In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30....Really???



When I was at Target this morning I was kind of in a Christmas shopping mood, but there wasn’t any Christmas d├ęcor to be found.  I really shouldn’t be thinking Christmas when Easter is just around the corner, but I couldn’t help myself when it felt and looked like the first week of December!  
We had a few great weeks of warm spring-like weather in the Indianapolis area, but the seasons don’t always time themselves with the calendar.  I’ve checked the calendar, and today is definitely March 30.  April is almost here, but you wouldn’t know it by looking outside.  You wouldn’t know it because it’s snowing.... and it’s snowing hard where I’m at; it’s even sticking a little!  One word…Ugh!!!  I wish it was warm and sunny and a little more spring-like right now.
Oh well, there’s not a thing I can do about the weather, so today I will accept the snow, curl up on the couch with my dog and cat, and take a much needed nap before I go to church this evening.  Although I have a million things that I could do with the rest of my afternoon, I’ve been sick for over a week, and a nap trumps everything else on today's to-do-list.   I haven’t been sick enough to stay home from work and be in bed everyday, but I’ve been just sick enough to be exhausted everyday.   It’s been an achy body, stuffy head, runny nose, sore throat kind of sick.  It’s not been fun, and this weather probably has something to do with it. 
Well, this post is coming to an end, because I have an Einstein asiago bagel and a cup of coffee waiting for me.  Soooo not a healthy lunch…..but it is somewhat warm and comforting on this wintry spring day.  So good bye for now dear blog readers.  I wish you all a happy spring…. even though it feels like I should be wishing you a Merry Christmas. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Celebrating Two Years of Marriage Bliss





My husband did a great job planning our anniversary weekend.  He did a great job, because he thought about the things I enjoy, and he planned a weekend based on that thoughtfulness.  Here are some of the highlights from my weekend.


We started our day out at Findlay Market.
http://www.findlaymarket.org/



   
It is a lot like Indy's City Market, but it is open all day every day.
In general, I find Cincinnati to be less clean in comparison to Indy.  The location of the market gave me the same feeling, but overall I liked this market better than Indy's. 


There's nothing like bringing a little bit of freshness into the city.


I love the atmosphere of a city market, and Matt knows that.  It was very thoughtful of him to take me here. 

Around the perimeter of the building is where one would find the fresh produce, plants and crafts.  Inside the building is all of the fresh meat, sea food, dairy, bread and pastries. 

This freshly made Belgian waffle with whip cream and strawberries was soooo yummy!!!  I love the market!

This is me enjoying my waffle and coffee.

Matt decided to get fresh sushi instead of a waffle.  They were supposed to make the sushi tempura style, but it ended up looking and tasting like pancake covered sushi.  We wouldn't reccommend the sushi, but Matt said that is what happens when you have Americans make your sushi:)

After the market, we went to the heart of city, Fountain Square.

Right on the square is this fabulous Italian bistro, Via Vite.
http://www.viaviterestaurant.com/

Me enjoying my lunch at Via Vite.

I ordered the CLT, a.k.a the crab salad sandwich.
  
Matt ordered the open faced caprese panini.

After lunch we headed to IKEA.

I found some fabulous buys at Ikea, and I will have to blog about them in a later post.

Our last stop was the main event.  This is where we spent our wedding night two years ago, and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this enchanting bed and breakfast.
http://www.stonebridgeinnandspa.com/

This is not a place to stay if you are trying to save money.  The nightly rates are somewhat high, but it is worth every penny if your intent is to splurge a little for a special occassion.

This is the name of the room that we stay in when we come here.  We booked this room four months ago as this room is booked often. 
http://www.stonebridgeinnandspa.com/garden_spa.php

It is not a huge room, but it is a beautiful room with a beautiful view of the gardens, a cozy fireplace and a relaxing jaccuzi tub.  This picture does not do the room justice. 


Piano music and appetizers are from 6-7.

This is Matt eating his fancy appetizers while listening to the piano in the great room.

When we went back to our room for the evening, chocolate covered strawberries were waiting for us with a personalized card wishing us a happy anniversary.  The bed was turned down for us, chocolate was on the pillow, the fireplace was going, and candles were lit all over the room. This inn knows how to do the details.  Everything from the candle lit drive and porch to the blankets on the porch swing do not go unnoticed by me.   I definitely notice and appreciate the details.

The inn will make dinner reservations for you, but we decided to eat in and order a pizza.  Classy huh?  I love how the inn gave us fancy plates and napkins for our oh so very casual pizza.  By the way, the pizza was nasty and we would not reccommend it.  The only downfall to going to an inn in Batesville is that there is nothing in Batesville, not even a Papa Johns.  Fortunately, the inn has snacks for the guest.  There are always sodas, juices, coffee, chips, crackers and fresh pastries down stairs for the guests to enjoy.

I realized that we were officially past the newly wed phase when we were eating pizza and watching basketball in our upscale suite.

Breakfast was beautiful and delicious.

Me enjoying my morning coffee.

Creme brulee French toast with scrambled eggs and sausage on the side ~ YUM!  I couldn't ask for anything more.  I had a great anniversary.  Thank you to my wonderful husband for taking the time to plan a memorable weekend!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Furnishing our Master Bedroom with Craigslist








Let the furnishing of the new house begin!!!  Let me just start by saying, that from the moment I walked into the house, I knew exactly what I wanted in the way of new furniture.  I also knew that Matt and I had a budget we were determined to stick to.  We don't want to put any furniture on a credit card; we only want to use cash. 

This weekend we started furnishing our bedroom.  We were looking for furniture similar to what we like at Ikea. Ikea already has really good buys on new furniture, but I was determined to find furniture that looked as good as Ikea's, but cost less.  We were successful with that this weekend thanks to Craigslist.  On Friday, we cashed my pay check and bought five pieces of furniture.  We only used the cash, and we didn't even use the whole paycheck!  If we would have bought the five pieces of furniture new from Ikea, we would have spent $1,450 before tax.  We walked away with all five pieces for $545.  We are so thankful for great bargains! 

Below are pictures of the pieces of furniture we liked from Ikea, and pictures of the furniture we purchased from Craigslist.

 
This is the bed we were going to get from Ikea.  It is listed for $299, but it is on sale for $199.


This is the exact same bed from Ikea.  We found it on Craigslist for $150.  The picture only shows the head board and the foot board, but we purchased the entire bed frame.  It also came with the metal supports that would have cost us an additional $50 at Ikea.  We saved $100 buying this bed frame used.  There is nothing wrong with this bed, so we got a great deal.

This is a nightstand that we liked at Ikea.  It is listed for $199.

This is a similar night stand that we purchased off of Craigslist for $50.  We saved $149 buying used. 

This is a dresser we liked at Ikea.  It is listed for $299.

This is a similar dresser we found on Craigslist for $120.  We saved $179 buying used.

This is a dresser we liked from Ikea.  It is listed for $299.

We purchased this dresser from Craigslist for $150.  That is a savings of $149. 

 Both dressers and the nightstand came from the same seller on Craigslist.  She is a mom who buys old unwanted furniture, refinishes them, and turns them into beautiful pieces of furniture.  By purchasing from her I was helping a mom with her business, and I love that.  I was aslo recycling unwanted furniture, I also love that.  Lastly, I was saving myself the time of refinishing three pieces of furniture.  I have bought used furniture and refinished it myself in the past, and I could have done the same thing for all of our bedroom furniture.  Buying from her saved me the work, and her prices were still pretty good. 



This is an armoir we liked from Ikea. It is listed for $399.

This is a finished piece we found on Craigslist for $250.  The guy selling it refinished it and painted it black. It would look perfect with all of our other black furniture, but........we didn't buy it........
.....we bought this instead.  It was $75 on Craigslist.  It is the exact same one as the one above, but it needs to be refinished and painted black.  I have some experience in refinishing furniture, so it is a task I think I can handle.  Compared to the Ikea armoir, this is a savings of $324.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The NCAA Tournament and My Marriage






Two years ago I married the most wonderful man in the world ~ but I also married a basketball fanatic during the same time as the NCAA tournament.  It is a long story about how the date March 20, 2009 came to be our wedding date.  I will have to share that story with you all sometime, but nonetheless two years ago Matt and I committed ourselves to one another before God, our pastor and pastor’s wife, and our parents…..and technically one of my former students who happened to be in the church building at the time we got married, but again ~ that is a story for a different time.   Anyway, we got married on a Friday night, and we spent the weekend at Stone Bridge Inn.  It is a charming, romantic inn in Batesville, Indiana.  I will share more about this enchanting place with you later.  I remember naively thinking that we were going to spend the weekend lost in our love, and to my surprise I didn’t marry a leading actor in a romantic comedy…..I married a MAN!  My wonderful husband not only wanted to spend the weekend with me, but with the TV. and the many basketball games that were occurring that weekend.  I couldn’t believe it!  This led to our very first fight after being married for all of two hours.  Basketball became an issue that year for us, but being newly weds we quickly made up, and it didn’t come up again until……our one year anniversary.
          Yeah that’s right.  I’m seriously not kidding.  After nearly a wonderful year of marriage I learned in January of 2010 that Matt was taking a four day weekend on the weekend of our anniversary.  Naturally, I thought he was planning a surprise romantic getaway for our anniversary even though I never hinted that I wanted him to do such a thing.  Again, I was very naive in that first year of marriage.  Not too long before our anniversary I learned that Matt wasn’t planning a surprise getaway for us; he was taking a four day weekend for the basketball tournament!  Apparently he did that every year, but since we only dated for three months before we got married, I didn’t know that.  I was really hurt that he didn’t make any plans for our one year anniversary.  In his defense, I never communicated that I wanted him to make plans; I just assumed that he would.  In his mind we were saving up money for a down payment on a new house, so he was doing a good thing by not spending money.  We had a lot to learn about communication in our first year of marriage, however, once I communicated that I wanted to get away for the weekend, he did not hesitate to quickly make plans for our anniversary weekend.
          This year, we have the communication thing down!  Matt has completely learned that my love language is quality time.  And do you know how he knows that?  He knows that, because I clearly told him.  It’s amazing what communication does.  This year Matt made plans to go back to that inn we stayed at on our wedding night.  He also planned a wonderful day in Cincinnati for me.  He took the time to think about what I would want to do ~ things like the city market, an Italian bistro and a trip to Ikea.  I have had a wonderful day with my husband, and right now we are watching a relaxing game of…. Butler vs. Pittsburg.  That’s right you heard me ~ we’re watching basketball.  But there is one big difference this year ~ it was my idea to order a pizza and watch the game instead of going out to dinner.  You see, Matt has done so much for me this weekend without even thinking of himself,  the least I could do was watch the local Bulldogs with him ~ although I did get a little bored and began blogging while “watching” the game.  The bottom line is that when he thinks of me and my needs and wants, it makes it easy for me to do the same thing for him.  I am so thankful for him.  God gave me a wonderful gift when he brought him into my life.  It’s only been two years of marriage, and I am looking forward to many many more.



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dear Daylight Saving Time

Dear Daylight Saving Time:

         Oh how I long for the days when you weren’t a part of my life.  Not having you around was something I used to like about Indiana.  Because of you, my entire week is off schedule ~ and I am the kind of girl who really likes her schedule.  I have found myself hitting the snooze button a little too often this week, which means I have been rushed out the door without my morning coffee.  Because I don’t have enough time in the morning to do all the things in my morning routine, I have to do the things that I would normally do in the morning on my lunch break.  Since my lunch break is meant to be study time, my study time has been pushed back to the evenings.  And just so you know, evening study time is basically hopeless, because my evening time is usually husband time.  Then there is bed time; dear, sweet bed time…..how I usually love it!  Normally, my head hits the pillow and I’m out, but because of you I sleeplessly lay awake in bed looking at the clock and counting down the few hours of sleep that I will get before my alarm goes off.  I hope I get used to you soon DST, but until then I will just have to endure your inconveniences.  Maybe some day we can be friends; but today is not that day.

Sincerely,
Rachel

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Cookie Crazed Day

It’s that time of year again ~ Girl Scout cookie time.  This year I have been really good to not buy any cookies….that is until today.  It’s not a bad thing to buy the cookies.  After all, they are for a good cause.  It’s just that when I buy a box of Girls Scout cookies, I can’t stop with one or two; I basically devour the entire box.  That’s exactly what happened today.  Once a year I usually give in and buy a box of cookies, but I told myself I wasn’t going to do that this year.   The past few weeks I have walked by several little Girl Scouts tempting me with their cookies, and I have resisted the temptation and declined their request by not making eye contact and quickly walking by their cookie stand.  Today, I just couldn’t resist.  I kept thinking about those oh so delicious tagalongs, and I gave in.  I mean I really gave in.  I didn’t even need to go to the grocery store today; I only went for the cookies.  How sad is that???  I bought a box, and as soon as I got in the car I opened it.  Once I tasted that first bite chocolate covered peanut buttery goodness there was no stopping me.  The cookies had me at the first bite.  By the time I got home, half the box was gone.  A short five hours later I had indulged in the entire box of cookies.  Even though I struggle with my blood sugar on a regular basis, I still ate the whole box.  I knew the cookies were going to make me crash for most of the afternoon, and give me a big headache; yet I still gave in!  Was it worth it?  Well kind of…..they were really good…..and it does only happen once a year.  Today's episode definitely made my healthy breakfast, salad for lunch and piece of fish for dinner meaningless.  Tagalongs are full of fat and calories, so although the walk I took in my neighborhood was a nice idea, it barely burnt the calories from one cookie.  Blast those Girl Scout cookies!  Why must they be so delicious?  Maybe next year, I will do better.  Maybe next year, I will resist the temptation.  Tell me I’m not the only one who does stuff like this.  What kind of weaknesses do you have when it comes to sweets?  Please tell me.  Maybe it will make me feel better about the little cookie crazed episode I experienced today.


Tagalongs ~ my Girl Scout cookie weakness

the very first cookie......

.....and not too long after, the very last cookie :(



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Super Easy Pulled BBQ Chicken and Coleslaw

So very yummy ~ that's the only way I can describe both of these fantastic recipes!  I was looking for slow cooker recipes on the internet when I came across these.  Today, I came home for my lunch break and spent all of twenty minutes in the kitchen preparing this meal.  It was super easy!  I threw al of my ingredients in the crock-pot, turned the crock-pot on and walked away.  I tossed the coleslaw together, covered it up and put it in the fridge.  I did some studying, went back to work and five hours later when I came home from work, my house smelt like I worked really hard in the kitchen ~ but I didn’t!  That’s what I love about the slow cooker!   I didn’t even have to thaw out the chicken; the crock-pot did all the work for me!  I came home warmed up some corn and plated the meal.  I love it when it’s that easy!
Not only was this meal ridiculously easy to throw together, it was also ridiculously inexpensive.  The ingredients these recipes called for are generally things that I keep on hand, so it worked out really well.  Because I only buy chicken when it's on sale, it's always stocked up in my freezer, and every other ingredient was in my house with the exception of cabbage and bread. 
Overall, this recipe scored really high in my house. The chicken was tender and flavorful, and the coleslaw was the perfect blend of tangy and sweet.  Matt LOVED this meal, and he is expecting me to make again very soon.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Answered Prayer

Brace yourself dear reader, because this is going to be a long blog.  I will try to be brief, but I feel as if my brain has so much for these fingers to type today.  If you want a good read about an awesome God who hears our prayers then this blog is for you.
As many of you know, we recently bought a bank owned home knowing that there had been previous water damage in the basement from a sump pump issue (which the bank had informed us had been fixed prior to our purchase).  The deal that we got on our house was so good that we went ahead and purchased the home “as is” knowing that we would need to take care of a minor mold issue that had recently started growing due to the problems from the sump pump…..at least that’s what the inspector told us.  Knowing that we didn’t want to deal with any amount of mold ourselves, we planned to spend our tax check on professional mold removal.  Mold is expensive to remove professionally, and we knew that.  An average estimate on mold removal for a basement of our size is about $10,000, but we also knew that we didn’t have that much to remove ~ or so we thought.  We were in the house for less than a month when we had a mold specialist who Matt knew come to our home and give us an estimate for the mold removal.  They did not have good news for us.  Apparently mold had been growing in the basement for awhile now, because it had been PAINTED OVER!!! The worse part is that it was going to cost us $8,000 to remove, and that was with a discount!!!!
So that was a Monday; on Tuesday of the same week Matt walked down to the basement only to find it covered in water…because that’s just what we needed after an $8,000 estimate of mold removal.  At that time, central Indiana was thawing out after two months of ice and snow accumulation, so the ground was saturated.  Our first instinct was the sump pump (which the bank told us they fixed), but we really weren’t sure.  We called the warranty company, but they said that if they sent someone out to fix the sump pump and the cause of the problem wasn’t the sump pump, we would have to pay for everything!  Uncertain, we called my dad.  He helped us clean up the basement only to find the water was steadily coming in from a section where the walls and the floor met.  It appeared we had a leak in our foundation which neither insurance nor warranty would cover.  At this point panic set in!  We already had an $8,000 estimate for mold one day prior, and the foundation issue looked like it was going to be at least $6,000 to fix.  
We definitely didn’t understand why this was happening.  We were certain the Lord wanted us to have this house, because He opened so many doors in order for us to get it…..but I have to tell you that my humanity seriously caused me to doubt God and our purchase when I realized how much this basement could potentially cost us.  We had just bought this house, and all of sudden we were looking at up to $15,000 in uninsured maintenance that needed to be done immediately.  We made all of the appropriate phone calls to have people come give us estimates, but no one could come out for at least a week.  All we could do was try to keep the water out of the basement, wait a week for the professionals to give us their opinions, and of course pray ~ pray that the Lord would somehow provide for us to get the issue taken care of correctly and that the issue wouldn’t put us into debt.  We have savings, but $15,000 is a lot of money to fork out on an unfortunate and unplanned event.    
One week after we first discovered the water, someone was able to come to our home and give us our first piece of fantastic news.  He was a foundation specialist for a company who builds homes like ours.  I don’t really understand what he was talking about, because he was explaining piping and how the house is built.  All I really heard was blah, blah, blah….until he said that he believed the problem was the sump pump!!!   He went on to explain why he believed that….again all I heard was blah, blah, blah……but who cares why as long it was the sump pump!!!  The sump pump is covered under our warranty!!!  Come to find out, the bank did replace the sump pump, but they replaced it with the cheapest thing they could possibly use.  Sure enough, warranty came out the next day and fixed the problem for a flat fee of $75.  What an answer to prayer!  Don’t stop reading, because it just gets better.  The next day we had a few people come out to give us more estimates about the mold situation.  Someone who my boss knows has a small business that removes mold, and they once told my boss that they would give anyone who worked for my boss’ company a discount.  We had them come out, and we were told that they would do the same thing to our basement that the other companies were going to do, but it would only cost us $1,600.  That is MUCH better than $8,000 and guess how much we got back on our tax check ~ $1,600.    
As I write this blog, I have people in my basement removing the mold for a fraction of the cost that we were expecting.  This situation may seem small compared to all of the horrific things that go on in our world on a daily basis, but I am so glad that my God cares about things big and small.  He cares for the sick, the poor, the widow, and the orphans; but His Word also says that He cares for the sparrow.  We went to Him with our needs, and He provided.  Dear reader, today I am so sweetly reminded that my God answers prayer!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My New Discovery

If you've read any of my blogs, you may already notice my new discovery.  That's right, today I discovered www.thecutestblogontheblock.com .     It's a website that has TONS of free templates for blogs!!! I’ve only been blogging for a month, so I was really excited to find this website and all the choices it gave me.  Who knew such a website existed???  I sure didn't…..but GOOGLE did!  Some may call me slow for just now discovering this website, but I'm pretty proud of myself.  Maybe I should have known that I wasn't limited to only using blogspot templates, but I honestly never thought about it until today.  Although I like the new look, today’s unexpected project consumed much of my time due to my inability to make a final decision about the look of my blog…..ugh, I’m sooo indecisive!  I still have a lot I want to get done today; laundry, house cleaning, and groceries have yet to be conquered, so today’s “blog time” is coming to an end.  It may have taken me most of the day to figure out and customized , but I'm really happy with the new look.   Maybe I'll keep this new look…..or maybe I won't.  Thanks to my new discovery, I have soooo many options:-)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

BLT Egg Bake






 I cook big dinners Friday-Sunday, but weeknights are usually leftovers or go-to meals like or soup, salad and sandwiches.  Our work schedules make it difficult for me to get a big hearty dinner on the table Monday-Thursday.  I found this recipe out of a Taste of Home magazine years ago, and Matt and I love it.  It’s quick, it’s easy and I always have the ingredients on hand.  It’s not a Sunday dinner, but it’s definitely a satisfying weeknight supper.  It’s a one-dish meal that takes about thirty minutes from start to finish, and it was a yummy meal in my house tonight!  I hope you like its convenience and taste as much as we do ~ ENJOY!








**The recipe called for American cheese; I used provolone, because that’s what was in my fridge. 

**I used a pack of precooked turkey bacon instead of frying up my own bacon.  Precooked bacon saves me time, and I can’t stand the smell of fried pig lingering around the house once bacon has been fried.  

**My only suggestion would be to double the recipe if you have a family; Matt and I eat the whole dish in one meal:)