Friday, September 4, 2015

Things I've been doing while not blogging

Hey, what's up, hello! 

Do you ever just think one day out of the blue, oh hey, I have a blog! I kind of forgot about it! No? Okay well that was me yesterday when I got a notification from periscope that my friend (and fellow blogger) Ashten was about to be live with a 'scope entitled "The Blogging Struggle". I wasn't doing anything but hanging out on my couch in my PJs enjoying an adult root beer float so I decided to join in.

Then I remembered - I have a blog! A blog that some people read (hey mom!) and they actually enjoy the things I have to say. I've had tons of ideas floating around in my head but very little time or motivation to sit down and actually compose a blog post (with infographics or a pinnable image!) hashtag the struggle is real.

This is what I've been up to in the mean time:

Spending some quality time with my husband
We've come into a routine where we come home, cook dinner, talk about our day and then we hang out on the couch for a few hours while he watches some TV and I read a book with my feet in his lap. I also picked up The Five Love Languages for the two of us to read together - we haven't really figured out how we're going to accomplish this but have a few ideas. Not only do we have opposite personalities, but we don't speak the same love language either, so I'm excited that it's something we decided to do together and I hope its insightful and can help us improve our communication skills.

Spending some quality time with my friends
Girls nights, girls weekends, cookouts, four wheeler rides - you name it, we've done it this summer. In the past month we've spent time in Pensacola, Panama City Beach, and I went on a long weekend trip to Charlotte with a co-worker, which was tons of fun - highly recommend downtown Charlotte for some good times. I love traveling and I love that it doesn't have to be a "big trip" in order to be fun.

Reading books
I finally finished the eighth book of the Outlander series and have been busy reading some fun chick-lit for the time being. I picked up Elin Hilderbrand's new book, The Matchmaker, and it did not disappoint. Hilderbrand is one of my favorite authors and this book was a little different from her others (it made me cry!) but I loved it. I also read Mad Miss Mimic (a shorter period novel about a young girl "coming out in society" with a bad speech impediment) and a few others that I can't exactly remember the titles of at the moment.

DIY projects
I don't want to give too much away because I'll eventually want to share before/after photos on the blog - but the gist of it is that I found some old furniture in a family friend's horse barn and am working on re-finishing them. Additionally, my parents are remodeling their (million year old) house and have given me a few spare parts that I have some fun plans for.

Living life
I've taken up running in the afternoons and even though it cuts into time I could be cleaning, cooking, blogging etc, it's been good for my soul. I never realized how much I craved alone time, but these forty minutes on the running trail have been exactly what I needed. I've also spent time on the phone with long lost friends and I'm constantly checking in on my mom (who made it through chemotherapy like a champ and is currently on her second week of radiation out of 37 treatments). I visit my in-laws and their cute new puppy. I take myself on drives in our new car with the top down (still a little iffy on the manual transmission). And I try to do it all without looking through the lens on my phone.

So now the question is, will I continue blogging? I'm not sure. Two years ago I was going a completely different direction - I wanted followers! Comments! Page views! Pinterest-friendly posts! Now, I just want to chat with friends and give updates to far away family and make some meaningful connections with like minded ladies in the blogging community. Last week I convinced myself that I was pretty much done blogging - I just didn't have time anymore. But after my conversation with Ashten (and others!) I decided I didn't want to give it up completely. So if you want to continue to read my blog, I'd love it! If you don't - that's okay too! 

Until next time! (I really have no idea when that will be so don't hold your breath). 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Canadian Vacation Part 3: Shuswap Lake Adventures

Canadian Vacation Part 1
Canadian Vacation Part 2

This is the last of my photos from our trip to Canada last month. It kind of makes me sad to say that because it seems so final. Like, even though we've been back from vacation for some time, now that I'm sharing the last of the photos its really over. Really, really over.

I mentioned before that our days mostly consisted of doing relaxing things, but we also spent a lot of time hiking and spent two days doing a good bit of kayaking, to avoid being totally sedentary. We hiked several trails around the lake, but my favorite was hiking to the top of Copper Island. It's an island with an elevation from bottom to top of about 450 feet and the circumference was somewhere around 2 miles. It was amazing getting to the top and seeing the beautiful views provided by the elevation.

Out of all the photos from our trip, I think this one is my absolute favorite.

In addition to the hiking and walking trails, we spent the better part of two days doing a lot of kayaking. The first time we went out, we only paddled about two miles from the cabins, but the next day we decided to venture out a little further and paddled to a small little waterfall about six miles away. I know, six miles doesn't sound too far but when you're travelling over water with only your arms for propulsion - it's damn far. But it was definitely worth it!

The waterfall wasn't huge but it was very pretty and so, so cold. By the time we got there, the water coming off the fall was colder than our water bottles. We didn't try to climb it or anything, actually we only spent about five minutes there because a huge thunderstorm came rolling up and we started high-tailing it back to cloudless, sunny areas of the lake.

So that concludes the recapping of our adventures in Canada! Our next vacation will be to LAS VEGAS at the end of September. We've already booked our rooms (using AirBnb for the first time) and decided on one of the shows we'll see while we're there (Mystere by Cirque du Soleil) but I'm definitely open to suggestions of what else to do while we're there!

What are your favorite types of vacations? Calm, relaxing, and go with the flow, or adventurous, sight-seeing, and always moving?

Friday, August 7, 2015

"I'll Pray for You"

I used to never tell my friends or family that I would pray for them, because I wouldn't. I rarely prayed for myself, I knew I wouldn't be praying for anyone and their certain situation so I wouldn't say it. In truth, the only prayer I said was the daily "blessing" before dinner. In recent years, I've really worked on my spiritual relationships and part of that was learning how to pray.

I realize that everyone prays differently, some use journals, some do it every night before bed. Some are conversational with God, and some are more formal. But even then, I didn't tell people I would pray for them. I don't know if I was embarrassed or if I just didn't believe that it would make a difference, but now I know now that it does.

I am almost ashamed to admit this, but because we're being honest and real here, I will say it. When people said they would pray for me, or for others (i.e. when someone announced a sad situation on facebook and the commenters replied "You're in my prayers!") I wouldn't think they were being sincere. I thought it was just something people said to make other people feel better, but I realized that though was wrong.I realized that praying for someone doesn't have to be some long, elaborate thing. It can be a simple "Lord, please give ____ love, support, and guidance during their time of ____ right now" and He will hear it. How awesome is that? Once sentence is all it takes.

I don't believe in perfection, but I believe in trying to better ourselves and I believe that there is always room for improvement. I have started telling my friends and family that I will pray for them, and even though it was difficult to say at first, I have gotten more comfortable with it. Sometimes I think that people don't want to hear that they are being prayed for under normal circumstances, because that means there is something wrong or something that needs to be fixed, but in my opinion, everyone needs to be uplifted, for something big or for something small, or even just to say that you love them and are thinking of them. God hears everything.

All of this to say, spirituality and faith is a journey; finding yourself and having a strong relationship with the Lord takes practice, patience, and time. It's something that doesn't come easily. Just like any other relationship, to make it thrive, you have to invest in it, you have to make time for it. I've found that including the people I care about in my prayers has actually helped strengthen my own relationship with God.

What part of prayer do you find most difficult?

Is there something you would like me to pray for? You can let me know in the comments below or email me if you'd like - I'd love to pray for you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Canadian Vacation Part 2: Cabin Life

Canadian Vacation Part 1

I'm very fortunate in that I married in to a family that has access to a quaint little cabin on Shuswap Lake in British Columbia, Canada. Before I started dating Derek, I had never heard of Shuswap Lake, nor had I any desire to visit British Columbia. Well, let me just say that I was soooo silly for ever thinking that it wouldn't be worth  my time (not that I actually thought that, really it was just that the thought never crossed my mind at all).

Back to the point. These cabins have been in my husband's family for years. They were built by his great-grandparents, his great-grandfather actually passed away while visiting them, and thus this is where he is also buried. His wife, Derek's great-grandmother, continued to spend her summers at the cabin every year until her health declined. My father-in-law grew up visiting Shuswap Lake nearly every summer, and this place is very near and dear to his heart.

We mainly spent our time relaxing, reading, and boating. I woke up every morning, and drank my coffee overlooking this beautiful lake, and then proceeded to spend the rest of the day with my nose in a book and my toes in the water. It was really one of the most relaxing vacations I've ever been on.

The cabins viewed from the lake shore.

The interior of the cabin where we stayed. The second cabin is in the process of being remodeled, so we all stayed in one.

As you can see, it was pretty small!

There weren't many piers or docks on the lake, because of this & frequent storms, boats are usually anchored away from the shore and you got to them via canoe.

At the neighbor's annual Saskatoon Pie gathering.

I still can't get over how (almost) perfect the weather was. In Alabama in July, I can hardly stand to be outside for more than 10 minutes at a time due to the miserableness of it being 90+ degrees plus 90% humidity. Nearly all week long it was sunny and mild, and we only had two days of gray skies and one serious thunderstorm. It almost convinced me that I needed to relocate - but thinking about the winter months kept me grounded.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. And for those of you wondering about the cabin, yes those are the "bedrooms" at the back of the first picture. No, there weren't any doors, curtains, or other forms of privacy. Yes, it was quite awkward to spend five nights like that with your in-laws. Also, the bathroom was outside.

What's one unexpected place you've traveled that you ended up loving?

Monday, August 3, 2015

August Goals: I'm Really Bad at Bucket Lists

Remember that time I created a Summer Bucket List and I was so excited to do all the fun things this summer? Yeah, about that...

Things I sort-of Accomplished:
Go to the beach: we haven't gone three times, and we actually haven't even stayed at the beach. Both have just been day trips, but it's been fun nonetheless. We're both in a wedding in September and the respective bachelor/bachelorette parties are at the beach so I can actually cross this goal all the way off!

Visit some place new: we went to Canada! Technically, it wasn't a new place for Derek, but it only had to be new for me. I talked about Lake Louise last week, and on Wednesday I'll be sharing some more about our trip.

Go camping: I'm going to count part of our stay in Canada as camping just because the bathroom wasn't located inside the cabin. Other than that, it really wasn't primitive at all.

Get back on track with my fitness goals: Last month was definitely better than June. I don't know what happened in June, but me and the gym just didn't get along. I'm back to going 4-5 times a week, and have even started trying Zumba once a week with a co-worker. It's so much fun! 

Things I haven't checked off and probably won't before the end of summer:
Read the Harry Potter series. I decided to finish Outlander instead. I'm going strong, half way through the seventh book, An Echo in the Bone.

Practice Skiing: every time we've gone boating, it's just been more about cruising and having a good time. Who knows though, I may get a wild hair and give it another go before summer ends.

Make smores. I just don't see myself building a fire anytime soon.

Other Goals for the Month:
Create a monthy budget, and by "budget" I mean that very loosely, because we like to be spontaneous. I guess I should say that I want to create a "savings goal" instead of a budget. We've replaced the money we took from our savings account when we bought my car in December, and we are ready to get back on the real-estate horse and looking at homes again.

Continue updating my prayer journal. I did a really good job of it in the spring, but started slacking off this summer. It's my goal to be intentional with scripture reading, prayer, and worship time. 

Re-finish my bar cart. I got my hands on an (old, rusted, paint peeling off) bar cart from some friends of my in-laws and I'm half way done updating it. It's going to be a great addition to our den, mainly because there isn't a lot of room in our cabinets for our alcohol. And also because this pretty painting needs a home. 

Pack and take my lunch to work every day except Fridays. I'm trying to make healthier choices when  it comes to my meals, and this is so much easier to do when I pack my own lunches. It's always so tempting to just go through a drive through and eat the spicy chicken sandwich when I don't have my meal right in front of me. I'm taking Fridays off because sometimes I meat Derek for lunch, and a girl can't live on salads and chicken breasts, ya know?

What are your goals for this month?