Monday, December 05, 2011

A Christmas Centerpiece

Am I the only one who dreams all through November about the amazing Christmas decor I'm going to whip out come Thanksgiving? I comb through Pinterest and Better Homes & Gardens and blogs for inspiration. I tell myself that my Christmas decor is going to be epic this year with wreaths, greenery, crafts, ornaments, ribbon, tinsel, candles, and glitter. Lots of glitter. 

Then come the fourth Friday in November, I drag out tote after tote of red and green. Then I look at all the boxes piled in my kitchen and get a bit overwhelmed. And I cry. No I don't really cry, but I kind of wish I could just show guests my pretty Holiday board on Pinterest when they visit. I'd say, "Oh, no, I didn't put up a Christmas tree this year, but I pinned 8 of them. All different themes. And I pinned 14 DIY wreaths. That's right, 14. How many do you have?"

Eventually I get over my despair, and I call Momma, and get to decorating. I find myself enjoying the memories each piece brings as I unwrap it and give it a home for the season. My decor may not end up being as epic as planned, and that's okay. My house looks like Christmas, which makes me happy. And the thing that makes me most happy right now (besides the sign I showed you yesterday) is my centerpiece. I like how simple and sweet it is. Who doesn't love Bell jars and empty picture frames? Well, I'm sure those people are out there, but they are not friends of mine, and I don't ever plan to be friends with those people. 


Sunday, December 04, 2011

My Christmas Craft

Sometimes I get ideas for projects, and I think through it, and then I decide that I should wait until a more opportune time to paint my table or rearrange my guest room. Then there are other times that I decide I should paint a door to use for Christmas decor instead of clean my house, go grocery shopping, or work on photos. 

This is that door.

Yes, I should have used a level. Yes, I should have planned it out a little bit before just free handing the lettering. But I still love it.

In case you can't read it, it says...

In this home,
is about
our Savior
laughing together
singing around the piano
Praising God
giving generously
showing compassion
sharing our joy
celebrating His birth
kissing under the mistletoe
blessing others
loving others
being kind to others
the manger
peace and hope
Family Time


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I'd say today of all days is an appropriate day for Thankful Thursday. :)

  • Grocery stores that remain open the morning of Thanksgiving so you can run in and buy one more package of yeast.
  • God's faithfulness to me. I don't know what His plan is, but I know He is good, and I can rest in that.
  • My family and friends. Every day I am reminded of how blessed I am to have them around me.
  • Fun Jazzercise sessions to kick off Thanksgiving morning.
  • A sense of humor. Life would be dull without it.
  • The beauty that surrounds us daily - how can you go through autumn and not notice it?
  • A job that I truly enjoy going to everyday.
  • A job that gives me three days off to celebrate Thanksgiving!
So many things I could list. My cup runneth over.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Get ready, Internet, because this might just be the most amazing cookie cake you've ever experienced. I have had 2 guys tell me that if they weren't married, they would marry me based on this cake. I've had people tell me I should sell them and become rich. It's powerful, I tell you. So let's get started.

Start by preheating your oven to 375. 

Then go gather the ingredients because otherwise you'll have to run to HyVee in your workout clothes and everyone will stare at you because you are in capris and a tank top when it's 31 degrees outside. Not that I would know anything about that.

I know they say to mix all the dry ingredients first, but I don't do that. I put my 2 cups of butter flavored Crisco in my mixer and let it get beat to a pulp with 2 cups of brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar while I mix the dry ingredients. 

(I was trying to be all Pioneer Woman on this tutorial and show you step by step, but it ended up as a mess. I don't know how she does it. So there are a lot of photos missing from this point on.)

So while the butter and sugar are blending, I sift 4 1/2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 2 teaspoons of salt into another bowl. (Confession: Sometimes I don't feel like using another bowl, so I just add it in at the end and skip this step.) Here's a photo of Kody because he sits there and begs the entire time.

Okay, so we go back to the butter and sugar mixture at this point. Keep scraping down the wet ingredients and let them get mixed in really well. You'll need to add 3 Tablespoons of vanilla (yes, 3 Tablespoons, that's key), 1 teaspoon of water and 4 beaten eggs.

Now you're ready to add in the flour mixture. Here's my trick to keep flour from getting everywhere. I take a tea towel, and wrap it around my mixer, leaving a little space in the back where I can spoon in the mixture. It works as a guard and I don't have to put any new attachments on.

Then it's time to add in 18 oz. of chocolate least. Throw more in if you feel like it. Add some M&Ms or nuts or Reese's Pieces. Whatever your heart desires. Mix them in well, and savor the dough goodness. (I am not responsible for you consuming raw egg by tasting the dough.)

Then get 2 round pans and spray them generously with Pam spray. (Or the off brand equivalent because you're too poor to buy brand name.)

Spoon your mixture into the cake pans, but DO NOT fill the pans all the way. In fact my photo has just a little too much dough. DO NOT spread it all the way to the edges...unless you like really crispy edges, then I guess you could.

Pop them in the oven for 15-18 minutes. Don't over bake them. They should still be a little jiggly when you take them out. One of my friend's moms told me that you know cookies are done when they are no longer shiny, and it works like a charm. Pull them out, let them cool, then find your favorite chocolate icing. Here's mine...

Put a dab of icing on a pretty plate to hold the cake.

Then turn one cookie cake face down on the plate...

Cover it in icing.

And place the other cookie cake on top. The result is the best cookie cake ever.

Really you could use any chocolate chip cookie recipe, but here's mine because I think it's the best. To each her own, though.

41/2 c. flour
2 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
2 c. butter flavored Crisco
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
3 T. vanilla
1 t. water
4 eggs
18 oz. chocolate chips

Bake for 9 min @ 375

For cookie cake bake 15-18 min @ 375
And you'll need chocolate icing.


Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Photo Season

I love autumn. It's seriously one of my favorite things, and one of the best things about it is the light. The way the sunshine filters through the trees and takes on the golden hue of the leaves is amazing. It makes for pretty pictures. Plus it's just before Christmas card season, so it works out well. I've been busy taking family photos, so I thought I would share some with you.


Sunday, November 13, 2011


I don't want to write this post. I have been avoiding it for some time now. I would rather write about my tips on wearing jeans with boots (because apparently Holly and Beth need me to write about that) or show you all more photos of my house, but I'm feeling prompted to write this. For the entire Internet to see. Which scares me.

Recently I stumbled upon a blog called Can You Stay for Dinner? To say that it's inspirational is an under statement. Andie writes about food and her journey of losing 135 pounds, and I saw so much of myself as I stalked browsed through her archives. It made me realize that keeping my story to myself is selfish. There could be a girl out there who is going through the same things as me. Who needs to hear someone say the things she has been thinking out loud. Even though this is uncomfortable for me, I'm going to do it. I'm going to write about my weight loss. I've done this before, but it's time for me to come back to it.

In the past 7 months I have lost 45 pounds. That's 7 newborn babies. 5 gallons of milk. 2 cinder blocks. 1 bag of dog food. Have you ever tried to lift a big bag of dog food into a shopping cart? It isn't easy. I often make myself look life a fool trying to do so, but that is a different post for a different day. Most people say, "45 pounds, that's awesome!" or "Wow, that takes a lot of dedication." or "You look amazing!" I hear all of these things, but I don't feel them. I still feel like the Jenny that carried 8 more inches around her waist. I still look in the mirror and see the Jenny that pushed sizes she swore she would never wear. It wasn't until I stumbled across a few of these photos on Facebook tonight that I realized I have changed.

The top 3 are my starting point. The bottom 3 are my current point.
I am learning a lot right now about loving myself as is. I'm learning that weight is not everything. I'm learning about loving food, and not longing for it. I'm learning about acceptance, motivation, health, nutrition, body image, exercise, and inspiration. But most of all, I'm learning to view myself the way God sees me. I can't wait to tell you all about it, and let you join me in this journey. Are you ready?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A favorite quote

I read this quote a few years ago, and since then it has been a favorite of mine. It is written on the chalk board in my office. It's a good reminder that life is meant to be lived.

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.” 
 Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

And a pretty version....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

I thought I'd share my journal entry from tonight because it makes me happy, and it might make you happy too.

1. Falling asleep to rain and thunder
2. Finding money in last year's coat pocket
3. Feeling pretty
4. Holding hands with a boy
5. Towels straight from the dryer
6. New haircuts - that actually look how you imagined
7. Opening a new book
8. Playing your new fav song on repeat --> with the windows down
9. Wishing on a star
10. Waking up at 2:30 am and realizing you get to keep sleeping
11. Pretty packages
12. Coffee shops + friends + time to kill
13. Holding a warm mug on a chilly day
14. Pretty handwriting
15. Vacuumed floors - especially if I didn't have to do it
16. Flowers
17. Random texts from friends
18. Walking my dog
19. Painted fingernails
20. Glitter
21. The smell of cookies baking
22. Thunderstorms
23. Clean sheets and freshly shaven legs
24. Gorgeous autumn trees
25. Gorgeous autumn light
26. Mail from a friend
27. Inside Jokes
28. Encouragement at just the right moment
29. Winks ;)
30. Laughing to the point of tears
31. New socks
32. Good hair days back to back
33. The first swim of the summer
34. Picking out produce at the grocery store - or better yet, at the farmer's market
35. Handmade quilts
36. Running into an old friend while running errands
37. Decorating for a season or holiday
38. Sudden weather changes
39. Surprising a friend
40. Long road trips
41. That feeling just after brushing your teeth
42. Trying a new recipe- and loving it
43. Blog comments
44. A pen that writes really well
45. Nostalgia
46. Snap shots framed and on my desk
48. Taking off my bra at the end of the day
49. When the clock reads my birthday (10:17)
50. Even numbers.

P.S. Please excuse the fact that this is a cell phone photo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Fridge Update

Sharpies and I are a dangerous combination. There's just something alluring to me about the permanence of the ink. Plus they can write on almost any surface. The inventor of Sharpies might be my hero. Do you think his name is Mr. Sharpie? Or maybe it was a woman. Or a teenager who was really into graffiti, but allergic to spray pain. Regardless they should get a prize. A plaque maybe. But instead of being engraved it should be written in Sharpie. Or you could just give them my fridge door because it has been Sharpie-ed. See for yourself...

I may go back and add more details to the frame later. I wanted to do something more baroque, but this is what happened when I started free handing it. (Note: I did use a ruler to keep the lines straight, but I din't really measure.) I'll keep you all updated if I make any changes.


P.S. Remember the last time I took a Sharpie to my kitchen?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

28 Before 28

Yesterday I reviewed the goals I wrote for my 27th year. No, it did not go well. In fact I was a little embarrassed by them, but I still posted them because I feel like it made me a better person. That's not true. The real reason I posted them was because I had nothing else to write about. Since I am doing my best to come up with blog material so that my cousins will stop bugging me on Facebook to keep updating my blog, I thought it would be best to do another list for this year.

I told Momma that my goal this year was to go from being a "hot mess" to "hotness." It's only one letter difference, so it can't be that hard. Hopefully these 28 things will help me get there.

  1. Sew a dress or skirt
  2. Watch the movie "What About Bob" - seriously, I'm going to watch it this year
  3. Get married - I'm claiming it. :)
  4. Finish decorating my back patio
  5. Get in the habit of sending cards to friends
  6. Start using reusable bags 100% of the time at the grocery store
  7. Hit my weight loss goal
  8. Go on vacation some place new
  9. See a shooting star
  10. Build a snowman - yes I put it on again this year. :)
  11. Get a new camera
  12. Go a month without sugar - yep, this one's back again this year, too.
  13. Get into a regular work out routine
  14. Read Pride and Prejudice again
  15. Learn how to drive a stick shift - need to find someone who owns a stick shift
  16. Bake bread from scratch
  17. Figure out how to solve a Rubix Cube
  18. Photograph my whole family
  19. Bake something new
  20. Deep clean my house
  21. Makeover my blog
  22. Make a photo book of my college years - I will get this done some day!
  23. Ride a roller coaster
  24. No fast food for a month
  25. Do a puzzle
  26. Do not complain about anything for a week
  27. Make 4 new friends
  28. Have a girls weekend
Wish me luck, Internet. Heaven knows I'll need it.

Friday, October 21, 2011


This blog post is for Kristen. If you beg enough on my Facebook wall, I'll update my blog. To be quite honest, Internet, I just haven't felt very inspired lately. I have had a lot going on, but I do want to be better. So for now, forgive my intermittent posting, and maybe someday I will be a regular blogger again. :)

This week I turned 27 years old. Typing it brings a whole new reality to it. Some of you may remember that I was keeping a 27 things to do before turning 27 list. Here are those things with my accomplishments....and of course the failures. To be honest more failures than I'd hoped for.

  • Watch the movie, "What About Bob?" - FAIL - You'd think this would be an easy one. Some day. :)

  • Visit Chicago - FAIL -  I had the chance, but chose my gap's birthday party instead.

  • Knit a scarf - FAIL - I did however, crochet a hat.

  • Start my doctorate - FAIL - I'm too undecided about what to study or if I even want a doctorate.

  • Get photography business onto The Knot - FAIL - In fact, I'm kind of pulling back on photographing weddings. I prefer to shoot with Cherish as a second shooter instead of being the main.

  • Enter a 5K - FAIL. Although I did start to run....a little.

  • Memorize a book of the Bible - FAIL - But I've been memorizing a verse a week with my small group girls

  • Sew something pretty - ACCOMPLISHED - I've sewed a few little things, but I'd like to sew a dress or something cool like that.

  • Finish decorating my mud room - ACCOMPLISHED - And thanks to my amazing Momma it is now organized to a T

  • Clean out my linen closet - ACCOMPLISHED - Now if only I could say the same about my office....

  • Take 1 picture every day - FAIL - I want to try to pick this one up again

  • Go camping - FAIL - We were all geared up and ready to go in April, but we ended up at my uncle's house both nights.

  • Blog every day for a month - FAIL - Sorry, Internet, I know how important this one was to you, too.

  • Make a photo book of my college years - FAIL - I'd totally forgotten about this one!

  • Read 50 books - ACCOMPLISHED - I can't list them, but I have read at least 50 books this year. One of the joys of being a librarian.

  • Try Yoga for a month - FAIL - I did however try a class.

  • Donate 10 inches to Locks of Love - FAIL - I'm hoping to get a few more inches before I donate.

  • Try a new restaurant - ACCOMPLISHED

  • Make my bed every day for a month - FAIL - I just don't have the desire to make my bed daily.

  • Fast Facebook for a week - ACCOMPLISHED - Although not on purpose. It was a matter of busy-ness combined with fasting.

  • Memorize one verse of the Bible each month - ACCOMPLISHED

  • Build a snowman - ACCOMPLISHED

  • Give up sweets for a month - ACCOMPLISHED - And I'm doing it again soon.

  • Teach Kody a new trick - FAIL - He is terribly trained. Some day I'll get my act together. :)

  • Clean and decorate my back porch - SOMEWHAT ACCOMPLISHED - I hope to continue sprucing it up

  • Play in a poker tournament - FAIL - I don't even think I played poker this year

  • Taste a new fruit - ACCOMPLISHED - Kumquat. It was decent.

  • Okay, so I got 11/27. Not my best work. But here I did a lot of unlisted things in the past year, like take a road trip to Colorado, start leading a small group for freshmen girls, grow a garden with pumpkins....I'm sure there are other things, I'm just not thinking of them right now. Regardless, it was a good year, and I know that God has big plans for my 27th year. Tune in tomorrow for 28 things to do before turning 28. Heaven knows I need goals to keep me going. 

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Jordan and Amy

    I met Jordan at last year's camp for my church. I was there as the games and rec girl for the kids, and he was there playing drums for worship. During our time there he talked a lot about a girl named Amy. They weren't dating quite yet, but he was ready to ask her out. Who knew that just over a year later I'd be second shooting their wedding with Cherish? Crazy how things like that happen.

    Their wedding was lovely. The day ended up being perfect after a bit of rain. I'll let the pictures tell you the story. :)

    The bridesmaids were just too adorable!

    This was the room where the groomsmen were hanging out. They only had the chandelier turned on, and the rest of the room was pitch black. I'm not going to lie, it was kind of creepy. :)

    Peeking at the guests arriving.

    Their first dance song was All About Us by He is We. It's now one of my favorite songs. So cute!