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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Life Happens...

This month has been pretty discouraging for me. This is the first month that we were going to start saving up a pretty significant amount of money for a house. We were saving here and there, but I was ready to get serious. That plan changed when we spent all we were going to save plus some fixing both of our cars. Today, Garrett's truck wouldn't start. We haven't even taken it in to see what is wrong with it, but it is hard to decide if we should keep fixing an old car or if we should just buy a new one. Either one will cost money and set us further back than we planned for buying a house.
I am anxious to buy a house because I have a bad case of baby fever. We will likely adopt our first child and I have read statistic after statistic that has said that couples paying a mortgage are way more likely to get picked to be parents than people who are just paying rent. That said, I want to buy a house ASAP!!!

Sometimes we need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember that God's timing is perfect. Our timeline for life might not always be the same is His, and we need to step back and ask him to get us back on track and just trust that He knows what He is doing. Satan wants us to stress out about worldly things and take our eyes off of God's way, but we can't give into him.

I am confident that one day Garrett and I will live in a nice house and we will have a baby. It might not happen as quickly as I would like (yesterday), but I have to keep my faith in God and trust that he knows my deepest desires.

In the mean time, if you read this, please pray that we will work everything out.
Have a great rest of the week!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A New Creation

Today in class at church, we focused on the passage found in 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
Our teacher pointed out that the word "new" in this verse, doesn't necessarily mean something that is brand new, something that has never before been in existence. It actually is referring to more of a renewal. For Paul, the author of 2 Corinthians, this renewal brought about several changes in his mannerisms and views. He mentions no longer having a worldly view of Christ. We know from reading elsewhere in the Bible that Paul, or rather Saul, actually persecuted Christians. When he becomes a new creation, his view of people changes. Instead of killing them, he is actually persuading them to follow Christ. The love of Christ completely controls him.

The idea of being a new creation is something that I have had some problems grasping. I grew up in a Christian household, and generally was a good kid. When I was a teenager, my mom and I didn't get along very well, and there were some rules that I broke, but I never got into any really serious trouble. I was in a program called Bible Bowl where I did some pretty intense Scripture memorizing and studying. I was homeschooled, and had many friends through that, and also had several friends at church. Every single one of my friends was a Christian. When our youth pastor encouraged us to bring our unsaved friends to church, I really had no one I knew to invite.

When I got to college, I struggled with my beliefs a lot. I was sucked into the reality that I really needed to decide what my own faith was. I was not raised in a Church of Christ, so I was suddenly having my beliefs challenged by many of my closest friends and professors. I responded to this by finally asking my friends to quit bothering me about it and pretty much decided that Sunday morning was a really good day to sleep in. .  During my freshman and sophomore years of college I did some things that I am not extremely proud of. Sometimes, it is really difficult for me to not mentally dwell on those mistakes. Because of the mistakes that I had made, I was not very close to God at all. I didn't really study for my Bible classes - the work came easily to me because of my upbringing in a church and involvement in Bible Bowl. My junior year of college, I was baptized by my friend Tim. I didn't feel like a new creation, I felt totally the same. And I was the same on the outside, it was the inside that was changing.. Although the inside of me was becoming closer and closer to God, and still is, there are definitely times where I still dwell on the mistakes I made in the past.

Today's lesson really struck a chord with me. We talked about how a renewal doesn't always change an outward appearance, but changes the heart. Sometimes we have to wake up each day and remind ourselves that we are not going to participate in our old behavior. We have a new way of living that should come naturally to us, but it is still hard to get accustomed to. The way we used to live is no longer a part of us and there should be nothing about our old selves that we should overlook or forget, because it was washed away when we became a new creation. When the sins of the past are washed away, we still have to work at forgiving ourselves. I think that is the hardest part.

When we become a new creation, we should physically and mentally no longer be able to participate in the negative things we did in the past. Our teacher tied this back to Genesis, in Joseph's response to Potipher's wife. She has just asked him to sleep with her, and Joseph replies, "How could I possibly do such an evil thing against God?" Because he is a believer in God, he CAN'T! That should be how it is for us. It is hard to stay on the path that God has laid out for us, but when we become a new creation, we are no longer alone on the path. We have someone there with us who is keeping us on the path as well and helping us not to dwell on our past selves.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino

This summer, I became completely hooked on bottled Starbucks Frappuccinos. I worked at a daycare and often had to make trips to Wal-Mart before school, either for school supplies or because half-way to work I realized that I had forgotten to pack a lunch. I don't even want to know how much money I spent on those little bottles of delicious coffee. Last weekend, Garrett suggested that we find a recipe for how to make our own. Smart man, that one. :)
We found several recipes on the interwebs and I played with them a little. I knew I wouldn't be satisfied with homemade unless it tasted REALLY close to the original. 

Here is the closest tasting combo that I came up with. It is pretty dang good. And, it's approx 50 calories less than the store bought version, which is always a win in my book. 

Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the creation of the drink, but it is pretty self explanatory. One thing that I think really helped make the coffee taste pretty close to the original is the kind of coffee used, so I quickly snapped a picture of the coffee bag before writing this blog. Make sure to buy Starbucks Dark Espresso Roast. It looks like this and can be found at your local WalMart ... you will need 1/4 of a cup for this recipe.

Now, for the rest of the recipe. 
You will also need:
1/4 a cup of sugar 
2 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa 
6 cups of whole milk 
On some websites, I saw that you could use low-fat milk with 1 Tablespoon of pectin added, but I don't know what that is, so I went for the easy route. Wal-Mart was really crowded while I was shopping for these ingredients, so I wasn't big on spending any more time in the store than absolutely necessary.

First, make your coffee. Use 1/4 of a cup of coffee and 2 cups of cold water to your coffee maker, push start, and enjoy the fabulous smell that is engulfing your kitchen. 

Next, using a whisk, mix the sugar and cocoa into the coffee mixture until completely dissolved.
Once dissolved, add the 6 cups of milk. 
Viola. That was easy, wasn't it?!

If you have a bunch of old frappuccino bottles waiting to be recycled, this mixture will fill up 5 of them. I only had one, so I keep my coffee in a pitcher, and fill up one bottle every morning. 

Here is the best part. Normally a 9.5oz bottle goes from anywhere to $1.70 (7-11) to over $2.00 (CVS). One 9.5 oz bottle of this homemade version should cost you anywhere between 40-60 CENTS, depending on where you shop and what brands you buy! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Anniversary Weekend

Today is our 2nd anniversary! Since weekdays aren't very conducive to celebrating, we decided to celebrate on Saturday. The morning started off with some of our favorite weather ... cool and rainy. We are both HUGE fans of rain. It was the perfect start to a perfect day!

We started the day playing Keckopoly, the game I made that was described in this post. Since Monopoly takes a billion hours, we took a break for lunch at Nhinja Sushi followed by some frozen yogurt at Red Mango.
Here is Garrett half-way through playing Keckopoly ... he only had 2 dollars left and was obviously thrilled that I had decided to document the day in pictures ... of course, an hour later he had taken all my money and I had to forfeit because I couldn't pay him rent for landing on his space with 2 houses on it.
After Garrett completely whooped me at Keckopoly, we went to the best dinner of our lives at Deep Fork Grill. I highly recommend it if you live in Oklahoma City and are looking for a nice place to eat dinner. I got lobster fettuchine alfredo and it was the best lobster and the best alfredo I have ever had. Their rolls are really delicious too ... always a plus! We were definitely in food heaven for a solid 2 hours afterwards. After dinner, we went to the lake/pond where we got engaged and took some pictures.
 Here is where I miraculously shrank 4 inches ... usually we are the exact same height.
Garrett is pretty good at picking out gifts ... by that I mean that I send him an e-mail with some things that I like, and he picks a couple off the list. He got major brownie points this year because recently I have been obsessed with elephants. Last summer, our zoo got a baby elephant and ever since then I can't get enough. I have collected some pretty cool things in the past year - a couple of my family members even had some things to give me. I'm going to be that old lady with 1000 elephants in her house - although I don't think Garrett will let it get THAT bad. This iPhone case and elephant necklace were perfect presents!

I will end this post with my favorite picture from our wedding day. I can't believe it has already been 2 years. Being married has been the greatest experience of my life!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I recently saw an idea on Pinterest for a DIY Monopoly board. What the girl had done was basically just changed the locations on the board to places that were special to her and her boyfriend.  

Garrett and I are going to be celebrating our 2nd anniversary on August 20th, so I decided to make a similar adaptation of the game, using places that meant something special to us, starting the day we met, and ending on the day of our 2nd anniversary.

To make the board, I bought a large piece of posterboard and literally traced a Monopoly board. It made the spacing of each square super simple. I also tried to keep the same color scheme as the locations on the board so that I wouldn't have to make cards with the rent and prices of each location, but unfortunately I didn't have the right colors to do that. I did leave all the prices of the locations in the same order that they are on an original Monopoly board. 
At the bottom of this post is a list of all the places that I used and the reason they are on the board. I put it at the bottom so that if you don't care you don't have to read it! :)

I kept the income tax, railroad, community chest, jail, Go, Free Parking, and utility spaces in the same place as the original board, but I changed the names of some of the spaces. For the railroads, I used "Honeymooners Railroad," "Cupid's Arrow Railroad," "True Love Railroad," and "Sweetheart Railroad."  I changed "GO" to "Home" and "Free Parking" was changed to "Free Rent."
I called our game KECKOPOLY ... clever, I know. :)
Here is my board:

For chance and community chest cards, I left any dollar amount the same, but on some I changed the wording to apply more to our own lives. 

(I wish our student loans were only $150...)

Finally, here are the location cards that I made. This one is for Edmond Church of Christ, where we got married. Using the original Monopoly board, I saw that this space corresponded to Kentucky Ave. So, I found the Kentucky Ave property card, and just copied everything that was written on the card. 

For the railroad cards, electric cards, game pieces, and money, I am just going to use the original pieces from the board. 

Here is the list of the places that I used:

-Tim & Grace's Apartment, OC Phase 2 (where we were first introduced!)
-Cracker Barrel, Edmond, OK (where we went on our blind date, accompanied by Tim and Grace)
-Tinsel Town Theater, OKC, OK (another stop on our blind date)
-Josh and Kristen's House, Edmond, OK (this is where I was living when we met. At some point after our blind date, he brought his Star Wars movies over because I hadn't ever seen them. My roommates encouraged me to see if he could stay and watch one with me. I have no idea what it was about.)
-Red Couch @ OC Library (where we first said, "I love you.")
-Kenz's Apt OC Phase 4 (where we had our first kiss)
-Chatuauqua Park, Boulder, CO (we visited my family so that Garrett could ask my dad if he could marry me! This is one of the places I took him to while we were there.)
-Pearl Street, Boulder, CO (another stop on our Colorado trip that I have many fond memories of and wanted to share with him)
-Teal Ridge Pond, Edmond, OK (where we got engaged)
-OC Pond, Edmond, OK (where the Alpha guys ambushed Garrett on our way home from church and "ponded" him - an OC tradition)
-The Melting Pot OKC, OK (where my in-laws took us to celebrate our engagement)
-Edmond Church of Christ, Edmond, OK (where we got MARRIED!!!)
-The Airport Hyatt, OKC, OK (where we spent the night of our wedding)
-The Water Tower Hyatt, Chicago, IL (the hotel where we stayed on our honeymoon)
-Soupbox, Chicago, IL (our favorite place to eat on our honeymoon - we ate here for lunch every day)
-Navy Pier, Chicago, IL (one of the places we went on our honeymoon)
-Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL (another stop on our honeymoon)
-Peter Pan's Flight, Disney World (we went to Disney World with some friends in Oct. 2011, and this was my favorite ride)
-The Dole Whip Stand, Disney World (another Disney World favorite ... the BEST pineapple soft serve)
-Smashburger, Edmond, OK (one of our "go to" restaurants when we want to go out.)
-Nhinja Sushi, Edmond, OK (another one of our "go to" restaurants ... and where I finally introduced Garrett to the wonderfulness of sushi)
-The Grandison Inn Bed and Breakfast (we were going to go here this coming weekend to celebrate our anniversary, but then both of our cars broke down in the same week so we had to cancel our reservation to help pay to fix them, but we are definitely planning on going at a different time!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Brownie Batter Dip

Have you ever opened your cabinet and found 3 half-used bags of pretzels? I only use pretzels for baking, and one time I needed the skinny stick variety, and one time I needed the kind that look like grids. I also had half a bag of the normal looking ones.

While I was on Pinterest yesterday, I found the perfect use for all my pretzels: Brownie Batter Dip! This is the perfect snack for an evening of Olympics watching or a game night with friends.

You will need:
8oz of softened cream cheese
1/2 a cup of melted butter
2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
5 T of flour
5T of cocoa powder
2T brown sugar
3T of milk
1t of vanilla

Use a hand mixer to cream together the cream cheese and the butter. Then add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Mix well. Then add the flour, cocoa, brown sugar, vanilla, and one more tablespoon of milk. Mix well. At this point the mixture could be considered done, but add another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 1T of milk until it is the thickness that you like. Eat right away with pretzels or let chill for about 30 minutes if you want it a little thicker.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Homemade Bisquick

Growing up, I was extremely lucky to have a mother that cooked everything!  I don't think I ever ate anything out of a box. I'm sure as a kid that I probably complained about missing out on Kraft macaroni and Capri Suns, but now I am grateful. I think having my own kitchen and someone else to cook for made me realize that it's kind of a pain in the butt. I like cooking well enough, but my mom cooked 3 meals a day ... everyday! Maybe someday I will be that awesome, but for now, I will continue feeding Garrett cereal for dinner at least twice a week. Luckily, he doesn't mind!

The great thing about eating lots of homemade food growing up is that it really was homemade!  As soon as my mom realized how much money she could save by making her own biscuit mix, she always made up this recipe. We used to have biscuits and gravy all the time when my dad was out of town, because it was a meal that he didn't like. We went through those expensive boxes of pre-made mix very quickly.  If you like biscuits, then save yourself some money and try out this mix!

You will need:
An airtight container (I bought one that said it could fit 16 cups, and this mixture BARELY fit.)
9 cups of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of baking powder
3 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of cream of tarter
2 cups of shortening

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then use a fork to cut in the shortening. Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

For biscuits, combine 3 cups of mix with 2/3 of a cup of milk. Mix well.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 10-15 times. Roll out until dough is 1/2 an inch thick. Then cut with a biscuit cutter.  Cook at 425 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

You can also add 1/2 a cup of sharp cheddar cheese to the mixture, bake, and then brush a garlic salt/butter mixture over the biscuits when they are done for some yummy Garlic Cheddar Biscuits!