flower power

I love flowers. I love photography. Take a peek at what that equals....


Just to share a few :) 

Please comment if you like any of them!


a few stragglers...

Not sure what happened to these pictures when I was posting about Chicago...but just had to share the beautiful ladies!


the wonder women hit up cHiCaGo!

That's right! What started off as a fun girls get-a-way initiated by Brandon as a surprise to Maggie, turned out to be a fun weekend trip to Chicago with my two besties! Thanks for wanting to surprise Maggie, Brandon!

 I loved my hair that day... Rach braided it for me (I never get to do that hairstyle because I can't do it on myself! We all talked about that dilemma...can anyone seriously do this themselves?! If so... what's the secret?!)

If you can't tell by now, us girls like to save a buck whenever we get a chance. So, after a successful experience that Maggie and Brandon had on the Megabus, we decided that would be our transportation of choice. What a steal...$18 bucks round trip?!

We also decided to try our shot at Priceline for a hotel...and well....after many attempts, we landed a decent price at a hotel right along the main drag. It was fine, nothing fancy...but we were a little worried after reading some of the reviews. It was the Congress Plaza Hotel...historical, so a little creepy feeling at times...Rach said it reminded her of The Shining. Eeek.

We had some interesting moments throughout the weekend...including riding the L, shopping at some of our favorite stores (H&M, West Elm, etc.), getting lost after getting off the L and walking the streets of Chicago at night (along with a homeless man telling us to shake what our mommas gave us), taxi rides, a variety of restaurants, and lots of laughter. One of our favorite things we did was go to the comedy improv show, ComedySportz. Maggie's sis-in-law is part of the show and scored us some free tickets (thanks, Rebecca--you rock!). It was honestly the highlight of our trip! It was so funny...all of those people are so talented. Maggie, Rachel, and I had a fun time trying to recreate some of the show by trying a little improv of our own...let's just say we weren't as good. :) But it did allow for us to laugh at some of the not-so-funny moments of our trip! Acting goofy, laughing, and making a video of our attempts totally took me back to our high school days. That in and of itself was totally worth the trip.

Here are some more pics of the vacation...

Can't go without getting some pics with The Bean!

And what kind of trip would it be without checking out some of Chicago's finest junk shops?!

I'm actually really disappointed in the amount of pictures I took this trip (or lack there of). Usually I am the one to take a TON!

Thanks girls for a fun trip...although there were some interesting moments (lol) I wouldn't want to have shared them with anyone else!

Have you taken any summer trips? What is your favorite trip you've taken with your girl friends?!


why, hello there....

...five dollar craig's list chairs.

thank you so much for finding your way into my living room. i happened upon your pictures and just knew i needed you. for five bucks a pop, what could go wrong? although slightly torn in a few places, your olive green upholstery had me at 'hello', as i am a sucker for anything green (and cheap).

your sweet, little legs have seen better days and i am still contemplating giving them a quick and easy makeover.

thank you, sweet chairs, for not bringing any unwanted insects or bugs into my home....though it was questionable at one point. your previous home lacked any sort of cleanliness, so i gave you a nice vacuum or ten and Fabreezed the heck outta ya. so far, so good.

i hope you enjoy your new life here. i promise to be good to you:)

and thank you to craig and his list. i couldn't be more addicted to that thing.


nacho mama

my lovely hubby and i and our sweet peyton-girl took a little walk to the nearest hy-vee last week in hopes of creating the world's most delicious nachos. and delicious they were. we hit it out of the park...these babies were too good not to share. check this out:

we spread out some santitas corn chips (thanks for the recommendation, IGE!) on the bottom of the pan, then smothered the chips in shredded Fontina cheese. this cheese is a little on the pricey side, but, oh, so creamy and worth the extra money. next up was some chopped red onion, some jalapenos and some fresh cilantro. the last ingredient is the kicker. we layered some thinly sliced pieces of capicola over the top. capicola is spicey, italian ham that brandon and i used in a recipe one time and fell in love. we like to use it in pasta dishes and on pizza too...and now, nachos!

while baking (at 425 degrees), i whipped up some simple and fresh guacamole:
-one avacado
-the juice from half a lime
-one or two cloves of garlic (you decide....garlic breath never hurt anyone, right?)
-salt to taste

mash it all together and test it with a few chips....delish! my sister showed me how to make guac this way five years ago during my three week stay in costa rica. i swear that it never tastes as good as it did during that vacation. everything tastes better in costa rica, i guess....except for the cheese....don't eat the cheese.

try this recipe. it's quick and easy and perfect for friday nights in front of the tube. you won't regret it!


Fresh & Easy

I'm not sure what to call this recipe...it's a really yummy-throw whatever you got in your cupboard-chicken salad. I got it from my mom, so here's the kudos to momma! It is seriously so simple, yet tastes so delicious and is a great summer meal option.

*Chicken (I usually cook mine in the crock-pot the day that I'm making the chicken salad, and shred it. Use whatever amount you want--the more you make, obviously the more chicken salad you will end up with! There are no specific measurements to this recipe!)
*Whatever you want to throw in (nuts, grapes, craisins, water chestnuts, raisins, celery, etc...I'll show you what I put in mine this time around)
*Ranch dressing (until desired consistency...not too dry, not too saturated)...Ranch makes everything better, right?!
*Buns (my family loves it on croissants!!)

Here's pics of my most recent time of making it...(sorry they're so dark. I don't have very good lighting in my kitchen. I promise you it looks better in person and that it is very delicious!)

The chicken after it was cooked and shredded....ready for more ingredients to be added!



Water chestnuts (drained)...

 Grapes (halved)...

HyVee brand is just fine!

 Before adding the dressing...

After adding the Ranch...

And after completely mixing! I forgot to take a picture of it on an actual bun!

See how easy it is?! It is great leftover too...you can eat on it for quite a while! Pair it with chips and dip, fruit, etc., and it makes for such an easy-breezy, summer meal!

Let me know if you make it! Enjoy :)


I have a friend...

that I have been thinking of lately.

Whenever I'm sick for more than a few days in a row, there's one person that always comes to mind, mainly because I know she's fully aware of what it's like to feel crummy day in and day out. She's one of my (and Hannah and Maggie's) very very good friends, Marissa.

Marissa and I have known each other since junior high and took art classes together in high school. We were friends but didn't really hang out much outside of school. All that changed in college. After I transferred to ISU, Marissa and I got to know each other really well. She was at a hard place in her life and we bonded over similar experiences and looooong conversations. She's my friend that's a good listener, good advice-giver and great encourager. I can always count on her for prayer and she's ALWAYS there when I need her. She's the complete package and I couldn't miss her more now that she lives all the way in Texas. 

As you can see, I love her very much and it pains me to see the trials she has had to face over the past few years. While I know she would say God has blessed her immensely (she has a wonderful husband, a job she loves, a beautiful place to call home etc.) she has been in constant pain for the past, I don't know, two years? After a loooong time with no answers, the doctors have finally said they believe she has Fibromyalgia.

Most women who develop this disorder are in there 40's or 50's, not their 20's. It can be a very debilitating problem that can really disrupt your everyday life. For Marissa, she rarely has a day where something doesn't hurt or ache. When she's not at work, she spends a lot of her time in bed trying to rest and sleep.

It's hard to see a wonderful friend at such a prime point in her life suffer from so much. We've had many conversations on the phone and though I always have hope God will heal her, it just doesn't seem fair. Her and Nick should still be living out the Honeymoon phase of their marriage but instead, their nights and days are far from the smell of the ocean and the sway of palm trees. There are days when it's better and they are able to venture out together and days Marissa just stays in bed. 

I have been thinking about her a lot lately as I have been feeling so sick with the pregnancy. For Jared and I, when I'm not on the up and up, it throws our world into chaos. But no matter how hard each day is for us, I know this will end soon. For Marissa and Nick, there is no "for sure" date when Marissa's life will be pain-free. I try to be there to give her a pep-talk or two when she's feeling down, but more often than not, she holds her head high and believes in a God that has a plan for her life, with or without Fibro.

This is not a blind belief, as we've both seen God do miracles in our own lives and know He can do it again. We both know He has Marissa and her future in the palm of His hand.

I know the symptoms of this disorder are exhausting and I am thankful Marissa has such a hardworking and loving husband. Nick willingly takes care of Marissa and doesn't complain. I know he is her rock and his love is a huge blessing from God in this time. They go perfectly together, and just like the vows say, he has proven he will stand by her in sickness and health.

I guess I'm writing this because it's on my heart and I wanted her to know I was thinking about her today. I was trying to imagine what life would be like in her shoes and just a fraction of that understanding was enough to make me tear up. I'm sharing this because I know she appreciates our love and support in the hard times. When you live in pain constantly, it's really easy to get down, and encouraging friends can make a huge difference.

You can read more about her and Nick at her blog: http://nicholasandmarissa.blogspot.com/. Make sure to tell her you're thinking about her.

I love you, M, and though God has brought us through a lot of similar circumstances, this is one I don't know personally. I wish I could understand better, I wish I could take it away from you. But for now, I will walk hand in hand with you until you are pain free, no matter when that day comes. As you have said, God will bring good out of this and I believe that with all my heart as well.


Miscellaneous Monday!

First off, happy 4th! Hope you're enjoying the sun, good food, family, friends, and fireworks today!

Well, I thought I would do a few randoms for today, so excuse me if this post seems a little all over the place!!

Eric and I enjoyed the Downtown Farmer's Market on Saturday. It was such a great way to start off the day...we don't get to go down there a ton together due to Eric being so busy at Des Moines Golf during the summer, so we snag every chance we can get! Here's some snapshots of our time together:

 Nachos we've been wanting to try from the Dos Rios stand! We finally did and they were pretty good...the cilantro tops it off....I just love cilantro folks! It makes everything better!

There seemed to be quite a few new stands this year at the market. Mike's Old Fashioned Ice Cream was one of them. This reminded me of when my grandparents used to make homemade ice cream. Yum. 

 The Laughing Tree Tea was also new and I stopped to get a glass. Nothing more refreshing than a glass of iced tea!
One of my favorite stands at the market...the make your own flower bouquet stands! Specifically Howell's.

Eric surprised me by starting to make a bouquet for me! It was so adorable--he knows how much I love flowers. We finished it off together and the lady complimented our work! It was a steal...very decently priced for such a beautiful bouquet!

 We enjoyed some other food as well...we always have to get some crab-rangoons! Speaking of that...on our way out, we saw another new stand that said "There's more to rangoons than crab!" And it looked like there were a ton of different ways they made rangoons for you...PB & J, with powered sugar, etc. We will definitely have to try it next time...we were busting at the seams already as it was! It ended up being a gorgeous, perfect day weather wise for the market! And there's just almost nothing better than strolling with the one you love on a gorgeous day, with all the fun of the market surrounding you! Love you, Eric!

I put the bouquet in a ball jar when I got home...isn't it lovely?!

On a different note...remember me talking about Yo2Go?
It's ooooopeeeen!!

All the toppings...

 All the flavors....two on each machine, with one in the middle to mix the two (ex: chocolate and peanut butter were on one, and the lever in the middle of the two combined them both!)

The atmosphere was great!

You need to go! Open 7 days a week, and I believe the hours were 11am-9pm (don't quote me on that one). My favorite was blueberry (surprisingly to me), but all the flavors will be changed out often! They also had sample cups for you to try the flavors before you chose, and punch cards for buy 10 get 1 free! I think this will be a frequently visited place for E and I. 

Well, once again, have a great holiday! Hope you enjoyed the random post! :)