Monday, October 31, 2011

Blissful weekend

Weekends are good for the soul, and this weekend was especially good for mine.

It was full of family time and relaxation and nothing more than simple contentment.

Friday we ordered pizzas and watched the World Series with friends, including baby Charlotte. I’ve mentioned her quite a few times before—can you tell I just love her to pieces?

Sean’s brother and his girlfriend came in town for the weekend (they’re living in Denver right now), too. We spent most of Saturday together and it was just perfect. By Saturday night, we sat around the dinner table and I couldn’t help but think about how this was my ultimate happy place. All of us back together again. And my mom joined us too, so I was literally surrounded by some of my very favorite people.

The night was full of laughter, wine, and wedding talk. The boys retreated to watch the hockey game not long after we started playing church music and talking colors, but they were great sports. We ended the night with frozen yogurt—my new favorite obsession.

Sunday morning, us girls got manicures and pedicures. I almost fell asleep in my chair, no kidding.

I honestly almost cried on Sunday afternoon when it came time to do my grocery shopping and return to our normal routines. It wasn’t too terrible. Sean and I did some yard work and made a yummy dinner, and settled in for bed almost an hour earlier than usual. But man I would have loved for this weekend to last just a little bit longer.

Bliss. It’s the only way to describe how I feel. Can’t wait for more weekends just like it!

My terrible success at taking photos this weekend (all by phone):

Oh and p.s. - Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (kind of)

I've never actually participated in Wordless Wednesday before. But today I am crazy B-U-S-Y so I figured, why not? Except I'm breaking the rules and including a few words.

Here's a sneak peak at our engagement photos:

When we first got them I was hyper-critical of the outfit I chose and thought I looked like I could be with-child in some of the photos. But upon closer inspection I realized I was being overly sensitive and the vast majority of them are actually pretty great. (And the ones that aren't great have nothing to do with the photographer. He did a great job all around - I just didn't love my drunk-looking eyes or Sean's fake smile in a few of them. But that's why they take so many, because they can't all turn out perfect! So huge thanks to our photog Michael - we can't wait for him to shoot our big day!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall traditions

For the last 4 years, we’ve made it a tradition to visit a local apple orchard/pumpkin patch with our friends. More people join us every year, and we always seem to get a really good turnout.
We had a beautiful day for the trip this weekend. The sun was shining, the leaves were glowing, and the temperatures were a perfect balance between crisp and balmy.
It was also Charlotte’s first trip to the orchard (obviously, since she’s only 2 weeks old!). She was on her very best behavior. In fact, I think she slept the whole time.
Last year we couldn’t pick apples because the trees had all been damaged by late season storms. We were looking forward to picking some this year. But the trees were pretty picked over, so we ended up picking an already bundled bag from the orchard store. We still had fun walking through the aisles though. Did I mention it was a beautiful day?
We finished the trip by going out to dinner – it is half of the tradition after all. We were done early enough that a nearby bar and grill could easily accommodate our group of 17 without any wait.

It was the perfect way to end a great afternoon. The day left me feeling grateful for so many things, especially our one-of-a-kind friends!

Don't you just love this season? Do you have any fall traditions?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just in time

I love it when the weekend arrives just in time.

Just when I thought I couldn't possibly make it through another 8 hours of work.

Just when I'm ready for 1 morning where I don't have to wake up to an alarm.

Just when I'm ready for my comfy clothes - leggings, slippers, and Sean's oversized sweatshirt (I swear if it were socially acceptable, I would wear this all day, everyday).

Just when I need an unstructured day without a single thing on my to-do list.

I have to use a bit of vacation time before the end of the year, so a few weeks ago I decided to take tomorrow off on a whim. Funny how I somehow just knew I would need it. It certainly doesn't mean I don't enjoy my job or am not grateful for it - I'm just also grateful for the much-needed breaks sometimes, too.

Sean, who never uses his vacation time, surprised me today by taking it off, too. All week I've been encouraging him to go crazy and enjoy a day off work, and he actually listened!

So tonight we're making one of our favorite chicken dinners, renting a movie, and starting our weekend a whole day early. came just in time.

Looking forward to a fun weekend ahead - walks with friends, our annual apple orchard + pumpkin patch trip, a football game. How about you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In high school, I had a core group of girlfriends that I spent the vast majority of my time with.
We’ve been lucky in that most of us have stayed really close all these years. With jobs and families and the usual chaos of life, we don’t see each other all that often, but we try and get together for dinner here and there.

And every time we do, I’m amazed at the ease and comfort of our conversations, the simple pleasures of being in the company of people you share such a history with.

Last night they came over to our house, with their significant others and children in tow. Our house is small, mind you, so the presence of 11 adults and 6 small children felt increasingly crowded. But I loved every second of it.

I looked around at where we’ve all landed—working, raising children, owning homes, building lives with both new and long-term loves. It’s far from the days of sleepovers and troublemaking. But the joy of it all, made even greater by sharing it with friends you adore, is just as abundant.

It’s funny how life changes, and how it changes you. I used to wonder how I’d ever manage to live to see a day without a curfew. And then I did (and it didn’t matter, because I wanted to go to bed by 10 anyway). I used to think I’d never survive the stress and complexity of college. And then I did (and even went back for more!). I used to wonder how I could ever love something more than a packed social calendar. And then I did (quiet nights at home top my list). I once thought I’d just never find someone to love me and marry me and raise kids with me. And then I did (and I still can’t believe it some days).  

And I used to think it would be nearly impossible to grow old with the friends you had in high school. And then I did (well, I’m working on it).

These girls are my heart. I couldn’t imagine anyone better to have by my side.
{Old photo - 2 new babies added since then!}

(Just a note that this is not to say I don’t feel the same way about other friendships, some that go back to even before high school; that’s just another post in and of itself.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

License to wed

{Via Pinterest, copyright to the Amateur Writer}
This past weekend Sean and I attend the marriage preparation retreat that is hosted by our local archdiocese. Like most couples in the surrounding churches, we’re required to attend before we can get married.

Even though the wedding isn’t for another 8 months, it was nice to check another item off our to-do list. And since we “passed” (and by passed I mean attended the entire thing, thus receiving the certificate of completion), we’re one step closer to getting married, too!

I know some people really get into these things, but for us, we went in a little bit leery of what to expect. Sean was less than thrilled about how much time it was going to take up (10 hours on Saturday is kind of a lot), but I’d say overall we were both pleasantly surprised by how well it went.

A few highlights of things we learned this weekend (whether it’s what they wanted us to take away from it or not):
  • It’s not marriage related – but having presenters who are entertaining and engaging speakers makes a big difference to a crowd of 100+ people who are sitting in an auditorium all day.
  • Sean and I have actually gotten to a really good place before even going to this retreat. They talk about the importance of understanding a lot of things before you get married—finances and budgeting, family styles and traditions, communication and conflict strategies, just to name a few. Many of these are things Sean and I have talked about and worked through in the nearly 7 years we’ve been dating. This makes me feel so confident and affirmed in the decision we’ve made to become husband and wife, and the future we’ll have together.
  • There are lots of small traditions to add to your day, week, or month that can help you keep your marriage strong. One couple told about their “rule” to always give each other a 5-second compliment and a 10-second kiss at least once a day. Another always makes time for “couple time” to talk about all of the things that can sometimes get missed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We may not really be the type of people to make this a regular habit, but it was a good reminder to find unique ways to connect with each other and not get lost in routine and chaos.
  • Public speaking isn’t so scary after all. Sean and I got asked to do the readings at mass. Since we’re both pretty shy, it took us out of our comfort zone a little, but we both did fine and it showed us that there’s really nothing to be scared of.
  • We’re not mind readers. This sweet older gentleman with a great sense of humor presented the first night. Among his many reminders were that we have to remember that we’re all different, and we can’t read each others’ minds. It’s easy to get angry over things we wish our partner would understand, but unless we can be open and communicate those things, they may have no idea it’s even an issue. This—for me at least—is a reminder I needed!
  • Finally, my favorite was from the same gentleman I mentioned above. He talked about how we need to stop thinking that “if you don’t think as I think, feel as I feel, and do as I do, then you don’t love me.” Again, this wasn’t news to me, but the perfect reminder that we each love in our own ways—and that’s ok!
All in all, an interesting experience. While there was a combination of things we found interesting and others we found a little dull, I’m glad we went. And I can certainly understand why the church requires it. There are some important conversations that all couples should be having before they get married—and this certainly helped ensure that they were happening.

What's your favorite marriage or relationship advice?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fun recipe for a Friday

A few weeks ago, we went to a party where someone brought these delicious (homemade) bite-size candy treats. They were a big hit and everyone just had to know how to make them. Turns out, it's actually really easy. And they taste just like the popular candy bar they're modeled after.

I made my own batch of the treats that very same weekend. I've brought them into work a couple of times and they're popular here, too.

So, I just had to share with you! Of course, I can't take any sort of credit for the recipe since I got them from someone else, adn I don't even know where she got it or what she calls them.

But here it goes anyway!

Homemade "Butterfinger" bites

What you'll need
  • 1 box of Cheez-Its crackers (I usually pick the reduced-fat)
  • Some peanut butter of your choosing (creamy works best)
  • 1 package of almond bark chocolate
Here's what you do:
  1. Place a sheet of parchment or wax paper out on the counter. You'll need to put the finished product here to cool.
  2. Start creating small cracker sandwiches by spreading a small amount of peanut butter on 1 Cheez-It and topping it with another. My latest batch only got me about 65-70 pieces, so you can create them all at once, or start with a small number and make more as you go.
  3. Since the chocolate melts fast, I usually wait to melt it until I've got a good start on the cracker sandwiches. Break the bark up into large chunks and put it in a microwave safe bowl (of course, you're welcome to melt it over the stove, too). Cook for about a minute at a time, stirring between each cycle. It should only take about 2-3 minutes to be fully melted.
  4. Once you've got the chocolate melted and the sandwiches made, take a fork and dip the sandwiches into the chocolate one at a time. (Or, like me, place a bunch of them in the bowl and then sink them under the chocolate one-by-one).
  5. Once the crackers have a good coating, pull it out with the fork, letting some of the excess chocolate drop back into the bowl.
  6. Place onto your cooling paper, and keep going.
  7. Once you're chocolate is gone or you've made enough cracker sandwiches to tie you over for now, let the candy cool for a while - 30-40 minutes should be plenty.
  8. Eat and enjoy!
We store ours in the fridge to keep them crisp and cool. They're great for small treats at home, at parties, or in the workplace. And like I said, they taste JUST like a Butterfinger. Who would've thought some cheese crackers, peanut butter and chocolate could do all that?

Let me know what you think if you give them a try!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Remember me?

Oh hi - my name is Kristin and I used to write this thing called a blog here. It's ok if you don't remember, since I seem to have forgotten as well. I've been quite a bit absent (and sporadic) here lately, so for that I apologize.

I don't have any real great excuse, other than being pretty darn busy lately. Unfortunately, I don't even have anything to show for it.

But here are some of the things we've been up to as of late:

We've made some small progress on the wedding plans. I think I work best under pressure, so as time inches by I'm likely to get more and more productive. We settled on a bridesmaid dress (and color), which I think will help tons in making decisions about other small details of the wedding. I also went to the wedding fair with my mom and future mother-in-law and got lots of great ideas. We even booked our incredible transportation from the ceremony to the reception! I'm getting a bit impatient, too, so if the next 8 months could go by just a little bit quicker I'd be ok with it. At least wedding planning will help get me through the winter!

We also took our engagement photos last weekend! I'm looking forward to seeing how they turned out. We haven't gotten a peak yet, but as soon as I do, I'll be sure to share. (See - I told you I have nothing to show for everything we've been up to!)

Fall TV is back in full swing. While I hate to admit that many evenings are full of couch- and channel-surfing, it's true sometimes. After dinner, we usually settle in for an episode or 2 of one of our favorites, and then head to bed earlier than most infants and grandparents. No shame there - we love our sleep!

Work is c-r-a-z-y. That's really all there is to be said.

And thank goodness for cell phone cameras, or I'd hardly have anything to show visually of our life as of late:
Gorgeous fall view of the St. Paul Cathedral one evening.
You can't help but love this little girl, especially seeing her in the arms of someone who (God willing) will be the father of my own babies someday!
Sunday afternoon nap with the pup!
My view as I wait for the bus every morning - I love dawn in the fall!
I'll quit boring you now, but my point is this: I'm back and going to try stick around this time. Sometimes life gets crazy and priorities have to shift a bit, I get it. But I enjoy blogging, so making time for things you enjoy should always be a priority, in my opinion. Here's to trying harder!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm in love

Yesterday, one of my best friends (we've known each other since 4th grade!) went to the hospital to be induced. She was exactly a week overdue. All day long I was completely distracted, thinking about how things were going and waiting on pins and needles for news. I've had plenty of friends and family have babies before, but when it's someone so close, it's an entirely different experience. I was beyond excited.

And then, just before 8 p.m., she arrived! I met her today and instantly fell in love.
I didn't want to put her down. She has a perfect button nose and big blue eyes. She yawned and I practically melted. Her onesie fell softly off her tiny little shoulders. She's perfect in every way, and I just couldn't take my eyes off of her.
And seeing our two friends with their daughter, hearing the pride in their voices as they pour over the details of her arrival, moves me to tears. I'm so incredibly happy for them. Let me tell you, that is one lucky girl because she just got 2 of the greatest parents.

And although I'm a little biased, she's going to have some pretty damn good family and friends too. I may not be blood, but I'm still her auntie!

And, understandably, it made me want to give her a little friend right away, except that we have to wait for that whole marriage thing. Is it next June yet? Just kidding. Maybe by the time her mommy and daddy give her another brother or sister, we'll be ready to give them a playmate.

So we drove away from the hospital and I couldn't help but just cry. Sean asked what was wrong. "Nothing's wrong," I told him. "I'm crying because I'm so happy. I love her so much already."

Welcome to the world Charlotte Sophia! We are so happy you're here!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dear Monday...

Dear Monday,

I may have managed to (narrowly) avoid the above mentioned activities today, but that doesn't mean I'd classify you as anything remotely close to "good."

For no great reason, I had a great dislike for you today.

Perhaps it was because it started when my alarm went off in the middle of a blissful sleep. I was cocooned in my sheets, the cool breeze blowing through by way of the fan in the bedroom window, when the obnoxious sound of my alarm startled me awake.

Or maybe it was because my best friend's contractions this morning turned out to be false, leaving her still 5 days overdue and me still very anxious for my pseudo-niece to be born. Clearly I'm not the one who should be complaining, but in all fairness, I do want her to arrive for my friend and her husband more than for myself.

It could also have something do with the fact that there simply weren't enough hours in the day to get everything done at work. But in your defense, Monday, it seems like this isn't just a first-day-of-the-week thing anymore.

Oh, and you know how I've been putting off buying new makeup because "free gift" time started today? Turns out their website was off by a day, so it doesn't start until tomorrow. Only problem is I am 100% out of foundation, so I couldn't wait until tomorrow. So after all that, no free gift anyway.

You weren't very kind to Sean today either, seeing as how he got in a minor car accident at work (in his work vehicle). Thankfully, everyone was ok (and the accident wasn't his fault), but it certainly provided some un-needed stress and frustration in his afternoon.

Then, just when we wanted nothing more than the mindless entertainment of the TV, everything we watched seemed to talk about dads, particularly people losing theirs. Of course this only brought up all sorts of sad feelings for the both of us.

No offense Monday, but good riddance. Bedtime (and Tuesday) can't come soon enough!
Love always,

Miss Jewells