Monday, July 25

New Feature

I am excited to share with y'all that I have added a new feature to my blog!

I realize that most of the people that read my blog often are not bloggers themselves. Therefore, they cannot "subscribe" or "follow" my blog through Blogspot meaning that y'all do not get updates on my new posts until I share them myself through my facebook account. I am quite sure that is how most of my readers access my lovely little blog anyways.

So I am introducing "Subscribe by Email" in which you can receive notifications on new posts and read them directly through your email if you submit your email address to the widget. This is obviously totally optional and I am just providing this feature for those who are interested and to make your blog reading a little smoother. This new feature is not run by me. It is a computerized response that sends an email out when I add a new post to the subscribers! I think it's actually pretty neat. This takes effort away from me and gives you privacy!

Feel free to join by submitting your email address in the appropriate box on the right of your screen.

Additionally, I have added another feature on the left side of my blog that highlights my "Top 5" most viewed posts. Just a fun little linkage!

Much love,

Sunday, July 24

True love stories never end

Saturday, Jordan and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary! In the words of my wonderful husband on facebook, "Wow, one year of marriage! Time flys by when you're having fun!" (I may have corrected his grammer... tehe!)

Several people have asked, "Does it feel like its been a year?" I can't answer that simply at all. The  physical time has seemed to passed very very quickly but on the otherhand I feel like I've been married to my knight in shining armor forever! (Read more on our story here) Sure, there were new additions to our relationship like sharing living quarters and such but nothing seemed like a huge adjustment. Since we dated for a long while before we were married, we really didn't have to many "new" things to learn about eachother.

The one thing that I could say that I learned for sure is that he has a specific way of folding his t-shirts that I was unaware of. The shirts must be folded with the sleeves together (so there isn't an unncessary crease line) and in eighths (so they fit better in his drawers). The silly thing is that we use the same shirts fit perfectly fine in the quarterly fashion that I fold them. ;)

I've absolutely treasured the last 365 days with Jordan as my husband and I am looking forward to the many more days to come...

Our anniversary is a time to look back at the good times and a time to look ahead to live our dreams together

Our past year has truly been filled with friends, family, and eachother. We are still in school in Virginia so the majority of our first year of marriage was focused on school work (and golf for Jordan). We spent many hours surrounded by our friends whether we were playing games, hanging out, catching up, eating dinner, or watching movies. When we were back in Texas for breaks, we had the best time with our families. Time with them is extremely cherished. We also spent tons of wonderful time with eachother just living life and dreaming dreams. Truly, marriage is a gift!

For the past week, Jordan and I were discussing "what we wanted to do" for our anniversary. I assigned him the job of planning the day... unknowingly that he already had the day planned for a few weeks already! He made me think up until the early afternoon of our anniversary that he still didn't know what we were going to do... that little bugger!

After my race that morning, Dad and I met Mom back at their house. We took showers then headed out to meet Jordan at Snooty Pig for breakfast. We casually ate our delicious meals then headed back to my parents house and sat around by the pool and chatted for awhile.

Jordan and I decided at about one o'clock that we better head out to take care of Becky's house (we were housesitting) and hang out with Lucy. We said bye to my parents and the pups then were headed down the street to Becky's. Jordan missed the first entrance to Becky's neighborhood so I thought he was being goofy and going the "long way" around until we missed the second entrance! I knew something was up then!

Jordan makes me play the guessing game on our way out of our little town... well I had no guesses as to what we were doing! A couple miles into the drive, I ruled out one guess because we weren't headed the right way, which was spending the evening at the hotel where were went on our wedding night.

We started to head towards Dallas... there are several ways to get to different areas of Dallas and I get them all confused. Needless to say, I couldn't tell where we were exactly heading... could it be downtown or by the galleria? I wasn't sure! Once we took our exit on Main Street in Downtown... I knew where we were going!

We were going to have dinner at the Tower Club, where we got married exactly a year ago, and we were staying at the Joule hotel just across the street. I was super excited when I figured this out! Not because I figured it out but becuase of the day he had planned! The Joule is a rocking hotel downtown. It's filled with modern decor and absolutely breathtaking. It's known for its 10th floor pool that overhangs onto Main Street.

Photo Credit
We checked in to the Joule, went to check out our 16th floor stunning room, then headed straight for the "poule." We split a club sandwhich since it was late in the afternoon. We hoped in the pool and floated with a couple of drinks. The afternoon was absolutley delightful.

We later got ready for our dinner reservation at the Tower Club. Jordan was absolutely excited to take a shower because they had a rain shower head! He loved it!

I made Jordan open his gift before we went to dinner because I knew he could wear it to dinner and I was also to excited to wait! For weeks probably more like months, he had been complaining that he couldn't find his watch that my parents had given him. We devoured our apartment in search for the watch but it was no where to be found. I didn't get the idea to get him a new watch until I realized that the "modern" first anniversary gift is the gift of a clock. I then got the idea! Duh! He wants a new watch! So I searched all over the city for a beautiful watch and found a gorgeous black Michael Kors one for him at Nordstroms Rack. He absolutely loves it! So I am thrilled!!

When we were all dressed up and fancy we headed down to the lobby, out the door, across the street, into the Thanksgiving Tower, and rode the elevator up to the 48th floor.

We sat next to the window and enjoyed the beautiful view as we enjoyed an appetizer, our dinners, and our desserts! Jordan picked the hazelnut cream brulee for his dessert and I had chocolate fondue! We talked about our future dreams and aspirations as well as our past memories...

Remebering that night, one year ago, was absolutely wonderful. All the dreams that were fufilled in that one night in july of 2010. It was magical then and almost more magical now. I thank God for the huge blessing that he's given me in my other half. He loves, cherishes, honors, and respects me!

Thank you Jordan Alan for the spectacular time that you planned for our first anniversary! I love you!

Pasta Delight

I just recently celebrated my 21st birthday on July 19th!
A big deal? Perhaps! Exciting? For sure! Getting old? Not really! Having fun? Of course!
The cake that my dear friend Allison delivered to me the day after by birthday

I celebrated my special day by going out to dinner with my family. Jordan, my parents, Nola, Hayley, and Tyler graced my birthday dinner.  I decided a few weeks prior to my birthday that I wanted to go to Sfuzzi, a spectacular italian restaurant downtown. We just had the best appetizers including pretzel bread, baked brie, and wasabi deviled egg bruchette. Everyone ordered their entrees which included a variety of pizzas, pastas, and eggplant. We finished dinner with a couple desserts including sticky toffee cheesecake and my personal favorite the chocolate peanut butter banana cream pudding! My 21st birthday was complete! Showered in wonderful gifts and a delicious dinner!

I mention all this to share with you the mom-and-I made recipe that we created with inspiration from the pasta dish, "Garlic Rigatoni" that I ordered on my birthday! We loved the dish at sfuzzi's so we recreated it tonight for dinner since it is such a fresh summertime pasta.

Summertime Garlic Pasta
Printable Version of Recipe
16 ounces cooked pasta (we chose Rigatoni)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 ears of cooked sweet corn
2-3 large jalapenos
5+ cloves of minced/pressed garlic
Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
Sun dried tomatoes to your liking

1. Boil ears of corn. Mom and I boiled them on high for about 5 minutes.

2. Prepare pasta as directed by packaging.

3. Slice the corn kernels of the cob.
Tip: stand ear of corn on bundt pan and slice corn off with sharp knife.

4. Prepare jalapenos. Cut each in half lengthwise. With a spoon, carve out the seeds and middle spines. Then, slice the jalapenos in thin strips about 1 inch long.
Tip: use gloves to cut jalapenos because the oil can stay on your skin for days! If you don't have gloves handy, slip your hand into a plastic baggy!

5. In a sautee pan, combine 1/2 cup oil and garlic. We only used 5 gloves of garlic but highly suggest more! Probably around 8-10 cloves. :)

6. Add corn and jalapenos to pan.

7. With pasta already cooked and drained, pour the oil and veggie mixture over top into the bowl. Mix in sun dried tomatoes if you like! Sprinkle heavily with parmesan cheese. Salt & Pepper to taste.

8. Serve & Enjoy!

This dish is so easy and so so so fresh! We adore it!

Sizzling Summer Catastrophe

I've been training for the past seven weeks, I've been training for a 10k race. Dad and I registered for the Sizzling Summer Half Marathon & 10k race. The time to showcase my training effort was this past Saturday. Saturday also happened to be my wonderful year anniversary with my delightful husband! I was so excited for this race since it would be my first 10k but also because there were over 650 participants. It was awesome to be able to start with a huge herd of people!

I woke up just before 6:00 am and headed over to my parent's house to meet and ride with Dad. We got to the park and waited in line to pick up our race packets just in time for the race to begin at 7:30. Well, catastrophe one strikes: race start delayed until 8:00 am. This may not seem like a big deal but when the sun gets higher, the  temperature gets hotter! I am used to running at 7 every morning; there is a  huge difference between 7:00 and 8:00 in Texas! Trust me!

Dad decides to jog back to our car and put up our t-shirts since the race was delayed. What do you know... catastrophe two hits! Dad's left achilles pretty much blew out on his way in from the car. My first response is for him not to run - it would be stupid for him to hurt himself even more. Dad's first response is to get pissed at the situation because he wants to run with me.

Dad toughs it up and starts the race. We are weaving in and out of the 650 plus people until we get to a comfortable pace. We were running about 8:30/mile. We get about a mile in a half into the race until Dad starts to display some pain. He hands me his watch (I conveniently forgot mine... keyword of my summer is forgetfulness) in case he has to stop. He talks himself into it and then just about 3 miles into the race his achilles is kaput.

He roots me on as I run ahead keeping up with our set pace. So by this time we've been running for about 27 minutes, which should have been my half way point. There is no turn around in site. I keep running the path and following the people. At about 35 minutes race time, I'm realizing that something is wrong since I haven't turned around yet and I should be way past the half way point. This is when the realization of catastrophe three sets in.  Runners who had already turned around at some "unknown" location are shouting "There is no 10k turnaround!!" I tread on, hoping that they are wrong. Minutes later, more runners saying "No 10k turnaround!" This time, I believe them but I just kept running in the same direction. Soon after, I reach the half marathon turnaround point and I realize that I am in this race for the long run.

I psyched up myself to be able to run this next six or so miles. I devised a plan. I would run until my clock read 55 minutes so that I knew I at least successfully ran all of my 10k race. I was really on about a 53 minute 10k pace but I threw in time for good measure. I then decided that I would run for 10 minutes then walk for 1 minute until I finished this race. I actually felt really strong but I didn't want to exhaust myself since this was going to be the longest distance that I've run. I hit my personal record this past Thursday at 7 miles...

So I'm running and running then threw in a couple of walk sessions. I started cracking up with a fellow runner because the first time that I slowed down to a walk a woman ran past me said, "are you alright?" I stated back that "I am supposed to be in the 10k" and then we both laughed and she said "good luck!"

I encroached upon the original starting point for I could hear the finishing line announcer. About 1/4 mile away from the finish line, they actually separated the 10k runners from the half marathoners. The half marathoners went to the right and 10k runners straight on. Although I had already psyched myself up to finish the half marathon... I decided it would be in my best interest to take the 10k short cut back to the finish line since I wanted to be able to enjoy the rest of my anniversary with my husband and because I wanted to run again someday soon! ha!

After I split from the half marathoners, I reach the park clearing and see dad walking towards the trail. This whole time I was running, I was worried about dad. Not so much about his injury (he's tough) but more about what he was thinking about me disappearing for so long! I knew he would try and get me on my turnaround... but that never happened! So I shout to him "no 10k turn around!" and he says "I know!"

I finally cross the finish line at 1:18:00.6. 1 hour and 18 minutes later, I am back at the finish line. With the pace that I had been running dad and I figured that I ran about 9 miles... I later went home and mapped my run on and discovered that I ran 8.75 miles. Just nuts!

Dad informed me that people just had started turning around on the trail and that one of the EMS guys started yelling at people to turn around if they were running the 10k because they had gone to far... well guess what, I was way past that point by then. Go figure!

We quickly hopped in the car and headed home. Mom and Jordan met us for breakfast at Snooty Pig, my favorite breakfast place ever since they have THE most incredible muffins ever! Cheered us up a bit ;)
The runners of the family. Thunder didn't run in this race but we couldn't leave him out!

In the end, it may not be a big deal that I ran more than I was supposed to since I set a personal distance record but it really bummed be out cause I was running for that time!  I told Jordan that it would be like him playing in a golf tournament and not keeping score. Just doesn't make sense!

So here is to the running effort that dad and I put in! Here is to the next 10k race that I run, hopefully it'll be legit! Here is to the memory that will last forever! I'm sitting here today glad that I only ran the mileage that I did because I am quite sore. 

*I plan to add more pictures as they become available through the photographer website
Just thought I'd post a copy of my 10k training schedule from Active.
3 m run
2.5 m run (race pace)
3 m run
30 min EZ
3 m run
3 m run (race pace)
3.5 m run
35-40 min EZ
3.5 mi run
3.5 m run (race pace)
4 m run
35-40 min EZ
4 m run
3.5 m run (race pace)
4.5 m run
40-45 min EZ
3 m run
4 m run (race pace)
5 m run
40-45 min EZ
3.5 m run
3.5 m run (race pace)
6 m run
40-45 min EZ
4 m run
4 m run (race pace)
7 m run
40-45 min EZ
3 m run
CT or Rest
3 m run
10K Race!

Saturday, July 16

A Human Effort

On Monday nights, my mom and I head to our summer bible study to be filled up with knowledge of God's word through the thoughts and voice of Beth Moore. (Her various bible studies can be purchased through LifeWay)

We are doing Beth Moore's study called "Stepping UP" which is her study on the book of Psalms. Let me tell you, I am enjoying this study in it's entirety. This is my first Beth Moore bible study to do and I just love learning from her. She not only has so much wisdom and insight but her personality and love for God is infectious!

The study is a "journey through the Psalms of Ascent" which is a grouping of 15 psalms from psalm 120 to 134. These specific psalms are associated with three feasts in the Old Testament (the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of the Tabernacles), the 15 steps of the Old Testament temple, and with the exiles on their return to Jerusalem after Babylonian captivity.

I'm writing these words about this study now because in today's lesson, Beth quoted an incredible description of psalms that was enlightening. Yes, I absolutely cherish the psalms because they provide beautiful images of God and his people, they are easier to grasp than other passages, and they are meant to me sung! These words from Nahum M. Sarna, a Jewish scholar, just depict so clearly why the psalms penetrate our souls:
"In the Law and the Prophets, God reaches out to man. The initiative is His. The message is His. He communicates, we receive. Our God given free-will allows us to be receptive, to be accepting, to turn a deaf ear, to reject. In the Psalms, human beings reach out to God. The initiative is human. The language is human. We make an effort to communicate. He receives; he chooses to respond or not, according to His inscrutable wisdom. He gives his assent or withholds it. In the Psalms, the human soul extends itself beyond its confining, sheltering, impermanent house of clay. It strives for contact with the ultimate Source of all life. It gropes for an experience of the divine Presence. The biblical psalms are essentially a record of the human quest for God. Hence, the variety of forms in which the ancient psalmists expressed themselves, reflective of the diverse and changing moods that possessed them as they do all human beings. In short, the psalms constitute a revealing portrayal of the human condition."
Really neat, right? I like his wording about contrasting how the other parts of the OT (the prophets and the law) are God's effort to communicate with us and how the psalms is the human effort. While taking all this in thought, the entire Word of God is God's effort to communicate with His people in which He is able to communicate through so many different inspired writers and believers giving the Bible the rounded appeal that it has!

As I mentioned, I am just loving this study of these 15 psalms. I am learning so much about the history of the events surrounding these psalms like details about the feasts that I mentioned. I am also expanding my knowledge and my ways of how I can worship my creator. Beth has us rewrite each psalm (after we studied it), in our own words so that it can be our prayer and song to the Lord. I am cherishing this activity, although it is often difficult, because it is allowing me broadened the ways I can worship and the ways that I can related the words within scripture to my life personally. I am just full of joy from the Lord!

I really want to do her study called "Here and Now... There and Then" in which Beth goes through the book of Revelation. I think that one shall be my next study because of how intriguing I find Revelation. (Not to mention, I had to do a 35 minute lecture on the second half of Revelation for my Old Testament class sophomore year. That was intense!)
In light of my study through the Psalms of Ascent, I thought I would share one of my personal renditions. I picked our the psalm that we are memorizing throughout the study just for fun!

Psalm 121 (NIV)
I left my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 
He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber; 
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 
The LORD watches over you--the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 
The LORD will keep you from all harm--he will watch over your life; 
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121 (by me)
Who helps me on my journey through this world? 
It is my creator, God who formed with His hands, this earth and the heavens above. 
He is ever present in this created minefield. He will not let me fall or be harmed. 
God's hand is steadily upon me as I traverse through this wondrous yet hazardous place. 
My creator will protect me through the ends of this Earth forever and ever.

Although my words were hardly inspired by God, it is neat to be able to rework and rewrite these worship passages to be able to pray back to God. I think it's a neat exercise!

Perhaps you should try rewriting a psalm of praise yourself, "dear ones."

Thursday, July 14

Pretty Much Left Alone

I am comparing myself to one of your old childhood stuffed animals that is either on a dusty shelf, in your attic, or at your parent's house. This weekend, I am left alone!

My everly companion, Jordan, is in Abilene for a golf tournament this weekend. I am wishing him luck and love from afar as I sit in this giant house with two little fluffy pets. I am also wishing him coolness as the temperature is supposed to be 105-112 degrees Fahrenheit as he swings his clubs in the blazing sun. You might be asking "why didn't you go with him to his tournament? You go to his others ones?" 

Well, because...

My parents are in Guatemala and El Salvador until Tuesday. This is the answer for why the two "fur-kids" are with me in the "attic" this weekend. 

The loneliness continues...

Aly, my best friend, flew away to Napa Valley for the weekend to celebrate her ravishing 21st birthday! She will be sipping new flavors in wine country as I scorch in this Texas heat. It's actually her birthday today! So Happy Birthday Alyson Kathryn! I absolutely adore and love you!


Sheila and Greg are leaving for the Big Apple for a week. They will be frolicking through the people filled streets of the city, enjoying fabulous foods, and seeing the sites!

Tyler is in Galveston this weekend with Hayley's family enjoying some Texas beaches.

Wait! There's more...

Becky and her family are heading out for another 10 day vacation this weekend. Jordan and I will be housesitting for them again. Lucy, the scottie, will join Thunder, Juno, and I over here on Saturday. It will be me and my three amigos.

I believe that's pretty darn loneliness, if you ask me! Nola, Jordan's grandma, has also been left in this sphere of lonely created by our adoring family members and friends. So perhaps, I am not so lonely!

This might sound like a dreadful post but I am actually enjoying this lonely time! I am one of those people that loves to have fun with others but I am perfectly content doing something completely by myself. This probably stems from the fact that I am an only child but I do enjoy both parts of life: company and not.

I've already indulged in this day. After my morning activities and a cat nap, I dropped my mom off at the airport then headed to Southlake to shop. I treated my self to some frozen yogurt for lunch at Yumilicious! This was my first time ever to Yumilicious and I was absolutely delighted. They had some fun fruit toppings that none of my other local fro-yo spots have like dragon fruit and these tangerine colored little balls that popped in your mouth when you bit them. I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of them but they were so fun! I can't remember what they actually called them but they were fabulous! 

My all time favorite fro-yo topping in Mochi. If you haven't tried mochi on your frozen yogurt, then you must do it your very next time! It is sort of like a cross between a gummy bear and a marshmallow but it doesn't freeze in the yogurt like gummy bears or marshmallows. It is an japanese treat made out of rice that really has no flavor. It just adds a fun texture to the yogurt. This adorns every yogurt that I create. In fact, the first time that I went to the yogurt place in Lynchburg (there is only one and it's called Sweetfrog), they didn't have mochi. I was extremely disappointed. However, I asked them if the were ever going to get mochi because it was my favorite topping ever and the woman replied "I am not sure. We are considering it but its more of an expensive topping for us to buy." I wasn't convinced by her answer that they were ever going to adorn their bins with the sweet treat but the very next time that I went to SweetFrog, they had it! I think I even screamed with joy! Go try some mochi!

I consider myself to be somewhat of a fro-yo connoisseur. It is actually quite easy to be that in my little bubble, that I call home, considering there are literally six different frozen yogurt places all within five miles of my house. I am sure there are bunch more on the outskirts of five miles that I haven't quite discovered yet. I like to mix up the stores that I visit because they often have different flavors from each other. More variety ;)

Besides delighting in frozen yogurt, I am thinking this weekend will be good for me! I can relax and chill.  I need to get caught up on my bible study, since we had an off week and I was out of town for a week. I am a few days behind! I may even throw in a craft or two! And I already have plans to have coffee with one of my great friends, Allison. She just got home for the summer after a 'semester at sea' and a few trips. I am super excited to see her considering all of my other friends are not home for the summer like at all! So it will be delightful!

Who knows what else this weekend holds in lonely adventures but I am looking forward to it!

Saturday, July 9

A Summer Delight

My newest addiction is Pinterest (follow me) I've already slightly mentioned Pinterest on a previous post but not about how devoted I am to this wonderful website. It is like a combination of a favorites folder, a google search, and a twitter account. You have an account like twitter where people can follow you (follow me on Twitter). You post or "pin" things to your profile that you like sort of like a favorites folder on your internet browser. You can also search through what other people are pinning in categories or in general making it like a google search. People pin things like recipes, crafts, clothing, home decor, photography, quotes, jewelry, places to visit... you name it - it's being pinned!

All of that to say that one of my favorite things to discover through Pinterest is recipes! I have over 100 recipes that I want to try already on my Delicious Food board.

I read some various ones to my mom on the way back from Iowa yesterday and we decided to try a few tonight with dinner. We simply grilled two tuna steaks and one chicken breast. (I'm not a fan of fish & Jordan's out hunting tonight hence the three hunks of meat) We also grilled pineapple, which is my favorite way to eat it!

The recipes chosen from Pinterest were the easy parmesan knots and grilled sweet potatoes. The grilled sweet potatoes were similar to my grilled potato recipe but obvious with a different potato. ;) They both were fabulous! I would definitely make them again. My mom said this was her favorite way ever to have sweet potatoes!

Easy Parmesan Knots
Printable Version of Recipe
1 tube of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic power
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Roll each biscuit into a rope about 12 inches long. Tie it into a knot and tuck the ends under. Place each knot 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. I had to cook mine for about 12 minutes so that the inner dough was cooked.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; brush the warm knots with the parmesan herb mixture.

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
Printable Version of this Recipe
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled (used 1 potato per person)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2-3 scallions, sliced diagonally
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
handful chopped cilantro

Preheat grill. Add sweet potatoes into a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer, covered, and cook until just tender, about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on size and amount of potatoes. You want the potatoes firm and not too soft. Place potatoes in a colander and run under cold water to cool. With a sharp knife cut potatoes crosswise into 1/4 to 1/2 thick slices.

In a small bowl whisk together oil, salt, and cumin and brush some onto both sides of potato slices, saving the remaining oil. I recommend doubling the recipe for the cumin oil.

Grill potato slices on an oiled rack until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side (I grilled them about 2 minutes per side) and a transfer with tongs to a platter. Sprinkle green onion over grilled potatoes. Whisk lime juice into remaining cumin oil with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle over potatoes. Serve potato salad with additional lime wedges and chopped cilantro if desired.

Enjoy! If you try either of these, let me know what you think!

All Sorts of Celebrations

Well goodness, where do I begin?

Rebekah & Andrew's wedding was just gorgeous! She was a truly majestic and blushing bride. She had a massive smile on her face the entire day. The ceremony took place in a beautiful church adorned with some floral arrangements, candles, and white and pink tulle. Simply beautiful!

The reception took place on a family friend's ranch property, which was absolutely stunning. They had a big white tent beautifully decorated next to an antique green barn. We were surrounded by 400 ish of their friends and family members!

God's hand was completely in the ceremony and reception for there was a fabulous cloud cover over the sky which cooled the temperature down from the projected 100+ degrees. I didn't even sweat! ;) The couple was absolutely extravagant as they drove a way in Andrew's highly decorated car! So much fun!

Jordan's 21st birthday was first celebrated back in Texas before the wedding with my parents. We went out to eat at Macaroni Grill with my parents, Greg, Tyler, and Hayley. (Sheila was already in Kansas for the wedding) It was delightful. We came home and opened his "Texas" themed presents and finished off the night by hot tubbing!

His second celebration took place in Wichita on his actual birthday where we went to Abuelos mexican restaurant with the family. It was fabulous! They had some really good chips and dips. We got three different types of dip including "Queso Diablo," "Chile con Queso," and "Avocado Cream." They were excellent!

Thunder & Juno cuddled up in the car
My parents picked us in in Kansas on July 4th, along with the two dogs, and then we all headed  north to Iowa. We got in to Grandma and Grandpa's house in the small town of Dayton at about 8:30 pm. My uncle Jim, Uncle Steve, Aunt Kathy, and Cousin Joey were all there when we arrived so we got to visit for a while!  I took Jordan on a tour around Dayton on Tuesday, which took all of 5 minutes. He got to see a lot of my grandparent's previous homes in Dayton - as they have moved 51 times in 56 years of marriage. I have only been alive for 5 of the various moves! They have slowed down in the past 21 years. We even stopped in at the local Casey's, which might possibly one of my favorite things about Iowa. They have great donuts and fabulous pizza! We had the pizza for lunch one day; including my favorite Taco pizza!
Taco Pizza - Baked with refried beans, salsa, beef, and Casey's pizza cheese. After baking, it's topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and Doritos nacho chips. 
Grandma and Grandpa had a good portion of the family over plus some friends in honor of Grandpa's 80th birthday. There were about 30 of us there. We had some great fried chicken and pork loin. (Papa doesn't eat chicken or turkey...) We had a blast. It was great for Jordan to be able to actually meet and converse with my family since he only briefly met them at our wedding events.

This is 1977 John Deer 8430 in incredible condition
Jordan had a real Iowan experience as he got to explore the family farms. Two of my uncles are farmers in Iowa! Uncle Randy and Aunt Cindy live just outside of Dayton on a farm surrounded by corn fields. Jordan's grandpa, Dean, had an old farmhouse and farm land but he never really got to see it in true working condition so this was a special treat for Jordan. Uncle Randy took him through all his barns and showed off his countless number of tractors. Jordan drove two different ones around the property!

One of Randy's barns
The next day we got to see Uncle Steve and Aunt Kathy's farm land in Eldora, Iowa. They live in the town of Eldora but have farm land just outside the city. My Uncle Steve just recently bought some new property that we hadn't seen yet so it was a treat to be able to explore with him. The new property has a farmhouse, several barns for livestock and tractors, and a little workshop. Steve is also in the cattle business; he just got his registered brand under "Balvanz Cattle." We got to see the pastures that his cows live on and his other properties that he has.

We also stayed around for the Hardin County parade that is in Eldora. Steve was the Grand Marshall this year so all the family met up to watch! There were several tractors, horses, and floats in the parade. Candy, ice pops, and frisbees were thrown!

Llama getting a bath
The next night we went back to Eldora for the Eldora Rodeo and fair. It was a quaint rodeo but it was super fun! We walked around the fairgrounds and checked out all the animals submitted for showing. There were cows, pigs, llamas, bunnies, chickens, ducks, calfs, goats, and sheep. My cousin's daughter Drue showed a lamb in the fair whose name is "Teddi."

We ate fair food for dinner. I had a chicken kabob with funnel cake fries. Mom, Dad, Kathy, and Steve grilled pork loin sandwiches. Jordan had a turkey leg! He was craving it all day - we were lucky that they had it! Then we settled down into our seats for the big rodeo show. It was super fun! There was calf roping, wild horse riding, and bull riding!

One of the most exciting parts about the night is that Libby & Isaac drove in to Eldora to watch the rodeo with us! They live just over an hour outside of Eldora so it was a huge blessing to be able to see their wonderful faces for the evening! I was super excited to be able to catch up with Lib while Jordan and Isaac conversed the entire night!

We then headed home to Texas the next morning with a thirteen hour drive. It's always good to go and always good to come back. 

Friday, July 1

A Quilt or Two

I realize that my posts have been kind of sporadic throughout the summer, probably because of how busy my summer is.

I've already posted on how much we've been traveling, which continues this week as we head to Wichita for Rebekah & Andrew's wedding then even more north on the Fourth to Iowa to celebrate my grandpa John's 80th birthday! Likewise, my family has a ton of birthday's during the summer too! Mom's birthday was last week, Jordan's is on Sunday (July 3rd), Dad's birthday is on the 13th, and mine is on the 19th. My best friend Aly's birthday is the 14th of July and there are at least four other birthday's of importance during this month too! As you can imagine, we are eating a ton through all this traveling and birthday celebrating. I don't think I've been actually hungry yet!

Needless to say, I am not neglecting my little blog on purpose. I actually miss it! I've been really busy on four projects since my last crafty post.

I completed my first project on my new sewing machine (a while ago) which was a duffel bag.

I painted a picture of Thunder on canvas to go with the portrait of Juno I already did. This portrait was my mom's birthday present from me. She was absolutely thrilled. She is waiting on the custom frame to be able to hang it up next to Juno's painting (I'll post a picture of him in his frame once she gets it!).

I've sewn TWO quilts on my sewing machine! Both were inspired by Patchwork magazine. The magazine is full of project ideas from slippers to pet beds and key chains to kitchen towels!

One quilt I did for Jordan's 21st birthday. I know - a quilt in the middle of summer for his 21st birthday? Yep, I didn't really think about the quilt in the summer part but everyone else is getting him fun stuff for his 21st so needless to say, I don't need to. :) The second, I sewed for myself because I am the blanket queen. I have way to many blankets already so let me just add another... well I suppose I'm adding two since Jordan and I live together ;)

Jordan's quilt is a patchwork quilt inspired by a "work shirt" or a flannel shirt. I used three shades of blue fabrics, a light gray, white, and a red fabric. I backed it with a light blue soft and cuddly fabric that they use for baby blankets. We like soft things!

I am super excited about his quilt... it was a lot of work cutting out the strips and sewing them together but it was totally worth it. I'm pleased with the way it came out! He absolutely loved it too! He opened it on Thursday night when we celebrated his birthday out with my parents.

For my quilt, I just went to Jo-Ann's and picked out pretty much all fabrics in various shades of pinks and browns I could find. This quilt was so much easier than Jordan's because the strips were of equal size and bigger! There was no tedious work for mine. His was definitely done out of love.

Voila! First few sewing projects complete!