A Good Friday Indeed

Friday, March 29, 2013
Today is one for reflection as we remember the selfless act of a King, our Savior. I cannot begin to imagine what this day was like for Him those thousands of years ago. But, what I can imagine is the ever-lasting love spread that day when He covered our sins in order for us to spend a lifetime with Him. Blessed. Gracious. Humbled. Loved.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed  1 Peter 2:24 

Scents & Sweets

Thursday, March 28, 2013
Herbal Essences just recently reintroduced two of their original botanical shampoos/conditioners. These early scents, packaged in trademark pastel bottels, were discontinued in 2006 when the line was revamped and took on a new, fresher look. So you can imagine my 16-year-old self was disappointed to learn that my very favorite shampoo and conditioner were no longer made. No worries, I eventually moved on. But, two weeks ago as I was sitting on the couch going over some work, I was distracted by the familiar "Yes! Yes! Yes!" of a Herbal Essence commercial (you know, those organic experiences and hair whipping charades). Can you guess my excitement when I realized exactly what they were advertising?? My teenage self was over the moon in my twenty-something body and I knew instantly that I had to get my hands on these products. You see, I was worried I had a deadline to grab them before they were once again taken off store shelves. Silly me, I know, but I couldn't pass the chance up. So on my next grocery store visit, I marched promptly over to the hair care section and scanned the rows of colorful bottles. I spotted the brand, and.....nope nothing, not there. Yep, my heart sank a little. But, lucky for me there was another store that was bound to have just what I was looking for. Unlucky me couldn't find it at that store either. So I settled for trying a store in my hometown while there for this upcoming Easter weekend. I knew I would be able to get the shampoo and conditioner eventually.

Similarly my favorite candy, Berry Spree, doesn't exist up here anywhere either. I usually only indulge with a bag of these chewy, sweet treats when traveling. So not having them wasn't too big of a deal. But, on occasion when Pete and I would travel I was a little disappointed to settle for another type of candy. Besides, gotta watch on for my figure, right? (Nah, I would totally rather splurge and have candy!)

Well today, all these little problems were riddled with a delivery of two boxes. Turns out, Pete had seen my disappointment over not finding the shampoo and conditioner. And because he knows me so well, he not only got me one bottle of each, but four bottles of each. Somehow he knew I was thinking that I would need to stock up and he took the liberty to do it for me. Now, I'm not just stocked up with shampoo and conditioner, but also with enough Spree to last me for quite awhile! An entire carton of those delectable, chewy morsels were packed away in the second box. I never thought receiving shampoo, conditioner, and candy would make me so darn happy, but I'm here to tell you it sure did!

P.S. Pete, you're the bees knees :)

Wedding Wednesday: The Registry

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Completing a wedding registry has got to be one of the biggest perks of planning this big day. Approaching the "Complete Registry" item on our to-do list turned into more of a countdown for me. The hardest part of the whole process was narrowing down where we would register, and I'm not sure we narrowed down that well. What can I say, each place offered something a little different and something we just had to have. I have to admit, though, it is a little intimidating as you consider what you need, what you'd like, and how to incorporate your style into what you're asking for. No worries, it's a whole lot more exciting than it is nerve-racking. And after planning and organizing every little detail of the wedding, it's a nice break to roam the internet/store with your fiance looking for the perfect items to fill your future home.

Our registry experience started one Sunday with us settled in on the couch (with tea & blankets, of course). Because we aren't close to any of the stores we were interested in, this was the alternative, and not a bad one at it. You don't feel rushed to make a decision and you're in the comfort of your home (and in pajamas!). Plus, we were able to discuss everything and daydream away. For us, adding each item to the registry list was like watching the components of our future house come together. We started to envision the way our kitchen would look, from the color scheme to the way in which we would decorate the countertops (I suppose it's organize, but I'm totally decorating). Then our future bedroom/bathroom began to take shape and gain its own theme and ambiance. The whole house was taking on a style of its own with each piece we chose.

Several hours later that Sunday (yes, it takes awhile so give yourself ample time) we had come close to completing our first registries. I say, "close to completing" because you never know what you've forgotten to think of and add to the list. That's why having every registry online is such a bonus, because you can access them at the click of a button and adjust the lists. Basically, creating a registry online is super simple!

Then, came last Saturday, which was our time to tackle our in-store registry. Although, online and in-store offer such different experiences, both are just as fun in their own way. The biggest difference though, is the scan gun. It will also be your fiance's favorite part, and that I can guarantee. Just make sure to stay away from the electronics section; you never know what will be tempting for him to scan when you're not looking! Overall, it took us a little over an hour to wrap up that particular registry, and again it will be showcased online. So if we forgot something there, then we have the option to add on at any later date.

See, registries are so much fun! I'm kind of wishing there were registries for everything like: moving into college, new apartment/house, just because, and so on. Okay, I'm a little ridiculous, but wait until you put your own registry together! You're going to wish there was a registry for every life event too!

Finding Purpose

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Last night, as I was searching my brain for what I do best in life, I came up empty handed on what exactly my purpose is in this world. I write, I love, I daydream, I worry, I surround myself with family, I make lists, I decorate, I craft, I drink coffee....the list goes on, but still what facet of my life am I truly supposed to excel at?

Frustration overcame me and instead of thinking clearly, I let myself wade into my own pity pool. And you know once you find yourself there that it's more comfortable to stay put, instead of pull yourself out, dry off, and move on. I sat on the couch for at least an hour, more or less pouting about what I am doing with my life. Eventually, I got up (still drowning in pity no less) and retired to bed and took along a book that I have severely lacked in reading.

The book I'm talking about is one that I stumbled across by chance when I caught one of my very close friends reading it over this past summer (you know who you are!). She passed along the desire and interest for me to read it after sharing its storyline. Turns out, it was the perfect book for me to affiliate with some of the strongest and most amazing women of the bible, as I was finding my way with my faith. Taking in every word in A Lineage of Grace (by Francine Rivers) is like having a storyteller for the books in the Bible. It's a fresh way to look at the lives of these courageous women. And not only that, but it's so easy to find a connection with each woman as she overcomes and pushes through, still holding onto faith first and foremost.

The book quickly turned into a favorite,  but with the chaos of graduation, moving, and surgery, I let the book go to the wayside, where it sat and collected dust until a little under 24 hours ago. For some reason last night there was a pull for me to dig the book out of the bag it has patiently been sitting in for the past two months. I took it up to bed with me and after taking a minute or two to find where I had left off, I delved right back in like I had never stopped reading.

Around 11:30 I finished reading about Rahab. Following her story is a "Seek and Find" section that proves to be a very beneficial aspect of this book as it gives you the means to go into your Bible and discover for yourself. It also serves as an excellent way to reflect on your own life. I was getting tired at this point, but found myself curious about what I would find in these pages. And that's when I came across a particular verse transcribed from the book of James:

If you need wisdom--if you want to know what God wants you to do -- ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do. James 1:5-8

was why I had picked up the book, because He wanted me to. I immediately felt my heart humble itself and thought about they ways in which I pray. As a human I find myself sometimes doubting an answer will come and don't pray with much certainty or worse don't pray at all. Reading this passage was like a wakeup call for me. The first place I should turn to is my Savior when my world is feeling unpredictable and upside down. I realized that my frustration of feeling unsure about my purpose in life isn't something that I will solve on my own. No, instead I should be consulting a much bigger and higher power than myself. Because even when I dwell on my failures and insecurities, He still sees me as perfect. So before bed I said a very long prayer, one that tingled from the bottom of my toes to the ends of my hair. Last night was the first time I felt myself praying with a strong conviction and knowing I would have an answer in His timing.

The LORD's timing came this morning in the form of an email...my blog has officially been accepted for its first advertisements and while this seems so little, it was so BIG to me. My prayers had been answered just like I knew they would be. And after such grace and reassurance I feel a little closer to knowing an aspect of my purpose in this life on earth. Just maybe I'm meant to be a blogger that can share and connect with each and every one of my readers. Just maybe my blog will be read by thousands one day. Just maybe this post will help one of you and that is my purpose for today. My heart is not only humbled, but extremely full. Glory be to God!

We Hit the Jackpot!

Monday, March 25, 2013
Saturday, mid-morning Pete and I found a hidden gem in our little Maryland town. Since we moved here in early January, we have wondered what the tiny little cafe, nestled in the back corner across from our apartment, hosts. So Friday evening, after a long week, Pete suggested we figure out just what Cafe Mark was all about and treat ourselves to brunch the next morning. The setup of this little spot is unique in that there is a front and back entrance. The front entrance faces the downtown mall and the back entrance faces the back of our apartment. Of course, we went in through our side and found a kitchen filled with every imaginable baker's treat. The bakers were diligently icing and filling pastries and cakes. (I have to be honest, I was tempted to ask if they would hire me).  Through the kitchen we wove until we popped out in the cafe. It's not just one floor, but two, with cast iron railing leading up to the second level. The ambiance of the entire place is so cozy and eclectic. From the brick walls to the hanging glass lights, it didn't take long for me to really love this place. And I didn't think such a thing was possible in our current location. It's so nice to finally feel that way about something here and I adore this place so much so that I want to be one of their regulars, where they know my name and my order.

And I can't forget the food. Oh.my.gosh. it was incredible! The chef cooked right there at the bar, with the fresh ingredients pilled around him as he whipped up breakfast delicacies with a gentle ease. After spotting the day's special (granola lathered french toast, topped with fresh blueberries, drizzled with a cream cheese sauce) I knew I had to have it. The problem with that is my affinity for having both sweet and salty present at every meal. Thus, I was overwhelmed with sweet, but no salty. I couldn't decide on just one thing, but knew I could never eat more than one plate even if my eyes were telling me the opposite. I was left struggling to make a final decision. That's where my fiance comes in. If you know Pete, you know how awesome he is. And one of the things I love most about him is how well he knows me. He knew exactly why I couldn't pick a meal and riddled my dilemma by sharing two options. So we had the daily special and a veggie omelet. We happily shared and took turns taking bites off of each other's plates. My sweet and salty need was most certainly filled and neither of us could pick a favorite.

By the end of brunch we were both hooked on our new find. How had we possibly not made it here sooner?! We left with cups of house blend coffee topped off with vanilla spice, (I have to find that stuff) and promised to come back very soon! Pete might just have a hard time keeping me away...

As soon as I saw the brick-exposed walls, I knew this place was for me...
...and then I ate the food and fell in love!

Ready, Set, Relax!

Friday, March 22, 2013
Today called for a little bit of time spent pampering myself. So after getting some work done this morning, I put a pause on the rest of the to-do list. I gave myself a simple facial and 20 minutes later, voila, I felt like a new woman (well like a woman with a new and refreshed face)! Next I gave my nails some attention with a fresh coat of bright paint (hoping it will inspire Spring to show up!). It was completely worth it, to take a timeout during the day and let myself relax. Now go treat yourself, you totally deserve it every once and awhile!! And of course, Happy Friday :) 

^^Right after I applied the mask...^^
^^...20 minutes later and I could no longer smile due to the tightness of the dried mask^^
^^A little nail polish and fresh face later, I am ready to enjoy this weekend^^

Where is Spring?

Thursday, March 21, 2013
Spring has sprung, but somehow didn't bring with it the normal warmer weather and sunny days. I think we've been fooled and winter has decided to stick around for a bit longer. With all the sudden changes in temperature and conditions, from snow to sunny & 68 degrees, sickness has been on the rise in our apartment. Yesterday, Pete came down with a nasty something or other, and today I ended up with the same thing. There are sore throats, runny noses, congested heads, and cold chills. So the last handful of hours have been spent wrapped up in layers of clothing, under piles of blankets on the couch. The floor is covered with empty throat lozenge wrappers and giant snowballs of tissues. We've been drinking liquids all day and hoping that this little unwanted visitor leaves soon. Hot green tea with blueberry & acai is our treatment method for tonight. Let's hope it helps!

Can't Say Thank You Enough!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Last night was amazing! Why, do you ask? Because I was blessed with awesome family and friends who rallied to get me to 70 followers...and I didn't just succeed at my challenge (see it here), but I surpassed it!! Having your community support you, no matter how, is tremendous and leaves you feeling like you're sitting on top of the world!! And that's exactly where I was last night.

So since I succeeded in Pete's challenge (thanks to each and every one of you!) we will be embarking on a July trip to Maine! To say I'm stoked is an understatement; I've always wanted to go and now it's happening! I envision an early morning where I'm sitting in an Adirondack chair on a cliff of rocks overlooking the ocean with a blanket wrapped snugly around me and a hot cup of steaming coffee in my hand. There's also the image of me and Pete exploring a cute little eastern shore town speckled by stores filled with amazing treasures (of which I will bring home to decorate with). There are more ideas of what this trip will be like, and no worries, I will be sure to let you know how it actually goes! Thank you again, for supporting me, and allowing not one dream come true (going to Maine), but two (having a successful blog)! You all really are the best, and here's to you :)

We're Those People

Monday, March 18, 2013
Yes, we got snow overnight and well into today.

And of course we had to go outside and play in it a bit once Pete got home from work.

Because of this snow accumulation and our lack of desire to walk up and down aisles in the grocery store, (like we were supposed to do this afternoon) we opted to not go.

That left us without much of a food selection for dinner.

Which left us procrastinating on what we would actually eat.

By 8 we finally decided on mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese from KFC.

Yep, that's right. Just mashed potatoes and mac n' cheese...nothing else.

So we drove there...and ordered...and got to the pickup window...

...when we realized neither of us had brought a wallet or any kind of money.

And Pete promptly told the guy standing at the window (with an arm outreached) that we had no money and would be back in 10.

No kidding.

And so we drove back to the apartment, Pete grabbed his wallet, and we went back to KFC.

Again, we went through the drive-thru. Pete said, "Hi I just ordered mashed potatoes and mac n' cheese, but didn't have my wallet. I'm back."

After a longggg (and most likely confused) pause a guy answered back, telling us to pull forward.

We paid and he gave us our food, but not before laughing as he said, "Most people are too embarrassed to come back after they forget their money."

What can I say...we were hungry.

Your votes are in!!

Friday, March 15, 2013
Two weeks ago you voted for mine and Pete's summer getaway.....
...and the overwhelming vote was for MAINE, with a lead of 68%. 

The only catch is that I haven't succeeded with my goal of doubling my followers... 
...and am still short 17 new blog friends. 

Soooo, if by Monday I can reach my goal, then to Maine we go!!

And I would REALLY love to head north for an amazing 4th of July celebration
with my amazing guy!!! 

Twists & Turns

Thursday, March 14, 2013
Life doesn't always go the way we want. The future we've planned doesn't span out just the way originally envisioned. And when those plans seemingly crumble, you're left feeling like you have no control over where that great big future of yours is actually headed. That's when the dots connect and you remember that you really don't have control. It's a hard concept to grasp and goes against human nature to let go and let Him take over. And on days when not much seems to be going like it should, we need the reminder that even when it's not going according to our plan, it's not always suppose to. And not until later do we discover why it was that life took a different direction than we wanted. It's the unexpected turns and twists in life that leave us feeling crazy, joyful, angry, and surprised. Just all a part of the bigger plan...His bigger plan. So even though dinner is going down the tube, work isn't moving along as scheduled, and time is moving faster than it needs to, there is a reason for it all. My tip: pray, a lot.

Deutsch Abendessen Für Vier

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

This tiny Maryland town doesn't have much, but it does have a pretty awesome, authentic German restaurant. And tonight that's where we found ourselves! 
Don't think we didn't get some of this to take home and try...just see below...
It's sad tonight is their last night here, but I bet I can talk them into another Maryland adventure soon! 

A Very Good Day Indeed

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
My sister and cousin opted to spend some 
of their spring break with me in Maryland.
And the past twenty-four hours have been spent 
playing games, eating delicious food, catching up, 
laughing like crazy, and exploring downtown. 
Here's what my amazing day looked like...

^^First we found an antique store^^
^^I donned a head piece^^
^^Amanda sipped tea^^
^^And Lauryn wore a festive hat^^
^^Spotted: NEHI original glass bottles^^
^^Downtown is full of beautiful architecture^^
^^After walking up...^^
^^...and down downtown, we headed back to the apartment to warm up and relax^^

Welcome Home Sweet Boys!

Monday, March 11, 2013
Saturday was a glorious day filled with family and friends as we all welcomed home the newest additions. Gathered at Dulles International Airport, we anxiously awaited the arrival of the Hills, family of FOUR! Stationed at the doors, our large group felt the anticipation grow as the doors swung open and closed, still not ushering through the four people we were most excited to see. With our signs held high,  arms ready to embrace, and hearts wide open for more love we met two of the most precious, beautiful boys. Welcome home Gabe and Zeke, we've waited so long for this moment!

What a wonderful blessing!!