Thursday, September 29, 2011

Leaves are Falling

The leaves here are just starting to change, and they're already falling off our pear tree in the front yard. It's so pretty. But I noticed yesterday as I was driving home from work that the trees on the main road were beginning to fill with color!

This weekend Collin and I are going camping in Gettysburg with my parents. It should be a chilly, fall weekend. We're heading up that way for their annual Apple Harvest Festival. My family went once before when I was 12 and I remember it being really cool so I suggested we go back this year and we all agreed! It should definitely be a fun weekend. We're heading up the road tonight so we can have two full days to enjoy the area. We might even go by and see my alma mater Messiah since it's only about 30 minutes from Gettysburg! And the temperatures are supposed to drop drastically here (like into the 60's) and it's always a bit chiller up where we're going, I figured that out quickly in college! So, yes, it will be a chilly weekend, but it's gonna be fun!

Anyway, I won't be posting tomorrow so I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend!! October starts on Saturday! =D


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

(Semi) Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Tree lined paths are always so beautiful. Especially ones in fall because the leaves are changing colors and there's leaves scattered on the ground around you. It's just breathtaking.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: The Final Summit

My friend Meghan at Faith for Wings has been a blogger for BookSneeze for a while now and it piqued my interest in what it was. I checked into it and basically you get free books in exchange for a short and honest review of the books they send you. Since I love to read I figured, why not?!

The first book I chose to review was The Final Summit by Andy Andrews. I heard Andy speak at Women of Faith in 2010 and he fascinated me. He was such a a dynamic and interesting speaker. His stories were wonderful and full of so much passion. I immediately knew I wanted to read something by him so when I had the opportunity to get this book I jumped on it.

Honestly, the book was very hard for me to get into. It took me months to read it which is extremely strange for me. I can go through a book (or more) a week usually. I think the main thing for me was that the book wasn't my usual genre. I tend to stick with Christian Romance or Christian Chick-Lit and this book was more of a Christian Sci-Fi book. It was not bad at all. It was actually very well written but it wasn't my style, if that makes sense.

The book is actually a part two with the first book being The Traveler's Gift. Fortunately, you did not need to read the first book to understand this one. Everything you need to know is explained to you within the first few chapters. The book follows David Ponder as he attends a final summit meeting in another dimension in which he is the facilitator. The summit is assembled to find the one principle that will save humanity. The summit is filled with extrordinary people from the past and they offer advice, help, and support to David to find the principle needed to save humanity. Some of the people David encounters include President Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Joan of Arc, and King David. The answers that were submitted were all very thought provoking to me. It made me ponder how each of the principles could affect and better humanity. It made me want to instigate them in my own life to see what impact they could have if even in a small way.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It was well written and once I finally got into it I was curious to see what came next and wanted to read on to find the answers to what is a question of great value to us. If you're into sci-fi or history this book would definitely be great for you. One thing I really loved was reading about famous and well-loved people from the past. Andy did a great job of finding and telling the facts of each person's life and keeping the characters true to who they really were.

So, go ahead and read the book! If you do, tell me what you think about!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Decor Finds

You guys, it is so hard not living in my own space. And it's especially hard because the space we're living in is already furnished and decorated. I want to decorate for fall so badly yet I have no place to put any decorations. When we moved into my in-law's basement I managed to find a few places for some of my stuff but not much at all. Plus, all of my fall decor items are in our storage unit. I bought some cute little pumpkin, leaves, and acorns that will go perfectly in a vase or bowl, but now I just have to find a vase or bowl to put them in.

Anyway, even though I can't really decorate, I've found some awesome fall decor ideas on Pinterest. I'm sharing a few of my favorites with you today! All of the photos were found on Pinterest and I've included the original sources as best I can.

What fun fall decor have you found? Have you incorporated any of it into your home yet? Do you plan to? You can bet that next year when I'm in my own place I'll be incorporating some of these awesome ideas!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday

Ohh it's Friday! Today is a dreary, rainy Friday, but it doesn't make it any less exciting! I'm filling in the blanks and if you'd like to play along or see other's blanks you can visit Lauren at the little things we do.
1. The best thing I did all week was go to a Stampin' Up workshop evening and make some awesome things!

2. Having fresh flowers in the house makes me super happy.

3. Pets are fun and a great stress reliever (most of the time).

4. My sweet husband is the best thing about my life.

5. With the cooler weather I am looking forward to bonfires, cool weather clothing, cooking soups and chili.

6. Something that's on my "wish list" right now is a pair of boots that I can wear with skirts/dresses and over jeans.

7. This weekend I am going to the fair on Sunday after church with Collin! And my dad is working on my car tomorrow so I'll be spending some time with him.

What do you have planned for this weekend? Are you having a dreay, rainy Friday, too? This weekend should be nice. Not too terribly busy and I love going to the fair. Plus, I entered three photographs this year! I don't know that I won anything (I'll find out when I go) but that's not why I entered. I just wanted to put myself out there since I just this past year really got into photography for real.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you back here next week!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Awesome Autumn

Sunflowers. Pumpkin. Corn Mazes. Squash and Gourds. Apple Harvest Festival.
The Fair. Cool Temperatures. Thanksgiving. Sweaters. Jeans. Boots.
Weekend Getaways. Renn Faire. Baking. Red, Orange, Yellow. Acorns and Pinecones.
Bonfires. Crisp Night Air. Soups and Chili. Fall Festival. Kids in Cute Costumes.
Autumn is my favorite season. I love everything about it. The colors, the smells, the food, the temperature, the decorations, the clothes. There's just so much good about it. I love all the seasons, each bring with them new and amazing things, but autumn is just the most special to me. For one, I have such fond memories of things happening in fall. Plus, living in a mid-Atlantic state we have a nice autumn. Slowly in September it begins to get cooler and the leaves gradually start changing colors until one day I notice that the trees are brilliant with reds, oranges, yellows and sometimes even purple. Amazing!! I think God really displays his greatness in autumn. And it makes me feel so happy and special to have a Father who provides me with such amazing and wonderful things. I am looking forward to all the many blessings He will bestow upon me this fall. I just get giddy with excitement over all things autumn!
Are you as excited as I am about autumn? Is it your favorite season, too? Tell me why in the comments! Or if it's not, what is your favorite season and why?


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

(Semi) Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

I took this picture on the railroad tracks in front of our house on ASP. The youth loved putting coins on the tracks for the train to come by and flatten them.

I'm also submitting this picture for the Live Every Moment challenge of "Anything". The challenge has changed to Wednesdays from now on.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Lovin'

This weekend was quite a busy one. We celebrated a friend's 40th birthday on Friday evening, had our first offical middle school youth group meeting on Saturday evening which we left to head to DC for the BT show. Then on Sunday we had our annual praise team concert on the Solomon's boardwalk in the afternoon/evening. It was a fun and successful but very busy and tiring weekend!

Sandi's birthday party was fun! It was at The Tides which is a fancier restaurant around here and we enjoyed a selection of appetizers, soup, salad and dessert. We had some fun spending time with everyone and getting to know some people a little better! It was so nice to be able to celebrate the birthday of a special lady! I've known Sandi since I was maybe 10. So we have quite a history!

At Sandi's party

All the ladies at the party with Sandi in the tiara

I think our youth group is going to go well this year. We have a good group of kids and we hope to have more come! We had fun spending time and playing games with them at the cookout Saturday evening. I'm excited to see how God is going to work in our group this year.

The BT concert was fun. We met up with our friend's Justin and Molly and drove into the city with them. We got to the nightclub around 11:15 and BT didn't come on until 12:30, but we enjoyed dancing to the house DJ. And BT did an awesome job mixing and we had a blast dancing to him! And I even got to touch his shoulder as he was walking out of the club. =)

*Rant Time* Night clubs are definitely not my kinda scene. I've been twice before (both times to see BT) and I'm always amazed at how women dress. It's a bit ridiculous if you ask me. And those girls were probably looking at me thinking "why is that girl so over dressed?" But I had on a cute sleeveless dress that came down to about my knees and was loosing fitting and I had on black footless tights and black sandals. I was comfortable. I could dance without worrying about my butt showing and I was appropriate. And then there are the people who are making out on the dance floor. I do not need to see that. I may be there with my husband and sure, we enjoy some love and affection but we're not going to be all over each other in public like that. Anyway, maybe I'm just an old fart, but I was a little annoyed with others around me. *End Rant*

The concert at Solomon's was a lot of fun. The temperature was great. It was overcast and cloudy (and it did sprinkle while we were setting up) but we had a good bit of people come out to hear us and I thought it went well. We had lots of compliments despite quite a few technical difficulties! My voice was so hoarse once we were done though. We had 3 sets of music, about 45 minutes each and singing that much is definitely tiring for your voice!

The view over the river yesterday 298388_2242812622833_668014747_n
Post-concert dinner at Chipotle
Collin and Joey, our piano player

Anyway, all the pictures from the weekend are from facebook via my mom and Sandi. I didn't take any pictures of the BT show. Bad blogger... lol but I was just too interested in dancing and enjoying myself instead of trying to take pictures in a dark and crowded dance floor. =)

I hope you all had lovely weekends, too! What did you do? I'd love to hear in the comments, or send me an e-mail!


Friday, September 16, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday

Happy Friday, blog friends! Today is a glorious day! It's cool outside and it's practically fall. The temperatures are deeming so at least! This is a good day and this is a good weekend! Collin and I are going to see BT tomorrow night at The Fur nightclub in DC and we're both extremely excited! Tonight we've got a fancy birthday party to attend. And Sunday our praise band is performing at the Solomon's gazebo in the afternoon. It will be a delightful and fun weekend, I do believe.

Anyway, today I'm back to the blanks. So if you'd like to play along or see other's blanks you can visit Lauren at the little things we do.
1. You should always take time to let the people you love know it, either with words or actions.

2. Enjoying all the little things about life makes the world a happier place to be.

3. I can hardly wait for our camping trip to Gettysburg in two weeks!!

4. Sunday is my favorite day of the week.

5. Something totally dumb and ridiculous that I love is "Secret Life of the American Teenager".

6. If I could, I would quit my job and be a housewife who teaches piano. Silly student loans preventing me from accomplishing that. =(

7. I rather like going to the library and just wandering around.

Today I'm also participating in the Live Every Moment photo challenge and today's theme is "light/lighting". I absolutely love how the sun glistens on the water and how it can make the whole sky so bright and blue!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I hope it is as nice and cool there as it is here. I know I'll definitely be enjoying a bit of fall temperatures! Be blessed, my friends!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(Semi) Wordless Wednesday

I love our grapevine. Unfortunately it didn't produce any fruit this season but it sure was beautiful to watch it grow bigger!


Monday, September 12, 2011

It Started With Ice Cream

*On Friday I mentioned that Thursday evening was a bit eventful and all I said was it started with wanting ice cream and Collin getting 3 stitches. Anyway, here is Collin's story about what happened that interesting and "exciting" night...*

Ok. So I have been asked to share my tale of woe, so here's the "scoop." Cindy and I had just finished dinner. I was feeling like having one of our chocolate chip cookies that we had made. Cindy said she wanted ice cream and I suddenly thought "That's not a bad idea!" So we got out the ice cream cartons. They still had the bands around them from being brand spanking new. I, being a man, decided I didn't want to walk across the basement to get a pair of scissors because, well, it wouldn't be the most efficient use of my time. Instead I look to what's closest. A drawer full of silverware was right in front of me. How convenient! But there are no steak knives or a sharp knife of any kind in the drawer. "This butter knife should work fine," I said. I've made them work in the past anyway.

So I go at this plastic devil of a seal around the ice cream wedging this butter knife underneath it and just laying into it. While this is happening Cindy is over at the refrigerator making some noise. I hear something hit the ground and ask "What was that?" "I broke the can of whipped cream," Cindy responded. Now I have this knife wedged under this thing with a good amount of weight on it and I'm wondering at the same time how you break a can of whipped cream. Then Cindy comes round the corner holding the can. Turns out just the nozzle on top had come off. So now I have the knife going all out and the confusion about how this constitutes the can being broken, AND THEN the band gives way.

Now, the knife didn't actually cut the band. It only punctured a hole and then proceeded swiftly to the next thing... my left index finger. Now the great thing here is that there is no censorship required. I said the first thing that came to me and mind you, in a somewhat calm voice. "Ah, crap." I knew I wasn't going to get that ice cream. Cindy sees that I cut myself and deems this an emergency and starts speaking in worried wife speak. "Are you ok?! What happened?! You need a paper towel!" I had a paper towel already so I told her she needed to calm down or I was going to get upset. She calmed down and went to get a bandaid and some ointment. We went into the bathroom to get better lighting. When we looked at the wound I touched the tip of my finger and this big red line appeared going from the front to the back. "You need stitches. We're taking you to the emergency room."

Now we're getting ready to leave and Cindy says "Do you think I have enough time to go to the bathroom really quick?" "I'd rather you didn't," I responded. *Just to clarify... I was genuinely concerned about Collin's well being and getting him to the hospital. I just had to pee REALLY bad. lol*

So, we get to the hospital and everyone that we talk to there wants to see it. "Can I see it?" "Let's have a look." This one woman kept coming by. It must have been five or six times. I initially asked her if she wanted to see it too. She said she's just getting insurance information and didn't need to see it. But when she kept coming back, I said "you sure you don't want to see it?"

While we were waiting for the doctor to come in, I decided to call some people to tell them the tale. The doctor came in, numbed and stitched me up, and I was good to go. Cindy was on her iPod during that part to keep from looking at the blood. All in all, it was a great experience... aside from hurting myself.
Collin on the phone waiting for the doctor
You'd never know he had a giant slice in his finger based on his laughter
Rolling my eyes at my silly husband
9:20 in the evening... We'd been there about 30 minutes so far and
still had another hour and a half until we would get to go home
*Because of his stitches Collin wasn't allowed to use his finger for 48 hours and had to have it buddy taped to his middle finger. So, due to his contraints he wasn't able to work Friday or Saturday. We had a normal weekend and it was GLORIOUS!! I'll share more about that later this week!*

Cindy & Collin

Friday, September 9, 2011

No Blank Friday

No blanks here this Friday, sorry guys! It's been a busy Friday (thus why I'm just now posting at quarter to eleven at night!) and I just don't feel in the mood to fill in the blanks. BUT... I am in a great mood! Today is my dad's 50th birthday and we celebrated Irish style at the local pub with a bunch of family and friends. We had a great evening and it was so fun to put together a fun celebration for my awesome dad!

I am exhausted though. Not really from the party tonight but mainly because yesterday evening was a bit stressful and late. I'll explain more on Monday but let me just leave you with this. It started with wanting ice cream and ended with Collin getting 3 stitches in his finger. Let your imaginations go wild until you hear/read the rest of the story next week. Maybe I'll have Collin guest post to tell you about it since it is really his story to tell!

So I couldn't let today pass without submitting my "Fair" picture for the Live Every Moment challenge. Our fair takes place the 3rd weekend in September every year so we haven't had it yet but I took this picture a few years ago and LOVE it. And I thought it fit nicely with the theme so here you go!

I hope you all enjoy your weekends! Ours shall be fun-filled and I couldn't be more excited!!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

(Semi) Wordless Wednesday


My Daddy's 50th birthday is on Friday. I'm not sure when the picture above was taken but it makes me so happy. Definitely one of the fond memories I have of being a kid is eating ice cream on the couch with my dad. And we still both love ice cream. It's a family bond thing. =)


Friday, September 2, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday

It's Fill in the Blank Friday! If you'd like to play along or see other's blanks visit Fill in the Blank Friday with Lauren at the little things we do...! Onto the blanks!
1. One thing that is superfluous, but that I could never give up is liquid fabric softener.

2. Small talk with people I don't know too well makes me feel awkward.

3. I can't go to bed without, having first brushed my teeth.

4. Cheese and crackers is my favorite snack.

5. Lately I've been craving pumpkin. Good thing fall is coming!

6. If at first you don't succeed don't give up! Keep on trying and believe in yourself.

7. Fall is my favorite season! I love everything about it. The colors, the smells, the food, the weather, the way nature looks. EVERYTHING! I am so excited it's September and fall is close!

I'm also participating in the Live Every Moment photo challenge and this week's theme is
"Animals". And how could I not post a picture of my favorite animal. I love my Stank!

This is a super great weekend for me! I have today off since it's my normal Friday off but then I also have Monday off because of the Labor Day holiday! Woohoo! I love 4-day weekends! The only sad part is that the only day Collin has off is Sunday. So I get to spend the weekend all by my lonesome. But it's alright. I get to relax and get some stuff accomplished around the house!

I hope you all enjoy a wonderful Labor Day weekend!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies!

So I was browsing around on Pinterest and I saw some delicious looking cookies. I clicked on the picture and visited the blog where the picture came from and read the recipe. Seemed simple enough so I repinned it and decided to try to bake these one day. Boy am I glad I did! These are by far the best chocolate chip cookies ever. In fact, they're so good I'm eating one right now as I am writing this. =)
Anyway, these are not cookies for the impatient, but let me tell you, they are worth the wait! I think the thing that makes them so good is that you let the dough chill. Collin and I love the store bought "place and bake" cookies. We think they are delicious but I love to bake and it can get pricy buying them a lot. So we stopped buying them and I started baking them. But they never turned out as good. We were always slightly disappointed. Well, not with these. They are BETTER than the store bought ones and I think it's because you let it chill!
Anyway, here is the recipe and all the secrets for baking them from the original author. (Any comments that are mine are in parenthesis)

The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie I Will Ever Need to Know How to Make For The Rest of My Life
by Shirley Hendrickson, adapted from Leite Torres

Secret 1: The use of a mix of cake flour and bread flour. Cake flour is finer, and bread flour has gluten, both important. Use them and no other.
(It took me a while to find the cake flour and as it turned out my mother-in-law found it for me at the Commisary in a box. But it's crucial to these cookies so search for it!)

Secret 2: Chilling. This is key — KEY! — to cookie texture success. The reason is that letting the dough rest allows all the eggs and the butter and the liquids to ooze and soak and hydrate into all the dry goodness. 24 hours is minimum, 36 is preferable (and noticeably better).

Also, the flavor gets crazy! Deep, caramel-y, toffee-y, and they bake up so much more deliciously brown. Plus, it lets the outside get crisp and crackly and keeps the middle almost underdone when you pull them out — they set up and turn into soft, chewy heaven.
(Collin and I made the batter on Saturday during the hurricane and then baked 12 on Monday evening and the rest of the dough on Tuesday evening. The ones we baked on Monday were incredible but the ones we baked on Tuesday were sensational! The longer you wait, the better they are!)

Secret 3: All ingredients. Room temperature. Do it. Note: The misconception with room-temperature butter: it actually doesn’t mean letting it sit out until it’s supersoft and melty. You should be able to press a slice of butter with your finger and easily make a dent, and it should crack faintly.

Secret 4: Did you know? People make their cookies way too small! It’s silliness! If you make them too small, they dry out too quick, and they get too crunchy. We want gooey and chewy! The way to achieve that is to scoop your dough out into golf-ball sized — or slightly larger — portions. I use a 1/3 c measuring cup for extra big cookies.

Secret 5: The chocolate. Sorry, Toll House. And don’t even think about the generic supermarket brand. I only use Ghiardelli 60% Cacao chips — they’re pretty widely available the best chips you can buy at a grocery store. However, if you run across anything that is 60% cacao, it’ll be good.
(Okay, so I only had the Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chips and I wasn't going out in a hurricane to buy Ghiardelli chocolate, but I like semi-sweet and I think they taste wonderful. I bet though they'd taste even better with "better" chocolate.)

Secret 6: The sprinkle of salt on the top. Makes all the sweetness sing.
(We actually didn't use this, but like she said, it would make the sweetness sing.)

Secret 7: Wait. I mean, sure, have one piping hot out of the oven, but the flavors actually meld and deepen once they cool. These are definitely cookies that get better the next day.

Secret 7 1/2: Always err on taking them out too early rather than too late – also essential for middle-softness. They continue to cook on the sheet for a few minutes, so don’t overdo it – underdone is better than overdone, every time (and you can always pop them in for a minute more if you like).

Stick to these secrets, and you will ace chocolate chip cookies forever.

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (8 ½ oz.) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 ½ oz.) bread flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt, such as kosher
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8 oz.) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, preferably about 60% cacao content, such as Ghirardelli
Sea salt or kosher salt for garnishing
Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk well; then set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. (Unless you have a plastic guard that sits around the rim of the bowl, this will make a big mess at first, with flour flying everywhere. I found that carefully holding a dish towel around the top of the bowl helped a lot.) Add the chocolate chips, and mix briefly to incorporate. Press plastic wrap against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. The dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

Using a standard-size ice cream scoop – mine holds about 3 fluid ounces, or about 1/3 cup – scoop six mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.
(I don't know if it was the pans we used or the distance from the heat but our best batch cooked for 15 minutes, sat on the pan outside the oven for about 3 minutes and then cooled on the wire rack. I think this portion will mainly take experimentation and also depends on how gooey you like your cookies)

Yield: About 24 (5-inch) cookies.

So yeah... There you have the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, ever. Go ahead and bake them. I dare you not to like them!

If you make these, I would love to know. I want to know what you think of them and if you think they are the best ever like we do!

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