Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Little Letters // November 2017


*These little letters are all from the same crazy/beautiful day when Dan & I decided to get back into our wedding attire & take some photos I'd been dreaming of but never got back when we were 1st wed a little over a year ago...

November 18, 2017

Dear Dan,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for not fainting on the side of the road with only me in my wedding dress to catch you.  I just don't think your little wife has that kind of upper body strength.  I'm so sorry you twisted your ankle while running towards the railroad tracks in your nice suit to get our pictures taken.  I'm doubly sorry it made you feel nauseous & see spots {again, thanks for not fainting}.  Thanks for rallying & taking pictures after a few minutes rest back in the car, too.  You are the bestest husband!  I think one day we will look back at this whole thing & laugh.

Your Loving Wife,
Laura

✉ ⏩

Dear Sheriff,

Thanks for not taking us in when you found our car parked on the side of the road + us in our wedding attire taking pictures out on the railroad tracks.  You were very understanding about the whole thing.

Kindest Regards & Sincerest Thanks,
Laura + Dan

✉ ⏩

Dear Elderly Couple Driving By,

Thank you for tooting your horn + calling out, "God bless you two!" as you drove past & saw the crazy sight of my husband in his suit & me in my wedding gown out on the side of the road.  Although you couldn't have known we'd already been married a year, you made us smile.  We pray to one day be that elderly couple with a lifetime of memories together, wishing another young couple best wishes, too.

Blessings,
Laura + Dan

✉ ⏩

Dear Sweet Photographer Lady + Daughter,

After the ankle twisting, then sheriff visit, we were a little unsure when we saw you get out of your car & walk towards us down the railroad track.  How grateful we were when we heard you call out that you didn't want to bother us, but just help us because you were a photographer!  Thank you for offering to go back home & get your camera, but the photos you took with Dan's phone were just as beautiful as any we could have hoped for.  You & your sweet daughter helped me move around in my bulky gown & capture memories that will last a lifetime {not least including the sweet memory of your overflowing kindness}.  You made our day!!!

Sincerely,
Laura + Dan

✉ ⏩

Click here to view a few of my favorite photos from that crazy/beautiful day!

Once Upon an Autumn Day...

 







I'd been dreaming of taking wedding pictures on this lovely piece of railroad track for over a year now.  Last Saturday, we got our wedding things back on & finally made it happen!  Click here for more of the story on the misadventure {& adventure} of that lovely autumn day!

Monday, November 20, 2017

DIY Thankfulness Tree


Whether you're hosting a gathering this week & need something simple + festive to spruce your place up, or you're just looking to start a new tradition at your house, this DIY couldn't be simpler. 

Gather small branches & twigs from outside, arrange in a canning jar, & hang decorative tags with blessings written on.  Place a small decorative plate or basket {or whatever you wish} with more tags + a Sharpie or two so guests/family can add their own to the tree.

Praying your Thanksgiving is full of moments where you stop & count up all your blessings!


"Every good & perfect gift is from above..." -James 1:17

Sunday, November 19, 2017

31 {Random} Things About Me

I celebrated my 31st birthday earlier in the month, so I thought I'd share 31 completely random things about me.  Here goes...

1. I became a Christian at age 16 & Jesus is my sweet Savior & most awesome Lord.  I am still amazed I get to call the Creator of the universe Dad!
2. I own a Hello Kitty toaster {& my husband is just fine with that}. 😻
3. Dan & I went to Arizona for our 1st anniversary this year!
4. I met my husband online.  Something I said I'd never ever do.  EverHa ha.
5. I'm a TN girl through & through.
6. I have a thing for Dollar Trees.  Strange, but true.
7. Autumn is my favorite {followed by spring}.
8. Romans is my favorite book of the Bible.
9. My favorite verse is Psalm 27:13, "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."
10. My husband turned me into a Star Wars fan!
11. I once got locked in my apartment's swimming pool & had to crawl/squeeze under a fence to escape.
12. I traveled to Scotland completely solo when I was 20.
13. I went back again to visit England {again completely solo} when I was 24.
14. I've waded in Loch Ness.
15. I shopped Notting Hill's Portobello Road Market in London.
16. It's on my bucket list to solve a mystery, ride in a hot air balloon, & swim in a fountain.
17. I grew up on Disney, & Ariel & Rapunzel are my favorite princesses.
18. Last year, one of my Christmas gifts was tickets to see the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid.
19. I don't like seafood or salad.
20. I'm the youngest in my family & my husband is an only child.
21. I have 3 sweet nephews + 1 sweet great-nephew, & I 1st became an aunt when I was 4!  P.S.: This means my oldest sister is a grandma!  Say what!?
22. Target's Dollar Spot is my fave!
23. Ice cream is my weakness.
24. Sara Groves' songs are my favorite.
25. My 1st paying job was at my city's downtown public library.
26. We spent our honeymoon at the happiest place on Earth.
27. My Crock Pot is my kitchen bestie.
28. I played the violin from 5th grade through the end of high school.
29. Christmas is my favorite holiday {hands down}!
30. I have an elementary education degree to teach grades K-6th.
31. I love the retro TV show That Girl with Marlo Thomas.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Date Night Ideas // November 2017


💑 Make a list separately {'cause you both might need some thinking time to get your feelings down} of things that make you thankful for each other, then get together & share them over coffee {or whatever you both like}.

💑 Go fill a shoe box together for Operation Christmas Child {Nov. 13th - 20th}!

💑 Find more ways to get out & serve together.  Soup kitchens, nursing homes, churches, & children's hospitals are always on the lookout for fresh volunteers.

💑 Get in the kitchen & bake a pie together for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving.

💑 Go check out something theatrical together.  Investigate what your area has to offer.  Whether it's a play, poetry reading, or concert... make it a date!

💑 Have a fancy dress up date & get all dolled up.  You don't have to spend tons, just 'cause you're dressed snazzy.  Sometimes just walking around downtown hand-in-hand in the evening & making all the passersby wonder what you 2 are up to looking like you do is enough.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Random Rambles {11.02.2017}

"Control" by Tenth Avenue North - man, this song is speaking to me deep today.  This is my new anthem.  Take a listen here.

▶ I confess, all the Christmas things hitting the stores are making me kinda giddy.

▶ McCormick's slow cookers chicken tortilla soup seasoning mix I randomly picked up at the Dollar Tree the other day, helped me make the most delicious soup ever.  Highly recommend to all my fellow Crock Potters!

▶ My birthday is just 3 little days away.

▶ Dan won a homemade chocolate cake in our church's fall festival, & needless to say it is serious deliciousness {+ I've now claimed it for my birthday cake}.

▶ I want to be wise with my time always, but especially this time of year when WHAM everybody's schedules & to-do lists just grew exponentially over night.  I want to be less rushed & frazzled & more present & rejoicing this holiday season.  Sounds lovely, now to actually go & do it...  God, grant me Your strength + peace.

Last year it did not happen, but 2017 is the year we send out our 1st Christmas cards...  I hope...  Or, at least, I'd like to...  We'll see.  Definitely... Maybe.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Monthly Recap // October 2017

➴   ➶   ➴   ➶   ➴   ➶   ➴   ➶   ➴


 Traveled to TN to catch up with some family time + we got to stay a night in my mom & stepdad's cabin.

 Visited stunning Cloudland Canyon & hiked around a bit.

 Wandered around Prater's Mill Country Fair with Dan + my family {+ we might have kissed on a tractor}.

 Went pumpkin shopping together + came home with a couple baby gourd pumpkins.

 Celebrated Dan's b-day with cake, gifts, & a fancy date out to a new restaurant for dinner then ice cream after.

 Hosted a Star Wars movie night + dinner at our place.

 Dressed up together for the 1st time this year for our church's fall festival {+ I DIYed the costumes}.  We were an Oreo cookie!

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Few of My Favorite {Autumn} Things...

A Few of My Faves {Autumn Edition}


1. yummy fall scented candle - You can find this vanilla pumpkin marshmallow 3-wick one at Bath & Body Works.

2. jewel-toned & earth-toned nail polish - These colors just feel like autumn to me.  Find your faves at your local drug store.

3. cozy fragrance spray - Another Bath & Body Works pick, this scent is a warm blend of birch, argan, vanilla, & rum - so cozy!

4. warm throw - You can't go wrong with a snug/soft throw, like this popcorn knit one from Target.

5. floppy wool hat - Keep your hair in check on those blustery fall days.  Walmart has some super cute options for around $14!

What's on your autumn faves list?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 18


1,165. how he said, "You're precious to me," & wrapped his arms around me this morning
1,172. that he laughs at my crazy
1,173. the blessing of employment
1,178. a dusk into dark walk by the lake - complete with lightning bugs
1,185. Your patient love & overwhelming mercy with Your daughter, O Father God
1,206. that You answered ours prayers & my uncle's family is safe in Puerto Rico
1,213. butterflies
1,221. a husband who drops everything & comes rushing in to hug me close when he gets home, because he heard my fears on the phone earlier
1,237. picking wildflowers at the park
1,245. that it's fall

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Heart + Soul Check-Up


I notice something when I haven't been writing down the gifts - all the rich blessings tiny, big, & all the in between that I began when I first read Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts a couple years ago now...  My mind & heart focus on all that has gone wrong & is wrong & will probably be wrong or could possibly be wrong, & deep inside the troll cave I've turned into my mind I'm alone & overthinking every little thing & stuck in the muck that I over-analyzed & zoom-magnified into... & it is dark & scary & devastating & I am broken there & I forget who I am in Christ, & that Christ is in me.  Let's soak that in for a mere moment {or a thousand}: Christ is in me.  Thus, can't I do all things {Philippians 4:13}?  Hasn't He given me what I need through the gift of the Holy Spirit {2 Timothy 1:7}?  And with prayer - not worry - can't I talk to Him about what is hurting my heart {Philippians 4:6}?

Sometimes I just need to do a gratefulness heart & soul check-up to see where I'm laying the focus in my circumstances.  To see if I'm counting up the gifts or the fears & worries.  To see where I'm fixing my gaze.  To see if I'm fixing my eyes on Jesus who gave it all for me {Hebrews 12:2}.  Who better to trust my life with, than the giver of every good gift {James 1:17}?  Who better to look to when the doubts start piling up in my noggin?  He is the truest source of joy {He created it, after all} that never fades in this temporary, passing life, & sometimes the best place to start remembering that is to start looking around with new eyes & counting every gift.

This girl definitely needed that check-up tonight, too.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Happy Friday!


"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
-L.M. Montgomery

Thursday, October 19, 2017

3 Sentence Love Story


Recently I came across the idea of the 3 sentence love story, & I thought today would be the perfect day to share ours {just 'cause}...


It started with prayer + fingers on the keyboards of our computers - even though I had kinda told myself fiercely I would not do the online dating route.  

"Novel e-mails" began between us, then phone calls, then visits to each others cities, & all the hard + beautiful stuff of long distance like growing into love.  

You asked for me forever beside the tree where you carved our names, & we both promised a covenant of a lifetime outside on a sunny beauty of a day in September, & today we are living it out with all the messy truths + hardships + amazing-ness that comes with reality in this world where we choose to lean hard on our savior Jesus.


That's our story in tiny form... & the beauty is it's still unfolding into more.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Big Bad "D" Word: Debt


I am one of the thrifty.  You may well laugh at us & our frugal means.  Coupon clipping & waiting until movies have been out long enough that they move 'em to I what I affectionately dub "the cheap theater" {I hope your town has one}, checking out books {& DVDs!} from the local library instead of buying, & the like.  But, laugh all you will, I never had one iota of debt.  That is, until I got married & inherited my husbands'.  Student loans & personal loans & credit cards had all snowballed into a pretty fierce & ultra-scary snow monster!  My husband's debt was a tough thing for this debt-less girl to handle.  Of course, I knew while dating that this snow monster existed in my then-boyfriend's life, & my entire relationship was bathed - no, drenched - in prayer, & I felt God say yes.  {In the end, all us imperfect ones {ahem, everybody}, we all bring baggage into marriage (monetary, emotional, & otherwise).  Thank You, Jesus, for being able to carry our loads & free us up to love {again, imperfectly, & through Your power}!}

Now that we're fighting this bad debt dude together, it's definitely proven true Ecclesiastes 4:9 {in so many areas of marriage/relationships, in fact}! {FYI, this verse is an even dearer example.  Jesus + Dan + Laura = mighty power in Him!}  What has really been a tremendous help to us is implementing the Debt Snowball Calculator from the faith-based organization Crown Financial Ministries.  It's a free resource that lets you plug-in your current debt + interest rates + what you currently pay {& if you have any extra moola each month to add in} & it calculates perfectly how long it will take to pay off  + how much you need to pay each month to get to that amazing place of debt freedom.  It includes printable charts of exactly what you should be paying every month to reach your goal in said amount of time.  We've been loving being able to pay above & beyond {Thank You, Jesus!} what it says some months & seeing the numbers on those loans & cards shrink down drastically!  God is so good!

In the debt boat with us?  I hope this tool will help you, too!  Not in debt?  First off, congrats!  Secondly, there are even more helpful calculators & tools at Crown.org.  Give 'em a visit!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Currently {October 2017}


💮 Enjoying... the crisp chill in the air {it finally arrived here in the south}, picking wildflowers on park walks, the yummy smell permeating our apt. from our pumpkin pecan waffles wallflower fragrance bulb {Bath & Body Works}, & the joy in the now + the hope of the future.

💮 Watching... the newest episode of the Star Wars Rebels cartoon {because my husband is the biggest SW fan ever + he won me over} & Extinct {we've just started this one, but I'm already intrigued}.

💮 Wearing... my tall boots for the 1st time this season + tights + warm/cozy stuff.

💮 Excited... to make our 1st homemade couples costume {we're gonna be an Oreo cookie} + help in our church's fall festival at the end of this month.

💮 Praising Him... for safe travels while visiting my family in TN this past weekend + His patient forbearing love that still just plain blows my mind daily.  Help me to be more like You, dear Father, I pray.

💮 Eating... the Mystery Oreos.  Very interesting...  I think I like 'em!

💮 Working on... finishing cleaning up our apt., pumpkin decorating, & beautifying/restoring my heart {the last one's the most important & while only God can bring the beautiful full restoration work needed, I'm working on my part along with Him}.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Honeymoon // Magic Kingdom


Magic Kingdom is hands down my favorite Disney park.  It speaks to the Disney princess dreams of my childhood {&, let's be honest, my adulthood, too}!

What We Got to Do/See:
  • Astro Orbiter {1st ride of the day, 'cause it was a super short line}
  • The Barnstormer {we rode this one in the rain}
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
  • Country Bear Jamboree {I have to say, aspects of this show seems utterly bizarre to me}
  • Haunted Mansion {twice!}
  • "It's a Small World..."
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain {Dan solo}
  • Splash Mountain
  • Stitch's Great Escape
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Tomorrowland's People Mover
  • Under the Sea: The Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress
  • The Hall of Presidents
  • Electrical Parade
  • Wishes Nighttime Spectacular Fireworks Show

Magic Kingdom Favorites:
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress {love this classic ride}
  • Haunted Mansion {Dan had never been on this one & we ended up riding it twice (it's always been a top fave of mine & he loved it, too)}
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • "It's a Small World..."
  • Dole Whips
  • getting a special seat to see the Electrical Parade

Where We Ate:
  • Aloha Isle {three words: Dole Whip floats}
  • Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe
  • Liberty Tree Tavern

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Honeymoon // Hollywood Studios


This place turned my husband into a giddy little boy & I will never forget all his smiles.  Dan really is the biggest Star Wars fan ever & Hollywood Studios was like a dream.  We are eagerly anticipating the new Star Wars Land coming in 2019!

What We Got to See/Do:
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster {Dan solo}
  • Star Tours - The Adventures Continue {2 or 3 times}
  • Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Star Wars Launch Bay Theater
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Beauty & the Beast Live Show
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • March of the First Order
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks Show

Where We Ate:
  • ABC Commissary

Hollywood Studios Favorites:
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Beauty & the Beast Live Show
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • seeing Dan's face light up at all the new Star Wars stuff
  • getting to meet Chewbacca & Kylo Ren {After meeting KR, we exited the private photo meet-in-greet area behind a curtain, we weren't sure which way to go - & I guess we took a little too long figuring it out - because all of a sudden Kylo Ren sweeps aside the curtain & comes at us all menacingly {like a guy who would kill his own father} & I push Dan {& {just} maybe let out a small terrified shriek} & we go into hyper speed to escape!}

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Honeymoon // EPCOT


A little over a year ago, Dan & I spent a magical honeymoon week in Orlando, Florida.  EPCOT was the 1st park stop on our trip.  I hadn't been since I was a little thing {but it's amazing how I could totally remember the smell in the Spaceship Earth ride (&, you guys, it smelled the same)}.  Dan's favorite ride, Mission Space, is also found here {which I had no desire to get on (cough, cough - too chicken), but he rode twice (or maybe 3 times) solo}. 

What We Got to Do/See:
  • The American Adventure
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Ellen's Energy Adventure {2 words: don't go}
  • Frozen Ever After {1st ride of the day}
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Cabballeros
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land {slow & restful ride}
  • Mission Space {Dan solo (2 or 3 times)}
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Soarin' {my new fave}
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track {Dan solo}
  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth Fireworks Show {this is so well done & beautiful & I literally almost cried}

Where We Ate:
  • Biergarten Restaurant
This German buffet was our EPCOT food splurge + Dan's pick.  You are seated "German style" with other guests at longer tables & a lively traditional German band serenades & entertains while you dine.

EPCOT Favorites:
  • Soarin'
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Spaceship Earth {such a classic}
  • Figment
  • the fireworks show
  • getting to "walk" around the world

Friday, October 13, 2017

Little Letters // October 2017



Dear Fall,

I know the calendar + stores say you are here, but when, oh when, will the forecasters say it?!

Signed,
Way Too Hot

✉ ⏩

Dear God,

Thank You for Your constant love for me & mine.  I am Your girl forever.

Love,
Your Daughter

✉ ⏩

Dear Target Baby Clothes,

You are the cutest things ever!  Thanks for making this already baby fevered woman even more so.  I hope you're around in God's perfect timing, which Dan & I are currently waiting on.

XOXO,
Me

P.S.: Do you come in adult sizes, too?

✉ ⏩

Dear Husband,

Thank you for your constant love.  For every little & big way {& all the in between} you show me your love & win my heart again & again, I thank you with all of me.  I am your love forever & you are mine.

Love Always & Forever,
Your Wife

✉ ⏩


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Our Honeymoon Photo Book


This was an anniversary gift to Dan in honor of our very 1st year.  It being a honeymoon album, it obviously took me about a year to finally get it done... #procrastinatemuch?









Hope you enjoyed a peek at a few of the pages!  Be on the lookout for some more trips down memory lane as I look back on our honeymoon trip in the coming days.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Random Rambles {10.11.2017}


 God's love + grace are utterly astounding... & that is the biggest understatement I know.  I pray it brings us to our knees.

Sooo, we already went & got our Star Wars tickets late Monday night impromptu-ly after watching the new trailer.  Did I mention I married the biggest Star Wars fan ever?  We will likely see The Last Jedi in theaters a minimum of 3 times.

We've decided to dress up as an Oreo cookie for our church's fall festival!  This will be our 1st time dressing up together for Oct. 31st!  Hopefully, I'll get the tutorial up on the blog sometime next week.

Pumpkins always make me happy.  "Jesus + you + me + pumpkin everything" is currently written on our kitchen chalkboard & those 2 pretty mini gourd pumpkins {in the pic} currently reside on our dining table.

Dan got me a blanket ladder as an early birthday gift & I'm enjoying it's cute rustic charm.  Thanks, my love!

Living in another state from my loved ones is especially tough as birthdays & holidays approach.  

I have really fallen out of reading & want to get back to it.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Arizona Anniversary Adventure // Part 2


Here's some more highlights from our 1st anniversary Arizona trip...

{Read part 1 here.}



We traveled to the Grand Canyon on a mini day tour & visited some pretty spectacular view points + had lunch perched right on the wall outside of Bright Angel Lodge & dodged some very unafraid/hungry squirrels + ran a ways down one of the trails, carefully avoiding mule doo-doo, out of breath + laughing.  Honestly, you could spend days upon days here.  Dan already wants to go back.





We drove our rental car all the way up to the city of Page & toured Antelope Canyon X - one of Arizona's extraordinary slot canyons + hiked to Horseshoe Bend!  We almost hit a coyote in the road somewhere in the endless miles of the Navajo Nation + we stopped by some more Native American ruins on the way back near Sunset Crater.