Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good Gifts

I love good gifts. I love giving good gifts, and I love receiving good gifts.

I love it when I think of the PERFECT thing to pass on to someone - the gift fits their personality, it might be something they have mentioned in passing that I quickly wrote down in my planner to not forget about, something they've needed for forever, something they've wanted for forever, something that is just right. Joy!

I love it when I receive gifts which make very evident how much the giver of the gift thought of me, paid attention to my likes/dislikes, proved they know me well, wanted something special and just right for me.

The picture above is of a SPAM coffee mug my good friends, Tony and Amy, gave to me. They know me well. 1) I love SPAM. I would call it my favorite food, but I'm trying to be healthy, so it is my all-time favorite unhealthy food - that I hardly ever, ever eat. 2) I love coffee. 3) I collect coffee mugs. 4) I like simple design without frills - the mug is simple and to the point. This mug is delightful. It is a good gift.

Our friend, Erik, gave us a gift full of coffee mugs, Caribou and iTunes gift cards. Great gifts. My wonderful friend, Kristin, just gave me a great book I had been wanting badly and an awesome scarf from Israel. Love, love both. She knows me well too, and is a great all-around gift giver.

James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.

Throughout my life, a few of my favorite, good and perfect gifts, sent from above, are... (in random order)
  • Christ living in me - This includes a huge load of things.
  • Mark - This includes quite a few things, too.
  • 27 hard years of singleness - I learned a lot about depending on the Lord.
  • 3 difficult years in full-time church ministry (fresh out of college) - I learned what the Spirit's voice sounds like.
  • 2 fantastic families - My family is awesome, and despite what people say, in-laws are great too.
  • A small handful of really Godly girlfriends - I heart deep conversation.
  • A ministry-sort of income - Plenty, but not so much that I get really hung up on storing up treasures here.
  • Artistic and musical sorts of gifts - There's tons and tons of joy in doing the things you love to do for the Lord.
  • Health - My dad's struggle with MS and my bout with migraines makes me all the more thankful for this gift.
  • My wedding ring - It is pretty cool looking.
There are so many more - just a handful of my favorites today. Though gifts are good and wonderful, the Giver of the gifts is even better. He is so, so good.

Engaged - A Year Ago!

One more anniversary, and then I promise I'll drop the issue until October! One year ago, we got engaged! Woo hoo! Here are some fun memories...

Mark had enlisted my best friend, Alisha, to scout out my ring preferences. She lied to me one summer day, told me we needed to go to the mall to have her sister's wedding ring cleaned, and conned me into browsing through fun rings while we waited for the "cleaning". Behind the scenes, Mark had talked to the lady at the jewelry store and told her we'd be coming in. She knew all the right questions to ask me and passed on all the information to Mark. The above photo is what Mark wrote out for Alisha to figure out. Did I want a solitaire? Add-ons? Jackets? Yikes. All that stuff is still Greek to me, but Mark knew it all forwards and backwards!

One year ago was the special day! Mark sent me on a scavenger hunt that covered all of our "firsts." Here's a list of all of the stops he planned for me.

To get me on the scavenger hunt, Mark told me we'd be heading to the Twin Cities to spend time with his friends and go to Valley Fair. We DID end up going, just a day late. To convince me that we were actually leaving on the day he SAID we'd be leaving...and because he knows I am one smart and observant cookie...he "fake" packed. If we would have left without his duffle bag, I would've known something was up!

This is the list of bible verses at the last stop in the scavenger hunt that I had to read. By the time I read the Ephesians 5 passage about husbands loving wives, I knew what I was in for. :)

I've been wearing this pretty baby for a whole year now! Craziness. I know I am a little biased, but I really do think my ring is the best one ever. Sorry, folks.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Over our vacation, Mark and I ate at the Green Mill in Duluth. I love Green Mills! Mark had an awesome buffalo chicken pizza that I was determined to recreate at home. This was my first try, and my only regret was not getting the crust crispier. For some reason, I can't get a crispy crust at home. Does anyone have tips?!

Although this photo might not look crazy appetizing, I promise this pizza is great, and it's crazy easy to make.
  1. Buy a pre-made pizza crust at the grocery store. Mark and I get thin whole wheat ones.
  2. Put a few tablespoons of blue cheese dressing on top of the crust...just enough to cover the crust really lightly, and give the other toppings something to stick to.
  3. Cut up a few cups of cooked chicken breast (use however much you want!)
  4. Mix the chicken breast with some buffalo sauce. I used Frank's Red Hot Wing sauce. Use a few tablespoons, again, based on how spicy and hot you like stuff. If you really like the blue cheese taste, you could also add a little BC dressing to the mix. Dump the chicken/sauce mixture on the pizza and spread it around.
  5. Top with chopped green onions...
  6. Top with cheddar jack cheese...
  7. Top with blue cheese crumbles!
  8. Cook pizza according to the pizza crust instructions.
I'm guessing this is not the healthiest recipe in the world, but it's worth it. Someday, I want to get a bunch of friends together and have a pizza party. Wouldn't it be fun for different people to bring different homemade pizzas? And then swap recipes?? Oh yes. It would be fun.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eight Months!

We've been married eight months! Yikes! To celebrate God's faithfulness in giving us eight months together, here are eight things I appreciate about Mark.

  1. Mark is hot. Yes, he is attractive. But, I'm talking more about his temperature. I am naturally cold - all the time. Mark is naturally hot - all the time. He keeps me warm.
  1. Mark is affectionate. If we are in the car, he always holds my hand. Always. If we are at home, I receive between 57 and 82 little kisses per day.
  1. Mark is a student of Truth and of the Word. A lot of days, I wake up in the morning, come into the living room, and find Mark with a cup of coffee reading his Bible. Over meals, it's not uncommon for him to excitedly tell me about what he's reading and how God's working in his heart.
  1. Mark is a no-frills kind of guy. He doesn't need stylish clothes, a big truck, techy toys or a corporate career to prove his worth. He loves his free t-shirts and jeans. He could LIVE on egg sandwiches, chips, salsa and ice cream with no complaints. He drives a grandma car and doesn't mind, he always chooses ministry over money.
  1. Mark is a runner. He is never content with "the way things are", never happy in a rut, and he's always running ahead, dreaming bigger, wanting more fullness.
  1. Mark is a warrior. He is strong, courageous and bold. He will fight and sacrifice and die over important things.
  1. Mark is an evangelist and discipler. Mark loves, LOVES to tell young guys about Jesus, but he doesn't stop there. He asks them to meet regularly, they grab coffee before the sun comes up, they talk about what it means to follow Jesus and what it means to be a biblical man.
  1. Mark is my husband. ...which makes me a really, really blessed girl.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Camping Dining, From 1-10

Instant Coffee: Negative 4, Hobo Dinners and Spinach Salads: 12, Campfire Popcorn: 1
Post-Hike Ice Cream: 8.5, Peanut Butter S'Mores: 10, Fish Fry at the Bar: 9.5

Vacation III

Pattison State Park! This park was close to our campsite in Amnicon, so we visited for a bit. Check out these crazy waterfalls!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vacation Part 2

On our way to Amnicon State Park for our next camping adventure, we went on a Bear Hunt - through Crux Meadows Wildlife Refuge. There were some black bear sightings there recently, so we thought our chances might be good! We saw geese and some cute little goslings, two swans, pretty flowers and a deer. Hmm.

Unfortunately, this is the only bear we saw.

Next time, we will buy bear bait before we go hunting.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Vacation Part I

St. Croix Falls is beautiful. If you like quaint, artsy, organic, outdoorsy sorts of things, you will love this place. Here are some highlights by our 2-night camping venture there…

Our Campsite! - #25 is the best campsite in the park. Down the staircase, into a cute little cubby in the trees…beyond the trees, the St. Croix River and the sound of a little waterfall…back up the staircase and up the trail a few minutes, well, you end up at Dairy Queen. Score. I recommend the Banana Cream Pie Mini-Blizzard.

The Lucky Cup Coffee Shop – Oh.My.Word. So delightful. There is something about privately-owned coffee shops that make me happy inside. This place stole my heart. Lots of bright colors, vintage frames, local art, lots of repurposed furniture and thrift store finds. I had some freshly brewed darker-than-dark coffee (forget the name of the brew, but it was awesome), and a blueberry scone. Two additional “perks” – the scone was fresh and warm from the oven, and the dish it was served on was a work of art in itself. OH MY, how I want to own a coffee shop someday.

The River – The St. Croix River is beautiful! We saw lots of cliff edges, evergreens, waterfalls…everything looked like a Bob Ross painting. I will let some of these pictures speak for themselves! We hiked on several little trails around the river and went on a canoeing adventure to enjoy some of the scenery. So much fun.

Artsy Details – Cute signs, charming little restaurants and wineries, organic farms on the countryside, whole food stores, cobblestone streets and porch swings. This place had it all.
On to Amnicon State Park!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pheasant Shoot Brochure Design

Here it is! Just finished designing this brochure for the Young Life Pheasant Shoot a few weeks ago. It's my favorite brochure so far! It's a tri-fold, so you'll have to use your imagination a bit to picture it folded. I've just about had it with Microsoft Publisher - pushing its limits to get this look. Adobe software is still on my wish list. :)

Inside flap, back, front

Inside, unfolded
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