Saturday, November 30, 2013

real talk // advent

advent: the arrival of a notable person. the arrival of Christ. waiting & preparation.

there are a lot of products that you can buy where you count down to Christmas. some of these have chocolates for each day leading up to Christmas, some have stickers you can place on each day, and some have numbered ornaments you can hang. there are tons of creative advent calendars out there.

but i wanted something more. i wanted something meaningful, but also decorative. i didn't want just 25 pieces of chocolate wrapped up to eat each day, although that certainly has it's appeal! i was on a search for something different, something Christ focused. i wanted something to constantly remind me of what the Christmas season is truly about.

then, a few weeks ago, Elizabeth at Oak + Oats posted about an advent calendar from Naptime Diaries that i just fell in love with! it was everything i had been searching for & more! so, i decided i must have it for our first Christmas together. & every Christmas after that! the great thing about the print advent calendar is that you can reuse it each year!

i've hung twine above our fireplace & hung up all of the prints! i love the twine & clothespin look & use every excuse to do it! we will take down one print each day & display it on the frame on our fireplace as we count down to the arrival of Christ. the really cool thing is that Naptime Diaries also gives you a 5 page PDF to use along with the prints. these pages include scripture, activities, & tips on how to use the advent calendar. so each night before we go to sleep, we will reflect on the print of the day & use the guide to make the most of this advent season.

tomorrow is the first day of advent & we will be driving back from our roadtrip most of the day. so, we've set up day one on our frame for when we get back tomorrow night! 

i am very excited about this awesome advent calendar & starting our own Christmas traditions!

Friday, November 29, 2013

real talk // thankful in all

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6

rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Simple Moments Stick

Susannah & Sybil are hosting a link up this month on thankfulness & i have decided to join! if i'm honest with myself, some years by the time Thanksgiving comes around i am all thankful'd out. (pretty sure i just made that word up) but... when i dread discussing things i'm thankful for, isn't that exactly when i should intentionally meditate on what i am thankful for? because, the truth is that there is so much to be thankful for, so if my heart isn't at that place...there's something wrong.

it seems like everywhere you turn someone is talking about American society & how we are so spoiled & how we just take everything for granted. i mean, you hear that everywhere that you kind of just pass it over without thinking about it. but it is very true. i don't think it's American society alone, i think it's all humans everywhere. we take things for granted. we get used to certain situations, certain privileges, certain ways of doing things, no matter what culture we're in, and we take them for granted because they're not new anymore. they've lost their appeal.

thankfulness takes intentionality. it is not in our fleshly nature to be thankful. it's not something that comes naturally. but we can be thankful, because it's who God is. it's his character to be thankful, and through Him we can be too.

when asked what i'm thankful for, it's easy to ramble off some answer about how i'm thankful for my husband, my job, my family, etc. but all of those are good things. yet the Bible tells us to be thankful in ALL circumstances. is that really a truth in my life? am i really thankful in all circumstances? or just good ones?

am i thankful for that difficult person in my life that causes me stress? i do think it's okay to be rightfully angry over wrongs done to me, but that doesn't mean i can get out of being thankful, or loving this person as Jesus loves me. i may not be thankful for the wrongs done to me, but i can be thankful that difficult situations cause me to draw closer to God. i can be thankful that, if nothing else, this stress pushes me towards Christ. even in hard situations, i can still choose to be thankful, to show grace, and to love.

& i guess that's the biggest thing i'm thankful for...that i serve a God who is bigger than any circumstance i find myself in (Jeremiah 32:17). a God who will fight battles for me (Exodus 14:14, Psalm 27:5,). a God who never forsakes me so i have to face hard circumstances on my own (Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6). a God who gives me His Son & His character (Romans 8:32) - so that i can be thankful through Him, when my flesh wants to be selfish & unloving. a God that replaces my sinful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) with His.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


i always joke that i record my life in pictures. but, it's not really a joke because it's true. i take pictures all the time & of everything. sometimes it gets on peoples nerves, but i love having pictures to document my life. one of the reasons i started this blog was to have something to look back on years down the road & reflect on memories. so, i've decided to start doing a week recap post & record my weeks in instagram pictures & highlights - aptly named "instaweek". each Tuesday (or most of them) i'll post my favorite instagram snapshots from the previous week. i'm excited because sometimes pictures can say so much more than our words! :)

disclaimer: you'd think someone who takes pictures all the time would have a really nice camera & know a little something about photography. but in my case, you'd be wrong. i don't take super awesome pictures, i just take real pictures that capture the moment. also, i take all of my pictures on my phone. all i'm saying is, you won't be super impressed by the photography skills. but, nonetheless, i still love sharing my life via photographs.

for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black

highlights from my week:
-mini Christmas pillows from Target

-Andes mints - the taste of Christmas!

-enjoying a Clemson game from my company's suite

-advent calendar from Naptime Diaries

-got a head start on some Christmas crafts (DIY's to come)

-we found end tables on clearance & got them for our living room

Friday, November 22, 2013

farmhouse // the dining room

the first room in our little farmhouse we will see transform before our very own eyes is the dining room. during our dating years, this wasn't really a dining room. it was more like a desk, closet, music, random chair room. my husband stored his desk in this room when he had roommates, because they used the second bedroom & there wasn't room for the desk in either bedroom. the piano belongs to his cousin, but his cousin doesn't have a house, so it was being kept at his. the guitar & amps were some of his roommates. guys don't really care if they have a table to eat at, so it was more logical to use it as a storage room.

however, i do like to eat at a table. especially as newlyweds, we just needed a table to eat dinner at. plus, if we have company over, i would like to be able to eat at the table with them. something about a dining room table just says "home" to me. my husband did have a table stored at his parents house, so we set that up. the only problem was, he had loaned the chairs to a woman at church. so, one day we found a set of 5 chairs at goodwill for $60 and we said we'll take them! they even came with really comfy seat cushions. plus, if one ever breaks, we have a spare. :)

we took the piano out & it is now being stored at his cousin's uncle's house. (that was awkward to type) we replaced the piano with a dresser my husband had & use it as a buffet storage unit. the dresser wouldn't fit in our bedroom with the queen bed, so it worked out perfect. plus, it gives us a lot of extra storage which we need. beside it, we put my bookshelf from my parents house & it is loaded full! so, basically we are still using it as a storage room, ha!

we bought a little table at a yard sale in my parents neighborhood a few months before we got married & it fits (and looks) great in the space between the bedroom & bathroom doors. we got a keuring & two coffee cups from anthropologie at our wedding showers & turned this table into our own little coffee & tea station.  

i love our little dining area & coffee station. it comes in so handy when we have guests over & it just feels so cozy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

farmhouse // a mini series

i love our little house! & when i say little, i mean little, it's a few dozen square inches short of 1000 square feet. & that's after the 2 rooms were added on to the original house. but it's big enough for 2 people & we love it! we do have 2 acres of property, so that is a plus!

we live in a little farmhouse that was built (we think) around the 1930's. originally the house had 4 rooms. a bedroom, a kitchen, a dining room, & a living room. you'll notice i didn't say a bathroom. that's because there wasn't one inside the house. they used an outhouse & it's still on our property. around the 1940's the owners added a second bedroom & a bathroom, making it a 6 room house.

my husband lived in this house for 5 years before we got married, having 5 different roommates during those years. to say that the house has changed quite a bit now that i've moved in may be an understatement. so i thought it would be fun to go room by room and see the change! stay tuned! :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jiffy Corn Casserole


our small group is having a Thanksgiving dinner tonight. which is a great excuse for me to make one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes - corn casserole! it is not healthy for you in the slightest, but it is super delicious! i doubled the recipe & used a 9x13 pan, so if you want to make the original recipe (serves 6-8) just cut my ingredients in 1/2 & cook it in a 9x9 pan for 55-60 minutes.

Jiffy Corn Casserole

2 cans whole kernel yellow corn, undrained
2 cans cream style yellow corn
16 oz. sour cream
4 eggs, beaten
2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
2 sticks butter, melted (yikes!)
9x13 casserole dish

step 1: cut up your butter sticks into small chunks & microwave for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes to melt.
step 2: pour everything into a large mixing bowl & mix together well.
step 3: lightly oil your casserole dish & pour the ingredients in.  
step 4: bake at 350 degrees for 65-75 minutes. (ovens vary, so if you are unsure, use a toothpick to check if the casserole is done in the middle)  
step 5: enjoy the most delicious Thanksgiving side dish ever!

what is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

wedding shadowbox


after i made the wedding card book this past weekend, i decided to make the wedding shadowbox i had been planning on making as well! i like how it came out. it's simple, but really encompasses the feel of our wedding. our wedding was really simple too, so it fits!

sunflower - this is the one i wore on my wedding dress.
mason jar - this is our wedding invitation. (made by Scrappin Good Times)
knot - this is the wedding knot we tied during the ceremony. 
the B "carton" - (in the bottom right) is what our wedding invitation sat in. i put a picture of us from our wedding day inside it. i love how the sunflower peeks through the hole. over the picture i put a little mason jar that has our names inside - it's from a card we included with our invitations that said where we were registered. 
hugs & kisses from the Mr. & Mrs. - a sticker that was used on our favors display. we had cloth bags with a mason jar & "thank you very much" on the front that was packed with Hershey's hugs & kisses!

what are you favorite wedding keepsakes?

Monday, November 18, 2013

DIY // wedding card book

way back when, i saw a very neat idea on Pinterest here - turn all of your wedding cards into a book! we've been married for 6 months now, & my wedding cards were still sitting in a box on top of our dresser. so this weekend i decided to make my dream a reality! (i have simple dreams) this really is such a great idea & so simple to do!

materials needed:
your wedding cards
a hole punch
cute ribbon

step 1: punch holes into the center of all your wedding cards! if you have smaller cards, punch a hole towards the top of the card. (this is the most time consuming part)

step 2: make card piles based on the varying sizes & decide how your book will be laid out. i put my biggest cards in the back, then worked my way to the smallest which are at the front of the book.

step 3: feed your ribbon through the holes. i fed the ribbon through both holes at the same time, a few cards at a time. if you only do the ribbon through one hole first, the second hole will be a nightmare to line up!

step 4: pull your ribbon tight enough to keep the cards together, but loose enough to flip through them like a book. tie a knot to secure the ribbon. then, tie a bow & you have your unique wedding card book!

what creative things have you done with your wedding cards?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

White Chicken Chili

cold weather is in...which means it is soup & chili season! one of my husband & i's favorite chili is white chicken chili. we made it over the weekend & i wanted to share it with you because it's a great winter meal! it's super easy to make & super delicious!
White Chicken Chili

McCormick white chicken chili seasoning mix
14oz chicken broth
1 can great northern beans (drained)
2 cans kidney beans (drained)
2 large 12.5oz chicken canned
1 10oz can Ro*Tel diced tomatoes & green chilis
i shred the chicken with a fork, because it's normally in very large chunks.

you literally throw everything into a pot! bring it to a boil, reduce heat, & simmer 10 minutes stirring occasionally. if you like things a little spicy, try adding some Tony's creole seasoning. but if you use Tony's, don't add extra salt. 

you can also cook this in a crockpot on low for 4-6 hours. we normally do it in the crockpot on weekdays if we remember to throw everything in it in the mornings. it tastes better because the flavors mix together for longer. but it's delicious either way! enjoy!

what is your favorite soup recipe?

Monday, November 11, 2013

DIY // Christmas Ribbon Wreath

this past weekend a friend & i had a craft night! we wanted to make something for Christmas, so we decided to make Christmas wreaths! i had a vision in my head for how i wanted to do my wreath, but when i started working i didn't think i had enough ribbon to do it, so i ended up doing something completely different. i like how it came out though with blue on both sides.

materials needed:
wreath (straw wreaths are inexpensive)
burlap (this was for my original vision)
different Christmas ribbon
glue gun
large bow
scissors (not pictured)

*note: i kept the wreath wrapped in plastic because i didn't want straw everywhere!

step 1: (optional) wrap the straw wreath in burlap. (my original vision was going to let some of the burlap show. i also had ribbon that was see through & i wanted to see burlap behind it rather than straw) glue the end of the burlap to the wreath & start wrapping. 

when you get to the end, glue the end of the burlap to the back of the wreath.

step 2: wrap the wreath with ribbon. you can alternate your colors however you like. (original vision was to have 3 alternating sections of ribbon and a burlap section in between) you could do big sections or smaller sections that repeat. glue the ribbon on just as you did the burlap.

step 3: once all the ribbon is on the wreath, glue your bow to the upper side of the wreath. left, right, or choose!

my friend did alternating sections of ribbon & i love the way hers came out. it reminds me of a candy cane.

what kind of wreaths do you make for Christmas?

Friday, November 08, 2013

love story // the honeymoon

if you missed love story: our wedding video! you can find it here.

the wedding is over & we are off to our week long honeymoon! our first night we stayed in a hotel in Charlotte near the airport. i was so excited we got to use our "Mr." and "Mrs." luggage tags!

Saturday morning we flew to Wyoming! for our honeymoon we went to Yellowstone National Park & Grand Teton National Park! we have both always wanted to go there, so we thought it would be an awesome honeymoon destination! we stayed in Jackon, Wyoming & it was a gorgeous little town!

it was my husband's first time flying & he hated it. to top it off, our plane couldn't land at the Jackson Hole airport because it was cloudy (the airport is surrounded by the Grand Tetons so there's only 2 ways you can land anyways) so they went to Idaho Falls, Idaho. we got off the plane and drove 2 hours to Jackson Hole.

this is our little cabin for the week. (we were originally in a room that was connected to another one. but the people beside us spoke another language & were really loud, so we upgraded to a separate cabin. best decision we made!)

there's a little park in the middle of the town that has arches made out of antlers at all 4 entrances. 

we came across some ground squirrels & fed them the leftover fries from lunch. we (i) seriously sat there for 20 minutes feeding these squirrels!

Grand Teton National Park is in between Jackson Hole & Yellowstone National Park, so we got to see these gorgeous mountains the whole week!

we went up to Yellowstone 3 out of the 6 days we were there! one day we were in the car for 13 hours because we drove all the way to the top of the park. it's so crazy how much the landscape changes while you're driving through the park. at the south side of the park, it is mainly forest. in the middle there are hills, geysers, and lots of wildlife. then towards the north side there are huge rock mountains, curvy roads, & hot springs at the top. 

we passed the continental divide about 6 times at different elevations.

this is probably the most gorgeous view you will ever see! oh, home on the range...

there was a wildlife museum near our resort, so one day we went to see the art!

this is the view from the parking lot of the wildlife art museum!

they folded our towels like they do on cruise ships!

there is literally a town named Moose.

we saw a few moose in the wild. it was really neat! i made all sorts of animal noises to make them look at the camera!

we saw wildlife almost everywhere we went. i love animals so this was really neat!

we saw a black bear the first day we went to Yellowstone. it looks really cool because the snow is still on the ground, so he stands out. right before i took the picture the bear was looking straight at us & the car behind us honked... so this is the best picture we got of the bear.

we also saw a full size grizzly while we were in Yellowstone! we watched him for about 10-15 minutes roam the hillside. it was so neat!

there were also tons of bison everywhere. this picture was in yellowstone, but they were all over the roads everywhere we went!

the hot springs at the top of the park are really cool looking!

there is also a Grand Canyon of Yellowstone & it was pretty impressive! i would love to see the real Grand Canyon after seeing this one!

there was a part of the park called "West Thumb" and i thought it would be hilarious to take a picture of our west (left) thumbs. i laugh at dumb things.

this is the Old Faithful Inn - it's a hotel near Old Faithful (surprise!) that is really famous.

we went around & walked inside the Inn. it was really awesome inside!

this is us in front of Ole Faithful as it is erupting!


the day we were in the car 13 hours and drove through the whole park, we didn't get back to our cabin until midnight. when we got out of the car, this little puppy walked up to us & followed us into our cabin. we called the number on the tag & it ended up being a puppy at a humane society that was being kept by a volunteer during the week. she was very happy to get the puppy back! (and i was happy to have a puppy to play with for an hour)

we saw a moose in the water when we were driving down a back road one day. we got a picture with it, but you can barely see it. it's to the right of Thomas's head. 

we watched the moose for about 20 minutes. 

we also found that famous barn on Mormon Row that is always in pictures of out west. so, we had to get a picture in front of it!

after the mishap of not being able to land at the Jackson Hole Airport on the way in, my husband convinced me to rent another car & drive to Salt Lake City our last night. our connection was at 8am in Salt Lake City the next morning. if we flew out of Jackson Hole, we would've had to get up at 4am. i'm not a fan of being awake at 4am, so i obliged. this picture is of our rental car at the Jackson Hole Airport. we have lots of pictures at this airport, but never actually flew in or out of it!

on the way to Salt Lake City, we drove out of Wyoming, through Idaho for 3 hours, then made it to Salt Lake City after 5 hours in the car. we went downtown for dinner that night & found a really cool outdoor shopping area. 

we had a really great time & loved Yellowstone! all of the views & wildlife are just amazing. the weather in May is great too! we are definitely planning to go back sometime in the future! maybe a 10th anniversary thing! :)