Thursday, July 28, 2011

Photography Challenge: Week 1

I came across a new blog, A Step in the Journey, earlier this week and was excited to see the idea for a Photography Challenge. I've seen this on other blogs and have always thought it was a good idea. It's fun to mess around with my camera and I can always use more practice! So here we go....

This week's challenge was to do a self-portrait.

I have a Pentax K2000. I set it on manual and had my settings at: 1/30, F8.0. Then I a little editing and made it black and white.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review - Same Kind of Different As Me

Synopsis from official website:

"It begins outside a burning plantation hut in Louisiana... and an East Texas honky-tonk... and, without a doubt, in the heart of God. It unfolds in a Hollywood hacienda... an upscale New York Gallery... a downtown dumpster... a Texas ranch. Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, it also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love."

My Thoughts:

I could go on and on about this book, but I will try to keep my thoughts short.

This book is wonderfully inspiring and moving. I've read a lot of books that have convicted me, caused me to spend much time in deep thought, or brought tears to my eyes. Same Kind of Different as Me had such an effect, but to a greater degree than any book before. What a wonderful story of love, grace, mercy, and God's mysterious ways. My heart was touched by the testimony of committing a marriage to the Lord. I was convicted by the example of love and grace shown to someone the world would see as unworthy. Tears filled my eyes as I read of the struggles of life overcome by the unfailing mercy shown by our Lord. The best part about the book? It's a true story. Unlike novels I've read before which have left me speechless, I know that this isn't just a made-up story to please readers. It's real. The fact that it is a true story broke my heart at times while reading, yet filled me with comfort and joy at other times.

Written by two men from polar opposite backgrounds, Same Kind of Different as Me is a unique read. I loved the contrasting language and manner of writing between Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Both men were able to write in such a way that I felt as if I were in the story. I could see the cotton fields and feel the loneliness of Denver's homeless life. I could feel the pain and despair of Ron going through losing his best friend. I laughed, cried, and lifted up praise right along with the storytellers.

Please do yourself a favor and read this book. You will not be disappointed. Then when you're finished, recommend it to a friend. Spread the news of abounding grace, unconditional love, and unfailing mercy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Meal Planning Monday - July 25

It's been a while since I've posted about our menu for the week. You haven't missed much. Last week I did attempt to make a brisket for the first time. It turned out alright, but still needs some tweaking. It didn't taste nearly as good as my Dad's!

This week's menu:

Monday: Drunken Rosemary Chicken with rice

Grilled pork chops, grilled potatoes (sweet and regular), corn on the cob

Chicken Caesar Wraps and Creamy Bacon and Avocado Pasta Salad

Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans

Chris out of town - Leftovers

Saturday: Chris out of town - Leftovers/sandwiches/scrounge

Church - Roasted potatoes, meat dish (to be decided), Cake Batter Rice Krispies

Just a side is a collection of healthy(er) crock pot recipes someone put together. I've looked through it and found several really good recipes. Just thought I would share!

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baking Failure

So, I got up early this morning to bake some cookies for church tomorrow. I wanted to get it done before it got too hot in the house. I was going to try this new recipe for Peanut Butter Banana cookies. It sounded simple, few ingredients, and I love the combination of peanut butter & banana.

I should have known it wasn't going to turn out so great when the ingredients were: peanut butter, banana, egg, sugar, brown, sugar, baking powder, and chocolate chips. How does those ingredients make a cookie!?!? I had the brilliant idea of adding some oats in, hoping the cookies would have more uumph.

I got busy whipping up the batter, which only took about 3 minutes. The batter was thin and the recipe recommended leaving room for the cookies to spread. I was a good girl and followed the directions, only putting 6 cookies on each baking sheet. Feeling somewhat skeptical, I popped them in the oven.

10 minutes later....

Uh, I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to look like that.

After scraping and prying the "cookies" off the baking sheet, I'm left with this mess...

That went really well. The sad part is that they don't even taste good!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review - Change of Heart

Synopsis from Jodi Picoult's official website:

"Shay Bourne - New Hampshire’s first death row prisoner in 69 years – has only one last request: to donate his heart post-execution to the sister of his victim, who is looking for a transplant. Bourne says it’s the only way he can redeem himself…but with lethal injection as his form of execution, this is medically impossible."

My thoughts:

I enjoy reading some of Jodi Picoult's work, simply because she usually has an interesting spin on a controversial subject. This was the second book of hers that I've read this year. The first being, House Rules. That being said, what I don't enjoy about her writing is the amount of foul language and some inappropriate content. Change of Heart was no exception in that regard.

Change of Heart was also an interesting read for me, because religion is a main focus. Without giving too many details away, Picoult explores the idea of how "religion"
is defined and who is the authority to say if someone is right or wrong in what they believe. I felt that she got a little blasphemous at certain times, which made me uncomfortable. Judaism, Atheism, Gnosticism, Catholicism, and mainline Christian philosophies are each addressed in the book.

Overall, Change of Heart was an interesting read. I'm still deciding whether I enjoyed it, but I'm glad I read it. There are certainly a lot of twists and turns throughout the book and the ending holds a wonderful lesson in forgiveness. But, like I said, I found myself with an uneasy feeling several times throughout the book.

Just a few of my thoughts about one of my latest reads...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dallas and Florida Trip

Chris had an appointment to preach in Florida this past weekend. Since our flight was to leave out of Dallas at 10AM Saturday morning, we decided to spend the Friday enjoying some sites in the city. My husband is so wonderful to take the whole day off work and spend it together. We shopped, ate lunch together, did some sight-seeing, shopped some more, and enjoyed a relaxing night at the hotel.

One of our stops for the day was the Dallas World Aquarium. Not only did it have aquatic animals, but also some animals from the rain forest and other environments. As with most tourist attractions, it was WAY overpriced, but still a good way to spend some time out of the heat. Chris was a good sport to endure it to make me happy!

This pictures is really dark and hard to see, but it's the tiniest monkey I've ever seen. Sadly, I can't remember the name of it. It was adorable though!

Flamingos! They really are gross birds, but I've always liked them.

The jaguar was taking a nap when we stopped by to visit.

Supper anyone? These were some GIANT catfish!

The cute little otters getting fed.

Thanks to Priceline, we were able to score an awesome deal on a hotel room. We stayed at the Hilton Anatole in downtown Dallas. What an amazing hotel! We loved walking around the grounds and admiring the beautiful artwork, architecture, and outdoor areas. The hotel had the Nana Restaurant on the 27th floor. We treated ourselves to a luxurious supper, which was a lot of fun!
Beautiful room!

Saturday morning we left for Tampa, FL. I was really excited for this trip and the opportunity to meet blogging friends in real life! It was also a lot of fun for Chris and I to finally get to fly together. We both fly quite frequently, but we had never flown together. I'm sure he didn't find it as exciting as I did! :)

Our time in Florida was wonderful. We enjoyed great fellowship with the members at Little Union and a good time of worship. I loved meeting everyone and quickly forming new friendships. It is always great to travel to a new place, yet instantly feel like you're at home. That's exactly how I felt this weekend.

I had intended to take a lot of pictures while in Florida, but only have theseof Chris and his buddy, Brady, sporting their matching cowboy hats and boots.

All in all, it was just a great weekend. It's been hard to get back into the swing of things this week. I had a hard time with Chris being at work on Tuesday after spending the last 4 days together. We needed a weekend like that!

Friday, July 15, 2011

iPhone Photos Friday

Recent photos from the phone ("recent" as in from the last month or so).

Pictures from my trip to Illinois for Little Flock's annual meeting in June....

A wall hanging I made for my sister's birthday. I really wanted to keep it for myself!

Wesley playing catch with his tennis ball.

Grandma giving Wesley kisses on his head. He always wants to lick her, but she tells him, "No, but I'll kiss you on the head." It's so sweet!

A "new" outfit I put together. I love taking pieces from my closet and throwing them together in different ways. I'm still trying to decide if I like this combo.

Cookies & cream cupcake I made for fellowship supper last night. I may or may not have eaten 3 of one day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Meet the newest 4-legged member of our family....Bailey!

We adopted him from some friends of ours and we're thankful to have him join our family. Bailey is a 6-year-old Weimaraner. He is very well trained and seems to be settling in well.

Wesley is still trying to figure out his new "brother," but they seem to like each other. We've had a few issues with them trying to understand whose bowl is whose, which led to a few scary moments of me screaming at both dogs. Otherwise, they seem to tolerate each other fairly well.

I'm sure you'll be seeing more pictures from time to time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Afternoon Project

A few months ago I saw this neat crafty project on the Rachael Ray show. I thought it looked fun, easy, and inexpensive. So, I set out to the dollar store and gathered my supplies. Unfortunately, I misplaced my hot glue gun right around the same time and wasn't able to do the project. Fast forward to Monday afternoon when I found my glue gun buried in a pile of junk! Woohoo!

I took a little time yesterday afternoon to finally do the project. It was so simple and took a little over an hour from start to finish, including clean up. The supplies are cheap: fake flowers, plastic wiffle balls, and hot glue.

The finished products.

Hydrangea ball

Pink flowers with a butterfly.

I used them as fillers in one of my apothecary jars.

My group of jars with the flower ball/puff/things, shells collected from our recent trip to MS, loose petals, and apples & pears.

My favorite one!

It needed a special place, so I set it out on the TV console. I love how it looks!

Just a few tips if you're planning to make this craft:
  • Fuller flowers work the best
  • You will need 2 bunches of flowers per ball.
  • When I saw the idea on the show, she glued around the hole of the ball and the base of the flower. I started doing that, but decided it was taking too much time. So, I just glued around the hole of the ball and the flowers held just fine.
  • I think these would be super cute hanging from ribbon in a room, for a party, or as wedding decor!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weekly Challenge #8

I love reading magazines. I have several subscriptions to various magazines and a sweet neighbor passes down some of her magazines. As much as I love reading and looking through them, it does get a bit overwhelming when they pile up.

After a few months of looking through the magazines and dog-earring the pages I find interesting, I end up with this:

(Divided into piles according to magazine: This Old House, Better Homes & Gardens, Various [Real Simple, Martha Stuart Living, Family Circle], Country Living, Taste of Home, Everyday Food)

My challenge for this week is to go through my pile of magazines, tear out pages that I want to keep, and recycle ALL of the magazines. I like to tear out the pages of recipes, design ideas, crafty ideas, and good articles and put them in a binder for future reference.

I realize this isn't a big task, but it's one that has needed to be done for quite a while. Here's to decluttering one small step at a time!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Update on 2011 Goals

At the beginning of 2011, I wrote this post about some of my goals for the year. I thought since we're over 1/2 way through the year, I would do a check-up on my progress. Most of the goals have been on my mind continuously, but others I have forgotten about. :(

Some of my goals for 2011 are:

  • read the Bible through (using The One-Year Bible published by Tyndale) - - I am (almost) on track for this. I'm a few days behind, but I will be caught back up early next week.
  • eat more fresh fruits and vegetables - - I have been doing really well eating more fresh fruit. I could eat fruit all day! I've gone through spurts of eating vegetables. Right now, I'm not feeling it so much. I do have to say that I've been making different kinds of hummus to dip my vegetables in, which makes a huge difference!
  • send one handwritten note a week (not starting out so well on this one!) - - I have NOT held up on this goal! I've gone through spurts of writing notes each week. I AM going to do better the second 1/2 of the year!
  • call my grandparents more often - - Well, this isn't a very good goal because it's not measurable and is kind of ambiguous. That said, I have been calling my grandparents more than I ever have before, but not nearly as much as I need to.
  • run 3 miles in under 30 minutes - - I'm getting there! I can now run 2 miles in about 18:30. I keep working on this goal all the time and really feel like I will accomplish it!
  • learn to knit - - HA! I haven't even started to work on this goal. We'll see how this ends up.
  • read 50 books - - I've read 19 books, so I'm not quite on track to finish this goal. But, I do think I will finish it. I've saved some of the "easier" reads for later in the year.
  • stick to a grocery budget - - I started out really well on this goal, but the past 2 months haven't been so great.
  • intentionally save money - - Again, HA!
I also have some personal goals, which I feel like are going pretty well. One personal goal I set at the beginning of the year is to put an end to my passive aggressiveness. This is a very bad habit that I've been struggling with for a while. Toward to end of last year, I really noticed how I was letting it creep into my behavior more and more. I was hurting the most important people around me and I was just an unpleasant person to be around. I committed to rely on the Lord and His strength to overcome this behavior. I have been praying for grace to learn to control my tongue. I am so thankful for God's grace and His power in my life. With His help, I am putting this behavior behind me and learning to be a better communicator. I still have some learning to do, but I know this will be something that I need to continually be praying about and making a concerted effort to control my tongue.