Thursday, July 31, 2014

Five Fun, Simple, [Relatively] Healthy Recipe Ideas

Since I re-discovered the amazing world of Pinterest, I've been finding new recipes to try, and loving life (and what's on my plate). Plus, I'm trying to eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, and less carbs... So here's what we've been eating--a. lot. of.

Five Favorite Recipe Ideas

1. Breakfast smoothies.

Mix together a bit of water, some frozen berries, a banana, a handful of oats, and some plain yogurt. I hope I'm not forgetting anything! This is delicious for breakfast, or any time of the day when you want a glass of something sweet.

2. Quiche.

I've been making quiche once a week, if not a couple times a week. I make it in a pie pan, and it's practically gone by the end of the meal. Sometimes it involves cottage cheese, or sour cream, or half 'n half (for the dairy aspect), and then I've had fun mixing up the veggies: spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, zucchini... Yes. We've tried it all. Oh, and don't forget the eggs!

3. Potatoes & Veggies & Kielbasa, Baked.

Wow, what a great title. Yep, I just thought of it. It's another one of those "Throw it all together, and bake it in a pan!" recipes. Ahem. Usually I chop potatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions, kielbasa, and anything else I have on hand (within reason), and I put it all in a 9 x 13 pan, with a simple "sauce" of olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. YUM.

4. Pizza--with a cream cheese crust.

Here's a fun twist on the old fav. You take eggs, cream cheese, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese, and BAKE that as the pizza crust. And then cover that "crust" in normal pizza toppings. It feels guilt-free, and it's seriously delicious.

5. Salad--with fun toppings.

I've been eating salad on a daily basis, if not a couple times a day. When I make a salad, it consists of lettuce (or spinach), plus bacon or chicken (taken out of a can of chunk chicken breast... recently discovered, and it's amazing as a quick-and-easy protein!!), mushrooms, yellow pepper rings, green olives, and... anything else that looks yummy... plus salad dressing. Soooo good.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Camera Roll Time

I realized that I've been posting a lot about the HOUSE recently, but not much about random life around here, so I'm here tonight to amend that. ;)

[Yard Sales]

You wouldn't believe how many items I've gotten for Baby Caroline, for $30 or less. When Rachel was a baby, I went out and bought her two dresses for $30, from a department store. Caroline's ENTIRE 0-6 month wardrobe is probably costing me not much more than that.

This whole outfit for Matthias cost $1. I originally thought it was going to be $0.75, but then I remembered that I'd paid for $0.50 for the pants. Umm... still a good deal, anyone?!

[Pretty Girls]

My sister Theresa took the girls to her husband's work party, where there was a bouncy house and face painting. Rachel was a "GOOD" witch, and Jemima was a butterfly. Aren't they cute?

[Speaking of Pretty Girls]

I wonder who had my phone... and took something like 200 pictures?

[25 Week Photo Shoot, courtesy of Hannah]

The shirt was a $3 Rue 21 find, and the skirt was probably $1 at a yard sale.

[Best Daddy Ever]

[Speaking of Daddy]

Our fifth year anniversary is August 1st! We've been discussing for weeks what would be "REALLY SPECIAL," and keep going back and forth on what we should do. We might go out to eat, or order food in, but I'd what I'd really love is to buy the materials to make a small round table for our living room... Maybe work on a project together?! (Are we boring or what?)

[Girls After Church]

With Zane, who's the son of one of my best friends. She has listened to a lot of my rants and vents, and seems to still like me anyway. ;)

Jemima's dress is from Target, and Rachel's outfit is a combo effort: yard sale/hand-me-down/Target/Children's Place.

[Bye, bye, Sickness]

We've been battling sickness, but Matthias got it first... All of us, including the girls, have been enjoying extra snuggles with him!

Oh, and one more thing!! I'm on Pinterest ALMOST every day, so if you want to follow me...

See you next week!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Keeping a Mess-Free Home... with Toddlers

While sitting around with a bunch of friends today, we started talking about our houses being a "total disaster." Although I think that term probably means totally different things to different people, I'll say one thing for sure: since having toddlers around, it is VERY EASY for my house to become--for lack of a better phrase--a total disaster.

[This picture was to prove that one, I have three adorable children, and two, even adorable children can also be crazy mess-makers.]

Even though I'm not throwing up constantly anymore (whew! I love you, second trimester!), I'm still sick off and on throughout the day. Because of my vein problems, I can only stand for limited periods at a time before I have to sit down. AND... this pregnancy is the most tired I've ever been, while pregnant. I've even been taking naps, which is completely unheard of for me.

All this to say, I don't have boatloads of extra energy right now. I certainly don't want to spend the energy that I DO have, on cleaning up messes. And believe me, these kids know what they're doing in that category. ;)

So. There are certain ideas I've heard floating around, such as... kids cleaning up set of toys before starting on another one, kids being responsible for their own room clean-up, etc... Those are all fabulous ideas, and I tend to follow all of them.


What I'm talking about is far more simple, and [maybe] far more radical. Okay, okay, don't get your hopes up. This isn't rocket science, especially since it's coming from me. You've probably heard this concept multiple times over on this blog.

You ready for my #1 tip on keeping a mess-free house, with several young children running around???

Wait for it...

Don't have a lot of stuff.

Minimize, minimize, minimize. Get rid of everything you don't use or need.

I hope you're not overly disappointed. ;)

This would probably be my Tip #2: Once you've gone through every area (and I mean EVERY area) of your house, then give everything you still WANT, a permanent resting place. The kids will know where everything is, and you'll know where everything is.

That basket holds all three kids' summer shoes. When we walk in the door, the first thing the kids are supposed to do (and I remind them constantly, just in case they forget) is to take off their shoes and PUT THEM AWAY. The girls are responsible for grabbing Matthias's shoes--now that he's walking--when we're going anywhere. I'll say, "Jemima and Rachel, go put on your shoes, and please get Matthias's shoes."

And they know where the shoes are. Isn't that AWESOME?!

So as for shoes, by the way, Matthias has two pairs, and the girls have a few more than that (a couple pairs of church shoes, a couple pairs of sandals or flip-flops each). If the shoes are dirty, they get cleaned off before they go into the basket, so that everything in the basket stays tidy. (Oh, yeah, and I bought the basket at a yard sale. Of course.)

Moving onto to our toy situation...

This is it, guys (umm, ladies). The top two fabric baskets hold crafting supplies, and the bottom four are filled with their toys. Occasionally toys will get placed in the kids' closets for the night (so they can play with them again in the morning), but I'm talking only a few toys. At the end of the day, all the toys we own could be comfortably placed in those four baskets.

I realize that a few years down the line, we might have far more toy storage than that. Some of you might be asking yourselves, "Then what do the kids PLAY with??" But right now, the kids are all relatively young, and they really don't need anymore than that. Since it's summer time, they play outside for a couple hours almost every day, or they color, or they look at books, or they hang out with me doing whatever I'm doing. But they've never seemed to need anymore toys than what we currently have.

By the way, I'm not just limiting the kids' stuff. A week ago, I went through all our random storage, and at the end of my re-organization, this is what we had.

Oh, and HALF of that is going to be sold in a few weeks--at two different sales I'm planning/participating in.

Of course it's GREAT when the kids learn to put their things away... it makes life SO much easier... but if there are THAT many fewer things to clean up, it also makes the "cleaning-up" task easier on everyone.

This is the way our living room looks [almost] every night.

Actually, I just ran in and snapped that photo. And that's the GOAL... that mess-making is kept to a minimum, because what we OWN is kept to a minimum.

I'm going to give you one more example--the girls' bedroom.

You'll notice that not much is going on. That's in part because I'm not a great decorator, and a terrible crafter, so I really have no idea what to put on the walls. But even if I DID (and I may, one day), it'd be simple. I'd rather have a room that was empty, than a room full of stuff I didn't want (AND stuff that would just end up making more messes!).

There are several areas, of course, in which I'm NOT a minimalist--or not an extreme one. It's all relative. ;) One that immediately comes to mind would be kids' clothes. I love shopping for kids' clothes, and besides... I'd rather have a few extra shirts/shorts/dresses laying around, for variety's sake, than realize that I hadn't done the wash for a week, and the kids didn't have anything to wear.

So, yup, I like clothes and hairbows. (The girls' hairbows are kept in that pink chevron box, by the way.) And a few other things. ;)

But in general, my mindset right now is...

"Excess leads to mess. Get rid of excess."

Yes, I thought that up just now. LOL.

Have a great evening!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Our Front Door, Painted Blue

You already saw the inside of our front door, with its updated look. I thought it was about time to show you the outside.

See the storm door there? Matt was not a huge fan; I guess I could've gone either way. Our real goal with the front of the house was to have an obvious, bright, and beautiful front door, so unless we wanted to paint the storm door, too (which people do all the time, so I hear), we decided it would be advantageous to get rid of it (translated: SELL IT.)

Just like the couches, we listed the storm door (which was brand new) on several yard sale groups, and we had a buyer by the following morning. I figured that the money we received from the storm door, paid for almost all the paint we used on the door AND in the foyer. Fabulous exchange there.

So, storm door sold, we set out to start the paint-scraping process. You can hardly tell from the pictures, but the paint was very badly peeling on either side of the door. My mom and I spent hours scraping, and scraping, and sanding, and scraping.

It was very worth it, of course!

We spray-painted the numbers black, scraped and primed and painted around the front door, and finally, painted the front door with Valspar Catwalk. Oh yeah, and hung a knocker and wreath! The whole "scene" looks soo much fresher than when we first moved in!

So this is kinda funny: I found this concept of hanging the wreath AROUND the knocker on Pinterest, and I thought it looked pretty cool. When the time came to hang the wreath, around the knocker it went.

But then everyone I came into contact with was asking the same question: Umm... and WHY exactly is the wreath around the knocker (instead of hanging above it)??

Basically what I'm saying is, don't be too surprised if next time you see a picture of our front door, the wreath is hanging in a different place. ;)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Projects Update: Living Room and Foyer

When you last saw our living room, it looked something like this...

Well, those tan couch covers might have LOOKED nice, but they weren't functional. They may have been the right PRICE, but all the frustration that came with constantly straightening them just didn't make it worth it.

So... the couch covers came off, and both the couches and covers went up for sale. The couches sold within 24 hours of us listing them. I guess used couches, no matter how out-dated their fabric is, if they're from a "clean, smoke and pet-free home," then they're in high demand!

The couch covers? Not so much. We've had multiple people ask about them, but no sale as of yet. Hopefully soon!

This is our living room without the couches... but with a new coffee table, and new lamps! I've mentioned this coffee table before--it's the one I bought second-hand, for $20. Let me tell you--this thing is STURDY. The girls have climbed all over it, and Matthias has taken several metal objects (okay, don't get scared--I'm talking about ice cream scoopers and such) to the top of it, and though it has nicks on the top of it, the actual table hasn't been harmed at all.

I painted it light blue (as you can see), attached a new silver knob to the front (free, from my mom's stash!), and wa-la. Beautiful coffee table. I searched multiple sites for decent lamps, and finally settled on this pair from Walmart. Good price, cool lamps = win.

Speaking of searching, now that our old seating arrangement was G-O-N-E, we had to start looking for something new to fill up this living room! I'm pretty sure I went to every (or every one I knew about) used AND new furniture store in town, comparing prices, styles, quality... it was a little time-consuming, but super fun.

This is what we have so far...

Yup. Two navy-and-white patterned chairs. They were part of a dining room set at Pier 1--which, by the way, is one of my favorite stores ever. :) I walk in to that store, and think one word: YES.

Instead of replacing our two couches with... you got it... two other couches, Matt really was rooting for one sofa, with a couple chairs. So that's what we're working on right now.

As for the sofa... we've purchased it, but it hasn't arrived yet. A local furniture store was having an "Emergency Mark-down Sale" (whatever that means?), so we picked out a brown leather couch that was BIG time discounted.

The living room still needs a lot of finishing touches (think: trim + small table between chairs (?) + wall d├ęcor), but we're kind of waiting on the leather couch, to see how the living room will look, once it's here.

Okaaay... moving on the foyer.

This is how the foyer looked, when we first moved in.

First thing we did, was remove the carpeting and paint the stairs.

More recently, I painted the banister black, to match the black-and-white railing. Oh yeah, AND we painted the whole foyer light gray.

More technically, it's silver... or Valspar Silverleaf. I haven't taken a picture yet of the dark gray living room walls against the corresponding silver wall, but it is SO COOL. (At least I think so.)

And I can say that, because I didn't actually pick out the paint swatches! When my brother's mother-in-law (whew! what a mouthful!) was visiting, she visited our house, and we talked colors and styles. Soon after, she presented me with a PILE of paint swatches and color ideas--one option being a black banister, silver walls, and--wait for it--a teal front door.

We loved the idea! So I took those same paint swatches, and ordered us some paint. :D

Both the inside and outside of the front door is Valspar Catwalk. I didn't take a picture of the front door from the outside, because we have yet to hang a knocker and wreath. That should bring the teal and white (the border around the front door) and everything else together...

Another picture of the foyer, including the chandelier. When there's fresh paint everywhere, and the colors lookin' so beautiful, the floor and the chandelier are... umm, even more noticeable. :) Once we finish updating the door on the outside, we're going to start looking at foyer floor options!

And one more nice shot, from the living room, looking towards the entryway!

Stay tuned! Thanks, as always, for taking an interest in our little (or sometimes big) house projects!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Weeks 18-23 in Pictures

You would think, judging by the pictures below, that I primarily wear black and gray and teal. That isn't ALL true, but I HAVE found that certain pregnancy tops/skirts look and feel GREAT... and others, not so much.

18 weeks

Shirt: yard sale (non-maternity)
Striped tank: yard sale (non-maternity)
Belt: consignment store
Maxi Skirt: T. J. Maxx (non-maternity)

I have four or five maxi skirts, and I've been wearing them all the time. Even though they're not maternity, the belly panel makes it seem as if they ARE.

20 weeks

Shirt: consignment store (non-maternity)
Tank underneath: Target (non-maternity)
Jean Skirt: consignment store (maternity)
Scarf: yard sale

23 weeks

Yup, this is where I am now--just a few days from 24 weeks.

Shirt: same as above
Tank: same as above
Necklace: consignment store
Belt: consignment store
Skirt: consignment store

And none of that was technically "maternity," either... but it still fits, so... yay! :) I've been finding that sometimes all you need to make a NON-maternity shirt into a Maternity shirt is a BELT and a long tank top underneath. ;)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Baby Girl Clothes, Yard Sales, and My Little Coin Jar

After we found out that #3 was a BOY, I began purging my baby girl collection. I had a few boxes of 0-18 month girls' clothes, and I sorted through the items, looking for anything that was...

1. Excellent condition.

2. Bright and modern.

3. Very feminine.

4. I loved it.

When I was done sorting (or should I just say "eliminating"?), I was left with an almost non-existent "KEEP" pile. I had thrown away a lot, and I sold the rest.

Now that we know that #4 is a GIRL, I'm back in "collecting" mode! Since Rachel was a newborn, I feel like I've learned a lot about baby clothing and styles that I like, brands that wear well, and so on, and I'm super excited about dressing this baby girl!

Which is just one reason why, I've spent almost every Saturday morning this spring/summer going to yard sales. ;) At least this time around, I feel like I know exactly what I'm looking for, so it makes it pretty easy to search through the piles of "50 Cents Each" baby girl clothes.

Am I going to buy ALL of Baby #4's clothes at yard sales? No, I doubt it. I'm still planning to look through the clearance racks at Old Navy, Target, Sears, JC Penney, TJ Maxx, ETC. when I get a chance, but honestly, you can find some AMAZING deals at yard sales--and not just for baby clothes. I've already found multiple pairs of brand new kids' shoes this summer, priced at $1 each--both for the kids to wear, and to re-sell for more than $1. *cough, cough*

Also, there are really specific items that I want--such as zip-up, brightly-colored, cute-and-feminine sleepers, that look (or ARE) brand new. So those sorts of things I'm kind of planning to buy full-price (or clearance prices). [I do the same thing with the older girls' clothes--most items I can buy second-hand, but when I'm buying their jeans, for example, I always buy Old Navy flare. Fortunately, there are sales, and coupons, and all that good stuff--plus if you're buying almost everything else at drastically discounted prices, then it's not nearly as difficult to "splurge" on the items you really love.]

Now to run off on a quick tangent: we've been experimenting with the cash envelope system this month, and honestly? It's been a ton of fun. When I went to the bank at the beginning of this month, withdrew a certain amount of money IN CASH, and then came home and split it up into all of our colored envelopes, I thought to myself, "This is one of the best things I've ever done."

We'll see if all that enthusiasm lasts. ;)

The whole point of mentioning the cash envelope system, though, is that I haven't been putting any loose change into those envelopes. So any time I buy anything, and receive some coinage in return, I've been putting it into a little plastic jar (it once held chicken bullion cubes, if you must know).

Now the last few times I've gone yard-saling, I've taken my little coin jar with me, and been able to buy some really cute items (both clothing and household) from "just" my collection of quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies. It's incredible how those little coins add up-especially when you're dealing with yard sale prices. ;)

Have any of you been looking for clothes at yard sales? Found anything awesome??

Monday, June 9, 2014

More Travelling Adventures

[Before I begin... CS, this post is for you. :) Not exactly sure what else you wanted to hear about the trip, AND, some bad news... (prepare yourself) I don't have any more pictures from the trip. But, you asked, and I'm answering. :) Enjoy!]


Matt filled the Suburban up with gas, and we completely packed all the suitcases. I gave the kids baths, and dressed them in the outfits I wanted them to wear for the trip.


I woke at 4 AM, showered, ate a quick snack, got myself ready for the trip, and gathered all our bathroom supplies [this is called last-minute stuff :)] and then woke up the kids. They were all--fortunately--in rather decent moods because we were all so excited about the upcoming trip and wedding!

Kent and Theresa (my sister) showed up at 5:30 AM, and we pulled out a few minutes later. Theresa was sweet enough to pack breakfast, lunch, and snacks for our whole group so that we didn't have to buy any food on the way there.

Aaanddd... Joe (my brother + the groom) kindly lent us HIS Suburban--complete with DVD player! That DVD player was really awesome--seriously. Making that 11-hour trip with 3 kids wasn't easy--especially on the way back, when we'd had a very busy weekend, and everyone was tired (but not tired enough, I guess, to spend the trip sleeping).

We tried several different movies (Home Alone, Tangled, some cartoon I can't remember, Monsters Inc...) but the general favorite was definitely Tangled. Maybe it was the songs, or the fact that the girls have seen it so many times, that calmed them down when they were most restless.

We reached our destination (a very comfortable Comfort Inn) a little before dinner time, and met up with my parents and youngest sister, and my oldest brother and his wife and two little boys (who had flown in the day before from the OTHER side of the US!). I put the girls in the bath tub (baths, I discovered, have an amazing two-fold purpose: they keep the kids occupied AND they wash off the dirt and grime), while I straightened my hair. Oh, so I guess bath-time really has a THREE-fold purpose: it gives mom enough time to fix her hair, too. Woo-hoo!

Our whole family group went out for an incredible Chinese dinner, and then it was time for the rehearsal. YAY!

After the rehearsal, Amanda's family and our family all went out for ice cream together. A very, very long day came to a very relaxing (and delicious) conclusion. Ahhh....

Now. A quick word about small children, long road trips, and late nights: they start to exhibit behavior that you have NEVER seen them exhibit before. Believe me on this. So if we were one of the first to leave (even at the wedding reception), there's a reason why: our kids needed sleep, and we needed some rest, too.


I woke up ridiculously early again, but that's just how I roll--especially when there's a big day ahead. I can't sleep, thinking of all the things I want to get accomplished. Since Rachel and Jemima were in the wedding party, we needed to be at the church for picture-taking an 1 1/2 before the wedding. We ate with our family downstairs (YAY for free continental breakfasts! They save so much time and money and HASSLE!!), and then I went upstairs with girls to start getting them ready for the day.

Jemima's hair is SUPER easy because it's so curly. But I spent a while curling Rachel's hair. This is, by the way, one of the most fun things I do as a mom. I LOVE fixing Rachel's hair.

I was a little nervous on how the girls would do as flower girls (there were actually FIVE of them!), but they all did GREAT and were super-duper cute.

And the wedding was lovely. We're generally a fan of short engagements, but Joe and Amanda's was the shortest we've seen yet (30 days, I think!). Yet somehow, Amanda's family pulled off this completely BEAUTIFUL wedding--with a wedding party, white roses everywhere, and so on... in that short amount of time. I was very impressed.

As I mentioned before, we left the wedding reception even before the bride and groom did! Other than the struggle of having three kids (and two parents) trying to rest in one hotel room, we managed to get some resting in before the BBQ that Amanda's parents hosted at their house on Friday night.


In the morning, we all went swimming in the hotel pool, and THAT was truly amazing. Oh my goodness, what a FUN way to spend a Saturday morning--especially after two long and busy days previously!

After changing the kids into shorts (it was VERY VERY hot and humid), we went to a "Castle" park, where the whole theme of the park was dungeons and dragons and castles. Meanwhile, Mom and I went to a local grocery store and picked out an assortment of different meats and salads to take back to the park for a group picnic lunch. Somewhere in all of that, I had my very-last-minute-and-unexpected ultrasound, and discovered that we're having a little GIRL!

Back to the hotel for naps. That night, we went to my online-friend Kelsey's house for dinner. Besides one or two [very dramatic] melt-downs, the kids did well that night, and Kelsey and I (and her husband and my husband) enjoyed the chance to actually meet and talk... in person!


We went to Amanda's family's church, and then... we were headed home. Other than randomly getting very sick, crying on my husband's shoulder in McDonalds', and throwing up all over myself (and then having to pull off to the side of the road, so I could jump out and KEEP throwing up--ugh), the car ride home was to be expected. :-p We were all tired, and the kids were kinda unhappy. Finally, FINALLY, some time after dark, the kids all fell asleep.

This. was. so. NICE!!


We all slept very well that night (and into the later hours of the morning!). Monday morning, we took everything very leisurely, which I'm SO glad we did. We ate a late-and-relaxed breakfast, and then the kids went outside to play. Their moods were significantly better than the night before (wonder why?), and I started on the mountain of laundry.

I'm sure there was much more to our trip, and much more I could have said, and... yeah, well, sorry about the lack of pictures. But there it is.

Our trip. In more detail.

The End.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Outfit-in-a-Bag [Packing made Easy]

I'm pretty sure I saw this totally GENIUS way of packing on one of the Duggars' shows.

I wasn't sure if it would work.

You know, if it would really help...

But I'm here to tell you--in fact, to shout from the roof tops, that this method of packing is AWESOME.

So basically, you plan out what each child will wear each day (though I stuffed both Rachel and Jemima's clothes for each day, in one bag), and then you place it in a Ziploc bag, and label each bag with either the event (such as, "Wedding") or the day ("Friday").

This method was making so much sense, that I ended up packing most of my clothing this way as well.

Of course not everything packs well into these small bags. But you'd be surprised how many items DO fit in one bag.

I literally packed my entire outfits--earrings, necklace, tank-top, sweater, shirt, skirt--in each of these bags. (I left out the shoes, because they would've taken up most of each bag. Though, honestly, after the first day, I only wore one pair of shoes the whole time. It just made everything simpler. :O)

I don't know about you, but when you have little kids (and several of 'em), plus multiple events where everyone needs to look their best, PLUS you're dealing with a different time zone and hurried hotel-mornings... you're kinda in need of some organization and, well, outfits-in-a-bag! ;)

P.S. I wasn't planning to find out the gender of this baby (for many different reasons), but Kelsey's dad happens to be an OB, who just happens to have easy access to ultrasound equipment, and Kelsey just happened to ask me if I'd like to know the gender of this baby?! (Really, I think SHE was just dying to know. :-p)

Long story short, we're having a baby GIRL!! And very excited about it, too.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

So Here's That Matchmaker Story

This past weekend, we traveled across the country to Illinois, to celebrate my younger brother's wedding--which I, by the way, helped to bring about. (WHAAAT?!)

Now that all of you are intensely curious about the details...

Last fall, I was checking out the Facebook Daily News, and I stumbled across a link to a new blog, entitled Organizing Life with Littles. Considering that I'm always striving to be more organized, and I definitely have "littles," I thought I'd better check it out.

Turns out, the more I read of this young mom's blog (Kelsey's her name), the more I realized how alike we were. We shared many of the same interests and passions (oh! AND we both have a 1-year-old son named Matthias. How crazy is that?!). Our online friendship started simply enough, with me either commenting on her blog, or private messaging her, asking for more ideas for budget-friendly dinners.

So anyway, we started writing back and forth.

All the time this was happening, I had a younger brother (Joe's his name) who was very interested in getting married. One day, he said to me something-along-the-lines-of... "Tricia, will you help me find a wife!!"

At first, I was completely stumped. Ummmm, sure. Where do I even look?

Then I had the crazy idea of writing to Kelsey about it. I knew she attended a church where there were lots of single, homeschooled girls, and I thought that WE were so similar... if she recommended a girl for my brother, then this girl was probably awesome.

So I wrote to her, and she wrote back, telling me about this really cool young lady named Amanda.

I told Joe what Kelsey had passed on to me, Joe talked to her dad, Amanda and Joe started writing/calling/all that good stuff, and... the rest is history.


We were absolutely thrilled to attend their beautiful wedding! Rachel and Jemima even got to be flower girls. :)

Another huge perk of the trip was...

I got to meet the girl behind the blog!

Yes, we both have baby tummies (I'm 20 weeks, and Kelsey's 9 weeks along).

Our kids even played reasonably well together. ;)

So all in all, we had a great time in the [very flat] land of Illinois. At least, "flat" compared to our hills...