Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Birthday Card Placemats

I have a friend at work named Jen. (Great name, right?) She is extremely creative. I take her sons birthday photos every year, and we're always doing fun things like smash cakes & balloons. The other day she shared this idea with me, and I just had to share it with you all.

Every year, Jen takes her son's birthday cards and turns them into a placemat. Then on special occasions, they get the placemats out, and the boys can see all of the sweet messages that have been written to them over the years. I told her to send me a photo, so I could blog about it because I think it is pure genius.

Here's what you do....

1. Gather up all of the cards that you are going to use. (They don't have to be birthday cards. You could do Christmas cards, wedding cards, or just random paper goods that you have around the house.)

2. Fold them so you can see both sides, or you can cut them to keep the portions that you want. 

3. Arrange them so that they are the size of a placemat. (20" x 14" seems to be the standard size, but you can make it however you want!) 

4. Glue them together. You can use whatever glue you want.

4. Take them to your local office supply store or Kinkos to be laminated.

Here are Jen's placemats...

The front of the cards on one side of the mat

The messages on the other

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weight Loss Episode 10

It's Monday which means another weight loss episode. For the record, I did weigh in tonight, and for the record, I did lose 6.4 pounds. (That's over 2 weeks because I didn't go last week.) But I have no desire to blog about that tonight, but I do have a couple of things to say about weight loss, so here we go...

February of this year, a friend at work told me about the devotional, Jesus Calling. I have learned so much from it. One of the most eye opening concepts in it is the idea of gratitude. I used to view thankfulness as being grateful for the blessings, but my view is changing. I'm slowly learning that gratitude isn't only about the blessings. It's about being thankful for the lesson.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
It reminds me of the stories of Job, Habakkuk, David, Paul, and countless other Biblical figures who 'praised God through the storm.' They are each excellent examples of people who gave thanks in extremely trying circumstances.

So what does all of this have to do with weight loss? Excellent question, Internet. One of my biggest daily challenges is my weight. It's a burden that I've had for as long as I can remember. I've always been the chubby girl. I've never been able to wear whatever I wanted. I've always viewed it as a curse, but this week something changed. 

I am now choosing to be thankful for it. 

I'm choosing to thank God that He is allowing me to really learn about healthy eating. I'm thankful that I won't fear being fat, like so many women do, because I know what that feels like, and I know it's not the worst thing in the world. I'm thankful that I can relate to girls who don't feel like they fit in. I'm thankful that I developed a personality instead of a pretty figure. I'm thankful that I have an area of my life where I can depend on God. It keeps me humble which is always a good thing.

The hardships I go through tend to be minimal, and for that I am extremely grateful. But the truth is, we all have our burdens. Maybe it's singleness or fertility or finances or career or a relationship or weight or health. Whatever you carry around with you, I want to encourage you to look for reasons to be thankful for it. Even if the only thing you're thankful for is the chance to put more trust in the good Lord; it opens your heart to hope and takes the sting out of the adversity. We can rejoice because we are sitting in God's hands. He knows, and that is something to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Ultimate Thankful Thursday

I love when Thanksgiving & Thankful Thursday collide. I absolutely love Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite days of the year. It is full of family, food, & fun. What's not to love? Plus it kicks off the holiday season! So here are a few things I'm thankful for today....

  • Photographs - I take a lot of photos at family functions...but not as many as Momma would have me take. At the end of the year, I make a slideshow for my family of the photos I've taken, and I absolutely love being able to go back and relive the memories. I am thankful for photographs because of the way it captures life. I think I often take for granted that I can snap a photo on my phone and share it with the world within minutes. It's amazing.
  • Extended Family - I am so lucky to have a wonderful family. Everyone should be so blessed to have aunts, uncles, and cousins like mine. When we're all at Gma's it can get extremely loud and quite competitive when Sour Punch Straws are on the line in BINGO, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
  • God's Grace - Words don't do it justice. The Lord gives freedom when I find myself in bondage. He pours love over my sins. And all at the cost of His only son. Amazing.
There are so many other things I could list: each of my friends, my home, socks, my job, America, a dependable car, running water, heat, etc, etc, etc. I am blessed beyond measure. My cup runneth over.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grilled Apple-Cheese Sandwich

Growing up my family used come home from church on Sunday nights and eat dinner while watching Nature on PBS. More often than not, Momma would make grilled cheese. Then one day, I decided that I didn't like grilled cheese. It's not that I didn't like it. It just didn't thrill me. I could take it, but I'd rather leave it. You know what I mean?

That lasted until last night. Last night I decided to try putting apples on my grilled cheese sandwich, and it was amazing. It's my new invention. I call it a Grilled Chapple Sandwich. Here's how you can make your own.

First slice a Granny Smith apple really thin. You might be able to try a different type of apple, but this is what I had. (Yes, my knife is pink.)

Butter your bread. Then layer your sandwich with cheese, apple slices, and another bit of cheese. Use whatever bread you want. Use whatever cheese you want. I used 12 grain bread, and sharp cheddar cheese.

Give your sandwich a hat. (That's what my nephew calls the top slice of sandwich bread.)

Grill it, just like you would normal grilled cheese. Medium heat, butter, flipping only once.

Eat & Enjoy!

Try it. You'll never go back. Plus it's a great way to get in a serving of fruit.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Long & Short of It

Here's the deal, Internet, I've changed. 

As of Saturday morning, I no longer have hair past my waist. 
In the chair, with my curls all brushed out
I scheduled an appointment to chop it all off awhile ago, so I have had plenty of time to think through it. I spent hours and hours and hours on Pinterest looking at short hair. For the past month, I've watched girls' hair closely to see what styles look good on what faces. I clipped my hair up every which way to see what would look right and what didn't. I spent the last few weeks playing, straightening, and experimenting with long haired styles before I lost my luscious locks. I had to make the most of my time with it. 
Long, straight hair one last time.
And then Saturday came. Nothing could prepare me for it. Not the time leading up to it. Not the adorable short hair styles that I've been hiding away on Pinterest since August. Not even my friends telling me that my hair had gotten "creepy long." (I'm still not sure if they are forgiven for that one.) I knew I was going to miss my long hair. It had become a security blanket of sorts.
Braided and ready to donate - just shy of 20 inches!
The one thing that pushed me to chop it off was Locks of Love. The idea that there are children in the world dealing with diseases that causes them lose their hair breaks my heart. Little girls should be getting their hair braided and tied up in ribbons. They shouldn't have to worry about being made fun of for being bald. That's why I give them my hair. This marks a grand total of 46 inches donated.
All done!
It's amazing how much I allow my hair to become part of my identity. I base my confidence on whether or not I'm having a good hair day. I think I'm beautiful when my hair looks a certain way. But in the end, I have to remember that it's just hair. I had nothing to do with picking out the color, texture, or amount. God chose it for me. One of these days it's going to be grey and wiry. I'll be telling my grandchildren about how pretty my hair used to be, and how I used to have it hanging down past my waist. They'll think I'm crazy...and they'll be right.
Short & Sassy
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry. Rather, it should be that of the inner self, the unfading beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." -1 Peter 3:3-4


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Missing Missy

When I taught middle school English, we read the book Where the Red Fern Grows. For those of you who don't know the book, it's about a boy who buys and trains 2 hunting dogs. I'll never forgot my first year of teaching when I was reading the ending of the book to my classes. The 2 dogs, whom we had grown to love, died protecting Billy from a mountain lion. As I was reading aloud to my class, I couldn't help but tear up. Pretty soon, my entire second hour had watery eyes as we finished the novel. Inevitably, if there is a dog on the cover of a children't book, it's bound to be a sad ending. Just put the book back and walk away. Your only other choice is to read it with a box of tissues handy.

This blog post is one of those books. My family's dog, Missy, passed away, and I can't help but write about her. My brothers and I begged for a dog while we were growing up. When I was really little, we had a cocker spaniel named Heidi, but I wouldn't say that I grew up with a dog. Finally, Josh's senior year of high school, he was given a pure white Siberian Husky as a Christmas gift from his girlfriend. We named her Mistletoe since it was Christmas time, and called her Missy.

She was a persnickety dog. She would spill her dog food onto the floor, so she could pick out certain pieces and leave the others. We had to put up an electric fence to keep her in the yard. She would simply put her head down, run through it, and bear the shock with a slight yelp. When Josh and Dad took her to obedience classes, the instructor had to put her in the back room because she kept barking during instructions. Daddy used to tell her that she put her eye-liner on too thick because of her dark rimmed eyes. Missy only allowed us to pet her if she was in a good mood, and getting her to come inside on gorgeous summer evenings was nearly impossible. She was definitely high maintenance, but she was loved and will be missed greatly.

After the last shovel of dirt was patted in place, I sat down and let my mind drift back through the years. I thought of the old K. C. Baking Powder can, and the first time I saw my pups in the box at the depot. I thought of the fifty dollars, the nickels and dimes, and the fishermen and blackberry patches.
I looked at his grave and, with tears in my eyes, I voiced these words: "You were worth it, old friend, and a thousand times over.”  - Where the Red Fern Grows 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Weight Loss Episode 9

Back in the day, I used to blog about my weight loss on Mondays. You can read the previous episodes HERE. I stopped doing it because I didn't like being vulnerable, but I'm slowly learning that honesty is healing. It opens doors and allows others to say, "Me too." Let me tell you, Internet, I am not the model citizen when it comes to this stuff. I'd much rather run away and hide with my friends, Ben & Jerry than talk to you about my health. I'm going to do it though because it keeps me accountable, and it might be helpful to someone someday. Seeing as it has been a year (almost exactly) since I've blogged about my weight, I'd say it's time for an update.

In March of 2011 I hit an all time weight high. (One of these days, I might share that number with you, but not yet.) Then I started learning about food and how wonderful it can taste. I learned about eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was satisfied. Not full, satisfied. I ate s.l.o.w.l.y. really, really slowly. I hardly ever finished my meal because I was satisfied. I tasted every morsel that went into my mouth. I also went on a sugar fast for a month. In 10 weeks, I lost 30 pounds, and I've kept every bit of it off.

Then summer came, and the weight loss slowed down because I was no longer in my school year routine. When school came back around last year, I didn't fit weight loss in as often as I had planned, but over the course of the year I lost 20-25 pounds. I put some on, and took some off, so it's hard to tell you the exact record.

As of the beginning of this school year, I am down a total of 52 pounds from that all time high. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely proud of that weight loss. It puts me back at a weight that I'm comfortable with. Not happy. Comfortable. I can shop and not hate everything I try on. I can walk into a room and feel confident. At the same time, I'm so frustrated with myself because I'd be at my goal size by now if I had just stuck with it a year and a half ago.

Needless to say, I'm getting back to the weight loss thing. I kind of like the fact that I'm losing weight in stages because I'm learning maintenance as I go. I know it isn't going to be easy, but thankfully, I've got you, Internet, to keep me motivated and on track. I also must say that Momma has lost over 50 pounds, so now she thinks she's special because she can steal my clothes. I can't let her beat me, so really this is just a competition to stay ahead of her.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Thankful Thursday!

  • Mascara - Here's the deal, Internet. I really love make-up. It's amazing to me how it can transform a girl's look. Sometimes though, I really don't like make-up, and I don't want to take the time for the transformation. The one thing I always have time for though, is mascara. It's amazing. This week I'm thankful that I can spend 20 seconds brushing on mascara and look better.
  • Ecclesiastes 11:5 - Which says, Just as you can not understand the path of the wind, or the mystery of a baby growing in a woman's womb, so you can not understand the activity of God who does all things. I was reminded of this verse after Hurricane Sandy this week. I don't know how or why storms happen, but I can take comfort in the fact that God is the maker of all things.
  • Blood Donation - As of this week, I have officially donated three gallons of blood since college. I think it is crucial that we give in any way possible, and I'm so grateful that I am healthy enough to give in this way. I know it can make some people a little squeamish, but it's saving lives, which I think is important.
  • Pony-tail Holders - Sometimes my hair gets a little unruly, so I'm incredibly grateful for my scrunchies. Some mornings, they are literally my hero.