life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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Apples, Friends, Crafts, Kittens, and Tissues

This past week was kind of flipped upside-down for us, as the big window installation Dayne and I were planning for (and moved all of our furniture for) didn’t happen, and the coughing-sneezing-runny nose-irritable-tired cold we weren’t planning for did happen. Typically I do my reading and blogging in the stillness of the morning, but Dayne is very different in that he doesn’t feed off of peaceful quiet, but instead he thrives on the 12-hour-a-day hum of the television. Ahhh, marriage. 🙂

Sooo here is my post that has been about five days coming!

I’ve been making LOTS of apple stuff with our 18 lbs of apples from the orchard. In the past couple of weeks, I have made:

1) apple cinnamon muffins – from a recipe on the back of a whole wheat pancake box as shown in this blog post. They didn’t turn out so great since I didn’t have brown sugar and I tried to mix granulated sugar and molasses on my own with a spoon. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. Verdict: Dayne liked them, and they were edible… Storage: countertop for a day or two and then fridge. They were all eaten within a few days since the recipe only yields a dozen. Plus I dropped one on the floor.

2) slow-cooker applesauce using this recipe. Verdict: delicious. Storage: half eaten, half went in the freezer. Perfect.

After making that (and cutting my finger, which bled for 3 days), my mom bought me these fantastic apple accessories from the QVC store:

peeler – so quick & easy!

corer/ejector and corer/slicer – these have saved my precious fingers from future careless slices!

3) toasted oat & apple crumble from my EatingWell on a Budget cookbook. Verdict: yummy, but different (not very sweet, although the oat mixture on top was sweeter and more filling). Storage: fridge for a few days, almost completely eaten by Dayne, me, and my dad. The oats directly on top of the apples get kind of soggy the longer they’re stored.

4) chicken sauteéd with apples from a Real Simple recipe. I’ve made this before, but haven’t made it regularly since. Verdict: Even better than the last time! SCRUMPTIOUS. Storage: Uhhh, what storage? We polished off the whole pan in one sitting.

Worth it.

5) apple cake from my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook. I can’t find a link for my specific edition of the cookbook. Anyways, it’s really a carrot cake recipe adapted for apples, and I didn’t use nuts. It turned out pretty yummy! Plus, my ever-so-generous mom gave me her stand mixer, and I got to use it for this recipe! I’m loving it! Verdict: delicious, but rich (the cream cheese icing is super sweet/heavy). Storage: mostly in the fridge – I’ve also shared with my dad. And four pieces went into the freezer. We still have quite a bit to eat…

Making a mess mixing the icing.

Apple cake fresh out of the oven.

We still have 13 apples left in our fridge… Maybe I can manage another toasted oat & apple crumble or more applesauce, since they both use large quantities of apples.

Anyways, last weekend, while we were still healthy, Dayne and I went on a little last-minute getaway!

Saturday night, we visited Sonja & David & Ingrid in Wilmington for dinner. Sonja’s technically my great-aunt from my great-grandfather’s 3rd marriage… my family tree is a little complicated.

Most of my family from our wedding – Sonja and Ingrid are in the front in the blue dresses; David is in between them 🙂 (Photo credit to Morby Photography)

It was really fun to hang out with them since we don’t normally see each other very often! We had a great time and ended up staying for almost five hours before we drove down to Dover to the Residence Inn. I have been a Marriott rewards member for years, and I finally was able to use my points for a free stay! It was deliciously luxurious and quiet. Here are photos of our suite:

Full kitchen!

Living room.

Bedroom. The bed was so big & comfy!

Dayne being silly. I loved the sink area outside the bathroom!

We wished we could have stayed there longer, but we were kind of in & out quickly because we wanted to make it to Burt & Katie’s church (Solid Ground Community Church) Sunday morning! Even though Sunday morning was a rough morning for me not feeling well, I was determined to visit for the service, and we did. Burt gave a great sermon on the topic of fear, and afterwards we went out with them and their adorable 1-year-old son, Ben, and more of Burt’s family to Panera for lunch. Then we got to hang with Burt & Katie & Ben for the rest of the day, which was wonderful. They are such special people to Dayne and me.

Here’s Burt officiating our wedding. (Photo credit to Morby Photography)

And as for the rest of our week, I’ve been crafting:

in the process of making a wreath for over our fireplace…

Made a sign for our powder room to match the lavender accents already in there.

Finished product – held it up with Command strips.

The kitties have been hunting stink bugs:

And snuggling in a tray, making it a makeshift bed:

And this last picture with a kitty pretty much sums up our week:

Hoping next week will be a healthier, busier, warmer one with NEW windows!


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Apple Picking with the Landises

This past weekend, Dayne and I continued our fall tradition of apple picking for the 3rd year in a row (all the autumns we’ve been together). Every. single. year. we still think it is a good idea, and every single year we end up totally apple-d out. But at least we have fun going to the orchards and picking!

Our first time going out to the orchard together in Fall 2010.

“Apple picking” Fall 2011. (click picture for blog post about this experience)

We had a little extra incentive to go this time because it was for a double-date with our friends Dustin & Janelle. We went to Cherry Hill Orchards out in Lancaster for the first time. (Normally we go to Highland Orchards, but that is irrelevant for the sake of this post.)

Dustin & Janelle brought a bin:

Dayne & myself used a supplied box that a kind, older gentleman employee put in our car:

Said employee man also mentioned that this box could hold up to 40 pounds of apples. I think apples were supposed to be around $1 per 3/4 of a pound from what I gleaned from the confusing sign at the entrance which also said each car would be charged a minimum of $10 upon exiting. I then made it my mission to get exactly $10 worth of apples into that box, but from the combination of my limited knowledge of their price configuration, Dayne’s nonchalant attitude, and my extremely limited math skills, we ended up leaving with a total of 18 pounds (somewhere around $22) of useless fruit.

Have I mentioned I don’t really like apples?

No worries, though, because – like I said – we had a good time! Here are some photo memories of our afternoon apple picking with the Landises:

At times, Dayne will eat anything. Other times, he refuses sweet potatoes or mayonnaise.

…And still other times, he eats mystery orange berry-fruit that I have already told him absolutely not to eat. (What are these things?)

The girls.

The guys.

Hanging out, having fun 🙂 (photo courtesy of Janelle)

The orchard – a mix of clouds & sun. (photo courtesy of Janelle)

Us with our apples. (photo courtesy of Janelle)

The Kilheffers & the Landises – mission accomplished. (photo courtesy of Janelle)

We so love getting to spend time with Dustin & Janelle, and after we finished apple picking we went back to their house for games, dinner, and a fire on the patio. It’s always nice to talk about real life stuff with them; from Day 1 of our relationship I felt like we could really relate with them, and now we have lots of fun discussing the ins & outs of marriage.

Today I have a TON of apples in my fridge (not literally) that I need to make use of. I’ve already thought of applesauce (and freezing some of it), apple crisp, apple pie, apple crumble, sauteéd chicken & apples, apple chips, apple squares, and apple muffins. Then I thought maybe I’d have an apple PARTY to have people over to eat all the apple stuff. First I’ll have to peel and core and cut all of them, though… which I haven’t seemed to be able to start yet…

Click here for my post on what I did with last year’s apples.


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Weekend Update: First Full Weekend of 2012 Edition

Sometimes I have to blog about things so that I’ll remember them in the future, and this weekend was so chock full of good stuff that a blog entry is definitely in order.

2012 is shaping up to be a fantastic year, mostly because of our commitment to reading through the Bible this year using the Daily Walk Bible. Did I mention that Dayne decided to do it with me? 😀 When I bought my Bible, I ordered two more – one for Dana and one for whoever else decided to do it. None of my girlfriends volunteered, and Dayne asked if I wanted him to join me. It has been one of the better experiences in our marriage so far. We often talk about the things we’re reading – things that stood out to us that are just plain cool, questions that were raised during our readings, and we sometimes process the devotionals/applications together. It’s so nice to have a casual, regular way to talk about God and our individual walks in faith. Not only that, it is just so incredibly refreshing and exciting to be in the Word and growing closer to the heart of God everyday. I’m finding that Genesis, so far, reads like a novel, where I can’t wait to see what happens next to Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham & Sarah, and Isaac & Rebekah. For the first time for me, these stories have fit together like a puzzle where I can see God walking alongside each person and continuously acting in their lives. It reinforces for me the truth that God never changes; He has been the same all along (“…the Father of the heavenly lights… does not change like shifting shadows.” [James 1:17]). He walked so intimately with His people, and it is a challenge for me to accept that He still wants to walk that intimately with us today, that we need to orient ourselves toward Him, “fix our eyes” on Him (2 Cor. 4:18, Heb. 12:2) and try to “keep in step” with Him in obedience (Gal. 5:25).

José, one of Dayne’s friends from work, let us borrow the New Super Mario Bros. for Wii, so Dayne & I have been playing that at random times together. Dayne (or should I say “Mario”) gets upset with me (or should I say “Luigi”) because I lose a lot of lives, but it’s really nice to have a co-op game we can play together (and surely “Luigi” will get better). We played that sporadically throughout the weekend, and it was fun!

On Saturday, Dayne got up super early to go to our new church’s Men’s Bible Study. They meet at Cracker Barrel so there’s some breakfast incentive. 🙂 I was so proud of him for getting up and going! I thought I would sleep through it (since it’s at 7:30), but I got up when Dayne was getting ready and had some delicious quiet time eating breakfast, reading my Bible, cleaning up around the house, and starting The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. It sounds like Dayne’s gonna keep going on Saturdays, and I think that’s wonderful for both of us.

Saturday was such a gorgeous day, and it was our first completely free day in a while, so we took it upon ourselves to go to the Brandywine Zoo.

At the Zoo.

I had gone to the Brandywine Zoo a few times with my family when I was growing up, and I somehow remember it being a lot bigger??? It is a tiny zoo. But it was fun; they have some weird and random animals! Our favorite was the capybara, since we were discussing on the way to the zoo how much we like prairie dogs, and the capybara looks (and sounds) like a giant guinea pig. I also got some nice photos of Dayne petting the pygmy goats…

The zoo's capybara, before he got upset and squeaked and went inside his house.

Dayne petting the pgymy goats... they were all OVER him!

After the zoo, which was free that day (awesome!), we spontaneously decided to go to ChaddsFord Winery. Dayne has become a wine fan since marrying me, which was exactly what was supposed to happen. 😉 We took a self-guided tour, and instead of doing a tasting on empty stomachs, we picked out a few kinds of wine to take home and try. I’m especially excited about the Spiced Apple Wine, which you can heat on the stove with cinnamon sticks and spices to make hot mulled apple wine. Cozy and yum!

On our way home, we stopped at Arby’s for Jamocha shakes (delicious!). We ended up going out to dinner that night at Chili’s (with a gift card!), which was nice since we haven’t gone out on a dinner date in a while, either.

On Sunday, we got up and went to our church. I am so in love with this church and so thankful that God has so obviously led us there. Connection (small) groups are starting back up for the new year, so we signed up to get more information on a Financial Peace University class and a Marriage study. The young couples’ group is also starting back up this week (!), so we’re going to that tomorrow night and I.cannot.wait.

The sermon series is currently on Ezekiel and being fearless… since fear and anxiety are things I struggle with, I’m thankful to be focusing on them early in the New Year. It’s exciting to feel what God is doing in my heart, see what God is doing with my husband & me, and to also be a part of what God’s doing in our church.

After church, we mustered up our courage to try another meal in the Crockpot (after our first failure which I was too embarrassed and disappointed to write about). I was intrigued by this blog earlier this year, and then I got the author’s actual cookbook for Christmas this year from my brother: MORE Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. We threw in the ingredients for a Ground Beef Layered Casserole and crossed our fingers!

After that, we quickly headed out the door to go over to see the family I used to nanny for. It was wonderful to see them all again! Seriously so much fun. The older girl just turned 4 and it is amazing to watch how fast both of the girls grow up. We had a great time meeting their two new cats, seeing the girls’ gifts from Santa, reading stories, catching up with the parents, and swinging the girls by their ankles (that was more Mr. Dayne, not me). The girls fell in love with Dayne (“Mr. Dayne is so funny”) and I was old news by the end of the afternoon 🙂

Finally, last night Dayne and I ate our casserole and watched a documentary on Netflix. I’m quite happy to start a new week with such a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend behind me!

What are your favorite things to do on free weekends?