Tuesday, January 31, 2012

the one where i got them all cut

...every time my Dad goes to get a haircut, I ask him "did you get a haircut?" and he A.L.W.A.Y.S. replies "nope... I got 'em all cut". Get it?

This weekend I chopped my hair off.

Let me set the scene for this story: it's Saturday morning and Rob mentions that he thinks I should get bangs. And I say "but... really?" And then we start looking up pictures of ideal bangs (think: Kerri & Lauren Sackmann (real life), or Zooey Deschanel & Rachel McAdams (Zooey in 500 Days of Summer and Rachel in The Vow)).

Kerri Sackmann the hair goddess (and her man, Anderson)
Zooey Deschanel (not as cute as Kerri)

so I'm looking at these pictures, working myself up like "I can really do this. Wait...I'm going to do this"

You see, I have been thinking about changing my hair dramatically for oh...about a year now. But I'm such a scaredy cat and I NEVER do it.

So I did it. I called up my hair salon and asked for an appt for that afternoon....and they were all booked. So then I called another place farther away...and they had an opening in 30 minutes! (It takes 25 minutes to get there)

So I looked at Rob excitedly and we threw on our shoes and ran out the door. (You may be thinking to yourself: this is not that exciting...but I promise you I was shaking and my heart was pounding)

I downloaded these two pictures (above) on my phone, ready to show the lady what I wanted. And then I also thought: "Hey, while I'm at it & already spending the money, why don't I just chop off my hair too?" (As you can tell, I have a very well-thought out process for my style)

So then I start looking at all the pictures I've pinned on pinterest for long bobs and I start getting so excited that I was finally going to do it! (My sweet friend Mer also pinned some awesome pictures for inspiration too). Here is what I was going for:

Source: google.com via Nicole on Pinterest

And then I start thinking "bangs will not look good with this". and I started picturing myself looking crazy.

So Rob andI compromised on side bangs with a long bob - still HUGE change for me. (Looking back, it's pretty hilarious that the whole idea that started it...I didn't actually do. Such.a.scaredy.cat. Sorry Rob!)

So I cut of 6 inches and basically changed my identity. Ready for the before & after?

BEFORE (Too long!! Why didn't somebody stage an intervention?)


What it looks like with my bangs pulled up, which I also really like
This was about 1 hour after the haircut so I was still freaking out a little :)

I love it!! It's so fresh and light. My hair stylist was AWESOME and made sure she thinned out my hair in layers, etc so that it won't be a bush (my hair is SUPER thick). The side bangs are a leetle shorter than I would have liked but I'm already getting used to them :)

So that's my dramatic haircut story! If you made it all the way through, I'm impressed :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

the one with a book update

We have been reading away! As I mentioned earlier in January,  Rob is reading 20 books and I am reading 12 books in 2012. (For the complete list we have picked out so far, see here).

This month I read:

And started:

But I need to be reading:

I loved finishing the Hunger Game series! My favorite book of the three was definitely the second one - Catching Fire. (And in case you are asking, I am mostly Team Gale (until book three and everyone's character changes basically)). The most fun part about reading this series is talking about it with everyone at my office - so many people were reading at the same time and it was so fun to talk about :) Reading books together is a great way to get to know people better.

Of course I love "Kisses from Katie" already but I need to focus more of my energy on "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" first because that is the one for my book club and it is due in a few weeks :) I actually love having a "deadline" because it keeps me on track!

This month, Rob read:

And he has started:

He LOVED both Generous Justice and Amazing Grace, and is anxious for me to read them both as well :) He really likes to read several books at once (I cannot do that or I'd never finish a book!)...I'm sure he'll pick up two more before he finishes one of the three he's already reading :)

Any other book suggestions for 2012? Would love some ideas! Happy reading! :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

the one about budgeting

One of the greatest lessons my Dad passed onto me was the importance of a budget. Right before I graduated from college, he sat down with me and walked me through how to set up a budget in a spreadsheet and how to learn to live within my means. It was so incredibly helpful.

I, however, was not very good at it... or really, I just wasn't very consistent with it. I would go days without asking myself "where is this money coming from?" and then would feel guilty and overcorrect by not spending ANY money and eating rice and beans for every meal. (If you think I'm exaggerating, ask my old roomie, Ashley :) ) I was never comfortable or confident either way - when I was spending money, I always felt guilty and worried about it. When I wasn't spending money, I was not eating full meals and miserable :)

Since then I've found two very useful tools that help me budget.
1. Mint
2. Rob

My friend Mer first told me about Mint and it seemed like the answer to all my problems! It's an online tool (totally secure) that connects to your bank accounts, credit cards, etc. and streams the information into one place where you can categorize and label everything. It's very user-friendly and simple. You can set up budgets, track your spending, set savings goals, and so much more. We have loved it! One important think you need to know before you try it - you actually have to use it :) It's easy to forget to categorize expenses and keep up with everything but it won't be useful to you unless you keep up with it. Luckily there's an app for your phone so you can keep up with it on the go!
Here are some of our categories (not all), in case you are looking for some ideas! Some of them are self-explanatory but I put some brief descriptions for the ones that are not::

We took a Financial Peace University class through our church right after we got married, and learned a lot about how we to budget in that class. The main takeaway we had from it was to label every dollar ("every dollar has a name"...he says that like a million times). We found that when we budgeted only part of our income and left the rest floating out there, we overspent or didn't ever feel free to spend that unlabeled money. Label every dollar (even if it's in a general category like "fun" or "food" or "savings").

{ Speaking of savings...we also budget for savings (a lot right now, actually, since we are saving for a down payment on our first house). Everyone approaches savings differently but if you aren't sure how much you should be saving - a good place to start is 10% of your income if you can...build from there. }

Honestly the most helpful thing for me in our budget has been Rob offering to take care of our finances. He has taken full ownership over it and it is a huge blessing! As an accountant by day, you would think that I wouldn't mind doing this for us at home. But I think it must be too many numbers for me :) When I come home from work, I want to do something creative and relaxing and pretty and use a different part of my brain! So luckily he does it all for us and it works so well for us.

One last note:: (this is wayyy longer than i thought it would be!) The reason we think a budget is so important is because we want to be a good stewards of all that the Lord has given to us. If we are wise with our money and how we spend it, it can be a great tool to use for advancing the kingdom, blessing others, and bringing glory to God. We also pray about our finances and especially about big financial decisions - everything we have is His and we want to make sure we remember that & our honoring Him with how we use it.

Welp there are my "tips". I don't know if that's helpful for anyone but I'm a nerd and I seriously love to just lay out and organize my thought process behind things :)

happy budgeting!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

the one about honesty

I just got back from spending some much needed time with a dear friend of mine. We got together for coffee, to share about our lives, marriages, and to talk about what we are struggling with, need prayer for, etc. It was one of the most encouraging times I have had lately - to be mutually honest and vulnerable, and to see the recognition in another friend's eyes that they get what you are saying. It's such a wonderful feeling to be understood and to have somebody identify with what you are feeling.

I've always had a difficult time being vulnerable, even with people who know me well and who I trust wholeheartedly. Usually the times that I end up sharing what's on my heart is because my emotions are spilling over and I just kind of blurt out everything I'm feeling all of a sudden. It's not always the most thought out, prayed-about encounter but the Lord has been truly faithful to use many of those conversation to uplift, encourage, and refresh me.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am truly thankful that God has given me such wonderful, godly, loving, compassionate friends in my life. I am thankful that God made me (and you) to need community. I am thankful that God made me finite and not all-knowing and that when I can't see the whole picture, God gives me people in my life to help me see His hand and His goodness. 

Whether it's in times of great need, despair, and hopelessness... or times of feeling restless, discontent, or confused... there are always pieces of God's character that I'm not seeing because of my sinful, broken heart. And praise God that He gives us friends who can point us to the beauty and glory of Christ, through the Word and Spirit.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

the one featuring guacamole

One night, the hubs and I made some guac and took photos like we were professional chefs. So here's our guacamole recipe - any other suggestions of what you like to put in yours? We're still trying to perfect our recipe :)

2 ripe avocados
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
A dash garlic salt
A dash of freshly grated black pepper
1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
dash of chili powder

First, take your avocado

Slice it in half & twist to open. Then scoop out avocado with a spoon!

All the avocado!

Then mash up all the yummy green-ness in a bag and smush it up good. 
(This is Rob's job and he is really good at it) 

Squeeze some lime juice in that piece 

Add some salt & garlic salt

And mix it allll up

Then dice up some red onion real good.
Some people would probably like to dice it up better but we like onions! 

Then chop up some cilantro 

And some tomato... and oops some cilantro mixed in  

Throw some chili powder in there 

And mix it all up good!

And enjoy!!! 

Suggestions for new ingredients/mixtures welcome :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

the one with pinspiration

My latest pinterest inspiration....pinspiration? :)

Would love to find a sweet little globe like this for our home
Source: google.com via Nicole on Pinterest

Going to make bookends this spring! 
Find animal figurines (Dollar Tree, Goodwill, etc) and spray paint

Trying to work up the nerve to chop my hair into a long bob. but I always chicken out!

Seriously want to buy this when we get a house :)
Source: etsy.com via Nicole on Pinterest

This little sweet necklace.

Remembering to make sure we look for a house that has LOTS of natural light. It's my favorite.

Definitely contemplating painting our butcher block - except NOT this bright color :)

Have been doing alot of reading on how to make your own board & batten (or judges paneling). Definitely doing this in our home!

Making this for a quick dinner tonight :) 
Fried egg, avocado, tomato, and bacon sandwich - YUM

And making this on Tuesday :) yummmmy Mexican!!

Happy pinning! :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

the one featuring a new mantle

After Christmas decorations came down (saddest day of the year), we decided to switch things up on the mantle. We recently got a ton of beautiful old books from Nama and Da Lancaster and we love them so much, we wanted to display them in a central location. I've still got some more things I'd love to add to spice it up but for right now, I LOVE seeing these books every day! 

Our new mantle

My favorite side - all from Goose & Nama!
1. The Life of General Thomas J Jackson (1899) - Perfect for Rob who loves historical biographies
2. The Poems of Lord Byron (1904) - I took a poetry class in college and loved Nyron's poems
3. Poems with Power (1909) - The dedication reads "To all who are at the same time lovers of good poetry and lovers of good character, devoted to God and their fellow-men, as as to literature"
4. Little Women (1920) by Louisa May Alcott (gifted by Ginger to me for Christmas :) )
5. Rob's great grandmother's Cook Book- So sweet! It even has burn marks on it!
6. Illustrated copy of Longfellow Poems (1924)- Love the beautiful rich color

These three books make my English-major-heart skip a beat!

Is there anything cooler than this vintage camera??
Also from Goose and Nama Lancaster

There is nothing more cozy to me than a worn out book :)

The other side

1. Pyschology in Everyday Life (1938)- Old pysch book for Rob who was a psych major in college
2. World's Greatest Literature - Thrifted in NYC on our vacation :)
3. The Greatest Story Ever Told (1950) - Story about Jesus :) Inscription reads "To Mom from Tom, Merry Christmas 1950"
4. Hymns We Love (1954) - Stories of the most popular hymns
5. Little Men - Thrifted from Goodwill
6. The Youth of Washington (1905) - Another great historical book for Rob
7. Molly Make-Believe (1910) - Cutest children's storybook title!