Friday, June 22, 2012

"Poor" by Earthly Measures

Tomorrow, bright and early in the morning, we will be leaving for our annual youth mission trip to Miami. This will actually be my 7th time working with this organization - Touching Miami with Love. They are an incredible and diverse organization that provides aid to kids and families in Overtown, which is one of (if not THE) poorest neighborhoods in the entire country.

They offer different programs and assistance all throughout the year, but we will be going to help lead for a week during their summer camp program. I am taking 25 high school students, 2 college girls, and 4 other adults on this trip. The 32 of us will lead close to 80 crazy, inner-city kids for the week in a program that is somewhat similar to a longer, more educational version of VBS (Vacation Bible School).

It's truly an amazing trip, and our students enjoy going down there and working with these children so very much. These kids may definitely be considered "Poor" by Earthly Measures, but that's not what's important. What IS important however is just loving on them; showing them how much people can care for them, and showing them that it's only because we have an amazing God who loves us so much more.

I know the kids at TML love having all of these volunteer teams come down and spend time with them. But I think my youth enjoy it just as much. We love getting to know these kids, even if only for a week. We love getting to play games with them and eat lunch with them and read a book with them. We just love getting to love on them. I'm always so amazed at how mature and grown-up and wise my teenagers seem during this week. They truly do blow me out of the water sometimes with their insights, thoughts and concerns. (And even though it happens every year, I'm sure it's not something I'll ever quit being amazed at. These youth are awesome, and I'm so glad I get to be a part of their lives and lead them on trips like these! I thank God for them in my life.)

When you think of us this week, please say a prayer for us, because I know we'll be needing it. Yes, it's going to be an awesome week and we'll love it - but it will also be exhausting and trying at times. Prayers are always welcome and encouraged. :) And please pray that this crazy storm doesn't make it's way to South Florida and cause all sorts of problems for us! We would like a hurricane-free week, please and thank you.

Much love, and thanks in advance for your prayers and support! :)

P.S. - All pictures (with exception of very first one which is from TML's website) are mine from last year's trip.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pasketti Squash

Um hello?! Where has Spaghetti Pasketti Squash been hiding all my pasta-loving-life?? This stuff is amazing. And healthy. And simple and yummy. And I would seriously like to know why no one has introduced it to me before.

Actually, my lovely friend Kaley told me about it back during our awesome girls' weekend in the beginning of April. We had all been talking about diets and healthiness and food and those things in general. Kaley then told us about a no-carb diet she tried for two weeks, and I decided I was going to give it a go. She suggested one of the things her and her husband ate during these two weeks was a lot of spaghetti squash. I remember having this conversation, but apparently I didn't file it away, because I forgot all about the spaghetti squash.

(I did in fact try the no-carb diet for two weeks in the beginning of April, and actually lost 6 pounds!! Even after an unnecessary meltdown from a painful weigh-in...)

Fast forward to June, and I finally tried the stuff for the first time! Jeff and I went out to eat at Ruby Tuesday one night for dinner. We were/are on a diet, and we were/are being very careful about eating healthy and making good food choices. Luckily for us, they have quite a few selections they've deemed "Fit & Trim," that are low in fat and calories. So from that menu, I ordered Spaghetti Squash Marinara, and it was sooooo good. I ate every. single. bite of this glorious plate. All 257 calories of it. Awesome. (And yes, you read that correctly - it was only 257 calories!!)

Forgot to take a picture before I scarfed the entire plate... oops.

The best part is that my brain and stomach were tricked into thinking I was eating real pasta. But my thighs and belly were thankful that it was only veggies disguised as my favorite food. I'd say it was a Win-Win all around.

For Jeff's meal that night, he ordered grilled salmon, with grilled zucchini and roasted spaghetti squash as his side items, so he got to try the new stuff too. And he also loved it! So much in fact, I didn't even get to try a bite of his plain spaghetti squash with only salt and butter. (This actually happens to us a lot, and we joke about how few times I've gotten to try the food he orders...) And his whole meal was still only 386 calories!

We liked it so much that I was immediately whipping out the iPhone in order to do some research on the stuff. I had to know what it was and how I could get some of it myself! Turns out, it's super easy.  Learn all about this little little veggie HERE on Then check out a few different recipes I would like to try - One, Two and Three.

I can't wait to try cooking and making this myself sometime soon. Because I know it's going to be so healthy for me, but so delicious at the same time! And let's be real here - healthy foods aren't always the tastiest, and that's when I feel like cheating on my diet a little bit just to get some extra yummy-ness and flavor. But when I can treat myself with wonderful things like Pasketti Squash, it makes staying on my diet plan easy peasy!

And here's a little Instagram collage I made from then just for fun :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Playing Catch-Up

 Life is always crazy busy. Duh. We all know that right? I wish that my blog wasn't one of the things that got neglected though. Unfortunately it is, and that's OK, as long as I return to it when I can! So, I'm Playing Catch-Up today, and here are a few random things that have happened since my last real blog update...

Jeff and I went to pick up his sweet little boys, and they will now be spending four full weeks of their summer vacation here in Florida. (One week down, only three left as of now.) They both got new haircuts right before we picked them up, and they each love them. Gabe has also lost his first tooth! And of course Ryan is jealous and already anticipating when it will be his turn as well.

This past week, Jeff and his parents took the boys to Disney for a whole week! It was their first time, and the obviously loved every second of it. Check out the super cute video Jeff made of when he first told them about their trip, HERE on his YouTube Page. They had the park hopper passes, so they went to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. I sadly missed out on all the fun and adventure, and I also just missed having them here!

I have found my new favorite dessert/snack/diet approved indulgence. And it's this glorious creation. Strawberries, blackberries, and a little drizzle of honey.It's so delicious, you get deceived into thinking you're eating something a lot more indulgent than it truly is. Which is awesome! I had this snack a couple of times for dessert this past week. I'm out of supplies now, but plan on buying more tonight at the grocery store.

This past week was VBS (Vacation Bible School) at my church - Bradfordville First Baptist. I hadn't been since 2008, because I always have big girl jobs now, so I unfortunately miss out on the fun. This year though, I took one morning off of work to head out there to check it all out. I stayed with the rising 6th grade group because they had so many kids. There were 38 of them the day I was there!! Whoa! Now we would just like even half of them to come join us for youth! They were of course wild and crazy and a little out of control, but what pre-teens aren't like that really? And that's just one of the reasons I love working with teenagers in the youth group. I think there were somewhere close to 300 kids, and about 75 youth and adult volunteers there for an incredible week, enjoying the Amazing Wonders Aviation! I had a crazy morning, but it was so fun and so worth it. I definitely want to take off more time next year to help out more!

 Then on Saturday morning, Mama, Megan and I woke up early-ish to go to Megan's first wedding dress appointment at a local shop, to be followed by a day of wedding dress shopping at a few other places. (Little did we know it would be the only day of wedding dress shopping!) I plan on doing a separate post all about this little trip either tomorrow or Wednesday, so for now I'll just say - she bought a dress already!! Speedy, right?! But the dress is beautiful and I know she'll look absolutely stunning in it on her big day.

Right after she just bought her wedding dress!! Love my "little" sister :)

And that bring us to Father's Day yesterday. Again, I wish my little blog didn't get neglected to much sometimes, because I was planning to do a special post for yesterday. Back in May, I did one all about my Mama for Mother's Day, and I wanted to do the same for my Papa. But unfortunately, it slipped through the cracks of this little noggin. The good news is though, Father's Day itself was certainly not neglected, and we took him on an adventure for his present!

For about two or three years he's really been wanting a kayak. Him and I even went around pricing them one day a few summers ago to see what kind of deals we could find. Since then, he would always mention it or ask for one, and we all just kind of joked about it or ignored the request all together.Well this past week, he again mentioned it to Bo (my sister's boyfriend whoops - fiance), and so we actually considered it as an option.So yesterday afternoon, we blindfolded him in the car, drove all around the city trying to trick him so he didn't figure out where we were going, and even led him blindfolded into the store. When we finally took it off of him, he was so very excited! And so now he has his very own kayak. He liked it so much actually, that he sat in it last night to watch the FSU baseball game, in the middle of our living room!

Please ignore our messiness... ok?

So here's a recap: cute boys, yummy fruit, VBS, Disney world, kayaks, wedding dresses, and more all in one week. It's tons of fun though, and I really do enjoy this great life I've been given! Tonight after work, we're taking the boys bowling with a couple of our friends and some other little ones as well. Going to be another crazy night, but it'll be oh-so-much-fun! Can't wait to spend more time with my sweet boyfriend and his incredibly cute twins :)

Love to everyone, and I'll catch ya later! :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Profiling The BBN

A little over a week ago I joined a new community - the Better Blogger Network. And so far I'm loving it. It's a place for blogging peeps to join together and share information and support. There is a lovely group of ladies running the site that offer tips, suggestions, advice and other helpful info about blogging and everything that comes along with it. You can join groups and chime in on discussion boards to connect with other members and make new online friends. 

Everything I've seen on the site so far has been interesting or helpful or exciting to read. It's been a real good thing so far. The site has only been around for a month or so, but they already have over 500 members on it already! And to celebrate these 500 members, their hosting a pretty awesome giveaway, open to anyone who is a member. And I for one would love to win it! But of course who wouldn't?!

If you're a fellow blogger, head on over to the Better Blogger Network, and go ahead and sign-up, because I think you'll like it. You can also check out my page HERE if you would like. :) Find some other lovely blog ladies and add them as friends. You're sure to see some good things and make some new friends as well.

Can't wait to spend some more time on the site and make new blogging friends!!


Friday, June 8, 2012


So, in stalking around Pinterest and a couple of random blogs this morning, I've found a new photo editing website. I used to like Picasa's "Picnik," but they kind of did away with it, and so I haven't been able to whiten teeth or thinnify photos or brighten the colors in a few months. But PicMonkey is even better than just those few things.

I've just barely begun playing around with it a little bit, but I'm already loving some of the awesome things that it can do. Right now, it's in the trial phase and so the features that you would normally have to pay for, are all free. I guess if they want money eventually, I need to play around a lot with them now to decide if it's worth it or not. But for now, it's all Fo Freeeee!! And I definitely intend on utilizing it as much as possible.

My plan is to play with it for a few months and get really good at making my "ordinary" pictures look at least a little more professional using some of their cool features and effects and other fun stuffs. Then, hopefully it will aid in my attempt to take professional-looking pictures for Megan and Bo to document their new engagement. :)

And remember again those Pinterest boards I was talking about? Well I went and made a new one myself all about Learning Photography. Its all purely research I assure you, and I am of course not enjoying any of the extra time I've spent on Pinterest in the last few days...... *wink*

Here's just one pictures that I've played around with a little bit. The top one is the original, un-edited photo, and the bottom one is what I did in PicMonkey.

EDITS: brightened pic, tuned up colors a bit, whitened both of our teeth, and made myself a little bit more tan.

They're not huge changes, but I do think it enhances the picture at least somewhat. And I'm sure the more I play with the program and learn how to use it, I will obviously get better at it. The site itself is pretty easy to navigate and most of the features are self-explanatory. The couple that I don't know how to use will probably only require a little big of Google-ing in order to learn what it meansa, and then I'll be "burning" and "dodging" things all over the place...

I don't plan on making this my sole photo editing software, as it's still not as simple and quick as Picasa is. It's basically just an add-on editor for photos that just need a little somethin' extra. Still though, I'm pretty psyched to play with it more in the future and make some of my pictures a little prettier!!

Love and happy weekend wishes to everyone!! :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I can tell already - there is going to be some Pinsanity going on in our future. Remember how yesterday I said that I'm sure wedding boards would pop up on Pinterest? Well, it's happened already... This morning I got this email.

Of course. It only took a day and look what's happened. But honestly, it's fine with me because I'm probably at the 80% excitement level of wedding stuff, compared to her most likely 100%, if not more like 150%. (Did that sentence just make any sense?? Hope so...) Anyways, the pinning has already begun, and we're not yet even in "full swing" of this thing.

Megan already knew her main color was going to be yellow, because that's both her's and Bo's favorite color. So it was an obvious choice. Here's a few of the nice yellow things she's found so far. And that cake - hello! It couldn't be more perfect for her I'm quite sure...

She also has a few ideas pinned of cute little things for around the reception, some cute ideas of pictures to display, a twist on the traditional guest book and something I for one am excited about as a future recipient of a little brides maid gift :)


Also, I had the idea to attempt to take her engagement photos for her. That way we can hopefully save some extra money if I end up succeeding! :) I figure between Jeff and I, and our two relatively "fancy" camera's, we have the potential to get some really good shots. If not, at least we had fun and tried, and then later down the road they will look into getting some "professional" shots done if I can't deliver any share-worthy photographs. 

So I've already gone on a pinning frenzy for engagement shots. I'll be doing some research and blog stalking of actual photographers in order to get some good ideas of shots and poses and stuff like that. And of course, we will let you know how all of this goes as it comes. Right now, looks like it won't be for a few months or so before we attempt the photographs. But here are a few of the ideas Megan and I have pinned so far... (Mostly I pinned them to remember the composition of the photo or the pose...but also they love baseball so they definitely want to do something similar the those below.)

So, if we're lucky, Jeff and I will be able to get some good shots and we can save some moola. And I'm actually super stoked about getting the chance to do this. I talked to Little today at lunch, and we already have a couple of locations and places in mind for us to shoot at. Hopefully it all works out and we get some good ones! (And whether they look amazingly awesome or horribly awful, you can rest assured I will at least share a few here on the ole' bloggy-blog once we get it done!)

Also - please be aware, NONE of the pictures above in this post are my own. You can find them all on Pinterest, with their proper links, on Megan's new board, "Wedding Ideas!!"

Hope you guys are ready for some wedding posts and photos and information and brainstorming, because it's only day two of the engagement, and we've got 345 days to go...happy wedding planning! :)

Love to all.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Proposal For My Sister

I'm sure most of you have heard by now via Facebook & Instagram (if you haven't, we're clearly not Facebook friends), but...MY BABY SISTER IS ENGAGED!!

Last night, her dear, sweet boyfriend fiance proposed to her after dating for 6 1/2 years.

He surprised her by showing up at her work (The Growing Room), and getting down on one knee right as she was locking up. He had arranged a couple of people to be there to document, and so there were two photographers and a videographer. (All people we know/go to church with.) I'm not sure exactly what he said to her, or how nervous he might have been, but I know Megan was shocked and thrilled that this was happening. She obviously said YES, and then excitedly told him he needed to hurry up and actually put that ring on her finger! :) The "paparazzi" spent a few minutes afterwards congratulating them with hugs and kisses and lots of smiles, and then Meg and Bo headed off. (Next six photos all taken by Jennifer Barineau.)

Megan thought Bo was taking her to a nice dinner for just the two of them. But what she didn't know was that 16 of her family and friends were already set up in a private dining room at Marie Livingston's Steakhouse with cake, balloons and presents, patiently super anxiously awaiting their arrival.

Cake made by the lovely Rachelle Scott! :)
When they finally got there, she was totally and completely surprised, and obviously over-the-moon elated. She wore a huge smile on her face, and a sparkly new ring on her left hand. We all swarmed around them to give hugs and to gawk at the beautiful bling she was so proud of. I may or may not have teared up a little, and I'm pretty sure my Mama may or may not have as well... ;)

We all had a wonderful time eating and talking and hanging out together. Before our food arrived however, Jeff and I coordinated the taking of take lots of family portraits with the newly engaged couple, and they all came out pretty great. (Here are a few.)

She is of course ready to start planning already, and I'm quite sure we will the second they get back from the cruise this weekend. (She is going with her future family for her future brother-in-law's high school graduation present.) I'm sure there will be new Pinterest boards popping up, as well as three-ring binders with clippings and photos, and maybe even a real-life bulletin board at the house to organize and plan all of the thoughts and ideas. And I for one am actually excited about it too!

I'm so happy for my baby sister. She is a real grown up now, I'm aware of that, but she'll always be my "Little." I love her with all my heart, and I'm so excited for her and Bo - not only for the next  year of engagement and planning - but for the rest of their sweet little lives together. I know they love each other, and will respect and care for each other. I thank God that he has placed a Godly man in my sister's life to provide for her, love her and protect her!

I love both of you so so so very much. And I'm so excited for this next part or your relationship journey. I'm also excited to be standing up there with you and be a part of your special day!!!

Love and happy wishes to everyone! :)