Monday, June 30, 2014


for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black

highlights from my week:
- remember how i told you our groundhog likes to lay on that rock in front of our barn? well we saw that he was out last weekend & watched him from our window. he walked around for a little bit & then climbed up on the rock for an afternoon nap!

- have you heard of #shereadstruth? i've been hearing about it all over blogland & decided to start one of their studies! it's a good way to redeem part of my lunch break! i'm finishing up Titus right now & can't wait to start Ruth! :)

- on tuesday, Thomas went by starbucks on his lunch break & surprised me by delivering a frozen strawberry lemonade to my office! it was the perfect afternoon pick me up! i think their frozen strawberry lemonade is my favorite drink & it's not even on their menu! i only know about it because Thomas used to work there & let me in on the secret! ;)

- one night on the way home, we saw this little box turtle sitting in the middle of the road! there were no cars coming, so we picked him up out of the road. instead of putting him back on the side just for him to crawl back out in the road, we took him home & let him go in our woods - but played with him inside first! :)

- Jenna came over on thursday for dinner & we planned out some things for her bridal shower in August! i think i'm as excited for her wedding as i was for my own! maybe i just love planning, making lists, & crafting! :) 

- this past weekend we had our passport to fun date for June! we went to Italy & i'll be sharing all about it soon!

you may have missed:
Q&A + a giveaway (today is the last day to enter!)
real talk // loving the stranger
our first 5k
the perfect dress + eShakti giveaway (there is still time to enter!)

favorite reads:
protecting rest vs fighting apathy | Pretty is as Pretty Does
when messy is God's territory | Sarah Ann Rogers
marriage advice from a PB&J sandwich | Titus 2 Minutes

how was your week?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

our first 5k

when i made my 30 by 30 list, i put "run a race" on there because i've always wanted to do it! of course, i never really enjoyed running so i figured i would put it off as long as i could.

then my husband & i were trying to figure out a way we could both fit more exercising into our lives because we were so sporadic with it. we figured that running together would be the easiest thing to work into our schedules & since we were doing it together it would help keep us accountable. so that's why in April we signed up for our very first 5k!

at the time we signed up, we had the exact number of weeks to use the Couch 2 5k training program for our race! C25K eases you into running & i think this was the most important thing for me - because it helped me build my muscles with baby steps. i think that's why i never enjoyed running before, because i always thought you had to run the whole time and i just couldn't so i would quit. but this whole run/walk thing i can handle!

we actually got through about 4 1/2 weeks of the training. obviously, we hoped we could have finished the entire training before our first race, but we didn't let it discourage us! we set a goal of finishing under 50 minutes because we knew we were going to have to walk/jog it! the course was also harder than where we trained, and i didn't think it would be. we trained in a hilly neighborhood near our house but they were very short hills. the race had very long hills, so we were constantly at an incline. but i am so proud of us for sticking through it & helping each other keep going!

we started at the dead back of the group because we didn't want to get trampled by everyone. since it was our first race we weren't really sure what to expect when 350 people all starting running at the same time! there were actually a lot of people that started off walking though.

the first mile is pretty much all downhill, but the second mile is pretty much all uphill! we made it 2 miles in just under 30 minutes and i was pretty impressed! we were both pretty exhausted by then though because we had only run about 2.1 miles at one time in our training. the third mile was a mixture of uphill & downhill which was nice because the downhill gave my legs some relief. the last stretch was uphill and it was tough.

right before the finish line, they had a cop telling you where to go and cheering you on. that was really neat! when we saw him, we starting sprinting as fast as we could & i remember him shouting "that's the way to finish strong!" which helped me keep going. we sprinted all the way to the finish line and finished just under 47 minutes!

after we finished, we made a b-line to the water & they even had shaved ice trucks there! every runner got a free shaved ice so that was neat! then we walked over to the finish line & watched the rest of the people finish!

it was interesting seeing all of the people that came out. there were about 350 people in total running so that was awesome! there were a few speed walkers that really flew through the course and i was impressed. the fastest time was 16 minutes - 3.1 miles in 16 minutes! that's about how long it takes me to run 1 mile. kid's got skills.

although the hills were tougher, i didn't feel as winded during the race as i have during training. my legs weren't even really sore during the entire run. when we first started it was all downhill for the first mile and my shins were hurting like crazy. but eventually they either quit hurting or my legs were numb and i couldn't feel them. the only mishap i had was that my music wouldn't play - i used an internet based radio app and it kept going in and out. it's hard for me to run without music so i'm going to be putting some music on my phone before the next race!

the race wasn't as daunting as i thought it would be really. because we only had a few weeks of running under our belts, i was worried it would completely dominate us. but it was fun & i can't wait for our next one! we enjoy running now & are glad to be exercising regularly now as well! i'm excited to keep getting stronger & have a few months of running behind us for our next race! :)

and thank you to all of you who have been an encouragement to me through our training! there have been so many sweet and encouraging emails, comments, instagram comments, etc. and i really appreciate it! it's nice to be encouraged by runners who have been at this for years! 

do you have any tips for my next 5K?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

real talk // loving the stranger

this is an installment of my series on The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.

catch up on past posts here: 
  the secret of marriage | the power for marriage | the essence of marriage | the mission of marriage

the thing about marriage is that it is still real life. but it is real life where you cannot easily hide. you are exposed to your spouse. as people grow, they change. marriage brings out some things about you that maybe you didn't even know about yourself. and now it is all seen by your spouse. when this happens, it may seem to one spouse that they are married to a stranger.

do you remember the talk about the mission of marriage & how part of the mission is to help each other grow out of sins and into the person God is creating? if we expect this to be part of marriage, then we will expect seasons where our spouse feels like a stranger. and instead of being caught off guard, we will be ready to help our spouse work through it. 

an important thing to remember is that no one else is as hurt by your flaws as your spouse is. because of this, your spouse is more aware of what is wrong with you than anyone ever has been before. marriage doesn't create your weaknesses, but it certainly does reveal them and force you to pay attention to them. since your spouse is the one who is closest to the action, you need to allow him or her to speak into your life and speak to you about your sin. we need to accept each other in love, but also not allowing the other to destroy him or herself with sin. in other words, we need to be like Jesus. 

at the same time, we need to remember that this sin is not permanent. every day both spouses are being shaped by God and growing into their glory-self. because of this, we shouldn't allow our spouses sin to turn us away from them, but instead we should work through the sin together. 

one very important way to love your spouse, is to speak their love language. it is not enough for me to simply show my husband love the way that i want to be shown love, but i need to learn the way that he likes to be shown love. one of my primary love languages is quality time - i really feel like someone loves me if they take the time to spend quality time with me. one of Thomas's primary love languages is touch. he likes to hold hands, hug, and kiss. so it's not enough for me to just spend time with Thomas, but i need to make an effort to hold his hand and hug him because that's how he accepts love. just as Jesus came to earth in a manner we could understand, we need to communicate love to our spouse in a way they understand. 

Tim touched on love being a covenant a few weeks back. and now he explains further why the covenant is so important. the phrase "the honeymoon stage" was thought of for a reason. when you first feel in love, it is an emotional high. but eventually the high wears off and "the honeymoon stage" ends. when this happens, love becomes a choice that you make each day. when this happens, if each spouse has learned how to speak the other's love language, each will feel as if their needs for love are satisfied. if we choose not to speak their love language, we will feel as if our need for love is unmet. 

we talked about speaking into each other's lives and calling out sin, but Tim gives a warning about this as well. because of the relationship of a husband & wife, our words hold great weight and great power. if we speak the truth to our spouse but do not speak it in a loving way, it does not help them, it only destroys them. cutting remarks go deeper than any blade. truth and love are only effective if they are kept together. when we feel loved by our spouse, and they point out a weakness in our life, we will have the security to admit our flaws and work on them. 

in order for truth and love to be kept together, however, both spouses must be good at forgiving and good at repenting. before we confront each other about sin, we must first forgive them. without forgiving them first, the confrontation will be more hurtful than helpful. because Jesus saw our sin and covered it, we can see our spouse's sin but cover it with forgiveness.

Monday, June 23, 2014


for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black

highlights from my week:
- that basset & her faces never fail to crack me up! i'm sure she gets annoyed at me constantly snapping photos of her, but sometimes they are just so priceless! this one has had me laughing all week!

- we snagged a bucket of strawberries from the local berry patch! we love going to little fruit stands or farmers markets! something about it just says summer! (so does the 90degree temps) we also snagged some sweet potatoes & blackberry jam! yum!

- on friday, our HR lady asked me to run a check for her & we normally don't do a check run on fridays for the company she needed it for. so my coworker told her to sweet talk me & that my favorite things are peanut butter oreos & milanos. next thing i know, HR brings over a whole pack of Reese's oreos & double chocolate milanos to my desk! best friday ever! and the whole department enjoyed some treats! 

- we ran our first 5k on Saturday! considering we only got through about 4 1/2 weeks of our c25k app, i think we did pretty well! when i scheduled it, i didn't take into account life & how hectic it is for us lately. so we got a little behind in our training but we didn't let it discourage us! we planned to walk/jog the race and that's exactly what we did! it was a great experience & a lot of fun! plus we enjoy running more now & plan to continue!

- i got a haircut this weekend & was trying to remember the last time i got my haircut. you wanna know when it was? last July - a year ago! you know your life is too busy when...  but it does feel SO much better just to have all of those dead ends off! and even though it's been a year, i still hate spending money on a haircut! #accountingmajorprobs

you may have missed:
how to make it through the work day
Q&A | all about pets
our woodland pet
organization 101 | meal planning

favorite reads:
Tough questions about marriage | Quirky Anthems
Don't wish away your singleness | 34 Magnolia Street
A Robin's Nest | This Pilgrims Progress

how was your week?

Friday, June 20, 2014

organization 101 | meal prepping

when i was typing the title of this post, i accidentally typed "male prepping" - however, that would be a COMPLETELY different post & one that i definitely don't have any input on! i just wanted to share because i thought that was funny! :)

my husband & i have been keeping a meal planning calendar for a while. we plan out what we are going to eat so we can shop accordingly when we go to the grocery store. it's made eating healthy easier since we have a plan & supplies to make healthy meals. but in the past month, we have been taking it a step further.

meal prepping can be done in a variety of ways. and really, what meals you are having depicts the exact way that you will prep for the week. so i just wanted to share how we have done it because it has made our life so much easier. maybe you can gain some cool tips or maybe you already do this. all i know is that i will never go back, because it's freed up a lot of time for us on weeknights. 

o1; we roughly plan out our meals for each month at the beginning of the month. we don't plan out every single day and this can definitely be flexible. but we list out enough meals so we can plan ahead and have everything to make them! this is pretty easy for us, because we are sticking to a lot of whole 30 meals and whole foods. so a lot of our meals have the same ingredients in them.

o2; we create a grocery list for what we need each week. the first week of the month we buy any spices and non-perishable things we need for the month that we don't have or are running low on. we also stock up on frozen vegetables sometimes. we buy all of our perishable items and meats at the beginning of each week. i've even thought about just creating all of my grocery lists at the beginning of the month to be more efficient. or at least have a running list to work off of for each week.

o3; each weekend, preferably on Sunday, prep as much as you can for the week. we prep lunch bowls for 4 days of our week. they last in the fridge until Thursday. 

o4; we prep & freeze things we can't or don't want to cook ahead of time. as an example - we marinate chicken breasts and then freeze them for an easy dinner. grab it out of the fridge, thaw, cook and add a vegetable side. we are also experimenting with crockpot frozen dinners, where we prep it all in a bag and freeze. to use these, we thaw overnight, stick in the crockpot each morning, and let it cook while we're at work. this saves a LOT of time during our morning since everything is already prepped.

before we started doing this, my husband would never pack his lunch. he would either pick up something if he went out or just snack all day at work. so one of the things i have enjoyed about prepping lunch is that i know we are both getting a healthy lunch. below is our guideline for our lunch bowls each week.

grab & go lunch bowls

8 thin sliced chicken breasts (flavored however)
1 bag steamable corn
1 bag steamable broccoli
1 can of black beans
2 cans of green beans
1 cup quinoa

we cook the chicken & quinoa and steam the corn & broccoli, then we just assemble the bowls together. i don't know that it's necessary to steam the vegetables before putting the bowls together, but we just wanted to make sure they would heat up correctly in the microwave. since the beans come from cans, we just drain & pour them into our bowls. 

this makes enough for 8 bowls and we split the bowls however we want. i like all 4 of mine to be a bit different. it's kinda fun to just grab one out of the fridge and then see what i have when i heat it up at lunchtime. also, that keeps it from being the exact same thing everyday. this is so easy that i wish we would have thought of this while we were doing whole 30!

you can certainly do this with whatever meat you want, whatever vegetables you like, and whatever grain. you could also do it with just a grain & veggies or just meat & veggies. the thing i like is that the possibilities are endless! 

what are some things you do to eliminate weeknight cooking?
do you have a meal planning system?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

how to make it through the work day

in college, i always had 8am classes but i also had breaks in between my classes. most of the time i would make coffee or take a nap during those breaks. it was nice to just have some time to get myself together! now that i work full time, i really miss those breaks during the day! so i've had to improvise on how to get through the 9-10 hour work days!

so if you're like me & you have a job where you sit in front of a computer for 9-10 hours... i'd like to share a few ways to make it through!

1 - take short breaks throughout the day. sure there's no time to nap during the day (unless you take a nap in your car during lunch!), but get up at least once every hour or two and walk around. go to the restroom, fill up your water bottle, walk out to your car, pour some coffee, speak to a coworker or just walk around aimlessly. not only will your body & eyes thank you for it, but it will help your focus so much to just take a short mental break.

2 - put in your headphones. if your office is loud or you just need to clear your head - put in your headphones! listen to some music, or if you can't concentrate with singing, listen to classical or instrumental music. if music isn't your thing, there's always white noise! i use white noise frequently at this is such a lifesaver for me! music or white noise not only helps with focus, it also makes the time go by faster!

3 - if you're stuck, leave it. if you have been working on something for a few hours & are having issues - leave it. work on something else and come back to it later. when you come back to something with a fresh set of eyes and new perspective, it will save you so much frustration. often when you spend so much time on one thing, you don't see the "simple" errors in it. it's good to shift your focus to something else entirely & then come back to it.

4 - exercise during your lunch break! instead of sitting around during lunch or playing on the computer, go to the gym. if you don't have a gym, you can walk/jog on the sidewalk or around the parking lot. just getting up & moving around seriously makes your body feel so much better. you may feel tired at first, but after a while you will feel refreshed & energized.

5 - drink plenty of water! you don't realize you're dehydrated when you're sitting at a desk, so keep a bottle at your desk that you fill up during the day! if you've been working for an hour straight, take a 10 second break to drink some water. your body will thank you & your eyes will enjoy a break from the screen! if you don't like water, drink something that will hydrate you, meaning something other than coffee or soda!

what are some things you do to make it through the work day? 
what have you found helps you best?

Monday, June 16, 2014


for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black

highlights from my week:
- last weekend my nephew had his 2nd birthday! it was a Cars themed party because Cars is his favorite movie right now! he got tons of toy cars in gifts, my parents got him a car he can push himself in like the Flinstones, and we got him a tractor! so he is all set for a while i believe!

- a few weeks ago i upgraded my phone to an iphone! there was a deal where it only cost $1! i didn't have an iphone before, so i needed to get a phone cover for it! i looked around on Etsy and finally found the perfect cover for me - a VW bus! it's perfect timing too since we just sold my VW beetle!

- my husband's grandparents were getting rid of a cabinet & it is exactly what we've been looking for to use in our kitchen! so we moved it into our house on saturday & got it all set up with our dishes! we love it & it fits perfectly in our little kitchen!

- we had a busy weekend! friday we took dinner to our friends that just had a baby and hung out all night, saturday we helped my husband's grandparents move for a good 5 hours & then Thomas helped his dad move a freezer, then sunday we had fathers day - so it was a full weekend!

- our 5k is THIS saturday! we are a tad bit nervous about it because it's our first race & we got behind in our training. so we are just going to walk/jog it but excited to get the experience! then we are going to allow ourselves enough time to fully train before our next one! ;)

you may have missed:
our first anniversary // Washington, DC
DIY // coffee table tray
a puppy named Buckeye
real talk // the mission of marriage

how was your week?

Friday, June 13, 2014

real talk // the mission of marriage

this is an installment of my series on The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.

catch up on past posts here: 
  the secret of marriage | the power for marriage | the essence of marriage

marriage, at it's most simple form, is a friendship. God himself is a friendship - between the Holy Spirit, the Son, and the Father. because we were made in God's image, we were made for relationship.

a friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17a
the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. Proverbs 27:9b
iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Tim states "while erotic love can be depicted as two people looking at one another, friendship can be depicted as two people standing side by side looking at the same object and being stirred and entranced by it together." and that is why marriage is a friendship. because a marriage isn't simply about the relationship, but rather it's about something that both people are committed to besides each other - God.

and that is also why marriage is a mission. it is two friends on a journey together to the same destination. and on that journey these friends help each other through the challenges they face.

therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16a
be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

friendship is birthed out of the common mission that both spouses are committed to. but the spouse's differences are what strengthens the friendship as well.

and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24
but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

these commands were given to unrelated Christians. so the question is, if two unrelated Christians are supposed to engage this way, how much more should a husband and wife?!

i love how Tim discusses that the search for an ideal mate is hopeless. an ideal mate would be like a finished statue. but none of us on earth are finished! we should instead be looking for a wonderful block of marble. because in this block of marble, weaknesses, flaws and all, you can see the person that God is creating! and part of the mission of marriage is to help your spouse become the person that God is creating him or her to be! what a special role we get to play in our spouse's life!

when i made my vows on my wedding day, i was committing myself to my husband. but i was also committing my marriage to the Lord. and even more than that, i was committing myself to my husband's holiness. committing myself to helping him love the Lord more than he loves me. because only when we both love the Lord more than each other, can we truly put each other's needs ahead of our own.

just like the Lord should be first in our marriage, every other relationship should be prioritized under our marriage. not that these other relationships don't matter, but just that our marriage should be top priority. and that's the way it is meant to be. as Tim explains, "God did not put a parent and child in the garden of Eden, he put a husband and a wife."

"therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:24

becoming one flesh means forming a new union. this union must be even more powerful than any other union. marriage is meant to be our most important relationship and also our most fulfilling relationship. that's why my husband is not only my partner, but also my best friend.

forming a new union also means creating a new mission. not compromising between both of our families ways of doing things. but rather, working together to create our own unique pattern of doing things because we are a new family. marriage is powerful and can set the course of the rest of our lives. and because it has unequaled power, it must have unequaled priority.

marriage is a mission and spouses are partners in that mission. i love that analogy. 

quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

DIY // coffee table tray

our living room curtains came off of our wedding registry at Target. i love them so much & they really brighten up the living room. after we put them up, i was looking around the room figuring out how else to decorate. i decided i wanted a tray for our end table to lay pens, coins, and nick nacks on to cut down on the clutter that can easily overtake a table.

it just so happens that we had to get one of our curtains hemmed, because we hung it on the window on our door and it was too long. i had leftover fun fabric & i wanted to utilize it in some way. so, i made my own tray from a picture frame & curtain fabric. i got this frame at Ross for $3 and the fabric was free! plus i absolutely love that the tray matches our curtains and is unique to us!

this is super simple to make & pretty self explanatory, but i'll walk you through the way i made mine!

materials needed
picture frame (with raised sides to resemble a tray)
fabric of your choosing

step 1 | take the glass out of the frame & trace it onto the fabric.

step 2 | cut along the lines you made to have a piece of fabric that fits your frame

step 3 | put your fabric into your frame, lay the frame on table & use it as an awesome tray!

easy peasy! sometimes we put candles on our tray, keep pens in it, or just leave it as is! you could even set it on it's side & use it as a dry erase board to write fun messages on! use it however you like!

have you ever recycled fabric to make something unique?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

our first anniversary | Washington, DC

we left the cabin on friday and headed to DC for memorial day weekend! we went to DC last Thanksgiving for the first time & decided we wanted to go back sometime this year! we found out you could tour the white house if you request it through your senator a few months in advance! so we requested a tour in February and received our confirmation a few weeks before we left for our trip! and the cool thing is that the tour is free!

my favorite thing about the tour was that you exit through the front door! it was really awesome to walk through such a historic place! they don't allow photography in the white house, but we asked the secret service out front if we could take one in front of the door & they said we could! i didn't think we would get a picture so close to it so that was awesome! they had secret service posted in every room & they would answer questions you had about the decor, room, or anything in the white house! plus, we were running late for our tour due to metro issues, so we got some good 5k training in while we ran 2 blocks to the white house!

one cool thing about DC is that anything Smithsonian is free! when we went last year, we went to a few of the museums and all we paid for was our hotel and food! this time we decided to go to the national zoo & air and space museum near Dulles! the zoo is huge and we got there late in the afternoon both days so we had to rush to see things we wanted to see! we were so excited about seeing the pandas because we don't have pandas in any of the zoos where we live! we got to see a panda eating some bamboo and rolling around! there was even a panda cub but he was sleeping while we were there! 

the air & space museum was really cool! we spent about an hour and a half there, and could have easily spent about three more! we got to see the Concorde (the first supersonic airliner to enter service & can cross the Atlantic in 4 hours), Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (a stealth plane that can fly from LA to DC in 1 hour - which is 2,124 miles per hour!), some Nazi planes, the world's smallest plane, the Discovery space shuttle (which has gone into space 39 times!), the Apollo 11 command module, a signed R2-D2 USPS mail box (there used to be one in our city when i was in high school!), and tons of other cool planes & objects!




linking up with A Harvest of Blessing

have you ever been to DC? what's your favorite part of the city?