Monday, July 24, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 15

949. hiking adventures with him
950. spotting a scarlet tanager on the trail
952. 2 strawberry sprinkle donuts
958. my dad in heaven
960. that You are my perfect, patient, faithful, loving, merciful, all-knowing Father - I need You & I love You
962. hearing the missionaries speak
965. a potted Gerber daisy from him
966. a love card with glittery white "sand" in it
969. exploring old abandoned bunkers together
977. trip planning

Saturday, July 15, 2017

How We Do Disney

Here's how we {Laura + Dan} love to experience Disney...

Two words: Dole Whips!

Wearing Disney stuff at the parks.  C'mon, where better to get away with wearing all the cutesy Minnie & Mickey stuff + mouse ears?

Doing as much as we can.  We start early & make smart use of the Fast Passes. {Dan is amazing at patiently refreshing the app when we are waiting in line for other rides.  We were able to snag many random Fast Pass openings this way.}

Getting celebration pins when applicable.  They are a fun {& free} souvenir of a special time, & the Disney people love to congratulate you throughout the day {& occasionally give you an extra perk or 2}!

Splurging at one higher priced Disney restaurant. {P.S.: We are both total tea totalers, in case any questions arise from the photo. 😉}

How do you like to experience the magic of Disney Parks?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Introducing Little Letters // July 2017

Dear Life,

Half of you is literally "if," & that is scary to this girl who wants the control.  Or, at least, to think she has the control - imagining is okay, right?  Can the rest of you be Jesus?  I know that we'll have to change Webster's & update pretty much everything, but... pretty please?  Either Jesusif or ifJesus, because Jesifus sounds strange.  Maybe this whole letter sounds strange?  Hmmm...

the Control Freak Girl Who Needs Her Jesus for Each & Every If {& All the In Between}

✉ ⏩

Dear Jesus,

Can you help me give over the aforementioned control to You.  I know You already have it.  I need You to have it - & not me.  I'm done white-knuckling it over here.

Your Daughter

✉ ⏩

Dear Mysterious Invisible Creatures,

Can you stop biting my feet when I wear flip flops & any other such sandals.  I'm running out of hydrocortisone cream over here.  Not to mention, you're creeping me out.

Itchy Feet

P.S.: Are you chiggers?

✉ ⏩

Dear Sunlight,

Thank you for streaming into my apartment & making the empty space {after my husband goes to work} all bright & cozy each & every morning {well, unless it's overcast}.  God did a good thing putting you up there & this apartment's windows where He did.  He knew I needed you.


P.S.: The white Gerber daisy says, "thanks," too!

✉ ⏩

Dear Nail Polish,

Thanks for making my toenails rock the whole summer long... & really all 365.  Who am I kidding?  You are so not seasonal to this fan girl.

The 10 Little Tootsies

✉ ⏩

Dear Tissues,

You've been put through a lot the last few months.  Thanks for being there to catch all the tears + gunk when I cry when no ones around.  I promise this won't be forever.

Hopeful {#keepingitreal}

✉ ⏩

Dear Pink Flamingos,

You are so cute & the epitome of summer cool right now.  I love your quirky legs, neck, & beak - & don't even get me started on your pinkness!  Your plastic selves can plant your metal legs in my yard anytime.  I just wanted you to know.

An Admirer

✉ ⏩

P.S.: Linking up!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 14

883. his hugs + kisses throughout the day
889. the confidence of my value in You & how You made me
892. a Checker's strawberry milkshake
893. moonlight swims
895. a bill finally paid off - praise God!!!
898. a bear hug from a student I saw while out shopping
901. exploring antique stores together
905. Beauty & the Beast date with my love
915. wedding cake ice cream in a waffle cone to celebrate 9 months married
917. exploring Oxbow Meadows hand-in-hand

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Date Night Ideas // July 2017

💑 Try being tourists in your own city & explore what your area has to offer - both old & new.

💑 Make an indoor fort to cuddle + watch movies / play games in!

💑 Play the blindfolded navigator game!  Place a bandanna over the passenger's eyes & have them give directions for the driver, such as left, right, straight...  At some point, let the passenger remove her/his blindfold & see where you end up + switch roles.  Note: you may need to have the GPS handy in case you end up, well, a bit lost!

💑 Paint together.  You don't have to be a trained artist in the least {hello, abstract art} to have fun!  Gather some supplies & decide if you want to work on separate canvases or on 1 together {brushes or finger painting is another option}.  See what the pair of you can create!

💑 Send a sky lantern up into the dark night sky + spend time praying over & discussing your future together.

💑 Escape the heat of the day & try an early morning &/or evening hike together.  Bonus points if you get going in time to see the sunrise!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Monthly Recap // June 2017

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We went on our 1st married double date with a sweet couple we love.  We had a yummy dinner & then frozen yogurt with lots of fun chatter. {Dan had so much fun he fell out of his chair!  Okay, it was an accident.😊}

➵ Had fun playing games + watching a movie at one of our friends' game nights.

➵ Finally went to see Disney's Beauty & the Beast remake.  It was utterly magical!

Explored the most epic + unusual sprawling antique store I've ever seen!  It was like a movie set & I just know there were a thousand & 1 stories {& maybe mysteries} housed there!

➵ Celebrated our 9 month anniversary with a trip to get Bruster's ice cream {I had the appropriate wedding cake ice cream cone}, then on to the National Infantry Museum + Oxbow Meadows for a private treetop tour around 40 feet up in the canopy!

➵ Went bowling for the 2nd time in my life.  Very slowly getting better.

➵ Dan & I dressed as Bible time characters to help with our church's VBS!

➵ Had breakfast + a morning walk by the river with a sweet gal pal.

Got some summer swimming time in at our apt.

➵ Enjoyed an early morning summer hike with my love on Pine Mtn.  We did 3+ miles!

➵ Ate some scrumptious donuts at our friends' kid's 5th b-day!

➵ Celebrated Father's Day by attending Dan's parents' church & having lunch with them.

➵ Traveled to Chattanooga to enjoy family time + my nephew Miles' 2nd birthday!

➵ Explored abandoned bunkers {in Chattanooga} that used to hold TNT & are now epic, dark echo chambers - pretty strange, I must say.

➵ Visited my old favorite place {a rocky ledge where my feet dangle freely over the TN River} + the tree where I wrote Dan's & mine's name with a Sharpie {kinda faded, but still there}.

Monday, July 3, 2017

How I Said "Yes" to my {eBay} Wedding Dress!

Dreaming of my dream wedding dress came long before my handsome prince ever did.  By the time he finally arrived & finally slipped a ring on my finger {funny how our "finallys" are God's "right on times"}, I had a clear vision of what I wanted.

I'm one of those who knows what she likes {& doesn't like} & no amount of opinions will sway this girl otherwise.  Having watched TLC's "Yes" to the Dress quite a few times, I was amazed at how many future brides would let their "entourages" push them from what they truly wanted.  This wasn't even going to be a possibility in my story, because I decided to save any drama & go dress shopping solo!  I headed out to David's Bridal & searched the racks.  I tried a few different options just to make sure the vision I had in my head actually looked flattering & to rule out my dislikes by trying a couple of them, as well.

This is what I knew going in...  I loved the strapless princess cut neckline, tulle, intricate & unique details, most likely a ballgown {though I had a tiny twinge of wanting a mermaid style, as well}, & a bonus wish for a bit of a train.  I did not want satin, & I wasn't fond of any substantial amount of lace, a sheath style, ivory color, or anything simple.

What I tried at David's Bridal proved everything I had thought about what I wanted, but nothing in my price point spoke to me.  Note: shopping by myself didn't mean no opinions, I discovered, as the sales lady really wanted to sell me on the mermaid style!

The thing was, I actually had a dream dress in mind that I really wanted to give a shot.  Problem was, it was from a past season, & it was going to be hard to find.  I actually 1st saw the gown on a fellow blogger in her wedding pics!  I fell in love with the gown & searched Google with a description seeing if I could find the designer.  I wasn't finding it.  Do you know how many wedding dress creators + dresses are out there?!  It was craziness.  I decided to reach out to the blogger.  Just when I thought I'd never get a response, one hit my inbox!  She knew the designer, just not the dress style.  More searching & I finally found it! {It's a Jasmine wedding dress - style F374, by the way.} Now, onto the equally tricky part: finding one.  I tried numerous wedding dress resale sites with little luck - they either had none or they had one or two that were still over what I wanted to pay + not my size + had signs of wear.  Then, I tried what I thought would be another dead end, eBay.  I typed in the search box &, yes, who would believe it, they had one!?  Still it wasn't my size, but it was new with the tags still on it!  It wasn't what I wanted to pay, though.  I waited.  I prayed.  I favorited it {it had quite a few faves already}.  It was a "Buy It Now" item {not an auction listing}.  I checked it often.  I even asked the seller a couple questions about it.  Then, a few days later I go on & find it on sale for half off!  I do the happy wedding dress dance that I didn't know was in me & I buy it for a little less than $200!  

It comes in the most unassuming brown box, & I wonder as I pick it up from the post office all excited-like, if my dream dress could possibly fit/be inside this.  I knew this was a bit of a gamble.  I mean, I've never actually tried this dress on {there's no return policy for this one, either}.  But, I also know I've given myself enough time to find another if this doesn't work out + I can probably resell the dress pretty easily if I have to + my mom is an awesome seamstress & can probably do the alterations to make it fit.  You know what?  I took that brown box into my little apartment, drug the standing mirror from out of my bedroom, opened the package like it was a precious Christmas present, & tried on that dress all by myself {which wasn't too easy} in the middle of my living room.  I found myself uttering to my mirror self, "It's just what I wanted," & it was.  My mom spent countless time & energy altering it up for me perfectly & I walked down the aisle to my prince in it feeling like a true princess, & I am so glad I said "yes" to my unconventional eBay dress!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Our Love Story // "Reader, I Married Him"

The clouds that brought some shade that bright September afternoon were as fluffy & magic-like as any I've ever seen.

It was the day I was to say, "I do," & I was terrified.  To all the watching guests, my walk down the white path was solo, but this daughter who lost her beloved earthly dad 16 years ago, knew she had a perfect Father God by her side, holding her shaking hands that clutched her bouquet tight.

We wed out in beautiful creation, with those clouds overhead & Georgia pines in the distance, in the big open field behind our new church in my new city.  Butterflies waltzed past us at one point in the ceremony, like the ones my mom had made for me & lovingly stitched onto my veil, & it was my favorite wedding gift that day from my first & truest love, & reminded me to breathe - there is reason for joy in Him always.  He brings us caterpillars & hope & butterflies & joy.

I made a covenant promise to love the man who had tears in his eyes as I walked down to him, the one I couldn't believe I had found after so many prayers & journal letters written where I left a blank for the name to go when he was just a hope & a prayer & a dream.

We sealed our promises with a kiss & marched down the aisle to this tune & we were now husband & wife & my life forever changed.  And change, just like with caterpillars, I learned, can be beautiful & good, & I thank God each day for this change in so many ways - name, residence, city, state, church, family, responsibility, heart - & for the husband who helps me see the beauty in this life & in this adventure & in myself, just like the butterflies.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Currently {June 2017}

💮 Thankful... for white Christmas lights on our tiny screened-in porch making it magic, 3 swimming pools to choose from at our apt., a husband who loves me so, & a God who loves me perfectly.

💮 Planning... well, more like wanting to plan - er, pre-planning, for a someday soon summer/anniversary trip.

💮 Excited... to see my family again soon!

💮 Watching... Expedition Unknown, The Wall, & Little Big Shots {Dan & I watch these together.} & Little People Big World {I watch this one solo, & only just recently picked it up.  It's amazing how people {me} get so interested in complete strangers' lives.  Like now I am so ready to see about Zach & Tori's baby!  Silliness!}

💮 Eating... too much ice cream!  But it's summer. {I know.  What's my excuse the rest of the year?}

💮 Wearing... shorts, dresses, & sandals.  That Georgia heat, though!

💮 Enjoying... walks, hikes, & swims with my husband.  We even spotted a scarlet tanager {the most beautiful red bird} on a hike the other day + 2 deer on a walk!

💮 Reading... still trying to finish Beauty Begins - & Dan & I are continuing our Bible reading in 1 Kings currently.

💮 Learning... this is another lifelong lesson {few aren't (outside bicycle riding) - another thing I'm learning} that in any situation the only thing I can control is myself - my response & my actions & my words.  I can't control anyone, but me.  And, man, do I need lots of prayer to control even me well.  Jesus is my strength!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Up in the Treetops...

Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Lab is an amazing nature wonderland in my city!  Dan & I headed out to explore {it was my 1st time} for our 9 month anniversary.  We decided to try the treetop tour which took us around 40 feet up into the canopy...

No one else had signed up for our time slot, so we enjoyed a private tour!

We explored the expansive trails, too, & Dan even put on some video capturing {GoPro-like} glasses to help document our experiences for Oxbow.  We decided they needed some entertainment.  I hope they enjoyed our commentary + antics. 

We even found some deer tracks out by the meadow!

Oxbow Meadows, we will definitely be back soon!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 13

834. a homemade rainbow pencil cup holder gift from a kiddo at school - a sweet surprise & a reminder that all His promises are true
838. my sister getting offered a new job
839. his messages throughout my day
855. passing by the chalkboard sign with the scripture on it as a friend & I walked downtown
860. snow cones at the Icey Girl & Co.
863. hearing my nephew sing his sweet church solo via video {He did amazing!}
866. Dan making me a mini 'Laura' Lego figurine at the new {unofficial} Lego store here in our city
870. exploring a mini abandoned cemetery at twilight with my love
871. how I got a husband who uses a legit light saber as a flashlight & checks to see that the doors are locked before bed
873. those pink cotton candy clouds that appeared at dusk

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Date Night Ideas // June 2017

💑 Go on a double date with another couple. {I think these are most fun when you have the space to talk (i.e.: not a movie night).}

💑 Try spelunking together!

💑 Find a snow cone {shaved ice} place & make it a date!

💑 Cool down with a fun swim date.  All you need to find is a pool, lake, beach, etc. {You can even use the water hose &/or sprinkler!}

💑 Visit a nearby aquarium or zoo together.  Learn about each other's favorite critters.

💑 Try out new smoothie recipes + combinations together & have a taste testing! {Don't forget to make it a grocery date before to gather all the fruits/veggies you guys want.}

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Monthly Recap // May 2017

➴   ➶   ➴   ➶   ➴   ➶   ➴   ➶   ➴
Dan & I started teaching the K-5th group at our church on Wednesday nights.  We love working with our kiddos + serving Christ together in this way!  My favorite memory is when the kids wrapped Dan in aluminum foil the night we talked about putting on the armor of God.  It put a {funny} visual to what I already knew, he is my knight-in-shining armor {& a gift from God}!

Took pics with a giant cow {statue} & checked off bucket list item #22!

 Celebrated 8 months married with a special sign taped onto a stop sign.  He totally missed seeing it, & I had to call him back {I was in a nearby parking lot watching}!

Took a solo trip back to TN to see my mom for Mother's Day!  I love seeing all the family {& I love passing by that "Tennessee Welcomes You" sign}!

Got lost way out in the boonies looking for a horse farm.  We found ourselves driving on gravel roads with not much of anything that looked promising in sight, but eventually we made it!

Finished my last day as a school librarian.  This long term sub job lasted way longer than I could have imagined, & I am giving all the thanks to my God who led me to it.

Grabbed some tea, walked the River Walk, & explored a bit downtown with a sweet new friend!  I even got to introduce her to Kilwins' ice cream shop!

Dan drew on the eggs!

We had fun at our flower girl's b-day party!  The party was at the new "unofficial" Lego store in our city & we {kids + adults} all had a blast creating crazy vehicles & houses out of the iconic toy.  Dan even made a Lego figurine version of me that we got to take home!

As weird as it sounds, we explored a couple cemeteries this month.  In an old sprawling downtown one we found the memorial to all those lost in a terrible infamous circus train wreck that happened here way back in 1915.  This is also where the police pulled up, blocking my car just as we had gotten back in, & cordially asked if we were the only occupants in the vehicle.  It turns out there had just been an armed robbery very close by & they were looking for the suspects who may have fled our way!  They gave us descriptions & told us to call if we saw anything.  We left shortly after, but not before making another stop to get out & look at some more stone markers + drive around looking for the bad guys {'cause I think I'm Nancy Drew}.  We also explored an "abandoned graveyard." {That's what Google Earth called it, but really if Google Earth knows about it how abandoned can it be?}  Dan said we were just going to drive by the spot & see if we could see anything through the woods {so I kept my flip flops on (bad idea)}, & we headed out in his car as twilight began to set in.  Turns out it was pretty much abandoned, but it wasn't hidden in the woods, just nestled near the side of a back road.  So we got out.  In the encroaching darkness, in the overgrown weeds & brush, me in my flip flops.  Did I mention bugs?  I'm sure they were out there waiting to bite my big toe.  We had us some adventures! {& I kept all 10 toes!}

Had our 1st visit to the Icey Girl & Co. for snow cones & an impromptu date night.

On Memorial Day weekend we explored Atlanta's Georgia Aquarium + the World of Coca-Cola to celebrate the kickoff of my summer break!

We tried a local favorite since 1918 - Dinglewood Pharmacy's "almost world famous" scramble dogs.  I had mine sans the chili, 'cause chili's just not my jam.  Turns out, neither are the brightest pinkest hot dogs I've ever seen.  Sorry, Dinglewood. {I'm sure the flamingos love you.}

Went swimming {in our apt. pool} for the 1st time together this season!

Toured the Columbus Museum one afternoon.  So glad my new city has this amazing little art/history museum + it's free!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Atlanta's World of Coca-Cola

As a kiddo Cokes were my go-to soda.  I lived off of 'em.  Now that I'm older I've pretty much left most all soft drinks behind me {except the occasional root beer or Sprite}.  Even so, Coca-Cola is such an iconic American brand that I couldn't resist sipping a Coke Life & exploring all the fizzy wonders of Atlanta's World of Coca-Cola with my love by my side! 

Travel Tip: The Georgia Aquarium & The World of Coke are next door to one another & easily done together in 1 day {+ it saves on the parking cost, 'cause you can pay & park once & have easy walking access to both venues}.

Laura's Faves:
+ 4D movie
+ around the world taste testing
+ Coke art

Mr. Pemberton {the guy who invented the Coke recipe} actually lived in Columbus, GA for some years + he's buried here!

Dan's Faves:
+ around the world taste testing
+ 4D movie
+ the mini bottling area

XOXO, World of Coke!  You were nostalgic summertime memories in the making!