September 30, 2011

The One with the Extra Mile

Because I love ya, because I'm a bit proud of myself, and because I left you with quite a teaser yesterday...

...I will share with you the other new (awesome) thing I did this week. 

Wednesday morning, my wonderful friend Sheryl and I planned to go for a morning run on Thursday. I woke up with a jolt. Thank you very much, alarm clock. I had just gotten into a good sleep. Oh well. I knew I would feel better after a run. 

Fifteen minutes later, I was on my way out the day. In a moment of unusual motivation, I opted to run to Sheryl's house--3 miles--and then run for 3 miles with her. Running together is so great. I've always wanted a running partner and now I have found one--and she just so happens to be a great friend, too. 

While feeling great and talking along the way, we both decided to be extra ambitious and add a mile to the end of our run. We finished strong--Sheryl with her third run over 3 miles and me with my first ever 7 mile run. I was so pumped and proud of us both! 

Today, I am thankful for strong legs for running, a heart that can keep beating hard, the perfect running partner I've been desiring for years, and the added motivation to keep each other going. I never would have had the gumption to force myself to add a mile. But with Sheryl, it didn't feel that bad at all. It was actually kind of fun. Watch out, world, we'll be Olympic runners in no time! (HA!  At least we'll be in great shape. :D)

do you workout with friends or solo? do you even work out? you totally should. It rocks!

September 29, 2011

The One with the First of the Canning

I have been trying so many new things this week. One of which I will share with you here. 
You're welcome.  

On Monday, the hottest day of the newly-arrived fall season, Sheryl and decided to try canning tomatoes. Her neighbor had given her baskets upon baskets of tomatoes leftover from his garden, and we decided to preserve them for future use. We gathered those beautiful mason jars from new boxes and dusty, dirty, spider-filled boxes (those were mine. thank you, basement.) We washed and sanitized all of the jars, filled the stove with four large pots with various purposes and went to work-- washing tomatoes, chopping off the stems, boiling them, shocking them in cold water to loosen the skins, peeling them (not always as easy as it should have been), breaking them up (especially fun to do with your hands--clean hands, of course), simmering them for another however-many-minutes-until-we-thought-they-were-done, transferring them to the jars (with those handy-dandy wide-mouth funnel), and then the actual canning. 

Two days later, we tried a similar process with cooked salsa and additional canned tomatoes. The second time around we had a much better rhythm, but man, canning is quite a lot of work. I'm so glad I didn't attempt it completely on my own for the first time. I probably would have given up. But working alongside a friend, filling the time with good conversation, makes the time together so sweet and very productive!

 I am thankful

What about this canning business? Do you have a lot of experience? Any tips to offer us?

September 28, 2011

The One with New Music

I may have gotten myself into big trouble. 

So to speak. 

The other day I was searching (pretty much my favorite place to shop ever) in order to find a new set of piano lesson books for my brand new student. (My third in three weeks!! Can I get a woot, woot?!) I easily found what I was looking for, added to my cart, and continued browsing. 

That's when I found it. The perfect supplementary book for another one of my students. She already owns a full score of  Taylor Swift music, but the music itself was a bit beyond her current level. When I saw the Easy Piano version of Taylor Swift: Fearless I knew I had to tell her mom right away. I'm so glad I did! R's mom was just as excited as I was about this great find, and ended up purchasing a second easy piano book as well. I can't wait to start working on these fun songs with Miss R. (They might need to keep close tabs on the more advanced Taylor Swift book. I might just borrow it for an extended period of time. Ok, ok, I'm an honest person. But for real--they're letting me borrow it. :D) 

This music book revelation of mine opened a whole other can of worms. I began searching for a great supplementary book for a brand new student--Miss C. I sent her a list of what I had found and she eagerly choose the Glee big note music collection. 

Wow! How fun are piano lessons going to be!? 

Now, I want to start ordering fun new books for myself. I haven't had a new music book to play in far too long, and as much as I adore my worship music and Christian wedding music books, something as awesome as Francesca Battestelli or LOTR Fellowship of the Ring or Phantom of the Opera would be AMAZING and so much fun! It's scary how fast and easy it would be to click BUY NOW, BUY NOW and spend a bazillion dollars

Luckily I have great self control in my spending. Otherwise, we might have a problem. 

What music suggestions do you have for me? (Either that you've played or music you love to listen to and think I would enjoy playing)

September 27, 2011

The One with Beans Coming Out My Ears

I have been going a hundred miles per hour in 10 different directions lately--but loving all of it! I'm not usually a fan of this-is-what-I've-been-doing-in-the-last-48-hours type of posts, but this is good stuff that I want to remember and I'm a little impressed at how much I've been accomplishing. tee hee. 

Sunday was busy, busy, but beautiful! We spent the afternoon chatting, laughing, and eating a healthy (thank you!) and delicious lunch with Brian & Karen and their son. It was great fun! They are so easy to be around. You know how it is when you just feel comfortable? Yeah, it's nice. 

After we rode our bikes home (yep, total bonus of small town--almost everything and everyone is a 2-10 minute bike ride away!), I headed back out. This time to Sheryl's for an afternoon of green bean snapping and sweet conversation. You know me and my love of productivity mixed with fun.* The two of us had a great time together, as always, and we both have a freezer full of beans. yum! 

*disclaimer--I also thoroughly enjoying sitting and doing nothing productive other than reading, watching tv or playing games with friends.   

Bible Quizzing and Youth Group filled the rest of the night, and Monday morning I hit the ground running. I had another Etsy Adorkable Bakery order to bake, package and ship, a dozen cookies to send off to my friend Betsy for her birthday, a meal to prepare for a local family needing dinners for a week (potato soup, homemade bread, and cookies), and then an afternoon of canning tomatoes. Sheryl and I are both novice canners, but we managed to get 9 quarts of tomatoes canned. And boy is that a process! We were both super thankful to have each other's company. Chores are always more fun with friends. 

That evening I went home with jars of freshly canned tomatoes and a bag of chopped peppers for the freezer, then headed out to drop off the local family's dinner. They were thrilled--especially with the bread--which made me super happy. I made it home just in time to deliver that batch of Adorkable Bakery cookies and then Kevin and I headed over to the high school volleyball to support one of our teens. (This made me miss our Michaela!) We had a great time and then enjoyed our evening at home together. 

I've been almost as busy today.--filling another Bakery order (coffee speckled chocolate chip cookies and chocolate covered butter toffee--amazing stuff that is!), preparing to add a third student (!) to my piano studio this Wednesday (*cue cheers of excitment*), making chili with some of the leftover tomatoes from Monday, searching for cheaper bakery and shipping boxes online, and balancing our checkbook. Starting the day with a bike ride to Sheryl's followed by a 4 mile run together was the perfect way to start the day. 

And now, having re-read what I just typed, I'm tired all over again. I might just need a nap. 

How have YOU been these last couple days?! 

September 24, 2011

The One with What Makes a Good Weekend

Awesome things about this weekend include...

game night with Randy & Sheryl. We love hanging out with them. All four us spent plenty of time laughing hysterically. I found out Kevin had never actually played Cranium, he just assumed he wouldn't like it. But he totally did. And don't let him tell you otherwise. 

my new purse, designed and sewn by a wonderful 9 year old girl who just so happens to be Randy and Sheryl's oldest. It was incredibly sweet of her. And super impressive. I feel loved.

a walk through the mountainous, scenic cemetery with a good friend, Diane. Sweet conversation and elevated heart rate--one of my favorite combinations. Second only to chocolate and peanut butter. 

sending my husband off to do his first major service, dressed up in his brand-spanking-new suit. Man, oh man, did he look good!

just spending time together, the two of us. We watched Soul Surfer together and started our 7th seasons of 24. We played a computer video game together (and I actually enjoyed myself.) We ate healthy meals and snuggled under the afghan.  We walked to the library and to the bank, enjoying the fall sunshine. 

All in all, a lovely weekend. I am thankful.

Did you enjoy your weekend? Do simple things like laughter and turning leaves make you happy too?


September 23, 2011

The One with My Parents' 27th

Happy 27th Anniversary (yesterday) to my Mom & Dad! Thank you guys, for staying faithful to each other all these years, for raising Ash and I through thick and thin, for teaching me to be self-sufficient, and most importantly for leading me to salvation in Christ. Love you both! 

May God bless you with many more years of marriage with Him as your center. 

September 22, 2011

The One with the True Haggler

Tonight my mom called. We chit-chatted for a while and just before hanging up, I remembered a story from last weekend that I just had to tell her. By the end of my re-telling, we worth both cracking up with laughter, just about dying over the ridiculousness of the story I had just told. 

The story you are about to read is true. None of the details have been altered in any way.

This past Saturday, as I got back from my long-ish run (5 miles in 40 minutes thankyouverymuch. woo!), I decided my "cool down" would be walking with Kevin to the Rummage Sale at the Knights of Columbus hall just around the corner. This would kill four birds with one stone. 

1. get first dibs at the sale.
2. cool down from my run. 
3. go for a walk with my husband. 
4. spend time with my husband. 

Much to my glee, he agreed! And off we went. 

When we arrived, I was a bit confused and kind of bummed. This wasn't a rummage sale at the Knights of Columbus. This was a the-Knights-of-Columbus-need-to-sell-all-their-old-junk-because-they-sold-their-building-sale. I took a courtesy look around. You know the type. "Yeah, I don't really see any way I'll find something worth buying here, but because I'm here, I might as well look around and pretend to be interested." 

We made our way into the bar area of the hall and found boxes and boxes of glassware. There were these adorable little glasses I wanted to get, but Kevin quickly informed me they were shot glasses, so I moved on. (I'm naive, what can I say.) But then, my husband, who has a teensy addiction to glass ware and always seem to find a glass he just has to have, found a box of 96 drinking glasses. Sure, they're probably beer glasses, but they are the "regular" height of a water glass, and have a uniquely small diameter, and a sweet frosted look. Kevin convinced me to buy some of them with this argument-- "they're so compact, lots more glasses can fit in our cupboards this way." True. And he of course mentioned how awkward it is to drink out of our square-ish glasses. (He and my mom just get totally thrown off and don't seem to know how to drink out of them--do you drink from a corner or an edge? So funny.)

Anyways, I conceded and we filled a box with 16 glasses. Yes, 16. 

I then set out to choose a price. Glasses are cheap at garage sales. And abundant. Plus, I can buy new glasses at Walmart for very little money. 


I decided I wanted to give the guy one dollar

With that in mind, I approached the older gentleman at checkout counter. He asked another guy, "Hey, how much do you want for these."

"Five dollars." 

"Five dollars?" I reply. "I'll give you a dollar for them. Glasses are cheap." 

"Not those, they aren't," the man replied. "Those are worth $5.00."

"I'm sorry, but I won't give you any more than two," I said, standing firm. "I can't get glasses almost that cheap brand new. And besides you have a box of 96 of them back there."

But the guy wouldn't budge. 

Another gentleman approached us and offered $3.00. 

"Nope," I said, "I'm not going any higher than two dollars." 

(Yeah, this is for real, folks.) 

They turned me down, so I sent Kevin to return the glasses to their collection. 

(I've gotta give my husband some mad brownie points for this too. He never took control of the situation. He knows I'm hardcore about garage sales, and he let me handle it. Thanks, babe.) 

While I was waiting for his return, the only lady working with this rummage sale was standing in my vicinity. She had tried to talk the guys down in their price, but those men were certain their glasses were worth more. 

At that moment, she leaned over and said, "You can have them for two. I'll go get him." (him, being my husband.) 


Kevin was totally stoked to get his box of awesome glasses. I, on the other hand, was totally irritated that I had to spend a whole extra dollar to buy him his glasses. (And no, I'm not joking. I was actually irritated.)

Now, a week later, I'm happy. The glasses are super cute. And he was right--many more glasses can fit in my cupboard this way. And I don't regret that extra dollar one bit.


Anyone else out there a haggler?!  Or am I crazy and alone on this one? 

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September 20, 2011

The One with the Top [insert number here] Shows I'm Stoked About

And now, 
because I forgot it was Tuesday until it was already past my bedtime, 
because I haven't slept well in days, 
because I am a lover of quality (I use that term a bit loosely) television entertainment (I know, I know, not the best use of my time, but I love tv, I can't deny it.) 
and because I was really excited to watch the first episode of the new session of The Biggest Loser tonight, 
I give you, 

the top ten six tv shows I'm totally looking forward to this fall. 

1) Parenthood
I tried to watch an episode or two in session 1 but never got into it. Probably because it on past my bedtime. But then Britt starting talking to me about it during session 2 and I began watching to keep up with our conversations. I am now totally hooked. I was looking forward to last Wednesday's premier BIG TIME. Even if I did watch it on Hulu the next morning. 

2) The Office
I'm really not sure how I'm going to feel about this new guy--he totally creeps me out--but after watching the former seasons on dvd in rapid succession (some episodes multiple times), I'm a serious fan. Sorry I wrote you off in the beginning during the first 5 sessions.  

3) The Biggest Loser. 
I have been quite a diehard fan of this show for the last three years (which is, what? 6 sessions?), but I'm not so sure how I'll feel with all of the changes. I don't do well with change. Except, of course, when it comes to people changing their lives by losing insane amounts of poundage. 

4) Criminal Minds
I have been a lover of crime shows for a long time. This began out of a desire to spend time with my dad. Dad loves crime shows. I watched crime shows with dad. Now I love crime shows too. I scare myself sometimes--bad dreams, and paranoia--but it's totally worth it.

Criminal Minds is BY FAR my favorite crime show of all time. It's SO well done. So gripping. So intense. And the character development is just awesome. I love me some Garcia and Reed and Shemar Moore (because I can't remember his character name at the moment and because he's my one celebrity crush. And yes, Kevin knows all about this.)


5) Modern Family

It just doesn't get much funnier than this. Yet another show I didn't think I'd get into, but when Pastor Dale and the family was talking about how hilariously awesome it was, I couldn't help but watch. And I'm so glad I did. 

6) How I Met Your Mother (or affectionately referred to as HIMYM) 
Kevin and I totally love this show. It's FRIENDS for the 21st century. We borrowed the first however many sessions from Sara and Kyle while we were at camp in 2010 and we were totally hooked. I can't wait for new episodes! (And I also can't wait to own the dvds. I could watch these guys over and over.) 


What shows are YOU looking forward to this fall?

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September 19, 2011

The One with His Specific Provision

I'm at a loss for words at God's goodness. His provision. His forethought. And His passionate attention shown to the innermost aspects of my life. 

In the months before this big move, across states and into faith, there were many prayers offered. We sought wisdom--where to move, where to live, where to go to school. We asked for financial provision for which we couldn't prepare. And beneath all of the food-on-the-table and roof-over-our-heads requests, we sought a place to belong. That third component of full life--where relationships become as integral as breathing--was a silent prayer, pondered deep in my heart. 

And my God knows me so well. He knows my deepest needs, my heart's longing. 

Something like this should takes years to develop, but God planned differently. He wanted me connected. Sharing lives, shoulders, dreams, and hurts. Supporting another just as I need support. 

I have already made so many wonderful friends here. But today, this afternoon, God gave me a glimpse of His glorious plan for my life in the time I spent with the friend my heart has needed. I am thankful beyond words, excited beyond description. My heart is overflowing, tears of joy stream down my face. 

Thank you, Jesus, for your care, your provision. You are so good to me. 

Do you believe life is richer when truly shared by a friend??

September 18, 2011

The One with TMI (but not for you)

Sometimes, you just have to let your hair down. So to speak. In the metaphorical sense it's just nice to take out those tight bobby pins that have been keeping my hair oh-so-perfectly-presentable and yet have been digging into my scalp, give my head a good shake, take a deep breath and chill-the-heck-out. 

Do you follow?


Ok, maybe that was a ridiculous metaphor. Let's just pretend that didn't happen. The truth is, it felt so good to be crazy and silly with a handful of women who were following suit. It was just 7 of us, different ages, different life stages. Sharing a meal. Many of us didn't know each other well. Honestly, having been at this church for just over a month I guess I can say I couldn't possibly have had the time to get to know anyone well

Relationships takes time. Time to be real. Time to relax. Time to share hurts. Time to talk about things that probably don't ever need to be talked about, but it just feels good air out your "dirty laundry" every now and again and go home without feeling the least bit judged for the ridiculous conversation you were just a part of, and, in fact, instigated

*deep breath* That was a crazy run-on sentence. But it needed to be. For affect, you know?

After last night's women's dinner for 8 and the subsequent dessert with 25, I feel that much more at ease, connected, loved. 

Laughter is a beautiful thing. Relationships are healing. We were meant for community.

Do you agree?


September 16, 2011

The One with the Week in Review

This past week I've taught my first piano lesson in my new town, receiving quite an exciting review. And I quote, 
If the giggling after the lesson and practicing at 8pm without being asked are any indication of teaching style..... I recommend Melanie and Eccles Piano Studio.
Besides working on to improve upon my studio policies and creating an application system, my mind has been on some brilliant brainstorms for enhancing my piano studio. I've developed a Student Profile form which includes fun facts like favorite music, cookies, snacks, and school subject, and more serious things like food allergies and emergency contact information. (I mean, I wouldn't want to bake a bunch of peanut butter cookies and find out the hard way that a student is crazy allergic!) 

I also came up with a Student History form which gives me a way to track when they started lessons and what books they are working on when. It's incredibly important to keep track of individual progress and what materials they've studied.  

PLUS, I put together an entertainment basket for those while-you-are-waiting moments. Filled with coloring books, crayons, Nate the Great books, Where's Waldo books, after school activity books, and more! For younger siblings or early students waiting patiently, I think this is a great resource to have on hand. Heck, I might color myself a picture and find Waldo one of these days. :)

I created a great portable filing system (you all know how much I love filing. and systems.)--complete with file folders for individual student records, folders with copies of policies or student histories or applications, and a full copy of the weekly lesson schedule.  

And finally, I designed this totally sweet logo for the newly-created piano studio Facebook group. I think I'm well on my way to establishing a successful piano studio in our new town. I'm praying for the right students at the right time, and I appreciate any word-of-mouth recommendations you may share. 


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September 14, 2011

The One with the Decisions

Decision-making is not my forte. Sure, when it comes to group leading I can be the bossy one and just make a decision (!) because no one else will. But in personal matters, I need decisive decision improvements. 

I have McDonald's menu memorized yet it still takes me an abnormally long time to order. 

If we're ever at a fast-food place together, you'll most likely hear me say, "You can go ahead of me. I'm not ready yet"--as if it's some life-altering choice I'm making. 

 I've been trying hard to be decisive--especially for my husband's sake. But I often find myself settling hard and fast, only to be met by differing opinions and other options, launching me into a tizzy. I try to explain to him that part of the reason I don't like to voice my opinion (particularly as it relates to restaurant choices) is because when I actually say, "I would like to go to ......" I have thought through every angle and all possible outcomes and am wearing my heart on my sleeve. Thus, if others involved in this decision choose something different, I am frustrated, irritated, or even offended. Lame, I know. But this is why I'd rather be non-committal. It's just easier sometimes. 

In the past month I have had to make some seriously important decisions. You know, the kind that can be life-altering. Do I apply for that job? Do I want to work full time? How involved do I want to be in this ministry or that? When do I say "no"? Shouldn't I just suck it up, be a grown-up and work 40 hours a week like every other American? (gross generalization, I know. Sorry.) Do I want to teach piano? If so, will it be enough? Will I be enough? Should I take on that child care job? And where should we go for the holidays? (Yes, with the way our schedule fills up, it's best to start planning this stuff early. Besides, would you expect anything different of me?) 

All that to say, I'm thankful for the many mornings I've poured all this out to my Lord and for his faithfulness to give me wisdom. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

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September 13, 2011

The One with Today's Thanks

Top Ten {Tuesday} Things I am Thankful For--
Top Ten {Tuesday}

1} the cool weather than blew in this afternoon.

2} a new-found love for rhubarb. (two new recipes will be coming your way soon!)

3} a 6am walk along the canal with my husband.

4} the full moon we saw on our way out on a walk and the sunrise we witnessed on the way back.

5} this delicious creamy, spicy macaroni dish I came up with.

6} my husband sharpening my favorite kitchen knife.

7} the creative juices that have been flowing these past few days as I've come up with new and exciting ways to run my piano studio.

8} deciding to start teaching piano in our new hometown.

9} already having 2 students signed up for lessons and looking forward to the number God has in store for me.

10} a grocery shopping date with a fellow Aldi-lover from church.


What are YOU thankful for this Tuesday evening?

linked up with Oh!Amanda's Top Ten Tuesday.

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September 12, 2011

The One with the "Normal" Sunday

Yesterday was a "normal" Sunday--the first in many weeks. It felt good, it felt right, it felt...well...normal. At the church at 7:45am for worship team rehearsal, making last minute changes to the set. It was the earliest I think I've ever been at church, but it worked. Right after practice, it was scurrying here and there accomplishing necessary tasks and joyfully greeting friends. I had to stop in the middle of a conversation when the time to start playing had rolled around.  

Following the first service, I chatted for a moment before making my way up to the senior teen Sunday School Class where Kevin was co-leading. I had to ask directions on my way. Hey! I'm still new(ish) here! At the end of class, Kevin and I enjoyed our typical, playful banter while talking with the teens. (We're generally well-received as entertainment by our audiences. *teehee*) 

Right after Sunday School, I headed back down to the Sanctuary to prepare to play piano for the traditional service. Bring on the hymns! This was going to be my very first 2nd service--seeing as how the church had been doing 1 service through the summer.  It was probably entertaining to watch me go back and forth from the piano 3 times as I thought there was more time between songs than there really was. :) All went well, however. I survived. I played...fairly well.  

And all just felt right. Being super involved in Sunday services has been my normal for the last 3 years. And it was good to be back to normal. 

What's your Sunday morning normal?

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September 11, 2011

The One with Remembering 9/11

I couldn't believe how quickly it all came back. With the news broadcasting images and recordings, interviewing President Bush and the children of the tragedy--it is like it was just yesterday. Or last year, maybe. But not an entire decade. The emotions are still raw. Tears welled up as I was transported back in time 10 years. Remembering

Everyone said we would never forget that tragic day, September 11, 2001. The day our country was attacked. An act of war on home soil. Who could have known, on that lovely fall morning, that thousands of lives would be lost? Those who had gone into work just like usual, supporting their families. Kids at school having no way of knowing they would never see their dad or mom again. Wives, at home, watching the news, hands cradling their unborn child, crumbling into broken pieces. Alone. 

And there I was, a sophomore in high school. I walked into my French class and Nick S. said something about a plain flying into the World Trade Center. I didn't even know what the World Trade Center was. And Madame Wynn didn't seem to pay much attention to this student's announcement. So we went on with class. But by the time I got to my next class, I knew something was seriously wrong. Our teacher took us down to the auditorium. Other classes started trickling in behind us. A projector screen was set up already with the live news coverage.

This was for real

Terrorists had commandeered American planes and drove them into the World Trade Center. And then we watched as the second plan crashed into the second building. The first skyscraper collapsed. And then the Pentagon was hit. And another planed crashed in Pennsylvania. 

I didn't know what to think, what to feel. I was scared. Would this mean we were at war? Was our town going to be under attack as well? What were we supposed to do next?

We all sat in silence. Hundreds of students and teachers, huddled together. Riveted by the scenes unfolding before them. 

The bell rang. Somberly we walked outside and boarded the buses. Discreetly I kept an eye on the skies. At home, the news was turned on right away. How long were we going to watch this? The same images, over and over. 

It was torture. But we couldn't look away. 

Life didn't just go on that day. Everyone, in every town, across America ceased their afternoon activities. Ball fields stood empty. Roads quiet. Each family gathered together, telling one another how much we love each other (because what if we didn't get to say that before something this tragic happened to us?), watching history unfold before our eyes. 

And today, those same tears fill my eyes. There is more understanding now, more anger, more pain

And I pray God would continue to use this tragedy to draw men until Himself. Because that is the only good that can come out of these ashes

How vividly do you remember that day? What was your experience?

September 9, 2011

The One with My Hand Stamped Necklace


Today's mailbox contents was absolutely thrilling! My hand stamped necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs arrived! I won a gift card months ago from Lynette Kraft via Lisa, and it was the best thing I ever could have hoped to win.(That might be a slight exaggeration. I'm sure there's something I would hope to win even more, but right now everything pales in comparison.)  I have been  window shopping for all these months. Eagerly pouring over the Lisa Leonard newsletter and trying to decide if and when to use the special newsletter-only percent discount. 

I'm so glad I waited. An even better sale was announced in my email inbox. 

I decided it was time.  

Though previously I had 10 or more necklaces (they're all so pretty!) on my wishlist, I was quickly able to narrow down my choices to one. 

It arrived in the most adorable little box--(the one at the top). How cute is that?!

And then I saw it--complete with our names, hand stamped with love. 


As I turned it over I saw our wedding date, forever emblazoned in the sterling silver. Perfection.


This proud display of our love, our marriage. *sigh* And I am absolutely in love! I may or may not ever take it off. 


Thank you, Lisa! and Lynette!

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September 8, 2011

The One with All the Apples

Since it's fall and all, I have a confession. I'm obsessed with apples. I know--the two concepts don't necessarily have anything to do with one another, but I've got apple-picking on the brain

Aside from goodness of fall apple cider, I really do have a bit of an apple addiction. Ask any who's spent any reasonable amount of time with me (particularly those who've lived with me), and they'll tell you I eat an apple almost every day. The fruit is just so darn perfect. They stay fresh for weeks. In the fridge or on the counter. There are a hundred varieties to suit my mood. They are perfect sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon. Or dipped in peanut butter (YUM!). I love them cooked in my morning oatmeal. Or baked in a perfect pie. I even love them sliced on top of a grilled cheese. (Don't knock it till you've tried it!)

To answer your question, no, I don't like Red Delicious. I really really really don't. I prefer an apple with more flavor and a skin that doesn't require major mastication. Granny Smiths have always topped my list. I'm a sour lover. Right up there would be Golden Delicious, Fuji, Pink Lady, and Gala. I love Macintosh and Jonathan, but only for baking--they bruise too easily and tend to be too grainy for my taste. Honey Crisp and Braeburn are a special treat--they're normally the most pricey variety. (Yes, I know my apples. It may have something to do with growing up near an Apple Orchard and visiting almost every fall. Man, I miss those cider donuts! And it might have something to do with having a dad who's a bit of an apple connoisseur. He taught me everything he knows.) 

Almost every day growing up I had an apple in my lunch box. And I never got tired of them. The trend has continued. I snagged an apple on my way out of the dining commons almost every day in college. If we're going on a trip (even just 3 or 4 hours away), I take at least 4 apples in the car. Just. In. Case. You know that episode of Friends where Ross steals the apples (and pine cones!) from the front desk of the super-expensive hotel he and Chandler stayed in? That would probably be me. 

And then there's the stock-piling-of-apples issue. If our fruit drawer has fewer than 5 apples, I might...well, I'm not sure what I might do. I try not to find out. I buy 5 pound bags of this fruit like we were preparing for an apocalypse AND apples were going out of style. 

Now, if you're beginning to think I'm insane.....
.....please disregard everything you've just read. 

My name is Melanie and I love apples. That's all you need to know. 


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September 7, 2011

The One with Insta-Autumn

Right now, I'm in love with the sudden fall season that seems to be upon us. I love how it was 90 on Saturday and it's been in the 60s since then. Sure, I would appreciate a view of the sun now and then, but these blustery days have been so refreshing. I LOVE Fall. It is by far my favorite season, and has been for as long as I can remember. As a child I think I loved Fall because it ushered in my birthday. I was HUGE into my birthday. But now, though I still love my birthday (and the cake it brings), I have a deep appreciation for the mild temperatures, the low humidity, the changing leaves, the warm drinks, and the holiday seasons that come oh! so quickly. 

Today I baked bread and made soup. I can't wait to enjoy a warm bowl while snuggling up under a blanket. Perfection. 

Are you enjoying Fall where you live?

September 6, 2011

The One with the Rainy Labor Day

Spending time with my mom and dad Labor Day weekend was lovely. They were able to come with us to our church picnic in which we experienced Chicken Barbecue. This was a local delicacy that we hadn't yet experienced. I said, "I've had barbecue chicken but not 'Chicken Barbecue'." We were in for a treat. The bone-in chicken is covered in the most delicious dry-rub and roasted to fall-off-the-bone-perfection. Yum! And besides that, we have a church full of talented cooks and bakers (and a dairy farmer who generously provided the soft serve ice cream machine!), so our bellies were full! I was happy my parents could meet our new friends and put faces to all of the names we've been throwing at them in our stories. :) 

The weather transformed from a hot and humid weekend to a chilly and rainy Labor Day. (Honestly, I welcomed the cool temperatures with open arms!) Mom and I had a great time meandering around our quaint historic downtown, admiring century old architecture and window shopping. We were especially intrigued by a co-op "browsery" and their great prices, so we went in to visit today since the store was closed on the holiday. We found lots of great items--antique and handmade. I look forward to giving them my business again soon! 

Dad spent some time on the golf course and we all enjoyed a few good episodes of LOST. Yahtzee was played, ice cream was made and enjoyed, sweet corn was devoured--enjoying company as always. 

And on top of all of the fun, mom and dad delivered my sister's modern-style black futon that we're buying from her to give us more usable space in our front bedroom. Kevin is already in the process of making it his music room! Thanks, Ash! And thanks, Mom, for the adorable handmade rug that brings such personality to the space!

What did you do on your Labor Day weekend?

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September 3, 2011

The One with the REAL Youth Min

a snap shot of the the life of a youth pastor. 
as read in Group Magazine, Sept/Oct 2011

"So your job is to play with teenagers one day a week?"
prep lesson. write message. fix church van. lead kid to Christ. 
"Are you ever going to be a real pastor someday?"
scrape Jell-O off ceiling. lead Bible study. recruit and train volunteers. 
"You're not a parent yet, so you still can't really understand kids."
organize mission trip. brainstorm new game. take students to lunch. 
"I forgot to bring my permission slip, my money, and my Bible."
plan fundraiser. write newsletter. play an awesome game of Ultimate.
"We know it's your day off, but we thought you could help with this."
read text from one kid who finally gets it. survive overnighter. 
"Because of you I am studying youth ministry--and it looks so easy." 
turn in budget reports. listen to the voices of students in worship. 
"You made a difference in my life and showed me God is real."
talk with angry parent. reupholster church pew. visit student in hospital.
"Can you pick me up? I think my mom is too drunk to drive."
paint youth room. plan retreat. endure middle school band concert. 
"Why does it smell like something died in the church van?"
find lost student during scavenger hunt. cry at graduation.   

September 2, 2011

The One with the End of HP

Oh my goodness gracious
I literally just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--book 7 of 7 in the HP series. It was my first time. Yes, I know the books were all the rage when I was in high school. They became a part of some teacher's reading curriculum in fact. But I was against it. Partly because of the witch-craft. But mostly because I don't like to go along with the trends. I want to do something or read something or wear something or watch something on my time and not because everyone else is doing it. Me and vogue--we're not very tight. 

But these books are AMAZING. Brilliant! Fun! Riveting. Intense. Emotional. And in the end, crazy fast-paced.  I had read books 1 through 4 in the months before our move. I started in April and took my time getting through them. They were good, but I had to be in the mood to read them. 

I was a few chapters into book 5 when the packing and moving process rolled around. That meant, no more enjoyment reading for Mel. I had things to do, boxes to pack, deadlines to meet. 

But a few weeks after moving, I felt completely settled in my new home, and I visited my friend, Harry Potter once again. It took a little while to get back into it. But during VBS week (August 15-19), I became quite attached to my book. I whizzed through this 800+ page book in a few days time. I started book 6 on Sunday the 21st and a few days later was finished. 

Having read so much for so many days, I was kind over stimulated. So I started reading book 7 at a more leisurely pace. But who knew they would DIVE head first into the intensity of the plot?! Right from the get-go of this 750+ page book, there was intensity and drama. This book is the definition of a page turner. The action just doesn't stop. You wait for calm, leisurely chapters like those that filled the other six books, but reprieve never comes. 

And it's SO GOOD. In the last 2 days I've read over four hundred pages. (I know Kevin could read the entire epic novel in just a few hours, but this was quite a feat for me.) I loved every minute of this book--especially the second half. And can I just say, I am so happy an epilogue was included. I appreciate closure. 

All I can say is, "Well done, J.K. Rowling, well done!" 

Now, to the movies


Have you read Harry Potter? Are you a fan? 
If you've never given these books a chance, I say you need to!

The One with the Scrapbooking Winner and a DISCOUNT

And the winner of My Memories Digital Scrapbooking software giveaway IS---

who says
I think it would be wonderful to win this giveaway, because I'm so un-crafty :( I wish I could handmake my own scrapbooks, but I tend to cut off heads, over glue pages and end up with a mess (and not a pretty one). Thank you for making this available!

I hope this digital version of scrapbooking comes in super handy for you, Jillian!  Message me for your coupon code!

But wait! 
For those of you who didn't win the GRAND prize, there's still a HUGE discount awaiting you!

Simply follow this link, purchase the suite and use the coupon code STMMMS86322 when you check out for $10.00 OFF the scrapbook software PLUS another $10 coupon for theMyMemories store


September 1, 2011

The One Who is Frail

Perfect words from Jesus in the precise moment that my soul needed them. 
Grow strong in your weakness. Some of my children I've gifted with abundant strength and stamina. Others, like you, have received the humble gift of frailty. Your fragility is not a punishment, nor does it indicate lack of faith. On the contrary, weak ones like you must life by faith, depending on Me to get you through the day. I am developing your ability to trust me, to lean on Me, rather than your own understanding. Your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when. My preference is for you to depend on me continually, trusting Me to guide you and strengthen you as needed. This is how you grow strong in your weakness.  

I don't have to understand how so-and-so does it all. God enables them, for His greater purpose. I shouldn't believe something's wrong with me when I feel weak or tired. Receiving this message from God was such an amazing blessing. I have limits because He created me that way. I shouldn't reject them, trying to be more, do more.

Come to me, He saysall who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. 

I must simply run to Him. Seek strength in Him. Depend on the One who created me with this fragility. And be thankful.

For all is grace.

Jesus Calling pg 254, by Sarah Young.