Sunday, November 28, 2010

Season's Greetings!

When I was younger and still lived at home, I loved getting holiday cards from relatives and family friends. I thought it was just wonderful getting all different letters and photos from people wishing us a happy holiday season. My Mom would tape them in the doorways for everyone to see, and that was probably my favorite decoration of all. After getting the first few cards in the mail, she would pick up a box of cards that she planned on sending out herself. But being as busy as she was, the box usually sat...and sat. And I would get frustrated... wishing I had her lovely handwriting so that I could send them out myself. But I didn't.


However. One of the many perks to getting married is that I am now able to send out *our own* holiday cards- with *our* name and picture. And that, I must admit, excites me a bit more than it probably should.


Seriously.


So when I heard from fellow blogger Carmen about Shutterfly's latest promotion-I post a blog about their holiday collection and in turn I get 50 cards to call my own-...I got even more excited.

Their designs range from retro to classic, colorful to simple, and everything in between. It's quite easy- you type in your names, drop in your family photo- and the rest is pretty much done for you. With the folded style card, you have the option of typing up a message for your recipients in their customizing stage.

Here are our favorites...and I really don't know how we'll decide.






We're going with the flat card style- and I'll write a short, handwritten message on the back to personalize it a bit. 

If you like these designs, check out Shutterfly's Holiday Card Selection.

And, if you're a blogger, and you'd like to find out how you can get some holiday cards of your own, go here!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Before I get flustered over the holidays...



If we're looking at this blog post, we have a lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 22, 2010

She Got Married?

I think it's time for this post... yes. I think it is.

I married my highschool sweetheart. A year later, I started blogging to document this silly little life. Here's how it came to be:

My parents divorced when I was five. Both were remarried within five (?) years. I had an incredibly difficult time adjusting to each of their new spouses. I was pouty and defiant and stubborn. I was sad. At that age, I didn't really care why they weren't happy with one another...I just cared that they couldn't be my Mom and Dad- together, under one roof.

As I got older, I formed this mindset that marriage wasn't really something that I was interested in. Of course the fairytale version tempted me. But I knew better. I knew the reality of sharing a life together. I knew it was old fashioned. I knew it didn't fit my modern ambitions or the image of what my grown-up self would be.

The truth is, I was scared. The idea of making a commitment like marriage to someone with the possibility of it ending in divorce was just too much. So. I told anyone who asked that I would never get married. I was a saucy independent girl, after all. I bought my own car, crib, rock, etc.


This is Coco Chanel, apparently. And...I was hoping to find that she never married, so it would be appropriate for this post. And that is just what I found! She never married. So it's very fitting for our purposes. Thanks to stylishkidsinriot.com for this image 


Sigh.



Then I saw him.



Then I changed.




Then I grew up a bit. (Just a bit)




Then I married him.



And now, here I am, writing this story on a blog. And I'm still growing up. And that will never stop. But something that I've learned to do is admit when I'm wrong  (I'm still working on it). And today, I must admit that I was wrong in thinking that marriage was not for me. It truly is. I love it. I have a husband. He's great. It's a beautiful thing to have someone grow with you. It's a wonder that he's still here after he found out that I'm sometimes a touch bossy.

But before I go off in another direction...


I got married.
And so ''She Got Married'' was a perfect name for this little blog. Apparently, a few people from high school were surprised (shocked. alarmed, possibly bewildered)  when they heard that I had gotten married. There's even a facebook picture from our wedding with a comment underneath that reads, ''EMMA GOT MARRIED??!!?!!'' (I had gotten ''most likely to be famous", "most likely to get away with something", "most likely to be M.I.A" for my highschool superlatives...not exactly the image of a girl ready to head down the aisle, let alone at the age of 20).

But down the aisle I headed. I'm not famous. I get away with lots of things. And yes, sometimes I am M.I.A if the occasion calls for it. But as for marriage, I'm here to stay. It fits me wonderfully.

So welcome to my life, and to my blog. I hope that you'll find something you like and come back again.

Lots of Love,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chocolate or Bread?

thanks, freefoto.com
I'd rather eat bread. I don't crave chocolate or salty snacks. I always did find it silly when I'd hear people moan and groan about their cravings for chocolate- ''Augh. I'm dying for a piece of chocolate''.  I hope the chocoholics aren't taking offense...I just never understood it.  Given the choice between chocolate and bread, I would prefer to take the bread and do some serious damage. Preferably on the couch, in my pajamas, with a tub of margarine. Maybe even some tomato basil soup.

I crave bread. Good bread. I'll take it with butter. Olive oil. Peanut Butter. Jam. Plain. I'll take it any which way you can spin it.

I don't love preservatives. I don't like words I cannot pronounce or define (maltotriribodioxyhelium may be lurking in your bread. Probably not. I made it up in my science lab). And! I especially don't like that someone, somewhere, felt compelled to invent white wheat bread. What?!

So why has a self proclaimed Laura-Ingalls-Wannabe like myself continued to purchase mass produced loaves of bread each week?

I'll tell you why.

I get a little frustrated around recipes and measuring cups. I often find myself underestimating the importance of sticking to the amounts called for.  And as for active-dry-rapid-instant-determined yeast? Well. That's just a whole separate issue with me.

It's much easier to throw the loaf in your cart, you see.
And so I do.


But that's no way for a someday homesteader to think. Not in the slightest.

So this week, I said 'hello' to unbleached bread flour, and resisted the pull of the bread aisle.

....And this is what happened:

That's right folks. That's homemade bread. And, if you've been reading, you will remember that I kept my promise to myself by baking something. ( See post regarding my patience and home skills.)

Brett and I devoured two out of the three loaves this weekend...they're incredible. I used this recipe : Simple Whole Wheat Bread. Try it. You will not be disappointed.

I am officially hooked, and will most likely be making 75% of our bread from now on. It's worth it in every way.

I only wish I could figure out a way to befriend King Arthur and get a better deal on flour.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thoughts


This might be a tough post. Try and bear with me.

I used to be what I like to call an 'open-minded judgemental'. I would embrace all of the differences I could find, but would judge those who didn't embrace all the differences that I did. And so, not realizing the silliness in this, I kept on thinking I was on to something.


I was a tricky hypocrite with a cause. Thinking I held the key to all understanding, I was actually just standing in my own way, only adding to the problem.

And so then a year of the huffs came. I was frustrated in general, a touch sadder than my usual self, and a bit unaware of the world that surrounded me. I was missing something.

So I started searching-searching for something that might help to fill that missing piece. First, I read a Thich Nhat Hanh book called Living Buddah, Living Christ. Now,  I was not born into a family of Buddhists or Christians, or a family of any particular religion, for that matter. I had no idea what either one (Buddhism and Christianity) was truly about, and so I had prematurely decided that religion of any sort just wasn't my cup of tea. But this book helped me realize how wrong I really was. It made me want more- and so I got my hands on the Bible.

In doing all of this exploratory work, I've found that love is the common denominator. And I like that. And I've learned that love isn't just a magic sensation that we share with a select few in our individual lives. Playing it that way, the safe way, is actually quite a dangerous way.  Love is a choice. It's not even always easy. It does not stop at my husband, my dog, or my wonderful Momma. For me, making that switch from small love to all encompassing love was not immediate, and it is not complete or perfect. But it is changing me, for what I believe to be the better.

And so while some may say it is unrealistic, my hope is that one day- we can all make that switch together. Everyone. Blue, Black, White, Green, Gay, Straight, Married, Single, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Atheists, Republicans, Democrats- Everyone.  Because while I may call myself one thing, and you call yourself another, we are all here. And we all need to try. Calling him names and bullying outside our borders isn't making anything easier. So let's try. Because maybe- just maybe- it might help us all out.

To those that have been living this, I thank you. Forgive me for just realizing that I was being a true fool. 

Learning to Love,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chili for Everyone


No matter what your dietary/lifestyle preference, this is a chili that everyone loves.

It's mild, easy, versatile, healthy, filling, and a wonderful base to a variety of different meals.

I'm posting this because a wonderful fellow blogger, http://www.lifeblessons.blogspot.com/, wrote a blog about strengthening her hospitality cookbook.

I, like her, experience a bit of hesitancy when serving people other than my husband my concoctions. When I make something new for us, I watch Brett like a hawk as he takes his first bite. I bet it's really unattractive as I stare him down with my hot stuff flared nostrils, waiting for his reaction. But I do it anyway.

I know that in reality, people are grateful for what you give them. Even if they don't like the dish, they're not going to swear me off because I used too much garlic (which I quite often do). They're going to remember that I made them something, and that my aim was to help, and not to hurt.

So anyway, this is a dish for everyone. There are lots of vegetarians in my neck of the woods, and there's plenty of meat eaters as well. This is a filling and hearty chili that everyone should try at least once.

Here goes:

You'll need....

2 tsp olive oil
half of a red onion, diced
1 garlic glove, minced
1.5 tsp of better than bouillon veggie style (or whatever base you like..)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder
1 28 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed.
1.5 28 oz can of diced tomatoes

Warm oil over heat in pot, add onion garlic, bouillon, tomato paste and chili powder. Heat for a few minutes. Add Beans. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring. Don't let it get too fizzly in that pot. Whatever that means. Add tomatoes. Cook for an hour on medium heat.

I mean, that's really it. You can add whatever you like, it's a great base chili. I serve it with whole wheat cornbread, over potatoes, or with sour cream and crusty garlic bread.

You can throw in carrots and corn to get more veggies, or for some more heat- throw in some extra chili powder. I think it's delicious. And it's clearly quite simple. It's easy to double or even triple, and you can prepare it with a crock pot. Just throw everything in, set it on low before you leave in the morning, and when you come home, ta da!


So I hope you give it a try, and I hope you like it. Let me know what you think, and if you do try it, tell me how you served it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Frump

Like the woman in the picture, I also share a passion for looking flawless and sassy day in and day out.

No...no. That's not right. Actually, fixing my hair means pulling it back into a low messy-bun. On an ambitious day, I'll straighten the front pieces that fall forward. It's just...I don't have time to do the rest. It's quite a bit of work and really, I would rather be doing something else. But when I do fix my hair with a decent amount of effort, it feels great. I love that feeling. You just feel so put together and ready to handle anything.

The thing is, I get up relatively early- so I should be able to spend a bit of time throwing myself together. On average, I'm up by 6:30. Seven being my latest and five thirty being my go-getter days. But today, this day, I'm pressing the restart button. I'm setting the clock for 5.

I'm beating my best time and I'm committing to it for at least one week. This new start time will allow me the chance to get everything done, including my hair. (I'm not saying I'll straighten it each day, I mean, come on. But I'll attempt to make it look presentable)

On my regular days of waking up at 6:30, I would try and accomplish a list of things before 9 A.M. Sometimes, I would get 75% of my to do list done. Other times *most times*, I would knock off two things, think about how there wasn't enough time to accomplish the remaining list, and then spend the rest of the morning trying to come up with a solution for the next day (lots of lists around my house).

So my plan is five. And my goals are as follows:

(Watch out. This is a list)

1) Make breakfast for the two of us
2) Chores (make bed, clean up kitchen, sweep, laundry, cat box, wipe down bathroom surfaces, tidy up)
3) Read one day-per day- of the one year Bible reading plan.
4) Walk Roo
5) Post here
6) Gym
7)  Get ready (whether or not it's a work day)

....This.

All before 9 A.M.

To take care of as much as possible, to feel ready to take on whatever the day may have in store, and to cure that inner sense of frump when only 1/30th of my hair is fixed.

And for motivation, I bought this really cool coffee mug to carry around with me.

                                 
 I'm thinking it will really give me that extra kick.



Here's to feeling a lot more ready and a bit less frump-ish.

Possibly wearing mascara today,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Roo and Melon

Roo wants to be friends with Melon so badly. She tries so hard. She sits where Melon sits. She plays with catnip, she tries and tries to convince Melon that they would have the best of times together. If only Melon would give her the time of day....
video

*ignore my baby talk at the end. thanks.*

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The DIY Wedding

Photo Credit : The Amazing Justine Johnson


I loved our wedding. It was the most amazing day and I wish we could do it again every year.

We're young. We're not rich, and we had no interest getting into debt over one day. And even though Martha Stewart Weddings makes me swoon,  I knew I would be happier tackling our wedding DIY style.

So before you go handing over a 50% deposit that may be two weeks worth of earnings, humor me.


Justine Johnson Photography
I designed our invitations at Wedding Paper Divas. Had I printed them myself, I could have saved even more, but I like the raised ink look. We spent under $100 for all of the invitations. For placecards- I bought plain tent style cards and copied an idea I found in Martha Stewart Weddings: I used a rooster stamp and a craft knife . I don't know why I like roosters so much, but I do- so there they are!

Centerpieces are expensive. The average one costs $80. Ten tables- $80...I'd rather not. We ordered wholesale from http://www.theflowerexchange.com/. For under $300, all ten tables each had five small floral centerpieces- perfect for conversation. I spent another $50 to scatter 200 votive candles around the reception space. It was beautiful, and this picture doesn't do it justice. Kristen and I put the flowers together the morning of the wedding over coffee. It was perfect. The bridal bouquet and all seven bridesmaids bouquets were made professionally. We only ordered boutonnieres for the groom and two best men. Nobody made a fuss over the fact that the fathers and groomsmen went without flowers.

Justine Johnson Photography

Our reception was held at the beautiful Tin Mountain Conservation Center. The fee was strictly for the space- which is perfect for a DIY wedding. Many reception venues want *or require* that all vendors are approved through them. They may offer packages that include flowers, the DJ, and perhaps even the photographer. I didn't like the idea of someone bundling my day into a premade package. Easy, maybe- but it just wasn't us to do something like that. Consider looking outside the traditional realm of reception venues- you can save quite a bit this way.

Justine Johnson Photography
I love lanterns. So I found 30 at http://www.asianideas.com./ On the day of the wedding, an amazing friend of the family (who happens to be an electrician)- set each one up with battery operated LED lights and strung them from the ceiling with fishing line at varying heights. It was a really great way to light the dance floor. 


Justine Johnson Photography
I rolled up in Andi's Toyota Highlander- driven by the same amazing family friend who hung our lanterns. No limo needed!



I loved our cake. And the price tag was around $500. But after some digging, I found that the baker liked to barter. And on the list of things that she needed? A fence. Well. I'll have you know that Brett installs quite a mean fence. And so he did. And so we got our cake, and all 100 favors (three sugar cookies for each guest) for under $100. The quote on the cake reads: ''May all be fed, May all be healed, May all be loved''- John Robbins. *Quote explained: Our wedding was entirely vegan, although today we are vegetarian. We wanted to thread the importance of that into our special day, and John Robbins is a huge reason why I had originally chosen that lifestyle. Gosh. I think I should go back to being vegan.Sigh.*
Anyway, don't be above bartering. If you have skills, other people might want those skills, and you might get a really great deal. Be creative and open minded in this process!

There are so many ways to pull this big day off without overspending. My amazing photographer, Justine Johnson, was just starting out- and she shot the wedding for FREE. While this is now her full time job and she no longer shoots weddings for free, she is still amazing. Check her out at http://www.justinejohnsonphotography.com/  But I found her on craigslist, and you never know what you'll come across on that wonderful invention of a website. Type in 'student photographer' and see what comes up!

Well. I hope you liked my wedding day recap, and I hope you'll consider taking more creative control over your day. It's so worth it and you'll be so glad you did. Happy Wedding Planning!





Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thank You


for making coffee in the morning, I don't like measuring.

for carving that pumpkin for my grandparents (what you're doing in this picture). It meant a lot to me...and to them. And I didn't have to get pumpkin all over myself.

for taking Roo out of her crate late at night when she's crying. I'll get up tonight and do it.(?)

for sharing a bite of your veggie burger with me. You're much better at sharing than I am, and I need to work on it. It was delicious.

for sticking around. I can't believe we've been together since I was fifteen. I love that we really are growing up together.

for getting rosy cheeks after reading this blog post. I think it's adorable.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Family Dinner Night



So over here in our neck of the woods, we're really busy. And that sometimes leaves little time for our friends.

A few months ago, on a hot summer night, a couple of friends came over with all the fixings for a home cooked meal and made dinner with us. It was perfect. Casual. Relaxed. Low-key. Fun. Easy. I didn't have to straighten my hair or change my outfit nine times.  We were comfortable and it made for such a great night.

We didn't have to figure out any tipping calculations (because I can be honest and admit that I'm not always bringing my mathematical a-game to the olive garden...or anywhere, for that matter).

It was something so simple that we had never thought to do before. We just had a great time, and it was something that we all wanted to do again.

Time flies, and here we are in the early days of November. I want to do our little family dinner night again, and so it is time to do it. With the accountability of my little blog, and my e-mail invitation all ready to be sent, I am ready to incorporate this wonderful special routine into our (every other) week.

To make it easy and cheap on everyone, we're doing a pizza potluck. Everyone brings one or two ingredients, and we build them together. I think it sounds great, and hopefully it will be. I'm sure it will be. I'll let you know.

If you want to come, come! If you live far away, well, someday maybe you'll make it. Or perhaps you'll start your own family dinner night rather than embarrassing yourself with your phone's tip calculator. (If you're suave and do that business in your head, we need to chat. Kidding.)

Here's to filling up your dinner table with friends and family! (Even if only once every other week!)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Patience for Pillows

   This is my stack of handmade pillows. They live on our bed, and I like them quite a bit.

I like the idea of sewing. I like the feeling at the end where you hold the finished product out in front of you and think, ''I made this! Myself!''. Unfortunately, there's a lot that goes in between Point A and Point Z.

I'm a Point A and a Point Z person. And I'm not sure that my sewing arsenal (or my mind) has enough tools (or patience) to endure the entire ordeal.

My Point A is flipping through magazines and finding color schemes that make my hands get clammy. Point A is dreaming of how wonderful it would be to live in such a colorful fantastic world. Point A is thinking of how I can make it come to life for our space and for our budget. Point A is thinking how wife-ish it would be to make the pillows myself, scattering my homemade trinkets around the house whilst homemade bread bakes in the oven...oh my! Fetch me my apron!

My Point Z is taking pictures of my hand sewn goods to show family and friends and blog readers how far I've come in my crafting skills, and talking about how to do it yourself.

(But the truth is, you probably don't want my advice. Not yet, anyway. Take a look at the picture above. The pillows aren't completely finished, and I'm almost sure I know why. I was so excited to see how they'd look in our bedroom, that I wanted to just place them there to see how they looked. Once I saw how much pizazz they added to our space, I left them there! No one would even see the back panels and how they weren't entirely finished. The idea of sitting down at the sewing machine again, after I had already seen how they looked amazing, was just too much all around. My patience was spent, and I was ready for something new.)

Luckily,  my mother-in-law (Andi), has the patience for everything in between Point A and Z. I admire that, and someday I hope to be able to be more like her in that regard. For now, things work out especially well because I come up with ideas,and she's a genius at executing them. Case in point: Roo's Retro Bed.

A year ago, I had found this amazing decor weight fabric in the clearance bin. It was three yards for $2, and I thought it was too good to pass up, so I brought it home and it waited in my fabric bin for a year. Until Roo came along. The green and brown hounds tooth print would be a perfect dog bed cover, and Roo would surely love it. So I recruited Andi to give me a lesson.

An hour into my 'lesson', she had already taken the scissors from my hands at least once (gladly), and scolded me (with love) about doing things right the first time (after sensing my distaste for the whole...process)

So Roo and I played while Andi created the bed cover.

It was everything I could hope for. My own vision of a unique bed for Roo, without all the fuss of actually making it. Andi and I make a great team.



See how thrilled Roo is to have this great (completely finished) bed?!?! Thanks, GrAndi!

In all seriousness, I would like to be able to complete a project by myself. I'll get there. I'll take baby steps. I'll start with a bandanna.


Other than sewing, my lack of patience doesn't just hinder my sewing potential. I don't like baking- measuring things out just doesn't sit well with me. So I'm here to say that I'll work on it. By the end of next week, I hope to complete a bandanna and a very basic baking recipe. Like vanilla cupcakes. Entirely on my own.

Until then, I have to share my Aunt Lisa's etsy link, because she clearly has the patience for the entire creative process. Someday I'll get there *snort*.

 Moon Spirit Studios...Handmade lovelies.


I'll keep dreaming up ideas and work on my patience while I'm at it. If anyone else struggles with these types of things, I'd love to hear!

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The End.

     All I can say is,when I was bigger, I was a mess. I wore layers to keep my bits of love handles as smooth as possible, I was grouchy, I was tired, and I was hungry. I can't count the times when I'd ask my best friend if I looked like I had gained any weight. She's really nice, and she said that I looked the same. Well. Apparently I look the same when I'm 40 pounds heavier. But the thing is, it wasn't and isn't her job to call me out on my chunky yucky lifestyle. It's my health, it's my problem, and it's my issue to fix.  And I finally did it. So to sum it all up, get to it. You'll be glad you did now rather than later.
    My nice best friend, Kristen, and I are now going to be working and studying together towards my second PT certification and her first. (She's also in her senior year of college working towards a health and wellness degree. So...wish us luck). I'm not sure where it will land me- in a bigger gym or here, writing blogs about staying healthy. There's so much more information, and I've barely scratched the surface. If anyone is reading this and is thinking of starting a lifestyle change, I'd love to hear about it! And please ask if there are any questions on your mind. I know that when I started trying to get healthier, I was constantly looking up success stories to see how people did it. I still do. That's all for now, but I'll be posting healthy recipes and tips here and there. Good luck!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Move It....4/5

                             In order to get enough exercise, a gym membership is necessary.

    I used to have that mentality, and any activity outside of the gym was somehow void and insufficient. It's not true, and it's a silly excuse. It really isn't about hours in the gym, and it took me a few years to realize that.

    So, in no particular order, here are some things you can do at home, for free:

Walk: Until Roo came along, I wasn't really a fan of walks. Now, we walk at least 1.5 miles (at quite a brisk pace) each day. I look for new routes and extra hills each day to really get a good workout.

Stretch: This is such an important aspect of physical health that is overlooked by so many people. Spend time each day stretching yourself out. I had really tight hip flexors just five months ago, and I struggled to keep a fast pace when walking. Now, Brett can barely keep up with me when we're walking Roo, even though he towers over me. For some stretching examples, see http://www.thestretchinghandbook.com/. There are some excellent examples for sports specific stretching and it goes into great detail regarding anatomy and the science  behind stretching.

Strength: Using resistance training is also really important, and again- often very overlooked...especially by women. It will NOT make you bulky, it will NOT make you look manly, and it's so so so good for you. If you're not doing any resistance training, now is a good time to start. Do you need weights? No. If you have weights, great. That just means you don't have to spend time getting creative. But if you're on a tight budget, and you have no interest in joining a gym or buying weights, here's a link I found to a full body workout that uses just your body. http://www.fitlink.com/Full-Body-Workout-in-45-Minutes.

Intervals: If you've been running outside, but haven't seen the weight loss you're looking for, look to intervals.You can do intervals with any cardio activity, it's simply about timing.  For walking, check out http://www.the-fitness-walking-guide.com/interval-walking.html. For something  a bit trickier, check out http://www.nowloss.com/advanced-interval-weight-loss-workout-routines.htm.


There's plenty more, but these are some great methods you can try today. GOOD LUCK!
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