Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Mercies

You know those moments where it feels no one quite understands your struggle or can help you, where no can relate? Maybe very few people ask how you are, maybe lots of people check in on you but you have no answers for them (or yourself)? Maybe due to the physical, spiritual, emotional demands of everyday life and struggles, you feel sluggish and exhausted? Those moments when you turn to prayer not only asking for answers, but also for a little encouragement…wiping of tears, understanding and a gentle push to keep going?

I know you know the moments I am talking about, I know I’m not the only one…whether the trial is small or large – in the grand scheme of your life, sometimes you just need a glimmer of hope, reminding you that your Savior hears, understands and can hold your hand as you press forward.
But, in those moments, do you ever have one of those days when every single article you read, every devotional, every bible verse or hymn lyrics you stumble upon via someone else’s facebook wall – is exactly what you needed to hear?

That was my day today.  After a particularly difficult week full of frustrations and disappointment- with too short of a weekend to recover and a long Monday looming in front of me (I was on the metro by 6:30 am……), God blessed me with nuggets of hope. When I arrived at work, bright and early, I took a few moments to check emails, read a few blogs, mentally prepare for the day – and then again, a short part of my lunch break spent reading, and it seems that everything I read was written for me. I don’t believe in coincidence, so I am grateful our Savior intended these articles for me, among others.
And, maybe you, like me, had a difficult week, weekend or Monday, maybe you have your own hardships tugging at your heart, your own worries in the pit of your stomach. Take a few moments to read these articles that encouraged my heart. These were my “new mercies” today. Maybe these words will lift your spirits just as they lifted mine.

I loved these 4 articles so much….because they weren’t specific – they weren’t about death, marriage, singleness, motherhood, job searching, poverty, adultery, infertility, temptations and sin, sick babies, etc. I read and reread these articles and was encouraged by them all. And the next really long Monday or stressful week or hard situation, I can pull these same articles out and know that the God who encouraged and loved and carried me the last time I read them will do so again.  And anyone else can read these very same articles and be encouraged, even if they are in totally different life phases!  Sometimes I love being encouraged by words and scripture that is so very specific to the situation I am going through – and sometimes, I love being encouraged by words that seem timeless and broad, reminding me that nothing is new or difficult to God. He is able to encourage multiple people in multiple situations with truths that apply to all, but seem so specific and dear to the individual. He is able to control all and bring hope during all circumstances – both my bad days and yours. Just liked He walked with the Saints of past, granting them new mercies each day, He can and will do so for us as well.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Well we have some big news….

No, we aren’t having a baby.

We are moving the middle of next month –and no worries folks, just to a different DC suburb, not moving away. It’s a few more metro stops out – in a nice little safe suburban area, but definitely not full of nightlife, restaurants and shopping like we are used to. (Although in less than 5 minutes, we can walk to a Trader Joes, Whole Foods, a few casual restaurants and 2 coffee places so I assume I will survive suburbia). Most days,  I’m a bit torn on how I feel about the move. Many days  I am not thrilled about it – because I love our little area of the metro DC area which is technically a suburb, but just as urban as DC.  We can get to many places in DC quicker than some people in DC can get there. I love urban living – walking to the Georgetown waterfront for Saturday morning coffee, evening strolls by monuments, being close to the movie theater, restaurants, bars and shops. Our first apartment seemed the perfect compromise for our first year of marriage – splitting our commute (Dave works in suburbs) and living in a safe yet urban area. Plus it was our first married home – full of happy memories, laughter, a few fights, maybe a few burned dinners, celebrations with friends, but mostly just the ordinary blessings of finally living together, day in and day out.  I love(d) our first little corner of the Capitol and it will indeed be sad to leave.

But, what we don’t like about our first place: less than 650 square feet – which might be doable except we have no closet space in our older building. Dave and I really like each other but living somewhere where you both can’t fit comfortably into the kitchen at the same time and you don’t have any private space is difficult. It’s made even more difficult when guests come and we fit 4-5 people into a 1br >650 sq. ft. apt. We basically wake our guests up (who had to sleep on the couch) when we get ready for work in the morning . Also, we lack some basic amenities like a dishwasher and central heat and air (I have learned that many in DC do not consider these basic amenities. Growing up in Mississippi, I would not have survived with the tiny little wall AC unit we have currently!!)

So although I tear up about leaving our neighborhood pretty much 2-3 times a week, we are eager to gain amenities like central heat and air, a dishwasher, 2 bedrooms, almost 250 extra sq. ft, a patio, a pool, CLOSETS! It will be nice to have our families visit this fall and have a proper room to place them in! And like most urban people, we discovered that the only way to get more space for a price we could afford is to move further out. I’ve gotten a few snobby comments about moving further away from DC, but we have to do what is best for us. In all honesty, it’s not that far, just a short metro ride away. I love to host gatherings so I hope we can still do that on the weekends – cookout on our new patio anyone? Not to mention we have a couple friends in our new area....

Before we started packing, I took a few photos…basically I wanted to document and remember our first happy little home…..and to show you readers our first little love nest. I kept putting a "where we live" post until our place was perfect, but now I have no choice! We never finished framing and hanging all our pictures, buying new pillows, etc, painting furniture, but we did at least set up a home – imperfect and tight, but a home.  One of the promises Dave made is that if I moved, we would tackle a few projects a month until our apt is fully put together. Home improvement cost money (and time) so we have to spread our projects out, but I hope Dave is excited for a few months of furniture painting, frame shopping, Ikea hacks, etc.

So, here folks, is where life happened for us this first year….

You walk in our apartment and their is immediately a small hallway/entrance area that houses a little art, a bookcase, a coat closet and tiny linen closet and leads to the bathroom on the right, the bedroom straight ahead the living/dining/kitchen on the left.

the hallway...
The cross picture was a gift from my friend Kristen at Thimblepress (If 
you have read my blog long enough, you know I am huge Thimblepress 
fan - and a huge Kristen fan) I have several prints, scarfs and 
even my wedding invitations/programs/etc) 

cheap bookcase decorated with some MS and DC art!

the bathroom on the right...
Blues and Grays - tried to work with the colors!

the bedroom straight ahead....

We had "His and Her" dressers - mine used to be white "pre-move" as 
opposed to white with scratches all over it! I intend on painting it 
gray once we move to the new of my many projects!

 I love our bedding but as far as night stands, we kind of just used what we had. 
The table on the right is really an end table for our living room but I 
didn't have room and the small dresser on the left will likely be painted to go in 
our new guestroom. I'll be bargain shopping for some new "his and her" nightstands-
and a lamp for my side so I can keep reading when Dave wants to go to bed!

basically the only wedding pics we've hung!

the living room/dining room/kitchen to the left....

**The Living room was my favorite room. First off, it had multiple authentic mid century pieces which I love! It also had blues and greens and geometric patterns.  It reflects us better than our any other room in our tiny apartment.  Finally, this room was the closest to being completely decorated - it had some art, the most color, the largest number of photos - and it's obviously where we spent most of our waking hours. We still have a a few pictures  to frame for the next apartment (and maybe a few pillows to buy) but I am glad we have most of the furniture/decor for this room so that at least one room in our new place can go ahead and start feeling like home! (My mom, lifetime mover, taught me that trick -  get one room unpacked and mostly set up first, so that when the rest of your house seems chaotic with picture frames lying against the walls and boxes unpacked and packing peanuts everywhere, you can walk into the unpacked tidy decorated room and calm down!

Don't you just love that rug?

The green ottomans in the corner serve as extra seating for 
parties - and one houses my nephew's toy box! (notice how our closet on the left 
doesn't even go all the way the ceiling-- as I said, crammed for storage!)

I call this wall our "Mississippi" wall -- all Mississippi prints and 
3 Mississippi artists (including my brother in law)

Our little "bar" -- I thought we had a better picture than this. Sadly you can't see 
the "I love you more than biscuits and gravy" sign on the left wall---it's a special 
sign because it was the breakfast bar at our wedding!

Our wedding invitation - notice the crack in the glass -- yep, put that
 on my project list for the next place!

and the dining room/kitchen...
So, I never took pictures of this room before I began taking pictures down and packing up (oops). Currently, the dining room serves as packing station as you can see in the picture below.  So, to give you a small idea, I am including pictures from thanksgiving -- we had a packed house and a fold out table, but you will get the idea...we also used this room as a workspace (you can see our desk and bulletin board in the left corner!)  I did not get any pictures of the kitchen, but no worries, the kitchen is just a kitchen. I never decorated it - because how do you really decorate an apartment kitchen without changing fixtures, etc. Our kitchen was separated from the dining room and living area by a partial wall (which as you can see, we stacked appliances on...hey, what did I say? NO STORAGE SPACE)

Packing Central

Living Room, Dining Room and a the kitchen entrance... (The metal tub 
on the floor was just temporarily there, it held cokes and beers)

Two tables set up for Thanksgiving - plus a desk that served as a buffet, ha!

It sure is tiny, but it's been a happy home. And, after several apartments falling through, we were so blessed to have this place work out.  Lots of wonderful memories here!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Bread and Wine Project: Easy Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

I have shared this recipe before -- in BLOG LAND - but I am sharing it again as a link up with Rachel Rewritten and Oh Simple Thoughts for a Special LINK UP called "The Bread and Wine Project"  

You may all remember how I planned on reading "Bread and Wine" as one of my summer reading books (and I have read it and loved it and will post more on this excellent book later).  The book shared short essays about life, love, family, trials, community - and it mostly centers around the table - because coming together around a table is a way to reconnect, nourish ourselves physically and emotionally, heal, rest and laugh.  Literally breaking bread together is often intimate and personal - when you feed someone, you meet one of their basic needs and you often time meet other needs as well, whether it is giving a new mom rest by bringing her a meal or enabling family fellowship over a holiday meal. The same goes with drinking - meeting a friend for coffee is more than just enjoying a warm beverage, it is preparing for a morning of encouragement and catching up; celebratory cocktails over a friend's promotion or engagement or to unwind after a huge project is a way to relax, celebrate and show support! 

So, in the spirit of "Bread and Wine", many bloggers are linking up to share their "go to" fellowship recipes, simple, complex, dessert, main dish, whatever you serve for times of fellowship!

*Not the best picture, but you get the idea - chocolate yummy goodness!

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

I've been making this chocolate chip pound cake recipe for years. Sure, there are fancier chocolate chip cake recipes you can try, but this recipe is just easy enough to justify the time  spent making it, but just fancy enough to feel like a real dessert.  It's essentially and "doctored up" cake mix. This is perfect to bring along to a dinner party or when it's your turn to bring the snack for Bible Study, Bridge Club, Book Club, etc. It's delicious on its own or with vanilla ice cream on top!

1 box yellow cake mix
1 3 ounce package of instant vanilla pudding
1 3 ounce package of instant chocolate pudding
8 ounces of sour cream
1 cup oil
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp of vanilla
4 eggs
6 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips

Mix all the ingredients together, pour into a greased bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  After it cools, it's optional to dust it with powdered sugar!

It's delicious and a great fellowship dish. Bake this cake soon and invite friends over for cake, coffee and conversation! 

A very "DC" 4th of July

There is something incredibly patriotic and pride-producing about spending the 4th in DC. I have spent 3 Independence Days in this great city, and enjoying your typical 4th of July activities - pool time, baseball, cookouts, fireworks, etc -- with the Nation's capitol and monuments in the background really reminds me of our freedom and how fortunate we are to live in this great (albeit imperfect) nation.  I've had a lot of happy 4th of July's - Massachusetts, Missouri (most of my childhood 4ths were spent at summer camp), Napa, Mississippi - and the reality is, as hard as I try to remember the reason for the holiday, it's easy to just treat the 4th as a fun summer celebration with friends - that's just not the case in DC. It's impossible to look at our nation's capitol on July 4th and not swell with pride and gratefulness. What we have, this very particular form of democracy, is rare. And so many days, specifically in DC, it is easy to look at the many things in America that need improvement (and we should try to fix these things) and get discouraged, but the fact is, we are fortunate that the responsibility, freedom and opportunity to elect new leaders and  draft new laws and aim to improve is so deeply rooted in our nation's history and political framework. 

Living in DC also makes me grateful that America is a melting pot.  I love that so many southerners live in DC, that when I am homesick, I can easily find a Mississippian to hang out with! But DC also has so many people from all over this country and all over the world.  This city is made up of so many people with different cultures, faiths, political outlooks, skin colors, than me - and all are American. Certainly the diversity is one of the things that makes this country so unique.

Dave and I basically took the whole 3 day weekend to relax -- minus a little cleaning, laundry and some studying (Dave, not me), we just enjoyed the holiday, fellowship and life in this great city and nation. 

Long holiday weekends are perfect for sleeping in, TV marathons, holding babies, reading, taking leisurely evening walks to a monument, enjoying America's pastime on America's birthday (what's more American than baseball and hot dogs on the 4th?), having dinner and fireworks and drinks with friends, and going to a dinner party where a  GENUINE TEXAN cooked yummy Brisket. I was also able to try 3 new recipes (to be discussed at a later date), have a girls day including brunch in Georgetown and time by the pool, finally hunt down snow cones (very few snow cones in DC and I don't know why), do a tiny bit of chores and go to the gym in an effort to rid myself of all the good holiday food calories! Dave and I ended the weekend together by cooking pork chops, sipping cocktails and snuggling up on the couch to watch Redbox movies.

Does your evening walk include monuments? :)

My newest friend Henry

Bid Dave and Henry first meet

Baseball on the 4th with 2 of my FAVS!

Seriously, this

Brisket, Mac and Cheese, Salad, Biscuits, Beer and Ice Cream 
Sandwiches-- the perfect Saturday night!

How Southerners do a pool day (I am kidding, kindof, because 
we actually ended up chatting more than reading!)

It took a lot of  Google searching to find this snow cone. Tiny, but oh so good.

Thanks to my friend, Mary Kendall, I have fallen in love with
 the Moscow Mule - a perfect summer drink. Moscow Mules 
are best served in cold copper mugs and thanks
 to Constance, I now have 2 mugs! Apparently I'm trendy.

If I had to pick my favorite DC weekends from our first year here, this would be near the top of the list. It was practically perfect in every way. Enough Dave Time. Enough Girl Time. Enough Group Time.  Time spend appreciating America. Time spent appreciating summer. Time spent enjoying DC. Time spent trying new things and new places. Time spent being productive. Time spent resting.

As cheesy as it may sound (and feel free to roll your eyes) --  this weekend reminded me how happy (and blessed) I am to live in America,  live in DC, have Dave as my sidekick through life and be surrounded by other wonderful people. And, just like I needed 3 days to stop focusing on the problems in our country and just reflect on the blessing of living in America, I needed 3 full days to not stress and just enjoy life! I am grateful that I was able to do both!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Life Lately :)

Hey, long time, no blog... so sorry, but life has been full and busy-- wonderful busy with celebrating our first wedding anniversary, enjoying girls nights and date nights and happy hours. Tidying house and cooking enchiladas  and baseball games and going to the movies. Sometimes I love blogging, but sometimes I love taking a short break from it to just enjoy living :)

I still have a couple wedding posts from my wedding series that I plan to finish up in the next couple weeks. (I know, past my one year deadline...but, to be fair, the posts are halfway written, just not completed) Although my wedding was wonderful, sorting through pictures is not the most fun so I procrastinated because it was time consuming...but I promise to finish soon!! My sister Marley is probably rolling her eyes at me breaking my "one year rule" on extended wedding celebrating, BUT I would like to point out that I held fast to the rule that your face book profile picture had to change from a wedding pic at the first year anniversary...and thanks to the Cochran campaign in Mississippi, my picture changed a month before in support of the Senator :) For those curious about my one year rule, read here. (Again, I apologize for being slow about this!)

On top of finishing the wedding series, I have a few other posts planned...reflections on year one of marriage, a fourth of July update, thoughts on DC, a summer to do list, reviews of the 4 books I have already read off my summer reading list, recipes, etc, but until then, here are some pictures from the last few weeks of life....

Beach Trip
We kicked off summer with a Maryland beach trip with sweet 
friends...cocktails, board games, dance parties, laying 
out, a shrimp boil and lots of fellowship!

Love these two ladies!

Yep, its true, he wore my Auburn hat :)

Family Vacation in Tennessee
We met Dave's family in Tennessee where we enjoyed a weekend at a 
lovely cabin. We enjoyed family time, homemade meals, hot tubbing, mini 
golf, shopping, white water rafting, waterfalls and the aquarium!

Siblings pre-hike.

Family pic.


Hot Tub!

My cute date to the aquarium.

Cousin's Wedding
I went home for my cousin's Mississippi wedding. Sadly Dave 
could not come but I had a blast with my family!

Isn't his bride lovely?

Couldn't you just eat this little boogar up? So freaking adorable.

Danced with Daddy to "Brown Eyed Girl" which has always been our 
song- and was our first dance at my wedding.

Mississippi on the Mall
Every year, the Mississippi Society hosts a big "Mississippi on the Mall" party 
right near the Lincoln memorial. There's catfish, hushpuppies, sweet 
tea, lemonade, cakes from Mississippi bakeries, beer and blues music. 
It's a great party and we had a blast. Plus hanging out with so many 
Mississippians made the Ole Miss loss to UVA in the CWS a little easier :)

Ole Miss and MSU stickers- house divided!

Outdoor Movie in Rosslyn
One of our favorite things to do in DC during the summer is go to an outdoor 
movie....and there are outdoor movies everywhere. I already attended a couple 
this summer and plan on many more.  Our favorite series is the Rosslyn 
series because we can easily walk there from our apartment, it's family 
friendly and you can see the skyline in the background.

Summer is such a fun time in DC - and brings back happy memories of the 3 summers I spent interning up here (yes, three---political nerd much?)  I know one day our summers will be filled with kids' swimming lessons, family bbqs, days at the park (all good things of course, just different) so I am trying to soak in the last couple adult only summers I have...happy hours, ball games, date nights, outdoor movies, new restaurants, hiking, etc.  Although these things won't disappear the older we get, they will become less this summer is dedicated to fully enjoying all those sweet moments! Last summer was fun but we were new to town and poor from our move and had only a few friends. This summer is full of fellowship, laughter and soaking up our city!