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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Our President’s Day Getaway with a Surprise

Over President’s Day weekend (February 18th-20th), Dayne & I ventured on a little getaway to Absecon, NJ (pronounced ab-SEE-con, not AB-se-CON, like I originally thought). We arrived typically late (thanks to me) on Saturday night to Clarion Inn & Suites and unpacked our bags in our jacuzzi suite. The suite was spacious, the bed was comfortable, the jacuzzi was suh-weet!, and the bathroom was okay. Unfortunately, I took zero pictures of the suite.

On Sunday, we headed out to the Atlantic City Aquarium, home of the stingrays you can pet and absolutely nothing bigger than a seaturtle. It was fabulous. We love going to places like that.

Us at the Atlantic City Aquarium, 2/19/20.

We have a tradition (Dayne hates when I use that word, since he claims nothing we do has actually been repeated enough to become a tradition) of buying magnets from everywhere we go on vacation together, so we picked up this little guy:

He is proudly hanging on our fridge with our Aruba and Bushkill Falls magnets (3 whole traditions!).

After the Atlantic City Aquarium, we had lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s and then did some outlet shopping. Dayne got a few new work shirts from Eddie Bauer, and I finally got new black heels for work (my old ones were completely falling apart) and a couple pieces of work clothes. Shopping at the outlets was exhausting because: 1) neither one of us likes shopping, and 2) it was SO cold & windy & FRIGID that day. But it was fun to be together and to get something accomplished.

One of my goals for this trip to Absecon/Atlantic City was to finally eat at The Melting Pot, which we did that night, even though we weren’t very hungry. Being not-so-hungry is both good and bad at The Melting Pot — good because you won’t spend as much money (it is expensive), but bad because everything is so freaking delicious. We split a cheese fondue as an appetizer, then a salad, and finally a mixed entree of shrimp, filet mignon, chicken, sausage, and veggies rubbed in some cajun spices and dipped in this amazing fondue that I cannot even describe to you with justice. I also had a perfect glass of white wine. The saddest part is that we could not fit dessert (chocolate fondue) in our bellies.

The damage. Taken after everything was eaten because I could not stop stuffing my face & enjoying myself long enough to take a picture beforehand.

Blissfully fondue-d in a little corner at The Melting Pot.

Our getaway was simply lovely. While the hotel was mostly not relaxing (there were no noise barriers at all, so falling asleep with doors slamming, kids yelling, and people dropping dumbbells in the room above us was incredibly difficult), the temporary relaxation of sipping sparkling white wine in a warm jacuzzi tub in the evenings made up for it.

The reason I chose to take pictures at all during this trip, besides wanting to have something to remember it by, was also to document that on Sunday, February 19th, 2012 (the day when all these pictures were taken besides the lighthouse one), we found out that our offer was accepted on a house.

So… we are under contract on a house! While it is exciting and worthy of celebration and even worthy of describing the God-ordained details to you, there is so much involved in the process (still) that I don’t feel like divulging any of the details is quite appropriate yet. But we are in the process, and we just had our first home inspection, and we are throwing a lot of money around, and I may be developing an ulcer, and we have started collecting boxes because we’ll be moving pretty soon if all goes well.

With so much going on, and with both of us working full-time, I have had little time to blog. Today, I stayed home from work because of stomach pains (see aforementioned possible ulcer) and finally had the time to gather my thoughts and pictures and put together an update. I desire to blog more, but the days have been so fast-paced, tiring, and uncertain that it becomes quite difficult. There is still lots more I could write about, and I would love to document the whole process on the house so that other future first-time homebuyers could learn from it, but we’ll just have to see how frequently I get a chance to blog. Otherwise, there will be bigger updates like this a little less frequently.

We’re doing well, we’re happy to be in this stage of life and in the process of buying a home, and I will do my best to keep this blog in the loop of any updates. 🙂 Thanks for reading!


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My Strange Love for Hanson, Explained.

Alright, so I was doing a little figuring this morning, and I realized that last night was my 33rd Hanson show. Rather than being embarrassed of that fact, as I’m sure the general public would be, I am quite proud of my 14-year-long devotion to a band — seeing them show after show, buying album after album and T-shirt after T-shirt, hanging poster after poster…

(Disclaimer: I am married now, so I am not allowed to have any posters. I didn’t even venture to the merch booth last night. I’m an adult. … )

I mean, that is commitment. I should at least be able to make it through 14 years with Dayne. Year 13 might be a little iffy, but year 14 will remind me of how cute and loveable and skilled he is.

I started liking Hanson when I was just barely 13 years old, hearing “MMMBop” and then buying Middle of Nowhere and listening to it over and over, catching every TV and radio appearance I could, plastering my walls with Tiger Beat centerfolds, and then being excited out of my barely-hanging-on mental stability to see the three brothers live the summer of ’98. Three times. That’s what started it all. And the shows are what keeps it going.

Hanson is a fantastic live act. If they weren’t, I would have been done with them approximately a decade ago.

But they are, and I’m not:

3 shows in ’98
1 show in ’00
1 show in ’03
3 shows in ’04
3 shows in ’05
5 shows in ’07
6 shows in ’08
7 shows in ’09
3 shows in ’10
1 show in ’11

Hanson is nothing if not consistent, energetic, musically talented, and fun. And to top if all off: they’re nice guys. Very down-to-earth and approachable. One of the best days of my life was being selected to interview them privately backstage in ’08; Isaac chatted with me like I was an old friend, Taylor gave me some great insight into leadership and serving, and Zac was very kind, responsive, and thorough when answering my questions.

The Hanson thing isn’t all about them, though. I have met some of my closest friends through Hanson, and we have a lot of fun meeting up at these shows to sing, clap, and dance to great music. From Philadelphia to Baltimore to Atlantic City to Sayreville to Lancaster to Tulsa to California to a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean — we’ve traveled and had the time of our lives at these shows and with each other.

^^dancing to “Give A Little” at my wedding 🙂

My 13-year-old self probably didn’t imagine that my 26-year-old self would still be going to Hanson shows, and may even think that it’s a little weird since the whole thing was just supposed to be a phase, but I hope that my Hanson fandom continues for as long as possible. It has been one hell of a fun ride, and I have some great memories.

Now it’s time to get Dayne to a show.