Thursday, April 24, 2014


Whenever I’m back in Fayetteville, folks seem to ask me the same question over and over again:
“So, how’s being married? Marriage is hard, isn’t it?”
It's not that I mind answering the question, it's just that I’m torn as to how to answer it.

You see, I feel compelled to say, “Yes, but it’s worth it and we’re doing fine.” I mean, that’s the “correct” answer, right? It’s almost as if people will think we’re doing it wrong if it’s “easy.”

The answer I want to give, however? It’s more along the lines of, “No. No it’s not. Life, though. Life is hard. Matter of fact, there are many days that life sucks. But you know what? Marriage is what makes it doable.”

I rarely give that answer because I’m afraid it will make me sound self-righteous or naïve. I’m sure there will come a day that I eat the words above (I know that marriage won’t always be easy – no relationship is), but why must “hard” be the default setting?

Maybe I am self-righteous. Maybe I am naïve. But I know one thing for sure: I would not be surviving life right now if it weren’t for him.

Like I said earlier, life is hard. Currently there is one overarching theme causing its difficult-ness: Uncertainty.

Our world is riddled with all sorts of it:
  • Will we have steady, reliable income?
  • Will we have a place to live?
  • Will we be able to park our cars near our place to live?
  • Will our car survive the next trek over 100 miles?
  • Will the breaker trip (again) if I turn on the microwave/toaster/coffee pot/light?
  • Will the washing machine work this time?
  • Will IT trip the breaker?
  • Will we have enough in savings to cover everything that could fall apart the next time we touch it?
  • How will we afford to fix the stuff that breaks after replacing all the stuff that broke a minute ago?
  • Will we ever figure out where all the ants are coming from?
I’m already a worrier (I panic when The Boy drives up the street to Sonic because I’m SURE a freak accident will happen and I’ll never see him again…it’s worse when he takes the dog because then I’d be a widow AND only have a cat for company, but I digress). All this uncertainty feels new and uncomfortable to me.

Before we moved, we had a support system – parents, friends, a church family. Worrying happened, but it rarely resulted in panic attacks and sleepless nights. Now, I lay awake – my head buzzing with a thousand different panics. All because everything is so uncertain. So up in the air. And there are only two of us to catch it when it all comes tumbling down.

But at least there are two of us.

So, we pray. We ask for prayer. We rely on grace and other promises made so long ago. We (well, I) sit in the shower and cry – then sing hymns to calm myself down. We keep living. We dream, we hope, we plan. We go to movies and eat popcorn with too much butter. We plant flowers. We cuddle on the couch and binge watch Veronica Mars and Sherlock and Parks & Rec. We survive. Together.

So, to answer that question everyone seems to have: No, marriage isn’t hard. Marriage is certainty. And I need a little of that in my life right now. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend Recap: Signs, Jars, and Passports!

We were busy little bees this weekend! We worked on the office, did a little crafting, ran some errands, cooked, went to church, met relatives for lunch, and caught up on reading. So much for relaxing, but that seems par for the course with us. At least we had fun!

So, where shall I start? How ‘bout the office.

Until this weekend, the office has been more of a “catch all room that we call an office but that no one except the cat can walk in” (i.e. not at all helpful as an office.) And, while my make-shift office that I’d set up in the den was working fine, we wanted to create a space that felt more official. 

We moved stuff to storage (or, at least to the “to storage” pile in the garage), moved furniture around, set up a new bookshelf (see below), re-connected the monitor and keyboard (still workin’ on the printer), and organized storage spaces. It feels much more like a working office now, and I love being able to sit in a desk chair, rather than on the couch.

In addition to the office, I worked on a few little craft projects I’ve been meaning to get to for a while.

First, our Porch Sign.

I don’t know if it’s that there are more “no soliciting” rules in Arkansas or that there are more solicitors in Oklahoma…but something is different. For a while, I was ignoring getting knocks on the door on a daily (yes, daily) basis. This was frustrating for several reasons:
  •  I don’t like talking to strangers (and I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to. Right, Mom?)
  • I don’t like saying no
  • I have a really nervous puppy who’s pretty sure every knock-like noise she hears means someone wants to kill us.
  • I have a really big cat who loves to sneak outside and run away, even if the door is only open an inch.
  • I work from home and said puppy’s barks (as well as knocks and doorbells and occasional cat hunt) are an inconvenient interruption during calls/meetings
I needed the crazy to stop. So, rather than continue to disconnect the doorbell every morning and hide behind the bookcase when folks showed up, I decided to be a bit more proactive.

I made this sign for our porch using a pre-made plaque and chalkboard pens. I feel like it gets the point across without being too rude. Plus, it was ridiculously easy to make. 

Next, Memory Jars.

I used to be a scrapbooker, but then life got busy and things started piling up in folders/boxes/bags/bags in folders in boxes. Pretty soon I realized, “I will never have time to put all of this in a book,” and the Memory Jars were born. 

I label the jars (which I get for cheap at Walmart), then throughout the year as we do stuff and collect memories (ticket stubs, love notes, match books, trinkets), we toss ‘em in the jar. It allows us to hang on to those memories, but in a neat, organized, clutter-free way. 

Plus, it makes for a fun New Year’s Eve activity (going back through everything we’ve collected).  

In addition, if we have big events during the year that have lots of trinkets/keepsakes associated with them (eg the Honeymoon), I get smaller dedicated jars. It keeps with the overall aesthetic and theme, but also makes those bigger events feel more special.

This weekend I finally got around to making our 2014 jar and Disney-moon jar. We've jet to move stuff from their respective boxes to the jars, but that's next on the list. 

Finally, our Restaurant Passport.

We’re new to OKC, and we haven’t had a chance to do a TON of exploring, so we tend to frequent the same spots over and over – that goes double for restaurants. 

We almost always end up in a back and forth “So, where do you wanna go?” “I dunno. Where do YOU wanna go?” “I don’t care. You pick.” “No. YOU pick” conversation. So, to encourage ourselves to explore more (and bit a bit more spontaneous), I made us a Passport with all of the places we want to try or that have been recommended by friends. 

This way, when we decide to go out, we can flip open the book, pick one, and go. It gives purpose to that “ooh, let’s remember to try that place” list I’ve been keeping and simplifies our decision process.
Once we’ve tried a place, we stamp it. I’m not sure how we’ll celebrate when we’ve tried all of ‘em, but since there are over 60 in the book, I think I’ve got a little while to figure that one out.

Here’s how I did it:

I found some pretty, dark blue notebooks at Barnes & Noble, and I created the design on the front cover with a gold pen (to make it look like a passport.)

Inside, I created sections dedicated to different types of cuisine (to make choosing easier). I included American, Italian/Pizza, Asian, Mexican, Eclectic, Dives, Fancy, and Breakfast/Brunch. Then, I divided each page into two, front and back, and drew (to the best of my abilities) one restaurant’s logo in each square, filling up the book with names from our list.

We found a cute spoon & fork stamp at a craft store, so as we visit different spots, I’ll stamp the appropriate page. We’ve had a running list for a while, so (in the spirit of memory keeping) I included the ones from the list we’d already visited and went ahead and stamped ‘em.

I love the way it turned out! Can’t wait to put it to use! Plus, I now have plans to also make an Activity Passport...if we ever have a truly free weekend and need ideas. 

That’s it for today, friends. Happy Monday!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Favorite Things Friday: Warren Theater

The Boy and I don’t always share the same opinion on leisure activities. I mean, we enjoy the same categories of things – board games, dinners out with friends, movies – but not the same types of those things.
  • For example, I like to play games like Clue and Life – games where you try to win, but you don’t have to emotionally crush the other players to do it. You just do your best! The Boy, however, prefers things like Smash Up and Risk – where, apparently, the best way to win is not just to beat your opponents, but to totally and completely ruin their lives beyond repair (*laughs* I kid…but…not really…)
  • Or, while I prefer to try out weird restaurants with unexpected food pairings and ingredients, the Boy would much rather check out that sketchy little burger dive down the street (which, to his credit, usually does have amazing food).
  • OR, when choosing movies, I’m much more likely to happily sit through a Disney sing-alongable or predictable RomCom, the Boy prefers to watch gigantic, terrifying robot creatures make a huge mess of the Large Nondescript City of the Day (I mean, really? Who’s going to clean that up? Do they understand how much that’s going to cost? I have nightmares about the messes.)
One thing we DO agree on, however, no matter what, is WHERE we’re going to see a movie. So much so that we don’t even discuss it. It’s a given. And, trust me, if y’all lived here and had been, you’d understand.

We see movies at the Warren. End of story. Everyone should come visit us so we can take you. Or, don’t, because it will forever ruin your theater going experience from then on.

What makes it so awesome, you ask? I don’t even know where to start.

There are like 5 different theater options – we’ve tried three so far.

Grand Auditorium & Balcony
  • The Director’s Suite: their exclusive, 21+ theater that only seats about 30. The seats are gigantic, overstuffed, heated pillows that recline at the push of a button. In addition, the theater features full menu, to-your-seat service (from the restaurant or bar), and access to the Director’s Lounge before and after the show.
    • Thoughts: For a girl who’s perpetually cold (and occasionally sneaks a blanket into theaters), the idea of heated, reclining seats was too awesome to pass up. Plus, drinks and food delivered to us while we watched a movie? Yes, please! We had an appetizer (spicy green beans with ranch), dinner (wood fired pizza & ...whatever The Boy had... ), and fancy drinks (fun, themed ones!).
  • The Balcony: Less intimate than the Director’s Suite experience, but still awesome, the Balcony is in the second floor portion of the Grand Auditorium (more info below). Like the DS, it is also 21+ and features to-your-seat service. While you don’t have access to the Director’s Lounge, you can visit Oscar’s Lounge – with full service bar & restaurant. Also, the seats don’t recline, but the screen is gigantic…so you win some, you lose some.
  • The Grand Auditorium: The largest of their non-IMAX theaters, this is a nice step-up from the Gen Admission theaters. The seats are spaced further apart, the screen is gigantic, and the décor is reminiscent of a classical stage theater. No seat service or other fancy amenities, but also no fancy price tag.
  • The General Admission Theaters: Just regular ol’ theaters…but clean, with nice seats, and stadium seating. No complaints here.
  • The IMAX: We haven’t checked this out yet, but just look at it. Amazing, right?

We’ve visited the Director’s Suite, the Grand Auditorium, and the Gen Admission theaters – not a bad experience in any of them.

In addition, they also have:
  • The Warren Diner: a 1940’s soda-fountain themed restaurant that serves all sorts of yummy food and desserts (plus, if you don’t finish your meal before your show, you can take it with you).
  • A Game Room: haven’t checked it out, but it looks like more fun than your average theater game room
  • A Cry Room: with its own sound system so parents can take their upset kiddos out of the theater but still see the movie (WHY DON'T ALL THEATERS HAVE THIS?!?)
And one of the best parts: these little guys!

After your show, there are spiffily dressed employees standing outside the doors offering after-show mints. And not just lame ol’ peppermints, no no. These are soft peppermint clouds covered in dark chocolate! Gah…I totally don’t grab a handful and toss ‘em in my purse…

So, yeah. Y’all should come visit so we can show off!

Happy Weekend, friends!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Our Yard: Before & After

We spent last weekend updating our yard. We live in a rental at the moment, so we were a little limited as to what we could do (i.e. no permanent changes). We were able, however, to give the house a nice face lift anyway, and we're loving the way it turned out!

This is what we started with. Super appealing, right? Yeah, we know. 

Since we couldn't make any permanent changes, we did what we could to keep our plants mobile - planters, hanging baskets, pole pots, etc.

We took on A LOT for one Saturday (mowing, edging, trimming, weeding, planting, potting...). Here's an in-process shot of the crazy. Gigi's there, too, you just can't see her because she spent THE WHOLE DAY running in circles around the yard. Little white blurs don't show up well on camera.

The house feels (and looks) a lot more lived-in now. We have shrubs across the front, pretty hanging plants on the walkway (as well as the adorable cupcake planter The Boy found for me), smaller pots mounted on the poles of the carport, and a garden in front that will soon be full of hosta, calladium, and pretty pink impatiens.

The porch is one of my favorite parts of the makeover. Isn't it more welcoming this way? I also made a spring-y wreath for the front door. My plan is that as the seasons change, I can just switch out the flowers and ribbon. That way I'm not making a NEW wreath every few months, but it still stays relevant.

It just looks so much better now! I love driving up to the house and seeing all our improvements. 

Before & After

Thanks for reading! Happy Monday!

Friday, April 4, 2014

April Showers Bring...

Guess what we're doin' this weekend?

It's finally warming up outside! And you know what that means? Tornadoes! Flowers! I'm super excited about brightening up our yard. Can't wait to feel more settled and at home.

"After" pictures to come soon.

Happy Friday, y'all! Enjoy the weekend.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Welcome, April!

Happy April, friends!

Out of silent protest, I opted to delay my first April post until today. If you haven’t noticed, April 1 has become the day where everyone competes to see who can be the biggest troll on the Interwebs, and, well, I refuse to be a part of the rigmarole.

However, while April Fool’s Day might not be my favorite holiday, I hope you were able to enjoy it as you saw fit – fooling, being fooled, or hiding in your house to avoid the crazy. To each his own.

Now, on to the blog!

I wanted to let you in on what you can expect from the Valentines this month. What will our April be about?

In short, action. April will be about action.

In way of further explanation, let’s go back in time a bit. Back to January (when I, and the blog, were a bit preoccupied). In January, most of the population (and blogosphere) were busy cooking up and acting on New Year’s Resolutions. And, while I didn’t write anything to the sort, so was I…sort of.

See, I’ve found that Resolutions are, well, difficult to keep. I’ve also found that I tend to be, well, ambitious. So, rather than make a handful of New Year’s Resolutions that I knew I wouldn’t keep, I decided to make monthly resolutions.

The idea is that I’d dedicate each month to a change I wanted to make, one change, and focus my time and energy on making that one thing a reality. Then, ideally, at the end of the month, I’d have developed steady habits to keep that change going throughout the year and could move on to a different focus for the next 30 days.

12 resolutions, 30 days each. And it’s worked wonderfully so far!

I'm kind of deciding what each month's theme will be as I go. That way, as we go about our year, I can pick themes based on what fits best for our lives at the time.To update you, this is what my year has looked like so far:

January: “Just Married”
As simple as it sounds. I wanted to focus on being a Newlywed – enjoy the newness of everything and revel in this time that we’ll never get back (and that goes oh-so-fast).

February: “Family, Focus, Freedom”
I’ve hinted at this in earlier posts, but Feburary was all about being “in the moment.” Enjoying time with family (both new and old), focusing on experiencing the moments rather than capturing them, and thereby freeing myself from the constant pull of social media.

March: “Makeovers”
In March, I decided to make conscious decisions to makeover areas of my life – my closets and “stuff” (remember the 40 in 40 challenge? Update on that later), our pantry, my personal routine (I’d been making product decisions based on false loyalties, and wanted to re-ground my choices in what’s right for my present needs and budget), etc.

All of the changes I made in March have led me to my theme for April: Action.

In March, I found myself noting all sorts of “bigger” changes I wanted to make – landscaping the front yard, improved meal planning, better budgeting, blogging more regularly (and consciously), etc. But, since they weren’t simple makeovers, they just went on a list. So, in April, I’m going to try and do several of those things on that ever-growing “To Do” list.

I’m excited about this one. It’s probably partially due to simply being excited about the ability to go outside without risking hypothermia, but I’ll take it.

Stay tuned!