4 Day Weekends

I have thoroughly enjoyed this 4-day weekend, so much so that I really don’t want to go back to work tomorrow and get back to life as normal. Do you ever think that you need a 4-day weekend every week? I do. Normally we are so busy on weekends working, going to church and then you have to try to get some chores done, and before you know it the weekend is gone. And you haven’t done any of the things you really wanted to do with your days off. But not so this weekend.

We enjoyed a relaxing day on Thursday and then had Thanksgiving with the fam. I attempted to do Black Friday, but I am a total novice. If you really want to get the amazing deals (on electronics anyway) you have to really commit. You can’t partially commit and arrive at Target at 6:30 am, which I thought was respectably early, but alas no. All things worth getting up that early for were long gone. But I did get some good deals none-the-less, they would have been just as good later in the day after a full night’s sleep, but oh well :).

I then decided to work on a vintage cashmere coat that I found a few months ago. It was a little tent like and missing a button, so I decided to update it. I have been totally inspired by this girl in LA who has been doing this very thing for almost a year (Julie & Julia style) and recording it in her blog New Dress A Day. So I’m really excited about my coat and wanted to share it. I shortened the sleeves to make them 3/4 length, replaced the buttons and took in the sides to make it fit a little better.

What was even more amazing was that I started this project and finnished it all in the same day.

The weekend continued on Saturday when I made our post-Thanksgiving feast. I really wanted to make Thanksgiving for us, especially with it being our first one 🙂 so we decided to have some friends over and do Thanksgiving dinner again on Saturday. It was totally fun, and went really well. It was my first time cooking everything myself. Yay me! Then today was church, a photo shoot and a relaxing dinner and movie at home.

See what I mean…you really need a 4-day weekend if you want to be able to get anything done :). Hope you enjoyed yours too!

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From Bride to Bride

I’ve been wanting to do a post about all the things I learned from planning my do-it-yourself wedding and would do differently if I were to do it again. Hopefully this will be of some benefit to you brides planning right now. Of course, if you are anything like me you’ll just read this and say, but that was just her – my wedding will be different. 😉

I went into my wedding-planning taking all the things I’ve seen at weddings I’ve attended over the years and wanting to make mine the best of them all (as I think every bride plans!). My two major determining factors influencing the planning were the number of guests and the budget – the former being much larger, respectively, to the latter. I knew that if I wanted to get all my really important “non-negotiables” I’d need to cut cost by doing a lot of it myself, which is what I did. So for those of you thinking the same thing, here’s some advice bride to bride.

1. Establish Priorities: Decide what are the 3 most important elements of the wedding (and by wedding, I am of course including the reception as well). For me it was flowers, invitations and decor – I already had my dress, otherwise that would have been in the top 3 for sure. This will give you a priority list on where to spend your money, time and effort.

2. Be Realistic: Look realistically (as much as you can) at your vision and how much $ you have to make it happen. My vision was round tables with eiffel tower vase centerpieces containing real flowers on white linen table clothes with matching chair covers, lots of twinkle lights and tulle. For me that was a bit much – it all worked out, with my small army of helpers, but I think I would have been just as pleased with a much simpler (aka: cheaper and less time-consuming) centerpiece and still achieved the “look” I was envisioning.

3. On Doing Your Own Flowers: Don’t do your own flowers. My only caveat there would be if you have perhaps only 1 attendant apiece and no ushers, etc. As much as I enjoyed getting to create exactly what I wanted for my bouquet, and my bridesmaides, groomsmen, etc. it was SO stressful having to do all the flowers the day before the wedding! My suggestion would be to go fake if you can’t afford to have a professional do them or find a friend who knows how and have her be in charge of them. I really just needed to be resting that day and getting ready for the rehearsal dinner, hanging with my friends and fam, etc. instead I (with my small army of help 🙂 ) was creating 7 bouquets, 16 boutonnieres, 5 corsages and 20+ centerpieces as well as setting up and decorating the chairs and canopy for the ceremony and the tables for the reception. It was insanity, and I had a complete meltdown later that night, when it still wasn’t done after the rehearsal.

4. Connect with Guests: Do a receiving line – especially if you have a lot of guests. I know it’s cheesy – that’s exactly what we didn’t do one. But as it was, we didn’t get to see hardly anyone personally because we didn’t have one. Our plan was to go visit tables during the reception, but because of weather complications with our pictures we had to exit for about 15 min during the dinner for pics and a lot of people needed to leave shortly after we got back in.

5. Honeymoon Packing: Pack for the honeymoon early on in the week. I was up packing the night before and then again the morning of, and I was a wreck – I could barely remember what I should pack and if I had everything. It was just a huge stress that could have been totally avoided.

6. Transportation: Spend the money to hire transportation for the bridal party – especially if you have a large bridal party! (I had 6 attendants; Joel had 8!) This was something I figured I could totally skip the expense on, and everyone could just carpool from the ceremony to pics to the rehearsal. Bad idea. We had people getting lost, having to wait for everyone to arrive (cutting into already short time to take photos), plus on the return trip there was tornado weather (sirens going off, green sky and sheets of rain), so no one got back to the rehearsal at the same time – people were drenched and some had complete freak outs driving in that. It would have been much less stressful and quite fun to have had a bus or limo to take everyone – so worth the money. Definitely one of the biggest things I would do differently.

7. Day-Of Coordinator: Get someone to be your whole-day wedding coordinator. We had someone for the ceremony, but really I needed someone to be in charge of the timeline and event schedule for the whole day – someone not immediate family and not in the bridal party. As it was I was late getting ready (due to honeymooon packing and the ensuing emotional melt-down), late to getting pre-ceremony pics, forgot my vows (thankfully my pastor had a copy!), we forgot to ask our pastor to pray before the meal and basically I was just navigating telling people when things should happen during the reception. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, but on your wedding day, you don’t want to be in charge of anything! You need someone to manage it all. So either hire someone for the day or get an organized/leadership-gifted friend to do it for you! This is probably the biggest thing I would do differently; it would have been a huge stress reliever!

8. Invitations: What the invitations looked like was really important to me – it sets the whole tone and theme for the wedding. However, it is just a piece of paper that most people will just throw away! We decided to make our own because the only printed ones I found acceptable were out of my price range. And boy was it a project! I LOVED them, but it took so many hours of work to create and assemble them, plus after it was all said and done I’m not sure that we saved that much money after all. I calculated it would cost $ ______ dollars, and it was almost twice that much. So just know going into it that doing your own may or may not save you money, and it will certainly be a lot of work – especially if you are having a short engagement like I was.

I think those are all my pressing thoughts that I wanted to pass on to upcoming brides who will hopefully glean some tips and wisdom from mine (and others’) experiences. For those of you married, what tip would you pass on that you either loved about your day or wish you could have done differently?

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I’ve been thinking about the idea of community a lot lately – mostly because I notice a huge lack of it in my life. I came from a place that had a great sense of biblical community; it was actually a core value. And I know that was largely due to the leadership placing value on that and instilling it in people. I’ve never been on of those people that makes friends really easily – I just don’t have that outgoing sanguine personality, but I do LOVE people. I love being with people and doing things together – living life together. You know, community.

It’s challenging moving to a new place where everyone has their own sense of community, and you’re the new kid coming into that. It’s also challenging navigating this whole new thing of “being married” and figuring out alone time, couple time, individual friend time, couple friend time….my this is starting to sound like a counseling session! 😉 After a few months of being sad about my lack of community I finally got over myself and remembered what a good friend, Jessica Jackson, used to always tell me, “if you want friends, you need to be friendly”. In other words, I need to stop waiting for other people to reach out to me and be the one to initiate relationships – again, not my strong suit, but so worth it.

There is such strength and life to being in community with others of like mind and heart – it encourages growth, accountability, fun and reminds us we are not little islands unto ourselves – which is easy to forget when all that’s in our world is just us. I know I have a definite tendency toward that when I don’t have enough other people in my life, and that is not the person I want to be.

It’s so easy to point and say that other people should be the ones to change, the ones to do this or do that, but the simple fact of the matter is we can’t make anyone do anything other than ourselves. And I for one and tired of waiting for things to change – like it’s this mythical process that will one day “happen”. I am going to be the change I want to see – maybe it will catch on, maybe it won’t. But at least I can know that I have stopped being the victim and started taking responsibility for my own happiness/needs/etc.

I want community in my life not only to minister to me, but also so I can be a minister to others. It’s time to stop “waiting on the world to change” (as John Mayer sings) and go out and bring change into my world.

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Great Mouse Caper

So Sunday morning I wake up to this sound of tapping or squeaking, not really sure what it is, and the sound of the cat dashing around. In my half awake state I figure the cat is chasing a bug around the bathroom. No, no. As I discover when I actually get up later, he had caught a mouse and was playing with it. It is now lying on the rug by our bedroom door as a present. Good Aiden.

I cover it with tissue paper, so I don’t accidentally step on it – no way I’m touching it – and when Joel gets up I inform him that he can dispose of it. Which he does – because he is great like that 🙂 . And can I just diverge for a moment and say how awesome it is to have a husband to kill bugs and dispose of mice and such things?

So we’re getting ready for church and all of a sudden Joel says, “Babe, there were two. Aiden’s caught another one.” We got a mattress from my mom and it got ripped on the side seam when we brought it upstairs, and because I haven’t tackled the guest room yet, it has just been in there on the floor. Well the mice thought it might be a good place to get busy, if you know what I mean. So Aiden carried mouse #2 downstairs and proceeds to LET IT GO in the kitchen. It of course scurries under the fridge and despite our efforts of moving the fridge out and in several times, we can’t seem to get it to come out for Aiden to catch again.

Both cats are now stalking the mouse. We leave for church. I’m slightly terrified of the thought of a mouse loose in our kitchen, and possibly dying under the fridge or getting lodged in there some how. We get home and both cats are right where we left them. Oh great!

That evening the mouse decides to venture out (stupid, stupid) and of course Aiden catches her again – Joel seems to have decided the other one was a boy – only to let her go AGAIN this time in the living room. She quickly hides behind the bookshelf, so Joel proceeds to take out enough of the books to enable us to move the bookshelf. At this point I am on the couch yelling at Aiden for not just killing it. Aiden is not concerned at all about the mouse’s escape – he’s totally playing “cat and mouse” as it were. So I decide that we should open the door, so once Aiden catches the mouse we can put them both outside, and he can play with her OUTSIDE. However, once the door opens Aiden is gone – the outdoors are like a drug to him; he just can’t help himself.

So we get the mouse to run into the office where we (and by we I mean Joel – I helped make barriers once we knew where the mouse was) trap her in a corner and go get our other cat Gwyn. Joel actually puts Gwyn in front of the mouse, and she proceeds to run away. Total fail. Not to be thwarted though, Joel catches the mouse himself in a box and takes her outside far away into the woods. And that is how our Sunday went.

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Mini Domestic Goddess

I’m having a bit of a domestic goddess day. This must be how pregnant women feel when they are nesting. When we got home from church I made us some easy sandwiches for lunch before starting some bread in the bread machine.

Joel and I love bread, which is why we decided to get a bread machine with some of our wedding gift cards – why we didn’t think to register for one to begin with is beyond me, but oh well, we have one now. And I love it! All except for the fact that I can’t seem to get it to turn out a decent loaf of wheat bread – which Joel loves. I personally could eat white bread for the rest of my life and be perfectly content, but as I want to make things Joel loves too, in addition to wanting to be healthier myself, I am on a quest to make good wheat bread in our bread machine. So I looked up a recipe online  – I have given up on the recipes it came with after two completely inedible failures – hopefully the third time is a charm.

I then decided to try to make croutons out of one of the loaves of the driest, densest bread imaginable (wheat bread failure #2).  Then I whipped up our butter that I’ve been meaning to for days (I whip our butter with canola oil to make it spreadable). And while I am cleaning up, I decide that I really need to spray down the counter tops and scrub them up. In the midst of all of this I baked some cookies (I had previously made the dough and frozen it in portions because I really love fresh cookies) and finished folding our laundry. What a productive afternoon – if only every day was like this!

Now I am off to tackle cleaning my office/sewing room, which has been in shambles for oh….months. Talk to you later!

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Full of Promise

I’ve discovered something about myself. Or perhaps I’m just re-discovering something that has been there all along, but it has been buried for so long that I had forgotten about it…I love envisioning new things. Like LOVE it!

I love thinking about all the possibilities and how to make it all happen and what it will look like and how to grow it and what it’s impact will be. This totally energizes me. I’ve recently started dreaming about starting some new things, and it has me totally excited. At this point they are purely ideas; I have no clue if they will actually manifest. But I hope they do. Because dreaming about them makes me come alive.

Some people don’t like change. I can understand that – change is hard. It usually means giving up something of ourselves, and no one likes that. Even if what we are getting is worlds better, there’s still that little death to die…the death of the familiar. I like the idea of change when it means birthing something new – especially when that new thing is something that is lacking in our world.

I think that my generation has a deep need to take ownership of something in order to invest themselves in it. We like the idea of mine. Even if mine is also yours and  yours and yours…as long as my voice is heard, and I feel that my contribution makes a difference, I’m in. It’s part of how God made us. We long for adventure, for something that demands all of us, something bigger than us – something to live for, something to die for.

What makes you come alive? Sometimes finding it takes you by surprise. All of a sudden you’re doing something, and you just realize it. This is what I was made for. Max Lucado calls it your “sweet spot” (The Cure for the Common Life). It’s where what you’re good at intersects with what you’re passionate about. It’s where we ultimately want to live.

Have you taken any time to dream about your sweet spot, about what makes you come alive? Are you taking the plunge and learning to live there? Or have you gotten burned by disappointment and decided (whether consciously or not) that dreaming is far to painful a venture to be embarked on? I’ve been there. Many times.

When I get to that place I usually turn to the basics – what has made my heart sing before? For me it’s worship, certain books (generally by John Eldridge) and journaling. I find that when I go there, my wounds begin to heal, and I begin to get the passion and vision for dreaming again. It makes such a difference – and it fills you with hope. So go ahead, take some time to dream today!

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