Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 non-resolution review.

well, 'tis the season for self-reflection and grandiose goals. so let's have a little look-see at how well i managed to do with this year's non-resolutions:

run a 5k. did the Color Run this fall. ran the whole thing. so much fun.

have pretty flower beds. we mulched a lot. i planted two little bushes, and zero flowers. we're heading in the right direction.

finish reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy & watch the movies with the hubs. done. also watched the second installment of the Hobbit.

go skiing. did it. loved it. hoping to go again this winter.

get real curtains on my windows. kind of. there are placeholder curtains in the fireplace room. there are curtains in my dining room and front room. they are all different lengths. i don't know how that happened.

have regular personal time with God. whoops.

ride my bike. a lot. whoops again.

maintain my weight. i think i did reasonably well with this. haven't actually weighed myself to compare, but i'm happy with my body right now.

finish Mansfield Park. haha nope.

read more non-fiction books. eh, not so much. i actually think all the books i've read this year have been fiction, and i just started the Divergent series so...yeah no.

clean out my closet. i did that once. it could probably use another go round...

make my marriage a priority. we did date nights pretty regularly this year. i feel like we are in a good place right now. i also feel like there is always room for improvement in this area.

go to the dentist. did it. twice. going back again this week for fillings. fun.

close my other bank account. ugh. nope.

put new music on my iPod. nope.

go to Wyoming. labor day camping weekend for the win!

apply for the PE exam. applied. application accepted. have to sign up for the review class. this is going to happen.

organize the craft corner. did it. love it. have actually managed to keep it pretty clean.

do a pull up. hahahahahahaha nope.

take more pictures of me and Mark together. there is definitely room for improvement on this one. lots of improvement.

finish Mark's quilt. done.

get a sewing machine. yes! Merry Christmas to me from Mark!

go to the beach. twice. love it.

split the guest room back into two. not even close. got a lodger in the basement instead.

implement a new budget. nope. maybe next year.

try at least one new healthy recipe per month. i think i tried a few new recipes this year. we also tried a whole new meal planning system for a few months. and if you count juice recipes we've tried over the past few weeks, i might have accumulated 12 over the year. i'm giving myself partial credit on this one.

so with a grand total of 14.5 items out of 26, (i was generous with my half-credits, ok?) i completed 56% of my non-resolutions for this year. if i ever got that kind of a grade in school (high school or even college) i would be ashamed of myself. but surprisingly, i feel pretty good about this past year; what i accomplished, what i made some progress on, and what i can carry over into next year.

fingers crossed i can take some time this week to spend some time looking forward to the new year before it gets here...

Friday, December 27, 2013

my favorite gift of the year.

last year, i gave a lot of homemade Christmas gifts - wooden signs, soap dispensers, personalized mugs, large paintings, i was gettin' all pinteresty all over the place. and i loved every minute of the madness.
this year, i did more shopping than i did crafting, and i am thrilled with all of the gifts i am giving. but when it comes to homemade gifts, i have to say that i might have outdone myself this year on one of the most epic homemade gifts i have ever made: a personalized stationary bottle opener for my brother-in-law-in-law. 

i got the idea for a bottle opener from one of those lame gift guide lists that are all over the internet in December, and i knew it would make a perfect gift. but i also knew that instead of spending $34 plus shipping to buy the finished product, i could probably make a better version for less. so i did.

i found a stationary bottle opener online, and decided to add a cap catcher for good measure. i designed the sign in powerpoint, (with some inspiration found here) prepped and cut and stained the wood, then finally painted it over the weekend. i applied the third and final coat of poly around 10:30pm on Christmas Eve, and then finished putting it all together Christmas morning. considering i ordered all the parts on December 2, i didn't think it would wind up being so down to the wire, but i guess that's just how it goes sometimes.

all told, i invested $22 in the opener and the cap catcher, and several hours of quality time spent with some powertools and my paintbrushes. the finished product is so worth it. i am ridiculously happy with how it all turned out, and was even more thrilled that Russ liked it too! i'm not sure if people are supposed to have favorite gifts that they have given, but this is definitely mine for this year.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

blessed holiday.

back at work today.
blessed with the sight of surprise snow falling outside my window.

blessed with a little time off work this week to spend with family.
blessed with a loving and encouraging husband.
blessed with a lazy Christmas morning at home.
blessed with a rare Santa sighting in Maryland.
blessed with so much.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

consider them decked.

the halls, that is. my house has been decorated for Christmas since the weekend after Thanksgiving - its just taken me until Christmas Eve to take any pictures of it. i blame the lack of sunlight and an overabundance of craziness this holiday season. today was the first day all month i had time and sunlight on my side.

please note that all of these pictures are carefully framed because i have yet to actually clean the house today, and i figured if i waited until everything was clean i would have ran out of sunlight. again.

let's start this little tour in the dining room:

the dining room decor can mostly be attributed to my mom: she picked up the awesome oversize ornaments at a yardsale this summer, and then sent these three home with us in our carry-ons because they didn't match her color scheme. she also mailed us our advent wreath for our first married Christmas.

i decided to display Christmas cards on the big mirror this year. they are hung with command hooks, fishing line, and binder clips. because nothing says festive quite like office supplies. in years past, cards were displayed in the kitchen, or in a basket on the dining room table. if you don't see your card here, its probably because you didn't send us one. (or we haven't gotten it yet. haven't checked the mail today)

on the not-a-credenza in the front room, we have these happy snowmen. they are a cookie jar, but sadly there are no cookies inside. i did very little baking this year and gave most all of the cookies away, and the few that were deemed not good enough to gift didn't stick around long enough to make it into the jar. they were delicious.

you've already met Harold the Third, but he's just so good looking i had to show him to you again. plus: presents!

the clear glass lamps in the fireplace room are filled with ornaments, and our santa tray is patiently waiting for his big moment to shine tonight.

i love our nativity set, another gift from my parents. it lives on the mantel and did i mention how much i love it?

one thing we overlooked last year in the design and construction of our mantel was the matter of stockings. the old nails were removed from the brick, and a new solution was never implemented. we bought cup hooks this year, but ran out of time to install them, so for this year our stockings are hung on the empty firewood holder.

i am really bummed that i'm not going home to spend Christmas with my parents this year, but with so much sentimentality in my decor, (seriously, my mom either made or gifted us everything in these pictures) its almost like being home for Christmas. almost.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

of trees and gifts.

'twas the weekend after thanksgiving, and barely december,
when the hubs and i made some memories to remember.
the trees were all leaned in the lot with great care,
knowing that lazy tree shoppers would be there.
you know the ones, like the hubs and me,
who can't muster the energy to chop their own tree.
we wandered just briefly, then to our delight -
Harold the Third was right there in our sights!

Mark paid the nice man and in no time flat,
Harold was tied up on the roof - just like that!
back at home, after lunch, and with our four hands,
we expertly secured Harold upright in his stand.

we strung twinkle lights: green, pink, yellow, and blue,
then followed with snowflakes and ornaments too!
and i sat in the dark just admiring the glow,
so thankful for Christmas and  the love that God shows.

He sent us his Son, in a way quite provincial
to die in our place because we are sinful.
and i celebrate that with all of my might,
so Merry Christmas to all! May your season be bright!

Monday, December 16, 2013

winter sunrise.

for the past few years, winter has chosen not to venture even slightly south of the Mason-Dixon line. but this year, we have had more snow in the past week than what accumulated in the past two years combined, and it has stayed cold enough that it didn't immediately melt away. not only does a layer of snow on the ground make the world look more festive, but it also makes a lovely backdrop for an early morning masterpiece to paint the world the most stunning shade of pink.
undedited, because God is just that good.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

that's a wrap.

i'm not feeling very thankful lately. i've been compiling thankful lists in my head for the past few days, but they just stay in my head - the thankfulness doesn't extend to any other part of me. i KNOW i am thankful, but i don't FEEL thankful, and i don't know that i've been ACTING particularly thankful either. and yet, i am compelled to continue and complete my thankful list. because i am a kind-of-crazy perfectionist who cannot leave an attainable challenge unfinished.

61. my iPod.
62. headphones.
63. musicals.
64. fun outings with my inlaws.
65. not actually having to report for jury duty.
66. flexibility.
67. family reicpes.
68. long weekends.
69. short weeks.
70. my family.

71. thermostats.
72. pillows.
73. movie dates with friends.
74. friends.
75. lots of weekend plans.
76. not feeling compelled to go shopping on Friday.
77. Netflix.
78. a new (to us) juicer.
79. tasty juice recipes.
80. just-because presents.

81. hugs.
82. warm blankets.
83. free calendars.
84. internet access.
85. high-lighters.
86. Mark's new lawn tractor.
87. that i don't have to learn how to drive it. yet.
88. unlimited texting.
89. clean water.
90. my brain.

91. sleeping in.
92. voicemail.
93. digital photos.
94. being warm, safe, and dry.
95. access to healthy foods.
96. sunshine in the forecast.
97. the first snowflakes of the season.
98. Sophie.
99. four wheel drive.
100. that i was able to complete this list.

"Instead of complaining that God had hidden himself, you will give Him thanks for having revealed so much of Himself."             
                                                                 - Blaise Pascal

Friday, November 22, 2013

a spin on unthankful.

i feel like every year i hit a point in the month of November that i start having trouble being thankful. I try to be constantly thinking about what i should be thankful for (because i know there is so much!) but it is always so much easier to find things to complain about. take this morning for example - the first thoughts i had were about things i am definitely NOT thankful for:
early mornings.
cold rain.
my inability to make simple decisions.

but since this is the month of thankfulness, i didn't let myself stop there and let my mood ruin my whole day. it took a concentrated effort, and it took me just a little bit longer, but eventually my brain was able to put a positive spin on most of those un-thankfuls and turn them into the
things i am thankful for:
51. my dentist.
52. my toothbrush.
53. floss.
54. floss threaders.
55. new mouthwash.
56. insurance.
57. snooze buttons.
58. breakfast club.
59. windshield wipers.
60. Fridays.

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”    - Harry A. Ironside

Monday, November 18, 2013

half way to one hundred.

41. whoever dreamed up the color run.
42. warm afternoons in November.
43. knees.
44. my knee brace.

45. tennis shoes.
46. my husband: he is encouraging, hard working, and fun!

47. warm showers.
48. shoeboxes full of presents.
49. coupons.
50. Christmas cards.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

thankful lately.

31. forgiveness.
32. the post office.
33. a good job, with
34. a short commute.
35. muscles.
36. dinner in the crock pot.
37. facetime.
38. a fun church family.
39. busy weekends, and
40. a couple un-busy weeknights to recover.

"i am what i am, i'm doing very well in my life, and i'm thankful to God for that."        - LL Cool J

Friday, November 8, 2013

still thankful.

21. my sister Abi. she helps me view the world a different way.
22. phones.
23. bacon.
24. completely free evenings.
25. nephieces.
26. jazzercise.
27. just for fun books to read.
28. brand new babies.
         (not mine. but pretty much everyone i know is preggers, so yay for babies!)
29. online shopping.
30. sing-along-able music.

"we don't always have to be reaching for the bigger and better when we feel content where we are." - Leah

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ten more things.

today, i am thankful for:

11. paint.
12. surprises.
13. time spent with family.
14. beautiful fall leaves.
15. morning sunshine.
16. surprise free lasagna.
17. productive evenings at home.
18. dinner plans.
19. my warm house.
20.  glasses.

"Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need."             -Sarah Ban Breathnach

Friday, November 1, 2013

be grateful.

this is one of my favorite family holiday traditions - listing 100 things i am thankful for in the month of November.

i had 'jack-o-lanterns' on the list, but then took it off after i realized that its been in my 'top 10' every year just because i like to share pictures of our carved pumpkins. but i realized that i have PLENTY of other things to be thankful for and i can share pictures without necessarily using it as list-filler. this year's was a collaboration between me and Mark, and i'm kind of really proud of it.

This year, i am thankful for:
1. making it inside before the torrential downpour.
2. laughing with my husband.
3. Friday afternoon phone dates with my Mom.
4. my BFITW Julie. (let's hang out sometime soon?)
5. haircuts.
6. date nights.
7. that my sister didn't get hurt in the car accident.
8. my community group.
9. God's saving grace.
10. tacos.

"be grateful. what you have may not be exactly what you want, but it is a lot and it is yours."                                              -Leah

**as always, these annual november thankful lists are not in any sort of meaningful order other than the random order my brain spits things out.**

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

'fashions fade, style is eternal.'

let me get this out of the way right up front: i am not a fashion blogger. i will (most likely) never be a fashion blogger. i'm just not fashionable enough on a regular basis.
it's not that i don't try to be fashionable or at least look reasonably put-together - because i do think that a properly functioning adult-type person should at the very least be able to dress themselves in clean, appropriate clothing on the daily. (thanks mom!) i've even gone so far as to curate my very own style(ish) pinterest board. but even that board hints that i'm just not always that good at it. (grand total of 11 pins, only 2 of which are actual outfits) and you know what? honestly, some days it's just too much to worry about proper accessories at 6am.

get in my closet!
from here and here via pinterest
but every now and then, i have a good day, style-wise. in fact, i had one of those days last week, when i pulled together a look that prompted two total strangers to compliment me and inquire about my outfit. yeah, i'm not even humble-bragging right now, i am straight-up bragging. because those women in Home Depot and Target made my whole week, and i just want to tell everyone about it.
i even took a poorly-lit picture to share with you all to really show off. because nothing says 'i am so fashionable and stylish and fashion-blog worthy!' like awkward self-timer pictures in the living room after dark.   
fashion bloggers do source lists, right?
scarf: UptownCheapskate. sweater: JCPenney? cami: Kohls. skirt: Target. tights:Target. boots: Payless.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

you doubt? a demonstration!

so yeah, about that whole golf thing...

i did it. i spent a whole day on a golf course. and... it wasn't terrible. definitely not the worst way i've ever spent a day.

what's that? you don't believe me? you think that i'm just making up this whole ridiculous story just to have something interesting to blog about? you want proof? i'll show you proof.

here is my golf cart:

see, my name is right on it! 

and this is me, sitting in my golf cart:

there. proof that i was totally on the golf course on saturday.

what now? you say that doesn't count? you want to actually see pictures of actual golf actually happening?

ok fine. here is some real, live golf happening:



(please note the ball still firmly on the ground)

i can sense from here that you are thinking about calling shenanigans on this whole amanda-went-golfing business. but speaking of shenanigans...

babboon butt driver cover 

golf carts and curbs dont mix 

fishing for golf balls 

 happy gilmore
(there is video of this, but i'm having trouble uploading it.)


doesn't golf look like so much fun? oh. you're still not convinced. i get it. because really, what do those pictures prove? that golf really happened on saturday and i was there to document it? whoop-dee-freakin-doo. golf happens all the time. i know what you came here to see. so here you go: pictures of me. golfing.

me and my (borrowed) driver

 lining up my drive

gosh, i have fantastic form... not.

i sank a few good putts. this was not one of them. 

and the real kicker for this post, my piece de resistance, is the video that my golf buddy shot of my drive on the last hole of the day. and as soon as i can figure out how to upload it without getting an error message, i'm going to do that. because i've watched it approximately a million times already because it just makes me happy, and i want to share that joy with you.


spoiler alert: we didn't win the tournament. we didn't even place in our division. our team shot one over par for the course, which i think is pretty darn impressive. (especially with me on the team!) and it was a fun day spent with nice, encouraging people so i call that a definite win overall. and i might even be able to be convinced to do it again next year, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens in my potential future sort of maybe golf "career."

Monday, October 21, 2013

yardsale finds: bonus edition.

who would have thought that at the end of October i would be subjected to a rollercoaster of yardsale related emotions. you see, it was my understanding that yardsale season was pretty much done and over months ago. but then, i got excited as i noticed yardsale signs popping up all over last week. and then, i got sad when i remembered that i was going to be golfing all day Saturday. but then, i found out the tournament didn't start until noon which left me ample opportunity to leave the house a little bit earlier on Saturday and stop at a few sales that just so happened to be (mostly) right on the way to the golf course!  
(clockwise-ish from left, as always)

wooden slatted folding chair, blue glass fishbowl thing, jodi picoult book (they all make me cry but i just can't quit her), metal recipe card holder(?) that i'm going to try and use as a mail organizer.
Total Spent: $10.50

my new golf buddies seemed kind of impressed that i had been yardsaling before the tournament, and even more impressed with what i got versus how much i spent. they also told me to be on the lookout for my own set of golf clubs at yardsales, since i'm a "real golfer" now. maybe next year.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

another little thing.

at one point during girls weekend, i started a project. just because i had a little bit of time, and i already had all of the parts i needed just sitting around the house, since i had picked them up several weeks ago (if not months) during a random shopping trip with my friend Nadine.
this was my inspiration:

but like any good inspiration, i did not copy it exactly: i put my own touch on it, and i'm pretty thrilled with how it turned out.

who knew i had this many necklaces?

instead of individually sourcing my knobs over time into an eclectic collection of time and memories, i found my knobs all at the same place: the clearance aisle of Michael's for $0.99 each. and while i was there, i picked up a pre-routed board/plaque for $8 too.

to attach the knobs, i used a drill bit that was the same size as the post on the knobs to make six evenly spaced holes in the board. then, i flipped the board over and used a larger paddle bit to  make space for the nut to fit down in the board, allowing it to sit flush on the wall.

i painted my board with two coats of trim paint we have leftover in the basement from painting pretty much every room in the house. i got all of these steps done, and then the project sat for a few more weeks, waiting for me to muster up the time and energy to figure out how to shorten the posts on the knobs. for some reason, i decided Monday would be the day.

after a frustrating hour spent with a handsaw, i hadn't even made it through one post. and i had six to do. thankfully, Mark came home and helped me knock the rest out with a combination of some ingenuity and a sawzall.

tangentially related: my earring tree.

on Tuesday, i picked up some command velcro on my way home from work, and i hung that bad boy on the wall. and then i organized my jewelry. and i cleaned my dresser. and i cleaned Mark's dreser too. and i hung the full length mirror on the wall. and i relocated my belts. and i dusted our entire bedroom. and then i sat down on the couch and didn't do anything else for the rest of the night.

i'm a little sad i didnt take time to get a before picture of my dresser - but just imagine all of that same stuff, plus a little more, just spread mostly willy-nilly all over the top of it. yeah, it wasn't pretty. but this new system is! necklaces have a hanger, earrings have the tree, (except for the ones that can't hang - they have a box) and bracelets and headbands hang out on a neat blue wine bottle.  fingers crossed i can keep it this organized and clean...

Monday, October 14, 2013

a little thing.

one should never underestimate the joy that is asking a random stranger to take your picture and having them actually do a good job.

everyone looking, smiling, and nicely framed so you can actually see the point of the picture in the background!

Friday, October 4, 2013

this golf thing is driving a wedge between us.

there was a point in my college career at which i realized that eventually college would end, and that ending would require some degree of growing up, and that growing up would more than likely involve stretching myself in some ways beyond my collegiate comfort zone and doing new, adult-ish things. i do believe the words that came out of my mouth, spoken under my breath to my friend who was seated next to me so as not to disrupt the presenter with my epiphany, were the following:
"crap, i'm going to have to learn how to golf, huh?"

fast forward no less than four years to today. in a moment of temporary insanity and an attempt to build relationships with my coworkers, i signed up to participate in the company golf tournament in two weeks. up until this moment, my golf experience has been... how should i put this delicately... limited. but i mean its not like i've never touched a golf club before. i'm a half-decent mini-golfer. and i played par-3 that one time in high school. and sure, i did manage to hit my ball into the pond, but i was wearing khakis while i did it so that counts for something right?

yesterday, a conversation broke out about 3-irons and 5-woods and it was like everyone was speaking pig-latin or maybe just actual latin and i just wasn't in on the joke but what i think i learned is that the 3-iron is useless and i probably shouldnt use a men's driver. also, this joke:

Bob: so what do you do when you are out on the course and a thunderstorm rolls in?
Jon: well, i usually run to the middle of the green and hold my 1-iron straight up in the air.
Bob: why on earth would you do that? don't you know you could get struck by lightning?
Jon: it doesn't worry me at all. even God can't hit a 1-iron.

apparently that's funny for mysteriously unknown golf-related reasons.

i am one member of a four-person team. i signed up with three other people who actually had a number to put in the "handicap/average score" box. they convinced me that "yes" would not be an appropriate response when asked if i had a golf handicap, so i just put "1st timer" in that box. our team is going to the driving range over lunch today. probably again next week too. and i am planning a shopping trip over the weekend for an appropriate khaki/plaid/argyle golf outfit to help me blend in with the old pros. it seems like a pretty good plan, and i'm excited to be a part of it.

wish me luck!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


three years is supposedly the leather anniversary. unless its the crystal/glass anniversary. depends on whether you are traditional or modern.
one bears testament to the strength of a marriage that lasts until year three, since leather is strong, long-lasting, and gets better with age.
the other is fragile and easily broken.
so i think i'll stick with leather. 

happy third anniversary to us!

Monday, September 30, 2013

a girls weekend. (plus nick)

 "wouldn't life be perfect if... goodbyes only meant until tomorrow."

this weekend, on her way home from a week-long beach vacation, my mom planned a weekend-long layover at my house. my sisters both drove in to visit, and it just so happened to be the same weekend that the hubs had planned a boys-weekend in Buffalo, so we had ourselves a girls-weekend. with nick.

we visited the topiary gardens, and we picnicked, and we went apple picking, and we made and ate an apple pie, and we made applesauce, and we played sequence, and we went out for brunch, and we shopped for my sister's new house, and we almost finished a little project, and we just hung out and had an absolutely wonderful time, and i only took 22 pictures the whole weekend.

i've heard people say that it is important to not view your life through a camera lens. that it is important to put your camera down and just be in a moment instead of documenting it. i guess i kind of did that this weekend - but only because my camera battery died early in the day and i don't have a phone that can double as an acceptable backup plan.

i managed to take 11 pictures, somewhat carefully spaced to maximize my battery life, before my camera was completely drained. so once it was dead, i stowed it in my purse and made up my mind to just rely on my mom and sister for pictures. but i wasn't entirely happy about it.

i wanted to take my own pictures. to capture the days from my own perspective. i felt a little bit sad and cheated that my own oversight and my dead camera battery took much of that opportunity away from me.

without my camera, i spent time marvelling over fish in ponds, searching for blue flowers, picking apples (lift, twist, pull!) and laughing so so much with some of my favorite people, and i vowed that as soon as i got home i would charge my battery and do better at picture-taking the rest of the weekend so that i could easily remember these moments with my sisters together and my neice and nephew at 6 and 4 and my mom at [REDACTED] and all of us all together in one place.

but then once i got home and charged my battery, i only took 11 more pictures the whole weekend. none of them had my mom in them. i only have a picture of one of my sisters. its a great picture of a sweet moment, but you can't even see her face in it. i took zero pictures of the faces of my mom and my sisters during an entire weekend that we spent together.

but i do have 2 pictures of the homemade apple pie a la mode.

so what does that say about my priorities?

i'm almost certain that i am overthinking this, because everyone just left this morning and i miss them all terribly and my house is so quiet and empty. but quite honestly, i don't think i have the right balance quite yet between experiencing moments and documenting them. because i had a wonderful time this weekend and i enjoyed every single minute and we laughed a lot and we made some fantastic memories... but i'm kind of disappointed that i don't have many pictures of those memories... no memory joggers to look back on later.

so i guess we'll all just have to get together again soon and do it all over again. and let's remember to get at least one group picture next time, mmkay?