Friday, September 27, 2013

5 on Friday

It's time for a little 5 on Friday!  Check out others here.

O   N   E

My mom has been in town for the past 5 days.  She left this morning :(

We had a wonderful time exploring my new town.  Jack had lots of fun cuddling his Bella all week.  We played at the park, shopped, ate some yummy food, and laughed a lot.

While I am ready to get a job, I was thankful to have this week to spend with my mom!

(a pic of my sweet boy playing at the park with Bella)

T   W   O

Speaking of jobs, I had an interview today!  I felt like it went well, but I have no idea who I'm up against.

But at least I looked cute.  My mom and I went shopping and I got this blue and black blazer from the Loft.  I'm not much of a blazer or suit girl, but I enjoyed looking professional.

T   H   R   E   E

While my mom was here, I may or may not have gotten her obsessed with Sheetz.


Seriously, if you have never been to a Sheetz, you are missing out.  It's a gas station that has made to order food, made to order coffee drinks, fountain drinks (my love language), and a fix your own coffee bar.

I realize that my description makes Sheetz sound boring, perhaps even gross.  That's how I felt at first too.

Just wait.

F   O   U   R

Y'all know I love fall.  And I love me some butternut squash.

So when I found this salad, I knew I had to make it soon.

It's spinach with pumpkin seeds, cherries (but I used cranberries), roasted butternut squash, and gorgonzola cheese.  It did not disappoint...amazing!  Plus, it was low fat!

F   I   V   E

I am so excited about fall tv shows starting back up!  We don't have cable, but I'll be watching my shows online.

On the lineup:  

Parks and Rec (my favorite!)

Grey's Anatomy (I know, I know, but I can't stop!)


Any amazing shows that I'm missing out on?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Amish Country

This past Saturday, we hit the road bright and early to meet up with my sister and new brother-in-law in Lancaster, PA, the heart of Amish country.

We had a fun day, full of apple picking, Amish stalking, lunch eating, and lots of laughs.  It is so good to have family this close!

We had heard about this little town, Intercoursre, PA.  We were only a mile away and we had to get a picture.  I mean, seriously?

We did some apple picking at an orchard.  We got tons of apples and I was hoping to make an apple crumble this week.  But I looked in the box last night, and we've already eaten half of them.  They are just so yummy fresh!

Jack wasn't so interested in picking apples.  Instead, this wild man wanted to pick up dirt and throw it.  

Also, he totally looks like a little hipster baby in this picture.  Not intentional...

The main reason we went is because Bech had a piece of pottery in a juried show, Strictly Functional.  So we stopped by the gallery hosting the show and saw his piece (It's the bowl right in front).  

It was pretty amazing to see a piece of Bech's work mixed in with all this other pottery!

Also, he was totally embarrassed that I made him take this picture in front of the gallery owner.  Too bad...

There is a Sonic in Harrisburg, which is on the way home.  Um, yes please!

Y'all, seriously, it was so amazing to have a Sonic drink.  I am going to have to find more and more reasons to go to Harrisburg!

My sweet sister made us an anniversary cake, but we didn't eat it until the next day.  

Jack is kind of into the cake.  Can you tell?  I think he forgot yesterday that we still have some...otherwise he would still be asking for it!

We had a great little day trip and I definitely want to go back to Amish country again soon!

And this weekend, Jack and I are going to head to DC to spend the weekend with Katy and Dave.  This way Bech can have a guilt free weekend of lots of studio time.  And Jack and I can see some sights and eat yummy food!  

And then on my way home, I'll swing by the Philadelphia airport and pick up my mom!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five on Friday

I'm linking up again with 5 on Friday.  Check out others here.

O  N  E

Look what came in the mail today?

I got the Starbucks app last Christmas (when I got a ridiculous amount of Starbucks gift cards from students) and have been steadily working toward the gold level.  

Honestly, it doesn't mean too in store refills on coffee, iced coffee, and tea (but I drink the fancy drinks, so it doesn't help me!), a free drink after 12 drinks, and a birthday drink.  But I get this card.

So basically it's awesome.

T  W  O

It's starting to be fall around here.  We had two days in the 80's earlier this week, but today it's in the 60's!  The leaves are starting to turn and the air is crisp.

I ADORE fall!  I am loving this beautiful weather so much!

T  H  R  E  E

And the weather called for a trip to the park...

In long pants!  

Yup, all of the bubbles and seersucker are packed up :(

(I left a few smocked jon jon's out just in case we have some more warm weather.)

I made these pants this summer and have been DYING for Jack to wear them.  And I absolutely love them.  If you can't tell, they are a Where the Wild Things Are fabric.  Actually, two coordinating fabrics because they are reversible.  (And if you are interested in making some, the fabric is from JoAnn's and I talk about making them here.)

And Jack is wearing his first pair on Converse All Stars.  I found a navy blue velcro pair on ebay for a steal and just had to get them for fall and winter!

F  O  U  R

Tomorrow we are headed to Lancaster to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law.  I can't wait.  

On the agenda:

I'm sure I will have lots of fun pictures to share next week!

F  I  V  E

Thanks so much to everyone who read my post (and some who commented yesterday).  Y'all are sweet!  

But, I realized that I had the date wrong.  Today is actually our 9 year anniversary.  Oops.  I thought yesterday was the 13th, but that's today!

So as of today, Bech and I started dating 9 years ago!

And as of this Sunday, we will have been married 6 years...that's crazy!!!

Check out the blog link above and read more 5 on Friday posts!  Or write your own and link up!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

9 years...!

9 years ago today, Bech and I went on our first date!

I had actually met him almost two weeks before.  He came to Millsaps Christian Fellowship (basically RUF, but Millsaps doesn't allow RUF).  He had dropped out of Ole Miss and was back home for a year.  He had worked at Timberlake, a summer camp, with two of my MCF friends and they invited him to come.  I was the greeter.  I thought he was cute, with his v neck white shirt, chacos, and beard.  

We saw each other two more times at MCF events.  In fact, at one, we got in a friend argument about gender roles in dating (I was such a know it all).  And then on a Sunday afternoon, he called and asked me out to lunch the next day.

One of our first pictures.  I know I look like a hot mess, but I've always loved this pictures of us.  Bech came down to help with the annual Braden family tree decorating night. Christmas 2004

We went to Kiefer's downtown, and he barely touched his food because of nerves.  

It took a while until we were official (maybe two months), but he was pretty crazy about me from the beginning (he would agree).  I wasn't so sure, which was weird for me.  I dated a lot in high school and in my freshman year, and I usually was pretty crazy about my current boyfriends from the get go.  But Bech was an enigma to me.  He wasn't the type of guy I always planned on falling for, but I liked him a lot.

Spring break 2005.  We had been dating for 6 months and we took Ansley down to Florida to see my grandparents.  

AKA the birth of TEAM CIVIC

Actually when he asked me to be his girlfriend on a Thursday night, I was prepared to tell him no, that I needed more time.  But if you have ever met my husband, you know that he is super wordy.  So he never stopped talking long enough for me to tell him this.  When he finally was quiet, after seriously 3 hours, all I could say was yes!

That weekend we went up to Ole Miss with some people.  I was spending the night with a friend, and ended up wanting to spend that Saturday with Bech instead.  That's when I realized I was crazy about him too (and glad I had kind of said yes on Thursday night)!

At my friend and roommates debutante ball on the coast, Christmas 2004

From then on, we were pretty inseparable.  When Bech decided to go back to Ole Miss the next fall, I transferred there.  I definitely missed Millsaps and often I wish that I could have graduated from there.  But at the end of the day, I didn't (and still don't!) want to risk our relationship.

On our two year anniversary (so 7 years ago), Bech proposed to me, and we were married a year and 2 days later.

Since then we've lived in Oxford, Malawi, Jackson, Vermont, Baton Rouge, and now Pennsylvania.  We have laughed and cried and fought and made up.  We have had so many adventures together, and I love having him as my partner in life and my co parent.  He's pretty incredible.

That same spring break trip, at Disney World.

Happy Anniversary, Bech.  I wouldn't want to dance in the minefields with anyone else!

"So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love's chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

'Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there's nothing left to fear
So I'll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear

'Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Jack's 2 Year Book

I'm not a scrapbooker.  I actually went through a junior high phase where I tried to be a scrapbooker, but it just wasn't working.

But now that I have Jack, I do want some sort of way to remember and share his life.  My blog is definitely a scrapbook of sorts, but I have found that online picture books work great for me!

Up until Jack was a year old, I did monthly updates for him.  Last fall I took all of those updates and put them in a photo book.  I used Shutterfly and I LOVED the final result.

This year I didn't do monthly updates, but I still wanted to make a book.  I actually liked this book more, because I was able to add a lot more pictures.  Again, I am so happy with the final result.

Until Wednesday, Shutterfly is doing a photo book promotion.  Just enter SUMMERBOOK at checkout, and you can get an 8x8 book free (or the equivalent amount off of another size book).  I ordered an 8x11 hardcover.

Check out the final result:

           How cute is it?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Five on Friday

Since I'm trying to get back in the swing of blogging (after this crazy summer), I thought I would join a little Friday link-up.  I love this...I just post about 5 things that are on my mind!


 So this whole staying at home thing is hard!  I am ready to get a job and be out of the house.  I had to get out today, though (I was going stir crazy), so Jack and I headed to the local mall for our first time.

It's okay.  It has Macy's, Gap, Gymboree, etc.  Not amazing, but it works.  But we went to check out the soap sale at Bath and Body Works.  I needed some fall smells in my life!

I think this may be my new favorite, Honeycrisp Apple.  It smells like an apple orchard...amazing!


While we were there, I got to test out my new stroller!

Remember how mine got stolen a couple of weeks ago?

My mom was actually going to give us a City Mini for Jack's birthday present.  But a friend told her about the Britax B Agile.  My mom had an Amazon Mom coupon, and the stroller would be a LOT cheaper than a City Mini.  After reading reviews (which all said the B Agile was almost identical to the City Mini), I decided to go for it.

I LOVE it.  It folds up so easily (and it fits easily in my trunk, which is hard to do in a hybrid trunk!).  It is really light and easy to push.  And Jack loves it to, which is great.  He is normally not a fan of strollers.

So if anyone is looking into strollers, definitely check out the B Agile.  It even has a snap system for the Britax infant car seats.  I am a huge Britax car seat fan!


I have been cooking up a storm lately (it's this whole no job thing...).  I made these enchiladas the other night.  

Seriously, they were incredible.  I swapped out acorn squash for the butternut squash, monterrey jack cheese instead of Muenster (because, really, who likes Muenster cheese?), and left the bell pepper out of the enchilada sauce.

But then I made this recipe, and it was awful.  So I'd say it was a pretty even week.


While at the mall, I checked out Gap.  I am pretty boring when it comes to dressing.  I like solids and stripes (okay, fine, I am obsessed with stripes).  I like to shop at Gap, J. Crew, and the Loft.  Sometimes I buy something super on sale at Anthro, but basically that's it. 

(I just looked at my current outfit: J. Crew shirt, Gap shorts, and Toms.)

I fell in love with this blazer.

A little preppier than I normally am, but I love it.   Now, I just have to watch for them to go on sale...


This weekend Bech's little brother is coming to visit.  He is a student at the CIA (Culinary Institute of, he's not a spy), which is in Hyde Park, New York (only a train ride away!).  Last weekend my friend came, and this weekend Hunter!  How fun is it to have so many people we know this close to us?

I am loving the guests, because it makes us get out and sightsee and try new things in our little area.  

Plus, I plan on putting Hunter to work for us in the kitchen.  I'll buy the food if he'll cook us something really yummy!

This was fun.  Click on the link above to check out more "5 on Friday" posts or add your own!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's Fall, Y'all!

Okay, so not quite.  

But SO soon!

Fall has always been my favorite season.  I love so many aspects of the other seasons, but I just adore Fall.  I love the smells, the tastes, the sights.  

And Fall up north?  Magical!

In fact, just check out my label "Fall."  You have to scroll through some of last Fall, but you will get to LOTS of Vermont pictures.  It was absolutely gorgeous up there. 

And here in PA, we are nestled in some beautiful mountains.  I just now that the leaves are going to be amazing when they start to turn.

So here is what I'm planning/looking forward for this fall:

1)  Fresh Apple Cider

I'm not trying to be anti South, but unless you've had fresh apple cider (which they don't sell in the South), you haven't had real cider.  It is so good!  Bech likes to add spices and heat it up. 

2)  Lots and lots of Hot Cocoa

Is there any explanation needed on this one?

3)  Leaf Peeping

This year we're going Leaf Peeping on a train!  The Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society has several train trips that you take to look at the leaves.  We already have our tickets bought.  Jack is going to LOVE this.  Plus, it'll be fun to see the leaves but not be the ones driving.

4) Go to a Pumpkin Patch 

I think Way Fruit Farm seems like our best choice.  They have a fall festival with pumpkins, fresh apple cider, and a petting zoo.

5) Pick Apples

In two weeks we are going to Lancaster, PA.  Bech is in a show, so we are going for the opening reception.  My sister and brother-in-law are meeting us there, and we are going to pick apples!   This is one of my favorite fall activities.  I found a super cute little orchard, Cherry Hill Orchards, for us to go pick apples there!

6) Fall Foods

I LOVE cooking fall foods.  I love to make tons of soups (especially sweet potato, butternut squash, and pumpkin soups).  I love to make anything with pumpkins in them.   I already have started a Fall Food pinterest board to get ready.

7)  Buy some fall scented candles and hand soaps.  

I normally stick with Bath and Body works candles.  Seriously, they are amazing.  But they are a little pricey, even if you do get them on sale.  This year, I found Glade's fall scents at Wal-Mart.  A lot cheaper, and they smell really good.

But, Bath and Body Work's still beats them out, so I am going to get a couple of those too!

8) Wear boots and sweaters

I just bought a pair of cords and a new sweater in preparation for the fall weather.  I know I am going to be freezing this winter, but the best part of a fall up north is actually getting to wear fall clothes!

9) Spend lots of time with my little family!

Fall with Jack the past two years has been fun, but he really hasn't gotten into it (I know, duh!).  But we have tons of books about Fall from the library and he loves reading them.  I have been talking up our train ride (actually I don't even need to talk up a train'll be heaven for Jack) and talking about going to pick apples and pumpkins.  I think Jack is going to LOVE fall this year.

(my little fall baby last year!)

Plus, he's started saying "I love Christmas" completely unprompted...that's my boy!

I hope y'all all have a wonderful fall, too!  What is on your bucket list for fall?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

PA Update

Sorry for the lapse in posting!  Between applying for jobs (yup, still no job!) and studying for and retaking my translation comp, we have been crazy around here.  Plus Bech started school last week and the pressure is ON!

So here's what we've been up, plus lots of pictures (albeit iphone pics) of life lately.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that the local park has historical trains.  Here is a shot of one of them.  Jack LOVES these trains.  He calls them "Pencer" (Spencer) and Percy, and we talk about them all of the time.  We actually try to go to the park once a day (although we didn't this weekend).  It is a great little treat for him.

When we moved, we took with us this board that my dad made for my little brother when he was little. Jack loves being able to play with all of his trains in his room.

The first week we were here it was a little chilly in the mornings.  Lately it has been HOT.  Not hot compared to Southern terms, but hot for a state where most people (ourselves included!) don't have air-conditioning.  But it looks like the temps are going to get into the 70's this week.  Yay!  Fall is on the way!!!

Anytime Jack is near tracks this is ALL he wants to do.  Just walk up and down them all day.  A little strange, but an easy enough request to grant.

The local park has a small sand pit that Jack likes to play in.

Don't let those puppy dog eyes fool you...this boy is a HOT MESS!

I explained this picture on instagram.  A week before we moved, I went by The Dollar Tree.  While I was there, I found Bech's favorite hand lotion.  I grabbed him some and, when I got home, I told him I had a "treat" for him.  Jack asked where his treat was.  I did some quick thinking and gave him a sponge I had also purchased at the Dollar Tree.  He was delighted!  I packed it up the next day, but he found it last week in our new house.  He yelled, "My treat! My treat!"  I'm thinking dish rags might be a good stocking stuffer this year...

See what I mean!  More track pictures, but a different day!

There is a river (creek?) that runs through our little town.  It is beautiful!  There are trout (and good fishing).  People kayak and canoe down it.  I absolutely love it.  

Since I'm at home all day with Jack, I'm trying to be somewhat productive.  Last week I menu planned and ending up trying some really good new recipes that we both loved.

These are cheesy jalapeno stuffed baked chicken.  I prepped them ahead of time, and they didn't take long at all.  They are low cal and really yummy.

I feel like someone sent me this recipe a couple of months ago, but I can't for the life of me remember who.  But I pinned it and ended up making it last week.  It's a chicken pot pie with a biscuit crust.  Definitely not low cal, but really filling, so you don't need a huge serving.  I made the recipe, and Bech and I had leftovers for lunch the next day or two.  If you end up making this, shred the chicken instead of cutting it up. 

I also made a low cal chicken salad that I am currently obsessed with (so obsessed that I made it this week too!).

Our local park has TONS of ducks that are really friendly and love to be fed.  Jack loves getting to visit and feed the ducks and the fish.

My boy, who never really cared for stuffed animals, is now obsessed!  He likes to have several with him at a time.  His current favorite is the bunny from Goodnight, Moon.  My professor gave this to him before he was born and I've always loved it.  But like I said, he didn't care for stuffed animals, and that made me sad.  But when I unpacked it in PA, it was suddenly his new best friend!

My friend Amy came into town for a visit (our first visitor!).  She was our good friend in Vermont, and she is back in her hometown of Pittsburgh (less than 3 hours away).  We had fun visiting, eating, and laughing.  We drove into State College Sunday afternoon and stopped in to visit Bech at his studio.  Jack thought all of the clay was his new toy!

We are doing well here.  People in our church and community have been so welcoming to us.  We have been to parties, cookouts, play dates, library dates, etc.  We are loving the people here, and I think we are really going to enjoy our time in the State College area.