downtown Columbia; we haven't picked the restuarant yet. Next we will be rocking, rolling, and just in general having a blast at the Taylor Swift Concert; Need to Breath will be there too, awesome!!! Tomorrow I'm going to see Breaking Dawn Part 1 with Miriam...yay!!! My excitement level is slightly dangerous right now.  Last night we went to Vista Lights and ate yummy food... and this morning I had "the stranger in the car ahead of me" buy my Starbucks.

Have you heard of that? WMHK 89.7, the Christian Radion station, must have this idea that they've put out. I'll attach the letter I think it explains it all.  Anyway, it was super amazing and made my day, which was hard considering it was already made. I was reminded that all we need to do is pay attention to others needs. It's not really that hard to serve God and our neighbors; we just need to wake up and look around.  Did you ever learn this prayer: Bless O Lord this food to our use, and us to thy service. Make us EVER MINDFUL of the NEEDS of OTHERS, in Jesus name, Amen. I have prayed that prayer who knows how many times in my life, but the older I get, the more I love that phrase...make us ever mindful...a constant awareness of others interests, cares, needs...pretty powerful for me. I feel that I'm ever mindful of my wants instead.  I loved this act of generosity; it made me greatful for a wonderful free cup of coffee, but more importantly it stirred me up. I need a lot more stirring. Have an amazing weekend...enjoy everything...especially this gorgeous crisp weather.

By the way...I did call in and report their generosity.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's kinda a funny/creepy story

I know I'm not ancient looking and love Twilight and Taylor Swift and hanging out with teenagers, but that doesn't mean I'm a teenager. It just means that there's still a teenager inside of me. Anyway, Andrew, my mom, and I attended the Carolina Christmas Classic or whatever you call it, at the State Fair Grounds. We had seen lots of stuff that reminded us of our nephews, but not much for our niece. She loves really loves them. We saw these blankets and one of them had a bunch (like maybe 12-16) of horses' silhouettes on it.  I thought it would be really cute, but wasn't sure how much it would cost.  I asked the lady and she said that was a demo blanket of all the horses she could do, and you pick one to accent. I said well I like them all together. She said, "they are 80 dollars a horse, but I would love to make you one. Just ask your Mommy and Daddy." what? Andrew and my Mom were standing a few feet away from me.  In what world could Andrew be my dad? So weird!

This weekend Andrew and I went on the Senior High Fall Retreat at Myrtle Beach.  I was with some kids on the beach hanging out playing music and it got too cold so we headed in.  They still wanted to play, so I went to ask a hotel worker if it was ok to use a common space, or was that not ok at all. He said, "not ok at all. Besides you are all supposed to be in your rooms at midnight." I guess he meant minors weren't allowed on the property at night alone??

In both situations I was too dumbfounded to say...hey I'm 25 years old.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

3 years of Pumpkins!

A couple of years ago, our good friends Miriam and Glen introduced me (not Andrew, he alread had some practice) to pumpkin carving. We've kind of made it a tradition to carve pumkins together.  Here are the last three years of our pumpkins. I've loved each of my pumpkins equally!

The First Year!

I took out the skull and crossbones to make it more of a sailboat...
Andrew's pumpkin was going more for the comedy portion!

Stop checking out my hubby's butt!
Year 2...

The one on the left is Andrew's.
This years pumpkins...I went with the Southern Living Oct 2010 design.
It's etched into the pumpkin instead of carved through.  Andrew went with traditional.
Every year I am the last one to finish my pumpkin...I turn into a bit of a perfectionist. Weird that pumpkin carving is what brings that out.

Rereading the Saga! I haven't been posting much, because all of my spare time has been involved with the Twilight Saga. I know it's embarrassing to say, but I love those books. I get sucked in everytime. A week and a half ago, I caught Twilight on FX and decided to reread the saga.  I forgot how sucked in to the story I get. Also, I realized that almost every song on the new Taylor Swift album could be inspired by those books. Anybody else think that? Probably wouldn't know since most of you aren't teenagers.  Apparently deep down, I still am.  Anyway...I will post some normal human things soon...maybe. I am pretty stoked that Andrew and I are going to the Taylor Swift concert on November 18th...also that's the day the next movie, Breaking Dawn (part 1), comes out.  Busy weekend...poor husband.  I also realized that for sure Eclipse is my least favorite in the saga.  Sorry Jessica! I would say from a Christian analytical perspective, the most dangerous part of the books is the dietizing of romantic love. What are your thoughts on this modern phenomena? I know that I enjoy reading the story, but I'm cautious of younger girls getting into them.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Southern Living

I recieved a subscription to Southern Living and I have loved it. They have so many amazing recipes: some easy, some more difficult. They had a recipe for Spinache and Artichoke dip in the October issue. We made it last night and loved it. We love the publix dip and it's very comparable. I would recommend maybe doing half the spinach instead of the whole package. Otherwise it's super creamy and delicious. Also, we did cut the mayonaise by half (probably even a little less than half) and used more sour cream instead. 
They also had a recipe for turnips that I'm hoping to try tonight.
Provided I can find some turnips...Publix was out last night.

Reading Three Cups of Tea and The Help

I've been reading a lot lately; not power reading but consistently. Man have there been some great books! Everytime I say, "man that's the best book I've ever read"; I start reading a new book that makes me think it again. I recently finished Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and thought "what a great story!" The man gives and gives, and the people are so wonderful. One of my favorite quotes for the book is, "When I die, I want to be all used up." A librarian who is on the board for building these schools wears a necklace with those words on it.  Tears instantly filled my eyes and my heart was overwhelmed with conviction. I thought "how powerful," she doesn't associate with any religion but has the mantra for her life to be busy and useful. I know the eternal hope that Jesus has given me, but what has it inspired me to do? Not enough. The book also addresses how many Americans have made most Middle-Easterners out to be Taliban related, at least in our minds. It's a better picture of what Islam and what many peoples' village life looks like. I'm not saying that I believe in Islam; in fact, I do not. I believe Jesus to be what he said he was, "the way, the truth, the life," NOT ONE of the ways or truths. It was beneficial to get another perspective of Islam in my head instead of the "bomb 'em all, let Allah sort them out" mentality that has been prevalent. Anyway, this book is definitely on my "Books I Recommend" list. This book is a mind-changer, even if it's not a life-changer. The story is informative, disheartening at times, and inspirational. As a spin off from this story I've picked up a book, Taliban by Ahmed Rashid and Christians and Muslims at the Table.

I finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett on Thursday. It is definitely another "best story I've ever read/seen/heard." I saw the movie, and I'd have to say, I've never seen another movie and book follow each other so closely. Many times it's word for word quotes from the book. Yet, when I read the book, after seeing the movie, it was not redundant at all.  In fact, halfway through I remember thinking, "I cannot wait to read this again." Throughout the story I felt that I could hardly relate to these "white women." I cannot imagine being raised to do no work and solely focus on entertaining myself and others.  If you know my Mama, you know she goes to sleep tired, because she accomplishes much with each day.  Their lifestyle seems foreign. I don't want to be insensitive and say that I understand what it would be like to be treated differently/less because of my skin color. I do not. I probably will never be able to, but this story makes you imagine that. Kathryn Stockett says that trying to understand these chasms are essential. I completely am on board. I know that I can't reach Holiness, but it's my duty and delight to "work out my salvation with fear and trembling."(Phil 2:12) Honestly, I think this book should be part of church curriculum, if for nothing else than to start the conversation about modern race issues. The gospel is the great equalizer, because we know that we were ALL made in God's image and have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Genesis 1:27 & Romans 3:23)

On a lighter note, while reading I felt closer to the "help" and "Skeeter". I couldn't believe they cleaned the windows every four weeks. We have been out of town a lot and so busy when home that, my home hasn't felt like the home I try to keep. After reading that chapter where Minnie outlines her cleaning habits, I went and started cleaning the windows in our bedroom -- it's a start.

I loved this book; I loved the movie. I'ts one of the best stories I will ever hear.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Today is our 3rd anniversary. I'm so thankful that God doesn't always give you what you think is best for you. We've been talking about relationships in my youth group small group, and many people like to write a list of the things they want in a mate.  Well, I've realized that if I would have written down what I wanted, it wouldn't have been Andrew.  I would have written down characteristics of me, and two of me would be obnoxious. I'm glad God knew better than me. I love you, Andrew. I'm glad I have Andrew to learn how to be grown ups with. I'm glad he's fun and energetic and teaches me how to not be too serious about everything. I love that when we met in college, i was lonely and he felt like home, like family. We became best friends. Thanks for being my best friend for seven years and becoming my family. Thanks for knowing our potential and significance before I did. We've enjoyed our three years of marriage and the excitement it's brought and look forward to this coming year and all the rest.     

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Itinerary

I thought since I didn't show pictures of every thing we visited I would give you a day by day itinerary. 

Day 1
Leave Cola - 4 hour layover in Chicago
Arrived in Sea-Tac around 2pm. Grab rental car and head to Snoqualmie Falls less than an hour north of Seattle.
Enjoy the view. Eat dinner in the quaint little town of Snoqualmie. Andrew said life seemed better in this town. I agree. Families were enjoying each would be a great place to raise a family. Then we drove south to Mt. St. Helens.

Day 2
Visit Mt. St. Helens and we made several stops around their. A viewpoint that had a trail in the woods and a place to get out on the river where men were fly fishing. Drive to Portland, walked around water front park and went to Saturday Market.

Day 3
Mt. Hood/ Columbia River Scenic highway - Horsetail Falls, Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Gorge, Crowne Point, Bonneville Dam, Barlow Pass (part of the Oregon Trail). Drive south to Smith Rock St. Park.

Day 4
Smith Rock State Park - spend the morning - drive to the beach around Newport. Put my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time.  Drive to Depoe Bay.

Day 5
Drive leisurely towards Cannon Beach...stopping to look at tons of lookout points.  Take 3 capes scenic drive around Capes Meares and stop to see the light house.  It was so foggy you couldn't see the ocean.  We got to Cannon Beach and absolutely loved it. It wasn't foggy, but was chilly.  Drive north to well.

Day 6
Drive to Hoh Rainforest in the Olympic National Forest/Park.  See ferns that were almost waist high. Very lush and green and had some trees as tall as the Redwoods. P.S. we didn't go to the Redwoods b/c we wanted to be able to take our time on the coast and get to see the Olympic Peninsula.  Then we make our way to Forks (for me) and Rialto Beach and Port Angeles. It was my mini Twilight tour. 

Day 7
Drive to the bay that separates the olympic peninsula from the Seattle area, take the ferry. We went to Chateau St. Michelle and toured the winery.  Had a nice little tasting and we learned a ton.  Did you know that they have to stir the barrels and test the wine three times a day. Crazy right? The grounds were beautiful. the we headed to Seattle and walked around a bit to get our bearings.  We actually went to see a movie...we were exhausted and just wanted to veg out. 

Day 8
Go to Pike's Place eat breakfast and walk around.  Walked to the Space Needle for lunch. Walked back to the market. We loved that place.  We loved many of the goods for sale...soap, leather books, the flowers were amazing and cheap, fresh fruit, and of course fresh seafood, the original Starbucks, I mean what's not to love. We did a go shopping...we went to Northface, Patagonia, Columbia, and Mountain Hardwear.  We loved clothes, but were like um no. We did make two purchases...a bag from Northface to replace one of the bags I was carrying that ripped. A purple and orange sweatshirt for Andrew's sister's bday.  Then we ate at Pike's Place Chinese Cuisene and caught the Mariner's game.  Andrew loved the game...a sweet fan let me use their blanket cause I was freezing and then I loved it too. 

Day 9
Pike's Place for breakfast and then we headed out to Snoqualmie again. We loved this place too. We spent much of the day here reading, and relaxing, and enjoying the view. We then ate dinner at a little brewery with great food. Then headed to spend the night close to the airport. 

Day 10
Travel day. United/Continental employees in Houston severely disappointed us. We made it to Charlotte around 7pm and then to Columbia to get our luggage and were home around 10:30.  Not too bad.  It's a Sue and Paul story, but theirs is better. They have the worst/funniest honeymoon story ever. This day was very sad anyway, due to the horrible loss 10 years ago.

P.S. It took us a full week to sleep well again...crazy! Totally worth it...if you have the opportunity, take this trip.  I told Andrew somewhere around day 5 that everything made me think about God. There is something about being surrounded by the beauty of our Creator that expands your understanding of Him.  He is way more complex than we can imagine, and His beauty is magnificent.

Pacific NW Awards

I'm sorry I haven't posted until now, but if you checked out facebook you've seen the best part.  We came home Sunday Sept 11 and returned to work the next day. We missed a flight that day and got home later that we had planned.  It was a dramatic day for us, more for me, but it didn't overshadow our amazing time.  We saw so many amazing sights that I decided the best way to post would be to give awards.

Best Hotel we stayed in (keep in mind we were traveling on a budget)
The Downtown Hotel in Port Angeles, WA
This hotel was definitely affordable and had a great quaint feeling. One thing that was unique...they had some shared baths. I know it was almost a deal breaker for me too, but they let us tour before we agreed. It was the cleanest bathroom and there were four of them, so you were never waiting.  We actually stayed in a place like that in Seattle, the Moore Hotel. The great thing about both of these hotels is that they were in great locations for walking to everything you wanted.  Also, they both also had rooms that had on suite bathrooms, those rooms were all booked.  We also really liked Mt. St. Helens' Hotel, and Pacific Crown Hotel.  

Worst Hotel we stayed in...
The Hub Motel

We weren't even comfortable taking our shoes off, but the shower pressure was perfect. The sights the next day completely made up for it, but we definitely got an early start!

The best food we ate...
Andrew - One Eyed Crab in Westport, WA -he ate the seafood boil, clams, prawns, and crab legs in a seafood broth - Andrew said it was one of the best flavors he's ever had in his mouth.
Me - Seafood Chowder at same place - clam chowder with prawns and crab meat (maybe some other was great) It was so cold on the coast (like it dipped into the high 50s and was misty) that all I wanted was totally hit the spot. We don't have a pic of the restaurant, but here's one of Westport. Just a little fishing town, that totally shut down in the evening. 
We enjoyed walking around the waterfront and looking at the boats.
We also enjoyed all of our food on this trip.  We had some great locally made hummus from 
Cannon Beach, OR and some Tillamook Cheese and icecream. We loved eating breakfast in Pike Place Market while in Seattle. We would grab starbucks and then grab these awesome fresh donuts and fresh berries. I'm definitely not a city person, but I loved the market. It was my favorite thing about Seattle.  Oh my gosh I forgot to tell you about this amazing Gelato we had in Seattle.  It was salted caramel and the lady recommended pairing it with dark chocolate...amazing and different. Also, I had the best chinese food ever at the Pike Place Chinese Cuisine.

Worst Food...
or beverage...the Chicago airport Starbucks...gross! They gave me the light syrup( I assume) and I hate sugar substitutes. 

Best View...
We saw so many amazing sites...the best was the Oneonta Gorge off of the Columbia River scenic highway outside of Portland.  It was amazing...I'm sorry none of our pictures do any of the views justice.

You had to climb over these trees, that were jammed in the gorge, to be able to walk along the river bed in the gorge. It kind of freaked me out, but was totally worth it.

Ugliest view...
A man in Seattle was walking and his pants just slid down to about his knees. He kept walk for a while before he noticed it. Fortunately his shirt covered the important stuff.

Best Beach...
It's a tie between Cannon Beach, OR and Rialto Beach, WA.
There were no ugly beaches.

Rialto Beach has black sand and is full of small smooth pebbles.

 I sat here for a while and just loved it. The waves were so big compared to South Carolina waves.

Best Park...
Again we can't complain about this area. Smith Rock State Park was amazing. On the way to Smith Rock we went from evergreens in a national forest to prairie to almost high desert.

FYI...when driving on this trip you couldn't go more than 10 minutes in Oregon without seeing campsites and state parks.  It was awesome. We definitely want to go back and camp.

Best Bridge...
Not sure if we know a name, so I'll just show you the bridge (it was close to Smith Rock State Park)

We also got to see this train was neat.

Best Waterfall...
Snoqualmie Falls, WA close seconds were Multnomah and the other one in the Columbia River scenic Highway.

I thought this would be a less overwhelming way to share some of our trip.  Again, if you haven't checked out facebook...please do. We have so many more pictures there.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On the Road

We are having an amazing trip. Every night we find a place to stay, and I crash. I'm so exhausted (the good kind). If you would like to see what we've seen so far, you can check out Facebook. Andrew has better endurance and has loaded pictures daily. The landscape is truly phenomenal. Hope everyone is having a good week. One comment I'll say is, there are a lot of Lewis and Clark landmarks out here. I think about the terrain and what it must have been like to trek without roads. I'm amazed. They didn't have northface or columbia or whatever outdoorsy gear we have in modern times. They were AMAZING! I never thought too much of them, when I learned about them in school, but I have a newfound respect. Andrew and I both have thought that and would like to reread about them.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Three Cups of Tea

I have had Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin for about 8 months. I have been interested in the story but had trouble discipling myself to get into it. Do you have that problem after reading several easy fiction stories? Even if it's good, it's just tough to read something more intelligible. No? Maybe that's only me. Well, I finally got past the fact that I don't know where the places are or what the terrain looks like. It makes it difficult to place yourself in the story an really take it in. Again maybe you don't read in this manner. Greg Mortenson's life is fascinating; he grew up the child of Lutheran missionaries in Tanzania. He loved mountaineering and just sounds like an earthy guy which usually interests me. His life is an adventure. I haven't quote made it to the more political part of the book, but so far I'm thoroughly enjoying his story. his passionate life convicts you of your Americanism which typically forgets the life of service we are called to. I say this as I sit in an airport waiting for my next flight while on vacation. It has been really moving and makes me aware I have one life... It should count for something. I hope my life will count for more than humanitarian efforts. I hope it counts for the Kingdom of God and man. I recommend this book, so far at least.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Counterfeit Gods

I just finished. I've been reading this Tim Keller book for probably 5 months. It has taken me a while to read it and, I can't exactly figure out why. I've enjoyed the entire book. It's been challenging (in that good way), thought provoking, and I enjoy the way Keller writes.

When I first started reading the book, it immediately pointed out that I've made good things god things. Like having a house that I want to be nice turned into consuming thoughts about expensive kitchen renovations. I mean I would strategize how long we needed to save to be able to afford it, almost daily. I realized that I had made an ok goal into a thing I needed to be happy. This book confronts you with the truth, the gospel. Jesus is everything. The gospel changes are hearts. It doesn't happen once when we are "saved", but every time the gospel interacts with our sin and desires. It changed my heart. I am ok if I never get my dream kitchen. It's good to remember that I have a great gift in my husband, family, friends, and even possessions, but I have all in Christ.

There were some sections of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The chapter on politics and the section on race. Keller talks about how we've tried to make our politics our savior. Then he talks about how we believe our own culture is better than others and how the gospel is the great equalizer. Keller speaks with very strong language on this issue. I recently saw The Help and plan to read it soon, and it is one of the best, most moving stories I've ever seen. It reopened my eyes to some cultural issues that aren't as tidy as we all like to believe. It also made me examine segregation(I'm not only referring to racial segregation) in the church.  I won't say much, but go see the movie and or read The Help. Read this book and let the gospel transform your heart and your cultural beliefs. 

At the end of the book, Keller gives us tests to determine our idols.  He asks what does your mind wander off about? Where do you spend your money? What is your real functional salvation - meaning when you pray and work hard for something and you don't get it and your response is despair - "you've found your real god".  And finally, look at your "uncontrollable emotions": anger, fear, despair, and guilt. You can examine these by asking, "Is there something here too important to me, something I must have at all costs? Am I so scared, because something in my life is being threatened that I think is a necessity when it is not?"

So even though it took a while it was a great read. I recommend Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

7 days

We have 7 days of work left before we leave on probably this biggest adventure Andrew and I have ever been on. Just in case you are wondering what our adventure is going to look like, I decided to post a photo itinerary.

We will fly into Seattle and go see Snoqualmie Falls:

The next day we see Mt. St. Helens and then head to Portland:

Then we're off to the Mt. Hood Loop, to include: Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Gorge, and the Bonneville Dam

Next we'll see Smith Rock State Park:

Then we will visit Redwood National and State Parks:

Then we will drive the scenic highway 101 stopping to see Cannon Beach.

 Our trip ends with 2 days in Seattle.

We will cover at least 1800 miles! I'm getting to the point where I'm thinking about it all the time. I actually want to pack my bags now! I hope we get phenomenal photos to share with you all!