It’s a Quilt!

I have never done anything like this before, but I wanted to make something special for my friend who is having a baby in December, so I decided to make a baby quilt. Now that it’s finally been gifted I can post about it! I ended up in a two week crunch to get it done – which I don’t ever plan to do again in my lifetime – but it still turned out pretty good for a first major sewing project!

I found the idea and instructions on (where else?) Pinterest. The idea is simple, it’s simply a baby quilt of 48 sqares. The fun part of it (for me anyway) is the backing that is made of the super soft minky fabric. (I LOVE this fabric! It made the blanket SO soft. I want a grown-up sized baby blanket now. ;)) Below are some pictures of the process and a rough timeline of how I got it done in time.

Week 1:

Day 1: buy fabric – this ended up being a lot harder than I thought it would be, even though I knew the color scheme of the nursery. I just kept second guessing myself and it took forever and three trips to Hobby Lobby plus one to Michaels for me to actually make a decision!

I ended up going with the navy bundle on the left, but got my gray squares from Michaels, because they were cheaper and the patterns seemed a little softer.

This is the fabric I used for the backing.

The gray squares I went with from Michaels.
Day 2: wash fabric and iron – easier said than done! Because I had mixed navy with gray and white I had to go get some color catchers to throw in the wash with it so the colors wouldn’t bleed. I also have no idea where our iron is so I ended up borrowing my MiL’s.

Days 3-4: cut fabric – this was tedious and my perfectionist self analyzed every single piece that I cut for where it wasn’t perfect, but I actually did enjoy this step.

Days 5-7: decide a layout and sew rows together – this was probably the second hardest part after the binding (the layout, not the sewing rows together). I arranged and rearranged and rearranged again. I still wasn’t 100% happy with it when I started sewing, but now when I look at the pictures I love it!

One of the many layouts I tried. I think this is the one I went with.

The top of the quilt all stitched together. (Please excuse the poor photo quality/attention to backgrounds.)
Week 2:

Day 8: day off! I ended up working all day that day and had plans in the evening. Plus the Olympics were on. Priorities.

Day 9: hand stich the name – I really wanted to embroider the name, but I didn’t think my friend was going to anounce it. It turned out the evening before (day 8…..while I was watching the Olympics ;)) she posted their name choice on Facebook! I spent all morning stitching it using an awesome tutorial I found on Pinterest. It actually turned out pretty good!

Definitely not perfect, but it turned out better than I thought it would!
Days 10-11: spray the batting with temporary adhesive and attach the completed front and back and then quilt down the rows and columns between the squares – this part took a while but it was probably the most rewarding, really seeing it all come together.

This was probably my favorite part to see the progress. Some of the lines are crooked, but for the most part this step went really well.
Day 12: trim the extra backing and then fold it over and sew as binding – this was the part that made me want to pull my hair out and scream. I spent all day on this step. BUT the best part of this step was when I finished, I was DONE!

While I never want to have to do a project like this with a two week deadline again, I had so much fun with it and can’t wait to try another one! (which may be awhile judging by the way my husband reacted to the Hobby Lobby receipts………) Oops. 😉

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The House: Before

It’s official! We have a signed contract and have a bank picked out where we have been approved for the loan. We are buying a house!!! *eek!* It’s actually a duplex (we will be living in one side and renting out the other to help out with our mortgage payment). We have several things we want to do to our side of the duplex (some remodeling, painting, new floors, some new fixtures, etc.) but we’ll be doing all of that a little at a time as we save the money. In the meantime I thought I’d post a few pictures of the house for the before shots and then as we finish up each room I’ll show the before and after comparison.



The side we will be living in is on the left in the first picture. 


The kitchen


The living room (loving the vaulted ceiling!)


Spare bedroom and bathroom

I don’t have pictures of the master bedroom/bathroom or of our “multi-purpose room” (purposes still being determined ;)) and bathroom, but I will try to get some and update the post soon. 

It needs some work, but we are so excited to finally have a place to call our own! We are so thankful for the ability to be able to do this, and for the way God has worked it all out. The location and the house itself really have been a God-thing. It took us a lot longer to find than I wanted, and I have to admit, I complained about how long it was taking many times. But God knew what He was doing. The timing has worked out much better than it would have if I had been in charge of it, and I have definitely learned patience and gratitude throughout this whole process. My encouragement to you is whatever it is that you are waiting on God for, His timing is perfect. He is seldom early and never late. Lean on Him and look for the things to thank Him for. I know for me, God has been using this as a chance to grow me and stretch me and to teach me how to rely on Him, and in the end, I am incredibly grateful for that.

Las Vegas!

In my last post, I mentioned that my husband and I, before moving back into town, took a weeklong trip to Las Vegas. It was so much fun, not to mention fantastic exercise! I walked more than I have in a loooong time. We pretty much spent the days walking down the strip, visiting the different hotels and casinos and seeing the sights. We spent several evenings at shows (namely Cirque du Soleil). Overall, it was a fantastic week.

 

Vegas Tip #1: Always ask for a room upgrade!

When we bought our hotel tickets online, we had requested a king size bed, but instead ended up with two queens. After the first night, we went to the front desk to see if they could bump us up to a room with a king bed. The person working there, after checking on their computer, first told us that they were completely booked up that week. He then went to go check with the manager. They came back and gave us a new room key, a room on the top floor. We got up there and open the door to find, not a single room with a king size bed, but an entire two-level suite!

This is the bathroom with a glimpse of our amazing view. From this angle, you can see the mountains in the distance, but if you looked from the other side (out the windows on the left side of the tub) you would see a great view of the strip.

The shower. You could see the view out the window while taking a shower. It was pretty amazing!

The bedroom (upstairs)

Looking over the balcony in the bedroom to the living room below

Our spiral staircase inside the suite

The downstairs entrance (there was an entrance on each level) and the downstairs bathroom (the door on the right)

 
Vegas Tip #2: Try to hit as many of the casinos on the strip as you can!

We had so much fun going to as many as we could, seeing the sights, going up in the Eiffel Tower, and eating at the various restaurants. We even decided to buy a used deck of cards from each casino gift shop so we now have a full collection of playing cards with memories attached to them. (Admittedly we didn’t think of this until the last night, so we didn’t get some from each place we went, but we did manage to get quite a few! It’s just another incentive to go back. 😉 )

Heading across the street to New York, New York

New York, New York

The Luxor

The Flamingo

Caesar’s Palace

Out for a nighttime stroll, dreaming of Paris! 😉

Treasure Island where we saw our first Cirque show, Mystere

The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower

 
Vegas Tip #3: Get a picture with the Vegas sign – but don’t forget to take a picture of the back too!

We went and walked down to the Vegas sign at the end of the strip one day. It’s neat to have that iconic picture of it included in our pictures from the trip. The hubby wisely thought to take a picture of the back of the sign as well, which made a perfect back cover to the photo book that we made of our trip!

 
Vegas Tip #4: Cirque du Soleil is a MUST!

We went to see Cirque (the second night we were there I believe) because it was on my bucket list and the hubby was feeling very accommodating. But after seeing the show, we BOTH loved it so much we bought tickets to another Cirque show a couple nights later! (Vegas Tip 4b: buying tickets last minute isn’t necessarily a bad thing – ours ended up being second-row seats for dirt cheap!)

The first Cirque show we went to, Mystere

Mystere was a very random show as evidenced by the giant snail that only appeared at the end of the show right before the curtain call. You can also see in this picture that although our seats weren’t horrible, they weren’t super great either. This is the show we bought the tickets for ahead of time.

This is from the second Cirque show we went to, Zarkana. These are our awesome seats in the second row. This picture was also taken at an angle; the three heads you see on the left side of the picture are sitting basically in the center of the auditorium.

Horrible picture, but we were having the time of our lives!

Crazy balancing acts

This act was a cross between a trampoline and a balance beam.

The tightrope walkers

Not sure what this contraption is called; it reminded me of two German wheels attached to each other while both men ran, jumped, and did flips inside of them. This one scared Ben to death.

 

Vegas Tip #5: Take something fun (and totally random!) with you to take pictures of!

Ben decided it would be fun to take some minions he had bought (Happy Meals toys :)) and for us to plant them everywhere and take pictures of them. I admit I was skeptical at first, (and yes, it still feels super cheesy) but we had a ball with them! We created scenarios, whole characters, and sometimes an occasional prop to take pictures with. We would go up to random people in costumes asking them if they would take a picture with a minion. Ben even had a minion following on his Instagram, as his IG for our trip was completely from the minions’ perspective. Like I said, cheesy but so much fun!

Our first minion picture; he’s preparing to board the plane at the airport.

Minion 2 dreaming of playing the slots at New York, New York

Minion in front of the Luxor

Minion posing with the Reese’s dude

This minion is hoping to make his big break in Vegas

Minions playing Roulette

This minion thinks the bidet is a water park. 🙂

 

So that was our trip in a nutshell. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we went, but we ended up having a lot of fun and really enjoyed just spending quality time together before we had to move and life got crazy again.

Role call in the comments: Have you been to Vegas before? What was your favorite thing to see/do? What advice would you give someone planning a trip there?

I’m Baaaack!

So I haven’t posted at all in the last year. Part of the reason is because we have had a TON of changes going on and life has been CRAZY! Part of it is just because I have gotten lazy lately and decided that watching Netflix would be easier than writing a blog post where I have to apologize because I haven’t written in awhile. Whoops! So I’m doing it now!

So, to catch you up on the last year of our lives…….

After I had been working almost exactly three months in Tulsa, we got word that my husband was offered a job back in the town that we both grew up in, and they would be matching his current pay. So we moved back (yay!) and I miraculously found teaching jobs (which is where my heart has been all along) a week and a half before school started. We actually took a week off in between moving for a trip to Las Vegas (since the hubby wouldn’t be getting any vacation for his first year; pictures of the trip to come later!) and then hurriedly moved into a duplex two days before we both started work!

The fall went by quickly as we got settled into our new routines and got used to actually having places to be and things to do during the week. In January we began searching for a duplex to buy in the area, our goal being to live in one side of it and to rent out the other side in order to help out with our mortgage payments. However, we soon found the search more difficult than we originally expected; over the course of the last 6 months we have found 3 duplexes to go and look at. The last duplex we looked at was a couple of weeks ago, and we really liked it! It needs some work but after talking and praying about it, we decided to go for it. We turned in our signed contract on the property this week! 😀 Now to start the process of meeting with banks…

This fall we are looking forward to fixing up our new house, moving in, getting settled into a new schedule for this school year (for me anyway), and possibly a trip to Europe around the holidays!

I’m really looking forward to this school year and all of the new things to come. Be sure to subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already to be able to follow me as I document our adventures! (And this time I WILL do a better job of keeping you up to date! ;)) I’ve got lots of plans for posts to share (travel stories, DIY successes and failures as we fix up our new house, organization ideas as we move and unpack, as well as home management lessons I’m learning along the way!)

If there’s anything you’d like to hear a blog post about, leave me a comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading!

Decisions, Decisions…

The more I think I know about life the more God shows me how much knowledge I truly lack. The unknown used to scare me to death. Not knowing what my life would look like, not having a plan, not knowing what I should major in or what career I should pursue, at one time or another these things have all driven me to my knees begging God to show me “His Will for my life”. It has taken me a long time to understand that His Will is simply for me to trust in Him and to be obedient to wherever and whatever He calls me, whenever He calls me. It’s amazing the freedom that comes with knowing that and with putting Him first!

I’ve never been much of a decision maker. I overthink and over analyze everything, and I will replay in my head the pros and cons of any decision, no matter how small, before I will actually put my foot down and make the decision. I’ve gotten better at this through the last several years, but I still struggle with it. This time though I am faced with several decisions and the options and the opportunities are exciting to me!

My last blog post was more than 3 months ago (which I greatly apologize for!) and a lot has happened since then. I started a new job, began working 40 hours a week and juggled work and home responsibilities (though not very well). Exactly 3 months after I started I completed my last day on the job there as my husband and I moved back to our hometown and he started a new job. I am currently working 3 days a week and am looking for another part time job (or jobs) to fill the rest of the time and to help contribute to our savings for a house.

I’m finding myself in the position of needing to make some decisions, decisions much like the ones I struggled with fresh out of high school. Questions like “What do I want to do with my life?” and “Where can I be working now to work towards my long term goals?”. But this time it’s different. This time these decisions don’t just affect me, they affect my husband and possibly someday our future children as well. That’s a lot of pressure for someone who doesn’t like making decisions!

These decisions are also different for another reason though. They’re different because instead of pleading with God to give me some magic answer to His Will, I’m determined to use this time to spend more time with Him, to get to know Him better and to ask Him to shape me and work through me, no matter where I am or where I work. I want my focus to be on serving Him in every situation, not on what the “right answer” is to what my situation job-wise should be. I’m finding there’s so much more freedom in that because instead of worrying about if I’m understanding what He wants and if it’s the right or wrong opportunity, my only worries are on what I can do to improve my prayer life and to spend more time in the Word and in prayer.

That’s not to say that I still don’t worry about the decisions that I make or what I best need to be doing to help my family, but my perspective is different. Although I have someone else counting on me now, I also have someone else to bounce ideas off of, someone to encourage me throughout the process, and someone that’s willing to put his foot down and make a decision for me if I need him to. I have a different perspective on my role now, my role as a wife and my role as a daughter of God. My primary calling above all else is to put God first in my life and my family second. Keeping that in mind, and continuing to put my time and effort into those areas, the other decisions in my life will eventually fall into place.

When God Says Wait…. Part 2

The other day I shared about how I have been struggling a bit with this period of waiting that God seems to have me and my husband in right now. Everything in our lives feels like it’s on pause and we’re just sitting around waiting for something to fall into place.

Later that same afternoon, after I posted, I got news that one of those things I was waiting on has FINALLY fallen into place! I finally have a job and I get to start tomorrow! The news lightened my heart immensely, even my husband mentioned when he got home how much brighter and happier I seemed. I just couldn’t believe something is finally happening!

I caught myself as I prayed to thank God for this all working out, the very first thing I prayed was “Thank you for answering my prayer!!!” I caught myself because I had just written that blog post talking about how this whole time he HAS answered my prayers, it just wasn’t the answer I wanted. But my answer was to trust Him anyway.

It got me thinking about my attitude towards prayer. I say that I trust Him, and that I want things to work out in His timing, but that’s not how I pray. I pray with a wish list and if it doesn’t happen I say “Oh well, it wasn’t His will” and if it does I say “Thanks for answering my prayer”. It’s taken me until now to realize what a double standard this is! If I truly believe that His way is best, I would accept any response as an answer to my prayer and not only that, I would THANK Him for any response. Even if that response is the exact opposite of what I had asked and hoped for.

If I truly believed He was in control and if I truly trusted Him with my life – our lives – I would thank him for the yes, for the no, and for the one that I believe is the hardest, the wait. I should have been thanking Him this whole time instead of spending my prayers pleading for something to fall into place.

Easier said than done. But I know I can lean on Him and trust Him to remind me when I’m being self-consumed and need to readjust my focus. And to be ready to learn whatever lesson He wants to teach me – because there usually is one if I’ll take the time to pay attention and learn it!

So what about you? Is there anything God has been asking you to wait on? What have you learned through those seasons? Feel free to share in the comments section below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!!!

When God says wait……and wait……and wait

Lately I’ve been struggling with something. After 3 months of marriage I am still finding myself in a very transitional stage of life. No job (well sort of), no activities, I find myself in a place where my life revolves around waiting. 

Waiting to see where we’ll be living in a month. Waiting to see if I’ll have a job or where I’ll be. Waiting for a semi-permanent place to live, which is determined by some of the other things we are waiting on. Which just makes it one big vicious circle.

I’ve been struggling with this a lot, particularly because as something I’m waiting on appears to be growing closer and is so close I can almost taste it, that’s when a huge door slams in my face (okay, not a huge door, more like a little doggy door) and God says “Not quite yet.”

My husband was on the cusp of some new opportunities that we had been praying for for months, and 2.5 months later we haven’t heard anything besides wait a little longer. I was so excited after the honeymoon to get all of our stuff packed up and finally moved all together but we are living in a small one bedroom apartment so that hasn’t happened yet. After about a month of looking I finally found a job here! And then I was told I had to wait to start until I took a test……..in 3 weeks. Now I sit here with that test being moved yet another two weeks later, sitting in frustration wondering why? Why does it seem the answer to everything is “Wait”? 

I wish I knew the answer to that question. I would love for this to be one of those enlightening blog posts some people post that is so inspiring and makes its readers feel like they’ve learned something. But I don’t have all the answers. All I know is I have to take it one step, one day at a time, trusting in God’s plan and God’s timing. Which is SUPER hard, just so you know. But amidst all of my tears and my frustration I really do believe that He knows what He’s doing and that His way is always better than any way I could ever conceive of doing it. 

My Menu Planning Adventure – Part 2!

Here it is folks! My (finally!!!) finished upgrade to my menu planning system. While I feel duty bound to admit this was a TON of work, I personally feel that it is sooo worth it! I love this new system!

Also I must apologize that it has not come sooner, I admit that I have had it done for about 2 weeks now. But I wanted to be sure it really worked and that I really liked it before I posted about it. So without further ado…..Menu Planning Part 2!

If you haven’t seen my post on Menu Planning Part 1, you may want to go back and read it. It will give you a bit more of a glimpse into my mental process and how much of a nerd I am when it comes to organizing!!

Step 1 was to make a complete list of all of the meals I would like to draw from when it comes to planning meals for the month. I took each of those meals and wrote them on a post it note, color coding light pink for quick and easy meals, hot pink for meals that require a bit more prep time, and green for crock pot meals, so that I can tell at a glance when I will need to start dinner each day.

Step 2: I took all of those post it notes, placed them on regular 8.5 X 11 paper and laminated them. This was probably admittedly my favorite part. I love laminating stuff! 😉

Step 3: The worst part, cutting all of the laminated post its apart. This took FOREVER! But once it was finally done, I was quite happy with them. 🙂

Step 4: Moving away from the meal cards, I created a list of meals I had included and the ingredients required for each. I got a little over eager about this and did those on laminated post its as well, though this would have worked just as well (probably better) just typed up on a piece of paper. I put the finished product in sheet protectors so I can put it in my meal binder for meal/shopping planning reference. Here’s how those turned out:

Step 5: I created a document with the days of the week going across and 2 rows for lunch and dinner (we don’t really do sit-down breakfasts). These squares are just big enough for the menu post its to fit in. I laminated these as well.

Step 6: I put magnets on the squares of the document, and magnets on the back of the meal post its. I plan my month by laying all of the meals out in front of me and adding them to the calendars (with the magnets) as I go. Since the calendars are laminated I can write what week they are for, and any special meals/events with a dry erase marker directly on the calendars. Then to create my shopping list I go through the calendar with the meals I’ve chosen, cross referencing the yellow post its I created earlier. I double check my cabinets and cross off anything I already have and then I’m ready to go! I keep the current week (or half of a week) on the fridge, and take off any meals we didn’t use (because of extra leftovers, eating out, etc.) and put them on the fridge directly above the calendar. That way if I want to switch out a meal later in the month, the meals that we have ingredients available for are already listed for me right on the fridge. It has worked out perfectly so far!

Here is the finished product:

So yes it was a ton of work! I went through several experimentations before I settled on exactly how I wanted to do it, which cost a lot of time and effort, and a little extra money that wasn’t necessary. But overall, I’m pretty happy with how they turned out! 🙂

What a Mighty God We Serve!

I have a confession to make. I have a tendency to start things and leave them undone, particularly blogs. I think this is my third one (but third time’s a charm right?). So I have a couple of things to ask. One is for accountability!! If you follow my blog on a regular basis, feel free to ask me about it! (“So I haven’t seen any posts recently……what’s up?”) The second is I would like to share a story from a previous blog that I started.

Sometimes I like to think I have God all figured out…and then He likes to do something else awesome and show me that I have absolutely no idea. He provides in ways way beyond what I could ever think or imagine and I will begin to think I understand why, and then again He shows me that I was only seeing the teeniest part of the corner of the picture that He was creating. Below is a link to a several part blog series where I wrote about a mission trip to Belize. The trip (for me) was rather last minute and came together in ways that I knew could only be God’s hand.

Here is the story. (The posts go from the bottom up, so start at the bottom for the full series!)

The interesting thing throughout this whole story is that in seeing God’s hand over everything I KNEW there had to be a reason I was going. And once I got back I had it all figured out. God used that opportunity to show me some things about myself, things that I struggled with and things I continue to struggle with even today. I learned a lot on that trip, and afterwards I thought I had it all figured out and that that (aside from also being able to hopefully help and minister to the people of Belize) was the reason He wanted me there.

And while that perhaps might be true, it struck me recently that during that trip is when I first really got to know my now-husband. If it weren’t for that trip we might never have really connected. And today we celebrate two months of marriage! So while I went into that trip knowing God was going to do something cool (and He did do many other things through our group that week as well!), I was expecting just one big obvious result. Instead, He took one simple trip four years ago and created a ripple effect where the results of this one week trip are still affecting my life today! How awesome is He??

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…

This post is a little different. Today I would like to share a little inspiration in the form of some of my favorite quotes. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are quotes that inspire and convict me and hopefully you will enjoy reading them as well! These are image files so feel free to pin any of them on Pinterest, or share them on Facebook or Twitter using the buttons below. You can also comment in the reply box to share some of your favorite quotes with me – I would love to hear them!