Cloudy with a chance of [Swedish] meatballs. And a side of rice.

Rain, rain go away little MaryGene wants to go to the pool.

Not quiiiite as catchy as the original, but it shall suffice. What the heeeeeck is up with this weather lately?? Huh? I thought it was "April showers bring May flowers" not "April sunshine gives you a tan too early for wedding season and then storms in May leave you pasty as a Martha Stewart white gourd in October." (Also not as catchy as the original, but it, too, shall suffice.) Good golly, Miss Molly. Geez, Louise.

Firstly, my last post on skin care and lotion and all that jazz?? I felt like it was SUPER LAME when I posted it and y'all generated the most comments I've received, EVER! Six whole comments. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone. :) Hehe. Now, back to the post at hand.

Last weekend we ventured to Charlotte to meet Mom and Pop Armstrong to pick up Brother Barrett at the airport from his Mediterranean adventures in Greece and Turkey. We also, conveniently, made a stop at Ikea, a haven of Swedish made home goods, and meatballs and egg/shrimp open-faced sandwiches. Weird, Sweden. Weird. How about a couch? No? A meatball, then? Sven, get the meatballs! Their marketing scheme totally worked me over, however, because I left with a throw pillow and three awesomely retro Stacy-Peralta-Zephyr-skateboards-esque juice glasses. (For fiddy-nine cents each!! Heck yes.) I will say, though, that just thinking back on the moola I shelled out for my Pottery Barn throw pillows really irked me when I realized that the pillow from Ikea was going to set me back a whole $12. Seriously. The 20x20 insert at Pottery Barn alone will get you almost three entire pillows at Ikea. My advice?? Buy the 20x20 feather inserts at Ikea (around $6) and then buy your covers at Pottery Barn (if you've found some you love love love and just can't live without them). I AM SO SMART. My IQ must be, like, way up there. ;)

So, like any good blogger would, I read Pioneer Woman's blog almost every day, and last week she posted briefly about a website called freerice.com. And now I am addicted. You know my "I heart words" column (see upper left corner)? Yeah, well if you visit freerice, you'll know why I can't seem to x out until my bowl has at least 100 grains of rice in it. At least. Just try it. You will freak. out. I just went to the site to set up the hyperlink...and I played until I got 1100 grains of rice. YEAH.

This weekend is Kent and Jamie's wedding--Andrew and I are SO excited and can't wait to celebrate and see people we haven't seen in eons. And, of course, to visit our Alma Mater, the place we met and fell in love. Quite fitting to take part in a wedding and visit our old stomping grounds right before our anniversary. It's gonna be a bang up time.

Ta-ta for now!


Saving face

So, since Spring is about to come to a close, and the beach, bikinis, and brooooown skin are on everyone's minds (especially with wedding season coming up, and coming in strong), I thought I would profile a few products that I personally use in order to, perhaps, implore you, dear readers, not to harm your precious skin, to embrace the tone of your epidermis, and also, to fake it 'til you make it if your pallor is a little bit less like Nicole Kidman and a little bit more like Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Numero uno: for daily use I like to lather on Olay Total Effects 7-in-one Anti-aging lotion with SPF 15.

It's fragrance free, and chock full of anti-oxidants, and really feels like it's turning back the clock while protecting from future damage. It's a little pricey for a face lotion, but usually, if you shop around or look for coupons you can get a few bucks off that $20 price tag.

Numbero dos: Olay Total Effects Night Firming Cream. Basically, the nocturnal version of the aforementioned lotion, without the SPF. Because, unless you sleep on the sun, you probably don't need sunblock while you're snoozing.

Numero tres: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock. It's by far, the best face sunblock ever--better than Aveeno faces sunblock. I know. Blasphemous. However, this sunblock soaks in quickly, is not greasy, and smells like flowers! It's awesome.

It runs about $8.99 and mine came with a free chapstick that is almost like a lip gloss, it's so creamy!

Numero quatro: Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer. I'm sure you've all heard of this one--it's a self-tanner lotion-in-one so that you gradually get that beachy glow instead of slathering on real self tanner only to discover that you've chosen the wrong color or it's streaky or you missed a spot or twenty. Confession--I've never used a genuine self tanner. I'm itching to try 'em out, but I'm just not so sure yet. I'll let you know when I take the plunge.

I usually don't use this stuff every. single. day. because--just like the real stuff--it can "gather" at your wrists and ankes and wave the "fake flag" if you're not careful. Truly, exfoliating those areas in the shower will help guard against the tell-tale line. They also make this stuff for faces, but I usually just use bronzer.

So, there you have it: the "skin"-ny on skincare. Heh heh.

I am so clever. ;)


A dweam wiffin a dweam.

If there's something Andrew and I have learned in the last 344 days of being married, it's how to cope under uncertain circumstances and handle change like champs. We've had our fair share of setbacks, letdowns, and disappointments, but we've also had a good measure--poured out and shaken down--of blessing. We've been faced with crisis and have hashed things out and still been able to look each other in the eye (just one) ;). So much of what we have dealt with has been a result of unmet expectations--about jobs, family, time commitments, household stuff, etcetera--everyone has a picture of "what it will be like when we're married", and inevitably, that picture may become a little blurred once the wedding bells ring. We've learned more about ourselves and each other and, the third entity in our relationship--our marriage itself--than we ever thought possible in a few weeks shy of a year. We've peeled back one tiny layer of what it means to actually serve our marriage, and laid a few bricks of the foundation of our union: forgiveness. You see, many unsuspecting newlyweds think that communication is the bedrock of a good marriage. You know, talking things out. While I'm definitely not discounting good conversation, I really believe in my heart of hearts that without forgiveness--real forgiveness--a marriage is doomed: not necessarily to divorce, but to bitterness, coldness, to ending up being more like business partners, or "ships passing in the night", instead of friends and lovers. So many arguments and altercations are the result of each person's individual unmet expectations, (as we've noticed), about an event or issue, not actually what was said or done in the situation--hence, forgiveness as the most necessary and stabilizing force in any marriage, days old or ripened with age.

I also think that "premarital counseling" as preparation for marriage is a ruse--a few meetings with a pastor aren't going to prepare you to absorb a whole 'nother person: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife; and they will become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) Last time I checked, 1+1≠1. But, that's why God's in the business of miracles. One of my goals for our marriage is that we attend some form of marriage counseling periodically through the years--even if we don't think we "need" it. That way, we at least have some perspective of what it's like to be married, instead of what it's like to dream about being married and in the meantime make a bazillion phone calls about wedding plans. :) And, just for good measure, I'm not saying that premarital counseling should be done away with entirely--everyone should be looked squarely in the face by a man of the cloth and told exactly what their getting into--however, I wish there was a "follow up" bit of sorts, like on your first three anniversaries or something. Anyway, a girl can dream.

That's my two cents, a few weeks premature of our first anniversary. It's ok, though. I'm not shy. So, take it or leave it. But if you take it, leave some for everyone else.

Post script: for some challenging, truthful, old school literature on marriage check out As For Me and My House by Walter Wangerin. CLUTCH.


h o p e

The road called Hope is cobbled and crooked. It is the scenic route to the City of Joy, twisting and turning, challenging it's sojourner with every hook and dip, every rise of a hill, every rickety bridge, and every gap in the pavement. It asks much of it's traverser, but promises much in return. It whispers encouragement, just when a foot slips, a knee bruises. A glance over the shoulder reveals an honest path. A forward gaze is cloaked by a fine mist; shapes emerge in the distance, and Trust is a necessary companion.

The journeymen hiking Hope's scantily mapped trail are couch potatoes called athletes. Walk-around-the-block-ers called Iron Men. Renamed and repurposed by Hope's landmarks and landmines. Growing into their new [true] identity with every beleaguered step. Hope Road asks too much; Hope's roadies gather and glean at every slope and crest, begging for deliverance.

Hope delivers.


Absence makes the heart grow fonder

So, you're all really fond of me, right? Since I haven't been writing, right? Right? It has been many moons since my last post, and even more moons since I wrote about something worthwhile, methinks. This might just have to be a list post.

1. Let's just get this part over with: I did not get the job that I interviewed for back in March. It's a long story that I won't tell because I'm tired of hearing myself say it. Found that out about 2 1/2 weeks ago. Fun times. But, I did get a part time job that starts tomorrow, (and has nothing to do with medicine), that will give me the chance to get out of the house, put my hands to something, and make a little moola. Me likey moola. After all this, I think I'm going to be one tough broad. Not tough as in chewin' 'baccy and foregoing measures of personal hygiene, but tough as in "onward and upward", "keep on keepin' on", "if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger". Basically, once I get a "real" job, you should keep your distance. ;)

2. My heart was wrapped in Clover--North Carolina, that is. A few weekends ago we celebrated the upcoming wedding of Jamie and Kent at a little bachelorette soiree involving delicious food, sun, gorgeous lingerie, and lots of laughter. And speaking of weddings, many congratulations to Cory and Brad--engaged at last! Love is in the air, my friends. Or something's in the water.

3. Andrew and I have been tearing up the road in the last week. At least tearing up I-95 and I-40. Like ten times. That's what it seems like. But we spent a great Mother's Day weekend with the Armstrongs in Hendersonville, just hanging out and enjoying each other's company. We drove all over the place, saw the fam, played doubles tennis (or tried), and celebrated the goodness of mothers everywhere.

4. Bless your pea-pickin' heart! My friend Grace and I have signed up for a farm share. But we're sharing it. So, we're doing a farm share share. The fancy name for it is "Community Supported Agriculture", or CSA. Basically, we paid Brinkley Farms a flat amount for a summer/fall share, (but we're splitting it since we don't know exactly how much food it is), and every week we pick up a box of our requested fresh-from-the-farm produce at a drop-off location of our choice! They offer 50 different kinds of vegetables, some fuit, fresh eggs, farm raised pork and beef,(no hormones or other craziness added in to "beef" them up, heh heh), and it comes down to about $15 a week--which we spend that much on produce at the grocery store anyway! Not only are we supporting a local farm, but we're getting fresher food, (thousands of miles fresher), and foregoing all the chemicals and other junk sprayed all over grocery store foods. Sounds like a deal to me! Do yourself--and your community--a favor and do a quick google search of farms that offer a CSA program near you. DO IT. You know you want to.

5. I may or may not have killed my Basil. I left it for four days. It is very shriveled and sad looking. I've watered it three times already today in attempt to revive it. I may have to start CPR and mouth to mouth soon. Things are getting hairy. But I mean really. Am I going to ask my neighbor to come over and water my high maintenance Basil while I'm gone? I don't think so. Suck it up, Basil. No, really. Please suck up all the water I've poured over you in the last few hours. Please? Find the will to liiiiiive!

I'm sure there's more. But I've been out of practice for so long it may take a few posts to limber up, if you will. And I will. Oh, I will.