Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a few more friends

Please allow me to introduce you to a few more of my lovely November sponsors:

My name is Kelli Diane. Dailypolkadots is my life in photos, things I like, people I love, things I am doing, and stuff I just feel like talking about : )

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I am Annelise from Bye Bye Beehive. I'm a vibrant, cheerful girl with a million and one things going on. I'm on a 365-day journey to achieve long, beautiful hair the natural way. That means absolutely NO hairspray, teasing, dyeing or frying. In addition, I am also raising money for local cancer patients through my big hair bereavement. Come check out some good hair days, some bad hair days, and all the awesome randomness of BBB.

blog // twitter // personal blog

Hello lovely readers of Jessi. I'm Mrs.S blogging over at Everything Girly & Beyond. I like to write about anything and everything my little heart desires. That may vary from clothing, make-up, fashion, recipes, DIY projects and a little bit of the everyday girly life of me. I love to dress up, wear heels and simply be me. Thank you very much for having me!!

// blog //

Hi! My name is Melanie and I have a little blog over at Keeping Up With the Cantelmo's. I started blogging to keep my family updated on our daily adventures and soon I realized through blogging I am able to bless others. My desire is that you feel encouraged and blessed when you visit my blog. I try to be open and vulnerable about my life, my marriage, and being a mom. If you have time, pop by my blog and say hi!

blog // pinterest // blog lovin'

I'm currently taking sponsors/button swaps for the month of December. If you are interested, click here.
ps- it's FREE!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

listen, follow, submit, obey

I tweeted this the other day: "God has a provision for you. Submit to it."

It just came out when my husband told me the news: the Super Committee that was created to solve the budget crisis failed to come to an agreement and because of it there will be huge cuts in the federal government's budget next year.

That means huge cuts in the military and defense budget.

$1 trillion in defense cuts to be exact.

For more context, consider this:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that meeting the $1 trillion in defense cuts would require across-the-board, 23 percent reductions, which would end most of our ship and construction projects. We would be left with our smallest ground force since 1940, the fewest ships since 1915 and the smallest Air Force in its history. Mr. Panetta described these cuts as "devastating" and said they would "seriously damage readiness." (emphasis mine) source
In other words, our ground troop levels will be reduced to pre-WWII levels.

I know, you're wondering what all this political talk has to do with God's provision.

Well, alot actually. A year ago,God laid it on my husband's and my heart that he should end his career in the Marine Corps; get out after just 8 years. At the time it seemed weird, considering we had planned on staying in for a full 20 years. But we listened and we followed the Lord.

Ben was an infantryman. He was a part of the ground force. Chances are, had he stayed in, because of these massive budget cuts, his job would have been eliminated. He would have spent another 4 years in the Marines and still had to get out.

Now, instead of getting out in 4 years with no education or training for civilian work, he got out this year and will spend the next 4 years in college. He will be trained for civilian work. He will be able to support our family.

I've said it a hundred times and I'll keep saying it: God knows. God provides. God's plan is better, so submit to it!

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

The LORD Almighty has sworn, "Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand." Isaiah 14:24

I've spent a lot of time trying to do things my own way. I've ignored the Lord's tug on my heart. I've done things my way. I've intentionally walked away from Him.

I've also listened to Him. I've followed His call for my life. I've felt the Holy Spirit pressing on my heart and obeyed.

From experience, the latter is much better. Listen, follow, submit, obey. His ways are higher and better. Jehovah-Jireh is His name.

Monday, November 28, 2011

how to fill your blog with big beautiful photos

Over the past couple years of blogging I've learned alot. One thing in particular is that big, bright, beautiful photos make a blog more appealing. Think about your favorite blogs for a minute. I'm going to guess that the photos on those blogs fill the entire width of the blog, like so:

Trip to DC 2010 096_MG_0012

But, if you use blogger like me, you know that when you upload your photos, the "large size" is actually quite small. And it certainly doesn't fill the entire width of your blog or mine.

So, you may be wondering, how do I make my photos bigger? (at least without paying someone else to do it). I am going to share with you my secret. I know there are other ways of doing it, but this is the way that I started using and I prefer it.

First, you'll need an account with a photo sharing site. If you don't have a flickr account, I recommend it. My mom and I share an account and we upload all of our photos to it so she can keep up with baby photos. It does cost for an unlimited account, but it's worth it. Your other option would be to have an account with photobucket.

Next, upload the photos to the photo sharing site that you want to use on your blog.

Then, copy the html code for the photo from the site. For example, in flickr, you would select the photo you want to use, click the "share" button above it, click "grab the html/bbcode", make sure "HTML" is selected. Below the code, you have options for what size you would like the photo to be. The size you choose depends on the width of your blog. (I always use "Medium" which is 640x427 for horizontal photos and 427x640 for vertical photos.)

Then copy the code and past it to your blog post under the "edit html" tab.

Once the photo is pasted, you can adjust the size if you want to. A vertical photo at 427x640 doesn't fill the width of my blog. So, if I choose adjust the size, I do so inside the html code. I generally change it to width=640, height=1000.

When this is done, you have the final product:


See, it's actually much easier than you once thought, right?

Let me know if you try this out on your blog. Leave links in the comments. I would love to see!

Any questions? Please leave those as well.

note: I am not paid to promote flickr or photobucket. They are both sites I personally use.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving!!

Usually we're camping at the beach in Southern California.

This year we'll be enjoying a large meal and the company of some friends here in Texas. While I'm of course bummed that we're not with family and that we're not at the beach, I know we'll have a good time here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

the story of us: part 6

start from the beginning here.

part 6: God had a different plan

You know how scripture says, '"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD' ~Isaiah 55:8? We can attest that the Lord was speaking the truth to Isaiah (not that there was any doubt).

Lots of us get married and have a "5 year plan", right? We plan to spend the first 5 years of marriage just the two of us. Once we've enjoyed our alone time, we entertain the idea of starting a family.

I have to say, how did we get to be so arrogant that we decided to take matters like these into our own hands? But I digress...

4 years into our marriage, in April of 2008, we decided it was time to give this whole "trying for a baby" a try. We figured that by the time we got pregnant and had the baby, it would be about 5 years. Plus, Ben was getting ready to deploy and it seemed logical to be pregnant while he was gone so he'd be home for the birth.

Oh plans. How they change. How our plans are not God's plans. Our ways are not God's ways.

We had no problem getting pregnant. We never have a problem getting pregnant. That same month, I had a positive pregnancy test. And in early May, Ben left for his 4th deployment. I was 12 weeks pregnant.

pregnancy 002

Many of you know the rest of the story.

It's pretty obvious that our plan was not God's plan.

In the mean time, Ben and I were able to experience a whole year and a half without a single deployment. That's a big deal for us! And how wonderful it was to be able to live like a married couple:


We went for bike rides to the beach, we took vacations to Seattle and Washington DC. We joined a growth group at church. We ate Mexican food every single Friday night (always at the same place). We spent birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving and Christmas together. It was a welcome change.

Trip to DC 2010 099

But news quickly came that a 5th deployment was in the near future. Ben would leave May 1, 2010 for Afghanistan.

By this time, we had almost completely given up on the idea of having our own children. We had always considered adoption (and still do). We just assumed it would be far off in the future. However, not being able to have a baby yet, we decided to start researching adoption for now.

In fact, my plan was to spend the 7 months while Ben was away, looking into and planning for adoption.

God had a different plan, a better plan. On May 14, 2010 I took another pregnancy test and it was positive.


In case you missed it: part 1, part 2 part 3, part 4, part 5.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

kitchen tips

I've been cooking since I got married 7 1/2 years ago. In the beginning all I could do was follow a recipe. And my repertoire was wanting. I mean, it was pretty sad. We're talking spaghetti, steak and mashed potatoes, chicken tenders and a really easy gumbo recipe that Ben loved. End of list.

Over the years, I've paid close attention to cooking shows and the recipes I use. Not only have I added more recipes to my list, but I've picked up different tips and tricks. Some of them I've borrowed from others. Some I've developed on my own.

I have to say though, I'm pretty proud of all that I've accomplished in the kitchen over the past 7 years. I've gotten particularly good at whipping up a dinner from almost nothing (although I try to avoid that by meal planning): What meat do I have in the freezer? What's in the pantry? Any veggies that are about to go bad? Add it all together and many nights, they end up being our best dinners!

But enough of me tooting my own horn. I want to share with you some of my favorite recipe tips:

1. Mix your pancake and waffle batter in a measuring glass measuring bowl. It's easy to simply pour the batter right in the waffle iron or skillet. No ladel required, which means fewer dishes for clean up.


2. Buy bulk cheese and divide into smaller baggies to freeze for later use (my mom's trick). Buying larger bags is cheaper than the small ones. Especially when there's a good sale. (Of course, you could buy block cheese which is even cheaper, then grate it and freeze).


3. Here's an easy iced tea recipe.

4. My favorite way to cook chicken is boiling in water with spices. Simply place the chicken breast in a pot (frozen or thawed), sprinkle your favorite spices (salt, pepper, garlic salt, dried onion), cover chicken with water and bring to a boil. Keep the lid on and allow the water to boil for 45 minutes or so. You can also let it simmer for longer. You can use the chicken now and the broth later. You can also freeze the broth for later use.

5. When your fry pans are small and the bacon is too long, cut bacon into smaller strips. It's always good to have kitchen scissors and this is a good use of them. I think we end up eating less bacon at breakfast time too.


6. Add chicken broth to refried beans to make them creamy. This one I learned from my dad. Ever notice how sticky and thick refried beans are right out of the can? Even after you heat them on the stove? This is an easy and tasty way to make them creamy.

What are your kitchen tips??

Monday, November 21, 2011

pancakes and lions and flamingos. oh my!

This weekend we went to the Fort Worth Zoo for "Pumpkins and Pancakes". We had a pancake breakfast and got to enjoy the zoo before opening hours, while there was almost no one there. They had some special events going on like an elephant pumpkin smash and zoo keepers walking around to answer questions.

It was a good time. Mostly we enjoyed watching Isaac watch the animals. We saw lions, tigers, bears, flamingos, elephants, giraffes, birds and gorillas.


How was your weekend?? Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

wear are your pants?

pull over- Gap, thrifted. onesie- Carter's, thrifted. socks- Old Navy, garage saled

I'm not quite sure how this happened. I think it was just too much effort to get his little britches back on after I changed his diaper. So he spent the afternoon walking around and climbing through clean laundry wearing everything but pants. And to be honest, I think it was the cutest little outfit ever.

Besides, who needs pants? (at least if you're a baby right?)

Have a lovely Thursday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

thrift tip: use a thrifted item to be thrifty

Until recently, this is what my freezer always looked like:


One way that I've tried to be more thrifty is by making freezer meals, buying bulk, buying meat in bulk, buying multiple items if they're on sale and freezing leftovers or food that won't get eaten right away.

The result: A freezer packed to the brim. Where am I supposed to put my ice cream??
After a couple months of this, my husband and I quickly started discussing the option of buying a deep freeze. We both had one growing up. They are awesome. But they are big, bulky and expensive. So we decided to put it on our list of future "big ticket item purchases" (yes, that is a real list that I keep).

Well, I think it was the next week, Isaac and I were at Goodwill searching for some pajamas for him when I saw what looked to be a minature deep freeze in the furniture section. We boogied right on over to it and to my surprise, that's just what it was! The perfect size. The perfect price.

I paid $35 plus I had a $5 off. The total was just $30.

Later that day, my husband went back to pick it up. We brought it home and plugged it in, outside underneath the carport. (That was the other question: we don't have a garage, so where does it go?)

isn't it so cute?

So here we have it...

thrift tip: use thrifted items to be thrifty

Now, I have plenty of freezer room. I even bought our Thanksgiving turkey weeks early because it was super on sale and I have a place to store it! I have so much more room now to freeze meals ahead of time, to freeze leftovers, to freeze extra herbs, juice, vegetables.


With the help of an awesome thrifted item: the deep freeze, I can now be even more thrifty. It's like exponential thriftiness!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

a few more friends

I want to introduce you to a few more friend this month. All of these ladies are so lovely and I have truly enjoyed getting to know them all. Please give them each a visit!


I'm Jamie. I've been obsessed with writing for as long as I can remember. In the past I would get an idea in my head and I'd write it on whatever I had available - a napkin, a receipt, my arm. Now that I have a blog, I get to write my random thoughts somewhere permanent, and I fancy that someone might actually READ them! Yay!

Topics you'll see often on my blog are my Faith, the importance of family time, and random odds and ends that make up the smorgasbord that is me. I value honesty, kindness and love, and I try to weave those values through-out my posts.


blog // twitter // facebook // bloglovin'

Hi! My name is Heather. I'm a 26 year old, happily married, adventure seeking blog lover :) My little blog is a place to share what's on my heart, what God is teaching me, and what my husband and I are up to as we have recently relocated to a new city. On my blog, you'll see transparent accounts of my day-to-day life with my hubby and our new puppy, Hartley, and some of the fun we're having along the way. I love capturing a moment by camera and simply finding beauty in the ordinary moment of life.



Hey ladies! My name is Erin. I'm a twenty-something Christ follower with a passion for life, love, and above all else, my faith in God. I love to share the joys and beauty that can be found in this world. I love to write about the things I am learning in my walk with Christ, as well as share some outfits and things I make along the way! I have been captivated by the beautiful grace of God. Come get captivated today!


blog // shop // twitter // facebook

use code laluce15 to get 15% off any order this month!

I am a wife, artist, and lover of God. I blog over at La Luce about my creative inspirations, adventures of living for God, and following my dreams. I am also the designer and creator of handmade accessory and gifts as well as a photographer. La Luce is ever evolving so come on over and take the journey with me!


blog // facebook // twitter

Hey everyone! I'm Heather and I blog about my life (marriage, mothering, speaking and writing) from a faith perspective. My blog has a strong focus on scripture and sharing the truth of God's word in a way that is relevant and applicable to everyday life. I try to live my big dream each day and encourage others to do the same!


You can see my first group of sponsors here.

ps- if you are interested in sponsoring, you can find more info here. it's easy and free!

Monday, November 14, 2011

a good weekend

We had a wonderful weekend.


Saturday morning we hung out in bed for a little bit. Then we got up and headed over to a flea market that our city has once a year. It was like a bunch of garage sales all in one place (which is both fantastic and very dangerous for my pocket book). Alas, we got out with only a small purchase: a $3 Xbox remote control (which we had discussed getting the week prior) and 2 books, $0.25 a piece. Then we came home and had a big pancake, bacon and egg breakfast.

_MG_0571Recently Updated3
Later that evening we dropped Isaac off with a friend and Ben and I got dressed up to go to a fundraising banquet for the local crisis pregnancy center. We had such a great time!

Recently Updated4
I'm wearing: dress- Target, cardigan- Kohl's, tights- Express, boots-, clutch- QVC, necklaces- Express, Charlotte Russe

The little guy has been "walking" with the help of daddy. I know it's only a matter of days...

Sunday we slept in (well kinda). After we got up and got some things done around the house we noticed a pile of stuff sitting on the neighbor's curb. They are getting ready to rent out the house and were cleaning our all of the previous tenant's junk. Their junk is now our treasure! I found a set of rabbit ears and a dtv converter box. I hooked it up and we now have free tv! Total score.

I also found 2 boxes of small Christmas bulbs, perfect for filling vases to set up on the mantle. And there were also a bunch of un-used cardboard boxes.


For dinner I made homemade chicken noodle soup. It would have been a little bit better if the weather was cooler. I mean, I thought it was November? What's the deal Texas?!

In the mean time, someone was go, go, go all day long.


How was your weekend?? Have a lovely Monday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

what stirs your affections?

Our pastor asks the question a lot, "what stirs your affections for Christ?"

It's a good question.

I mean, just think about it. What things in your life draw your toward Jesus? What is it that you enjoy doing that brings you closer to Him? In what moments do you know you're in His presence?

You need to know the answer to those questions. We all have times where we feel distant from the Lord. We feel like He's left or no where around. But it's not that He's left because He doesn't. He can't. It's because we've left. We've drifted.

So how do we solve it? How to we get back to Him?:
By doing those things that stir your affections for Him.

James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."
How do you draw near to the Lord?

For me, it's study. Studying the word. Studying the Greek and the Hebrew. Studying the genealogies. Reading scripture and commentary. Learning. Discovering. Knowing. I love scripture.

Day 001 of 365 - The Beginning

Which is funny, because I was always a really good student. I wasn't a driven student. I didn't work nearly as hard as I could have. But good grades came easy for me. I can take notes once and remember the information well enough to get an 'A' without even studying for a test.

Now I understand that God wired me that way. Which is why, I love being a student of the Word. Which is why studying draws me closer to Jesus. In studying scripture, the Spirit reveals God's character, and shows me who Jesus is.

For my husband, it's spending time in the outdoors. He loves quiet moments in the rain, or on the lake. He enjoys God through God's creation. The Spirit reveals the Lord to my husband through the things He's made. The Creator's fingerprints are all over His creation.


So what about you? What stirs your affections for Christ? How will you draw near to Him next time He seems far?

Song. Dance. Writing. Art. Nature. ??

"The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you."
2 Chronicles 15:2