life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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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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It’s the Most (Fill-in-the-Blank) Time of the Year

This is the busiest Christmas season I have ever had, hands down. Juggling our first Christmas as a married couple, with a new celebration schedule and gift-giving agenda, and full-time work and long-standing commitments and quality time with family and friends is enough to put someone a little less stable in the nuthouse!

Actually, I haven’t been holding it together quite that well. By 3:00 in the afternoon on Sunday I had cried not once, not twice, but three times. Part of it was pure exhaustion; I had just worked my first wedding with my wonderful, amazing wedding coordinator Stacey in the city on Saturday, Dayne & I got up early to go to church that morning, and I was getting ready to hop in the car again to drive to New Jersey to see Erica. The other part was just the stress of the season – trying to think of and please everybody is an overwhelming job, especially when at least one person is inevitably disappointed. For a people pleaser and perfectionist like me, it’s upsetting.

So, here I am, with very little free time, sitting down and finally writing a blog update.

SO much has been happening, and we’ve been experiencing so many of God’s blessings. First of all, amazingly, we found a church. Thanks to google, a recommendation, and some wise advice from family and friends, we tried a new church two Sundays ago. Within five minutes, someone came up to us and introduced himself, and he and his wife happen to be the leaders of the young couples’ small group. We stayed about a half an hour after the service ended that morning meeting and talking with new people. We made some pretty interesting connections, and as it turns out, I used to sing on a worship team with the lead pastor. We had been praying so desperately to find a church where we could make connections, and here God is just completely overwhelming us (in a good way) with friendly, welcoming people who we could really see ourselves building relationships with.

Of course, we went back, and we went out to lunch with two couples after church this past Sunday. We are excited to see where God takes us in this church, and relieved and so grateful to have found it.

I have two Christmas parties at work this week that I am looking forward to! It’s such a wonderful change of pace to be part of a staff that I can make friends in and hang out with.

Speaking of, I am grateful for the encouragement of one of my co-workers in particular, Dana, who is embarking with me on what I’d like to call the 2012 Challenge. My mother-in-law emailed me (and a bunch of other women) recently to ask who would be interested in reading through the entire Bible in 2012. We’re using The Daily Walk Bible, which I just got in the mail yesterday and am so excited to break into. It has devotionals and questions and summaries and charts to guide your reading, which should be extra motivational!

Married life is super great and I love having someone to enjoy the holidays with! Oh, and I am SUPER grateful that Erica is home for Christmas. I have missed her so much and it is just a moving feeling to be able to see someone in person who you care so much about who has been gone for a while. She’s safe & sound and it was really cool learning all about her life in Cameroon! Check out her blog here.

I’m hoping to get my blogging groove back after the holidays. Come to think of it, Dayne and I even went to Longwood Gardens with Andy & Leah and I don’t even have the pictures from that, let alone a blog entry about it. So sad.

Here are some Christmas traditions Dayne & I are starting (or continuing) this year:
-cutting down our own tree and decorating it together*
-watching Christmas movies & specials (including A Charlie Brown Christmas, obviously)
-making a gingerbread house
-decorating the house together*
-exchanging ornaments as part of our Christmas gifts
-sleeping under the Christmas tree Christmas Eve (we’ll see how long this tradition lasts)
-mimosas & cinnamon buns Christmas morning
(*and by “together”, I mean we’re in it together until Dayne gets tired of it, and then I’m on my own!)

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?


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Post-Thanksgiving Pajama Day.

That’s what I have deemed today. It’s Sunday – Dayne’s and my fourth consecutive day off from work – and the first day in a loooooooong time that we don’t have any reason to leave the house. It’s a balmy 60°F, so our windows are open, I’ve got the slow-cooker rockin’, and there’s some gingerbread cookie dough in the refrigerator waiting to be baked.

The gingerbread cookie dough I made this morning, mixed by my AWESOME FANTASTIC brand new KitchenAid 6-speed hand mixer - courtesy of one Miss Erica Jones!

Our Crockpot (that I've been afraid of using for over 3 months) working hard making its first ever dinner entrée: apricot-glazed pork tenderloin -- thanks Doug & Molly!

We are all decorated for Christmas! I have a habit of deeming things “family traditions” since we got married – starting with apple picking & baking, then pumpkin carving, and now Black Friday Christmas-Tree-Getting and Decorating Extravaganza. Dayne loves it, in case you’re wondering.

We’ve got our Christmas tree and brand-new Willow Tree nativity scene (thanks John & Marcia!):

Our gingerbread house (completed yesterday):

Our reindeer bowl (credit to Maribeth & Jason from Christmas 2010!) and our tealight church (along with a ga-ba-zillion holiday candles spread everywhere throughout our living space):

Our mini JOY nativity that I found at Hallmark last Christmas, along with two light-up glittery Christmas trees (also compliments of Maribeth & Jason Christmas 2010):

Our dining room is also Christmas-ified:

And of course I’ve got our front door & outdoor ledge decorated, too:

And who can forget Christmas stockings?! We don’t have a mantle but I tried to be creative:

The star in the middle was a homemade Christmas gift from my mother-in-law last Christmas. It's made of sheet music!

And one of my favorite touches… our first Christmas ornament:

This week, I plan on spreading my unending Christmas cheer to my desk at work. Dayne’s happy I have somewhere to take all the decorations that didn’t quite fit in our apartment.

I’m just delighted and thankful to be with Dayne at the very start of this amazing adventure of establishing our own family. Dayne’s not much of a traditionalist, but I have some very warm memories revolving around the holidays with my family, and I can’t wait to create our own memories between the two of us and with our children in the future.

I’m thankful for all the things I do & don’t take for granted on any given day. I’m thankful that Dayne & I had three delicious Thanksgiving meals lovingly prepared for us by our families this year, and we have more food & fellowship to look forward to at Christmastime. I’m thankful that my family was able to throw a surprise 90th birthday party for my beautiful great-aunt Louise last weekend, and for all that it taught me about not being afraid of aging:

Who has time for fear when you're having this much fun?

On this Post-Thanksgiving Pajama Day, I’m thankful for life and God and love and meaning. I’m thankful that when things are hard, at least it’s never boring – and when things are great, it’s preparing you for when things are hard. I’m thankful to be in a great place in my life, even with its inherent difficulties and learning experiences.

I’m thankful that when I’m stressed, Dayne tells me to just take one thing at a time. And when I’m in Christmas cheer mode, Dayne just lets me do what I want to do 🙂 And even though he wasn’t much for decorating, I’m thankful Dayne enjoyed hiking around for a Christmas tree with me, sawing it down, dragging it, strapping it to our Rav4’s roof, and driving it home.

Victorious.

Love.

What and who are you thankful for this holiday season?