Meaningful Christmas for your man

12.19.2014



I enlisted the help of my better half to bring you last minute gift ideas for the man in your life this Christmas. Joe has always been the best at coming up with meaningful gifts for the people in his life, so today he is here to help you win over your man's heart with simple thoughtful gifts that mean the most this Christmas.

  • Those Mushy Coupons//  Yes they work, but gear them towards you man's favorite activities. Example: Casey doesn't always enjoy eating at the Cheesecake Factory or giving back rubs, but the fact that she will go out of her way to give me those in the form of a "coupon" always makes me smile. Oh and PG-13 things work well too..
  • Supporting His Hobbies// Has he been eying a new fishing lure, DVD or Xbox game? Even better, jump in while he is playing a video game. You may not be great at it, but the fact that you are showing you support your man gives us the "feel goods".
  • A Weekend Getaway// You gals are always the greatest at planning getaways. Why not plan one, put it in writing and surprise your man. A gift that he will look forward to throughout the upcoming months. 
  • Favorite Dessert// Casey knows the key to my heart is often though my sweet tooth. Bake your man his favorite dessert because you could never go wrong with sweets. One word LemonRaspberryCheesecake 
  • Simply Love Him// Relationships can be hard work. Praying for your significant other is always a key to a successful relationship/marriage. This is a great article Casey has shown me before. Don't try and fix him, love him.



NYC Christmas

12.17.2014

As you read this, Joe and I are making our way down to the city to check off a bucket list item of ours. 
We are beyond excited to see Andrea Boccelli perform and the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza. 
lots of Christmas excitement. The last time I was in the city around the holidays was for my 21st birthday many Januarys ago.
Seeing the tree in it's prime, along with all of the winter markets makes me giddy as I type this. 

We had planned on attending the Rockefeller lighting this year, but things fell through due to pesky work schedules. 
Seeing the crowds of thousands via the TV reminded me it was probably for the best. 


Christmas Tree made out of wine bottles
my kind of tree...
NYC Christmas Bucket List
// The Rock Christmas Tree
// Holiday Window Displays: There is a whole "tour" dedicated to the outrageously decorated store window fronts.
// Iceskating in Central Park
// Radio City Music Hall Rockettes
// Holiday markets galore! I would love to check out the Brooklyn Pop-Up and of course the Winter Village at Bryant Park
// Holiday Under the Stars

Want to follow our NYC adventures? Follow along with us on Instagram
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Advent 2014

12.15.2014

This year I have attempted to make the Christmas season slow down, and really savor the true meaning of the season.
There are so many commercial distractions that really pull us from what Christmas is all about.

Growing up, Joe never celebrated Advent, so I have always found it special that our church home here in New York takes part in the Advent celebration.
To me, Advent really breaks down the magic of the weeks leading up to Christmas and why it truly is such a special time to be celebrated.
A lot of wisdom and scripture are shared throughout these weeks.


If you have yet to experience advent, I urge you to dig into some of the resources in these last days before Christmas.

Hope, Peace, Joy and Love// Terra Nova Church
|| Our church's spin on Advent. Each sermon has a corresponding devotional to reflect on over the week prior. I'm pretty partial to this one! ||
"O Come Let Us Adore Him"// She Reads Truth

|| A beautiful online Advent devotional series geared towards women. Easy to digest and makes it easy to come back for more each day. ||
Advent Series: Podcast Sermons// The Village Church
|| If you're more of a auditory learner, you can play one of these sermons and multitask at the same time. ||
Applicable Advent for the Whole Family// Awana Advent 2014
|| A daily Advent devotional that has different applications for families, couples, individual, early elementary, late elementary and Jr. and Sr. High School ||
Downloadable Advent Devotional// Desiring God
|| Desiring God is the curriculum we use for our Children's program at church and I love the truth that is brought out in each story. These are applicable devotions that can be shared with you family.  ||
DIY Advent// Oh My Deer
|| These are the verses I used to create our Advent calendar this year. A great compilation of some very important verses. ||


Take the time to be silent and reflect in the true meaning of Christmas. 
Don't let Jesus, though expected, go overlooked with your family this year.
Are you celebrating Advent this year? 

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Metaphorical Whiplash

11.19.2014

Image via Always Rooney aka my new blog obsession

Oh dear little blog space of mine...you really do get the short end of the stick 9/10 times. I generally come to you frequently when I have a heavy heart, and often times leave you hanging during the pleasant and fast paced parts of life. After venting with a heavy heart, you leave me feeling like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. You rejoice with me as we shortly touch on the highs on this roller coaster called life.

Life has been so, so full of both high and heavy times lately.
Lately I feel as if whiplash could easily describe the swing of emotions I've experienced lately.
Sharp, painful, and easily takes your breath away.
The pain eases as kinks get ironed out, but as soon as you make a wrong move the spasms bring back a too easily forgotten pain that burns hot in the present.
All of which, in the metaphorical sense, leaves a girl feeling utterly out of control and powerless.

As pain begins to heal, scabs form a structure tough yet fragile, threatening to expose the raw emotion buried below.
Healing stirs more emotion...a passion born out of the only thing stronger than fear...Hope.
My dear friend Amber has taught me so, so much about hope.

My hope comes a power much larger than I.
My hope comes from a learned peace that I am not in control.
My hope comes from the promise of a future without pain and sickness.
My hope comes from a Man who died for me because of my sin...and shouldn't that be enough?

Where does your hope come from?
I ask for healing thoughts/prayers/vibes etc for a man who is near and dear in my life.
My Dad.
We are hoping for clarity and answers, but learning to settle in the peace that our Hope has given us.

Your "Baby Blue" loves you and I can't wait to be home soon!

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My healthy fix

11.12.2014

I've been lucky in the fact that overall I have never struggled with my weight. 
That being said, I no longer have the metabolism of a 17 year old who can eat ice cream and pasta every night without suffering a few consequences. 
Since living in New York, I was able to hide behind the cute baggy sweaters and leggings without noticing the pounds I was quickly accumulating one (nightly) Stewarts ice cream cone at a time. 
A wedding that I was in earlier this year was a huge slap in the face that I had gained some significant weight. After the wedding I looked back at pictures of us on the beach and couldn't believe what I was seeing in the pictures. 
That couldn't be me in a bikini. Sure, I knew I was seriously lacking in the Vitamin D department, but the weight became suddenly apparent.

BEFORE
YIKES

I never took responsibility for the number on the scale, just chalking it up to a "heavy day".
I continued to consume the calories and easily passed up opportunities to work out. 

Finally at the end of September, I knew I had to own up to the weight and escort it to the door ASAP. 
With a trip to Mexico in the upcoming weeks I knew I needed to make a change if I was to feel comfortable in a bikini come the end of October.
As I faced the scale, I had gained 16 pounds since my wedding two years ago. WOW
To me the number was horrifying, a number I never wanted to see again. 

Before on left  //////////// After on right 

April and I decided to do something for ourselves and we joined the "21 Day Fix" challenge.  
To say it was a success would be an understatement. Over all I lost 8 pounds and 7.5 inches...just in 21 days! 
Best of all? I never felt hungry or like I was going without. 
The whole idea behind this program is food choice, and portion control. Both of which I had been seriously lacking. 
After the 21 days I felt stronger, healthier, and had so much more energy! 
AFTER




I felt confident going to Mexico and didn't shudder at the fact that I would be in a bikini. 
In Mexico I was very lenient with my food choices, but kept the food portions to the sizes I had learned that my body needed instead of wanted. 
Only a few of the pounds returned, but I'm ready to jump back on the fix wagon and go again to see the results I can manage this time. 
This program is so much more than a fad diet; but instead a lifestyle change that I know will continue to be beneficial. 

Are you interested in finding out more about the 21 day fix? Please think about chatting with my all star coach Nicole to see if your lifestyle could use a fix.
 
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Why Two is better than One

11.07.2014

To say I wasn't ready to come home from Paradise would be an absolute understatement. Our anniversary week in Riviera Maya was exactly what we needed. We haven't spent that amount of quality time and had that many laughs in far too long. It still shocks me how much we have grown together as one over the past two years.
Joe and I commented at the beginning of the trip that we didn't want to get our hopes up about this vacation, because we were pretty sure our honeymoon to the Bahamas couldn't be beat.

Boy, were we wrong! Throughout our trip we documented multiple occasions why two is always better than one.



1. Where one lacks, the other picks up the slack
This became most evident as we were traveling through the airport. As Joe would guide me through the terminals as I anxiously kept my head down and eyes closed, (remember the travel juju?) he was the calm and got us to each flight in one piece, on time and with all luggage.
My part of the duo was to keep all documents in check, organized and at any grumpy TSA/Customs agent's beckon.


2. Couples Halloween costumes can be expected 
This year we decided to dress up as "Squints and Wendy Peffercorn" from the Sandlot.
Another couple that we met on their wedding day and later one were Main Chief and Cortana from Halo...talk about intense costumes!


3. Two-stepping just can't be without you and me
If you don't know, Joe and I are huge two-stepping fans. Well let me rephrase that. Joe is an amazing two-stepper and I just love being twirled around the dance floor.


4.  Being "NSYNC" doesn't have to be a boy band
Joe and I would often tag team for a lot of things. Saving chairs at the beach while the other selects the next fruity cocktail. And I don't know about you, but I can never apply sunscreen to the middle of my back solo.


Stay tuned for more beach/anniversary details. Most of the above pictures were taken by Mario at Secrets Maroma Beach. Thanks Mario! 

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11/03/12

11.03.2014



Dear Joseph,

Exactly two years ago I woke up just hours away from becoming an Aslan.
Little did I know how much my life would change after I said those two little words.
As I've told you time and time again, I didn't think I could love you more than I did that November 3rd.
But boy, oh boy was I wrong.

I often joke with people that I can't decide if I really like living in New York or if it's just marriage that I like the most.
As you know, those marks in the timeline overlap so I'm going to stick with the latter.
Getting to do life with you has been joyous, hilarious and one full of learning.
I'm not afraid of life's twists and turns because I know you will always have my hand.

I remember my vows I promised to you that November evening, and I continue to promise them to you through and through.
Often times you know my own heart better than I do. You're my best friend, and my person.
Your patience reflects God's grace, and I tend to question how I was the lucky one to end up with you.
I have loved these past two years and I can't wait to see how much more I could possibly love you.

OHTIAFILY,

Your Mrs.

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Lost shaker of salt

10.29.2014

If you're reading this…I'm currently in flight to Cancun Mexico with this handsome stud.
 Jimmy Buffet may, or may not be on our Mexico playlist. Making my poppa proud!


Excited would be a definite understatement.
Why are we going to Mexico? To celebrate our second wedding anniversary!

While we are away…
-Check out Southern Sugar, a near and dear blog to me
-Reminisce with us about the best day of our lives.
-Be sure and follow along with us as we soak up the rays in Mexico via Instagram

When we come back…
-Be on the look out for my 21 day fix results and review…if it means anything to you, I'll be in a bikini this week and I'm pretty proud of the results!
-I'll tell you about a new job/opportunity that fell into my lap and I can't be more excited.
-Lots of beach pictures…what more could you ask for?


Hasta la vista!
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Official Mom Status

10.22.2014

NO I'M NOT PREGNANT…but yes you should continue to read.

As I was driving home from work the other night, perusing through the lack of decent radio stations the lovely Capital District has to offer (not), there was a song on in the background which I recognized the chorus from previous channel surfing. As I turned up the song and listened to the lyrics, I was horrified with the words I was hearing.
I eat my dinner in my bathtub
Then I go to sex clubs
Watching freaky people getting it on
It doesn't make me nervous
If anything I'm restless
Yeah I've been around and I've seen it all

This catchy tune was one that proliferates the ears of thousands of impressionable kids/teens/adults/HUMANS (psssst that's you) daily.
What is it teaching them us?
This message sounds to me like these things are everyday ordinary OK things...

  • I get home, I got the munchies
    Binge on all my Twinkies
    Throw up in the tub, then I go to sleep
    And I drank up all my money
    Tasted kind of lonely

Alright, alright I'm officially mom status with that last comment, but seriously.
People are so quick to hate on my generation (myself included), but I can't help but think its from the pollution which has seeped into our minds across these few short decades. We are learning that emotions are not meant to be felt, but to be suppressed with drugs or sex.
Problems are no longer things we work through, but now accept as our fate.

  • Pick up daddies at the playground
    How I spend my day time
    Loosen up the frown, make them feel alive
    I make it fast and greasy
    I know my way too easy

And these new generations? Sheesh do we have any hope for them at all?
No I'm not prude, uptight, a parent, or one of those "radical religious folk"; I'm an individual with a platform who simply wants to express concern.
I picture my 4 and 5 year old Sunday school kiddos listening to music trash like this and it makes me sad.
Their innocence is taken away from them far too quickly and songs like this only encourage more of it.
  • Staying in my play pretend
    Where the fun ain't got no end
    Oh, can't go home alone again
    Need someone to numb the pain
    Oh, staying in my play pretend
    Where the fun ain't got no end
    Oh oh can't go home alone again
    Need someone to numb the pain

"Sure Casey, just change the station…what's so hard about that?"
You're right… BUT (and you know I always have a big one)
Why can't we say no to such vulgar songs on public radio which could easily be played on the school bus ride home to my 4 and 5 year old Sunday school kiddos?

Am I coming out of left field here? I would love to hear your thoughts! Had you heard this song before? Parts of this song are seriously disgusting and don't you think that should say a lot coming from a 25 year old from "that" generation. Think about it.


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Empire State of Mind

10.14.2014

Last week we once again participated in one of my most favorite fall activities ever, apple picking! As this was April's first time apple picking, we made sure to capture all of the fun. Even though the weather was much warmer than last year's apple picking adventures, we had just as much fun!


This year we picked Empire apples, which is fitting as April is new to the Empire State. Empires are crisp, juicy and DELICIOUS! 
April and I plan to make a lot of apple dishes in the upcoming weeks.




Isn't my best friend beautiful??



Many people ask me how it is to have a roommate while married with a husband. I tell you its just like college all over again. April and Joe have known each other for the same amount of time Joe and I have known each other. We are a little happy family, and it's odd without her being here this past weekend…COME BACK!


So, so thankful for this girl! 

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Roots

10.06.2014

October 2012

October 2014

The two women in those pictures may have a lot of things in common, but are also quite different.
These two pictures were taken almost exactly two years apart. The same tree in the same neighborhood with the same goofy pose.

See anything different in the two pictures?

How about that the tree two years ago was much more fragile, almost juvenile. Yellow in color, showcasing its timid beauty, unaware of what it can eventually become.

The tree you see circa 2014?
The branches are wider, appears stronger and is boasting a confident hue of golden orange.
Can you feel the resemblance being shoved thrown your way?

That woman in the picture has also changed; matured, grown more confident in her branches.

October 2012:
Joe (fiancé at the time ) and I had just received the news that our lives were about to be turned upside down. Joe had been offered his dream job in a tiny town in upstate New York.
We knew it was an offer out soon to be family couldn't turn down.
I still reflect on that month a lot.
We were only weeks away from our wedding, making huge life changing decisions all while I seemed to keep my cool. Something I was never good at.
I still believe it was foreshadowing of our auspicious future.

When we arrived to Albany, the plan was to stay for less than 48 hours and our mission was to find the place we would be calling "home" for our next foreseeable future. Talk about pressure.
All we had was good old google search, a gps and a far too light jacket.

I remember sitting in the hotel room and together, Joe and I had made the decision on an apartment and signed a two year lease. Two years?!?! What a huge commitment for a place I had only seen once.
Talk about some faith, or the fact we were running on fumes because the wedding was all that was consuming the free space of our minds.

October 2014
As you may know from hanging around these parts, Joe and I love our new "home" which I still refer to as new, or "we just moved up here".
But what I love even more is the person I've become, the marriage Joe and I have solidified, and the roots we have planted, and the story that we are growing.

It's no surprise that we eventually plan to call Texas home again, but right now?
These two years have taught priceless lessons and we have planted roots that I want to dig deeper…for now.
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Truth

9.24.2014


//Truth. Our trees are starting to turn as seen above
//Truth. I've been bad at blogging around these parts…which just means I've been having too much fun.
//Truth. I despise shopping at Walmart. But it's cheap and close. Womp.
//Truth. I'm loving these free iPhone wallpapers!
//Truth. I have a hidden Pinterest board filled with baby stuff…I keep it hidden because I don't want someone suddenly thinking I'm pregnant.
//Truth. The beginning of October I'm getting my butt into gear and doing my first "challenge". It's the 21 day fix challenge by Beachbody. I can eat real food…SOLD
//Truth. I'm trying really hard not to decorate for Fall until October for the sheer fact that I'm sad to see Summer go. However, Fall decor and wardrobes are the best so I'm quickly failing.
//Truth. I'm really missing home, and I don't think we will be able to go home until after Christmas.

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Crane Mountain

9.22.2014

Last week my hiking adventures continued with a much more intense hike up Crane Mountain. Crane Mountain is another hike in the Adirondacks here in Upstate New York. After my last adventure with Buck Mountain, I went ahead and purchased a rocking new pair of hiking boots. I can't wait for the next hike with these gals to see the leaves turn.

Most amazing part of this hike? When we got to the summit we were literally amongst the clouds. Fog would roll in and wrap around us fast and freezing cold. At first we thought the fog was smoke by the way if moved in quickly, thankfully it wasn't!

Crane Mountain stats:
Elevation: 3254 ft
Ascent: 1154 ft
Distance: 2.7 miles (5.4 round trip) to summit including pond


Amazed by it all!



Fog







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