Monday, December 30, 2013

Hello 2014!

I would have to agree with everyone else when asking where in the world has 2013 gone? 
Mom was right, time really does fly the older you get.
This year has been overwhelming blessed and so much has changed.
Drew started a new job at the end of 2012 so we adjusted to that this year, I transferred schools in May about the same time we joined small group, got married in June {YAY!} and honeymooned in beautiful Cozumel, spent summer settling into our life as newlyweds and setting up my new classroom while trying to spend as much time as possible at the lake, met my new class in August, and fall has been a wonderful but busy blur while of course getting in as much puppy snuggles and Frisbee time as possible.  From Thanksgiving to now doesn't seem more than two weeks have passed let alone a month.

I've never set really big goals for New Years, mostly small practical goals that hopefully I will still remember come January 16th. So here is the focus in 2014~

In the past two months I've started running/jogging/walking about two miles about three times a week, I know this is far from impressive but in just the eight weeks I've done this I feel so much better and I love that Copper runs it with me {and what is a New Years goal without something fitness right?!}. I'm nowhere near my "running" goal but I'm better than I was. Gotta start somewhere!

Continue to grow within my small group and my personal faith, this year has been such a year of growth and I want to take that momentum into 2014 and I'm excited to reach levels of faith that I've never experienced before. The past way to sum up my faith goals is the song "Oceans" by Hillsong United:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

The second biggest focus of my life being our marriage. I feel we really enjoy each other and love the life we have built together but it can be so easy to get wrapped up in our busy lives. I want to take more "time outs" for us and to remember why we love each other so much.

.finally. four.
Slowing down would be another goal for this year. I feel small little things like the dreaded laundry. (post about our dirty things here) make time for more enjoyable things like a bath, or reading for fun, etc. Maybe spending that ten minutes each night cleaning up can lead to more free time on the weekends.

So that is it. My four fairly simple goals for 2014. I love the feeling a new year brings and I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed 2014!

Drew and I are packing up to head to Jackson Hole, Wyoming first of the new year.
Follow on ::instagram:: for the leg breaking  updates and the shenanigans we get into out West with some of our dearest friends in the beautiful back country of Wyoming. 

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

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I've joined the blogging community at Bloglovin.
I love it already that I can better keep up with all my favorite blogs.
Which is alot. I LOVE blogs!
Hop on over and join!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wedding {planning, flowers, decorations}

For the next few weeks I'm going to blog some wedding topics. 
When I was planning our wedding blogs and Pintrest were my go-to places for inspiration. 
Now that I've joined the blog world I thought it would be fun to go back and do some wedding post. 

I found the wedding process simple and overwhelming at the same time.
Simple in the way that I wanted things to be, simple was my vision. But the endless options and efforts made to stay within my budget very overwhelming. I was determined that I wasn't going to blow my budget but do the best I could to stay within it and I'm SOOO glad I did. A wedding is a huge, life changing, wonderful day- no question about that. But it is just that, one day. I didn't want to go crazy spending but try to save as much as possible for our home, honeymoon, and savings that we would enjoy throughout our marriage. If anything I feel is worth splurging on it would hands down be the honeymoon. {a post to come on that}

This is what I kept in mind as planning. Our wedding will be a beautiful day, but our beautiful marriage will be forever. One of the first things I did when planning was sit down {with Mom} and pick out the theme I liked.
I love a rustic style with burlap {okay, I'm obsessed with burlap} and lots of candles for a romantic mood. We really had to work hard to find a venue that was priced reasonably and that we could make this theme work within. Seriously checked out 15 places. We decided on a venue just down the street from where the church is where the service would be-- all in our hometown.

I really owe all decorating credit to my Mom. Once we picked the "theme" she really went with it. Our venue came with the big round mirrors, tall white candle, and glass hurricane so we worked with that. All the little candles were bought individually {yes, individually} by Mom. She bought most of them for .25, .50, or .75 cents over a year's time. Mom found the mini candles at Goodwill, Salvation Army, yard sells, and other thrift like places as well as some antique stores in our hometown. She kept them in boxes in the garage for the year leading up the wedding and the end result was the beautiful, romantic glow I dreamed of. We also bought burlap table cloth runners from a bride that had already had her wedding. These table runners were like brand new and we got them at least 75% off what new one would have cost. When word got out we bought them second hand we had several offers to buy ours so they paid for themselves before we even used them. We also sold majority of the mini candles in bulk to another bride. We did keep several to keep in our house as a special token from our wedding day.

Now flowers. This was something else that I found to be way overpriced but after seeing the flowers in pictures I felt comfortable with the money spent. This was the area that I had a hard time spending on because my thinking was "it's flowers, they are gong to be dried up before I come home from the honeymoon." We went with a local flower lady in town who grows the flowers on her own and creates wonderful arrangements based on the ideas you give her. And she was is a retired teacher, that made me like her even more!

My Mom and I {and Copper, truly I brought him with me} went to meet the flower lady. She asked about my vision and favorite flowers and color preferences. I told her about the candles and the rustic elegance I was going for. As for flowers I love baby's breath, I think it is simple and so elegant. My favorite flower is the hydrangea and I loved the little green berries. Luckily, I learned that larger flowers like hydrangea take up so much space that you get more bang for your buck making them a great choice as well as beautiful. I wasn't set on any particular color, just loved the soft pinks, white, and natural greens within the berries and leaves. The flower lady took some notes and that was about it. We checked in with her here and there but overall was very simple. Since we weren't having a traditional large center piece on tables she used the small clippings to fill small vases and we used small clippings to put in mason jars that filled the lobby. I absolutely loved the flowers and was so happy with the look they gave the reception. 

 My mom even used some of the Baby's Breath to decorate the church pews. This was such a thoughtful touch that was inexpensive and so pretty! {Mom should really be a wedding planner} Paying for arrangements for church seating can cost thousands! Considering we are in the church less than an hour, no way could we spend that. I love that my Mom came up with this idea and it took no time and maybe $30.

Finally, the last of the decorations. Our wedding had a lobby with a pretty vanity and several little "nooks" that were decorated for the wedding to make it more our own. 

This was in the entry way. I painted the $2 silver tray with chalk paint to post our wedding hashtag for guest. 
Other side the entry way, Drew's aunt painted us "Our Love Story" frame for a wedding shower gift and we brought it with us to the reception. The chandler on the bird cage ring was all from yard sells that my Mom found. Also lots of flower clippings in mason jars that happened to come from my Great Grandmother's basement.
 Mom also made this wedding garland our of scrap fabrics and lace. So pretty!

So this is the first wedding post, more to come. My biggest piece of advice for any blushing bride-to-be would be to set a {reasonable} budget, stick with it, and be as flexible as possible when it comes with what you want. {like not specific brands, particular colors,etc.}  Majority of the items that I felt made our wedding so special came from yard sells or were homemade. These items cost so much less than going with something brand new and gave our reception such character! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 and Small Group

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and spent time with family and friends!
Drew and I had an extremely busy "24 hours" of Christmas going to six different family places.
Christmas 2014 in the mountains perhaps? We will see....
We are blessed with a large family and lots of excited people to share this fun holiday with but we ran ourselves ragged. I'll remember our first married Christmas more with the prep leading into the actually day-
the decorating the tree together, shopping for our family, working our favorite charity project, and enjoyed a beautiful candle light service. How do you other married folks balance everything? 

As 2013 is wrapping up {which is crazy} I feel I need to share what has been the most influential and important part of my year. Obviously, getting married was huge and such a life changing event that I wouldn't trade for the world. I feel what has really improved the quality of not only our marriage but our lives is the decision we made to join a small group within our large church Faith Promise. 

We joined our group a month or so before we got married. Our group is made up of three other couples who are still less than five years married and since joining a single dad has joined and a dating couple. I'll tell anyone considering a group that it is difficult at first to take that dive into putting yourself in the scary position of sitting down with strangers and putting yourself, your marriage out there to share. I feel we can always make an excuse of why not to, it IS tough to finally say okay, I'm ready to grow. Words can't say how grateful I am that we have joined this group.

Mather 18:20 says, "Where two or more gather, I am there."

Our first study once we returned from our honeymoon was a marriage study.

This study may have lasted six sessions but the impact it has left on me still remains. I find myself looking at Drew differently and really thinking about my role as a wife. 
This is something I never would have experienced without small group.

Since this time we have studied how to balance our busy lives, a family study, and a prayer study. 
These studies have "trickled" down into my life as a teacher, my life as a friend, my life as daughter, and more. Do I think we could have worked our way threw 2013 without group? Sure, but it would not have been such a learning experience and not near as enjoyable. I wouldn't want to think about the second part of our year with out group. 2013 has been an amazing year both personally and professionally for Drew and I, without question I know that the best step taken this year was our step to grow in our faith, together. 

I'm excited for the growth and path that our faith will have in 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Lets Talk Babies...Irons Party of 2 ?!

Now before we get started, no I'm not pregnant and no not trying and yes I would be very surprised if we were. What I'm blogging about is the frequent questions that Drew and I get asked on a regular basis,
"When are you having kids?"

I love kids. I feel with no doubt that my purpose is to work with kids and that God has plans for me to continue to do so with the skills and opportunities that he has allowed.
As much as I love kids, I also love my husband and I love it being just the two of us...for now.
I'm going to spend the rest of my life with Drew and I love that, when I really think about it majority of our lives I hope we are blessed with a family to love and to share our lives with. 
So right now it is just the two of us and I"m okay with that. Actually I love it.
I love that we can randomly go on trips and if it is 8:00 and we want to go grab a drink and catch a movie we can. I love that we can stay up late (okay go to bed early, really early) and have friends over whenever we choose and be selfish with our time and use this time to be conservative with our savings. Drew and I both have careers we love and are passionate about and with that comes a great time demand. Right now that is fine. When we have kids that extra time spent doing work related things that aren't "needed" just extra or for enjoyment will have to take a back seat. As for the days of us taking off on a day ride on the Harley, that will be over too or at least for 10+ years. We both agree once we have kids that the risk of leaving our child{ren} without parents is a risk we aren't willing to take.  So right  now we are totally selfish and enjoying life with the two of us...and our sweet Copper. 

When asked this ever so popular question I can usually come up with a quick wit answer and laugh it off because most people can't seem accept the answer, "I want to enjoy being married for a bit and then enjoy the family." I feel wanting to be married at least a year before kids isn't unreasonable and at the end of the day it just works for Drew and I and that is what matters.

When I looked on Pintrest about life before baby I found some really good links that I feel other newlyweds might like too. Why the baby pressure?! No shame in being selfish and wanting to enjoy some of the only year (s) we will spend just us.

To each is own when it comes to family and marriage.
I'm just surprised how this seems to be the first thing friends, family, and strangers ask.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Our Weekend and Christmas {Break} Top 10 List

Well it is here, Christmas break!
Two + weeks of a mental break and lots of time in cozy socks.
I. Can't. Wait.

Our weekend and first evening of the beloved Christmas break started with Drew's work party.
This year we took a dinner cruise around downtown Knoxville and it was beautiful getting to see all the lights and our favorite landmarks.
The dinner was yummy and the fun holiday themed cocktails even better!

I attempted the final things on our shopping list Saturday with the majority of East Tennessee. 
The traffic was seriously more than Black Friday but the sales were well worth it.
Victoria Secret has most bras for $25, Target an extra 10% off everything, and Ulta gave out $5 off coupons. So at the end of the day I was okay with the large amounts of swear words murmured under my breath and shouted by others in the parking lots. 

(note cozy sock in bottom of pic)
I'm trying to wrap up the wrapping business.
I've topped the guys gifts with favorite airplane bottles to spread a little holiday cheer!

My Mom gave us an early gift, this adorable ornament!
I'm obsessed with special ornaments for each year and this one is super special to us for sure.

Now that I'm on break I have several things I'm excited to do:

- blog about some things that I haven't had a chance to sit and do
(how small groups has changed me in 2013, marriage, and some teacher post)
-enjoy starting new traditions like matching pj pants on Christmas Eve
-excited to cook a yummy breakfast Christmas morning and even more excited that Drew's brother and our sister in law are staying with us
-making some yummy holiday drinks (inspired from the work party)
- deep clean the house, this makes me weirdly happy
-try some new dinners
-attempt to run and have "mini workouts" twice a day 
-enjoy coffee every morning
finally, - soak in every last Christmas song and moments of 2013!

Have a great week!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas fun in the classroom!

The last few weeks days have been crazy!
At school we have had testing that needs to be done,
meetings that need to be had, and a million and one other things going on.
Oh yeah, and the excitement of Santa and that today at 3:05 started our Christmas break!

Today we had an awesome day!
My teammate and I planned morning full of crafts and games followed by a kid party where they had more food than they knew what to do with. Then an hour outside on this beautiful day!

 Our school mascot is the owls.
I found this cute ornament pattern on Pintrest {of course} and luckily had lots of parent help!

 Seriously could not have made this ornament happen with 44 kiddos without the parents.
So thankful to work in a school and community where the parents are so eager to help and involved in the education. All hands were on deck!
 A sweet student even brought his guitar and played a few Christmas songs for us all.
The gift of music was precious!

 Of course festive hair added to our fun day!

Leading up to our fun day was some major prep time.
I had a great time planning and preparing, a favorite being the baked goods to share with the staff and treat bags for the kiddos.
It said, "Can't wait for S'MORE 5th grade fun!"
I also included a pencil {teachers are obligated to give this}, a heartfelt letter, and a homework pass-
which to my 11 year old students #gold

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Me vs The Laundry

I hate doing laundry.
I REALLY hate folding and putting away laundry.
Honestly, I'll cook a good dinner every night and clean the dishes and scrub bathrooms daily no problem---but laundry is the worst!

Embarrassingly enough I'm complaining about laundry for two people.
I know plenty of women that have multiple kids to wash and fold after and they manage the job like it isn't anything. Me on the other hand, at any given point I have 2+ loads that need to be done which means when I attempt to "catch up" I have about 2+ loads to fold.
Let's be honest, it ain't gonna happen!

I overheard two teachers talking about a laundry system one of them have.
This super woman teacher is washing clothes for FIVE people and makes it work. Easily at that!
So if she can do it, surely to goodness I can get my act together to do laundry for Drew and I.

I've seriously given this alot of thought. Pathetic I know.
But I am so over always be behind in laundry and having heaping baskets to do all at once.
So here is this grand system that is hopefully going to solve my laundry problems: 
- Sunday before church start a load (darks), fold that evening
-Monday start a load (whites) before school, fold that evening
-Tuesday start a load (towels) before school, fold that evening

That leaves Wednesday with nothing, Thursday for Small Group, and the rest of the week to enjoy clean clothes and time to dirty up more.

Sure within these three loads for just the two of us I can manage this!
Also, I will wash my delicate and whatever else as needed but I don't have many of them.

All else fails, maybe with the promise of wine as I fold will serve as motivation.
Let's see how this goes!

Our Weekend and Beer Pizza Crust

This has been a great weekend!
Friday Drew texted me at school and said we would be leaving for Nashville as
soon as I got home from school. We needed to pick up his truck and he had the great idea to
spend the night there and finish Christmas shopping the next day.

Once we got there a little after 9 we were starving.
We stayed downtown and the girl at the front desk said a great place was just
across the street with over 150 drafts. That was all we needed to know.

The place was called Flying Saucer and it was amazing.
The food was outstanding, the service great, and the beer selection was over 4 pages. 
We will definitely be going back!

In the morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and headed out to shop. We 
got majority of the stuff at a Marshalls that was 10 minutes from where we stayed.
Then we grabbed a Starbucks and headed home.
Nashville is just under 3 hours from our home, not bad.

I have a pet peeve about whenever we leave for a trip, one night or more, the house HAS
to be left in perfect condition. Well the house was no means a mess when we left but my OCD kicked in by the time we got home and I've cleaned top to bottom. 
Then got in the Christmas spirit and enjoyed wrapping gifts.
I have big plans to decorate them but this will do in the mean time. 

So for dinner we wanted homemade pizza.
I keep coming across beer crust recipes online so we decided to try one.

 Once the simple dough was rolled out and placed on the pan I brushed it with olive oil
I've learned if you sprinkle the bottom of the pan with cornmill it helps get the crust extra yummy!
We love toppings! 
Today we had green and yellow bell pepper, banana peppers, onion, sausage, and turkey pepperoni.
Final product was a pretty pizza.
Honestly, I liked it but did not love it.
I feel it tasted too much like "dough" and needed a better sauce but by no means was it bad.

Now I need to cozy up next to this fur ball and get busy with some lesson plans and grading papers!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December Favorites

December Favorites

This cool and often rainy weather we are having makes me want to be cozy!
The Clearasonic is amazing and helps with my dry skin this time of year. 
Peppermint mocha, ahhh is anything more delicious?
Never can have enough EOS.
As necessary as fashionable, a scarf and beanie are some of my favorites!

Do you have any cold weather must-haves?
I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chicken Quesadilas

Drew has been wanting these delicious little slices for a few weeks now.
Last night we happened to have all the needed goods so decided to have 
these for dinner. (Once again throw out the planned menu)

So here ya go, chicken quesadilas--they won't disappoint!

You will need one pound of boneless skinless chicken, two bell peppers sliced (I used one red and one green), one small onion sliced, wraps of your choice, Monterrey Jack cheese.

I use two separate pans. In one I saute the peppers and onion together with just a small amount of olive oil. I also put a few grinds of fresh pepper on them. In the other pan with a small amount of olive oil goes the chicken. We have cut it up first in the past a few times but it seems to dry out so we cook it whole then cut it up. We add fresh sea salt, cracked pepper, and a touch of crushed red pepper, garlic powder, and anything else we think might go good. 

Cook the chicken till done all the way through and the veggies till good and tender.
While the chicken and veggies finish cooking I sliced up the cheese good and thin. 
While having a sample of course.
After the chicken is cooked we sliced it up and added it with the veggies.
Warm up the tortillas. 
I lightly sprayed the pan first, not sure if it even matters to do that. 
Once the wrap is warm and slightly golden I added the cheese.
Then add the veggies and chicken.
Fold over and cook till melted on both sides.
Then enjoy! I dip mine in fresh salsa. So yummy! 
Maybe with a margarita or Corona?!