Friday, February 6, 2015

52 Weeks of Dating My Husband...



Jonathan is my best friend and we do pretty much everything together.  Whether it's going grocery shopping, running errands at Target, or just hanging out at home, a majority of the time we're by each other's side.  While I love this about our relationship, I've realized that at the same time it can make it hard to have designated "dates" where we're really intentional with our time together.  So for the next year we've made a goal to have a specific date each week.

I made a list of 52 dates, and while some of these are specific to where we live and what we like to do I'm sure a majority of them can be tweaked to fit something in your area.  Most of these dates are fairly inexpensive, and I tried to pick activities that would allow room for good conversations together, not just give us something to do. 

1. Panera breakfast and used bookstore browsing
2. Virginia Tech baseball games
3. Window shopping and taking pictures in the photo booth at the mall
4. Drive around and look at Christmas lights
5. Hike McAffees knob and stop at The Homeplace for dinner afterwards
6. Baguettes and croissants from Our Daily Bread, picnic at the duck pond
7. Frisbee golf and sonic slushies
8. Drive-in movie theater
9. Smores in the firepit in the backyard...besides, whats sexier than watching your man start a fire ;)
10. Walk the Huckleberry trail from Christiansburg to Blacksburg, stop for Frosty Parrot at the end
11. Friday night concerts downtown in the summer
12. The Cellar pizza and walking around campus afterwards
13. Gillies for breakfast and roaming the farmer's market

14. Go camping
15. Enjoy dinner at the Palisades
16. A capella concerts at VT
17. Go out for dessert then browse Barnes and Noble
18.  Tube the New River (or kayak, or canoe!)
19. Star-gaze in the backyard and chart the constellations
20. Starbucks and yard-saling on a Saturday morning
21. Movie marathon with all your favorite junk food
22.Go to a Nationals baseball game, get a hot dog with all the fixings and cheer on your favorite team!

23. Lucie Monroe's tea/coffee date
24. Hike the Cascades and pack a picnic lunch
25. Go fishing at Pandapas pond
26. Build a fort, snuggle, and read to one another (some of our favorite read-aloud books are Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter)
27. Go for a drive and get lost, use a map instead of GPS
28. Explore Floyd
29. Blueberry picking at Three Birds Berry Farm
30. Dinner on the patio at Cabo Fish Taco
31. Learn something new together...how to play chess, racquetball, cook a gourmet meal
32. Attend Stepping Out in Blacksburg, sample all the goodies from different food vendors
33.Take a swing at the batting cages

34.Rent bikes and bike the Creeper Trail in Abingdon
35. Build something together
36. Take a weekend away, explore a new city
37. Get takeaway from Jimmy Johns or Chipotle and people watch on the drill field
38. Safari Park at Natural Bridge
39. Play on the swings at the park
Photo Courtesy of Nicki Ahrens Photography

40. Soccer games at VT (don't live near a college or university? Go cheer on your local high school!)
41. Bundle up and watch the Christmas parade downtown
42. Enjoy a progressive dinner at different restaurants, start with an appetizer at one then move on to dinner and dessert at another
43. Recreate your first date-for us that means dinner at the local Mexican restaurant, followed by playing on the swings at the park and snuggling up to watch the Italian Job :)
44. Go apple picking
45. Sign up to serve together whether its your local food pantry, a soup kitchen, or coaching a little league team!
46. Shop for and put together a Blessing Basket filled with groceries and other goodies, sneakily deliver it to a family in need without getting caught in the act
47. Go pumpkin picking and carve them together
48. Hit the golf course! I am not much of a golfer so I just drive the cart...win win for both of us :)
49. Not much for regular golf? Try mini golf!
50. pick out and shop for an angel tree child
51. Drive the Blue Ridge parkway when the leaves change colors
52. Sneak into Lane Stadium and touch the Hokie stone

Photo courtesy of Colling Photography
I hope this list helps give you a jump-start on some fun things to do with your love. What are your favorite dates? I'd love to hear them!





Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Review: "The Dandelion Field" & a Kindle Giveaway!

  *I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own

Displaying   About the book:
This handsome firefighter makes a living coming to the rescue, but Gin doesn't need a man to fight her battles.

After Raine's dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter's youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that's compromised when Raine reveals she's pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend's son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: "The baby is mine."

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.

My Review:
I work for our local Pregnancy Resource Center, so everyday I see firsthand the effects of an unplanned pregnancy.  I was thrilled to review this book as it is a topic very close to my heart, and I was interested to see how Springer would address the fears, worries, judgements, and even the joy associated with an unplanned pregnancy.

Within the first few chapters I was hooked and wanting to read "just one more page" to see what would happen.  The characters were well defined and I enjoyed seeing how their relationships with one another, and the Lord, unfolded throughout the book.  I think Springer did a good job of showing both sides of how the church deals with an unplanned pregnancy, those who are judgmental and gossip about it, and those who recognize the beauty of life, however it was conceived.  I really appreciated how she showed that even "the good kid" can fall short and be in need of grace.

While she did touch on some of the social, and emotional struggles Raine and Cody faced after getting pregnant, I would have liked to see Springer delve into this a little more.  The book focused more on Gin and Dan's relationship (which was very well developed), and I found Raine and Cody's pregnancy/relationship to be more of a secondhand story.

Overall I thought this was a great read, and very relevant to our church and culture today. I would definitely recommend it! 
____________________________________________________________

Get ready for Valentine's Day with a new story of romance and falling in love in Kathryn Springer's The Dandelion FieldThe handsome firefighter makes a living “coming to the rescue,” but Gin is used to fighting her own battles. Can a woman who doesn't believe in happy endings take a chance on a new beginning? 

Celebrate a second chance at love and family with Kathryn by entering her Kindle Fire giveaway!

dandelionfield-400

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Dandelion Field
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 15th. Winner will be announced February 16th on the Litfuse blog.

dandelionfield-enterbanner 
{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Laundry Room: Before & After

I know that many of you have been wanting to see pics of our new house, and since the laundry room is the most completed I figured it would be first! We've still got some things we want to change in here, but for now it's pretty darn close.

The colors throughout the rest of my house are pretty neutral and muted so I knew I wanted the laundry room to have a small pop of color.  It's right off the kitchen so I also wanted to make sure the colors complemented each other well. From the start I pictured it as a pale, creamy yellow and that's exactly what I got. There is something so fresh and cheery about yellow, and lets face it...laundry needs all the cheer it can get! So take a peek at my happy little laundry corner:)





Isn't that flooring just the most lovely linoleum you've ever seen? No? What about that ruffly curtain that I'm sure has been hanging there since the 90's?


 We extended the laminate from the kitchen into the laundry room, added a cheery coral rug, and a small basket to toss dirty kitchen towels into. We're slowly painting all the wooden trim white (hence the white quarter-round we went ahead and put in after the floors were finished).

 I love this built in rack for line-drying clothes, and as you can see I decided to go curtain-less on the window...scandalous, I know.
Down the road we've got plans to paint the oak cabinets white so I'll be sure to post an update whenever that happens!

Paint Color: Valspar's "Maple Cream" in Satin
Rug: TJ Maxx
Basket: TJ Maxx
Flooring: Pergo's "Highland Hickory" at Home Depot

Monday, January 26, 2015

How Secondhand Clothes Reminded Me of God's Love...

 Recently I've had the winter blahs when it comes to my wardrobe....please tell me you know what I'm talking about. Everything just seems old and boring and...well, blah.  Plus, this time of year my skin is dull and dry and would really benefit from even a smidgen of a tan to breathe some color and life back into it, but that won't be happening anytime soon.  So naturally buying new clothes seems like the perfect choice to brighten up these dull wintry days and combat my overall blahness :) Specifically I've been wanting a blazer to mix into my work wardrobe.    

But buying new clothes means spending money. And with us having just bought our first home, spending money on new clothes hasn't really been in the budget. 

Then the other night we went over to our friend's house for dinner.  Astleigh had just finished some New Years cleaning and organizing and had purged her very stylish closet of clothes she no longer wore.  She let me and another friend sort through the bags and take what we wanted!  Astleigh has great style and I was thrilled to take home a good-sized pile of "new" clothes from brands such as Loft and Gap, including one adorable blazer-type jacket.




Later that night as I tried on my "new" outfits I couldn't help but think of how God provides me with the seemingly small desires of my heart.  I've been looking for the personal ways in which God shows his love to me, and I shouldn't be so surprised when I find it...even when it comes in the form of free secondhand clothes.   

ps...Astleigh has some fun and stylish tips for keeping your home organized, here.

p.p.s- are you looking for a cheap way to fight the winter wardrobe blahs and don't have awesome friends who let you shop their closets? Check out Flower Patch Farmgirl's Secondhand Fashion Challenge.

Also, while I was playing dress up and taking pictures, just out of shot Jonathan was being a boss and patched the hole in our ceiling from where we'd had a leak. Thats my man :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Esther: A Book Review

* I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers, all opinions are my own.
ESTHER_BethanyCover 
About the Book:
"When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king’s heart and a queen’s crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king’s permission to exterminate all Jews–young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people…and bind her husband’s heart."

My Review:
Esther has long been one of my all time favorite Bible characters.  I think that at times the church can tend to gloss over certain parts of Esther's story, the "un-christian" parts if you will. In Sunday school its presented more as ..."Esther was the most beautiful girl in all the land, so the King fell in love with her, made her his queen and then she saved her people!" Let's just not mention the one night they spent together as an unmarried couple...and I don't think they were playing Yahtzee folks. So, all this to say that I was very curious what approach Hunt would take with her telling of the story.

The story started off very slow for me as Hunt built up her characters and I found myself just wanting to skip ahead to "where the story began".  And once it did I was very pleasantly surprised with Hunt's balance of love story and the more realistic historical facts.  She addresses the fact that while Esther is ultimately chosen as Queen, she was still just one of many women in the King's harem.  I liked how she didn't make it into this epic love story, because I don't think that is actually realistic for that time period.  I think it helps to show just how big a deal it was for her to go before the King unbidden.  I also liked that Vashti was still a character even after she was deposed.

I don't read a lot of books written in the first person so that took a little getting used to.  And I wish there was just a little bit more about Esther and Mordecai's relationship once she was in the palace, but overall I really enjoyed this book!
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