Life's great journey is made up of day by day delights.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Farmers Market Morning

In my efforts to build a healthier and happier life for my husband & I, I visited my local farmer's market for the first time this morning. It was a cold but beautiful morning to try something new!

Just a few of the vendors
Apparently there were not as many vendors as there will normally be but even still I loved going! There were several booths with herbs and plants, 100% natural meats, and baked goods. One booth in particular caught my interest and that was M.J.'s Magic Elixir stand. Great name, huh?  The ladies there were so friendly and really knowledgeable about, not only their products, but why their products are better than the ones traditionally sold in stores. They make all natural cleaning supplies which is right up my alley! Their cleaners smell great and work wonderfully! I bought the Disinfectant, Multi-Purpose Cleaner in the Fresh Squeezed Lemon scent. FABOO!!

So why the visit?
1. I want to support local farmers and companies. Whatever happened to that idea, anyway??
2. Most have organic, all natural, good clean items (no pun intended....well kinda)to sell. No icky chemicals for this gal!
3. It's a great way to get know people in your community!
4. What better way to kick off your morning than by taking a walk in the cool morning air?
5. You can find products you may not normally find in your regular grocery store. This is a great platform for people to be creative and to also have the opportunity to profit off of their originality!

If you haven't tried your local farmers market yet, get out there! Give it a whirl! It not only will benefit you but the people there. It's a win-win! Have a great morning! :-)

Have you tried a farmers market before? What great things have you found?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seventh Generation

Have you ever stopped to read what is in some of your household cleaning products?? Try it some time. It will shock you especially if you read into the effects of some of the listed chemicals. I mentioned a while ago how I am reading a book called, "A Complete Idiots Guide to Green Cleaning." This book has really opened my eyes to some of the long term effects of the products I use. Now, in an ideal world, I would be able to make my own homemade soaps and cleaners, grow my own organic garden, and make my own clothes......but let's face it! An ideal world is not what I ,or many people I know, are living in. So it's nice to know that companies like Seventh Generation have my back!

I really L-O-V-E this company! I mean, check out their mission statement:

"To inspire a more conscious and sustainable world by being an authentic force for positive change."

That's the kind of person I want to be and the kind of products I want to use! They are really open about the products they have and how they operate. Such frankness is really appreciated in a day and age where literal toxins are hidden by friendlier, less threatening terms. And a big plus!!! COUPONS!!! I've said it before and I will say it again--I love a good coupon! And it's so easy! You can actually just go to their site and, like everything else they do, it's right there in the open. No digging around on the site to find the good stuff. Finding coupons on natural or organic products can sometimes be difficult so I count my blessings when I can find them! Seventh Generation is reasonably priced too so that also helps in my efforts of being more green and providing a healthier environment in my own home.
My current fave product?? Their Lemongrass & Clementine Zest dishwashing liquid. It smells so good and really does an A++ job of getting my dishes clean!
Two things I would encourage you to do: 1. Read the labels on your current products and research the effects. 2. Try Seventh Generation! You will be glad you did....especially after completing step 1!
What are some products you have tried lately that are both good for you and the environment?
*Seventh Generation did not compensate me for mentioning them. They have no idea who I am. But I love their products so I'm going to blog about them anyway! :-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Praying for the Strength

Lately, I have found myself praying for strength. Big things, small matter the size of the matter, I need some major uplifiting. Some may find that a sign of weakness to be looking up towards Heaven for answers, but as I sit here, curled up in a blanket on my couch listening to the cold rain pouring down, I find that to be a joy. A joy because the burdens that are on my heart don't have to be mine. And I don't have to have all the answers. And I don't have to muster up this false sense of self-sufficiency when it's not really there. I can be myself to my Father and say, "I'm worried and I'm stressed and I can't do this! But I know YOU can. I know you will bring me through this time of heaviness with an
outcome of singing your praises!"
It makes me think of a chorus I often sing to myself (am I the only one who sings out loud when alone??)...

It's for my good and for His glory
This trial's not the end of the story
There's a bigger picture God alone can see
Faith will take me through this sorrow
For I know He holds tomorrow
And he assures me it's for my good and for His glory!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 10th, 2010

April 10th, 2010 was the most special day of my entire life. On that day, I married my best friend. I never imagined I could love one person so much and love them more & more each day. But I do. This past year has been the most amazing of my existence. I have learned a lot about myself, my husband, my family and friends and my Lord. There have been bumps in the road but only the natural kind that most overcome and soon forget. When I think over this past year, what comes to my mind is waking up in my husbands arms, long conversations over dreams and goals, countless hours of laughter, happy tears, bonding, praying together, and so much more! Honestly, such a wonderful life is not something I feel I deserve but somehow the Lord saw fit to bless me beyond my wildest dreams. Eric means so much to me and is so good to me. I just pray I can be a worthy help meet. One that continually strives to be a Proverbs 31 woman (even though failure is a daily occurence), honoring God and blessing her husband. Although this year has been one of complete happiness, I must admit! I can hardly wait for each year that passes. Each year where Eric and I can grow closer and closer to eachother and to God.

And last but not least, some more of our songs. Some are from the wedding and some are just ours. Enjoy!
"Be Thou My Vision" (not this exact version) was played during our prayer together
"Dawn" was played before the ceremony. It's from Pride and Prejudice, my all-time favorite movie and book!
"Can't Help Falling In Love" by Elvis Presley was played during our first dance. <3
"For Ever and Ever Amen" by Randy Travis. Eric sings this song to me all the time...but kind of in a corny, silly country twang. I'll take what I can get. haha
"Higher & Higher" by Jackie Wilson
"Just You And Me" by Chicago. Another song Eric sings to me!
"I Can't Help Myself" by The Four Tops...what can I say?  We like to kick it old school!
"At Last" by Etta James....this song kind of sums it up! "My lonely days are over and life is like a song!"
"You're My Everything" by The Temptations...yet another one Eric sings to me. I'm a lucky girl!
"Your Precious Love" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Those are just a few! How long have you been with your special someone? Do you two have any songs that you call "ours"?
P.S. Non-sappy, mushy gushy, lovey dovey posts soon to come! ;-)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wedding Showers

Just wanted to share some of the special moments from my wedding showers!

And just in case you thought I didn't have more songs......enjoy! :-)   

My Big Blessings, Part 3

I'm almost done, I promise. It's like I'm the girl that wins at an awards show and they have to play the music to get her shut up! And cue the music...

Juan and Jill
I have to give a shout out to Juan, Jill's husband. They drove all the way from Alabama and not only that but he hung out with the girls and helped the day before! You should have seen him! He was carrying pillars into the church and speaking Spanish to Ashley's baby. It. Was. Awesome. Thanks so much, Juan! It was wonderful having you there!

Big thanks to Blaine who helped Don with the music and who drove Eric & I to the reception! We really appreciated it!
Nick, Jake, Hubby, Chad, Davis, and Nic
Eric had some great groomsmen! Nick and Chad are his brothers. Jake, Davis, and Nic are long time buddies. I know Eric really appreciated them coming (Nic came from Cincy) to be there to support him. It was so fun for me to have them there as well! I got to know them a little better and through the experience, I got to see Eric through their eyes which was great!

Ashley and I
You know how I mentioned you need to have another brain when planning a wedding? Well here is mine! Ashley is a really dear friend to me and I appreciated everything she did. I'm kind of a perfectionist and it's hard for me to give up some control, especially when it comes to something big! I can't just let the details go to just any one. When I started the planning process, I kept thinking, "I really want to ask Ashley to be my planner but I don't want to bother her." SO silly! As soon as I asked she accepted. I literally yelled, "WOOHOO!!!" when she told me she would. She put in so much hard work and effort and thought and detail (and the list goes on & on) to make sure my day went smoothly. And it did! If anything did go wrong, I had no idea. What a relief! I was able to truly soak in all the special moments of the day without worrying about when pictures would be taken or when people would walk down the aisle! Through the experience, we grew even closer and I am so thankful we did! I could not have imagined my day without her there!  P.S.- Check out her adorable blog @ You'll be glad you did!

High five for the best bridesmaids EVER!
To me, it was never a question who would be in my wedding. I'll try to keep this short...."try" being the key word. Starting at the bottom and going clockwise is Jacqueline. That is my cousin and the closest thing I have to a sister! We have been through so much together and have some of the craziest memories. We just always click and she can always make me laugh! When I'm hanging out with her, it's like we are 12 years old again-singing and dancing! Moving on is Chrystal (her dad is Pastor Salazar). We've been friends since highschool and were, most likely, separated at birth! She has been a real friend to me and I am so thankful for her, as I am the rest of these lovely gals!I love that, 11 years later, we are still great friends! Then there's Jill!! <3 her! She and I became extremely close after I graduated highschool. I would spend most of my free time with her and her bff, Karen. I have so many funny stories stored in my head because of her. I was so happy when she got married but heartbroken because when she said, "I do", she moved to a far off land called Alabama! So happy her and Juan were willing to drive all the way up. Amber is the next gal pal you see and she is simply amazing! We met sr. yr. of highschool through Chrystal at church, worked together for 7-ish years and have been through a lot together! We have laughed and cried and eaten a lot of Ramen noodles together!! I wish everyone could have an Amber! And last, but not least, is my "twin". Karen. I met her the same time I met Jill and for years we were always together. She makes me laugh so hard and I truly treasure our friendship. And if you ever are in the mood for popcorn, chocolate covered strawberries, or any kind of cake- she is your girl! All of my bridesmaids helped sooooo much with the wedding and threw me some amazing bridal showers! I had sooooo much fun with them! Every single one of them has been a true friend to me and honestly, I could not ask for more. They mean the world to me!

I know all of these posts have been ridiculously long....I'd apologize but....nah! All of these people mean something to me and deserve to be recognized for being AWESOME. These posts were called, "My Big Blessings" for a reason. :-) Thank you for sticking with me through each novel post. There will be some more wedding posts to come for Sunday is my anniversary but they shouldn't be this lengthy! Until then, goodnight and sleep tight!

My Big Blessings, Part Deux

Wow! Getting even closer to date of our one year anniversary! I'm so looking forward to this weekend with my Hubby! While we are cruising around town, we will probably be listening to this song. Enjoy!

As I reflect back on our wedding day, I am reminded of all the amazing people that helped contribute and make our day special!

They are a-mazing!
 These folks pictured above are amazing people. There is no other way to say it. From encouraging to helping plan to working their tooshies off at the reception, they made our day so wonderful! They decorated the whole reception hall, helped serve food and drinks, and cleaned up afterwards. Some of them aren't even pictured. My family and I could not have done it without them! They're all long time family friends that seem more like family. We are so blessed to have them in our lives!

I just had to post this pic of my mom and her bff's!

Pastor Mitchel and Pastor Salazar
Both of those men have been extremely influential in my life, from the time I was a teenager till this day. I couldn't imagine my wedding day without having both of them there. Pastor Mitchell has been an amazing, godly Pastor to my home church since it's start and has been such an encouragement to me. Eric and I really cherished the time we had with Pastor during our premartial counseling. He really shared some amazing truths to build a strong marriage. Pastor Salazar, or Papa Salazar as I call him, has been in my life since I met his daughter in highschool. The whole family has been hugely influential in my life and I am sooo very thankful to have them in my life! To have them there, performing the pastoral duties at our wedding, was so precious to me. Also, the choir director, not pictured, helped by doing all of the audio. I really appreciated all of these gentleman taking time out of their busy schedules to be there!

My little cutie pies!
Introducing.....Hannah and Wyatt!!! Hannah is my cousin and Wyatt is Eric's nephew. They were the perfect addition to our wedding day and I was so happy to have them enjoying the day with us! Aren't they adorable?

Ok, I know I have a picture of my whole family on the day but I can't find it. AH! A little alarming but since I don't have a picture, I do have my words (insufficient as they may be.) Everyone in my family played a part in my wedding day. My Nana made my beautiful veil, helped, and gave me such encouraging words. My brother helped with so much the day of! He has such a servants heart and just did whatever was needed. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone in between mean so much to me. To see them there, had my heart at the point of overflowing!

Penney and Dave, amazing people
Photo courtesy of their Facebook page! haha
 When it came time to plan photography for the wedding, to say I was "stressed" was an understatement. Everything was so expensive and so involved. I almost threw up my hands and said, "Pull out the Polaroid!" Then there was Dave. He is the dad of two of my besties (more about them later). He stepped up and was so truly spectacular. I mean...out of this world awesome. Dave put so much thought into all of the pictures, planned ahead, and spent the whole day (& rehearsal) snapping away! THEN (yes, there's more) he put all 700+ pictures on cd's (each labeled). AND THENNNNNNNN, he video recorded our wedding ceremony. I told you! He is awesome! He did so much more than I ever expected. Being able to look back at these pictures and video, a year later, is such a wonderful delight! SUCH A BLESSING!!!

OK, let's take a breather before Part 3 comes along! Are you ready for it??

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Big Blessings, Part 1

Our song #3

One particular nightmare used to haunt my dreams for years, even before meeting Eric. It would mutate within each dream but the theme was always the same: I was completely alone and helpless on my wedding day. I would envision looking awful, people were ignoring me, I was rushing till the last minute......I thank God that wasn't my reality!!!

I posted about how my wedding binder was my lifesaver here but that wasn't my only lifesaver. I had so many people who came in and helped me with the big day!

Mom & Dad
My mom and Dad were so amazing through the whole experience!!! They came up with stunning ideas, ran errands for me, bought me an amazing dress, made the day possible with our church and reception hall, got DELICIOUS food for the reception, and so, so, so much more! Probably more than I even know. They were beyond wonderful! And more than that, they have been the best parents a girl could ask for. They have loved me unconditionally, encouraged me, prayed for me, sacrificed for me, provided for me, laughed with me, cried with me, and given me a great example of how a marriage works! This year in September they will be married 35 years! I love them soooooooooooo much!

Dawn,  Eric's mom.
Dawn was such an enouragement to me by helping me get family's information to send out invitations and by letting me know she loved me and was praying for me!!! Prayer is so important and I was so grateful I had her there supporting Eric and I. Dawn helped pick out the ring bearer's outfit and even brought him out all the way from Ohio to be there for the rehearsal. She lives out of state so it can be hard to get together sometimes but she has been a huge blessing in my life! I count myself lucky every day to have her as my mother-in-law!  I love her to death!

Kathy, Eric's step-mom, and Don, Eric's dad
Eric's dad and step-mom were such a big help as well! Everything from Don being the dj at the wedding, to helping me find relative's info, to planning an amazing rehearsal dinner!!! I could not have asked for a better rehearsal dinner night. Everything was color coordinated to our wedding colors, they had candy with raspberry because that's "our fruit", they made a sweet photo montage and just really knocked themselves out (in every possible way) in helping us and making the night special. I really do love and appreciate them! Again, I'm a lucky girl. I have great in-laws!  Oh! And they had this cake made just for Eric! haha

He loves the Bengals and the Reds!

Hannah, Dominic, and Melissa
Did I mention I was a blessed and lucky girl? Because I am! Missy (as I call her) and her hubby, Dominic, truly went above and beyond for our wedding day. At Thanksgiving when asking details about the wedding, the topic of the cake came up. I said I didn't know where we were going to get it and all of a sudden Dominic pipes up, "Hey! Let us buy your cake for you!" Of course Eric and I said, "Oh no! Really. Thank you but that's too much." but they insisted! In case you didn't know, wedding cakes are expensive. I'm talking $$$$$!  That was such a blessing to us! Then to top that off, Missy and her sister, Libby (again, a nickname) held the most beautiful bridal shower for me! They went all out with every single detail. I felt so overwhelmed with love that day. I still do. It was sooooo special! Oh! And get this! Missy and Dominic let me have their beautiful daughter, Hannah, be my flower girl! Hannah looked AMAZING and acted like such a perfect, little lady. It was so fun to have Hannah involved in the big day!

There were many more people that helped make our day special but you will have to wait till my next post to read all about those fantastic friends and family!

A Bride's BFF? Organization.

Before I start this post, check out another one of "our songs."

I'm a neat, organized freak. Like to the point where I'm not OCD....I'm CDO (because it's in alphabetical order....and yes. I actually said my ABC's aloud to make sure I was right.) Some might find that trait annoying but I'll tell you what! It was my lifesaver when I was a bride-to-be. I think most gals plan their weddings from childhood, and I'm no exception, but man! There are so many ways you can go with a wedding any more that you are bound to change your mind in the process. My tip is to go for a feeling as opposed to a look. What I mean by that is, how do you want to feel when you look around on your wedding day? How do you want your guests to feel? What is the mood you are trying embody? This is not a cure-all to a perfect wedding. Mine definitely had some defects BUT I found that when I looked for things to make my wedding feel a certain way as opposed to just look a certain way, I ended up with a day I could not have been happier with! So how did I keep it all organized??
1. Binder it up, Ladies! ("BINDERS! BINDERS!!!"-that's for my mom and Kacka. Trouble with Angels, anyone?) I went to Wal-Mart, got a binder for $1 (which just happened to match my wedding), bought some page protectors and dividers and got to work! I actually made a color coded sheet to start my binder out with so that way I could look at that page and know exactly what catgeory I needed to go to. I made sections for everything from Schedule to Decor to Honeymoon details. I filled each section with my own sketches, pages I ripped out of magazines, or articles from online.
2. Use your phone's calendar. Yes, there is a schedule in your binder. But there are just some times where it is not appropriate or practical to carry around a big ol' binder. Every phone has a calendar, whether you know it or not. Utilize that baby! It will be such a big help. Also, while we are on the topic of using your phone, store all of your wedding contacts in your phone book. Caterers, wedding planners, bridal party, etc.
3. Notepads are vital! Again, binders are not always the most convenient thing to be lugging around when not at home or at wedding oriented events. But what is convenient is a small notepad that can easily slip into your purse! I'm a big purse kind of girl so I could actually fit a whole notepad in mine like I'm freakin' Mary Poppins or something. If you're a bride-to-be, you will be shocked at the times you come up with ideas or think of things you will need to know later. You may pass someone on the street, see some random item in a store, or hear a song that will trigger a million thoughts all at once. Having a notepad and pen on hand will save you from going insane because you will have somewhere to put those thoughts immediately.
4. Have another brain. Seriously, go out and find another brain. I won't ask questions as to how you get it but find one and find it stat! Only kidding. What I mean by having another brain is have someone you know and trust to help you out with some things. I had two people: My mom and my dear, dear friend Ashley. There were others but hold your horses! That may be another post! ;-) I had my mom because I lived with her and it was easy but also because she knows me better than most. Ashley was such a huge help because I think we might actually share a brain. She gets me and my whole cdo ;-) tendencies and she understands my style. So go out there! Find that person(s) that "gets" you! When you forgot about things, they will most likely remember. When you get stressed, they will be calm. Don't put it all on yourself. Allow others to share in the experience!
If you're getting married, CONGRATULATIONS! This will be such a fun time in your life. Some say it is so stressful and then they turn into a Bridezilla. With just a few these tips (I have even more), you can avoid becoming that girl and you can actually enjoy the journey!
My $1 Wonder Worker! I loved this thing!!!

Color coded because I'm cool like that!

"Just put it on my tab!"

Fun and helpful article

This is how my world looked for months! Notes everywhere, flowers everywhere, etc. but it helped because then I pulled off this......(see pic below)

A fun and happy day!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Anniversary Week!

I truly cannot believe I have been married almost a year. I am going to say things that probably everyone says. "It doesn't seem that long but at the same time it seems like we have always been together." or "This year flew by! I wish we could go back and do it again!" Although, people often say things like that, I have to admit it's true! That's how I feel! This week I will be posting daily (fingers crossed) about everything leading up to our wedding and at the end of each blog I am going to add a link to one of "our songs." Check them out! They're a-w-e-s-o-m-e. No lie.
I think I will start from the beginning of how Eric and I do I even start? There is a lot to say. This will be a long post and believe it or not but I actually trimmed it down! For a long time, I had been dreaming, praying, hoping, and wishing that I would find that special someone. It was hard because I wasn't the kind of girl to go "clubbing" (although my mom says if I weren't so devout to God that maybe I'd be a wild party girl....Silly Mom!) or to bars. All of my social events were mainly through church and none of those social events had eligible bachelors. My work schedule was so sporatic that it made it difficult to expand my horizon and find someone for me. I decided to take my own course of action and tried......(cringing as I type this) online dating. {CUE THE DRAMATIC 'DUH-DUH-DUH' MUSIC) I still hate saying that because I think there can be this stigma about finding someone on the internet but I felt like I had no other choice. So I went online. I was really nervous to even try just put myself out there. But I did it. And I met guys. LOTS of guys. Some good, some great and sadly, some of the not so great ones. Oh! And I met some crazies. One particular chap told me that he wanted to populate the whole earth! To this I replied, "The whole earth, huh? That's a pretty lofty goal! Do you think you're up for it?".....that's my sense of humor....he didn't get it. As you can imagine, Mr. Babies on the Brain and I did not end up together. Oh! Oh! And another that complimented me by saying my hair looked like a wig. Errr, thanks?!? (note to self: Write a post dedicated to awful dates and creepies that I met-it will be a hit!) I did this for almost 2 years!  After a while, I was giving up on myself and finding someone who would truly love me. It became something so sad for me that I would experience literal pain when I thought about it. I continued the online dating but more out of habit than anything. I began to doubt that I would actually find "THE ONE." Then one day, while checking out my online account to read e-mails potentail suitors sent me, I found one that caught my attention. It's funny because this e-mail was so simple that it normally wouldn't have sparked any interest. All this e-mail said was, "Hello! How are you? If you would like, I'd like to talk to you some time. Have a nice day!" A lot of other guys would write me trying to make me laugh or say things like, "U r hottttt."(P.S. That's an immediate turn off) But this one didn't try any of that stuff. I checked out the author's profile and thought to myself, "He seems sweet. Let's give this a chance." So I responded. Then we e-mailed, then im'd, then he finally called.  I also remember telling myself to not get too excited about "this one." But I got excited anyway. One night within the first week we started talking, he couldn't call me and I cried my eyes out like a little baby. I thought to myself, "He must not like me and is trying to get out of talking to me....Am I crazy? It's only been a few days, CHILL OUT!" That's how I knew that he was somebody special. We weren't able to go on a date for a few weeks because my work schedule was weird but finally the day came. He wanted to meet at 4 which I thought was early. Later, I learned that he just wanted to be able to spend as much time with me as possible. Awe! <3 I prepped from the night before till a few minutes before he came to get me. I wanted to look perfect for him! I never told him that no one had ever gotten me flowers before. I didn't want to tell him that because I didn't want him to think, "Oh I'll be the guy that gets her the flowers." When he showed up, what did he hold in his hands? Roses and chocolates. I felt like a queen. No guy had ever taken the time to do something so nice for me. He looked so sweet when I first saw him in person. He has since told me that he didn't think he would even land a date with me and that when he met me he thought, "Wow! She is even prettier in person. I've got to step up my game." His words, not mine. I just think that is so adorable how he wanted to "step up his game." haha That special evening we went to the Milano Inn (a local Italian restaurant) then went to the downtown canal. We rode on a paddle boat.....well I rode. He did all of the work. I couldn't. I was wearing a skirt and would have flashed everyone....I found that out because I tried to modestly peddle but failed miserably! Dropped jaws surrounded us as we passed.  So I enjoyed a nice ride. Eric bought us some lemon chill cups and then we found a bench with a nice view. That is now, unofficially, "our bench." On that bench, he said he didn't want to wait and asked me to be his girlfriend. From date one, we were going out. The rest of the evening was spent driving around in his truck and talking. He played a song for me and declared it "our song." At the time, I thought it an odd choice but I went with it. Now if I hear that song, it brings a smile to my face. From that first date and on we were almost inseparable. After almost 2 months of dating, he got down on both knees and proposed! I obviously said yes and then a happy dance soon followed. Doesn't every girl do a happy dance after she gets engaged? Just me??...ok. Yes, I had my share of struggles with dating but so did Eric! Although those experiences for both of us were painful, we now know they were there to help us. To make us stronger and to know what we wanted...and what to appreciate. On April 10th, 2010, we promised ourselves to eachother in front of our God, our family, and friends. I truly believe I am the luckiest girl in the entire world! Eric makes me happier than I could have imagined. He is my dream come true and I try to show him that every day. He blesses my heart, lifts my spirit, encourages and understands me. He comforts, loves me (even when I feel I don't deserve it), he makes me laugh and smile. He sings with me. He dances with me. He is goofy with me. And he is my true love that I am so grateful for!

On our first date
Our first song, check it out! "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison