home.

Over the weekend my heart burst into little, happy pieces all over the place. We got to spend a lot of our time at the new house and it was wonderful. Looking around and day dreaming about ideas that we have for the house and our future there just makes it all seem so real. Paint colors were picked and the plans are starting to come together now which is very exciting. It’s starting to feel more real every time I turn that key to open the front door. Honestly, it makes me want to do a little dance right now. I can't wait to share a lot of Before & After posts on my blog about making our house a home but until then here are a few of my favorite shots so far…

^^^ I can't wait to make this space all warm and cozy for our living space!

^^^ attempting the fun DIY project of sanding and staining our hardwoods!

^^^ hard working man... he makse me smile!


I know I have shared some love for the previous owners on a few posts before but over the weekend Pam, the former wife and Mom of the house, sealed the deal with the sweetest post on Facebook.

She said, When we said our goodbyes to the house Wednesday late afternoon, we held hands in the garage and prayed for you guys and the years ahead of you building memories! God bless you and watch over you in these precious months before your wedding!


My eyes filled with tears when I read her sweet words and I couldn’t help but feel so completely blessed with our new home. It does feel like home and I know that the Lord will take care of us here. Only four more months and I will be living life in this place with my husband. That feeling is such a happy feeling and I’m so thankful for it!

A Birthday and Stuffed Cabbage!

Ever since Peter and I got engaged I have said I wanted to learn the Arabic recipes so I could make him some of his favorite meals. Well, I haven't learned a thing. When we asked his Mom what she wanted to do for her Birthday on Sunday she said she wanted to teach me how to make stuffed cabbage on Saturday night and then eat it together on Sunday. Score!
So, that is exactly what we did..... 

Yum! 

So Saturday night was spent learning how to make this wonderful, delicious meal and it was so much fun. We laughed and talked about a lot of different things including how a marriage should be based on God's love. My heart was full. It was a great night and it was so much fun to sit down and enjoy the meal on Sunday knowing I helped make it. 



 ^^^ All the many spices used. I love how a lot of the spices she has are homemade and have her special touch to them! 


 ^^^ Rolling them all up! 


 ^^^ The art of flipping the pot on the serving platter... not brave enough to try this one yet. 


Successful Birthday weekend for Mama Eliya!! :)
Can't wait for many more Birthdays with her and also more nights where this lovely woman can teach me some more recipes! 

Liebster Awards!



The word "Liebster" is German for the word "sweetheart" or "dearest. This originated from a German blogger and is for up-and-coming bloggers with less than 3,000 followers. Basically it is NOT an award that is given by judges and a panel of experts on the subject of blogging, rather it is an award from blogging peers who consider you worth giving an award to for your blogger personality. It is now for bloggers with less than 200 followers who have potential. The main point and why to get excited about it, is that it is an award to share love and build community with other bloggers.

The sweetest IG friend around, Cassie, nominated me for this awesome award. I'm so happy she wanted to share some love with me! 

After being acknowledged, you should...

1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you in a post.

2. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger created.

3. Tell 11 facts about yourself.

4. List 5 to 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you believe deserve some recognition.

5. Post 11 questions for them to answer.

6. Notify all the bloggers selected that they have been nominated and ask them to pass it on. 


So, I started this post acknowledging Cassie so on to number two. All the questions from Cassie...... here we go. 

1. What motivates you to blog?
The happiness I feel when I take the time to read my posts from a few years ago. It's so wonderful to see the growth in my own life and my relationships through my writing here. 

2. How did you get your first name?
Well... Cassie and I have almost the same exact story which is still hilarious to me. My Mom and Dad liked Cassandra (my actual first name)  but then my Dad heard Cassie on a Soap Opera so the decided to call me Cassie. 

3. What do you think about the phrase, "Let go and let God." What significance does this statement hold for you?
I believe that God has a hand in everything in our lives but I also believe that He gives us a free will to make our own decisions. There will always be times when we need to come to Him and listen for His will which is important but I also think that in the little decisions from every day when you have that gut instinct that is God pointing us in the right direction. If He is the owner of your heart then He will push your heart to follow Him. 
In my life this way of thinking is very significant because of my relationship with Peter. I know we both knew when we were dating that we needed to end our relationship but niether one of us wanted to do it. Once we finally took that step and broke up we had that time to follow God and then realized that we were ready to work on our relationship again after nine months. The second time around was completely different because we had a new perspective and we knew what we truly wanted.

4. What is your opinion on reality television?
Depends on what kind of show... the talent reality television can be good and I can usually be sucked into it but the only "real life" reality television show that I can actually sit through and enjoy is Married to Jonas. I think they are such a sweet couple and I like them more than I probably should. 

5. Public school or homeschooling (even if you are not a mom), and why?
Peter and I both went to public school and enjoyed it but we have been toying with the idea of homeschooling ever since we started talking about our future together. I know several wonderful families that homeschool and their kids seem so grounded and family oriented which is extremely important to me. I also know a lot of the families at our church homeschool and they have a great community there for it. I know we will figure out what will work best for our family when we have one but right now I like the idea of homeschooling. 

6. Today, the church is sometimes portrayed negatively. What do you think we, as Christians, can do to change that portrayal?
Love like Jesus. The song by Bethany Dillon, You Are On Our Side always reminds me of the way Jesus loves and how I should also love... 
"You sit at the table with the wounded and the poor. You laugh and share stories with the thief and the whore." 
In this world that is so full of sin and anger we Christians should be the light and love shining through the darkness. Instead I think we come off as the judgmental and harsh Christians to most of the world that do not believe as we do. We need to reach out to the lost with love and patience like Jesus does with us every single day. We are all sinners and no one is better than the other. 

7. Can we pray for you? About what specifically?
Making more time for prayer. That is my biggest set back with my relationship with the Lord. I make time for church, worship, bible studies and fellowship but I find it hard to just sit and talk with Him without any distractions. My mind wanders and I get lost instead of simply sitting at His feet. 

8. If you had unlimited funds, what is the FIRST thing you would buy?
Remodel my kitchen with all new appliances and make it look like a Food Network kitchen!!

9. What is your favorite Christian charity? Why?
I think the Freedom Campaign from Passion 2013 is such a wonderful cause. There is so much darkness in this world and what they are doing to try and end it is something amazing! 

10. What is clinical psychology? (This one is for my own entertainment, many people have misconceptions about what it is and I am going to fix that in a future post!)
I have no idea... please tell me, Cassie. ;) 

11. If you were to have five minutes with God, what would you tell Him?
If I could even open my mouth and stop crying to tell him anything at all I would probably just continue to thank Him for all the grace and love He has given me. His love is like no other love and I know I would be overwhelmed with thankfulness if I had five minutes with Him. 


Now on to 11 facts about me... 

I did something like this back in February of 2012 so I guess now would be a good time to do eleven new ones.... 

1. I absolutely LOVE my church and the community that I am starting to create there. The teaching is amazing and I am so thankful for it. 

2. Jumping in rain puddles is one of my most favorite things to do. Peter now points them out when we are walking downtown and he will stand back and let me have my fun and then we will continue our walk after the puddle splashing is complete. 

3. I have this awesome dream of living off of our huge garden in our future back yard. Peter has totally brain washed me but I love it! It's just so exciting to know that the food on our table will come from our hard work and dedication to a healthier life style and that is so exciting. 

4. If you read my list of 11 things from 2012 you will know that number four from then didn't last after all... I am no longer a red head. I do miss it almost every day but I need healthier hair and for that to happen I have to stop coloring it. 

5. In exactly 4 months from today I will be getting married. Heck. Yes. 

6. After the wedding we are going to spend a week in Northern California for our Honeymoon and I'm so excited. We both have never been before so I am super pumped to make new memories in a new place with my new husband!! We are going to go to San Francisco, Wine Country, Yosemite and the Big Sur so any recommendations would be GREATLY appreciated!! 

7. If I could quit my job and do anything I want right now it would be a party planner. After the past year of my friends getting married and giving them showers and now planning my own wedding I absolutely love it. 

8. I am slightly obsessed with YouTube videos... most of the nights before I go to sleep I catch up on all the channels that I have subscribed to which are almost all makeup and hair videos. And Ellen, I love some Ellen! 

9. I hate the sand and because of this I pretty much hate the beach... it drives me crazy. If I'm at the beach I'd much rather be by the pool or in the ocean so I can wash the sand off of me. 

10. I completely have "Baby Fever"... its a serious problem. Even crying babies full of dirty diapers makes me think... "awww..... I want one." This kind of terrifies Peter. 

11. I ran out of facts so I asked Peter to share a random fact about myself and he said.... 
"ummmm, umm, ummmmmmmmmm, you.... you hate the sand but you love the ocean." seriously... he said that. I then shared my number nine fact with him and he laughed. 
He then said "You picked up Rock Band Drums very well." It's true... I did and it surprised him. One of my secret talents. 


I tried to find five blogs that I follow that have less than 200 followers but I really don't have that many. I guess I'm a fan of more followed blogs. Ooops. But I did have three beautiful women come to mind and here they are... 

Sarah from My love, My life
& Francesca from The Happy One

And my questions are......

1. What is your favorite memory as a child? 
2. Your favorite quality about yourself? 
3. If you have a weekend to do whatever you want with no limit for money what would it be? 
4. What makes you tick? 
5. Describe your faith with God in one word and explain why you chose that word. 
6. Share your most favorite vacation and why? 
7. Your favorite finger nail polish?
8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
9. What is your favorite Starbucks drink?
10. Community is so important, explain your favorite part of your Christian Community right now. 


Well, this took a while but it was a lot of fun!!! Hope you three ladies enjoy it and thanks again to Cassie for nominating me! xoxo

Birthday Date Nights!

As mentioned last week, Peter's Birthday was on Thursday! We went to an awesome live show at The Handlebar to see The Carolina Chocolate Drops which was insanely good but I also wanted to take him out for a fancy dinner over the weekend at Rare. We splurged on some calories for a little celebration which included french fries that were cooked in Duck Fat and then sprinkled with fresh Parmesan cheese. They totally kicked butt and I didn't regret one bite. I think it is important to live a little and when Duck Fat French Fries are involved you just say Heck Yes and enjoy! 


^^^ fries sent straight from Heaven. 
The man is straight from Haven also... Mmm! 


^^^ ahhhhmazing steaks and yes, mine had pimento cheese on it. 
man, I almost want to lick this computer screen. 


A lovely night with a handsome man and some delicious food is just what a girl needs sometimes! I highly recommend trying this place out if you are looking for a nice meal that isn't too expensive. The prices are very reasonable and the service was wonderful. We will definitely try it again and hopefully we can resist those fries next time. I can only hope. 

Spring Time Littles.

One of the best things about changing seasons for me is all the little moments that make you realize how beautiful change can be. I think this is the best Spring we have had in a long time since the weather didn’t switch from cold to blazing hot like it normally does. It’s kind of exciting to actually think about layering because you need it or turn the heat on low in the morning and then switch to AC during the day. Spring has always been my second favorite season so I’ve been super happy to enjoy it this year. Since we are almost finished with May already (seriously, how does this happen…?) I thought it would be nice to share a few littles about this wonderful Spring we are having.



the way I can't listen to Jack Johnson without rolling down my car windows and then the amazing scent of a spring time grill-out breezes through my car // laughing and talking over chips, salsa and margaritas with sweet friends // the first pedicure of the year and picking out a bright purple nail polish // falling asleep with my bedroom windows raised and listening to all the wind, rain and thunder that God made while I say my prayers // walking around in our future back yard and planning a garden with my future husband.


yup... that was pretty nice!

a special day!


That handsome man up there is thirty years old today! Some people have a problem with the thirtieth year but I’m glad Peter hasn’t really had a chance to think about it. With the wedding plans, house plans and every day life plans his birthday has kind of snuck up on us. We are going to enjoy some awesome live music tonight then some weekend plans with friends and family but nothing too big.
{I will sneak in a surprise party a few years down the road when he least expects it.}

I’ve always loved Birthdays and I like to think I won’t mind turning thirty either. When people complain about getting older I always tell them that it’s better than the alternative… and I believe that. I want to enjoy life and love every single birthday no matter what age I am. And I’m incredibly thankful to enjoy all the birthdays ahead with this guy.

Happy Birthday to the best man I know... I mean that, you really are wonderful and I am so blessed to have you!

ps... I think I have hit every single social media possible for Peter's Birthday so now I am done! ;)

Super Quinoa Salad!

When I was thinking about my meal for this week’s recipe (after two weeks off, ooops) I knew I wanted to use quinoa in some way. At my shower over the weekend my cousin made an avocado salad that was so stinkin good and I knew I wanted to try and replicate that in some way. Her recipe had avocado, corn, tomatoes and cucumber in it but I’m not a fan of tomatoes and corn can hurt my stomach sometimes so I thought I would change it a little bit. I decided to mix the salad all together with a box of the sundried tomato quinoa to add that tomato flavor without the actual tomatoes.
Score! It was seriously so good!!!



First of all… let’s talk about Quinoa. I’m sure you have heard about it since it has become so popular lately. While I was at yoga last night I picked up some information about quinoa from the restaurant in the back of the yoga studio.

“Quinoa is often called the “Grain of the Gods” though it is actually a seed related to spinach, beets and swiss chard. It has a delicate taste and rich amounts of protein, iron, potassium and other vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is also a good source of dietary fiber and is easily digested.


A quinoa seed is flat and has a pointed oval shape. The seeds can be found in several different colors, including yellow, red, brown and black. When cooked, they expand to about three or four times their original size.


When preparing quinoa, rinse first to remove any powdery residue. For a roasted flavor, toast it in a dry skillet for about five minutes.”


So, there’s a little lesson on Quinoa thanks to the Sun Belly Cafe! :)


On to my recipe now… this was so easy and very healthy but also filling so I didn’t feel hungry after a small bowl.



Directions:
Cook the quinoa based on the instructions on the package.
While the quinoa is cooking slice all the veggies and avocado and place everything in a bowl.
{You can use anything you want to make this salad fit your liking}
Squeeze one lime over the top of the veggies and avocado.
Drizzle about a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of EVOO in the bowl.
Add a few grinds of salt and pepper.
Pour the cooked quinoa over the top and blend together evenly.
Enjoy!


Lately I haven’t been able to go a day without an avocado and if I do I seem to crave it. With the lime juice used in this salad your avocado won’t turn brown and you can have the leftovers for lunch. The flavors taste even better after the quinoa soaks up all the yummyness over night and I realized I liked it even more as a cold salad! Perfect lunch for those hot summer months. I think I might add some grilled chicken next time to add a little more texture but this easy vegetarian option is also delicious.
Mmmm, hope you enjoy this super simple and tasty recipe!

Showered with love!

Over the weekend I had a wonderful Shower!! My Aunt Shelia and her two daughters, Jenny & Joni, were kind enough to give me a family shower and I was overwhelmed by all the gifts and love I received. There’s just something surreal about sitting in a chair in front of everyone opening gifts for your life as a wife. It can be exciting and kind of nerve wracking but it is also so much fun!!

The food was GOOD and the family that surrounded me was so sweet and all the baby girls were there too which made it even sweeter. Their sweet faces and cuddly hugs didn’t necessarily help this baby fever that I’ve come down with recently but that’s okay. I can handle it. I think. ;)

 

^^ I loved all the pictures on the table with the delicious food! I get to keep all these for our new house and my favorite had to be the one on the right, a picture of my Dad's parents when they were in High School kissing. So cute!


^^ my sweet cousins and their beautiful girls!

^^ thankful for the best Matron of Honor also! 

I really am so thankful for my family and all their love and support with this new adventure in my life. My aunt told me “Love is wonderful with God and the right man” and I know she is right. God’s love is something amazing and this love that he has given me with Peter is also something amazing and I’m so thankful for it!  

That night I became a painter...

On Tuesday night my cousin, Megan, and I went to one of those awesome painting classes where you get to drink wine the whole time with our mamas and it was so much fun!!! Yea, my hand cramped a little bit and I was totally nervous about the entire thing turning into something a first grader could paint but by the end I was proud of myself. 




Peter said if it turned out well we could hang it on the first floor but if it wasn't that great we could put it in a guest bedroom upstairs. The jury is still out but I have my fingers crossed. ;)  But seriously... this could become addicting. Most definitely going to try another painting very soon! 

A new kind of Mother's Day

On Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day a new way and I really loved it. Peter and I cooked lunch for both of our Moms and my brother. He grilled the steaks, I made the sides and we all sat down at the dining room table to enjoy it as a family. I had every intention of taking pictures to remember the moment but I only got these two shots….


Cooking the food. That’s it. We were talking and laughing and eating so much that I didn’t even think of taking a picture. I kind of wanted to smack myself but then again I don’t want to take away from these new moments by constantly pausing to take a picture. Sometimes it’s best to just enjoy the meal and enjoy the company.

It was nice to tell stories and share memories with this new family of mine. I’ve always felt extremely blessed to have a Mom that is also one of my best friends. Someone who I can share things with and just enjoy life with but this year is so exciting to have a new Mom in my life. She has been in my life for a while now but this Mother’s Day felt different to me. It was exciting to think of the years ahead and know that we will always celebrate this special day together because she will be a part of my life forever. Whenever I’ve thought of my future Mother-in-law I always hoped she would be someone who I could look up to and truly connect with and from the moment I met Peter’s Mom I knew that was possible. Getting married is already so exciting but gaining a wonderful Mom in the process is like icing on the cake. The Lord is so sweet!!
Mother’s Day was a great day and I am so thankful to have two women to celebrate now. I love you both so much!

The most beautiful weekend in New Jersey.

I honestly can't believe how perfect the weather was for the entire wedding weekend. The flowers and trees were blooming and the sun was shining the whole time. Jane was absolutely beautiful and Reinaldo was so handsome, they are gorgeous together! It was such a honor to be a part of their special day. The weekend was full of fun memories with all the family that I don't get to see enough of so I obviously had a blast and it went by way too quickly.


The bittersweet moment during every wedding weekend is that moment after the wedding at the hotel when everyone is so tired and we all just want to crash but we also can't stop talking and want to spend as much time together as possible. It really is something to be welcomed into such a loving family. After the fun weekend I am even more excited about our special weekend in September!!! I can hardly wait!
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