Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Projects

Hello there! I hope you had a great Christmas and are all ready for New Year's! Nathanael and I traveled to Arizona to be with my side of the family for Christmas. The trip is usually 3 1/2 hours to my parents' house, but because of snow and ice, it took 7 hours. That's right, folks... snow and ice! In the southwest!

I hope to put up picture of all the festivities soon, but first, I wanted to share the projects I was working on for Christmas with you. I went slightly insane this year and decided to make all of the gifts for the nieces and nephews on my side of the family. It was actually a lot of fun researching and putting everything together.

This is the doll I made for one of my nieces. I based her off of these dolls. As you can see, she's not exactly the same, which is fine! There are things I'll do differently if I make more dolls in the future, but not too bad for my first attempt! And my niece seemed to like it, since my sister sent me a picture of her asleep clutching "Olivia."

I also made a "fort kit" for 3 of my nephews, based on this kit. I forgot to take pictures, but it's the same basic idea. My nephews loved it, and my sister told me they spent hours in it.

I forgot to take pictures of this hedgehog before I wrapped it up (I was very forgetful as Christmas got closer). I just cut out the side and bottom shapes, cut the "h" and the black nose out of felt, sewed it all together, and stuffed it. My niece can't talk, so I'm not sure how much she loved it, but I thought it was cute!

These are some dinosaur tails I made for my other 3 nephews using this tutorial. They were super easy and I just used pieces of fabric I had already. I also attached tags describing the type of dinosaur they went to (Ethanasaurus Rex). I've already had reports of tail fights! ;)

I have decided that in 2012, I'm going to try to make more gifts instead of just buying things. I really enjoyed seeing my nieces and nephews playing with things that I made with my own two hands.

I'll try to get more pictures up soon, but just in case I don't post before December 31st (and let's be realistic, odds are, I won't), have a very happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Soooo... I know, I know, long time no post. I keep telling myself that now that I'm on here blogging all the time (at the style blog I write with a friend- check us out!), I should write more for this blog, too. I promise I'm going to try! Maybe that will be my New Year's resolution.
Anyways, I'm so excited to share with you about the date night my husband and I had the other night. I am a HUGE fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and the newest one "On Stranger Tides" just came Redbox last week. So, of course, I had to plan a pirate-themed movie date night!
I do have to warn you... some of this is really really cheesy. I will gladly own up to the fact that I have a tendency to be a little (or a lot!) cheesy, but that's one of the things my husband loves about me. So, if some of this is a little too much for you, hopefully you can still find some cute ideas. Or just laugh at how goofy I am ;)

It all started with this invitation:
Poor little Mona was my pirate model
Then, I turned our living room into a pirate ship (well, kind of...)
Our air mattress was the "ship" complete with rigging and a mast

Every ship needs a crew! They're guarding the first clue for the treasure hunt.

I wrote up a series of clues for a treasure hunt, with the prize being a treasure chest full of "loot."

The "loot"- Lifesavers, Whopper "cannonballs," Pirate's Booty snacks,  Nuggets, Gummy worm "sea serpents," IBC Root Beer "Pirate Grog," and the DVD.

We also had a dinner fit for the scurviest pirate (except that sounds like the meal was bad... it was actually quite delicious!)

Garlic cheese biscuits (with butter on top), Popcorn and Coconut Shrimp, and green apples (Captain Barbosa's Delight because that's what he eats on the previous Pirates movies)

"Ocean Water"- Sprite with blue Hawaiian Punch mix

It was a really fun evening. After we watched the movie, we played Mario Party on the Wii. There's a game on there that's played on islands and involves dolphins and pirates, so it went with the theme of the evening. Like I said, some of it was pretty cheesy, but we had a great time! If you're thinking about trying a theme date night, just remember to make it about what you and your "date" like! For me, it's about spending time with my hubby, and letting him know that I appreciate his hard work and that I think he's worth putting some thought and effort into.

Happy sailing! :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Howdy neighbor, happy harvest!

Even though it still feels way too hot to possible be fall here in El Paso, autumn really is here! Fall is my favorite season- I just love the feeling that cooler weather is on its way (eventually!). I also love all the tastes of fall- pumpkin, caramel, apple, sweet potatoes with marshmallow... you know, all those comfort foods! I try to wait until October 1st to put out all my fall leaves and pumpkins, but this year I decided to go ahead and do some "transitional" decorating with apples. When I have to buy new accessories (as opposed to "shopping" my own house) I try to pick things that I can use for more than one holiday. So my new red placemats will work with the apples, and for Christmas... and Valentine's Day.... and 4th of July...

Our dining table:
 1. The "runner" I made out of some scrapbooking paper. I found my autumn quotes at http://www.scrapbook.com and then just added words that reminded me of fall. 2. My punch bowl/ cake stand filled with delicious apples. The cake stand was a wedding gift & I love its versatility! 3. A place setting. I made the napkin rings using mini foam apples that I bought at Walmart. I think the whole box was $5 and I was able to use them for a couple of different projects. 4. A close-up of Granny Smith and Fiji apples. These apples are SO delicious and aromatic... and I love the how the Fijis look like they have a crackle glaze on them. The only problem with using these as a centerpiece is they keep disappearing.... hmmmm....

More of the dining table

1. Another view of the runner. I tried to write things in all directions so that no matter where you're sitting, you have something to read. Not that we ever have a full table, but just in case we do. But, if we do, we should probably fix the chair with the loose leg... 2. Another shot of the centerpiece with my 89 cent candles from Walmart. Normally, I'd be upset if the wax was that messed up after only lighting the candles once, but this time, I think it adds a nice aged touch. 3. Another shot of the place setting- I love these white plates (another Walmart find). I like to think that make my food look like it's from a restaurant. I can dream anyway... ;) And lest you think I only buy things at Walmart, those napkins are from K-Mart (so there!).

The entryway
1. Our entry table in all of its cluttered glory. The banner that you can only read part of says "Welcome" and was part of the decorations for Nathanael's homecoming from Afghanistan. But, I think it fits in nicely with my Americana decor, so it found a new home. I also love the red plaid Thermos bag (filled with Thermoses and picnic gear) that we found at an antique mall in Indiana for $12. $12!!! That's what I call a deal! 2. A close up of some more of my Walmart mini foam apples. The glass bowl is from a flower arrangement my sweet husband sent me when he had to work overnight a few months back. There's also a ACU covered New Testament peeking out from behind the bowl.

Our front door
1. A close-up of our wreath. The wreath is a grapevine wreath I bought a couple of years ago that I change out the decorations on for almost every holiday. Hey, I'm all about being cheap... err... frugal! I got the Happy Harvest sign at Michael's for around $5 when my parents were visiting on Labor Day weekend (a shopping trip that almost killed my husband and my dad, according to them. Apparently, Michael's is too "fragrant" for them). The apples are more of my Walmart apples. 2. A shot of our whole beautiful screen door. 3. The wreath originally had 5 apples (I try to stick to the rule of decorating with odd numbers), but one fell off and got smashed in the driveway :(. I could replace it, but I haven't. Does that make me lazy? :-/

I hope you're enjoying fall, wherever you live! In closing, I'll share a couple of clips from one of my favorite movies, Summer Stock, starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. Both of these clips are of the song "Howdy Neighbor." The first one is shorter, but the second one is prettier (in my opinion).

The shorter, hokier clip:
I just love Gene's teal buffalo plaid shirt! And the striped overalls are an extra nice touch! ;)

The longer, prettier clip:
Don't you want to drive a tractor along a country lane now?

Happy Harvest!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What I've been up to...

Looking at my blog, I have come to the realization that I have not been very diligent about posting. I guess I don't think I really have that much to post about. Maybe I'll have to start sharing stories about my pets... fascinating, I know!

The last several weeks, Nathanael has been working loooong hours, or overnight. Since I don't work outside of our home, I have the ability to have a flexible schedule and stay up when he's working and sleep when he's sleeping. But, let me just testify that I truly believe that God did not make humans nocturnal creatures! :) The week that Nathanael had to work overnight was CRAZY! It seems like no matter how long you sleep during the day, you're still completely exhausted from having your schedule messed up. Our cat, Finley, also hated it. She was very confused as to why we were not sleeping at night and giving her the normal prowling around time to herself (see, I told you I was going to start blogging about my animals).

My parents came to visit us this last weekend. We had a great time showing them around our new city. We took lots of pictures at the zoo, which I'll put up once I finish editing them (I love picnik.com!). We also did a ton of shopping, ate some awesome steak and pineapple coleslaw at Great American Land & Cattle Company (where we watched a police drama unfold outside the window- complete with a police officer with his gun drawn climbing a fire truck ladder onto the roof of the orthodontist next door), went to a church potluck (my dad now has more friends at our church than we do), and treated my parents to their first Five Guys burgers (yum!).

I've also started doing something at church that is completely new territory for me... I started playing the keyboard for Wednesday night church. It involves playing accompaniment for the piano with a strings sound.. it's actually a lot less complicated than it sounds. I've been a little nervous, but I think it will be good for me because it's forcing me to work on sight reading music and playing in keys other than the ones I'm comfortable with. In another words, it's making me not be so lazy and learn some new things. Plus, I'm not playing alone, so if I make small mistakes, no one will notice (hopefully!).

Lastly, I've been working on a new song. God has really been convicting me about giving my burdens to Him- really, truly giving them up... not just saying I give them to Him and then taking them back. He's been reminding me that He is able, He is strong, and carrying my burdens myself limits me to what I can do about them instead of allowing Him to show me what He can do. This song, "I Will Give You Rest", came out of that...

"I Will Give You Rest"
-Jessica Caudill

How many times have I knelt
At an altar to pray,
"Lord, my burden's heavy.
Please take it away?"
Yet many times when I stand,
It's still clutched in my hands,
And it seems I hear my Father say,

"My yoke is easy, my burden's light.
Rest in Me through the night.
Cast your cares on Me, for I know what's best.
Run to Me, hide in Me,
Surrender, stop fighting Me.
Come unto Me
And I will give you rest."

Beloved, have you found yourself
Sinking down in despair?
And the fight you're fighting
Is like one who beats the air.
Take your cares to Calvary
And leave them there at His feet.
Give your burdens to the One Who waits there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Things I learned from "The Deployment"

I've been thinking a lot about "The Deployment" and the things that I learned while my husband was gone for a year. I know that God really worked in my life and really showed me some things, so I thought I'd share some of those things with you, just in case they might help someone else. I apologize in advance for the length, and also pray that people take this in the spirit in which it is offered- not as a complete "how-to" guide, or advice from someone who thinks she knows everything, but just some thoughts on some areas that God showed me during Nathanael's deployment.

First off, "The Deployment" really does deserve capital letters and quotation marks. As anybody who has been through one knows, they are a huge deal. Personally, I know it was one of the hardest, if not THE hardest thing I've ever been through. But even in that valley, God was with me and helped me.

1. God really is there and He really does care! On the days that I felt like I wasn't going to make it, and that no one cared what I was going through, and I was so alone, God would wrap His arms around me and give me peace that He was there. Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  If we will let Him, God will send little reminders our way to let us know He cares about us- maybe a snippet of a song, maybe a hug from a friend, maybe a Bible verse. I learned to recognize those little blessings as God's way of telling me He cares about me. A brief list of songs that really helped me:

O Rejoice in the Lord
It is Well With My Soul
Day by Day 
Under His Wings 
What A Friend We Have In Jesus

There were also many, many Bible verses that became anchors that I clung to:

Job 23: 10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Psalm 116:1-2 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

2. No matter how sloooowwwlllyyy time goes by, it will still go by. I was always amazed when people said "Oh, 5 months already? Time is just flying by!" It might have been for them, but it definitely was NOT for me. That year went by very, very slowly! But guess what? It still did go by! No matter what the trial is that you're facing, no matter what it is that you're waiting on, time WILL pass, you WILL get through it. Just try to have patience! Speaking of patience, mine still isn't where it needs to be, but I did learn that where you are right now isn't where you're going to be forever, so just wait it out. James 1:3-4 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

3. Let your sisters in Christ be there for you- and be there for them! I'm the kind of person that doesn't like to "bother" people, and I'm especially uncomfortable with calling someone just to cry on their shoulder, but God gave us sisters in Christ to help bear our burdens in prayer. I was very blessed because there were several women in our church that had been through deployments, or long separations from their husbands, that understood what I was going through. I also had several dear friends who probably didn't completely understand, but loved me enough to always check on me and make sure I was ok. You don't have to walk around with your guts hanging out all the time (lovely thought, right?), but it is ok to tell people "I'm having a rough day, please just pray for me." Something I'll always remember is, on the day that Nathanael went back to Afghanistan from R&R, several ladies met me for lunch and let me cry and hugged me and basically just held me up. There were also several ladies who would give me Bible verses and tell me they were praying for me. Although it was hard for me to be open with others, I'm glad that I had ladies who were there for me.  Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

4. With God's help, I can make it through whatever trials come in my life. As I mentioned earlier, this deployment was the hardest thing I've ever gone through. But, we made it through it! God is faithful, and He won't put us in situations that He won't give us the grace to make it through. I Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

5. Love truly does endure all things.  I won't lie and say that because Nathanael and I are so in love (which we are!), that our relationship through the deployment was always peaches and cream. Because we were communicating through emails, instant messaging, sometimes video chat, facebook, etc., there were sometimes misunderstandings about what we meant when we said things. I think we did remarkably well, but there was still the occasional miscommunication. The thing that got us through the misinterpreted exclamation points, the times when we went days without hearing from each other, the missed calls, the alarming news reports... was knowing that we loved each other. We've only been married two years, so I am by no means a marriage expert, but I do know that the reason our marriage works and the reason we made it through deployment is because of the way Nathanael loves me, and the way I try to love him. I'm more determined than ever to keep trying (even though I fail sometimes) to love my husband with the love that God describes in the Bible: I Cor 13: 4-7  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

So, there you have it... just some things I learned through "The Deployment." By no means have I arrived, or become perfect, or anything even close- I just wanted to share some of the ways that God worked in my heart through a time of hardship in my life. If you've made it this far in the post, thanks for hanging in there through the whole thing! ;)

One last thing I wanted to share with you- This is a song that God gave me during Nathanael's deployment that has really been a blessing to me. I hope it can be a blessing to you as well:

"I Can Trust God In The Storm"
Jessica Caudill

In my life, I have many days where the sun always shines
The skies are blue above me, no shadows in sight
And I feel the sweet hand of God leading my way
And it seems on the mountaintop is where I'll stay

But in my life, I have also had nights of driving rain
The skies were dark above me, each step was filled with pain
And it seemed every prayer I prayed was never heard
Yes, I've been through some valleys, and this is what I've learned

I can trust God in the sunshine
I can trust Him in the storm
I can trust God in the chilling wind
Just like when the sun is warm
And even when I can't see His face,
He's there just like before
I can trust God in the sunshine
I can trust Him in the storm

So today, if your heart's breaking and it seems you've lost your way
And you can not understand why you walk in the rain
Just remember God's still there and He will hold your hand
When you come through the valley, you'll see once again

You can trust God in the sunshine
You can trust Him in the storm
You can trust God in the chilling wind
Just like when the sun is warm
And even when you can't see His face,
He's there just like before
You can trust God in the sunshine
You can trust Him in the storm

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pictures finally!

So, I'm finally getting around to posting some pictures of our new home here in El Paso. Don't get too excited- it's not the full- blown pictorial tour yet. I still have too much stuff to do to present the finished product just yet, but there are little spots scattered throughout the house that have turned out just how I wanted them to (and some that I tweak every time I walk by). So, for your viewing pleasure ;), here is a little glimpse into the house we're making our home:

 Our bed in the master bedroom. As some of you probably know, my dad and I made this bed as a surprise for Nathanael when he was deployed last year.

The "picture wall" in the master bedroom.

 A little mushiness at the end of the hallway leading to the master bedroom... and Mona's rump... ;)

 Our entry hallway. Sometimes this area gets a little messy, since it's where drop all of our stuff when we come through the door, but we're working on it.

 Mona was SO helpful when I was taking these pictures... she tried to find a way to get some part of herself in every shot.
 The coffee corner in the kitchen.

The laundry area (notice the very attractive phone jack and circuit box). This is right in the kitchen, so I'm still trying to come up with ideas to make this work, but I love the vinyl saying I found for the wall. 

Part of the living room, with the dining room behind it. 

The arrangement I have on the dining table, with one of our $10 Craiglist chairs (that I WILL get around to painting someday...).

A set of decorations on the wall in the hallway. The top picture is one of my favorite things- my grandma embroidered it, and my grandpa gave it to me after she went to Heaven. Also, the hygrometer/ clock/ thermometer lets us know just how hot and humid it is in our house. ;)

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into our home. We're still hard at work getting things put away and rearranged... Hopefully, I'll be ready to take more pictures soon so I can show you more of the layout of our home, etc. I hope everybody's having a great summer! :) Try to stay cool (as in temperature-wise, I know all of you will always be "cool")!

Monday, July 11, 2011

First week in the Lone Star State

We've been here almost a week! I can't believe it! And lots of exciting (and some not so exciting) things have been happening.
We found a house to rent- it's a 4 bedroom brick house about 10 minutes from Nathanael's work. It's a really nice house (or it will be if we ever get our furniture) and is certainly bigger than anything I ever thought we'd be able to rent. We have so much room, the animals get their own room... :) Well, at least for now, anyway. So, now, we're going through the process of getting all the utilities turned on, buying things we need, discovering that washers and dryers DON'T come with all the hoses and tubes necessary to hook them up, calling to get a replacement for our dumpster that apparently got swallowed by the dump truck, etc. You know, all the fun things about moving in!
I'm excited to get all of our household stuff and really start settling in. I've been worried about all the windows in this house- there were no window coverings whatsoever- but I think I've just about got it all figured out. God led me to a GREAT deal on some fabric ($1.50/ yd on some really heavy duty navy cotton) for the living room windows. I can't wait to start really making this place "home." Of course, as long as Nathanael is here, it's home!
We haven't had much time to explore, between trying to find a house and then getting settled in, but we have found some things we really like (CiCi's Pizza right down the street) and some things we definitely DO NOT like (the slow, dirty Subway restaurant down the street). We also visited Hillcrest Baptist Church this last Sunday and really enjoyed the Sunday school class we visited and both of the services.
Everything is still a little new and confusing at this point, but I think I'm really going to like it here! And the best part about this whole adventure is that Nathanael has been on leave, so I'm not dealing with any of this alone. He's been great, and so patient (those of you who know me well know that I get more than a little crazy when I'm stressed.. :-/), and even though things don't always go as planned (the aforementioned hoses not being included with our appliances), we're having a great time.
I'll get some pictures up as soon as the house gets a little more organized! :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Moving Day!

Today was FINALLY moving day.... and what a day it's been! We were scheduled for a walk- through inspection on our apartment at 9... at 9:10, I called the office and they were short a person, so the inspection never happened. Then it was off to my parents' house in Willcox to pick up our darling animals. That is where the REAL adventure began!
Mona (our dog) is a very good traveler. She just chills in her crate and plays with her toys. Finley (our cat), on the other hand, is another story! She seems to do better when she's out of her carrier, so I let her out. Finley decided that the best and most comfortable spot to sit would be Nathanael's lap... while he was driving... yeah... that didn't go over well... especially since she kept meowing in his face with what he described as "worm poop breath". Finley also apparently has the ability to coat her hair with adhesive and shoot it at people like arrows. At least that's the reason I came up with as to why I ended up covered in more hair than I thought Finley actually had. Interesting tidbit I learned today... hair from little black kitties adheres quite firmly to Dr. Pepper lip gloss.
Army lodging was full, so we're staying at a hotel until we find out what's going on with housing. This is our first adventure with staying in a hotel with animals, so we'll see how this goes. The pets are not supposed to get on the beds, per the hotel management, so we'll see how well we do keeping our cat off the beds while we're sleeping.
All in all, it's been a very exciting, adventure filled, hairy day. In all seriousness, though, God has taken care of us and protected us. Now, we'll be searching for the house God has for us and getting settled in here in El Paso. Yee-haw! (I have to get into this whole Texas thing)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


As Nathanael and I are getting ready to move, we're getting to the point of a lot of "lasts"... the last Wednesday night I'll play for church, our last Sunday, the last time I'll sing with certain people, etc. Does anybody else notice these things like I do? I'm so bad I even think things like "This time 2 weeks from now, we'll be on our way to El Paso!" I've always been overly aware of time and how much time there is left until a certain event or since something has happened.
Today, I started taking pictures off the walls in several rooms. I'm sad to leave our home of 2 years (our first home!), but also excited to see what type of house we'll have in El Paso. I know that wherever we live, our love will make it a home (cue: gags or "awwws", whichever you want...). I guess that's how most changes in life are- a little sad, but exciting at the same time.
It's really starting to sink in that we're leaving our church home... Mountain Vista Baptist Church. This church has meant a lot to me. I've had the privilege of doing a lot of things I never thought I'd get to do & I've learned a lot. About 4 years ago, I was asked to be the church pianist. I agreed "until they could find someone else." I could play about 5 songs, and I knew how to play in 3 keys. Four years later, while I'm not the world's best pianist by any stretch of the imagination, God has helped me learn so much. I've had the privilege of singing in groups with some very talented people, I've been able to learn a lot about writing and arranging songs, I've had the honor of being involved with shaping and building a music program at the church, and I've been really blessed by everything God has allowed me to do (even though I've complained- a lot!- about it sometimes... whoops!) Beyond all of that, this church has been a family to me, I've made some very dear friends, and I've made a lot of decisions for God at this church. AND, best of all, about 3 years ago, a certain blue- eyed redheaded soldier walked in the back doors of church and stole my heart ;). So.. it's going to be hard to leave! But, no one is going to cry! If you do, I'll start crying, and I don't do the whole "one tear running down my cheek" crying... no, it's gulping sobs, wailing, eyes swelling shut, mascara down to my toes, face turning beet red crying for me. So, no crying!!! :)
We still have a couple of weeks here, though, so I'll just keep focusing on making the most of our time here. We still have a few things on our "must see" list before we move, so we better make time to squeeze those in. AND, our anniversary is coming up and I'm SO excited about the gift I bought for my husband. Like, so excited, I wish it were already here so I could give it to him! I'll have to post pictures when it comes.
One last thing... when we move to Texas, do we have to become Tex-ified? I'm an Arizona girl, so I love the whole Western thing, but I'm not sure about a cowboy hat ALL the time... ;) We'll have to see- maybe I can find some really awesome cowboy boots!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My first blog post... ever!

So.... my first blog entry ever! I'm still not sure how I'm going to like this, how well I'm going to keep up with it (it could end up being like Frontierville- fun for a while, but then kind of lame), how gung-ho I'll get about researching ways to do different backgrounds & all sorts of fancy things... I'm not even sure that I have anything interesting enough to say to justify having a blog. My plan as of right now is to post all of my little projects I'm working on, and little tidbits about my super-fascinating life (*grin*), but again, we'll see how that goes. If nothing else, it will be a fun way to try to stay sane during our first move with the Army.
For anyone wondering where the name came from, I love beautiful old ginger jars, like the one that sits on my bookcase. Plus, my husband is a "ginger", so I thought it would be appropriate. ;)

I hope you enjoy my ramblings & adventures!