Monday, April 25, 2011

Saying Goodbye

I haven't been blogging for very long, so I really don't have a lot of followers yet or anything. Honestly, I probably started this blog more for an outlet, something to do when I'm bored, maybe even a journal of sorts...not really so people would read about my life and just think I'm awesome. I am a very realistic person, and trust me, I realize my life is just not THAT interesting. haha. 

But for those of you that do read my blog, especially those that have followed me from the beginning a few months ago...I just wanted to take a little time to say Goodbye! 

I've decided to say goodbye to the blogging world, and will be deleting my blog as of Wednesday this week. I'm sure I'll still be dropping by the blogs I follow once in a while...I enjoy getting to hear what's going on in the lives of some people that I love that I don't necessarily get to see very often, and even some of the blogs I have found that I don't necessary know the people - I like to get other people's ideas and tips on things like saving money, cleaning and organizing, do-it-yourself-ing, trying out new things while baking/ a younger woman, I am still learning a lot of new things about how to make my home a more happy and healthy place, so I like being able to get ideas from other people! So all that to say, it isn't really "goodbye" completely...just that I won't be posting least for a long while :) I have good reasons for it, it's not just completely random and out of the blue...but I don't really want to post it on here. haha...that probably sounds silly, but if you really want to know why, just shoot me an email or text or something, and I'll be happy to explain.

Thanks for following me for these past few months and leaving me some love and comments once in a while! It's been fun! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 30....and Project 365 - Week 1!

So today is an exciting day...I am finally up to Day 30 of my 30 Day Blog Journal, which means I've finally reached the end! Here is the topic for today:

A Dream for the Future!

I have always been the type of person to set high goals and expectations for at first I was thinking, "Dang, I have to just pick one thing that I want to achieve in the future?!" But honestly, it didn't take me long AT ALL to come up with my post for today.

I would have to say that my biggest dream for the future can be summed up by the following...

To have a long, loving, happy and fulfilling marriage with the love of my life. To raise our future children to be strong, independent, smart, genuine and caring people. To break the cycle of our family histories and prove that it is possible to completely and wholeheartedly live your life very much in love with and devoted to one person, no matter what life throws at you. And I know that in order to accomplish this, I must center my heart and mind on Jesus...the one man who lived his life as THE perfect example of love and sacrifice. For I will not be able to truly, completely and unconditionally love my husband and my children the way I ought to, until I love Jesus the most, and allow him to love them through me, despite my (and their) imperfections.

That is my biggest dream for the future. And because of God's grace, I have every intention of seeing that dream come to fruition! 

Next that my 30 Day Blog Journal is complete, it is time to start on a new project or two!

Not too long ago, I started following a blog called First Comes Love. I stumbled across her blog through someone else's that I follow, and although I don't know her and it may seem kinda weirdo-stalkerish...I find her blog interesting because she is always posting lots of different things, from things she finds on sale to remodeling her first home...and lots of things in between. I got the idea to embark on my own Project 365 journey from her blog!

Ever head someone say, "I saw my life flash before my eyes!"?? Well for Project 365, you take a picture everyday and post a short description of the photo so you can see/remember things about your life a year or more down the road. What are the things most important to you? What are some things you've accomplished? What has changed? What has remained the same? What are some firsts you've experienced? How have YOU become different?

So that is the idea behind Project 365! I am really looking forward to doing this and being able to look back a year from now and have a cool visual history of the past 365 days. I have decided to do this in weekly posts because I am really bad about being sure to post every day (obviously...). Feel free to join me as I start this journey, and I would love to hear your comments at anytime! Here we go! :)

Week 1!

Road trip with the other half of my heart!
Potential reception dress for when we come back from our beach wedding/honeymoon? ;)

Ohh, Spring. Tennis ball size hail in my front yard.

Gotta love grad school research! The beginnings of my hollow fiber manifold.

"Mom, make it quit raining. (I think) I am a princess and I don't like to get wet when I go potty."
Remember when I posted Day 24 - where I live?  Well I left out a room in my house...the office/man cave....and this is why. This is (was) the room I avoid(ed) like the scared me to go in there. Sadly, this isn't even what we could refer to as a "before" picture...this was actually DURING my cleaning spree this past in (believe it or not) I had already started cleaning it! EEK!
 And for Day 7...I'm cheating a are two photos for your viewing pleasure! ;)
My dear friend, Michella, at her Bridal Shower! I got her a Magic was on her registry and I LOVE mine, so I couldn't help myself! :) I am so excited for her and the new chapter she is about to start in a couple months!

And here's why I had to do two photos for today...had to show some love to Michella, of course! But I also couldn't help it...I was so proud of the office makeover. I still have some organization work (and downsizing of junk we don't need to keep) to do in there, and I need to hang my "hooray for me wall" up still, but it at least doesn't scare me to go in there anymore! And see that filing cabinet? It is very neatly organized with labeled folders for all of our different bills, accounts, taxes, personal files, etc., and I am so excited about that! I love having things organized and knowing right where to go if I need something!
Well this is officially the end of my 30 Day Blog Journal, and the beginning of Project 365!

One last thing...

Happy Easter! 

Hope you had a blessed day with the reminder that Jesus has conquered the grave!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 29!

So I made a minor typo yesterday, and that was saying it was Day 29. But that was actually Day 28. haha. So here we go...
Day 29 - Hopes, Dreams and Plans for the Next 365 Days

Oh, goodness...Where do I start?  There are so many things I want and need to accomplish in the next year. So I'm going to just start making a list...not in any particular order:

1.) Finish writing and defend my PhD proposal to officially become a "Doctoral Candidate."

2.) Plan a stunning beach wedding in the Caribbean for next May!

3.) To get ALL of our debt paid off.

4.) Start downsizing on a lot of our stuff before the wedding...gotta make room for the bridal shower gifts, and get rid of some things before we move...I'm hoping to have a really good garage sale! 

5.) Complete the entire 60 days of INSANITY by Beachbody. I've started it two different times before, but I usually get about 3 weeks in and get distracted and get off track. I really want to get all the way through it sticking to the daily workout schedule at least once, hopefully twice over the next year!

6.) Plan a nice weekend getaway to Lake Tahoe during the two weeks of my soldier's mid-tour leave in August. Neither one of us have ever been to Tahoe, so we are super excited!

7.) Publish my 2nd journal article over my research, and hopefully get enough data to be working on my 3rd.

8.) Have my dissertation either done or very close to it. I think I have to have it in by May 6th of next year to graduate that semester!

9.) Purchase an anti-bark collar for my dog. Random though, I know...but Koda has been awfully mouthy today...

I am certain that my list could go on, but I'll try to be brief for now, so I'll leave it at that :)

Anybody else have any major goals for the upcoming year?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 28 - Better late than never!

I so forgot that I never finished my "30 Day Blog Journal." I was actually just looking at different blog ideas, and came across a "30 Day Blog Challenge," which is full of different ideas than the Journal. I may start the Challenge after I finish the Journal, just because I like it when someone else comes up with blog ideas for me when I'm in a season of blog drought. haha. is Day 28 - What's in my purse?

I'll be honest...I almost never carry a purse. I have one. And most the time it is either sitting in the back seat of my car or on my kitchen table...but I do have one, so I'm going to post about it...

Well there it is...and here's what's usually in there (starting from the left moving to the right across the top...and making a spiral motion...haha): 

1.) Car keys...complete with lanyard that I got from Race for the Cure last year and my jump drive.
There's a bit of a story here...about a year ago, I had a coworker come to work one day and bring me a giant silver clip. Like one you'd see on a rock climbing harness. I had locked myself out of my office/lab so many times (mostly just because I can be a major space cadet and totally just leave things somewhere and forget...), that he thought it would be funny to tease me about it. So he put this clip on my key ring and told me to hook it to my belt loops. Funny right?
Except that I had to take the keys off my belt loop to put them in the key hole, so they inevitably would still be  left in my office/lab anyways....FAIL.
So I decided to start using this lanyard. 1) It was free. 2) It can go around my neck and can still reach the key hole without me having to take them off. haha.
There's also a story about the jump drive...but maybe I'll save that for another post ;)

2.) Purple plastic tampon holder. It holds 2 for those unexpected moments :)

3.) Black checkbook wallet. Pretty self-explanatory. I don't like the boring navy blue ones that the bank gives you, but I'll be honest...I don't really use that wallet for anything else. Sometimes when I am out shopping or something I will carry it with me just so I can stick receipts in there, because I am super OCD about saving my receipts so I can keep my checkbook balanced...which I do on my iPad using the Pocket Money Lite app, not in my black checkbook wallet.

4.) My magic wallet. I LOVE this wallet. It is from J.Crew, and I have had it since I was 17 years old...I'm's held up so well! I keep my debit card, credit cards, ID cards (drivers license, UofA ID and government ID) and some random punch cards so I can save some moolah every once in a while :)

5.) Bobbie Pins. Because you never know when you'll need to get your hair out of your face.

6.) Hand santizer. Bath & Body Works cucumber melon mini size.

7.) Rewetting drops. I wear contacts, and sometimes, especially when I'm driving at night, my eyes get really dry. I keep these handy just in case.

8.) Hand lotion. This one happens to be a sample size of Mary Kay hand lotion...I'm not picky about the brand/scent...I just need it to fit in my purse in case I need it. Working in a lab, I wash my hands A LOT throughout the day. This can cause some serious dryness, so I try to keep some kind of lotion handy just in case.

9.) My Droid cell phone. I almost never go anywhere without it.

10.) Blackberry headphones. Droid didn't come with fancy headphones of it's I've held onto my Blackberry ones. I love that they have the little speaker on them, so I can use them both as headphones if I want to listen to music, or as a hands free device while I'm driving. And lately they have come in really handy while talking to my soldier on Skype! :)

11.) (middle-ish section...from the left) Blue camera case. Obviously I usually keep my camera in there, but I was taking a picture...I also usually keep a spare set of AA batteries in there for those emergency situations!

12.) Ink pen. Not necessarily THAT one all the time. I just like to have a pen on me whenever possible.

13.) Coin purse. You've seen the size of my wallet...or well, my card yes, I need something else for coins. This came with a book bag I bought a few years ago in college, and I've gotten some good use out of it! 

That pretty much does it. I also usually have my Burt's Bees chapstick in there somewhere too, but I had actually taken it out earlier to use it in my car and left it in the cup holder. Woops! 

Like I said, most the time my purse sits in my car or in my house. Normally all I carry on my person is my little man wallet, my phone and my keys....and I get by just fine :) 

I'm glad to get back to completing this 30 Day Blog Journal, and I'm really looking forward to the next couple of stay tuned! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Dalmation Chair Makeover

Do you also remember how I told you about a Shaklee giveaway I entered on First Comes Love Reviews and Giveaways? Well I won! Erin from Healthy Branscoms was so kind and sent me a sample of Shaklee, and it was enough to make one bottle of the Basic H2 and one bottle of window cleaner, and there was a little tiny bit of the concentrated liquid to use on something else!

I haven't bought anything from Shaklee yet, so I hadn't purchased the 16 oz bottles to make the cleaners I just went to the Dollar Tree and found some 28 oz bottles that had marks on the side for each oz (it also had mL), and they were only $1 each, so I thought that was a great find!

Anyways, so far, I have used the window cleaner on my mirrors in my bathrooms, and I must say it works really well! I have also used the Basic H2 just as an everyday cleaner for my kitchen counters, etc., and I really like it too....

Anybody remember not too long ago that I talked about how my chocolate fountain went crazy at the baby shower and one of my chairs from my lovely kitchen table was one of the major casualties? Well in case you forgot (or if you just need a good laugh), you can go back and re-read about it here.
My chair cushions are a light tan microsuede, so I was honestly nervous to even use water on them at first for fear of water spots, much less put anything else on it that might stain it worse or ruin the fabric....but since they say that the Basic H2 can be used on anything that it is okay for water to touch, I decided to give it a shot!

It didn't get the oil spots out completely, but they were definitely diminished significantly! Here are two before pictures:

Here's the first one I took with the flash made the chair look a little better than it was to start off, so I took another one...

Here's one without the flash :( My pretty chair is covered in grease spots, and it makes me sad to say the least...

But here are some after pictures! Like I said, it didn't get it out all the way, but I just used the Basic H2 spray...I think if I were able to use something a little more concentrated, I really could get the oil all the way out!

Not NEARLY as many spots, and even the ones that are there are not as obvious!

Ha! And here's an after picture with the flash can hardly notice the spots! 
I also got to use some of the concentrated stuff I had left to work on getting the gum out of the carpet in my fiance's truck...and I can tell it was really helping and I was making progress, but I just didn't have enough of the product to get me entirely through the job.

So here pretty soon, it looks like I am going to be ordering some Shaklee products for sure...I am almost positive I can get my chair completely clean, and I am pretty sure I can get that gum out I'm really looking forward to it next month when I can plan for it and include it in the budget! :)

Have any of you tried Shaklee before? If so, what has been your favorite product or your favorite result? I am really curious to know! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Engaged! :)

That's right! I am officially off the market ;) 

My soldier and I have been talking about getting married after he gets back from his deployment for a few months now...I blogged about our dream wedding here. Now I thought I would give everyone the story of how we got engaged! :)

He has been in training since January 3rd, and the last time I saw him was February 20th when his unit was moved to a post in Texas to continue their pre-deployment training. The picture at the top of my blog is one that was taken of us just before he boarded the bus to leave :(  Anyhow, his unit was given a 4 day pass to come home and see their families one last time before they left.

After spending the last month and a half counting down day by day until I would get to see him again, I finally got to pick him up from the airport Thursday morning! Let me just really sucks that they have the giant words implanted into the carpet that say "DO NOT CROSS"..I could see him right after he came through the jet bridge, and it took everything I had to not take off running and jump into his arms! But...I really didn't want to get arrested, so I contained myself the best I could ;) When he finally got past the exit and I finally got to wrap my arms around him, he picked me up into his arms and it was almost surreal, but so perfect! I was so happy just to be with him!

We went home and just hung out around the house while we waited on his mom and sister to drive up from Little Rock to come see us for a day or two. His little sister is a photographer, and she does SUCH a good job, so one of the things we decided to do while he was home was to go take some pictures together so we could have some good ones to keep us company while he is away. I had found a picture a while back, which I blogged about here, and I fell in love with it. I REALLY wanted us to take some pictures of us with him in his uniform, and he agreed to it! :) So that was the plan!

So anyways...before he got home, we had been talking about the pictures...what we were going to wear, where we were going to take them, etc. I suggested Devil's Den, which is a state park just south of where we live and it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! He agreed that it would be the perfect spot...sneaky...he had planned on proposing to me there all along! 

We met up with his mom and sister at Devil's Den that afternoon, and we made our way down to this adorable waterfall area and started taking a few pictures...little did I know they were going to turn into our first set of engagement photos! We took a few sitting down, and then Elizabeth put us on the rock with the waterfall directly behind us. I was standing on the rock and Walter was standing on the gravel/water directly in front of me and we were facing each other. He lifted his hand and brushed my hair back out of my face, looks me in the eyes and starts saying all these wonderful and sweet things...which honestly, are a bit of a blur now...haha...but I do remember a couple things in particular! He said that that day had been one of the best days of his life just spending time with me, and he said, "I want to come home to you for the rest of my life." I am thinking, " sweet is my boyfriend!" and all the sudden he drops down on one knee, and of course I realize what's happening and I start to cry...and he pulls out a box and opens it up and there is the most beautiful ring...and he says, "Lauren, will you marry me?"

YESSS!!!! haha. I practically pulled him up from the ground and wrapped my arms around him and kissed him. I was so happy! We had obviously talked about getting married, and even planned on when we wanted to have the ceremony. I knew he was saving for a ring, but I honestly didn't expect him to propose until he got back from his deployment. It was such a beautiful surprise, and I LOVE that we have tons of pictures of that moment. It was absolutely perfect in every way. And I love that I get to call him my FIANCE now! It was a perfect way to start the weekend, and we got to revel in it for the entire four days we got to spend together before he goes overseas. I am so incredibly blessed...I honestly didn't know that a man like him could even exist. We are far from perfect, but I have complete faith that God made us perfectly for each other :)

Now time for some pictures! :)

One of the "before" pictures :)
As he was saying the sweetest things to me ;)
The proposal!
I said YES! :)
This was similar to one of the pictures I found...I think it turned out rather well :)

I love the dogwood trees that are in bloom right now!
I found this really cool building downtown a couple weeks ago that was painted like a flag, and I thought it would make a perfect backdrop for our uniform pictures! :)
And....this one is my absolute favorite! :)
We also ended up taking a few the next day in regular clothes, but I'll save those for another post since this one is getting pretty long ;)

But one last picture I have to share...
And there it is, my gorgeous ring!
He did so great! The only hint I had given him at all was that I liked princess cuts the best...he did the rest all by himself! He knows me so is absolutely perfect!

I am absolutely head over heals in love with that man. I cannot wait for the next 8 months to fly by so I can be back in his arms again. Fortunately, I'll get to stay busy with the wedding planning! (err...and getting a PhD...haha) But I am sure I will keep you posted on my wedding planning adventures...I am really looking forward to it! :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Baby Showering!

So...I SUCK! haha. I have been so bad about posting lately. I guess I haven't really felt inspired to post about anything recently, to be quite honest.

But I have something today that I am kinda excited to share! I had the wonderful privilege of hosting a baby shower for one of my dear friends this past weekend. I have hosted a bridal shower and helped plan a bachelorette party once before, but I've never done a baby shower, so it was a new experience for me.  I thought I'd share a few tips I learned along the way, and just a few details about our little party :)

Tips for Baby Showering:
(or really, some of them would certainly apply to any type of party!)

1.) Invitations that have bows (or anything attached that is not flat with the card/paper) on them cost 20 cents extra to mail...just F.Y.I. If you don't put the extra 20 cents worth of stamps...they show up back in your mailbox.

2.) Don't be surprised when people don't RSVP and show up anyway. 

3.) Don't get discouraged (and do your best to keep your Guest of Honor from getting discouraged) when the number of people that come does not add up to the number of people you invited. Some people are legitimately busy, and others are just completely selfish.


Ingredients, Part 1: Crescent rolls, sour cream, cream cheese, ranch dressing packet!
Ingredients, Part 2: Veggies! I used carrots, broccoli, and red bell pepper. Tomatoes are also shown here, which I totally had intentions of including, but I forgot...woops!

The finished product: cold veggie pizza! :)
I had previously had something like this before at a wedding reception, and I thought it was really I thought I'd attempt to make it for the shower! It turned out really well and was a big hit. Here's how to make it if you're interested:

1 package of crescent rolls (there are 2 in the picture, but I only ended up needing one for the amount of the other ingredients I had). 
8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened (I used fat free, and to "soften" it, I just took it out of the fridge while I was preparing everything else)
1 cup sour cream (again, I used fat free)
Ranch dressing mix (I bought a packet that was 16 oz. I believe, but I only used about a teaspoon of it!)
1 teaspoon of dill weed
1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt
Veggies of your choice!

-Roll out crescent dough on baking sheet. Press it down with your fingers to flatten it as best as you can, and poke in several places with a fork (It gets really fluffy when it bakes, and I think it tastes best with a thin crust!). Cook as directed on package...although I will admit, I had to take mine out 1-2 minutes before the timer went of so they didn't burn...not sure if that's just my oven, or because the dough was flat... :)
-While that's in the oven, rinse and start cutting your veggies. I cut the bell peppers in strips and the broccoli in little florets, and I grated the carrots after I peeled them. I honestly can't give you an exact amount here...I just cut until it looked like enough to cover the whole pizza.
-Once the crust is done, take it out of the oven to cool.
-Make the dip/"sauce"...put sour cream, cream cheese, ranch mix, dill weed and garlic salt into a large mixing bowl and mix well (I used a potato masher rather than a spoon, and that worked really well with the cream cheese). Add ranch mix to your liking...I thought it tasted great with just a teaspoon, but you could always put more if you just prefer a stronger ranch flavor!
-Once the crust is cool, spread dip/sauce mix over the top. Place veggies all over to your liking!
-Use pizza cutter to cut into little hors d'ouvres size squares :)

I happened to get this little project done JUST before the guests arrived, so they immediately got put on a serving platter and placed on the table. But if you are a little more timely than me, you could put the veggie pizza in the fridge until you are ready to serve! 

Like I said, it turned out great and everyone loved it! We had 6 people at the shower, and it was almost the perfect if you expect more guests at your party, you could always just double it :) It really wasn't too bad on the wallet either, so that's always a plus in my book! :)

4.) NEVER...let me repeat...NEVER, turn a chocolate fountain rotor on before the chocolate chips are completely melted!

Obviously, there is a story behind this one. I have a small chocolate fondue fountain that I got as a gift for my college graduation. I love it! I have only used it maybe 3-4 times now, but it is really handy to have for parties and things like that. If you've never used one before, you use just regular chocolate baking chips and cooking oil. You're supposed to use 2 bags of chocolate chips, and honestly I don't know how much oil to be exact...I always just guestimate. Every other time I have used it, I've always melted (either in the microwave or a crock pot) the chocolate chips in the oil first, before ever putting it in the fountain. I was running a little behind in setting up, so I thought I'd just melt have the chips in the microwave, and add the other half directly to the fountain. BIG MISTAKE. Once I got the melted chocolate into the fountain, I turned the rotor/heater on and let it start flowing. I slowly started adding a few chocolate chips to the mix...and all seemed to be going well for a few minutes....Then out of nowhere, the fountain starts throwing chocolate EVERYWHERE! 

My instinct of course is to try to get away from the spewing chocolate, but of course it is getting all over me, my walls, my floor, and ALL of the fruit I had cut up and put out on the table....WOOPS! I was able to get it turned off, but there were some minor casualties :( Fortunately, I managed to get it out of the shirt I was did leave some light oil spots on my jeans though. And the worse part, was it got all over one of my microsuede chair cushions! :( :( :( I seriously wanted to cry, but with guests in my home, I tried my best not to. The chocolate came out, but unfortunately the cooking oil left it spotted looking like a dalmation :(

I seriously wish I would've taken pictures, but in the chaos of the moment, that was the farthest thing from my mind. Minus the fact that I'm pretty sure my chair cushion is ruined, looking back, it makes for a pretty funny story! I am going to attempt to salvage my chair cushion...and if all else fails, I may just have to break down and have them I will take pictures at some point and post a blog about how that goes sometime in the future I'm sure :)

And for my last shower tip...

5.) Take a picture of the Guest of Honor with all her gifts laid out from everyone! I think it will be a cute little keepsake for the baby book :)
My dear friend, and soon-to-be mommy to baby Amelia! :)
Me and the Mommy-to-be! :)
Minus the chaotic events that occurred, I had a great time throwing her shower. She is going to be such a great mommy, and I am so proud of her for doing everything she can to give her little girl the best life she possibly can, even though she'll be a single mom.

Do you have any party/shower tips?! :)