Many waters cannot quench love...

Jared and I are on vacation this week.  It's our first time away from Judah overnight-- & we'll be gone for 4 of them!  We have been looking forward to it for a few months, knowing we would have plenty of time just for us and whatever we wanted to do.  Which definitely wouldn't include getting up at 7am.  

Our small group just wrapped up a study on marriage (Love and War by the Eldredge's) and Jared & I have enjoyed the sometimes-weighty task of working on & strengthening our relationship.  Things have gone alright since having Judah but there's always room for more romance and that's been on our minds lately-- and this trip was the perfect end to the series.

My friend Jessica (the one that always has the best date-nights with her hubby), recommended a game to me awhile ago: Simply Romantic Nights.  In the game, you and your spouse each get 12 date ideas to plan for the other person (among a few other things included).  We ordered it last week and were really surprised by the fun and creative date ideas included in the box.  I'm seriously bummed I couldn't think of them myself... we must be pretty boring :)

I couldn't think of one couple that wouldn't benefit from a game like this.  It really helps you to love and build into your spouse the way they were created to receive love and affection.  Jess told me it's a great gift for people who have just had babies but I could see it being wonderful for anyone-- young or old.

The company who made the game, Family Life, has all sorts of wonderful marriage resources.  I had a lot of fun looking over their website and mentally bookmarking things that would be fun to purchase.  They even have a Vol. 2 of the Simply Romantic Nights game in case we run out of ideas :)

So, all this comes at a time when we have decided to take a little time-out from life and enjoy quiet moments with the two of us.  It's been great and feels like a honeymoon all over again.  This week, we're both planning one of the lower-maintenance dates for each other and I'm really looking forward to the time we'll share together.

Anyway, I gotta get back to my hubby but thought I would try my best to get a post up for today :)



over the past few weeks, brandon and i have spent some time reliving our past. as mentioned before on this blog (specifically this post), brandon honored our country by serving four years in the Marine Corp. while dating, our relationship was tested over and over again, as we struggled with the distance and the reality of being separated by miles, oceans and wars.

brandon's first tour in iraq was in 2003 and our only means of communication was writing letters. we were old school:) there were no phones, no internet and no way of knowing where he was. or if he was okay. or even alive. looking back, i have no idea how i kept it together. i spent a lot of time with God during those months he was away and i truly believe that He gave me a peace that surpassed all understanding. brandon's mom, jenny, felt the same way. she said that she never once doubted that he wouldn't come home. we all rallied together and prayed and prayed and prayed and we are all thankful that God's plan was for brandon to come home safe. that prayer is a powerful tool:)

now that we have our own home, we have a little more space (and stability...no more moving!) to collect some items from our past. brandon had been keeping all things marine corp related in his mom's basement until this past weekend when she graciously handed them over (while silently thanking God for her basement back:)). there was a lot of nostalgia in the air as we looked through old uniforms, worn combat boots and pile after pile of training manuals. and last but not least, the letters. letters that still had remnants of dusty, dessert sand and smelled of musty, old library books. there was a pile of "family" letters and there was a pile of "maggie" letters. looking back at them brings back a lot of different feelings, but mostly an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness. thankful for keeping him safe, for sparing his life, for giving me peace.....so many feelings of thanks.

little by little, we are reading through them together. and boy is it an emotional roller coaster:) not many relationships live to see the end of a war, much less a marriage, so we have been feeling very blessed.

all letters were kept safe in this handy MRE bag

the "maggie" letters

a couple excerpts:

february 5, 2003
"....brandon, i need you to come home. i really, really need you to come home. so please don't break your promise to me and come back. i know it's all in the hands of God, and at times like these, i wish i could see into the future. but, unfortunately, i can't. i love you, think about me a lot, and most importantly, talk to God."

february 6, 2003 
"....never forget my love for you, brandon. someday we'll look back at all these letters and laugh. actually, i'll probably cry:) my love is flying to you on angel's wings....keep praying...."

february 11, 2003
".....i am so incredibly proud of you. and i'm not just saying that because you're gone and i'm your girlfriend. when i really think about what you're over there doing, i feel so lucky and proud to say that you are my boyfriend. i can honestly say that you are my hero. i love you.....be careful and come home to me soon...."

" For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13


3 Trees, 3 Dozen Easter Eggs, and 6 Hours Later...

After seeing this craft idea in Woman's Day magazine, my mother-in-law, sis-in-law, and I all decided it would be fun to attempt ourselves:

Cute, huh? And it looked simple enough!

So we gathered our needed supplies...
  • Foam Trees
  • Plastic Easter Eggs
  • Paper Napkins
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Modge Podge
  • Paintbrush
  • Easter Grass/Gift Confetti
  • Container for tree (optional)
...and got to work Saturday morning.

This is the napkin pattern I chose. It looked Easter-y enough to me and it was all Hobby Lobby had really for bright patterns (I was kinda disappointed!).  It actually ended up being really neat because we were able to create many different designs on the eggs since there were three patterns on the napkins.

Start by peeling off the layers of the napkin--this will help the napkin stick better to the egg. We realized halfway in that we had only been taking off one layer when there were really two (hard to see, and very tricky to get off!). It stuck better when we took both layers off, but it was pretty see-through, so we did a little of both. Also, on a side note, the magazine said to use white Easter eggs but those are not that easy to find. We got colored eggs which actually provided more to the design element. You'll see.
The magazine also said to cut the napkin into diamond shapes. This helps with being able to glue them on easily. However, after a while we got tired of being so meticulous and started trying different things of our own including squares, circles, and rectangles. You'll see this later too :)


 Now's time for the modge podge. This is Rose podging her egg (notice the large brush...yeah...she switched to a smaller one later when discovering that was much easier). And as with any time you modge podge, you have to be careful of not getting too much or too little. 

 Due to the fact that you're podging (yes, I made this word up) eggs, you have to do the first side, let it dry, then do the other side. We found it easiest to do the top and bottom last. Here are all our eggs drying!!

 Rose and I spraying the grass on our trees...taking a break from the eggs (trust me, we needed it!).

Some of my favorite eggs...

 These two were mine and both were with the diamond pattern.

 This one is one of Diane's! I liked the two patterns she chose and how they overlapped.

Rose did this one and  you can see how the color of the egg comes through and has a neat effect on the paper's pattern.

Another one of mine..using rectangular strips. This is another fav...there are some wrinkles, but you can't really see them in person unless you're inspecting the eggs.

And yet another of mine...

After you're done with the eggs and they are done drying, hot glue them to the tree The example had them all in rows, but we decided to mix it up a little, both by having different sized eggs and randomly gluing them. Looking back now, I also notice the example had an egg at the very top of the tree (I'll have to go back and add one). Anyway....after all that...

 Mine! I got brown grass because it matched the bucket I bought and goes better with the rest of my home decor.

 Rose's! Fun and bright!

Diane's! Very bright and fun! Definitely Easter-y.

I seriously don't think the pictures do them justice. They look really cute. We were proud of them....granted, we cracked a lot of jokes along the way about how sick we were of making eggs (really the reason we got kinda lazy about cutting out the napkins!), how our trees look like cousin "It", and how we weren't sure we would even be done in time for Easter! It did take a lot longer than we anticipated, but it was for sure worth it for the time we were able to spend together--crafting, laughing, and bonding.

We also thought how it would be fun to make similar trees for other holidays, especially Christmas. I can just envision now a white tree with bulbs or pinecones on it...hmmm....

 Proudly showing off our creations.

But we're sure glad we're done!! Haha! Love these ladies.

P.S. Have you ever done a craft that took you way longer than you anticipated?! Did you feel like it was all worth it in the end?


Our Savior is Risen

Just wanted to take this moment to wish everyone a happy Easter!!

We hope you enjoyed time today spent with loved ones, eating, egg hunting, etc...but even more importantly, we hope you've had time to revel in the tremendous glory and power of Christ's resurrection.

The three of us have had the pure joy in experiencing the power of the resurrection, living in the power, and are continually being transformed by the power through knowing Jesus Christ as our Savior.

If any of you (our readers that are so dear to us), feel like you're missing out on the power of knowing Christ and want to experience if for yourself, or simply have any questions, please contact us at thewonderwomandiaries@gmail.com. We would love to talk with you and/or answer any of your questions.

With all our love,
Hannah, Rachel, Maggie


Meat your new favorite recipe!

OK, so that was a little cheesy but I am absolutely giddy about a recipe I found on For the Love of Cooking about a year ago.  Seriously... it's amazing.  Even though it's been rainy around these parts lately, Jer and I have found the time to grill this favorite meal of ours.  Whenever I buy the ingredients for Carne Asada, he goes completely bonkers and starts drooling all over... well, sort of ;)

Taken directly from For the Love of Cooking Blog
*My comments are in bold*

Carne Asada Marinade:
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs of flank steak
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
In a gallon size Ziploc bag, combine all ingredients with flank steak and mix really well. Let marinate for at least 6 hours - overnight if you can.  Seriously, the longer the better.  You have NEVER tasted meat this flavorful!

Grill steak until desired degree of doneness.  Don't overcook the steak.  I think my husband grills it for about 5-6 mins on each side.  LET SIT FOR AT LEAST 5-10 MINUTES! Once the meat has cooled, slice ACROSS grain into small chunks. You MUST let the meat sit!

FYI, One package of flank steak makes enough to eat for about 3 adults.  We had four share these tacos before and I think two of us had to go with only one taco.  

Other Ingredients:

Cook tortillas (dry) in a hot pan for 45-60 seconds on each side. You want them soft & pliable. Add meat, cheese, salsa, onion & top with guacamole. You will LOVE these tacos.

Go to the original Carne Asada recipe to see her other recipes for what to put on the tacos.  IMO, the meat is so good you barely need to add anything on the tacos. We've made her homemade guac before though and it's awesome. I had cheese and salsa on mine the other night and still felt like it masked the insanely good flavor of the meat too much.  The steak would be good on a salad or seriously anything.  My husband would eat it everyday of his life for every meal if he had to... and I probably could too ;)  



this past saturday was spent with my mama, who graciously gave me a lovely tutorial on pillow re-covering.
mom has been "cleaning out her life" and trying to get rid of things she no longer needs or uses. she had about a dozen old throw pillows, clothed in some outdated fabric and taking up space in the basement. i have been itching to get some new throw pillows into a few of our rooms, but just couldn't justify the price tags. throw pillows are annoyingly expensive. DIY has been on my brain lately, so it only made sense to steal up those puppies from the basement and give them a nice makeover.

here they are before:

i know nothing about sewing, but have always envied people who did. i would love to have the capability to create clothes for peyton or even clothes for myself. but at this point in my life, between my job, family, friends and activities, sewing is a hobby that may have to be put on hold for a few decades.

mom showed me the drill and it comes down to this: pressing, measuring, cutting, pinning, sewing, pressing, stuffing and lastly, hand-stitching. it's actually pretty easy once you get going, but we were juggling a curious baby, a feisty bobbin, and a hungry papa, so it took a little while longer than expected. not gonna lie, mom did the majority of the hand stitching, only because i was super sllllloooooow, but practice makes perfect, right?

overall, i scored eight pillows and only spent about $30 for the fabric. now if that's not a deal, i'd like to know what is:)

here i am, hard at work. don't be deceived, i look pretty hard core, but this pic was staged:)


here are my pretties showing off their new look. i love how they all turned out! it's crazy what a few pops of color can do to a room.

orange damask....one of my favorite patterns, fo sho!

this pillow ties in our khaki green couch and the bright orange pillows. i also have one of these in our bedroom, which is currently too messy to take of picture of. just being honest:)

this is the guest room. the front pillow is the newest addition. that headboard is also a DIY creation of mine (using this tutorial).

close up
this little guy (girl?) will live in peyton's room. i plan to add a DIY flower on it (pics to come?). i told you i liked damask...this pattern will most likely show up in my house on more than just pillows!

the basement couch. i picked the fabric and mom sewed 'em! 

 here are some of mom's creations...she redecorated her guest room and needed a change in pillows:

love this pattern combo... it looks great in the new terracotta guest room!

peyton's doll house got some upgrades too...mom, are you going to re-upholster the couch next??:)
a big girl in a big-girl chair

a happy hubby after being reassured that orange is a good accent color... "don't worry, babe. the room will come together....just trust me":)

on a completely different note, i have to give a shout out to my new favorite obsession, Pinterest.  rachel is the one who inspired me to jump on this trendy, new bandwagon, but I LOVE IT. (she blogged about it here.) it's a great place to go to just get inspiration. think of it as a virtual cork board, full of images that you love and have "pinned" to your own personal board. i 'm probably not explaining it very well, so you may just have to hop on over and check it out!

how do you feel about my pillows? wanna come over and see them in real life? i love me some visitors:)



My good friend, Tricia, from my MOPS group is doing a giveaway.  Hurry and enter-- you still have 4 hours!

She makes jewelry out of vintage found objects.  I love her jewelry and I love her!  Actually, I am wearing one of her necklaces today :)

Her blog is fun and she's just an all around great person who loves vintage things, especially galvanized metal ;)

Let me know if you enter her contest.



the inside SCOOP

Well, it's not a scoop really...the same family, but more like a swirl....not getting it? Let me back up.

Eric and I took a short trip to MN this weekend with our good friends John and Kelsey. We had lots of fun relaxing, shopping, eating, going to the aquarium, playing card games, watching a movie/Storage Wars on tv, and playing mini golf. Speaking of mini golf...funny story!

Exactly a year ago Eric and I were at the MOA with his family. I am definitely no pro when it comes to any type of golf, including the mini variety, and especially when compared to Eric and his family! However, if you've ever been to the mini golf course at the Mall of America, then you know that if you get a hole in one at the 18th hole they give you a ticket for a free game. Well, last year exactly, I scored a hole in one. I somehow managed to save (and find) that little ticket and was able to use it on Saturday for a free game--it expired that exact day--what are the odds that I would be back a year later?! Crazy, huh? Not finished yet. Somehow I managed to pull it off AGAIN!! (??) So, it looks like we'll be taking another trip to the MOA a year from now :)

BUT, that is not the main thing I wanted to tell you. While we were there we stopped and treated ourselves to some yummy self-serve frozen yogurt from Freeziac (a newer joint at the mall). Take a look at this:

Mouth watering?

It was so delicious and so fun to create your own dish. They had multiple different types of yogurt to choose from (I tasted cheesecake, cake batter, chocolate, and mocha cappuccino-YUM!), and then a multitude of fruit, candy and other yummys to choose from for toppings. Pay by the ounce. 

Okay, ready for the most exciting thing about this post (the inside scoop)?!? We are getting one of these in DM!! Well, not a Freeziac, but something very similar! My sweet friend, Kelsey, is our key to knowing this amazing information (thanks, Kelsey!). She knows the woman that is opening up Yo2Go. It's going to be in the strip mall on the corner of Douglas and 100th and is hopefully going to open in just over a month. It will be the very same type of thing...self-serve frozen yogurt with a variety of flavors and toppings to choose from. I can hardly wait!! Can you?!


Real Beauty

Tuesday morning at MOPS we had an author, Lisa Cavanah, come in and talk to our group.  She is from the area and after having a little girl of her own, was inspired to write books for 6-10 years old on how to make good choices during difficult decisions and what truly makes someone beautiful.

She found there were resources out there for tweens and teenagers but younger girls were overlooked.  It's not uncommon for kids to be made fun of for what they are wearing or how they look as early as kindergarten now. I have a 7 year old little sister and have noticed this to be true.  I wasn't sure if some of the things she learns are from a bad set of friends or what, but after talking with moms at MOPS, I realized this is how things are everywhere these days.

Anyway, Lisa believes you should practice displaying good character just like you practice anything else you want to be good at.  So, she created a series of books that gives a girl the opportunity to read about girls her age and work through the decisions she is making right along with her. They are great for kids to read with an adult and discuss.

One of the books is about a girl who has to decide between a sleepover of her best friend or the biggest party of the year thrown by the popular girl at school.  The other book is about a girl who decides she wants to be popular so she starts hiking up her shirt to show her midriff and wearing makeup to school (at a very young age).

Needless to say, as soon as we had a free minute, I ran over and snatched the books so I could give them to my little sister.  I am looking forward to reading them with her.  The whole morning really opened my eyes to how different things are from even when I was little.  I don't remember being made fun of or worrying about what I looked like until 6th grade.  I seriously think Shelby felt the pressure to worry about this sort of thing by age 4.  Everything around girls today tells them they aren't good enough and aren't pretty enough.

Lisa goes around to schools, Girl Scout groups and so forth to share her message and books.  She promotes the Dove website because of their Campaign for Real Beauty.  Check out the Evolution video here.  It's pretty crazy what the truth is about how much hair, makeup and Photoshop goes into making someone ready for print.

Lisa does a lot of discussing with her children and has taught them a lot about appropriate dress for their age. After they went to Toys R Us one year so her kids could make Christmas lists, her daughter cried realizing none of the dolls were appropriate.  They walked up and down the aisle and they all had cleavage, fishnet stockings, stilettos or midriffs showing.  She was shocked and frustrated and so she launched a doll line to go along with the books.

I appreciated what I learned and wanted to pass the info along in case anyone else out there is looking for resources for teaching young girls good character.  Do you know of any good resources?  How do or did you teach your daughters about inner beauty?