10 day photo blog challenge.

With it being the 21st century and all, we thought we’d get with the times a little and buy the DSLR camera we’ve been wanting for quite some time. Now that I’m trying to become all tech savvy, I decided to come up with a ten-day photo challenge for myself. Yes, I made that image above using Paint from my computer. So fancy.

I’m excited to learn more about my new camera and I think this challenge will really encourage me to understand all of the different things you can do with a DSLR. I’m not trying to become a professional photographer, I just find it to be a fun hobby.

I will start tomorrow. Join me in the challenge!!

Felt Christmas Lights Wreath

It’s the week after Thanksgiving, so you know what that means…it’s time to decorate for CHRISTMAS!!

And watch the movie Elf every weekend, of course.

So, to give my interchangeable burlap wreath a holiday make-over, I just added a strand of felt Christmas lights to it. Simple, yet festive!

If you get the urge to make a similar wreath, I took the liberty of writing up some instructions. Aren’t I sweet? To make the strand of lights:

  • Cut out the shape of the light bulb on cardstock (or something sturdy) to use as a tracer.
  • Use the tracer to cut out the bulbs in each color you are wanting to use.
  • After you have all of your bulbs cut, cut out the same amount of 1 inch long and about finger nail width green strips to be the tops of your bulbs.
  • Have your string laying out (I used black string for the strand).
  • Hot glue each green strip to the backs of each bulb.
  • Place the light bulbs along the strand where you’ll want them.
  • Wrap the green piece that should be sticking up a lot higher then the bulb and wrap it around the string and hot glue to the back of the bulb again (so your actually making a loop around the string)

After your strand is complete, you’ll just wrap it around the wreath and either tape or hot glue it, depending on if you’re going to try and reuse the wreath or not. I used gorilla tape, because I will keep reusing the base of the wreath for other seasons and holidays.

If only I could actually get the lights to light up…

Place it on your front door and you’re ready for the holidays! Easy as pie. Speaking of pie…there’s left over pumpkin pie to be eaten. See ya!

The ABC’s of Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans! It’s time to stuff ourselves with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn and of course…pumpkin pie! What a wonderful holiday we get to celebrate, yet every year it gets overtaken by the consumer-hungry day that follows, also known as “Black Friday”. America is funny. We’re funny, because there is a day filled with fighting over material possessions to purchase with money we don’t have, exactly 1 day after a day spent giving thanks for what we have. Contradict, much?

I’d like to take this time to say what I’m thankful for, Sesame Street style. Here goes:

  • A- Apartment. I’m blessed to get to come home to a warm/cool apartment (depending on the season) every day. It may be small, but it’s all we need for now. Thankful for my comfortable bed I get to lay in every night with my sweet husband.
  • B- Bible. Thankful for God’s Word and the guidance He has gives us through it. Many take it for granted, but I am so thankful I can read my bible without worrying if I’m going to be arrested for doing so. I love digging into scripture and learning more about my faith and strengthening my relationship with the Lord.
  • C- Creation. Of course this is an obvious one. I’m thankful that the Lord created me. I’m thankful for his beautiful creation, such as people, animals and nature. I stand in awe when I see a beautiful sunset or a gorgeous mountain range, because it shows how big our God is!
  • D- Dad. I’m so thankful for my dad and how hard he worked to provide for our family. He spent a lot of time away from us growing up, but I appreciate that now more than ever. I’m thankful for his sacrifice for us. Thankful that he raised our family in a church and showed my sister and I what it means to be in a Godly marriage. Thankful for their 30+ years (sorry, can’t remember exactly how many!) of marriage.
  • E- Employment. I am beyond thankful that I was able to find a job straight out of college. It may not be exactly what I saw myself doing, but I love my job. I love my boss, my co-workers, and our patients. Blessed to work with people who encourage me and follow similar values as me.
  • F- Freedom. Many of us Americans take our freedom for granted. I know I have at times, but I am beyond thankful for all those who have served to defend my freedom. Blessed to be able to worship the Lord without fear and have the opportunity to vote for the leader of our country.
  • G- Girlfriends. I am so blessed to have wonderful, encouraging, hilarious friends. My roommates from college have been such a blessing to my life. I am thankful to have found life-long friends in high school and college. They keep me accountable have shown me what true friendship really is.
  • H- Husband. I have the best husband in the world. I’m so blessed to be married to such a Godly, encouraging, loving man!
  • I- Indiana. I was born and raised in the great state of Indiana. Although I don’t live there anymore, I am very thankful for getting to grow up there.
  • J- Jesus Christ. So thankful for my Lord and Savior. Thankful for his never-ending love and mercy!
  • K- Kayaks. I promise I’m not just throwing this one out there because I can’t think of a word that starts with ‘K’. I really am thankful for the kayaks that my husband and I have. Kayaking is such a fun and relaxing hobby…well, it can be. I love the days in the summer that we spend paddling down the river in our kayaks, enjoying a beautiful, warm day. I love being in nature!
  • L- Love. Corny, I know, but it’s true. I’m so thankful that God has shown me what TRUE love looks like (sending his Son to die for me) and that because of  that, I can love the people in my life.
  • M- Mother. I have the most supportive and encouraging mom ever. I know everybody thinks theirs is the best, but mine seriously is! She sacrificed more than I will ever know as I was growing up and still does! I’m so thankful for her many years of sitting through countless swim meets (God bless her!), driving me all over the place for activities, and providing me with everything I needed, but not always everything I wanted (yes, I’m thankful for that looking back now!).
  • N- Nieces (and soon to have a nephew!). I have the cutest nieces in the world. My sister has to little girls and a boy on the way. Abby is 3 1/2 and Brooklyn just turned 1 in Sept. They are precious and I love spending time with them, though it’s not often due to distance. They are so smart and I love them both so much.
  • O- Ocean. I’m so thankful for getting to vacation at the beach every summer while growing up. My family was blessed to be able to do that and I loved every minute of it. I still love going to the beach when we get the chance. Not much else beats a beautiful sunset over an ocean.
  • P- Pepe le Pew. Pepe is our adorable tuxedo kitten. She has brought us so much laughter. She is a hyper-active, sweet, cuddly kitten. She does some pretty funny stuff and I’m so thankful we got her a few months ago.
  • Q- Quiet Time. I’m thankful that I have time in the morning before I leave for work to spend reading the Bible and having quiet time with the Lord. Also, it’s a blessing just to get to have solitude. So many people don’t ever get a chance to be alone and I’m thankful for the times I get to have a little silence in my life.
  • R- Running. I love to run. I am thankful for the ability to run and exercise. I have recently become a fan of running races, which motivates me to stay in shape.
  • S- Sister. My big sister means the world to me. She is more than a sister, she’s a best friend. I love her and value our relationship so much. So blessed to have been her maid of honor and have her as mine.
  • T- Technology. Though it can be a curse in so many ways, I am still very thankful for the modern technology that we have today. It is beneficial in so many ways. Things like Facebook (to stay connected or reconnect with friends and family), Skype (to see loved ones far away), and cell phones (to be able to get ahold of people when you need to). Thankful for the smart people who created these things!
  • U- United States of America. I am SO blessed to be an American citizen where I am free to believe what I want to believe and be who I want to be. I’m thankful for my country and what it stands for. Most of all, I’m thankful for the men and women who fight to defend all of those things for me.
  • V- Vaccines. This may sound random, but I am truly grateful for vaccines. When I was preparing to go to Kenya a few years ago, I was given 4 or 5 different vaccines. I was able to avoid contracting any diseases while in Africa. I am blessed to have good health. I’ve seen first-hand that so many around the world are not fortunate to have this technology. So many men, women and children in other countries don’t have the opportunity for a vaccine, therefore, making them more likely to develop diseases. SO thankful for intelligent people, working to create vaccines, such as the ones I was given and many others are given every day.
  • W- Western Kentucky University. I’m very thankful for my education and my college degree. I met life-long friends while in college (including my husband) and made some incredible memories.
  • X- X-rays. Ok, I may be pushing it with this one, but it’s one I don’t really think about often, but am thankful to have. X-rays are incredible and we are blessed to be able to have. My dad recently had to have X-rays to see if he needed surgery. The technology is incredible when you think about it. What did they do 100 years ago? Just deal with the pain, not knowing if they needed surgery or not? We are just so blessed to have this available to us today and I’m very thankful for that.
  • Y- Youth. My husband and I lead the youth group at our church. The student in the youth group have blessed our lives more than they will ever know. I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve, while hopefully being a model of Christ for them. It’s encouraging to see them grow in their faith.
  • Z- Zach. Zach is my brother-in-law (married to my sister I mentioned earlier). He is a Navy SEAL and spends a lot of time away from his family. I’m thankful for him and what he has done and will do for our country. I’m thankful for the sacrifices he makes so that I can feel safe and continue enjoy my freedom. I’m thankful for ALL of our troops that fight daily for this country.

Shew, I have a LOT to be thankful for…and that’s just ONE thing per letter. I could have listed multiple things for some letters. God has blessed me in so many ways.

So, before you start listing off all of the many things you WANT this Christmas, start by listing off all of the many things you HAVE! Be GRATEFUL and give THANKS. Maybe that will change your perspective a little. 🙂

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

how to cut burlap strips.

I wrote a post awhile back showing off my first homemade wreath ever. You can read about it here. I said at the end of that post, that if someone asked how I made it I would make a more detailed tutorial. Well no one ever asked…until now. I had a friend ask how I cut the burlap and made it look so “clean-cut”, as she put it. She explained that when she did it, it looked ragged on the edges and started to look uneven. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures while I was cutting the strips of burlap for my wreath, BUT thanks to this a fellow blogger from “My Best Friend’s Blog” who was smart enough to do so, I can show pictures of the same way I cut burlap strips.

determine how wide you want your strip of burlap, pull a string at the width until it comes completely out of the fabric, as shown in the picture with the arrow.

See! The string is gone and you have a perfectly straight line to cut.

Cut along the line as staight as you can.

and wha-la! you have a perfectly cut piece of burlap.

Once you have all of the piece cut about the same width, start by hot-gluing your first piece to the wreath. As you wrap each piece, continue to move along the wreath by only overlapping about half of the strip each time. Continue to do this until your wreath is completely covered with burlap. It’s that simple! You have a nice looking wreath and your pieces won’t fray as badly or quickly. You may have some little piece fall off, but at least it’ll be straigh lines. That’s just how burlap is; it can be frustrating and messy to work with.

I’m working on transforming my fall wreath into winter. I will post pictures as soon as my husband allows me to put up Christmas decor! We usually wait until at least the first of December, but I don’t know if I can go wait until then.

A weekend with the Irish.

Remember the post from back in August when I surprised my husband with tickets to a Notre Dame football game (something he’s wanted to do since he was a kid!) for his birthday? Well, this past weekend was the game! And boy, was it worth all of the money and miles.

On Friday afternoon, we headed north on our journey. We made a pit stop in Indianapolis to eat dinner and meet up with a good friend of mine from high school. I love getting to catch up with friends I don’t get to see very often. We had fun at dinner and then enjoyed walking around the downtown area, exploring for a bit before getting back on the road.

soldiers and sailors monument in downtown Indianapolis.

We arrived safely at our hotel in Kokomo, IN and called it a night since we knew it’d be a long day ahead. Seven AM on Saturday morning came too quick, but we were so excited that we didn’t care if we were tired. We got ready and made our way 90 miles up the road to the University of Notre Dame. Game day on ND’s campus is something everyone should experience. It’s incredible how much school spirit and tradition is on that campus.

the basilica, where Mass is held on campus.

the golden dome!!

We spent the morning walking around and taking in the beauty of the campus. For those of you who don’t know my husband, he is not only a ND fan, but a Rudy fan as well. If you haven’t seen the movie, watch it sometime. It’s a classic. With that being said, we just had to get a picture of the bench where Rudy read his acceptance letter to ND. Now we can sleep peacefully at night knowing we’ve been to that exact location. Thank the Lord.

some things have changed since the movie was made, but that is the exact location he sat.

Once we were done sight-seeing, we lined up along the sidewalk leading to the stadium to watch the band proceed into the game. I didn’t realize this before, but Notre Dame had the first University marching band. I guess that’s why it is such a large band and very well-respected on campus. We made it to our seats and could immediately feel the excitement in the stadium.

at the game.

The first three quarters didn’t go so well. We thought Pitt was going to hand us our first loss of the season and that was not going over well with the fans. All of the excitement from before the game was replaced with frustration and anger. But just when we thought it was over for Notre Dame’s perfect season, things started to turn around. We were down by 14 points in the 4th quarter, but out of nowhere the defense stepped it up and the offensive was actually able to do something with the ball. We came back to tie up the game 20-20 with no time left in the game, thus sending us into overtime. Oh, but not just one OT; not just two, but THREE overtimes later we WON! It was such an emotional rollercoaster of a game. There were multiple times where we thought for sure Pitt was going to win or vise-versa. Finally our quarterback ran it in for the final touchdown of the game, putting us ahead 29-26. ND is now 9-0, ranked #4 in the nation.

As we walked out of the stadium, the entire crowd was chanting “undefeated!” over and over again. It was such a fun atmosphere and I can’t imagine a better game and outcome to attend. We most definitely got our money’s worth for those tickets. Good memories!

After the game we stopped at a pizza place before heading to our hotel half-way between South Bend and Chicago, IL.

Sunday morning brought cold temperatures and breezy weather. Windy city is an understatement for Chicago. It was fun exploring the town with my husband, because he had never been there. We knew we had a six-hour drive ahead of us, so we only stayed in the city for about four hours before finally making the journey home.

skyline from the navy pier.

world’s largest bean

We were blessed with safe travels, great weather, and some amazing memories. So thankful. Praise be to God!