Thursday, January 31, 2013

Marriage Is More Than a Wedding Day

     As a little girl, I would daydream about the moment that Prince Charming would ask me to marry him. The fall air would be crisp and I would be thankful for the long lace sleeves of my gown. My father’s arm would wrap around mine and with an single look we would exchange an understanding of the beauty of this moment. His little girl was to be wed, and soon begin the next season of life. The string music would play softly and the guests would rise indicating that it was time for me to walk toward my groom and our life together. Our eyes would meet and enormous grins would stretch across our faces. This is it. This is the most important day of our lives. This is our wedding day.

      Even in my childlike mind, I had my wedding day on a pedestal. I knew it was supposed to be a magical day in life, and every movie and message confirmed it. Best of luck to Mr. Charming because getting married to me would come with some high expectations.

      Interestingly, I never envisioned my groom. There was never a particular build, hair color or even personality type to go along with the physical presence that was at the altar. Perhaps those details were considered only minor elements to the big day, despite the fact that they belonged to the groom whom is a pretty instrumental for that particular event. My dream was all about the wedding.

     Life is kind of funny in how it rearranges our ideas. My actual wedding was nothing like what I had envisioned, and I am thankful for that contrast. It even now strikes me as humorous to compare the two. The proposal was not an elaborate production, but one more intimate. I am not sure if I will ever forget the sight of David standing in front of me while shaking and stuttering to get the words of the question out. It was the greatest and most life changing words he would ever speak, and his delivery was honest and heartfelt. I never imagined it that way, and now I can’t imagine it any other way. It was perfect. I, of course, said “yes!” I also suddenly became left handed as for some reason my right hand seemed inadequate in comparison to the left which now displayed a shiny ring.

     We kept our engagement short, and while this period is typically full of delight over dresses, colors and other planning my mind and heart were elsewhere. I just wanted to begin life with him. Instead of the orchestration of the wedding day, I dreamed of beginning and ending each day together. I was filled with excitement for even the mundane aspects of married life like grocery shopping and sharing meals. The little girl grew up and realized that there was more to marriage than a wedding day.  

     We chose to wed in private, and then celebrate with friends and family on separate occasions. No longer was it the day, but our day. We did not have to be concerned about details of the ceremony or the fact that we would be the center of attention (a position that is rather uncomfortable for each of us). The exchange of vows was the most important to us, and it was that aspect that we desired to be the center of our attention. They were intimate words of our love and devotion to one another. From this point forward we would become one in marriage.

     To my surprise, married life did not come as smoothly as I had expected. We experienced our most difficult times to date during our first years of marriage, but also learned a tremendous amount about love and marriage. I expected to enter the famed “newlywed bliss” season of marriage and eagerly assert that I had married my best friend. While we did marry as best friends, we did not stay that way for long. I grieved the close relationship we had while dating and lamented over the ways life had changed. I imagine that he struggled with a similar realization of the difference between the expectations of marriage and the reality of marriage. What happened? Where did we go wrong? Why was marriage not making me happy?

       The truth is that marriage will not make you happy if you were not happy before marriage. Depreciative feelings toward myself or my life’s accomplishments will not disappear and I suddenly become a happier person with a better life simply because I am married. In fact, to place a means of definition of myself and fulfillment of my life solely on my marriage is to weigh it down with far greater responsibility than it was ever intended to hold. Perhaps there is more to marriage than me and my state of being.

     In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Chapman poses the question: “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” The message is not that we will not be happy in marriage, because I assure you there is happiness in marriage. Rather, that marriage is a tool and not the end goal in life. God uses this tool to carve and sharpen us. Marriage teaches selflessness in that instead of my focus being on my happiness it shifts to the happiness of my husband. We are both going to experience moments of unhappiness in life, and it does neither of us any good if we are both focused on our own state instead of encouraging the other person. Marriage also teaches the meaning of love and grace regardless of them being offered in return.

     Marriage is a powerful tool, and I would miss these lessons if my focus had not shifted to God and His purposes for it. My life and love have been enriched greatly because of marriage. The truth is that my wedding day had little to do with reaching this end. Although it was a beautiful day and a memory that I will always hold dear, the greater joys in life are the marriage and the man with whom it is shared.  And so, may the child who imaginatively transforms a pillowcase into a veil and a Ring Pop candy into an engagement ring dream wildly, but also grow into a young lady who understands and cherishes that marriage is more than a wedding day.



Monday, January 28, 2013

Home Tour: Laundry Room

   {These posts may be more for family who live states away and are interested in seeing our home, but perhaps there may be some ideas here and there that could be useful or interesting to others as well. :) }

      I'm continuing to find ways to decorate and organize our townhome one room at a time. I previously shared our Entry, and now our Laundry Room Closet is complete.  Even though it's just a little closet, I wanted to add a few touches that add cohesiveness, organization and some fun. 
   Since this space is the first seen upon entering the living area of our home, keeping the cluttered look to a minimal was one of my goals. I'd rather not look up to see a mess when entering my home in the event I neglect to close the closet doors. 

     There's not a whole lot of fancy smancy decorating going on here. My goal, though, is to be able to add touches to each room without a lot of expense or permanence (ie wall painting). I didn't take a "Before Picture," but you can imagine bottles and other laundry supplies just sitting scattered along the shelf, no soap/softener dispensers, or wall art. It was the standard storage/laundry closet. 

 The Details

      I purchased two 2.5 gallon drink dispensers for my laundry soap and fabric softener. I make our laundry soap and use diluted apple cider vinegar as fabric softener, and these containers are perfect for the quantities made in each batch. (You can find the recipes and read more about this homemade approach to laundry on the "Laundry Management" post). 
     I've had a tendency to neglect to flip the pour spout back down (off) in the past and the result was a messy soapy floor. This time, I've learned my lesson and positioned the bottles directly over the washer so just in case my mind wanders mid-task the liquid(s) will simply go into the washer. Perhaps one day I'll catch onto the greater lesson of being a little more attentive and a lot less distractible...ohh..shiny. Oh yeah, so anyways. ;)
    On the left side of the shelf is all of the laundry supplies. Instead of a collection of bottles, mesh bags, stain remover and other supplies scattered along the shelf, I purchased two canvas storage bins to contain everything. The bins add some color and permit a more cohesive look by decreasing visible clutter.  
     The long shelf offers much more storage space than I have laundry supplies, and so I utilize the right side for some kitchen items. The kitchen is a step away from the laundry closet, and so it makes a great spot for storing large items like our juicer, ice cream maker and fondue pot. I also have all our reusable shopping bags (the black bag in the picture) stored here. This makes it convenient to grab some bags on our way out the door to the store. 
     The sides of the washer and dryer are great spots for storing slim items like the ironing board and drying rack.

     Finally, I wanted to add some kind of interest piece to the space at the top of the room. I saw the phrase "Laundry Today or Naked Tomorrow" in vinyl lettering online, and thought it was pretty cute. I had debated between this phrase and another one, and the responses I received on the Reviving Homemaking Facebook page indicated this one was the winner. I rather enjoy the comedic effect it has. However, to purchase the vinyl lettering in the size I needed I would have had to pay around $20-$25, which was not exactly what I had in mind in terms of budget for this space. Instead, I found some canvas at a local discount store and added some paint to create my own take on it for only $7. (yay!) I chose to use the colors of the canvas bins, and rather like how painting my own has brought additional color and fun to the space. 

    And so, room number two is complete! Now, on to the next room which will be the dining room. I have several DIY projects going on in that room, and am really excited about how it will all turn out. (It looks fantastic in my imagination! haha). 

Looking for more ideas?
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Menu Plan: Winter (Jan. 27 - Feb 2)

    Hubby gave me two new cookbooks (pictured below on left) for my birthday. The Better Homes cookbook has some really nice educational elements to it. Cooking to me is not just producing an edible dish, but also being knowledgeable about the characteristics of the ingredients and the techniques for assembling them. The second cookbook by Betty Crocker is  also educational in my opinion but in a different way. I enjoy books like this in how they demonstrate how to use an ingredient several ways and economical options for ingredients or dishes. My biggest complaint about typical "budget" meals is that they are usually loaded with convenience/packaged/processed ingredients. This particular book doesn't seem to have that emphasis. For the few meals that do incorporate that type of ingredient I can continue to find real food substitutions like normal. 
    My other favorite cooking book is by Taste of Home (pictured below on right). This book is phenomenal in teaching how to pair meals of similar ingredients in a way that you're ingredients are used up but you're not eating the same thing all week.
     I highly recommend these books for learning how to properly plan a menu and cook economically! 

- Egg Sandwich (scrambled eggs &  cheddar cheese on toast), grapefruit
- Winter Oatmeal (oats, diced apple, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, drizzle honey)
- Egg & Veggie Omelet (eggs, swiss cheese, diced tomato, sliced mushrooms, diced bell pepper, S &P to taste), toast, orange
- Toast with peanut butter and diced apples 

- Creamy Penne with bacon,  mushrooms and spinach (I made a dish with these ingredients once before and it was delicious. Of course, I have no clue where the recipe went or what else goes in the dish other than four ingredients. I'll just create as I go. :)
- Repeat shephard's pie meal
- Multi-bean soup (Our pantry container for beans is overflowing. A multi-bean soup will help take care of some of the excess)
- Spaghetti squash with spaghetti (Spaghetti squash spaghetti is typically done with just the vegetable, but we're going to add some pasta noodles to it as well to make it a little more filling.)
- Veggie "cheesesteak" sandwiches (We're doing a take on the Philly cheesesteak sandwich. However, instead of the steak we're using sliced portabello mushrooms), sweet potato fries

- Shephard's Pie (using leftover meatloaf from Friday's meal)
-Chicken and Rice Skillet (One dish meal that is good for when time is short)
-Fish Tacos with homemade guacamole and slaw
-Repeat bean soup meal
-Veggie Calzones
- Almonds
-celery with peanut butter
-Cottage cheese with strawberries
-Banana with peanut butter
-Cheese slices
-Roasted chickpeas (seasoned with cumin, paprika and cayenne)
-Remaining birthday cake from last week. (yum!)

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not affiliated with Better Homes & Garden, Betty Crocker or Taste of Home and was not asked to include or recommend them or their recipes in this post. (I simply like what they have to offer!)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Favorite Green Smoothie

    I typically reserve smoothies for the warmer weather days, but this particular green smoothie is so good that it's worth drinking despite the freezing cold winter weather. Smoothies are a fantastic snack or at times breakfast option for something quick and packed with nutrients. 

Favorite Green Smoothie:

1/2 c. yogurt *
1 banana
2/3 c. almond milk
1 T. peanut butter
1 T. flaxseed meal
1 t. honey
6 greens cubes**
2-3 drops vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients into the blender and blend until everything is well incorporated. Enjoy!

* Make your own yogurt! The process is simple and is more economical than buying it. 

** I like to keep my greens frozen and ready to go in the freezer. I place a bag of greens into the blender, and then add enough water for them to come together well. Then, pour into two ice cube trays and freeze. Each smoothie will use about six cubes. This way I always have greens ready to go, since they're frozen I don't need to add ice cubes which eventually waters down the drink, and they incorporate better into the smoothie since they've already been broken down once before. 

For easy clean up, add some water and a tiny squirt of dish soap to your blender. Turn it on and it will clean itself. This is so much easier than trying to clean by hand around the crazy sharp blade piece. 


Friday, January 25, 2013

Five Question Friday (blog & vlog)

1. Do you embrace or dread snow/cold weather days?
     I love them. I'm originally from the South, so we didn't get very many snow days. Then, I moved up North and get plenty of them now. 
     This past Christmas, I was watching all the festive movies and wondered what kind of place gets and keeps snow like they picture. And now I know that where I live is actually that kind of place. It seems like daily that I can wake up and casually note that there's a new layer of snow on the ground. 
     It's still thrilling and exciting to me to have so much snow. Well, that is, as long as I don't have to drive in it much. I have had the experience of driving on winter weather roads twice now, since I know that this is something I need to learn and be capable of doing. I made it to my destinations and back without a wreck, but will admit that there was some major steering wheel gripping! haha.

2. Which game show or reality show could you totally win?
     I have no idea. I can't actually remember when I watched a game or reality show that involves winning something. Um... definitely not a trivia type show. Perhaps something like a Pictionary type show. I think there used to be a game like that. Um..yeah, I don't know so we'll skip on to question three. 
3. What is your preferred climate?
    Well, where we are is pretty good! Where we used to live was ridiculously hot and humid. Ugh, the humidity. I don't miss that part at all! It's actually pretty dry where we live now, which has been wonderful. It helps keep the"glistening" look and makeup melting off your face situation down. haha. 

4. What do you buy every time you walk into the grocery store, no matter what?
Produce? I'm a produce fanatic. I love fresh fruits and veggies. That's pretty much the majority of our grocery shopping, and everything else will vary from week to week. Produce- rather boring, right? I feel like the question needs an answer like, "I buy a little chocolate or something at the checkout each time." But no, not that exciting. Oh well, lots of produce in the cart is pretty exciting to me still. haha

5. If you see a spider/bug in the house, are you brave enough to kill it, or do you call for your hubby?
     I'm totally one to squeal, run away, and get him to get it for me. I can kill the pest if need be. If he's there though, I get him to do it for me. Really, I'm allowing him to be my hero and who wouldn't want that role? haha! 
     One thing I can't do is go to sleep with something crawling around in the room. The stories of bugs and creatures crawling into ears at night totally ruined me. The thing must be killed before I rest. haha.
      I could kill the spider/bug on my own if I needed to do so. I just usually get him to do it. haha

How would you answer today's Five Question Friday? Share in the comment section below!

Linked up at: What Joy is Mine, The Better Mom, A Mama's Story, The Alabaster Jar, Far Above Rubies, Growing Home, Time-Warp Wife, Women Living Well, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Deep Roots at Home, Raising Homemakers, We Are THAT Family


Monday, January 21, 2013

Menu Plan: Winter (Jan. 20-26)

     This is a busy week for us, so we're utilizing cooking extra portions for leftover meals during the week. At the end of the week, hubby is treating me to my favorite meal for my birthday. Wee!

Strategies we used this week:

  • As usual, we split our meals by preparing half meat and half meatless. This stretches our budget by reducing the greatest food cost- meat. Plus, it balances our preferences (hubby could eat meat at every meal, but I'd rather not). 
  • Taco filling (beef, tofu, fish etc) can be frozen and makes an excellent quick meal
  • We only used half a whole chicken last week in making Chicken and Dumplings soup, so we have the only half shredded and ready for use this week in Chicken Salad Sandwiches
  • Using seasonal produce such as acorn squash

-Green Smoothie (upcoming recipe post)
-Eggs, fruit
(pretty much whatever I come up with each morning. I'm kind of in a breakfast rut. haha)

- Pork Chops with grapes, beans, potatoes/rice
- Eggplant leftovers
- leftovers
- Tacos
- B-day meal leftovers

- My birthday meal! Meatloaf, pinto beans, cornbread, scrambled (fried) okra, mac & cheese. yum!
- Chicken salad sandwiches (using shredded chicken in our freezer)
- Spinach-stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, carrots, barley
- Acorn Squash Soup
- leftovers

- Veggies: celery, carrots
-Fruit: grapefruit, pear, oranges, apples, bananas, grapes (Clearly, I love fruit! haha)
-Seeds/nuts: sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans
-birthday cake hubby is making for me! (Yep, I feel special because I know it's going to be epic :) )
- homemade crackers with peanut butter or cheese slices

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not affiliated with Eating Well and was not asked to include or recommend them or their recipes in this post. (I simply like what they have to offer!)

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pinterest Project: Outfit Inspiration

      I love Pinterest! I enjoy finding so many creative ideas and saving them in one easily accessible place. I wonder, though at what point does it turn into electronic hoarding?  How much of it am I actually putting into practice and how much am I just collecting? Well, I've decided that it's time I push aside my e-hoarding tendencies to begin implementing projects inspired by Pinterest. (Link to follow me on Pinterest below).

     My first project is an outfit inspiration. Thank goodness for a Pinterest Style board because a fashionista I am not. I seem to lack the ability to coordinate and pair pieces together to look like an ensemble. Instead, my "style" gets stuck at basic bottom + basic top. Fortunately, there are style-mavens on Pinterest who seem to get the outfit idea and pin them. When it comes to taking inspiration for an outfit from the site, my goal is not to replicate each piece of the look but more so to capture the idea. I also aim to achieve the look in an affordable manner and maintain a simplistic/minimalist life approach. In other words, no fancy high priced items or new shoes, purse, jacket etc with every outfit. So, for this outfit project I chose the following gray and green combination pictured below:

casual dresses
     I already had several pieces, and so I only picked up a few accessories (these are the elements I tend to leave off but really make an impact). I skipped the gray shoes and green handbag because those items are pricey and very specific in purpose. I did a gray and white stripped sock instead. I also skipped the green nail polish because I have my doubts of inexpensive polish that can stand up to the demands of housework. For the earrings, I chose a leaf dangle instead of the chandelier. I rather like the leaf pair better. Even with all the changes I made, I feel like I came pretty close to the idea of the inspiration picture while still making it affordable and personalized. 
*Scarf- picked it up at a fun little shop in an airport during our last trip / Gray sweater- Khols (years ago) / Denim skirtJunees / White long sleeve tee, Earrings & Socks- Target

    I'm already excited to determine and work on the next project inspired by Pinterest! There are so many to choose from, but whatever the project will be I'm sure it will be as fun as this one was to complete! If you would like to follow along, then simply select the button below: 
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Do you have Pinterest? What projects have you completed that were inspired by a Pinterest Pin? 

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of Khols, Junees or Target. No arrangement or compensation was received by Reviving Homemaking from any of these retailers in exchange for the product listing on this site. Product listing is the sole opinion of Reviving Homemaking and has been shared based on personal use and satisfaction. 

Linked up at: Women Living Well, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Deep Roots At Home, Raising Homemakers, We Are THAT Family


Friday, January 18, 2013

Five Question Friday 1/18/13

     I had intentions to switch my planned posts for Thursday (yesterday) and Friday, but I didn't get the 5QF finished. So, that is why in the video I'm referring to this 5QF being done on Thursday even though I'm posting on Friday.  Also, since I recorded yesterday before this week's questions were posted, I went back to last week's (1/10) questions. Perhaps I should just stick to my original post plans and not complicate things in the future! (haha). I've left it in video format for lack of time right now to type out my responses as well. Let me know if you'd rather see the text as well and I will add it later today. Enjoy!

1. Flu mist? Flu shot? Or take your chances?

2. Do your kids have iPads? What are some good educational apps? Price?

3. What are your favorite boy/girl baby names?

4. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, which apple do you choose to eat? (red/green, gala, red delicious...)

5. What is your favorite place to escape to for peace & quiet, to think? Why?

How would you answer today's Five Question Friday? Share in the comment section below!

     Have a great weekend! :)


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