Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A few of my favorite things...

My last post inspired me to share a few more of my favorite things.  So here I go - in no particular order.

1.  Crest Spinbrush

It's relatively cheap, and it makes brushing my teeth so much more fun. Like a little adventure for my teeth.

2.  Firewood Candle by Henri Bendel


This candle smells phenomenal! It's wintery and woodsy and a perfect substitute for those of you without fireplaces. :) We don't have a fireplace here in Houston, but I can just light my firewood candle, and all is well. You can buy these candles at Bath and Body Works.

3.  The iPhone

All the things you've heard about it are true.  It's wonderful.  It's addicting.  It turns you into one of those people who can't put their phone down for a second.  But it's worth it.

4.  Burberry The Beat

I wore this perfume on my wedding day, and I just love the smell.  It's not as sweet as the classic Burberry scent, but it's just as classy.  Check it out the next time you're in the perfume section.

5.  Google Reader

If you like to keep up with celebrity gossip (or the news), or if you follow very many blogs, you need a google reader account.  It basically just centralizes all your websites into one location, and it saves a lot of "surfing" time.  It automatically updates the new information, so you know you're not missing anything important.  I'm obsessed. 

6. Phyto Phytodefrisant

My friend Candice introduced me to this hair product years ago, and now I always make sure I have a tube in my cabinet.  It's kind of pricey, but it's so worth it if your hair has any texture whatsoever.  For me, it smooths my flyaways out, and it makes my hair extra silky and shiny.  You put it on when your hair is wet, and then style it as you regularly would.  You can find it at Sephora and some Bath and Body Works stores.

7.  Philosophy Coconut Frosting Shampoo, Shower Gel, and Bubble Bath


I love Philosophy products.  They smell WONDERFUL, and their three-in-one products are amazing.  The Coconut Frosting, in particular, is one of my favorites.  It's not too strong, but it smells EXACTLY like what I imagine coconut frosting smells like (considering that I've never actually seen coconut frosting).  And while each bottle is $16, it lasts forever.  Especially if you're like me and like to keep a billion different products in your shower at a time.

8.  The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova



I'm not usually into mystery novels, but this one is a must-read. It's kind of long, but it's so suspenseful that you won't be able to put it down.  It's about Dracula (aka Vlad the Impaler), but it's set in the mid-twentieth century.  It's definitely one of my favorite books, but shhhh! Don't tell Harry Potter that I'm cheating on him!

9.  Sensor Soap Dispenser by Simplehuman

This seems so dorky, I know.  And lazy.  But it's actually a wonderful thing to have in the kitchen.  Especially if you're a germophobe (which I am definitely not).  It's motion-sensored, so you just stick your hand under it and the soap comes out.  It's battery powered, so you don't need an electrical outlet nearby.  And it dispenses most any soap.  Micah and I got one for our wedding, and we have really enjoyed it.  But beware, Micah's mom bought the cheaper one (it's called a soap pump), and it doesn't work nearly as well.  So if you're going to get one, go ahead and shell out the ten extra dollars for the one pictured above.

Alright, that's all I got for right now. It seems weird to stop at nine, but this post is too long as it is! :) Hope everyone has a happy new year!

A gift from me to you...


Do you know what this is?

I thought it was a weird-looking whisk when I first saw it. Turns out it's actually one of the greatest inventions on earth.

I am SO not kidding.

It's a scalp massager, and my step-mom got one for me for Christmas. Out of ALL the presents I got this year (including a new tv, an ipod docking station, and a new printer) I've used this one the most so far. And it was probably the least expensive present I received!!

You just slide it around your head, and the magic begins. I could literally sit and play with it for HOURS.

So if you want to give yourself the greatest gift ever, go buy one. My step-mom got it at Bed Bath and Beyond. Maybe they have a few left!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas a few days late...

Well that week just FLEW by! After my last final last Saturday (which I'm pretty sure was a DISASTER!) I drove straight to Dallas to stay with my Dad for a couple of days. We had such a good time, and Miss Lilly sure did enjoy the big backyard and all the trees. And the hamburgers and hot dogs Dad and Lori fed her. :)

Then I stayed two days with my Mom and Steve. And apparently Lilly made a new best friend in their dog Gus. She followed him around like a lovesick puppy (because apparently she was!) and didn't leave him alone for a minute. Poor Gus had to go sleep in his crate to get away from her. :)

The time with my parents was so wonderful. I missed Micah a ridiculous amount (he stayed at Fort Hood until Wednesday), but it was nice to get to visit with them and be around during the holidays.

And then Micah finally came into town, and we had a WONDERFUL first Christmas together.

Everyone says nothing changes when you get married (especially if you had been living together beforehand), but I couldn't disagree more. There's just something about having made that commitment before the Lord. We made a promise, a covenant, to love one another for the rest of our lives. And that changes everything. So anyway, our first Christmas together as a married couple was lovely, and we got WAY too many presents.

We drove home the day after Christmas and slept like babies that night.

And then yesterday we celebrated our first anniversary!!! I got Micah some really nice cigars and a gift card to The Buckle for some new jeans. He got me a gift card for a full body massage and a new rain showerhead, which feels WONDERFUL by the way. Then we spent the day shopping and just spending time together. We were also supposed to go to dinner at Fogo de Chao last night, but I wasn't feeling well and we ended up ordering Chinese food and watching the Cowboys game. Not a bad way to spend the night. :)

I won't write anything mushy or sappy about how incredibly perfectly wonderful my husband is or how I feel like the luckiest girl when he looks at me or how marrying him last December was the most wonderful moment in my life. I'll just say that we had a GREAT Christmas and anniversary, and God has blessed us abundantly. :)

And here's a few wedding pictures for good measure. :)





Friday, December 18, 2009

A look back...

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. In ONE day, I will be ONE semester away from graduating law school. It's totally crazy how fast it's flown by. Think of all the things that have happened since I started:

1) I moved to a TOTALLY different city, away from my family and friends.
2) Micah and I moved into a new house together.
3) My best friend's mom died, and I had a tough time dealing with it.
4) Micah PROPOSED!
5) My brother and Faith got married.
6) I survived a hurricane.
7) I endured a whirlwind of interviews and landed two great summer jobs.
8) I got through the most difficult semester of my life - and actually made good grades!
9) Micah and I got MARRIED! And then went on the most amazing honeymoon!
10) I wrote a 60-page paper for law review - and lived to tell the tale!
11) My dog Shadow died.
12) Micah and I got the most adorable puppy in the world - Miss Lilly Bell.
13) I started couponing!
14) My laptop died during my Patent Law exam, and I made the worst grade of my entire life.
15) I spent the summer away from Micah in Dallas working.
16) I began writing Micah a love letter every week - well almost. :)
17) Micah and I bought a new truck.
18) We spent my birthday in San Antonio for a mini-vacation.
19) I got turned down by both of my summer jobs.
20) Micah's grandma died, and we drove to Missouri for the funeral.
21) I got sick for the first time in years.
22) I started thinking about practicing criminal law.

Whew! I've been a busy girl. Now just a LITTLE more studying, and I'll be a free woman until January! :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Study break...

I desperately need a study break right now. I've been glued to this stupid chair for what feels like weeks. (Actually it really has been weeks.) And I've finished two of my four classes, so I'm halfway there. Perfect time for a blog, right? :)

I'm actually getting really, REALLY excited about my future. I feel like I'm sort of at a crossroads, and I'm seeing the Lord slowly, but surely reveal His plans for the road ahead. After what has felt like months and months of wandering in the darkness, I'm catching a glimpse of light, and I'm starting to see my hope float.

I'm still jobless. But I think I am really understanding that I'm jobless for a reason.

I came into law school absolutely certain that I would graduate and practice as a patent lawyer. That's what I came to law school to do. That's actually why I chose to come to University of Houston - they have one of the best intellectual property programs in the country.

Patent law is interesting to me, and I think I'd do well in that area of the law. But this summer, I really began to feel like it wasn't the best "fit." I think a lot of that had to do with the firms in which I was working, but I definitely felt like something just wasn't right.

Whatever the reason, I began to seriously listen to this small part of my brain, which, during my second semester of law school, began telling me that maybe patent law wasn't the only choice I needed to consider.

During my second semester of law school, I was required to take a criminal law course. I expected to hate every second of it. I just wasn't interested in criminal law on any level, and I planned on suffering through the course.

But, of course, I absolutely loved it. I loved reading for class. I loved going to class. I even loved the freaking exam. But I told myself that it was because the professor was amazing (which she was), and I continued on my plan to practice patent law.

Then I did a moot court competition last spring. A criminal competition. Even though there was a patent law competition I could have competed in, I opted for the criminal one and was thrilled when I was selected for the team. The experience, though not all together a positive one, reaffirmed my interest in criminal law, and I decided to take a criminal procedure course this semester.

Again, I have loved it. The professor is amazing, and I have enjoyed every aspect of the course. If you have read this far (sorry this is so long), you're catching my drift. I'm pretty much obsessed with criminal law, and yet I've been dead-set on pursuing a path in patent law. I think I've been apprehensive about it because I perceive it to be a dangerous area of the law. We've already established that I'm a scaredy cat, and I think I just wondered if I had enough guts to do the job well.

But I don't want to ever wonder whether or not I would have been great at it. Plus, I just feel like the Lord keeps pulling me off the path that I've so carefully planned out for myself, and I'm not so stubborn that I can't take a hint.

So I applied for and got an internship at the Harris County District Attorney's office for the spring. And I honestly could NOT be more excited. It's criminal prosecution, in case you're wondering. I haven't gone over to the dark side of criminal defense, I promise. :) It's going to be a lot of work, and I know it's going to force me out of my comfort zone. I mean, I could be running my own misdemeanor trial by the time I'm finished in May.

Me. In trial. I get a rush just thinking about it.

So anyway, I start in January, and I hope it goes well. And if you get a chance, will you please say a little prayer that I don't totally screw it up? :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Scaredy cat...

It's probably no secret that I'm a weenie.

I've been scared of the dark since I was a little girl. I must have just seen too many scary movies or murders on the news, because I was just convinced someone was going to break into my house and get me.

In fact, I was so scared that my mom had to make up this huge story about a magic unicorn that protected me while I was sleeping to get me to go to sleep some nights. I believed her for a ridiculously long time. But that's beside the point.

Unsurprisingly, I've never lived alone. When I moved out of my parents' house in Josephine, I moved on campus with a roommate. Then, the next year I had a different roommate. Then, I moved to Houston and was ALMOST going to live alone, but then Micah and I decided to move in together.

So here I am, 24 years old and still afraid of the dark. I've never really had to face my fears before, but Micah's recently had to do some traveling for work, and I have to stay in this house all by myself. If I lived in Dallas, I'd probably go stay with one of my parents. But it's just me here. So I've got to grow up, I guess.

Tonight, Micah is in Fort Hood (which is scary for very different reasons), and I was doing pretty well until about 10:00.

And then I heard a weird, loud noise outside the house. My first instinct was to call 911, but I realized police officers probably have better things to do than snoop around my house looking for the source of scary, loud noises.

So I went in to get the shotgun. We keep it under the bed, unloaded because Micah insists. And he's shown me how to load it before, but of course I forgot. So I had to call him to tell me how to load it. Sweet, sweet man that he is, he didn't laugh at me for being irrationally afraid of loud noises.

And after I loaded it, I sat in the bedroom on the floor for about 30 minutes. I just couldn't get up. But I finally realized that I was being absolutely ridiculous. So I got up, went to the living room, turned on Christmas music, and got back to studying. Easy as that.

Although, I am writing a blog at 12:45 at night. Which might be some indication that I'm still a little scared to go to sleep. But I'm getting courageous enough to try. Or maybe I'm just so tired that I don't care anymore. :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Knock on wood...

For the past few years, I have been bragging to anyone who would listen about the fact that it has been YEARS since I've been sick.

Of course I have allergies and occasionally get the allergic fit, but I haven't been actually sick in a really long time. No colds, no flu, no infections. Healthy as a horse.

Apparently my bragging has FINALLY caught up with me, because I started feeling crappy on Wednesday with a scratchy throat and a stuffy nose.

Which escalated to a full-blown cold on Thursday.

Which I apparently passed on to my husband sometime between now and then.

So now we're both sick, and it's definitely no fun. Especially in light of the fact that I have been studying for finals all day, every day and will continue to do so for the next week and a half. Plus, even the daytime medicines make me drowsy, so I have been feeling like a zombie.

I am starting to feel a little better, so maybe it's going away. I'm just hoping Micah and I don't keep passing it back and forth to one another...

Anyway, that's all the whining I can manage right now. Gotta get back to learning ALL about health care law and reform. It's definitely not as fun as it sounds.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Free Cookbook!!

Just wanted to share a giveaway opportunity here. Katy Link over at The Link Home is giving away a free cookbook for those who enter by today! Go over and enter now! She always posts the most delicious-sounding recipes! :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Home...


I'm a country girl... born and raised.

I don't wear cowboy boots or Wrangler jeans, but I feel most at home when I'm sitting on a tailgate in the middle of a pasture under the Texas sky. And I prefer a white-rock road to the highway any day.

In fact, some of my favorite memories with Micah center around the early days in our relationship, when we were seventeen and had nothing better to do than drive around on back roads and talk about nothing. Or when we'd go fishing on his family's land and he'd get mad when my fish were bigger than his.

I loved going to church on Sundays and knowing everyone there. I loved going to football games and seeing the whole community decked out in blue and gold. I loved driving through town and waving to the cars passing by. I loved popping into my Mamaw's house and chowing down on her freshly-baked brownies.

Of course, living in a small town has its drawbacks. You can't keep a secret in Josephine, Texas. Everyone knows everyone, and gossip spreads like wildfire.

But I think that's part of the charm. Driving by the Josephine store and seeing Papaw and the old men in town, sitting outside and talking about city business. Walking through church and hearing old ladies whisper about the latest scandal. "Poor Jenny. Bless her heart." As if saying "bless her heart" makes it a little less like gossip.

I've always loved my town, but I think being away has just made it more dear to my heart. You can't really appreciate the peace and quiet until it's gone.

That's why, while Micah and I have enjoyed the conveniences of living in Houston, there is just nothing better than the feeling I get when we pass the Josephine city limit sign on our way home. It's almost like I was holding my breath and didn't even realize it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Light Bulb Moments...



I'm pretty sure I'm the queen of the "Aha!" moment.

You know what I'm talking about. It's that moment where the light bulb in your head suddenly turns on, and you finally understand something that had been impossibly confusing just a few milliseconds before.

One of my professors in college used to just laugh and laugh at me because I frequently experienced these moments in the middle of class. I'd raise my hand to ask a question, and before he could even begin to answer it I'd suddenly break into a smile and burst out with an "Ohhhh. I get it." He called them my "light bulb moments."

Well, whatever you want to call them, I think they're such a wonderful feeling. And I had one this past week that I wanted to share.

One of the lessons in "The Love Dare" centers around the story of Hosea. Have you heard Hosea's story before? If not, here's the short version.

Hosea, one of the minor prophets in the Bible, was instructed by the Lord to marry a prostitute. (Hosea 1:2).

Yep, you read that correctly. A prostitute.

So, because Hosea was infinitely more faithful than I could be, he married Gomer, a woman who had previously made her living a prostitute. After such a leap of faith, you'd think a "happily ever after" kind of ending was in store for Hosea and Gomer. But, after bearing three children, Gomer was unable to remain faithful to Hosea and began chasing other men.

Now, if I'm Hosea at this point, I'm saying "peace OUT!" and going on my merry way. I imagine myself having a long conversation with the Lord, explaining that, while I had come to love this person He had put in my life, that I just couldn't stick around after something like that. That it was shaming enough to endure the public humiliation after marrying someone with such an immoral past and that I just couldn't bear the thought of taking them back after such a significant betrayal.

And maybe Hosea had a very similar conversation with the Lord, but after some time had passed the Lord called Hosea to again show love to Gomer and bring her home. And because Hosea trusted in the Lord's will, he did. He went and bought Gomer off of the slave blocks and welcomed her home with loving arms.

Maybe your light bulb is turning on much more quickly than mine did, but after reading about Hosea's faithfulness and forgiveness, I was completely floored. I honestly thought he was a bit of a chump. I knew that if I were in Hosea's shoes that I would be completely incapable of doing what he did. That someone who did to me what Gomer had done to him would be completely undeserving of my forgiveness.

And then, after a few seconds, those familiar words popped into my head.

"Ohhhh. I get it."

Aren't we, as Christians, the spitting image of Gomer? Weren't we the worst of sinners before God welcomed us as His children? And didn't Jesus buy us off the slave block and experience the most excruciating pain and shame on the cross as He hung there for our sins? And doesn't the Lord welcome us back, time and time again, when we fall short and sin again? Doesn't He forgive our very worst betrayals, just as Hosea forgave Gomer's?

Hosea's story shed new light on my perception of unconditional love and forgiveness. And on my perception of marriage. I know it would be difficult for me to do what Hosea did, but I know that if I am ever in his position that God will call me to show the same forgiveness and unconditional love to Micah. And no matter how impossible it feels, I will do my best to be a picture of the Lord's unconditional love for us.

Because that's what "for better or worse" means, right? I just knew those vows would come back to bite me in the behind some day. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Open Letter...

Hey, you!

Yes, I mean YOU. You girls who think it's perfectly acceptable to squat and hover over public toilets, leaving a fun little mess for the person behind you.

I realize this isn't exactly the kind of thing people like to talk about, but I've got a bone to pick with you.

I understand that public toilets aren't exactly sanitary, but if you are that bothered by sitting on them, use a toilet seat cover. And if you can't find one of those, put some toilet paper down.

But it is completely un-fun when I come into the stall after you, sit down to use the restroom (because I don't seem to have the issues that you have with public toilets), and realize that you've apparently squatted and missed the mark, and that you failed to clean up after yourself.

SERIOUSLY un-fun.

So to all you squatters out there, let's get this problem under control. Stat.

Hugs and Kisses.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A sad week...

There is something about funerals that really makes you think. About things that no one wants to think about.

Micah's grandma (his mom's mom) died this past Tuesday, and this week has just been incredibly busy and sad. We drove up to Dallas on Wednesday, to Missouri on Thursday, and then back to Dallas on Saturday. We finally got home yesterday around 6:00.

I'm glad we were able to be there with his family and to celebrate the life of such an incredible woman. It was obviously a very sad time, but it was also encouraging in a lot of ways. At her funeral, so many people stood up to express their condolences and to tell the family what a wonderful person she was. It was clear Grandma Betty had touched so many lives in so many ways.

But the resounding theme was one of faith - Grandma Betty's inspiring and overwhelming faith.

And it really got me thinking. What will people say about me at my funeral?

It's a morbid thought, I know. But I also think it's a good way to evaluate your life. It's easy to see yourself from your own perspective, but how do others see you?

I want to be remembered, first and foremost, as a woman who loved the Lord and who loved her family and friends through Him. I want to be remembered as a woman who served her community and shared the love of God with everyone she met. I also want to be remembered as a woman who loved her husband more than any wife in the history of the world. (Maybe that one's a little unrealistic :))

But what am I doing in my life to make sure that people see me this way? Am I loving my family and friends through the Lord? Am I serving my community?

Just something to think about on this Monday morning. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Update on "The Love Dare"

I posted earlier about the book Micah and I were going through together called The Love Dare. I wanted to write a little bit about what we've thought as we've been going through it together.

Bottom line, we absolutely love it.

We love that it forces each person to spend a little time each day thinking about how we can better serve one another. And for me, it's so gratifying to know that Micah's actively doing something each day to live out his love for me.

Even for couples like Micah and I who aren't going through major issues or problems (I mean how hard can it be when you're a newlywed and everything is bliss?), I would recommend it. It does seem targeted to solving problems that might already exist, but from our perspective, it's about preventing problems in the future. It's about learning to put one another first and guiding our hearts to love unconditionally and selflessly. It's about letting the Lord love through us.

And I love that it's forcing Micah and I to spend a little time each night talking about things that matter. We've talked about things I never thought about before, and when you're married to a man of few words, moments like that are invaluable.

So if you want a challenge and your partner is up for it (or even if they aren't), I recommend picking up a copy of The Love Dare and getting started.

Just know that it IS a challenge. And it requires some effort. But I think it's worth it. Love always is. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Recipe Time

This is by far the SIMPLEST recipe I make, but it's one of my favorite things. Plus it's cheap. :)

It's a savory cheese spread. You can put it on a cracker (it probably needs to be a pretty sturdy cracker, though, because it's thick). But I love to just buy a big loaf of french bread, slice it up, toast it in the oven, and put the spread on top. That's how Micah's mom makes it (I actually stole the recipe from her, but I know she won't mind me sharing).

Alright, here's the recipe.

Savory Cheese Spread

8 oz cream cheese
1 package Good Seasons Zesty Italian seasoning mix

Slightly soften the cream cheese (but not too much!). Mix in the Italian seasoning packet thoroughly. Refrigerate until cold.

That's it! It's that simple. And it's delicious. I actually had some for lunch today. :) If you make it, let me know what you think!

Big Mistake

For two people who seem to be very rational, reasonable people, Micah and I sure do make a lot of impulsive, irrational decisions.

For example, this weekend Micah and I went to a local nursery to pick up some mulch for our front yard. While we were there, we noticed some pretty magnolia trees that seemed very inexpensive. We had been talking about getting a tree or two to put in our backyard, so without doing ANY research whatsoever, we bought the trees and brought them home.

When we got home, Micah dug the holes, and we planted the trees. Easy breezy.

It wasn't until I googled "Magnolia Grandiflora trees" that I realized that these trees can grow up to 90 feet tall, and we had only spaced the trees about 8 feet apart. PLUS, we stuck them both below a power line. Can you say "idiots"?

So it looks like tonight we'll be digging the trees up and moving them.

Oh well, at least I get to watch Micah dig some more holes... I love it when he does manly things like that. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Walking

So I'm actively looking for a job right now. I'm obviously not having a lot of success, but I swear that if I hear the words "in this economy" one more time, I'm going to strangle someone.

For me, it's crystal clear that I'm being led. I can't see where I will end up yet, but I know that God has a plan, and I have every faith that I'm walking down a very particular path. A path that He has determined will lead somewhere.

So I'm going to keep walking. Even if I have no roadmap, and there aren't any street lights.

It's funny because a year ago, I was so confident that I would end up working at a big law firm after graduation, making the big bucks, and working ridiculous hours. And, on paper, it seemed like that would happen for me. I had done very well my first year of law school, I was being actively recruited by countless law firms, and I decided to spend the summer at two great law firms in Dallas.

And this past summer, things were still looking bright, in spite of the fact that the economy had crashed and everyone was panicking. I had gotten great reviews at both firms, had made some good contacts, and knew that I had done enough to deserve a full-time offer of employment at both firms.

Yet here I am, jobless and with no prospects. The firms that were so actively pursuing me last year are full, and even the smaller firms seem hesitant to take a chance on an unknown candidate that didn't spend the summer there. I applied to several judges for a one-year clerking position - something I'd have been a shoe-in for last year. And still nothing.

Panic time, right?

No. I just refuse to stress out about it. I'm convinced I'm being led in a different direction. That my well-intentioned plans weren't what God had in mind for me. I feel peace, even though there's no earthly reason I shouldn't be completely freaking out.

I don't know where I'm headed yet, but I know I'm headed somewhere. I know God hasn't forgotten me, and I know He will provide. I just have to keep walking through the darkness until I see the light.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Are you kidding me??!!??

I'm pretty sure Lilly has a secret admirer.

He's a turtle. Named Timmy. Timmy the turtle. Nice, huh?

Let's start from the beginning.

I only have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester, so I'm generally at home on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It's a pretty sweet schedule, actually. It's a little troubling, though, how little studying and how much internet surfing I do. But that's a story for a different day...

Anyway... so it's Wednesday, and I'm home. About halfway through "The View" (don't judge - there's very little good TV on during the day, and Whoopi is funny) I hear Lilly just barking her little heart out in the backyard. Generally, when she does that I can just yell at her from inside the house and she'll be quiet.

Not today. When she wouldn't shut up after about eight or nine rounds of "LILLY!!! BE QUIET!" I figured it was time for me to go out and investigate.

Apparently we had an intruder in our backyard, and Lilly was making sure I knew it. I look over near the fence, where Lilly is barking and jumping like there's no tomorrow, and I see a big fat turtle. Poor little guy. He was tucked into his shell (clearly trying to escape the wrath of the big, bad chocolate lab), and he wouldn't move until Lilly moved to the other side of the yard. After deciding that he looked like a Timmy, I set him about 10 feet outside our fence, wished him well, and went back inside.

About 30 minutes later, Lilly's making a fuss again, so I go outside and see that Timmy has found his way back inside the fence. I'm kind of pissed at this point, because it means I have to pick up the freaking turtle again, and, quite frankly, it freaks me out. This time I walk five houses down and plop him at the edge of the sidewalk there, figuring I'd be rid of him.

But of course, about an hour later, Lilly starts barking like crazy again, and I go back outside, expecting that turtle, who I'm now convinced is equipped with some sort of GPS device that somehow keeps directing him to my backyard, to be sitting by the fence again. I don't see him, but Lilly's barking at the gate so I open it up to see what might be bothering her.

Big mistake.

One of the neighbor's dogs has gotten out of his fence and found his way to our yard (are we emitting some sort of silent signal beckoning the domestic and wild animals of the neighborhood to come visit us??). Lilly sees the dog and takes off down the street, following him. I try to call her, but she's having none of that, running at full speed in pursuit of the other dog.

So I take off running, too, in my pajamas down the street, screaming after Lilly, hoping she doesn't dive in front of a car, and wishing I had put some shoes on before I went outside. After about a 70-yard dash, I finally catch up to Lilly, call her to me, and she miraculously comes. I grab her by her collar, furious with her, and walk back to the house.

We get back inside the fence, where I accidentally stepped in a big pile of Lilly's poop, and I see the freaking turtle sitting in the middle of the yard. No joke.

And that has been my day so far. I've apparently got a puppy who attracts turtles, and I'm still out of breath from the chase. Maybe it's nap time?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Do you want to make $1.50 on some lotion?

You're in luck! Walgreens has a special this month on Vaseline Sheer Infusion Lotion. Buy it at $6.99, get $6.99 in register rewards to use on a subseqent purchase (register rewards basically work like a Walgreens gift card, only it's just a piece of paper that prints out with your receipt after the transaction).

PLUS, if you use a $1.50 coupon (get it and print it here), you can actually MAKE $1.50 on this lotion! (The coupon may require you to install a coupon printer. Don't worry - it just takes a second and won't interfere with your computer in any way).

Just thought I'd pass the knowledge along. I got mine yesterday, and I love it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For my very best friend...

I hope each and every one of you has a "Lauren" in your life. I hope you have a person who you can depend upon no matter what. A person you know will pick up the phone when you call. Someone you know would go anywhere or do anything for you without hesitation. I certainly do, and I can say with some certainty that my life just wouldn't be the same without her.

Lauren has been my best friend since seventh grade, but we actually met in fourth grade. We both went to Birmingham Elementary School in Wylie, and we honestly just didn't click. She was sassy and a bit of a bully, and I was awkward and a bit of a weenie. But she moved away from Wylie and out to Josephine when we were in sixth grade, and I really didn't think about her again until my parents announced in the middle of my seventh grade year that we would also be moving to Josephine. It's so funny when I think back to that time because I remember thinking that I didn't like her much, but I knew I would hang out with her anyway because she was the only person I knew there and because she was popular and could introduce me to everyone. I'm so shallow, I know.

As fate would have it, she ended up becoming my very best friend in the world. Once I moved to Josephine, we were inseparable. I'm pretty sure I spent more time at her house during middle school and high school than I did my own. We spent countless hours gossiping about boys, wrapping houses, playing basketball, making prank calls, riding horses, making video diaries, listening to music, drinking Dr. Thunder, and just figuring out life together.

And when I think back to the most significant moments in my life, Lauren was there by my side. Screaming "I love you, Ry-Ry" during my valedictorian speech at our high school graduation. Holding my hand and crying with me when my parents divorced. Watching from a distance as Micah proposed. Toasting to us at the wedding. And I know she'll be right there when Micah and I have our first baby.

That's actually what's made me think of all this. No... Micah and I are definitely NOT having a baby yet. But Lauren and Eric are!!! And I just couldn't be happier. I've watched her grow up and become the most amazing person - a loving wife and mother that I am proud to know. I watched her lose her Mom and hold it together for her sisters, for her little boy. I know how strong she is, and I know that she deserves every good thing this world has to offer.

So congratulations, Lauren! I'm so happy for you guys, and I love you more than I can say.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another "Wednesday Letter"

"I remember, trying not to stare the night that I first met you. You had me mesmerized."
- Brad Paisley, "Then"

Micah Lee,

Do you know how often I think back to the night I first met you? The images come to my mind like a photograph. It was 1998, and I was standing in the sanctuary at the First Baptist Church of Josephine. I still went to Wylie schools, but my parents were moving us out to the country and thought going to church in Josephine would help me get to know everyone. I had no idea I'd end up meeting my future husband there in that small church.

It was the last night of vacation bible school, and I was too old to participate. So I sat with Lauren, the only person I knew there, in the sanctuary, just watching the bible schoolers sing and dance. You were standing there on stage... holding a puppet and singing along with everyone else. You were SO cute. I'm pretty sure you stole a small piece of my heart there in that moment. I leaned over and asked Lauren who you were. She told me you were just a sixth grader, and I was a little disappointed that you were younger than me.

But the crush developed anyway. How could I help myself? Your blue eyes truly were mesmerizing, and I loved how quiet and shy you were. I loved how you stood up on that stage and captivated me. You and that puppet.

I couldn't know in that moment that you would stand on that same stage, ten years later, and captivate me once again. That I would walk down the aisle in a white dress, holding my Daddy's hand, and see nothing but your face. Our wedding day is such a blur to me, but I will always remember that moment, seeing your face as I walked down the aisle. I'll remember looking at you and wondering how I got so lucky, wondering why in the world the adorable boy with the puppet picked me.

Love,
Ryan



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Small Blessings...

Today has just been one of those days. Despite my best efforts, my optimism and good cheer have just fizzled away throughout the day, and at this point I'm just feeling... ugh. So I've decided that I'd take my friend Kristen's approach to days like these and list five things I'm thankful for. :)

1) My late class is canceled tonight, and instead of learning about patent prosecution I get to go play racquetball with one my favorites. :)

2) I've got an ice cold Diet Coke sitting on the desk in front of me.

3) Micah's parents are coming into town this weekend, and I know we'll have a great time.

4) Micah and I are REALLY REALLY enjoying going through "The Love Dare" and will be doing "Day 9" tonight. :)

5) I had a great run with Lilly Bell yesterday and have decided that I'm going to run more often. :)

Wow. I actually do feel better. The Lord is gracious. :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

College Football and The Love Dare

Posts have been a bit sporadic and random lately, I know. This one is no exception. Two things I wanted to write about.

First ... College Football
I didn't really have the typical college experience. I went to UT Dallas for undergrad. Although UT Dallas is very strong academically, it has typically been known as a "commuter school" with little to offer to those wishing to have the typically social college experience.

The school is doing its best to shake that image off, though. There is a RIDICULOUS amount of construction going on right now, including new dorms, a dining hall, a new student center. And I think these things will help.

But I also think there is one HUGE thing that is missing. Something the school has indicated it has no intention of changing anytime soon.

A football team.

UT Dallas currently has no football team. As far as competitive undertakings go, its claim to fame is its nationally acclaimed chess team (I'm so not kidding). For homecoming, students attended a soccer game (again... not kidding).

And as a result, I don't have any memories of sitting in the stands at UT Dallas, rooting for my fellow classmates and indulging my competitive nature. No crazy nights of painting my face orange and green (yes, those are UT Dallas's colors) and yelling "Whoosh! Go Comets!!!!!!" (Again... I'm so serious. At freshman orientation they tried to convince us that everyone walked around yelling "Whoosh" and doing this very awkward hand motion, which was meant to simulate the path of a comet.)

That's probably why I generally have ZERO interest in watching college football. Or why I feel NO loyalty to any Texas team. If I'm forced to watch a college game, I might root for one team during the first half and then switch to the other team for the second half. Or I'll just get excited when there's a good play by either team. That's so dorky, I know. And SUCH a foreign concept to my friends from A&M or UT.

But oh well. I blame UT Dallas for my lack of enthusiasm. Maybe someday we'll get a college team, and I can retroactively become a college football fan.

Second ... The Love Dare
On a COMPLETELY unrelated note... Micah and I were browsing through Barnes and Noble yesterday (cute, right?). I wanted a new book to read, and Micah was just looking at all the random books they had on the most obscure and uninteresting topics. For example, they had one that was titled "How to Clean Your House." Ummm.... seriously??

But I found one book in the Christianity section called "The Love Dare." I picked it up to see what it was, and I discovered that it was meant to be a 40-day journey for married couples. I'm pretty sure it was in the movie "Fireproof" for those of you who saw it (we never did, although it's currently sitting in my Netflix queue).

According to the book's website, "[t]he Love Dare personally leads you through daily devotionals, records your thoughts and experiences, and ends each day daring you to perform a simple act of love for your spouse. This 40-Day journey equips you to melt hardened, separated hearts into an enduring love that can withstand the flames of fear, pride and temptation. The Love Dare book will help you reinforce and enrich your marriage, earn back a love you thought was lost, and hear more about the One who not only designed unconditional, sacrificial love—He illustrated it."

First, let me make this clear. Micah and I are doing WONDERFULLY! No big marriage issues or anything. And we're both completely happy.

But... we never did pre-marriage counseling with a pastor before we got married (something I really, really wanted to do). So I thought that maybe going through the book together could sort of be like a post-marriage, pre-marriage counseling session for us. :)

Anyway, just wanted to check and see if anyone knows anything about the book. We went ahead and bought it and will probably start reading it together tonight (after our bible study time). I'll let you know what we think. :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yummy Dinner Idea

I made this recipe the other night, and I just had to share because it was SO good! It's a chicken and pasta dish with a cheesy, creamy, spicy sauce. And it was SO easy to make!! Plus, if you can get a good deal on chicken (HEB has chicken breast on sale this week), it's very inexpensive.

South of the Border Chicken and Pasta Skillet

2 cups pasta, uncooked (I used farfalle - the bowtie pasta)
2 skinless chicken breasts, halved (I cut the chicken up into bite sized pieces)
16 oz salsa (I just used Pace Original Salsa because it was on sale)
10 oz frozen corn, unthawed
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used more because I LOVE cheese!)

Cook pasta as directed.

Meanwhile, cook and stir chicken in non stick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on
med-high heat 6 minutes, or until done. Add salsa, corn, cream cheese, and cumin. Simmer
on med-low heat 6 min. or until corn is heated through and cream cheese is melted, stirring
occasionally.

Drain pasta, add to skillet with half the shredded cheese. Simmer 3 minutes or until heated
through. Top with remaining shredded cheese; cover. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes
or until cheese is melted.

And enjoy! This was enough for four very large servings.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Drama Drama Drama...

If you haven't heard about the Taylor Swift/Kanye West drama, you clearly don't follow entertainment gossip like I do. But it's okay. I'll fill you in.

Last night at the MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift and Beyonce (among others) were both up for Female Video of the Year. Taylor won (yay!), and as she began her acceptance speech Kanye West randomly jumped up on stage, stole her microphone, and began to tell everyone how Beyonce's video was one of the best videos of all time. Everyone in the ausdience just seemed kind of flabbergasted, and poor Taylor looked lost. She didn't have any time to thank anyone, and MTV cut to commercial. Google it, and I'm sure you can find a YouTube video showing just how jerky Kanye was. The media has been all over the whole debacle, and Kanye has since issued two very generic and halfhearted apologies.

The whole thing just got me thinking a little bit.

Why in the WORLD did Kanye think we cared about his opinion?? Why is what he thinks about who should have won even relevant?

I think that people like Kanye West honestly believe that, by sharing their unsolicited opinions, they're making the world a better place. And that BLOWS my mind.

Surprise, surprise... I'm a positive person. But this isn't about me thinking everyone should see the world through rose-colored glasses.

It's about two things.

First, if I don't ask you for your opinion about me or my life (or about those that I care about), you shouldn't direct your negative thoughts in my direction. And honestly, I can say with some certainty that the rest of the world doesn't care what you think either.

Second, there's an approriate time and place and manner. I completely agree that celebrities put themselves out to the public, and that a certain amount of criticism comes with the territory. I'm sure Taylor Swift understands that, too. But Kanye West should have tweeted about it... or blogged about it... or texted his friends about it. He should have stolen that moment from her. It wasn't his right to take that away from her.

I know I sound uncharacteristically sassy. I just think that we all know people who offer their unsolicited, negative opinions about us or our families or our jobs or our life decisions. And I think it's time they stop.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dinner this week...

I'm going to go ahead and post our meals for the week. I'm thinking that if I put it out there in cyberspace, I'll hold myself accountable!

Sunday
Lunch:
Homemade pizza with lettuce wedge and homemade ranch dressing
Dinner: Leftover biscuits and gravy

Monday: Tender pork roast and mashed potatoes
Tuesday: Hot dogs and chips w/ guacamole
Wednesday: Chicken and pasta skillet meal
Thursday: Micah's choice (I've got class until late and can't cook)
Friday: Eat out!

Saturday
Lunch:
BLT's
Dinner: Pork Tacos

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A few shopping tips...



If you can make it to a Kroger this week, they're having some great deals!

They've got value packs of boneless skinless chicken breast on sale for $1.99/lb. Plus, their Kroger brand shredded cheese and sour cream is on sale for $1 each. Also, Minute Maid lemonade is on sale for $1.

Micah and I also saw that their big bags of Kingsford charcoal were marked down from $10.99 to around $5.99.

I ended up getting a whole basket of groceries this week for $59! That's including two value packs of chicken, pork chops, and lots of fresh produce!

Also, Micah and I get the Houston Chronicle on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and there was a great coupon in Friday's paper for $10 off a $50 purchase. That'd make your deals even sweeter!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Fruit Tip...

Have you ever eaten one of these??

Nope. It's not a cantaloupe. It's called an Israeli Melon.

And it's DELICIOUS!

I'd never heard of them until I started dating Micah. But Micah's dad grows them in his garden and asked me to try one. So I did, and I was BLOWN away.

I've always been a fan of cantaloupe, but Israeli Melon blows cantaloupe out of the water. It makes cantaloupe taste like dried out, bitter mush (yes it's THAT good.)

It's got the same kind of consistency as a cantaloupe, but the flesh is cream-colored, and it tastes almost like pure sugar. I'm sure the fact that they're home-grown doesn't hurt, but they're so juicy, you can't eat one without getting juice all over your face, hands, and hair (well, maybe only if your hair is as long as mine. When your hair is this long, EVERYTHING gets in it).

When we went home for Labor Day weekend, Micah's dad sent us home with a box full (to my absolute delight), so we've been eating it all week, and it makes me SO happy. So I thought I'd just pass the happiness along. I'm not even sure where you can buy them, but if you EVER see Israeli melon for sale at the grocery store or at a fruit stand, stop and buy some. SO worth the money. :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Message for Me

Can I just tell you the 5,678,231th reason that I know there is a loving God who loves and cares for me? A God who has a plan for my life and is leading me, despite my best efforts to live life on my own terms?

Here's the story.

I should start out by telling you a little bit about what's going on in my world right now. I interned with two law firms this summer and fully expected to get permanent offers of employment from both firms, which would mean that I'd pick between the two firms and begin working for one of them as soon as I graduated and took the bar.

However, in light of all of the economic woes of late, one of my firms (and many others have done the same with their interns) told me that they would be unable to extend an offer to me. I'm still waiting to hear from the other firm, but I won't be surprised at all if they don't extend an offer either. There really just isn't enough legal work to go around the market right now, and firms don't have enough cases to keep their attorneys busy.

I hadn't really given much thought to what I'd do if I didn't get a job from one of the firms I worked for this summer. Before this summer, summer interns were basically guaranteed jobs unless they had some sort of social mishap or turned in really crappy work (I did neither, by the way :)). And I didn't really have a backup plan.

The past few weeks, after hearing bad news from the first firm and expecting bad news from the second firm, I've felt kind of lost. Really lost, actually. I've second-guessed a lot of choices I've made, and I've been unsure of the Lord's path for me. I've been doing anything and everything I can think of to try to make something good happen for me--applying to other law firms, applying to clerk for a judge after graduation, etc. The frenzy of activity was consuming me, and I really couldn't think about anything else.

Fast forward to this weekend.

Micah and I went home to Josephine for Labor Day weekend. I had actually asked Micah if we could go home another weekend because both of my parents and my grandparents were going to be out of town and I wouldn't get to see them. But his grandma is sick, and he wanted to come home and visit with her, and nothing I could say or do persuaded him to put off the trip another few weeks.

So we went. We sat in HORRIBLE traffic on the way down, but we finally made it to Micah's parents' house on Friday night around 10:30. I visited with my sister-in-law and my best friend Saturday afternoon, and we ate dinner with his parents that night. After dinner, Micah went dove hunting with my brother (and killed two innocent birds, I should add), and I had a quiet night at his parents house, enjoying a long bath and a good book.

On Sunday morning, we got up to get ready for church. His dad was speaking at another church that morning, so Micah and I had to decide whether we wanted to go with his parents, or whether we wanted to go to our home church in Josephine. I originally thought we might go to church with his parents, but changed my mind at the last minute, thinking I might get to see some of my family at church.

We made it to church, and very little of my family was there (except Kim! So good to see you!). But we sat down anyway and prepared to enjoy some good gospel singing and preaching.

Little did I know that God had much more in store for me.

Our pastor began his sermon with a disclaimer, letting us know that he had originally prepared a different sermon, but that in his quiet time that morning, God had laid a different message on his heart.

He started out by reading Jeremiah, Chapter 1, telling us Jeremiah's story. Telling us how God had called Jeremiah to be a prophet and speak a difficult message to Judah and how reluctant Jeremiah was to fulfill that role. He told us about how God has called us ALL for a purpose. A very specific purpose. And that God has gifted us all in specific ways to fulfill those purposes. He also told us that we should be listening for God's direction in our lives. And that even if we think we're headed in one direction, we need to be ready and willing to follow God in another direction. That we should be willing to say to the Lord: "Here am I. Send me."

I sat in my pew, tears streaming down my face, feeling the Lord speak.

To ME. To Ryan Hargrave. To the girl who thought she had life all figured out and fell to pieces a little at the first sign that things weren't going according to plan.

It was the most beautiful, terrifying feeling. I know beyond any doubt that sermon was meant for me. That God called me to Dallas, to First Baptist Josephine to hear His message. And I heard Him LOUD and CLEAR.

I need to stop.

Stop doing.

Stop worrying.

Stop wondering.

I need to LISTEN. I need to be quiet and hear the Lord's still and quiet voice.

I need to look for the doors which the Lord has opened for me, and I need to stop trying to force my way through the ones He has locked.

I also need to be willing to be sent. Wherever He leads me.

And I felt convicted for having jealously guarded control of my life, when I should have been surrendering to the Lord's will. Hence all of the tears. I'm sure my pastor thought I was having some sort of a breakdown in my pew. And I guess, in a way, I kind of was.

Sorry this is so long... I just wanted to share the Lord's message with you. Maybe you're wondering where the Lord is leading you. Maybe things aren't going quite according to your plans.

Maybe you need to say these words with me: "Here am I. Send me."



Monday, August 31, 2009

Goldilocks

I've been trying out new pillows the past few months, and I feel like the pickiest woman in the world (which I'm totally not) because it's been impossible to find one that didn't give me a neckache in the morning.

I'd been sleeping on a pretty crappy pillow since we moved into this house. Micah had bought me a Tempur-Pedic Swedish Neck Pillow for my birthday last year, but it just didn't work for me because I'm not a consistent sleeper. I start out on my side, so the neck pillow felt GREAT at first! But in the middle of the night, I switch to sleeping on my stomach, and the neck pillow does NOT work well for stomach sleepers.

So I thought a feather pillow would be perfect.

First, I tried a mid-grade feather pillow. It was waaaaaay too soft. My head went straight through the pillow to the bed, so the pillow seemed fairly useless.

Next, I went for a nicer feather pillow. It was waaaaay too hard(you're understanding the title of my blog post now, right? ;)). I felt like I was sleeping on a brick.

I then decided that I'd try another Tempur-Pedic pillow. I chose the SymphonyPillow, which is supposed to suit all different kinds of sleepers because one side is akin to a standard pillow, (better for side sleepers) and the other is slightly arched (better for back sleepers). It took forever to find one, but it finally came in, and I was supremely disappointed. The foam wasn't soft at ALL! And the elevation was not good at all for stomach sleepers.

After all that searching, I was worried I'd NEVER find a pillow I liked. But I FINALLY found a winner.


The Tempur-Pedic ComfortPillow. It's OH so soft, but firm enough to support my neck. It doesn't have the traditional foam in it. The pillow almost feels FLUID because the little "microcushions" (as TempurPedic calls them) are independently moveable, but you can't feel the individual pieces. It's amazing. I've slept really well the past few nights.

So... Goldilocks finally found a pillow that was JUST RIGHT! Thank goodness... all that shopping was driving me crazy!

Recipe Time!

I found this recipe on a friend of a friend's blog, and I'm excited to share it with you because it was SOOOOOO good and ridiculously easy. Perfect thing for a Sunday afternoon meal.

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed)
2 cups sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package dried onion soup
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the chicken in the bottom of a Crock Pot. Mix all other ingredients together and pour on top of chicken. Heat in Crock Pot for 8-10 hours. When the chicken gets soft, break it up a little. Serve over rice.

Now, the recipe didn't specify whether to heat on high or low, so I cooked it on high for around 8 hours, just to be safe, and it was perfect.

Definitely don't skip the rice, because that was the best part - pouring the extra sauce all over the rice. It would probably be REALLY good served with some caramelized onions or mushrooms on top (thanks for the suggestion, Lauren!). We just did the chicken and rice, and then I roasted some asparagus, which was a yummy combination.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just a few words of wisdom... not mine

Earlier this summer, my stepmom recommended that I read Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon. With work and moving back to Dallas, I didn't get around to it until last week. But I'm SOOO glad I finally read it.

It's a very moving story about a preacher's journey home after he'd been away for 38 years. I definitely recommend it. But I really wanted to just post a few quotes from the book that stuck out at me and made me think.

First, a quote from Dwight Moody.
"Character is what you are in the dark."
Isn't that clever? I mean, it's SO easy to be good when everyone's watching. It's much harder to do the right thing when no one is there to give you credit for your good decisions or to condemn you for your bad ones. Just something to think about

Second, a very eloquent way of looking at the existence of God.
"Let us weigh the gain and the loss, wagering that God is. Consider these alternatives--if you win, you win all. If you lose, you lose nothing. Do not hesitate, then, to wager that he is."
I love that. I have every faith that there is a loving God who died for me on a cross and whose grace allows me to live a full and satisfying life. But, even if there isn't, I've lost nothing by making my life one of peace and love and forgiveness. And those who don't believe are risking eternal life. I'd bet on my odds over theirs any day.

Lastly, a numerical representation of the wonder of love.
"There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one."
This is SO SO SO true. My life is two thousand times better with Micah in it than it would be without him.

Hope you guys are having a great week, and God bless. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Birthday in San Antonio

I turned 24 on Saturday (yay!), and, to celebrate, Micah and I spent the weekend in San Antonio. We both went when we were kids, but neither of us remember the experience very well. And since I'd spent the past three weeks sitting around doing NOTHING, I wanted to do all the typical touristy stuff while we were there. Here's a rundown of our vacation... and a few pics. :)

Friday
After a teary farewell to Lilly at the doggie hotel, we left Houston around 12:30 and got to San Antonio around 4:00 or so. We checked into our hotel, the Crowne Royal Plaza just north of the Riverwalk, unloaded our stuff, and headed down to the Riverwalk to explore. I loved the Riverwalk, although I'm sure it's MUCH more enjoyable when it isn't 100 degrees outside. I just love water. Period. So we paid for a boatride tour of the Riverwalk, which I think was WELL worth the money. I loved hearing all the historical quirks of the city.

(Random picture of one of the MANY bridges we passed under)

Then we had some Mexican food at the Iron Cactus, which was recommended by the concierge at the hotel. It was pretty good, but I've definitely had better food for cheaper. I'd give it a B+.
After that, I'm ashamed to admit, we came back to the hotel and watched the Cowboys game. Let me rephrase, actually. Micah watched the Cowboys game. I finished reading the last Harry Potter book for the MILLIONTH time. Then we went down to the hotel restaurant and shared some chocolate cake for a late-night (does 9:00 count as late night?) treat.

Saturday
WHEW! Saturday was BUSY! We started out with some Italian food for lunch (which was YUMMY!) and headed to the mall on the Riverwalk, where I made an embarassing purchase. I, Ryan Hargrave, am the owner of a pair of Crocs. You probably can't appreciate the enormity of this revelation. Let's just say that I DETEST Crocs. I absolutely and completely abhor them. But I needed SOMETHING to wear to Schlitterbahn the next day, and I draw the line at watershoes. I just can't do it. So Crocs were the only reasonable alternative. Here's me, a little freaked out that I had just spent $30 on the most detestable shoes on the planet.Anyway, I digress. We bought the awful shoes and went to the IMAX theater to see "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure" in 3D. Can I just say how AWESOME the IMAX theater is?!? Especially with these cool 3D glasses, which make you feel like sharks are swimming at your face. I definitely jumped back in my seat a few dozen times throughout the movie.



Naturally, we also made a trip to see the Alamo. That was DEFINITELY worth our time. It felt very humbling to be there, and I teared up more than a few times. I'm sure you all know what the Alamo looks like, so I won't post pictures.

After the Alamo, we headed to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, which purported to offer an "African Safari in Texas." Honestly, we weren't disappointed. There were giraffes, zebras, elk, deer, rhinos, ostriches, antelope, and several other kinds of animals I can't remember. The animals roamed free throughout the ranch, so they'd come up to your car and look right in your window. I fed an elk out of my hand (which I wasn't TECHNICALLY supposed to do, but oh well), and we took a ridiculous amount of pictures. Here's one of some really adorable zebras. :)

The tour ended with a petting zoo, which really just had a few baby goats. This guy wanted NOTHING to do with the food in my hand. He went after the whole bag, and I was apparently a little freaked out. :)



After the wildlife ranch, we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner. It's kind of a tradition for Micah to take me to Benihana for my birthday. He took me there for my birthday on one of our very first dates, and we try to go back when we can. So we went to Benihana on Saturday night. It was SOOOOOO good. Plus we told them it was my birthday, and they brought out some REALLY yummy orange sorbet and did the whole birthday song routine. Always fun. :) Like the night before, we headed to bed early. Although that was definitely a smart move considering our plans for Sunday.

Sunday
On Sunday morning, we got up and headed to Schlitterbahn, a waterpark in New Braunfels (about 30 miles northeast of San Antonio). I hadn't been to a waterpark in YEARS, and I was SOOOOO excited. It definitely did NOT disappoint. Most of the rides were SOOO fun, and the lines weren't bad at all. I got flipped out of my inner tube about a billion times, and I'm pretty sure a substantial number of people saw me lose my swimsuit bottoms. Almost lost the Crocs a few times (although, clearly, I wouldn't have been terribly disppointed about the loss). We didn't get any pictures, though, because I didn't feel like carrying around my waterproof camera.
Although I generally don't feel older after birthdays, I was definitely feeling my age this morning when I woke up to some VERY sore arms and legs. All that flailing about must have taken its toll on my aging body. :)
Sunday night we headed to another Mexican restaurant on the riverwalk. The chips and salsa were GREAT, but the cheese enchiladas we ordered were AWFUL. The tortillas were stale, the chili sauce was definitely off, and it was barely lukewarm. Oh well. It gave us an excuse to grab some dessert afterward: Haagen Daaz ice cream!
After dessert, we headed back to the hotel and hit the sack. That sun wiped us OUT.

And then we headed home this morning. I had a GREAT time in San Antonio, but it was nice to be back. I definitely missed my comfy bed and my adorable puppy. Judging by the reception we got at the doggie hotel, she missed me too, but she definitely missed Micah most. Look at her giving ALL my love away.


So there's a (long) summary of my little mini-vacation. I had a BLAST, and it was just what I needed to get motivated to start school tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm officially a coupon-er

I've been getting into shopping with coupons. Yes, I am the annoying one at the checkout counter with seventy million coupons taking up your precious time. But I'm also saving precious money, and I'm pretty sure that's more important. :)

I've been reading this blog, which posts really great deals! She had a few great ideas for Target this week, and I took advantage.

Here is everything I bought today.


Guess how much I spent on all of it?

$5.41.

And I could have actually gotten it for $3.41, but I accidentally left two $1 coupons at home.

And it doesn't take much time or effort to save all that money. Apparently, there is a KILLING to be made at CVS, and I'm starting to figure all that out too. I'll try to remember to post my finds here. :)

My "Wednesday" Letter

I've been writing Micah a love letter every Monday for about the past month. (I explained why here.) So far, I've been pretty diligent about remembering every week. Every Monday night Micah comes home to a letter on his desk, usually handwritten and sealed in an envelope. This past Monday, things got hectic with school stuff and us buying the truck, and I didn't get to write his letter. Yesterday was similarly busy, and last night we had to go BACK to the dealership to get his temporary license plates.

So here I am, on Wednesday, and he still doesn't have his letter. I think it worked out perfectly, though, because today is the seven year anniversary of the day we started dating. When I agreed to be Micah's girlfriend on August 19, 2002, I had no idea that I was making one of the most profound decisions of my life. I had no idea that seven years later, I'd be married to the love of my life and writing him this "Wednesday Letter."

Micah Lee -

I remember the day you called me, out of the blue, like it was yesterday. It was the summer before my senior year in high school, and I was sitting on my bed next to Courtney Morris, and the phone rang. She answered it, and her mouth dropped open in shock. She handed the phone to me and silently mouthed "It's Micah."

It was honestly one of the most shocking moments of my life. I hadn't spoken to you in a really long time, still bitter about you breaking my heart my freshman year. We still went to church together, but you were so very quiet, and you had just gotten out of a relationship. I had actually kind of forgotten about you. Plus I had a boyfriend, and I just couldn't believe you'd have the nerve to call me knowing he might be there with me. But you did. You asked me if I ever thought about you, and because I'm honest to a fault, I told you that I really didn't.

But you were on a mission. And you called me the next day. And the next. Until you became one of my favorite people to be around, and I wondered how I could feel so strongly about someone when I already had a boyfriend I was supposed to be crazy about. And then my relationship fell apart, and you were there to pick up the pieces, and I started to realize that I couldn't live without you.

And on August 19, 2002 you asked me to be your girlfriend when we were driving around on backroads in your old white Chevy. And I said yes.

It wasn't long before we were saying "I love you" and making plans for the future. Plans I'm sure no one thought we'd ever follow through with because we were just kids and because high school sweethearts almost never last. Almost never.

Now it's seven years later, and I'm sitting in the house we own together, wearing the ring you put on my finger eight months ago, writing you a letter. I just wanted to remind you of that wonderful day and how happy I am that you called me. It was the beginning of my very favorite love story. Ours.

Love,
Ryan




Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Impulse Purchase...

Micah's been whining about this vibration in his truck for awhile now. And he also hated that it wasn't a full crew cab, just a cab and a half. Plus, his power steering fluid was leaking, which was going to cost between $400 and $500 to fix. AND, since this economy presents the perfect opportunity to get a great deal from desperate car dealers, he's been looking around at trucks on the internet.

He found one he wanted to go check out. "Just to look," he told me. I was kind of surprised that it was a Chevy, since he's been driving a Ford for the past three years. But I was secretly excited because he drove a Chevy when we started dating, and I'm definitely a Chevy truck girl (even though I drive a silly Ford).

We get there to check it out, and it's love at first sight. Micah couldn't stop grinning, and I was actually pretty impressed, too. It's clean as a whistle, the engine looks great, and it's decked out on the inside -- the nicest truck model Chevy makes. The price looks good, but it's still too much for us. So I say as much to the dealer, and he tells us that he'll make us a deal.

So we go inside and negotiate (my skills as a law student came in handy, I think). After the salesman makes about three trips back and forth from his manager's office, we finally get them down to payments we can afford (not much more than Micah had been paying before) and a lower interest rate than what Micah had on his other truck.

And then we signed the papers and became the owners of this pretty truck!


It's a 2007, and it's SO pretty. Check out the inside. Pretty snazzy for a Chevy. :)



And it's definitely got the comfiest seats of all the trucks Micah's had (four and counting :)).

We've GOT to stop making impulse purchases, though. This past year, we have bought a new TV, a very expensive mattress, and now this truck. I'm pretty sure that's going to have to be it for 2009. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Something sweet...


One of my very favorite things to do is to bake. Almost every Sunday, after Micah and I get home from church, I get the urge to get out my KitchenAid mixer and bake something sweet. Today it was a homemade chocolate chip cookie cake with homemade buttercream frosting. (And let me tell you, the frosting is perfection. I could drink it, but I resist the urge.)

I'm not sure why I prefer baking to cooking. Or why I get ridiculously happy when I get to refill all of my baking canisters with fresh flour and sugar.

But I'm pretty sure it's in my genes. My aunts and grandma are bakers, too. They can make some of the most delicious desserts imaginable, and even when I was little I recognized the pure joy they got from baking yummy goodies and watching everyone scoop their creations up at family gatherings. Before I got married, I could get by at holidays by just bring something simple, like fruit salad, or nothing at all. Now that I'm practically a grown up, it looks like the pressure's on for me to keep up the tradition.

So look out everyone! I'll be trying my hand at a yummy treat this Thanksgiving. But no pies. I don't really like pie. :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Like Mother, Like... Puppy??

If you had seen me anytime during my childhood, you would have noticed two things right away: (1) I sucked my thumb with no shame and (2) I carried a raggedy, white blankie everywhere I went.


I eventually quit sucking my thumb (thank goodness!), but I carried that blanket until the satin lining was all that was all that remained. I'm pretty sure my mom still has the lining somewhere. :)

So when I came home after spending the summer in Dallas and away from Micah and Lilly to find that Lilly had taken a liking to an old blanket we had lying around, I thought it was hilarious. This dog LOOOOVES her blankie. She carries it everywhere. She sleeps on it. She plays with it.

And the wear and tear is starting to show. But I'm pretty sure I'll let her play with until she tears it to pieces. It's just too cute.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I have the BEST husband...

Since I'm not doing anything during the next three weeks before school starts, I get to sleep in every day. It's glorious! Today was even better, though, because Micah left me this note before he left for work.


Isn't he wonderful??

Super-Dog

So one of Micah's favorite thing to do with Lilly is play frisbee. We bought one at target a few weeks back and made the mistake of letting Lilly "play" with it. (In other words, she demolished it in less than 10 minutes). So we bought another one and keep it out of her reach when we're not playing with it. So I thought I'd share a little video of my amazing puppy (and a couple of pictures, as well). :)

It normally takes her a few minutes to get warmed up, but then she's pretty good and catches almost everything.




After we came inside... she just wanted to REST! :)

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