Friday, February 26, 2010

showering babies: a girl's gotta eat

there was a lot of yummy yum food at cory's shower.  many of the yummiest i didn't make myself so i can only share what i brought to the 'shower' table.

i made my cake cupcakes.  funfetti cake & rainbow chip icing.  follow the box instructions and all your friends will love you.  rach thought to set them on little paper doilies, how sweet are those?

i also made aunt sheri's veggie pizza

2 8 oz. crescent rolls
2 8 oz. cream cheese
2/3 cup mayo
1 t dill
1 t diced onion {instead of diced onion i used onion powder because i had it on hand}
1/4 t garlic powder
1 cup each diced broccoli, radishes, cauliflower and carrots

spread crescent rolls out flat into jellyroll pan {or a cookie sheet if you're me} pressing ends together; this should make a big, flat rectangle. bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until brown. after the crescent rolls are brown let them cool.  ben's mom had the great idea of covering it and sticking it outside {which was very 'cool'} to speed up the process.  worked like a dream for a busy girl. additionally while the bread was cooking i had the cream cheese {unopened} out on the range so that it would softened and not ultra-hard for the next step.

while the bread was cooking & cooling we got to dicing up the vegetables.  we needed one cup of each and with two ladies working on it, it took no time at all {but i did make a bit of a mess}.  if you had a food processor i'm sure you could have them whipped it up in a jif.  when you have the 4 cups cut finely mix them all together in a large mixing bowl.  it should be bright, colorful & pretty. 
next, mix cream cheese, mayo, onions {diced or powder}, dill & garlic powder together and spread over cooled crescent roll sheet. we mixed ours using a mixer rather then by hand which i think was a good decision. 

sprinkle with diced veggies and chill for at least two hours.

i cut ours into rectangles/squares for our guests.  i brought the leftovers from the shower back to ben's house where they were promptly gobbled up by the fam.  they L-O-V-E-D them!  sorry i didn't have any pics!  they really are a 'pretty' appetizer.
and finally i made my momma steph's hot ham & turkey sandwiches again.   i already divulged the 'how-to" of their glory {here} from another shower.  the are SO yummy!  i could eat 4 right now.  i like to make the sandwiches {bread, meat & cheese} the night before, refridgerate over night and then finish the rest right before the event.

here was our menu:
hot ham & turkey sandwiches
special pasta salad
dot cake cupcakes

lil baby cupcakes
veggie pizza
lil veggie platter w/ dip
meatball appetizers

gouda bites {everyone in the world needs to make these}
fruit kabobs
sherbet punch
i have failed to mention thus far that the shower was completely made possible by two of the sweetest girls in the whole wide world, kayla & stephanie.  steph opened up her beautiful home for everyone to celebrate in & they both did so much to make the day special for momma cory & baby. they are precious!  aaaaannd....little stephanie {on the right} is prego too!  how fun to celebrate babies when you are expecting yourself!  woohoo!  girls, it was so fun to plan, prep & "shower" our friend together!
check out another precious shower detail.  an ABC book made specifically for baby margrave.  rachel shares all the details & more pics {here}
that's my "w"..i'm so proud of my terrible artistic skills, babies don't care, right?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

it was the best of was the worst of times....

so here it is.  i promised to share and i never rarely go back on my word.  girl's craft all its glory.  sewing machines, pins, scissors, papers, mt. dew, thread & fabric everywhere.

this picture of us smiling with glee was taken just moments before 'the incident' where the husbands told us "this is the sadest thing i've ever seen".  does this look sad to you?  look at those grins!
rachel made this precious little owl for cory's babe.  it turned out so well.  i only have a "before," no "after".  {sorry}.  for her tutorial {click here}

jenna & megan made these rice bag heating pads following darby's tutorial found {here}.  here's jenna's account of the evening {click me}.  they heated them in the microwave when they were done and then wore them all night long.  megan suggests that everyone make a cold one and a hot one.  good idea megan...i'll take one of each!  megan's husband steve kept saying "this heating pad smells like cake."  i had just made cake.  the heating pad smelled like tea.  it was a good night. 

and what did i make?  why, i made this pillow and a travel diaper carrier. 

i totally winged it on this pillow {wung it?  i don't know the right tense}, had no idea what i was doing and used a small about of fabritac.  i made a little envelope flap out of fabric that i really loved for the office/craft room.  if i ever can decide on an accent color i will probably add a big ol' button or some cute accessory to the add to the front, center of the flap.

the travel diaper carrier i copied from {here} but didn't take any pictures of...i'm sorry.  it was made from two placemats & a ribbon.  definitely was a really fun / quick project.

lastly, this little gem.  what could make this night worse better, you ask?  three girls in the same cardigan, duh!  what a blessing to stay in on a saturday night with 3 of your favorite people, craft, create, bake, drink carbonated beverages & match your friends {on accident}.

.in other news.
i followed my dear friend angie's advice and ran right out to gordman's to try and find some cheapity cheap wire baskets.  i wanted to go immediately after she told me but instead i had to wait a week or so.  but the 'house ware fairies' were smiling down on me because once i finally got the chance to go these little gems were waiting for me.  i got 3 wire basets for $16.70.  friends, that is so cheap in the wire basket world!!  they said they were $7.99 a piece but then must have been marked down again!  they had some prettier colors than these but since i cannot make a decision about color to save my life i got the lightest colored ones.  i like the way they are now and if i want to someday give them a coat of spray paint, this will be the easiest color to cover {i think}.

i've filled two of the three so far. one with all my notecards, stationery, some yard & twine.  the other is filled with my scraps of fabric.  one basket left for treasures...i'm not sure what will live there yet.  i am hoping to put a shelf {higher up} on the wall to store my baskets & other knick-knacks.
you know who i think told ang about all those great deals?  this little guy...isn't he so smart & cute?

Monday, February 22, 2010

showering babies: pom poms aren't just for cheerleaders

we just knew we had to fill a room with poofy pom poms to celebrate with cory & the babe.  i think that every party from now on may be filled with poms.  why not?  they take about 2 minutes to make, are adorable & bright, fun & inexpensive. 

me and rachel became prom pom queens one saturday night and cranked these out in a few minutes.  here's the pile of them sitting in the corner of our den.  i liked them just sitting a pile.  they are that cute. {again, dark scary pictures are mine and the bright pretty ones are from the day-of, courtesy of {rachel}

we made large poms to hang over the table and little baby ones to sit around {sort of like centerpieces}
the picture below on the left is always my fave of martha stewart's poms.  i love the color combo.  below that is a picture only tutorial of 'how-to'.
.here's my commentary to their pictures.
1.  lay a stack of tissue paper out.  i saw some recommendations of 10-14 sheets of paper, we did 8 sheets of paper so we would have two sheets left for tiny poms {the package came with 10 total}.  the more sheets you do the fuller they will look so you can keep that in mind and play it by ear.  lay out your stack of paper 8-14 sheets thick and fold it accordian-style {on the short-side}. 

2.  tie the around the center of your folded paper with floral wire.  i saw recommendations to also make a loop our of your floral wire to hang the thread threw.  we just tied string through the middle along with the wire.  at this time you can also cut around the corners if you wish.  we made some ends into points, some rounded and left some as they were.  i think the pointed poms were our favorites.

3.  next, just pull back and spread out each layer of the tissue paper carefully separating and fluffing them.

4.  you should have a gorgeous fun party prop.  hang it up. set it out.  smile & smile at your cute decorations.

note for hanging pom poms:  i thought that scotch tape should hold up light & fluffy tissue paper but it wasn't very sturdy.  i would maybe suggest using a tack but i'm not sure if everyone would want to tack their ceilings, matles, etc.  another option could maybe be to do something with 'command' strips or hooks?  just a thought.  it's always nice to learn from other people's mistakes.

.now go have a blast making tons of poms for all your friends with bumps.

that's amore monday

i'm back in action friends.  woot woot.  and today i cannot think of one thing i'd rather honor for that's amore monday than yesterday's weather.  it was absolutely beautiful here in lexington, kentucky.  it was 64-ish, the sun was shining, there was a slight breeze.  it was everything i had been waiting for. for months.  today of course, it is cloudy, nasty & rainy but boy, was this weekend gorgeous.  did anyone have the opportunity to enjoy it? 
{if you live in california where it is warm and sunny everyday...please don't rub it in.}

in honor of my honoree, beautiful weather, i thought i would share this bright, sunny and preppy bedroom from none other than kate spade.
Kate Spade ad bedroom contemporary bedroom

this week will hold the placement of new YL leaders in lexington, a team dinner, LOST, biblestudies, hangouts and a trip to south carolina.  can't wait to share it with you all!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

C-A-T-S cats! cats! cats!

today the cats take on vandy for the second time.  this go-round in nashville.  with their stupid court.  can't wait to cheer them on with my hubby.  here are a few shots of the game we got to go to this season!  i never got to share them.  i didn't take many so bear with me.

me & benny boo boo boo
.warmin' up.
.i meant to flip that uk over but here's the court pre-game.
we love our wildcats!
C-A-T-S cats! cats! cats!
i'm sure they can hear us from lexington.

Friday, February 19, 2010

showering babies: cute as a button

so the tale of the "cute as a button" favors.  these little babies turned out so cute.  i mean cutesy cute cute but i do have a tale to tell.  i found this idea through miss amy kelly {here} who found it through yet another blog who shared {this tutorial}.  isn't that always the way?

anyway...i got in touch with amy and spoke with her about her experience making button chocolates, where she got her supplies etc.  she pointed me in the right direction, i ordered online and just waited until the shower grew closer to try my hand at candy making for the first time...ever.

here's what i purchased.  a button candy mold & 4 different colors of clasen candy melts.  all the colors i got tasted the same but i hear that you can flavor them as well {i did not}.  since this was a gender-neutral baby-fest i got yellow & orange {two prominent colors in the baby's room} and white & blue.  {we used blue & pink in different aspects of the shower...i think it's fine.}

the making of the candies is actually REALLY simple.  you take a handful of candy disks {i did about 18 for my mold}, put them in a microwave safe bowl and heat it up at 20-30 second intervals {stirring in between} until it was melted.  it took about 1 minute & 15 seconds-ish for mine to be completely melted.

next i would spoon in the melted chocolate into a small sandwich bag, cut a tiny little slit in the corner and fill the mold, taking care not to overflow the button.  hitting the mold lightly on the counter makes it lay perfectly flat.  after my first "fill" i said "i think i found my calling" out loud.  i was wrong.  like most of my projects i got angry multiple times while doing it.  i think if i had taken one whole saturday and knocked it all out i would have been much better...instead i strung it out over 4 or 5 evenings doing a little bit at a felt like it took a lifetime to make a mountain of buttons...but i digress.

after filling the mold you stick it in the freezer.  the woman's tutorial i was following mentioned some kind of warning about only leaving the mold in there for a minute or two so at first i was paranoid about living it too long.  after a few tries though, i found that if i left it in 3 or 4 minutes instead my buttons popped out of the mold with much greater ease.  there's the mold, above the ice pix and surrounded by ice cream.  stop judging.

once you take them out of the freezer i had a paper plate ready. I just shook, twisted, banged and poked until each one was out. i did lose a few to over zealous shaking.

after becoming a master button-maker and completed my task i took my four plastic bags separated by color and made a little pow-wow on the kitchen table.  i bought 3" X 4" plastic candy bags and took a few from each color until the bag looked full enough.  i think i did about 10 of each color {so 40 buttons in all, some of them are very small}.
this next part was really fun...on the tutorial i was telling you about she had provided some {printable packaging} for free.  there were 4 different options but the striped one was my favorite.  i had a friend at work help me take off her original text and add my own to make it shower appropriate & applicable.  her sizing didn't fit the smalles bag i could find so we made our slightly larger to fit our bags.  they were printed on computer paper and my sweet friend holly cut them into little rectangles for me.
i simply folded the sides of the bag in slightly and folded the computer paper in half, stapled twice and wa-lah!  how sweet are those sweets?  i think the original tutorial's buttons look more like real-life buttons than mine do but i don't mind that mine look like chocolate...i love them anyway.
this may not have been the quickest or most effortless favor to create but i think that it was appreciated.  since it made miss cory happy i think it is well worth the work!  and they really were precious weren't they!?

me, cory & her buttons
.this is in black & white because i am so pale.

showering babies: banners bring joy

this past weekend we threw a shower for our dear friend cory and her little baby on the way.  rach and i scoured the web to find every cute party idea we could find and then got to crafting!  i took a lot of pictures of the "in progress" but took none of the actual shower...can you believe that!?  i think i just wanted to enjoy  the moment.  so...all the dark poor quality pics are from moi and all the bright & pretty pictures of the day-of are courtesy of miss rachel ann.  since we did a lot of projects i think i will break them in to a couple shorter posts instead of 1 hour long read.

first up...our banner for cory. 

i should start by saying - the margrave's are not finding out the gender of their baby beforehand.  listen to me all you pregnant people...this makes it so difficult for your friends to think up things to put on a banner.  no baby names, no "it's a girl" or "it's a boy" phrases, nothing.  so we had to get creative.  what we ended up with..."a baby margrave celebration."  i know that is not normal a unique banner but that's exactly what the day was about...a baby margrave celebration.

we saw the idea {here} from holly with 'life in the fun lane'.  she made a similar banner for her baby's birthday.  we modified a few things but overall, we snatched her idea :)  here's what we did.

once we figured out what the banner was going to "say" i printed off all the letters we would need to make the banner onto cream cardstock.  the letters can be found {here} on, i use them a lot. a lot. a lot.  i even keep them tabbed in my email now so i always have them right on hand.  each page has 6 versions of the same letter so i only had to print out one sheet of each letter we needed.  i went ahead and cut the left-over letters into little squared and stuck them in a baggie for safe keeping in the craft room until the next time i need some more monograms. 

{original instruction sidenote:  during this stage, our inspiration banner was printed onto regular computer paper, with larger letters and then she tea stained the paper}

rachel was my model during this craft day. after the martha letters were printed we cut around the edges with regular scissors.

{original instruction sidenote: martha stewart says to use a 3" punch to cut these little letters out. if you have a 3" punch you go right on ahead but they cost a small fortune and i already own scissors. it may take a little bit longer but i promise it isn't too bad. especially if you assembly a small team.}

next, i had a big ol' pile of gray card stock laying around the house.  i took a normal size drinking glass & traced circles onto my card stock.  i think i only needed 2 or 3 pages of cardstock to do all the circles for the banner.
we layed everything out to get a good idea of what it would look like.
{original instruction sidenote:  i think at this point our inspiration banner used a glue stick to attach the computer paper to the card stock and then used to rings of glitter on the outside}
next onto the hot glue.  what is a project without some glue guns or a sewing machine?  first we hot glued the two peices of cardstock together.  then we hot glued streamers around the outside of the circle with the letter face down. {sorry we're hot gluing on faith hill}.  if on side was a little bit longer than the other we just trimmed around the edges so that it would look uniform.
here is a finished "A".  hoor"A"y!  
also please note: how excited rach is, the uk game in the background of craft day, jenna's "j" tote from girl's christmas & baby gifts in the corner.  f-u-n!
to finish it off i just hot glued twine to the backside of the letters.  this was trickier than one might think.  i wanted the letters facedown so that i wouldn't have to put hot glue on the carpet but i also had to make sure that the letters were straight up and down {harder than it sounds} and that they were in the right order.  yes, the first line i did i put 5 letters on in backwards order.  geesh!  so i laid them down, facedown, in backwards order so when it flipped it was correct & i drew little vertical lines on the back showing me which part was the top of the letter.  i didn't have that last one down to a science {as  you can see from the crooked letters} but it's kind of charming that way right?  just say yes.

here is the final product...

darling right?
.more shower-ing to come.please stay tuned.

click {here} to see more pics from the big day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

procrastination is my specialty

so maybe i've become a really bad blogger.  i have missed two weeks in a row of that's amore monday.  i love 'that's amore monday' what's wrong with me?!  i have just been on overload at work & at life so i've been a blogging slacker.  so sorry friends!  i've been able to post a little here & there things that i had "pre-written" but nothing new in the longest time.  i'm going to try and get back in the swing of things...starting... now.

this is going to be one of those jumbled-doesn't-make-any-good-sense posts.  but those are kind of fun sometimes right?

this past weekend we threw a baby shower for our bestie, cory.  she is due in march and it was so fun to get to celebrate their little bundle of joy that is on it's way.  i can't wait to share pictures with you of the festivities but since i didn't take any {not one} i'm hoping miss rachel will share with share with you??  i did take a few pictures of us being crafty pre-shower so i'll be sure to get those up today.  i know you're dying  to see {he he he}.  who doesn't love a good ol' baby shower craft?   ben - quit laughing.  baby shower post to come.

not this weekend but the one before we had an impromptu 'craft night.'  our weekend retreat was cancelled so all of a sudden we had all kinds of time on our hands.  we made baby shower presents for the celebration mentioned above & others made homemade heating pads.  it was perfect.  the boys said "this is the saddest thing i have ever seen" when they walked in the house.  i say, what's wrong with a kitchen table filled with sewing machines & friends on a saturday night?  this isn't sad...this is pure joy.  craft night post to come.

sunday was valentine's day.  we didn't do anything too lovey dovey...we mainly hung out with friends in northern ky and with ben's family.  maybe not what some would call "romantic" but definitely a good day in my book!  we slept in, ate pancakes, had lunch with tay tay, visited the margraves & then came home for campaigners with the high schoolers where we had an AWESOME discussion about following the Lord with your life.  benny & i exchanged little gifts that i'd love to share later.  valentine's day post to come.

we went & saw valentine's day {the movie} last night & ate logan's.  i love 'dinner & a movie' dates.  ben laughed at me for choosing logan's or l.j.s. as my dinner date options.  he acted like most girls wouldn't pick those places...that couldn't possibly be true, right!?  i thought the movie was funny & sweet.  i think you could wait to rent it but it was a fun "date night" movie too.  now i just cannot wait  to see shutter island in a week, alice in wonderland in march & sex and the city in may.  cannot wait.

we have had a ton of snow here.  school has basically been cancelled forever...the kids are going to have to go to school until july.  i'm exaggerating but it it spring yet?

up-coming projects that i already have in my possession:
--change the guest room bedding.
--set up the office bed
--repaint dresser for the guest room {i have the dresser, paint & primer, just need new knobs}
--repraint nightstand {same as above}
--redo sewing desk: need to prime & paint the top and then want to make a skirt for it following {this tutorial}...i don't have the fabric yet.  i just CANNOT choose an accent color for that room.  i'm the worst. 
--hang pictures & mirror on the walls, they are still bare
--make drapes for the den: just need to buy lining & i'm set to go.  i will be referencing {this tutorial}
crafting & renovation post{s} to come.

now to clean out my desktop.  here are some wonderful things that have been floating around my "blog folder" waiting to be shared with the world.  i'm setting them free.

my sweet rach set me {here} to see this {look down}  it is exactly what i want for our office.  a bed that can be set up as a couch.  the office / craft room needs to house some exact seating and an extra place for guests to lay their head.  i want this!  they used the top portion of a cheap bunk bed.  how do people find this amazing finds!?  share with me...please share with me.  also her blog is fantastic...look around if you can.

loved this display of jewelry on the wall.  so simple, just a few pieces in each frame but multiple frames so that it is art on its own.  functional, dainty art.
i don't know where i snagged this photo from but it's not mine.

these images are from decor8. 
 i love the cozy-ness of the first room, the blue-topped stairs of the second one & the patio furniture of the last.  oh how i'd love for it to be warm & breezy outside & just have a seat in the sun on our back deck. right now i'd be sitting on the deck {because we have no seating} & on top of a mountian of snow {becuase it just won't quit coming}. 

this image was found on apartment therapy.
i love this crazy looking craft room.  love it.  i actually have been coveting some wire baskets just  like those on the shelf.  and i want a shelf.  all to go over my sewing desk.  i can't find any cheap wire baskets...isn't that odd?   you'd think they'd be a dime a dozen all over the place.  maybe a flea market will be my answer?  thoughts?  non-colored baskets would be just fine with me...just metal...i'm not picky.  i want to fill them with scraps of fabric & ribbon & spools of thread.

i found this {here}. 
check out this uber-girly crafty space.  i'm pretty sure i don't need to say more. 

this was also found on decor8 from a furniture company named car mobel.
i love benches.  i think i've shared that love before.  if i haven't let me say it again.  i love benches.  entryway benches are one of my favorite varieties.  i love everything about this room.  check out the details pretty please.  every single detail.

do you have any nonsense that you need to get off the brain...please feel free to share.
so until next time...which will hopefully be very very soon...farewell.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

our story

i think that for the most part only my friends & fam read my little blog creation so this may be just OLD news for you all. i just thought, should anyone be curious {& have a lot of free time}, here it is: our ben & jen tale. i must also admit that i thought it would be good for me to document our love story somehow - what's better then in blog form? {quick disclaimer: this is long, like a book}

..our lovely love story..

{chapter 1: in the beginning...}

ben is originally from chicago, later he moved to indianapolis then to union, kentucky when he was a sophomore in high school. i was born in lexington, ky moved to louisville, ky and then to union my freshman year. he's 1 year older than me so it worked out so that we both moved there at exactly the same time. too sweet already? i was 15 & he was 16. benny & i met through a mutual friend at ryle high school {that neither of us talk to now}. we met at my locker {i think it was a pretty brief encounter}. for the rest of the semester i thought that ben & another sophomore, joe pacheco, were the same person. i said hello to both for months thinking that both fellas were ben. sweeter still right? that was until my sophomore year & ben's junior year when we had our first class together. me & ben & joe. that's when i figured it out - they are two separate people. how embarrassing. but give me some credit they really did look very similar. someone vouch for me!

{chapter 2: two desks}

this class, geometry, is where ben & i really got to know each other. we became "school friends." my bestie {then & now} rachel used to say: "one of our friends should date ben." she was right one of our friends SHOULD date ben. around this time ben told his momma that he "met the girl he was going to marry." {me}. i'm sure he didn't even actually think that but i love that that actually happened. i'm smiling writing that, are you gagging yet?

i was dating another fellow {who was nothing like ben} and ben started dating ladies too. i think it is safe to say that ben & i both found a lot of security & significance in relationships at that time. also happening {the semester before & at this time} ben & both attended young life club. it was a pretty large club {150 - 200 people} so it was no surprise that we never really interacted there. i just don't think we ever saw each other. for both of us club was a completely social event {& club is meant to be social, so this was good} but it was also meant to be pointing us to christ which neither of us took advantage of. 

half way through that school year {2001-2002} ben & i both started following christ {separately} through (1) the work of the holy spirit (2) through the loving investment of our YL leaders in our lives.  we both passionately wanted to be laying down our lives to follow the lord but neither of us had it figured out. at all.


{chapter 3: secrets don't make friends}
we both started to get more involved in club, campaigners & discipleship we found ourselves running into each other a little more. although our friend groups overlapped up until this point we never really hung out outside of school. i know...strange. i eventually broke up with my long-term bf & ben with his then gf. ben saw his time to strike & approached my two best friends about dating me {this is spring of my junior year}. cory said, "heck no. you do not need to date jen." she knew that after the previous bf i needed some down time, not to mention that neither of us were spiritually ready to dive into a relationship. it was h.s. for crying out loud, there was no chance that we were mature enough for that. rachel responded, "ben, you'll have to break up with cindy first." i guess he hadn't really broken up with the gf yet. eek. ben followed rachel's advice, but not cory's. i also feel the need to mention that NEITHER of my besties told me about these conversations until after we were already dating, chanks friends. 
{this was our first EVER picture together...i wish i didn't put on so many chins for it}

not too long after i got a call from ben's {then} bestie who said "jen, ben is going to call you tomorrow about going on a date, just let him down gently." i love that he said that. so funny. ben did call me the next evening while i was staying with rach and professed his love to me as any crazy high schooler would. i'll spare you the gushy details. i didn't let him down easy. i told him that i would be interested but under some stipulations. at this point i had all these ideas of what a relationship should look like, and i wanted a godly relationship most of all.

{chapter 4: prom}

in march of 2003 ben had been grounded for wearing muddy shoes in the house so his car got taken away {thank you mrs. brzinski}. i offered to give him a ride home a few different days that week. we bonded. he asked me to go to prom with him in my car - romantic? not really BUT people at our school didn't do the elaborate 'laguna beach' invites back then. of course i said YES to his request! i was very excited! at prom ben asked "officially" if i would be his girlfriend. {that's what you do in high school}. again, i obliged! could we be more cliche high school sweethearts? i don't think so.

{we look kind of orange above...i promise we weren't umpa-lumpas, see below for proof}

{chapter 5: a dating we will go}

like i said before we were definitely flawed so my perfect plan didn't really play out that way. we barely knew how to center our own lives around christ, much less a relationship. perhaps needless to say we were kind of a mess. ok, we were a definite mess. outside of the pit of sin we were living in we did really fall into 'like' with each other. we had a good chunk on time together {a honeymoon period if you will} where there was pure bliss and then after a few months we started to break up every other week. i think we would evaluate our relationship, see that we weren't pointing each other toward christ {but rather toward each other}, break up, realize that we still really wanted to date even though it wasn't best for us & then start the cycle over again. for about a year. in between we had lots of fun, lots of memories, lots of laughs, lots of talks, lots of tears, lots of dates etc. i really awesome time to grow!

{chapter 6: college / high school sweethearts}

ben graduated and started going to NKU. i was still at ryle for the next year. we did the perpetual date & break up a billion times. i think during one of our longer "off" sessions cory, rachel & i all went to an o.a.r. concert & then left immediately with a group of friends to go to chicago to hear brother andrew speak @ willow creek. {side note: he's awesome} ben was there at the "meet up spot" & i was not prepared to see him. rach & cory thought that i knew he was coming & that i would be happy to see him. this was not true. ben & i were never good at being "just friends" once we started dating for the first time. cory & rach jumped in one car with two of our other guy friends leaving me behind to ride with ben {and friends}. side note #2 this is where cory & dusty {her husband} bonded for the first time...i think. awww. so back to the story, 6 hour drive with my frenemy, ben. by the end of the weekend we were back together...surprise surprise.
{chapter 7: breaking up is hard to do}

in the fall of 2004 i came to lexington & became a freshman at UK. after about a month of living in different places we decided to end it. the specific reasons - i have no idea.

about a year and a half went by of us un-dating. we would start "talking" about everything 2 or 3 months or so during this time, something would happen & we would cut ties again. in between those times we would avoid each other. or maybe i just avoided him.  i was an avoider.  when we would be at the same place i would strategically go to a different room so i didn't have to be around him. it wasn't that i didn't like him, i think i loved him all along i just knew that i was a bit too weak to hang out as friends & through all the on & off-ness my heart had really been hurt & damaged.

this year & a half time period of not dating was one of the very best things that could have happened for us. i feel confident that the Lord had planned this for us. it was the first time since the 6th grade that i didn't put myself in a relationship {no matter how shallow} and the first time that i knew i didn't need one. i learned to find my significance & security in the lord alone. what valuable truth to finally understand!

i'm 100% positive that this song was fully fitting for us during the time:

{chapter 8: tire swing}

fall of 2006 things happened. ben called out of the blue. i was ecstatic, of course because i always loved him, but i was super hesitant since my heart was a little battered & i knew i was terrible at guarding my heart with ben. i had actually told my dear friend jenna after our last bout of "talking" to "not let me talk to ben again...ever." ben was dating a girl when he called, he hadn't learned the valuable "you can live on your own" lesson i had at this time. we resolved that we couldn't talk/be friends while he had a gf, that would just be disrespectful so the silent treatment began again but it didn't last for long!

a few weeks later that relationship had run its course & ended. he wanted to come & visit me in lexington, he still lived in northern ky. it was a fall evening, all my roomies were gone & i had no plans. again, apprehensively & overjoyed i agreed that he could come down. we went on one of the most fun dates of all time. the one i mentioned from our anniversary picnic. 10 pm we went to the tire swing, i brought a picnic blanket & thermoses of hot chocolate. the weather was cool & breezy. i wore mittens. we sat on the blanket & ben apologized for all the craziness that had gone on between us over the years & asked that i forgive him. he also asked if we could try & start over. i said YES {and again had dating stipulations}.  after hot cocoa & making up we went & jumped into giant piles of leaves {taller than me} that lined both sides of these precious streets.  best friends, covered in leaves, love day, best date ever. 

not to say that things were perfect from then on out but things were very different. over those last few years we had both grown up a lot. we had learned a lot about loving each other well, serving each other, what we wanted our lives to be about & look like. we dated long-distance for about a year after that. we got to know each other again. we started over. our struggles remained struggles but we had learned a bit about fighting against & about spurring one another on.
{chapter 9: 1 uhaul later}

about 6 months in ben asked {over the phone} what i thought about us praying about one of us moving to where the other lived - ben to lexington or me to nky. i was a silent. ben said "does that make you nervous?" the answer was a big "YES," but i'm not sure what i actually told him. we did start praying. my once adamant "NO!" to moving to nky changed to greater & greater peace about the situation. during a date to pompilio's {where they filmed part of rainman} ben said that he felt led to move to lexington to be with me. we hadn't lived in the same city since i was in high school so this was going to be a whole new chapter. dating long-distance you don't really get to experience the day-to-day life together. you just drop everything & have fun times when they're in town for 24 hours. i was pumped & nervous to dive into this new period where we would live right across the street from each other {literally}. in the august of 2007 benny moved to town. TREAT!

{chapter 10: virginia is for lovers}

that december {2007} ben & i got engaged. that's a whole other story in itself. i had told ben that i wanted to go on an adventure with him. so we picked a weekend. i asked if he'd like me to plan it or if he wanted to. he said that he wanted to so i gave him the reigns. however, i kept pestering him, asking if he had figured anything out for us to do. he continually said, "oh i'll take care of it. i'll work it out." i told a bestie {shannon} that i was worried that he wasn't going to plan anything and maybe i should just take care of it myself." her response was "yeah jen, just keep asking him about it." which is hysterical because she knew there was a plan.

early friday morning we hopped in the car while it was still dark & left for our adventure. i didn't have the slightest clue where we were going and i didn't really want to guess. when we entered virginia i thought we maybe going to rockbridge, a gorgeous YL property. when we passed it i thought we may be going to visit ryder & libby but i didn't want to speak of it until i was sure {in case that wasn't where we were headed, i didn't want to make ben think i was disappointed with his plan}. 10 hours later we arrived in chesapeake, va at the home of our two dear friends, justin & libby ryder. i thought OH MY GOSH! what a great surprise! i was completely content, overjoyed even, to see our long-distance friends. i wasn't expecting anything beyond this wonderful visit.
friday night we went out to dinner all together & just caught up. saturday morning, after breakfast in a precious diner, ryder said he had a YL support team meeting & libby had to meet with one of her foster families {she was a social worker}. lib thought i would see right through this, but when ben & i had gone on adventures in the past we always stayed with friends in the evening/night & did our own thing in the city during the day. i didn't give it a second thought. after french toast ben & i drove into virginia beach. it was december so it was chilly {not bikini weather but definitely warmer than ky}. we walked around to different shops, sat on blankets on the beach, strolled down docks etc. eventually we made our way down to a particular spot where our friends had set up a blanket in the sand, complete with candles & roses. we sat down and ben talked to me about how he'd like us to become one, read to me out of god's word & asked me to be his wife. i said "yes", we prayed, i got a gorgeous rock & it was AWESOME!
afterwards, we then left to go meet ryder & libby for dinner which was the plan from earlier that morning. when we got to the restuarant the ryder's ran down to greet us. so fun! when we walked into this precious restaurant {seated on a marina} 10 of our closest friends were there to congratulate us. i was shocked. we were 10 hours away from home and our dearest friends had come all that way to celebrate with us! the weekend continued in fun & jubuli but i'll leave it at that {for now}. the whole weekend was one giant surprise, it was special & romantic, it was memorable & it was sweet. what a great fiance!

{chapter 11: preparation}

we were moving toward marriage quickly! i'm a little frightened of change & of big steps & i think marriage is the definition of both. but i knew that this was what the Lord had prepared us & called us into. i knew that the Lord had/has big plans for us individually, as a couple & as a family. i knew that ben & i were called to be a mini-model of christ & the church. that we were to love each other with an unselfish love that lays it all down.

we were engaged for 9 months. during that time the Lord prepared us to be husband & wife. there were definitely some trials but the Lord's plans are perfect and through the trials i feel like we grew more than ever, closer to the lord & closer to each other.

{chapter 12: you may now kiss the bride}

we were wed on september 6th, 2008.

if you have read this far - the main thing to take away from "our story" is that ben & i are fallen people who have a soverign god that can redeem anything. we have a Lord that cares deeply for us & calls us to bring him glory with our lives & that is our number one mission as a couple. our Father has given us abundant life now & eternity with him later; we are SO blessed by that. we have a creator that longs to have us run to Him & what is all the more awesome is that we get to run to Him together! so running we will go.

.happily ever aftering.

please let me know if you've got any questions about me, benny, our relationship, our life or our faith.