Tuesday, September 30, 2014

an autumn afternoon

some people say that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. and i do agree that it is wonderful. but the MOST wonderful time of the year for me is autumn. just like spring brings a feeling of newness, fall brings a sense of calm. the calm before the storm of winter, perhaps, but a calm nonetheless. 

living in the country has it's benefits in the fall. saturday we went to the local farmers market and got a few pumpkins and the cutest tiny succulent. then we drove 30 minutes up the road to hike in the mountains. on Sunday afternoon we drove 15 minutes up the road to a little farm that does a pumpkin patch in October! this farm houses rescued animals & works with autistic kids all for free, so the pumpkin patch is their big fundraiser for the year. 

i love walking through & looking at all of the crazy colored pumpkins! we were on the hunt for the perfect white pumpkin this year & we found it! we also bought some cones of food for the animals & were able to feed them. they even eat the colored ice cream cone! so fun! 

after feeding the animals, we went on the hay ride around the property. we got to see all of the animals at the farm & hear about their involvement in the Community Supported Agriculture membership. it was the perfect autumn weekend. when we got home Sunday, we set up our autumn goodies on the front porch! 

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one autumnal face.
John Donne

I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
Anne of Green Gables | LM Montgomery

Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows | JK Rowling

Autumn... the year's last, loveliest smile.
William Cullen Bryant

Monday, September 29, 2014

week recap

- my first date with Thomas was on September 22, 2011 which means that it's been 3 years since our first date! that just seems crazy to me! every year on September 22 we re-create our first date & i am so glad we started this tradition!

- there is a really nice steakhouse in our city called The Peddler. Thomas tried to take me there on Valentine's weekend when we first started dating, but it was a 2 hour wait. we also planned to go on our anniversary this year & get there early, but we had to go to the doctor for Thomas and that foiled our plans. we've tried countless times in the past 3 years to eat there, and finally this week we made our dream come true! we went after work on a week night & were able to get in quickly! then as luck would have it, the next day there was a living social deal for it so we ended up buying that so we can go again for a little cheaper!

- we got our pumpkin a little late last year (late as in the last week in October) so the pickins were slim! this year, we got to our pumpkin patch early & had plenty to pick from! we got an orange & a white pumpkin! i kinda like white pumpkins better!

- Albie, our bunny, has been cracking us up lately! he is constantly rearranging his "living room" area! he pushes everything to the middle so he can have all the corners free! he is such a diva!

- this week it was sweater weather
- pumpkin patch & hay rides!
- breakfast buddies
- saturday hikes (right now is perfect hiking weather)
- birthday celebrations

- society tends to put pressure on young adults to get married & then newlyweds to start having kids. but you know what? it's okay to not have babies - that is not something you should be pressured into!
- this is a very interesting read about what the internet is doing to our brains. food for thought!
- i loved Madison's tips on how to avoid burnout - reading this was perfect timing for me!
- this DIY birch shadow box is so adorable!


how was your week?!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

the circle | fall favorites

this month, The Circle link up is all about fall favorites! autumn is my favorite season (like 95% of the blogosphere apparently) so this post was a fun one to write! fall means hay rides, pumpkin patches, scarves, chai tea, sunflowers, hiking, and so much more!

one of my all time favorite things about fall is the weather! it is the perfect weather for just a few weeks where it's not too hot, not too cold, & there is that crisp in the air! i love being outside in the fall & it does amazing things for my soul!


5 | warm drinks! namely chai lattes or pumpkin spice lattes. i don't actually like anything pumpkin (pie, bread, tea, etc) but i do enjoy pumpkin spice lattes. i think it's mostly because the espresso drowns out the pumpkin flavor & it's not really pumpkin to begin with! also, because the first time i tried one was on my first date with my husband so it holds a special memory for me! 

4 | sunflowers! sunflowers are my favorite flower ever! i used them at my wedding because they are so pretty yet so simple! they are like a little tiny sunshine of your own!

3 | apple cider! specifically, Trader Joe's apple cider in a crock pot with cinnamon sticks! because that is just more fun & it is so delicious!

2 | decorating pumpkins! although i don't like eating pumpkin, i love decorating pumpkins! carving is fun & i love the outcome, but recently i've gotten into painting pumpkins! i love little white pumpkins & adding a cute design! i do want to paint an orange fox pumpkin at some point this year though! 

1 | scarves, sweaters & boots! scarves are my lifesaver because i don't like turtle necks or anything touching my neck so closely. scarves keep warmth in but they are loose and i don't feel like i can't breathe when i wear them! plus they look cute & really add that extra flare to an outfit! i love sweaters because i love having something to cover up my arms, like a safety net. i guess that is an introvert trait! boots are a new thing for me! i got my first real pair last year & i just absolutely adore them!

what are you favorite things about this season?!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

september 22 | the first date

we re-create our first date every year. lucky for us, it was something simple & cheap. :) we both love anniversaries & pretty much celebrate anything we can. it is so much fun to re-live our first date every year. no matter what is going on in life, it's fun to just forget it all & remember back on the night that started it all. re-creating our first date is my favorite sign of fall! :)

September 22, 2011 | Thursday | Year One

i was a junior in college. i was tutoring in accounting lab that night. earlier in the week, Thomas and i decided to grab coffee together that night at 8. accounting lab was over at 9, but i left an hour early. #rebel

we had been friends for 1 1/2 years before this night, but in recent months had taken quite a liking to each other. we talked more than just on occasion, like in the past. and quite enjoyed it, so we continued creeping into each other's lives.

we planned on going to Dunkin Donuts, but they closed at 9. Thomas wanted to have more time together, so we went to Starbucks instead. 

on the drive over, i asked Thomas what he was going to get. he said he would get a Pumpkin Spice Latte. i told him i didn't like pumpkin, but everyone had told me how delicious they were. i decided to try one also because there was no reason not to. after that first sip, i was convinced!

he opened the doors for me. we talked about life. i had just gotten back from my Alaskan summer and that took up a majority of the conversation. we talked about his job and what it was like working full time. (not very fun) 

i didn't finish my coffee while we were at Starbucks, so i took the rest back with me. i ended up keeping the cup & cutting out the logo to put into what would become a journal of our dates for the first year of our relationship.

September 22, 2012 | Saturday | Year Two

we have been engaged for 21 days at this point! i thought it would be fun to re-create our first date each year so we planned on going to starbucks for Pumpkin Spice Lattes at 8pm sharp! we spent the afternoon at the driving range hitting golf balls. i had never golfed before, so i had a lot of trouble getting my balls to actually go farther than a few feet in front of me. Thomas enjoyed it though! 

September 22, 2013 | Sunday | Year Three

we have been married for 4 months now! we had work the next day, so we went in the afternoon instead of at 8pm. i was on my first whole30 so i wasn't able to get a PSL. i justified to myself that the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher was whole30 approved, so i got that instead. Thomas still got a PSL. we sat outside because the weather was wonderful!

September 22, 2014 | Monday | Year Four

we are well into our second year of marriage! it is crazy how the time flies. we went to The Peddler for a steak dinner because it's been months since we went out for a nice date. after dinner, we went to Starbucks & got the traditional Pumpkin Spice Lattes (decaf, please!) the weather was nice so we sat outside & talked about what our favorite parts of the past 3 years have been!

do you re-create dates or celebrate a bunch of random anniversaries?
(if not, you should!)

Monday, September 22, 2014

week recap

- i got outside during my lunch break everyday last week. even though it has been hot, it's been a pick-me-up in the middle of the day. i love being able to get outside in the fresh air. & i am very thankful that i can use gym showers to shower off before going back to work!

- i have to do a physical every year for insurance discounts at work. the doctor i normally see was booked solid so i made my appointment with the nurse practitioner. she was very nice, helpful, and even prayed for me before i left my appointment. now that is an awesome doctor's visit!

- because i used to blog during my lunch break & now i am getting outside each day, it is very hard to find time for this space. i am okay with that though. i want this blog to reflect my life & when life is busy that means less posts. i still love blogging & will be posting here, but i'm learning to be okay with the fact that i simply don't have time to post about everything that i want to post about.

- the weather has come down to the 70s!
- i started re-reading the Harry Potter books (i have been wanting to for years)
- sleepover with Jenna (who says you are ever too old for sleepovers?)
- saturday hikes & picnics

- did you know the internet can't love you? this post is a gem!
- i love this mythbuster that reminds us God uses the messy!
- this post about why motherhood is not a woman's highest calling really lays out the gospel well!


how was your week?!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

30x30 | try 5 new restaurants

as part of my 30x30 list, i put "try 5 new restaurants" because there are tons of places around here that we hadn't tried yet! this was one of my favorite things on my 30x30 list because it means exploring new places & having fun date adventures! we tend to go to the same places over and over, so it was high time we tried out some new places!

FOOD: ***** (5/5)
ATMOSPHERE: **** (4/5)
VALUE: **** (4/5)

it's owned by Larkins & because of this we thought it may be pricey. but it was actually a little cheaper than some chain restaurants & so much better! Thomas got the low country burger (pictured) that comes with pimento cheese, fried green tomato, coleslaw, and lettuce. I got the foghorn leghorn: grilled chicken, bacon, avocado, and lettuce. we both really loved our choices & everything had such a great taste! they also put grill marks on their buns (get it?) & grilled buns are always delicious! we loved the atmosphere - it's a "bar" style restaurant with no front door - so you feel like you're outside! everything is so open & the restaurant has a really great feel to it! the fries also come in a little fryer basket! i love little details like that!

FOOD: **** (4/5)
ATMOSPHERE: ** (2/5)
VALUE: *** (3/5)

we kept seeing this place, but had never tried it out. the first time we went there, we were in love! they seriously make the best hot bagel sandwich! i got a turkey sandwich with avocado on a wheat bagel and Thomas got the turkey club on a jalapeno bagel. we both took one bite and knew we would be back! i love how you can customize your sandwich to be exactly what you want and they have a lot of options to choose from! they even serve breakfast bagel sandwiches! it was a little pricey for just a sandwich though, my bagel was $7 not including chips & a drink. luckily we have a few BOGO coupons so we will try to only go there when we have a coupon! most of the times we've been, there are just a few people there if any at all, so it's a little awkward feeling.

FOOD: *** (3/5)
ATMOSPHERE: ***** (5/5)
VALUE: *** (3/5)

we see this place all of the time when we walk downtown, but had never stopped in. when we did our London passport to fun date, we finally got to try it out because i wanted to go to a pub for that one! it was so delicious but very greasy - which is probably true to pub food. it was a little more on the pricey side, but you do get plenty food & we both had leftovers. the atmosphere in this place was so awesome! all of the tables and chairs were mismatched, there was a penny farthing on the wall & lots of vintage decor. it was just a cozy place overall & i could've stayed in there all day.

FOOD: ***** (5/5)
ATMOSPHERE: ***** (5/5)
VALUE: *** (3/5)

Thomas went to a wine tasting at this place right after it opened, but never ate on the patio there. we went to do a wine tasting (for our Italy passport to fun date) because i had never done one. we decided to sit out on the patio and try some wine & truffles - just because it's a different experience. we really enjoyed the fun atmosphere on the patio as you overlook the vineyard. the truffles were so delicious & pretty reasonably priced as well. we found our new favorite wine while we were there also, so i call that a good day!

FOOD: ***** (5/5)
ATMOSPHERE: ***** (5/5)
VALUE: **** (4/5)

The Hungry Drover is a little diner at the corner of a country road. we have passed it a few times & Thomas has been wanting to try it out for months! one saturday morning we decided it was the perfect day to try it out & get our favorite meal - breakfast! it did not disappoint! the atmosphere is awesome, as soon as you walk in you feel like you are right at home! it was busy the morning we went and this nice couple let us sit at their table while they finished their food so we wouldn't have to stand! this place was full of good ole folks & the staff were just so welcoming and helpful! they give you old soda bottles for your table number, mason jars to drink out of, and their grits come in cute pottery! they also serve certified SC grown products & even have a shop with local handmade items! i may or may not have bought an oak wand that resembles the elder wand! #harrypotterforlife

overall we picked some really great restaurants to try out! they are all places we will visit again & again (and already have visited Grill Marks and Sulleys Steamers multiple times)! it is fun to find new favorite local places & we are definitely not stopping at 5! :)

what is your favorite local eatery?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

real talk // singleness and marriage [part 2]

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

thanks for reading along as i process all the truth in this book!
you can catch up on past posts here: 
  the secret of marriage | the power for marriage | the essence of marriage
the mission of marriage | loving the stranger | embracing the other | singleness and marriage (part 1)

the last half of this chapter discusses practical advice for those seeking marriage. some of these are things i learned the hard way, some i wish i had been told in my teenage years. 

o1 | understand there are seasons for not seeking marriage
if there is always a sense of needing to "have somebody" there may be a seed of idolatry in your heart when it comes to marriage. there are certain times during your life when your judgment may be cloudy due to emotionally charged times, dealing with the death of a close loved one, starting a new job, etc. during these times, what is needed most is deep Christian friendship. 

o2 | understand that your time of singleness is a gift. 
no matter how long or short that time is - it is not a waste or just a "waiting period." Paul speaks of the gift of singleness because it gave him a freedom to concentrate on ministry that he wouldn't have had as much of if he was married. during your time of singleness, whether lifelong or temporary, God is helping you grow and build others up.

o3 | get more serious about seeking marriage as you get older.
as people get older, they tend to think that someone going out on dates with them is interested in a serious relationship. if you are dating someone and you are in your thirties, you could very easily play with their emotions. when you are in your teens or early twenties, you may go on dates with numerous people and not be interested in a relationship. however, the older you get, the more serious you need to take dating because most older people are probably expecting a relationship. 

o4 | do not allow yourself deep emotional involvement with a non-believing person.
although this is a controversial point, there are strong reasons in the Bible for this rule. if Jesus is central to your life and fundamental to your view of life, your spouse that doesn't believe in Jesus won't be able to understand a significant part of you. because your decisions will be based on this view of life, your spouse will also not understand certain decisions you make at all. in a Christian marriage, you relate everything to Christ and the gospel. if your spouse doesn't do this then you will have only two choices - hide your faith and lose a certain connection and transparency with your spouse, or move Christ out of the central part of your life. neither option will aid a healthy marriage and faith. 

o5 | feel attraction in the most comprehensive sense.
marriage is comprised of more than just physical attraction. comprehensive attraction, as defined by Tim Keller, is to be attracted to the character and spiritual fruit of a person. C.S. Lewis speaks of a secret thread that unites people's favorite things. these things trigger an "inconsolable longing" that pull you towards joy in God. "sometimes you will meet a person who so shares the same mythos thread with you that he or she becomes part of the thread itself." spouses can be attracted to who their spouse is and the future glorious self they are becoming through God.

o6 | don't let things get too passionate too quickly.
dating in today's world moves along faster than it used to. there isn't as much time for evaluation of a person's character. because of this people often get swept up into emotions without allowing the comprehensive attraction to develop. "when two Christians participate together in the same Christian community, however, there are plenty of opportunities to enter the worlds of one another in the older way." I love this quote because it is so true. Thomas and I were friends for about 2 years before we started dating. it was during those 2 years that we really got to know each other, we were in small group together and got to know each other's hearts for Jesus and connect on that level before we ever starting dating. i do believe that was such an important part of our story and the best way to really get to know someone's character through friendship. 

o7 | don't become a faux spouse for someone who won't commit to you.
if the relationship has been developing for years and there is no signs of progressing or moving forward, one person may be receiving everything they need and have no plans to move forward to marriage. "the reason Jesus told his disciples not to cast pearls before swine was because a pig can't recognize the value of a pearl. it would seem like just a pebble."

o8 | get and submit to lots of community input.
the great thing about community is that there is so much diversity and people that are at so many different walks of life. we can learn from each other and we should allow others to look into our lives. married Christians should share their marriages with singles and other married couples. "one particular way married people can do that is by displaying the real work of their marriages - not just the sweet, light parts . . . but the hard, embattled parts - to the unmarried." as a married person now, my hope is that i can share how hard and yet how glorious marriage is, not just that "marriage is awesome". it is my hope that my marriage reflects the gospel - there is sin, there is grace, there is restoration. 

what are some things you learned/are learning through singleness in this culture?

Monday, September 15, 2014

week recap

- the new building that our church is meeting in, is actually a dance hall! there are mirrors lining the walls, so when we set up on Sundays we put pipe & drape to cover up the mirrors & make divider walls. there are also two huge lamps & one is right behind the stage. the random lamppost makes me think of Narnia! our pastor bought a string of lights & put them up behind the lamp so it is a cozy feel.

- i have been on a huge chai tea kick lately! i justify it by saying that it is much healthier than most of those flavored coffee drinks! unfortunately, it is still pretty expensive from cafes or coffee shops. so we buy Oregon Chai concentrate in the grocery store & mix with almond milk to make our own chai at home! it helps cut down on the costs & it's just as delicious!

- i love that pumpkins are in stores now! we bought a miniature little pumpkin the other day for our house! Trader Joe's has tiger stripe pumpkins for $1 and mini white pumpkins for 69¢ so we stocked up last year & will this year as well! i love white pumpkins better than orange! :) i love painting pumpkins more than carving them, so this year we are going to paint some fun designs on our pumpkins!

- it has been a rough week dealing with some unknowns. work & life outside of work have been pretty stressful. it seems that everything hits at once. but it is refreshing to know that we don't have to handle things in our own strength. God will fight battles for us & we need only trust Him. i have also been getting outside during my lunch breaks & the extra sunshine and exercise is helping to keep the stress at bay.

- walks during lunch break
- cool mornings & the signs of fall
- having a bunny around the house
- having time to read for fun
- lunch dates with friends

- these felt cat succulent planters are too adorable!
- thanks to Amy, i now know that this Ron Weasley bookmark exists!
- this fox ornament would look great on my Christmas tree!
- this feather ring is just cute!

- to the one who is tired of trying, i needed to read that this week & maybe you do too
- a challenge to be brave & live up to your potential, which i need to be reminded of constantly
- it is good to remember that today i can choose to slow down, give grace, be thankful, etc. every day is a choice!
- Samantha is giving away a You Are Loved mug & there is still time to enter! click here


how was your week?!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

5 random things

i've seen other bloggers post random facts about themselves here and there. i love reading posts like that because i feel like it helps me get to know them on a completely different level. most of these are things that wouldn't come up in a normal blog post, but they may come up in a conversation between friends at a coffee shop. so i think it adds a new level to the blogger/reader relationship!

o1; my ears have been pierced 3 times. my parents got them pierced when i was really young and one day one got ripped out which ripped the hole, so they let them grow back. i got them pierced at Claire's in the mall during middle school. i didn't wear earrings enough so they eventually grew back. then in high school, i decided i would pierce them myself since i could see where the holes used to be. i have a high tolerance of pain, so it didn't really hurt. and this one finally took! i wore earrings enough to where the hole stayed and even though i don't wear earrings a ton now, they are still pierced!

o2; speaking of piercings, my friend pierced my nose for me during high school. he had a piercing kit and knew what he was doing though. i loved my nose ring, but my job at that time eventually made me take it out. i was mad because it grew back in. i miss it and have actually thought about getting it pierced again.

o3; so you probably know i have a basset hound by now. but what you don't know is how i got her! when i was growing up, our next door neighbor had a basset hound that stayed outside all the time. they traveled a lot and were hardly at home to watch her. i would take care of her while they were gone and spend hours playing with her in their backyard. they put their house up for sale & i begged my dad to ask if we could keep her! i'm a little bold sometimes. a few weeks later, i finally got my dad to ask them and when he did they told us "we wish you would've asked us sooner, we JUST gave her away to another family!" so ever since then i wanted my own basset hound.

fast forward to a year after i graduated high school - i was in a pet store and saw this cute little basset hound puppy - i had my own job and had saved up quite a bit of money. so i got her! i was living with my parents while working and hadn't asked them if i could get her, i just got her and brought her home. not my wisest moment, but it obviously worked out! i came home with her, walked into my dad's office and he said "what is that?" to which i replied "it's my new basset puppy" - to which he replied "no it's not!" and then realized that it was, in fact, my puppy. for now at least. since she was a pet store puppy, we had some ups & downs with her at first. but she lasted through it all & is not the best trained house dog!

o4; in October 2012, i found out that i had a 22 pound cyst growing inside of me. i had to have emergency surgery & it was the size of a watermelon. it was 95% liquid, so it moved around my organs & that's why no one could tell it was in there. other than some pressure & heartburn, i had no side effects. that was probably the craziest thing that has ever happened to me! it took a few months to recover, but i got married 6 1/2 months after that!

o5; i have a Georgia birth certificate, but i have lived in South Carolina all my life.

share something random i don't know about you!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

birthday weekend | trains & yurts

Thomas & i both had some vacation left so we took off the friday before my birthday & headed out of town a day early! Thomas planned a super fun & unique birthday weekend for me and it was top notch! we both love just taking road trips & getting out of the normal routine anyways, but this trip was a little something extra & it was so nice to get outta dodge!

i joke with him because his birthday is on our anniversary. so i tell him that he is always going to get a super fun birthday weekend & this year we went to a cabin & DC so he did get an awesome birthday trip! but i have to say that my birthday trip was just as awesome, even if it was shorter! 

diner breakfast
exploring a farm house & mill 
yurt in the mountains #glamping

Smoky Mountain Railroad train ride! (10-3)
stayed in Franklin, NC

visited cabbage patch kids "Babyland"
lunch in Helen, GA

have you ever heard of or stayed in a yurt?
do you pretend you are on the Hogwarts Express when you ride on a train?