Friday, July 6, 2012

getting ready to welcome our first nephew!

Paul's sister, Kelly, is about ready to pop with their second kiddo! She is due August first, and we can't wait to meet our first nephew, Lane Allen! We love Taylor to pieces, and I know we will be just crazy about Lane, too!

This past Saturday, one of Kelly's best friends and I hosted a baby shower brunch to help her prepare for their first little BOY. It was lots of fun, and she got lots of sweet things. Lane is already very loved! I didn't get many pictures with my camera because Kelly wanted pics on her camera, but below are a few I managed to snag with mine.

{a little cardstock + scrapbook paper + glue = some pretty cute (if I do say so myself) homemade invitations!} 
{I found this little feet stamp at Hobby Lobby and thought it was a sweet embellishment}
{I decoupaged some chipboard letters with scrapbook paper, used a staple gun to attach them to some burlap ribbon, and then added a couple of bows for a little monogram decoration on the mantle.}

{lots of present-love for baby Lane}

{the food table...and see the tray in the bottom left corner? It's blueberry lemon bundt cake..a few people asked for the recipe, so read on if you want to try it out yourself! :)

 {I love sunflowers; they're so cheery!}

{with the glowing Mama!}

{blueberry lemon bundt cake. original recipe here}

Here's how I made it:

1 box white cake mix PLUS whatever ingredients the cake mix calls for
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup water
zest and juice of one lemon
1) Preheat oven to temperature according to boxed mix for a bundt pan.
2) Liberally grease your bundt pan. 
3) Add blueberries and water to a small saucepan to simmer for 5 mins, then allow to cool.
4) Mix all cake mix ingredients according to directions, folding in the cup of yogurt, lemon juice and zest.
5) Puree blueberries using a hand blender or food processor/stand blender.
6) Pour batter into bundt pan.
7) Pour puree into cake batter and use a butter knife to swirl or ribbon the puree through the NOT stir.
8) Bake according to the box instructions (may take a little longer because of the additions).
9) Allow to cool before inverting and removing.
10) Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh blueberries rolled in white sugar and a lemon slice twist.

*Unfortunately, my cake "fell" not long after I took it out of the oven. Not sure what caused that. The consistency, probably due to it falling and the fact that it has yogurt in it, was more like a pound cake. It was super moist, and I thought had a great flavor. I ate some of the leftover cake for breakfast. :) Let me know how it turns out for you if you try it!

Now hurry up and get here, baby Lane! Ra-Ra (that's what Taylor calls me) is ready to squeeze your sweet little cheeks!

{graduations} Oh, Happy Day!

This May was full of graduations for us!

- My brother graduated from Mississippi State University with a B.S. in Agricultural Science and a minor in Ag. Business. And he already has his first "big boy job"! I am so proud of him! (no pics because he didn't want to "walk"--he's cool like that.)

- After a long two years Paul finished his B.S. in Technology Leadership. He completed it through Fort Hays State University which is in Kansas. (I was totally willing to make the drive, but he didn't want to walk either...I guess he's a cool kid, too.) It was definitely a trying--to say the very least--two years because Paul hates school more than just about everything. But I'm really glad we stuck it out! May 12th (his technical graduation date) was a really big day of relief and thankfulness! 

- I finished my Master of Arts in Education through Union University. Though it was challenging, particularly in the second year of the program, working full time and going to school, overall I really enjoyed the program and learned tons! Since my bachelor's was in English and not in education, I knew the content I would be teaching very well, but I really had a lot to learn about the how of learning and teaching. Looking back on this and this it's strange to think I'm now on the other side of that journey; two years seems both so long and so short at the same time. Time is funny like that, isn't it? Of course, I'm a nerd and wanted to walk, so my sweet family humored me and came to watch--enduring a hot and long ceremony! Felt so good to cap off those years of hard work!

{The clock tower at Union waiting on graduation to start.}

{Paul trying not to fry in the super hot sun!}
{May 19th...a really good day!} 

{love him}

{my sweet Mother-in-Law came...
she was so supportive and encouraging the whole time we were in school}

{Mama and siblings, Steven and Caroline...always by my side!}

{getting a hug from my baby sis. love her!}


{my little-big brother}
My dad, littlest sister Mattie, and Grandmama also came to graduation but had to leave as soon as I walked because my Grandmama's back was hurting. Really hate I didn't get a pic with them, but so grateful for their presence that night!

Definitely so glad we have school knocked out. Better now than to wish 5 or 10 years--and a possibly a few kids--from now that we had done it. I canNOT imagine how challenging doing school and having kiddos is--my hat's off to all those people that have done and are doing that!

God was so faithful to see us through the hard days, long nights, and frustrating moments. Though there were definitely times when we tried to do things the hard way--in our own strength--and I'm so glad he never leaves us or forsakes. This time with both of us in school was a continual spiritual lesson in which God was teaching us: He is always right there, ready to be our strength if we just surrender! I hope that is some encouragement for you if you are juggling the work/school thing or whatever else you may be feeling inadequate to face! 

a beautiful place + some R & R

So tonight instead of celebrating my beautiful, exuberant, soon-to-be-bride cousin Laura at her bachelorette/lingerie bash, I am home half-doped-up on cough medicine and doing saline "sniffs" as my doc prescribed this morning. Blah! I've had some kind of "viral" cold for two weeks now and can't seem to shake it. I've migrated through very sore throat, extreme hoarseness (Paul lovingly informed me I sounded like a 50 year old smoker), ridiculous coughing fits, fatigue, and now major chest and head/nose congestion. I am so bummed to miss out on this fun night with Laura! But I just wasn't up to driving the four hours to Jackson and definitely didn't want to risk infecting anybody else. Okay, I'll stop whining now. :) 

So since I'm home alone being BFF's with the couch and my kleenexes, (Paul had already made plans thinking I would be out of town) I decided to catch up on blogging some happenings from the last couple months.

So now my post title makes a bit more sense: As soon as I was done teaching school on May 25 (we didn't waste any time and left that night!), we hit the road to Hilton Head, South Carolina. My mom's cousin graciously let us stay in her beautiful "Sea Loft", and we just had the best time! Neither Paul or I had ever been to Hilton Head or even any part of the east coast, so we thoroughly enjoyed seeing new landscape and exploring such a gorgeous place. The island is developed but in such a way that preserved the integrity of the natural landscape. It was so refreshing not to be bombarded with billboards and other overt aspects of a commercialized "touristy" place.

We had no schedule (I LOVE that about a vacation!) and did lots resting, eating, beaching, biking, live music listening, wildlife admiring, reading, and just enjoying being together. This was a MUCH needed break for us as we had both been under lots of pressure in trying to finish our degrees. It was such a relief to be able to enjoy each other's company without having school assignments looming over our heads! (I've said it a million times, but I'll say it again: I am SO thankful to be DONE.)

We took lots of pics on the trip, but here are a few of my favorites...        

{stunning view out to the ocean}

{gorgeous sunset...I have lots of pics of ones throughout the week...}

{the bedroom in our lovely condo}

{taking a walk}

{pausing our game of mini golf for a quick pic! Oh, and I have to mention: I got a hole-in-one!}

{riding bikes...there are bike trails all over the island. so fun!}

{a little blurry...I'm not a master with the self-timer}

{overlooking the Harbourtown Marina}

{reading + the beach + my State chair = bliss} 

{Atlantic waves}

{the famous Harbourtown Lighthouse...lots of neat history}

{alligator! We saw several of these, one of which was just sun bathing on the bank of a pond very close to a house!} 

{Ol' Glory from the top of the Lighthouse}
{Our "Sea Loft" behind me and getting ready to bike to dinner!}

I'm super excited because I get to go back to this lovely place next week! My mom, sister, aunt, and I are taking a little girls trip and meeting our cousin Wanda, who owns the house, there. We have never taken a just a girls trip before, and we are all very much looking forward to it. Can't wait to spend some quality time with these special ladies! 
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