Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cheers to Firsts!

Few things have made me happier than being a newlywed.  The experience is truly impossible to describe.  The joy of starting a new life with the one you love and sharing a whole new set of “firsts” with them has opened my eyes to a new facet of God’s blessings. For this reason, I was thrilled to plan out our first Christmas as a married couple!

One night at dinner, we had a good time discussing our respective family traditions.  We gleaned through the list and decided to adopt some, nix others, and develop a brand new list of our own.  

I asked Nick what he wanted for dinner that night and he responded: “BACON!” So, we opted for the “breakfast for dinner” tradition.  We read the Christmas story from Luke (we do this in the King family!), ate dinner, and proceeded to share both good and bad memories from the previous year.  We exchanged gifts and finished off the night with Home Alone 2!  We were talking before bed and it just kind of hit me how thankful I am that I married someone who will always be my best friend. 

As a child, a fond memory of mine was listening to my Mom sing along to The Carpenters Christmas album! I really wanted to listen to it this year and asked Nick if he would get me the CD.  One morning, Nick left for work without my knowledge.  I woke up a little disappointed that I didn’t get to kiss him goodbye.  I walked into the living room and heard Mary Carpenter singing “Merry Christmas Darling” and found a note that said “look outside! Our first snow as husband and wife”.  What a blessing it is to have a man who values “firsts” as much as I do. 

(we sipped on my favorite wine to celebrate our first Christmas together!)

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I hope you take time to reflect what it means to have the hope of Jesus in a world that appears otherwise hopeless. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bring on the Christmas!

I never thought I'd get sucked in.  The commercialization of Christmas was always kind of nauseating to me.  I used to find the one radio station that wasn't playing Christmas music and save it on preset 1 to avoid holiday cheer! I was a bit of an Ebenezer, if you will. I loved opening gifts and hearing the Christmas story, but when it came to the obsession of red and green, Santa, and overplayed music---I welcomed January 1.

My mom was always a big advocate of the Holiday season! Her Christmas tree would be breathtaking! Our job as kids was to "separate the lights"-we took it seriously until we realized it was busy work to keep us away from the handmade bows and cinnamon sticks which would elegantly grace the tree.  All the homemade, macaroni ornaments were displayed on the tree in mine and Ashley's bedroom--they had no place on the opulent tree in the family room.  We used to have this long-running joke where someone would hide and ugly ornament on the tree and see how long it too my mom to say "Who put that there?? where did that come from?!" haha! I still laugh about it.

This year is somehow different.  I don't know if its the memory of my mom, being newly married, or that God has changed my heart---but I'm really excited!! My itunes is filled with popular Christmas songs, our tree was up before Thanksgiving, and I'm eager to come home and celebrate with family and friends.  There's something so thrilling about making new traditions between Nick and myself.

Thanks to Mamma Simms (Allison Simmon's mom, and also my good friend), we had plenty of cheerful ornaments to put up! What a great wedding gift!

Pinterest gave me a great idea to have a gift for Nick every day of December up until Christmas! I've been working on collecting them and wrapping them with some sense of uniformity.  I'm very thankful to have an excellent husband around this time of year--he's been my shoulder to cry on. On each gift I made a little tag with a reason why I love him.  So far, he's really enjoyed opening each gift (even the boring ones--like undershirts and socks!).

I got a little crafty with puffy paint and scrapbook paper:

25 reasons why I love my hubs!!!:

To really get me in the Christmas spirit, Nick got me roses and a fraiser fir scented candle (I'm in love with it!):

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thoughts on Grief

     Before Nick and I moved to Ottawa, we began to pray that God would show us a good church so we could get involved and connected to the community.  After several weeks of searching, God thankfully opened that door to church just 5 minutes from our apartment.  We are so grateful to have an insightful pastor, a new small group, and several new friends to hang out with for the duration of our time here in Ottawa.  Alex and Audrey came for a visit this weekend, and we were able to make it to church right after we hugged them goodbye on Sunday.  Pastor Brian shared a tremendous sermon on grief - it directly spoke to my heart.

      Although I would never wish to relive these last two and a half years, I am thankful for how it has made my heart more tender to those who suffer.  In the past, I would just say "wow! That's really sad...", but now, I truly hurt for people who are going through so much pain.  God graciously puts people in my mind who I know need prayer for their circumstances.  I become a bit discouraged when I think of how many people in my life who hurt from loss of a loved one, cancer, miscarriages, and depression.  It breaks my heart! When I heard Pastor Brian's words on Matthew 5:4 ("Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted"), I knew I wanted to share some things that have opened my eyes as of late.

C.S. Lewis said: "Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."

I never thought you could be "blessed" by grieving.  I've heard being blessed once described as a pilot light-always lit, never conditional upon circumstance.  To obtain this pilot light, its necessary to understand that grief is a pathway, not a destination.  Something that takes time and healing to overcome.  Pastor Brian used the example of a broken bone.  If you don't seek attention for it, it will heal incorrectly, and it will have long term effects for years to come.  So, how do you receive the proper attention for grief? Before listening to the sermon and doing some research on my own, I can honestly say that I didn't know the answer to "how should I grieve?".   Here are a few notes I've gleaned from several sources:

Takes time: a journey, not a quick fix solution that many of us are accustomed to in our culture.
Does not pretend: I always hated it when people would come up to me and say "everything is going to be okay"... it pissed me off.. because I was like "uhh...thanks for the support".  Just call a spade a spade-it didn't feel like it was going to be okay in the moment, and its insulting to downplay the reality of everything.  This concept has taught me a lot on how to pray for people.  Honesty is such an important aspect of grieving.
Reflects and Celebrates: My Dad is the poster child for this bullet point.  It hurt so much to let Mom go, but Dad always reminded us of her example, her godly life, and her dedication to being an excellent wife and mother. We have to recognize God's gifts and be thankful for what he gave us--in my case, the perfect example of the mother I want to be.
Surrenders:  The word "surrender" is difficult for a control freak, like myself.  It takes a lot of sacrifice to be "okay" with not knowing the answers.  We have to lay all the questions and concerns at God's feet before we can experience peace and blessedness.
Trusts: The only way to experience hope through grief, is by trusting that God is in control!

A good friend of mine gave me the book, "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis.  Its quite heavy, but I'm slowly making my way through it.  I really enjoyed his quote concerning the loss of his wife, "Can I meet Helen again only if I learn to love You so much that I don’t care whether I meet her or not?"  Bottom line: its not about me or my will-Its about my Creator and His Will.  He gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be made new through suffering. 

I guess this post is more beneficial to me than anyone.  After my mom passed, I planned a wedding, got married, moved away and started a brand new life.  I have pushed aside grieving for so long.  I just don't want to do it.  I want to be blessed without going through the whole process.  I know, however, that God doesn't work that way.  And I also know that God needs me to get through this so I can be a living example of healing-just like my Mom was.  So many people need prayer and comfort, and I want to be a vessel of Gods hope that comes from relying on Him through difficult times. 

Here are some key verses that have shown me the pathway of grieving to reach the destination of God's love:

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; persecuted, not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed" - 2 Corinthians 4:7

"I will never leave you nor forsake you" Joshua 1:5b

"I will make everything new" Revelation 21:5

"O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him".  But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.  To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.  I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.  I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.  Arise O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! From the Lord comes deliverance.  May your blessing be on your people." Psalm 3 (My Moms personal favorite)

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet i will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" Habakkuk 3:17-18

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ode to a BFF

I hope everyone out there has a Rebekah!  She’s the quintessential best friend who lasts through the ages.  The one who stays your bestie even when you’re several states away, texts you daily with pointless things that only you find amusing, lets you be yourself without any judgment (EVER!), and chooses to encourage you and lift you up rather than pointing out your weaknesses! She never pokes fun at you for poor outfit choices or bad haircuts, she’s quick to defend you, and she laughs at your jokes even when they aren’t funny! She makes your stomach hurt from laughing so hard, but knows when you need to be cheered up!

I love Bekah! We met almost 10 years ago in Peru.  We disliked on another in the beginning-but God had a bigger plan and resolved our prepubescent quarrels.  A lot of people didn’t understand us-since we chose to embrace the awkward middle-school years instead of fighting them.  We loved to be weird! That friendship carried over into adult life.  We stayed close even when we went to different colleges, moved 15 hours apart, and started new lives with our respective husbands.  We only see one another a couple times a year-even still-our friendship remains stronger than ever!

I knew I would stay best friends FOREVER with Bekah when she was such a pillar for me during my mom’s illness.  She always had the right thing to say and knew when I just needed to vent.  She also had a special bond with my mom-so my grief was her grief.  When I called to tell her Mom had passed…we sat on the phone crying together---I knew she mourned with me.  I can’t describe how much that meant to me. 

So….when I found out she was coming to visit me in Ottawa---I was ELATED! We had the greatest time together! She’s so low maintenance so I didn’t feel like I had to entertain her the whole time! We just laughed, relaxed, and enjoyed being together again! I’m so thankful for the rejuvenation of friendship! I feel so refreshed and loved when she’s around. 

Bekah-my bif… I love you so much! Thank you for being so loyal, forgiving, encouraging, and just AWESOME.

(typical Adrienne-Bekah pic)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dancing Through Life!

 I absolutely love music!  I have a friend who is just about to graduate with a music composition degree, and every time I hear one of his pieces, I'm awestruck.  Some people feel God in nature, or in art, but I feel him through music---for sure! I realize that "musicals" are not necessary an outlet of God's glory, however, I feel like they have a lot of soul! I'm amazed by the talents shown in musicals: the instruments, the song-writing, the VOICES!! I had never been to a legit Broadway show, until last night.

Nick surprised me with Wicked tickets about a month ago! I have been overcoming some life issues, and he wanted to reward my progress and hard work.  I was SO excited! I've been on cloud 9 ever since.  

We got all dressed up and had a fabulous night planned! It was almost like the world was out to get us at first.  We forgot the camera (had to use my phone), didn't bring cash for parking, got lost, were the ONLY ones not wearing a hoodie and/or crocs (seriously Illinois? You're not even trying to improve my view of you), Bdubs had an hour wait (my restaurant of choice... over the steakhouse... I love me some wings),  and the Russian-looking man in front of me blocked a lot of the performance with his head. All of those things seemed trivial to the joy that came when the curtain was raised! I was GLOWING! I felt like a little kid again.  I smiled most of the show, cried the rest of the time.  It was so wonderful! The orchestra blew my mind, the voices sounded spot-on to the original actors, and the quality time with the hubby was priceless.  :)

I have a feel this will not be the last Broadway show for the Georges. :)

Even though it was after 1am when we got home... we managed to get a shot of the residual excitement! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Recipes

I was a nanny for a family for 3 years for a family who had my dream kitchen!  They had all the latest gadgets and cookware that made for fun, easy cooking! This, however, spoiled me greatly.  The newlywed lifestyle is far from this extravagant way of living.  They had one piece of cookware that I put on my mental wishlist---a Le Creuset dutch oven! You can sear things (without it sticking), and throw the whole thing in the oven due to its cast iron core! They are beautiful, functional, and SO easy to clean (I value cleanliness above all things).

I had been having some rough days after moving away from my friends and family, so Nick surprised me with a day of shopping at the outlet malls an hour away (smart man..).  Our excursion was so exciting! We walked around and I spotted a Le Creuset store.  I asked Nick if we could go in and just dream.  I was in heaven. Everything was so pretty and colorful! I had my little 10 minutes of dreaming when I suggested we go to a different store.  Without any manipulation on my part, Nick said "We should get one, Adi!"..the persuasive sales lady chimed in with a "that one is 40% off if you're interested. Nick picked it up and moved it to the register! ....I was glowing! :) I held it in my lap the whole way home, thinking of recipes to try!

Isn't she a 'beaut! I can almost hear the jeers of my friends back home! Who gets THIS excited about a pot? ...I do!

So far I've made lettuce wraps, pork roast, jambalaya, and a whole slew of fall soups and stews! I'll share some of our favorites!

Chickpea and Chard Stew

3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
3 sprigs of thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1 bunch of chard, chopped (can use collard greens too!)
2 c baby spinach
1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 15-oz cans chickpeas,rinsed
1 15-oz can great northern beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
1-1 1/2 vegetable stock (low sodium preferred)
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 T chili pepper
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 c water

With the great northern beans:  serving size: 1 cup  cal: 400 fiber: 23 g (holy cow!) protein 22 g
Without the great northern beans:  serving size 1 cup  cal 283  fiber: 13.4  protein: 14 g

We served it with bruschetta! YUM!!! we used whole wheat bread, diced tomatoes, garlic, thyme (i didnt have basil), white onion, and olive oil.  it was incredible!

Turkey Chili 

2 lb lean ground turkey (make sure the ratio is close to 93/7, the less fat, the better!)
1/2 onion (red or white), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 box 2-Alarm Kit Chili Mix (google it! Its a great spice kit)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 11.5-oz bottle of beer, lager makes the best flavor (look away my fellow Nazarenes)
1 c tomato juice
1 cup water
1 jalapeno pepper, diced

serving size:  1 1/3 c. cal: 275 fiber .62 g  protein: 29.8 g
We serve it with green onion, sour cream, cheese, and mutligrain tortilla chips!

Red Chicken Chili

1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, with juices
1 15-oz can great northern beans, (rinsed)
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6-oz can tomato paste
2 jalapenos, diced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
2 tsp chili pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
2 cups water

serving size: 1 cup  cal: 331 fiber 14.8 protein 28.6
we like it with tortilla chips, a grilled cheese, saltines, salsa, etc!

Well, there ya have it! Money did buy happiness in this case.  :) I'm very thankful for such a wonderful husband who gives me gifts when I don't deserve them.  Whining about moving hardly merits rewards- but I'm thankful, nonetheless. He loves to eat, and I love to cook---we're a match made in heaven. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin lovin'

I was texting Nick the other day and called him "pumpkin", and then pitched the idea of "seasonal pet names".  I thought it was clever and could get interesting.  He responded with "I'm gonna be late for work, witch-face".  I retracted my request shortly thereafter.

Anyway, I just love the Fall! Its such a gorgeous time of year--probably my favorite! Its still warm enough outside to go running, but breezy enough to wear a closet full of trendy boots.  I love the deep colors of orange, red and brown-it all just makes me so happy! I got into the Fall spirit a few weeks ago at the grocery store and purchased a very small, pathetic-looking pumpkin.  It looked quite funny in our bare apartment, but it did spark the desire to make pumpkin-flavored goodies! Here's a few of our pumpkin creations:

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 T Truvia (if you dont want it low-cal, add 1/2 c. sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup craisins

directions: add flour, sugar, truvia, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl.  In large bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, oil, and milk.  Add the dry to the wet ingredients by folding it together. (if you over-mix, the muffins will be dense), carefully fold in craisins.

For cup cake pans: 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes
For mini muffin cake pan: 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes

We used a mini muffin pan so they would be less calories for 1.  1 serving is 55 calories with 1 g protein and 1.5 g of fat! :) pretty tasty!

I told Nick to grease the pan... he took his job very seriously. :)

Pumpkin "Ice Cream" 

I must give props to Amber for this one.  She developed this little treat a while back and I tweaked it a little. Its delicious.

1 container vanilla chobani yogurt
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
dash of cinnamon
dash of pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 little packet of truvia (i just added that because i have a serious sweet tooth)

combine all the ingredients, and put in the freezer for 1.5 hours and it gets really smooth and cold--it tastes just like ice cream!

It makes 1 serving.  and its 166 calories, 4 g of fiber, 17.5 g of protein (wow!), and .4 g of fat! and its PACKED with vitamin A.

Toasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

This recipe is NOT good for you. lol...but its delicious!

1 c. fresh pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional...but fantastic!)
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)

Mix everything together in a large bowl and then spread it out on a baking sheet covered in foil (otherwise they will stick to the pan).  375 degrees for 15 minutes on one side, remove to stir, and then bake 15 more minutes.  Keep an eye on them.. it may not take that long depending on the oven.. and they burn quickly.

Here's pictures of us carving the pumpkin! :)

Say hello to Nicks little friend.  He created this guy when I was working hard to get the guts out of our tiny pumpkin!

My husband is not a hillbilly.  I warned him his nudity would be blogged. He was indifferent as always.

Not the most flattering of pictures after going to the gym... It looks like a "first day of school" photo. It was the only photo Nick agreed to take of our sad pumpkin.  I thought the "G" would be cute...we just ended up looking like die-hard Packers fans (this one's for you Bekah!). It was still a fun experience! 

Friday, September 30, 2011


If there is one thing that relaxes me and puts me in a good mood---its baking! Since I'm self-diagnosed as an emotional eater-I've avoided baking too much since we've been married. My solution: bake and be happy, and then send the sweets to the ravenous engineers at Nick's office! :) 

I had some plain biscotti dough in the freezer that I made a few weeks ago.  I threw in some craisins, walnuts, and dipped the ends in white chocolate.  They were fantastic! 

I've never claimed to be a good don't be a hater. Next time I'm gonna try soaking the cranberries in fresh OJ maybe? they were a little too firm for my liking. 

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (vegetable oil is gross.. i dont think i used all that it called for.)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. craisins (less if you want)
  • 1/2 chopped walnuts
  • 1 11 oz bag of white chocolate morsels 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour and baking powder, stir into the egg mixture to form a heavy dough. Divide dough into two pieces. Form each piece into a roll as long as your cookie sheet. Place roll onto the prepared cookie sheet, and press down to 1/2 inch thickness.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. When The cookies are cool enough to handle, slice each one crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet. Bake for an additional 6 to 10 minutes on each side. Slices should be lightly toasted.
  4. Let cool.  in a double boiler, heat chocolate chips-stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes shiny. remove from heat and dip biscotti, let cool on cookie sheet.  

viola! Delicious treat for your coffee... they're about 150-200 calories per piece (depending on the size).. yikes! good thing I sent them away. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Journal

Journaling has been a part of my life since Middle School.  I wanted to be just like my sister, Amber, who was an avid journalist at the time.  My first few entries at that age, were more "diary-like" than anything else, but I considered it worthy, nonetheless.  

Since my prepubescent days of Middle School, I've used journaling as a cathartic way to express myself and share my thoughts with God.  It has been habitual in my personal devotions for years now! I love looking back at the many years of struggles and victories and seeing how my relationship with God has evolved.  Before I start a new journal, I find a solid verse to memorize and write on the front page.  I don't make decisions very well, so this takes a lot of prayer and consideration.  

The journal I just finished had the verse: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed.  For his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, "the Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him." Lamentations 3:22-24.  My first page was written in August of '09 and I expressed how happy I was for a new chapter of my life! I had a strong family, great friends, an amazing boyfriend, and I was on the way to finishing my degree! The whole entry was full of joy! The verse inspired me.  However, within the week, the journal entries became more dark.  I found out my Mom had cancer and the Nick and I went through a breakup with no intention of getting back together.  The irony struck as I went back to read the passage in Lamentations.  

Starting a brand new journal is so refreshing.  God has molded me so much since the beginning of my last journal.  I know that I have not been consumed because of His love for me. He had a purpose, and I know that my Mom is rejoicing, knowing that her testimony changed my life forever. I can honestly say that I have never seen the love of Christ more deeply than when looking in to the eyes of my Mom before she passed.  She saw her purpose. Her joy came from knowing that she would soon be with Jesus.  It has all never made as much sense to me as it does now. 

This post is a lot more personal than my initial intention of the blog.  I've missed my Mom a lot lately, and feel like I owe it to her to continue telling her story when the opportunity presents itself.  More fluff posts to come. :) 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Well, we did it! Nick and I hopped aboard the proverbial blog bandwagon.  Our biggest reservation in blogging was appearing narcissistic about our new life together.  After three months of living in small, patriotic town who's primary claim to fame is the Lincoln-Douglass Debate, our reservations dissipated.

However, we do realize that our close friends and family will enjoy reading about our small adventures including hiking excursions, trips to Chicago, and the overall newlywed lifestyle. Nick and I are more in love than we've ever been and want to share it with the world!

I created the blog the first week we moved to Ottawa, but was too shy to post anything.  My courage has since been revived! So, here's a few pictures from the passed few months of married life:

We went to Chicago within weeks of living here! Its a great escape from the confines of small town USA

Here we have a caffeine addicted husband. :) Brett and Renee got us this custom coffee that had our picture on it! Such a great gift! 

Home sweet home. :) Its great for our first place together. 

We've taken the 6 hour trek back home a couple of times and this photo is the definition of the entire state of Indiana! Two trucks next to one another...going the same speed...on a two lane highway. 

Check out this stud! I told him... "look excited for our date".. and he made this weird stance-I had to capture it.

Well, that's all for now.  The pictures are not great quality since they're from my phone. Nick has to show me how to work his fancy camera so I can get better photos.