Thursday, October 28, 2010

Free Things to Do For Your Spouse

Two Rules:

  • Must be 100% free: Borrow & Beg.
  • Must primarily benefit your spouse.
  1. Bake cookies! The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies.

  2. Clean the house! Pick 1 room! (Wives LOVE this surprise!!)
    *How to Speed-Clean Your Kitchen - Real Simple*

  3. Stir up some piping hot cocoa, tea or coffee in a thermos and create your own walking tour of your neighborhood. Make up stories about the unknown residents of different houses. Collect some beautiful leaves while you're at it!

  4. Decorate the living room or bedroom with a theme. One of our favorites was the Camp-In!

  5. Romantic massage. Grab some lotion and get to it! If you have massage oils, all the better! Video. Step-by-step: This page does a great job touching on a few basic points I learned during my time in massage school.

  6. Go for a direction-less drive in the country and watch the sunset. Take turns choosing directions! Be sensitive to your partner's needs. They may be tired, and want to spend a night in. Just ask. =)

  7. Like to Hike & Bike? Find trails near you!

  8. Movie night: Popcorn. Blankets. Cuddling. If you are tired of your own movies, ask to borrow a few from friends & family. Libraries can also be a great source of "free" entertainment. Check out some reviews or fire up Netflix (requires paid subscription) for your browsing pleasure.

  9. Storytime. Did you know that Dorothy didn't have ruby red slippers? They were silver! Spend an evening on the couch or snuggled in bed reading aloud your spouse's favorite classics and fairytales, or make up your own stories! Here are some suggestions.

  10. Gameplay. Play a boardgame, video game, or create your own game. It can be as tame or crazy as you want. You can even take turns making up short games. Beware! You might end up laughing so hard it hurts! Just remember to respect your partner's comfort levels and boundaries.

  11. Do a photo shoot! Your subjects can be anything from yourself or your spouse (if they're not shy) to nature or architecture. What you see is what you've got! Grab your camera phone, point-and-shoot, or DSLR, and have a blast! You could even do a scavenger hunt!

  12. If your honey likes to garden, surprise them with a winter herb garden for the kitchen window! If you think they would enjoy it, you could plant it together. Enjoy delicious, fresh, healthy herbs all winter long!

  13. Cook dinner ~ for them or with them! Put those herbs to good use and whip up something tasty! Make it elegant and pull out the good stuff ~ candles, goblets, china, and all! (Wives LOVE this too!) Check out for a highly rated recipe that is sure to be enjoyed!

  14. Stargazing. Some of you may need to drive a bit to see the gorgeous lights of night, but it's worth it. Check the weather and the night sky before you head out. (I know I said free, but this is really cool: The iPhone has an app called "Star Walk - 5 stars astronomy guide" that might make your date think you're a modern-day Galileo for $2.99.)

  15. Create a treasure hunt around the house, with you as the booty.

  16. Establish a fun ritual. For awhile, Steve and I were spending Friday nights with our great friends, Jon & Kari, watching a favorite TV show and greedily eating brownie sundaes. When the show was cancelled, our ritual sort of fizzled out. We have such great memories from it though!

  17. Time & Space for Passion. Though it seems rather passive, allowing your partner time, space, and encouragement to pursue a passion, old or new, can be invigorating to a marriage. Especially if you are actively encouraging them.

    Steve has always liked motorcycles. Recently, he expressed the desire to get his learner's permit and buy a bike. I encouraged him to by quizzing him on the test questions and relinquishing my grip on the $$. While his hobby of fixing up his "new" bike (this type of bike) has gotten under both of our skin, at times literally with a wire brush, I was excited to see him animated and passionate about something. He's eager to give me a ride on the back of his bike. I'm not sure "excited" is the best word for what I feel at that suggestion, but I'm always up for a little adventure. Besides, if he drops his bike, it's been shaken upon that he owes me a $200 shopping spree. ;)

    Drop the bike! Drop the bike!

    I'm kidding...

  18. Study a subject your spouse is fascinated by. Find out what perks their interest. What TV shows do they enjoy? What news articles do they bother reading past the headline? What do they invest their free time in? The Bible is naturally my first suggestion, but not all people are admittedly fascinated by it. You should be! If this isn't the case...

  19. Pray for your spouse. It is free and it will 100% benefit them! Pray for them privately, humbly, and persistently. Ask God to lay it on your loved one's heart to pray for you too! I guarantee that anybody currently in a marriage needs prayer. If you deny that, you need it twice as much! ;)

  20. Listen up! I'm going to say it! Sex. I want to make a very important clarification here. Sex is not love. Sex is an expression of LOVE. I looked up the definition of LOVE using Google.
Does it anger anyone else that one of Princeton's definitions of LOVE is "sleep together: have sexual intercourse with"? Sex does not equal love. I hope we are clearly teaching people this. It should break each of our hearts if 1 single person has ever believed this. What heartache is theirs...

Ladies & Gentlemen...

It is my great pleasure to introduce to you...
True Love!

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.

1 Corinthians 13:7 The Message

This is the kind of love you never fall out of.

Let's give our spouses true love!
God's love.

Every day.

What are free or inexpensive ways you show your spouse you love them?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Re: 25 Things To Do Before Turning 26

My 26th birthday is in 1 week and 2 days. The countdown has begun!

This reminded me of my oft forgotten To-Do List. So, here is a recap! Let's see what I have accomplished and what else I can accomplish in 1 week and 1 day before we reach the deadline: 26! Deadline... That's cheery.
  • Lose 50 lbs! (exercise, eat right, positive thinking)

    I think I am closer to having gained 50 lbs than having lost! However... Since I never recorded my starting weight, nobody knows, but me! And Steve... And God... Guess what's going on next year's list!

  • Eat at least one salad per day - I don't like salad. :P

    Correction: I really don't like salad. Next month's menus include a whole lot more salad and veggies though. I won't count it off quite yet. It still needs doing.

  • Shoot, Print, Matte, and Frame one of my own photos. I can still do this!

  • Spend a healthy weekend at Crater Lake. I was sick when we went to Bend...

    Not happening this year.

  • Visit Mt. Hood and make a snowball.

    Still not happening this year.

  • Hike 8 miles at Opal Creek.

    Really not happening this year.

  • Say “NO” without regret.

    I probably learned this a little too well! haha

  • Kiss my niece and make her smile. Praise and hug my nephew for being an amazing kid!

    Such an incredible accomplishment! I LOVE those kids!!

  • Spend a girls' afternoon with Jules.

    Amazing! While it wasn't an entire afternoon with just the two of us, having coffee with Julie and just talking was such a gift. I thank the Lord for the opportunity to fly 2,000 miles to do this!

  • Get a job, even part-time or temporary.

    I truly didn't think I would accomplish this! However, I had a part-time job for 13 months. I almost discounted that since it was just babysitting in my home. Yet it brought in helpful amounts of revenue and made me feel purposeful. I also am volunteering once a week at the Humane Society. Very fulfilling work.

  • Finish my H.R. Degree courses.

    A good, yet frustrating note. I won't finish by my birthday, but I only have ONE course left! I'm super excited!!

  • Have at least 10 girls' nights out with Kari S.

    Ten may have been a lofty goal, but we have hung out a lot more often and we recently spent 5-6 hours sculpting a cake and enjoying each other's company. Looking forward to many more! She's an awesome woman!

  • Regain my self-confidence. (take medicines, exercise, eat right, be the "real" me)

    I wasn't going to count this either, but I looked over the last year and have seen really good progress. I'm not always self-concious in public. I've reduced my medications! Huge accomplishment to me. I'm exercising. I have also stepped out into more conspicuous roles, even into a leadership role.

  • Memorize 10 amazing songs on piano.

    I've been learning a lot more songs, but not memorizing them. They're pretty involved for my amateur fingers and musical mind!

  • Attend a concert. I watched Natalie Grant sing "Held" live. How touching! I cried! I was also introduced to Mary Mary. Definitely out of my "white girl" realm, but I loved it!

  • Sew decorative pillows for my bed. I have everything, I just never finish projects!

    I DO finish projects! I can say that after sewing my butt off the last few weeks! The pillows, however, are still in the same bag they came home in. I still have a week to finish one!

  • Designate a weekly date night with Steve & stick to it.

    haha I finished half! This one is more difficult because it includes working with someone else - namely my busy husband. We have had some amazing dates, even if not weekly. I think we may go to monthly for the next year.

  • Pray about and find a place to serve at church.

    God answered this in a huge way. Along with the ladies of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, I have been a part of an amazing monthly women's bible study. Praise, God! He has met our needs in so many ways. We have grown as women of God and as members of our local church body. Our October meeting is this Saturday. Pray for me to lead well, and for God to touch each woman's life. A special "Thank You" to my amazing dad who prompted and encouraged me to put this on my list and accomplish it. I love you, dad!

  • Seek God - - daily time in the Word & prayer.

    I wonder if I'll ever accomplish this in my lifetime as a regular habit. It feels like an insurmountable hurdle in my daily life and my spiritual growth. But God gives more grace!

    "You're cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn't care? The proverb has it that "he's a fiercely jealous lover." And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you'll find. It's common knowledge that "God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble." James 4:4-6 The Message

  • Ask for help without feeling guilty.

    Still a struggle, but it's so relieving and rewarding to know I don't have to do it all alone! In many cases, I'm not meant to!

  • Only cook full dinners twice a week – small suppers other nights.

    I love to cook. Period. =)

  • Create a budget & be financially accountable - - dedicate to eliminating debt!!

    Two words: recurring struggle. Another one of those things I wonder if it is possible at all... We have made a TON of headway on our debt, but we still feel so far from our goals. Can I say I completed it? No. Have WE completed it? I'll give us half. ;)

  • Find JOY on difficult days. No self-pity!

    This was a rough one, having come through some really tough illnesses and physical struggles. It can be almost impossible not to ask "Why me, God?". I am constantly learning to find joy in the growth opportunities God chooses to set before me, and to say, "Here I am, God! Choose me!"

  • Make an effort once monthly to reach out to siblings who are distant.

    This is one thing I truly regret neglecting. A whole year of relationship down the tubes. I can't get those chances back, but I can take hold of each new one in the coming days, weeks, and year! I have an incredible family, and it is entirely my loss to neglect those relationships.

  • Give Steve personal space. Encourage him to achieve goals. Give him something to chase. ;)

    Oh boy! How I've regretted accomplishing this one at times!! I think my friend Kari regrets it as well! Sorry, Kari! haha However... I love seeing Steve passionate about something, even if it causes him headaches and blood loss. I know he'll be so stoked when his 1976 Honda TL 125 "Tilly the Hun" is restored. So will I! =)

    Do you keep a list of goals you would like to accomplish in your life? What are goals that you have found worthy to list and/or rewarding to accomplish? I would love some ideas for my "26 Things To Accomplish Before Turning 27" list for the next year! It will be published in 1 week and 2 days!! I'm excited!

  • Today's Color: Cherry Blossom

    I love the color of cherry blossoms - from white to marachino and even bing... They are gorgeous, and they smell divine.

    They were the main flower of our wedding decor, and I love seeing them blossom every spring in the Capitol Mall Park near our home. They bring back so many wonderful memories.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Happy Rain

    It is, yet again, one of those days here in Oregon...
    I decided to focus on what I enjoy about these days.
    We've had a squirrel who climbs on the neighbor's roof and peeps in the bathroom window. He's been around for a year or more and is a rather indecent, immoral squirrel, but we like him anyway.
    The second floor of our house is shockingly warmer than the main level. My feet hit the vinyl floor at the bottom of the stairs in the morning, and I have to stifle a yelp. Thank goodness for cappucino machines, my mother-in-law's homemade hot cocoa, and cute, wintery mugs. Yes, mom! It is the mug you sent last Christmas! I love it!

    It's also officially Grilled Cheese season in our house. Two meals in a row and counting. Yum! Of course, soup is always on the side.

    Just because the sun quit its day job, doesn't mean my chores have ended. One of my favorite chores in the fall & winter is folding hot clothes straight from the dryer! R.E. doesn't like to fold laundry, but he enjoys basking in the heat.

    Last, but not least! Boots! I have my rubber rain boots and my fuzzy slipper boots (also from mom last Christmas). I love that my slippers have a rubber sole so I can wear them around the house and even to run out to the car when it's dry outside! Not pictured are my wool socks. I love them too. =)

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Sniffle Me Timbers

    Every limb aches.
    I have a chapped face.
    My nose is running.
    My whole body's bumming.
    My mind is wondering...
    Who gave me this cold??

    It really doesn't matter.

    The fact is: It's here to stay. Just a short visit, hopefully.

    After sneezing all day and feeling generally miserable, I got to thinking...

    Since there is no cure for viruses such as the common cold...

    What could make me as comfortable as possible in this moment?

    • Hot Shower (Steve's recommendation for most aches and pains)
      Before I jumped in, I threw a towel and my favorite pj's in the dryer!
      Got the water a little hotter than is comfortable to first touch.
      Slowly eased myself in. Nothing like 20 minutes in a sauna! Or 30 mins...
    • Keeping Up Appearances
      I've found I feel better when I look better.
      I got dressed today and went out in the sunshine. Rare in Oregon!
      I hate pokey legs in bed... A quick shave does wonders.
      Slathering on some good lotion feels great after a hot shower too.
      Keeping up on my facial moisturizing routine helps prevent chapping.
    • Cleanliness is next to...
      Keeping a trash bag near me to throw my tissues in is HUGE.
      Saves energy. Keeps everyone else healthy. Even I feel healthier.
      My house doesn't have to cave in, though my body feels like it is. ;)
    • Don't Be Cheap
      I tend to splurge more when I'm sick.
      Pre-made soup rather than homemade. Just tried Bear Creek. Fabulous!
      Kleenex instead of T.P. I've learned: Dab, don't wipe. Much softer!
      I also splurge on fudgsicles... They are my special "sicky" treat.
      The cold helps the inflammation in my sinuses go down. As does ice water.
      But fudgsicles taste better. ;)
    • R&R
      Nothing beats extra rest and sleep... Cozying up in bed is my favorite.
      A good book makes it even better.
      When my eyes are too tired and strained to read, I like Hulu or Netflix (subscription).

    Speaking of rest and sleep... I think I'm ready to crash for the night.

    What helps you feel more comfortable when you have a bad cold?

    For some reason this Lawrence Welk song ran through my head and made me think of feeling so safe and comfy in my bed as a child...

    Goodnight, goodnight, until we meet again
    Adios, Au revoir, Auf wiedersehn 'til then.
    And though it's always sweet sorrow to part
    You know you'll always remain in my heart.

    Good night, sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to you.
    Here's a wish and a prayer that every dream comes true.
    And now, 'til we meet again,
    Adios, Au revoir, Auf wiedersehn!

    Listen on Grooveshark!

    Friday, October 15, 2010


    I had a dream...

    It was about my sister's death. This may be troubling to some and may feel extremely personal.

    They may feel like trying to solve it, but the dream itself speaks volumes about that exact desire.

    I wonder how many have dreamt or felt this exact way in their own lives when the inexplicable happens.

    I awaken in my dream.

    I am holding my mother in a hug around the shoulders as she cries, lying in my lap. My dad is not crying. We're surrounded by many, many people we know quite well, but no specific faces. My other siblings are not present.

    In the middle of the room is my sister's body laid out in burial fashion - hands folded, lying on her back, but she has been dead quite some time. Only her face is covered with a white sheet. It's like a second funeral. The reason for her death has not been resolved. No one is mourning her, they're just trying to figure out why. They are not crying, only us.

    A pastor speaks, and I feel daggers being forged in my heart and wishing them into his. A figure of spiritual guidance and comfort, I feel hostility and offense toward this man. My exact thought is, "He has no idea what he's talking about. He knows no more than anyone else here. He is merely human."

    It feels like a forum. A brainstorming session. Everyone giving their opinion or reasoning as to why someone so young and vibrant would be gone/taken in an instant. They did care about her deeply, but seem so disconnected and distant now. It is simply a problem to be solved.

    My dad seems to want to speak, but nothing comes out of his mouth when he opens it. As the arguing begins in earnest, my dad begins to cry.

    Why now? I don't know.

    I have a voice. It is caged. I speak, but no one listens. They can hear me, but they ignore me. "She's too young. She couldn't possibly understand."

    Anger. Helplessness. Bone-deep sadness.


    So many people stand together in a questioning choir before God.

    The main refrain:


    This dream has me reeling with the possible interpretations and ramifications to my faith.

    The simple, single-lined marquee that scrolls across the blank screen of my mind is this:

    You are never alone in your grief. Nobody else may understand your individual tragedy and pain, but they stand beside you, echoing the same painful cries, indiscernible by human ears.

    Most importantly. There is one who holds the answers.

    God hears each note of your soul-wrenching song and His eyes are not dry.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    A Case of the Snugglies...

    Just finished these for a friend who is expecting! Making them was so much fun!

    This sweet little thing can double as a changing mat or a blanket. It's made of a really soft flannel from Jo-Ann Fabrics. Love that store! I had never bar tacked anything in my life, but I learned in about 5 minutes. Pretty simple!

    A few cute burp cloths. I hear you can never have enough of these with a new baby. Can't wait to meet the little girl when she finally decides to arrive! So excited!

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Making Progress!

    Making some progress on the shabby chic quilt!

    What you see here is the front and back laid out next to each other. It turns out I have a few extra feet of the front, so I'm planning to cut out little shapes and sew them to the plaid back. We'll see. I may change my mind once I see it mapped out!

    This is a little better illustration of what the finished product may look like. Thank you, Shirley, for the sewing kit! Especially the seam ripper!!

    Meet R.E.

    Socks come and go, but creatures are forever.

    At least we wish they were!

    It is our honor to introduce the first born creature from our sock drawer.

    He is the descendent of a John Deere crew sock.

    Meet R.E.
    R.E. is mostly Steve's buddy.
    His favorite season is Fall, if you haven't guessed by his dress.
    He is a wooly hamster.
    His hobbies include hanging out with Steve, watching movies, playing Final Fantasy, surfing Craigslist for great deals, and eating a LOT of pizza.
    Lately, he's been talking about motorcycles a lot. I think it has to do with Steve's recent obsession with riding. They're even talking me into it. I actually drove a motorcycle yesterday! A CM 250 Honda. Granted, Steve was running alongside with a slightly-giddy-yet-panicked look on his face.
    R.E. is a great, laid back guy. He has great manners, and is always concerned about making a good impression on the ladies. Any cute, available girly wooly hamsters out there? He's single!

    Friday, October 1, 2010


    I found a cute crib bumper at Goodwill for about $3. A crib bumper is a great repurposing project. You get plenty of fabric, plus a ton of batting to boot! After ripping out the seams, I was quite surprised at how much batting there was. Woo hoo!

    I'm at phase 2 of my project now: What am I going to make?

    Generally people begin with an idea, and then deconstruct. For me, it really depends on my mood. =)

    Without any further ado, here are my materials:

    A ton of thread goes into sewing! Crazy!
    I don't generally reuse it. It just surprised me.

    This is the front, back, and trim of the bumper.
    I'm thinking quilt. What do you think??

    I love the fabric. It's so girly.
    I don't have many girly-girl things in my house.

    What would you do with a spare crib bumper?