Wednesday, November 30, 2011

End of the Thankful Challenge

It's already the last day of November!  If you've been following along, we've been completing Tina's idea for the Thankful Challenge by blogging one thing every day we are thankful for.  Today, on the last day of the challenge, we are going to post the NUMBER ONE thing we are most thankful for!

Amy's up first:  Today, and every day, I am thankful for my family.  Although this one is sort of recycled, since I've already recognized my sister (twice) and parents, I can't say enough how thankful I am for them.  They support me in all that I do, make me smile, make me laugh, and make me feel like an amazing person, even when I might not act like it.  So, mom, dad, sister, and guys are the best!

Ashley's Turn:  I can't believe it is the end of November already!  Along with being thankful for the month of November for encouraging me to recognize all I am thankful for, I am most thankful for my family!  I am fortunate enough to have a few different families, as now I am part of Matt's, and Matt and I have formed our own little mini fam.  Family is one thing that is always there-- friends come and go, things come and go, but one thing that won't is family, and for that I am fortunate! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sisters: Crafting Fun!

Now seems like a great time to recap our crafting projects from Sunday.  Amy realized that because she is in her own house she needs more holiday decorations, therefore she set up the day with the creative name "Christmas Craft-stravaganza."  We decided that about 3 projects would be a fair amount to start with, and our mom joined in as well.  We got most of our ideas from Pinterest.

I'd make a liar out of myself to say everything was flawless,  because we did have quite a few issues-- spray paint running off of a glass bottle to the primer that stuck to the bottle running out completely, paint everywhere, things knocked on the floor.  We gave up on a few ideas, but, regardless, we hope to make it an annual tradition.  Here is what we came up with!

This is my shadow box.  I bought the shadow box and fillers at Hobby Lobby and used my cricut machine to make the letters.

Amy had some trouble painting her bottles to create her first project so she chose to move to her next project-- a clay pot Christmas tree.  It took some time for the paint to dry; this is the "in progress" photo.

Amy also created memory ornaments!  She put some white paint into a glass ball ornament and used a silver Sharpie to write memories from the year.  She had quite the year this year, and that was a great idea for a memoir!

I created a set of coasters using the base of a clay pot and an etched mirror.  I also created a photo frame on a candle stick, now just to find the perfect picture to put in it!

Amy and I agree this project of my mom's was a great idea!  She's going to use it as a cupcake stand.

When I got home, I decided to create a last-minute project that I didn't originally plan to make.  I printed out one of my favorite photos on a piece of vellum paper and used Mod-Podge to paste it on a glass candle holder.  It is one of my favorite decorations in my house right now!

Today I am thankful for the giggle of a child.  That particular sound made my day great and made it fly by.

Amy's turn!  Today I'm thankful for baking.  I find it so therapeutic, and it's great having snacks to show for it!  :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Still Thankful after Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful for everyone who put up their christmas lights this weekend and lit them up.  It is more entertaining to drive home from work in the dark with decorations to look at.

Well, Ashley, what a coincidence!  Today, I am thankful for Christmas music!  It makes the whole house feel a little nicer.  :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stuff: Mission Accomplished- The Half Marathon Recap

I did it!  I am officially a half-marathoner!

As you know if you read last weekend's stuff post, I have been training for a half marathon for a few months now.  My goal for the year was to run 10k, but I decided to take it one step further.

I spent the week in super-paranoid mode, avoiding germs in any way I could think of.  I had these horrible visions of myself being too sick to run and having worked so hard for nothing.  I'll admit...I got a little out-of-control about it.  Thanks to my family for putting up with it!

Finally, Friday rolled around.  I headed out to pick up my packet and found out there were about 1700 people registered for the race.  I know that is nothing compared to some races I've read about, but I definitely wasn't expecting a race so big at this time of year.

After picking up my packet, Ashley, her hubby, and I picked up some dinner (pasta, of course).  Soon enough, I headed home to spend a ton of time reading running blogs and freaking out.  Then, my phone rang.  It was my favorite running buddy to wish me luck and tell me she was proud of me.  :)  Totally made my night and helped me chill out so I could sleep!

Pre-race...ready to rock!

Bright and early in the morning, Ashley, our mom, and I headed out to the race.  We were pretty early, which was part of the I didn't quite know what to expect.  So, we hung out for awhile before race time.  My nerves were pretty low at this I was happy.  Although my brother-in-law couldn't be there, he made me an awesome playlist to keep my mind occupied through the race.

Soon, enough, it was race time!  I was smiling at the start...

...and then I dropped the BIL's iPod.  Twice.  Luckily, it still worked.  And the first couple songs kept me smiling.  For the first couple of miles, my shin was really bugging me, which made me quite nervous.  Once I chilled out about it, I stopped noticing it and was warmed up enough for it to have stopped bothering me.

The rain started about 4 miles in.  I was really dreading the rain, but it actually didn't bother me too much.  I stayed focused and my playlist popped up with some great stuff right when I needed it.

At mile 10, I saw my cheering squad!  Seeing them was a huge pick-me-up and helped a lot through the last, most difficult miles of the race.  These miles were really narrow.  The people in front of me were going a little slower than I wanted to be moving, which was making my legs hurt.  So, I had to stick it out and pass when I could.

In the home stretch, when I was about at the point where I was considering walking (I only walked through water stations so I didn't spill everywhere), my favorite running buddy popped up again!  I high-fived her and stuck it out to the finish.

It was TOUGH (as you can probably tell from my lovely expression), but I did it! I finished in 2:07:30...beating my 2:15 goal. My running buddy was the first to greet me at the finish, and I hugged her (which she probably didn't appreciate, but I didn't think first, haha) and seeing her made me cry.  When my other friend and my mom and sister got to me, I had gotten it together and coureously gave them knuckles rather than hugs.  :)

After changing into dry clothes, we headed out to lunch.  They gave me an awesome post-race gift.  Ashley came up with the idea to make a "Race Inspiration" book.  She talked to a bunch of my friends and family, and some of my favorite people contributed quotes and words of encouragement.

Sorry for the poor quality on this one...took it on my phone.

When I got home, my BIL had put "Congrats" balloons on my front steps, which are now right next to me--and will stay there until the helium runs out.

This race was a huge accomplishment for me.  I am SO fortunate to have people in my life who supported me and cheered me on, despite the rain and cold.  I have to say that my sister certainly lived up to her rep as my NUMBER ONE cheerleader.  She made me feel like a world-class runner, so much more than a short little lady who runs for fun and probably talks about it way too much. 

The post-race blues haven't set in quite yet...I'm looking forward to just being able to run and not caring how many miles!

Today I am thankful for my parents...who are pretty much amazing!  My dad came and helped me fix my dryer today, and my mom stood in the rain for two hours just to watch me run.  What a lucky daughter!

Ashley's turn!

Today I am thankful for our first Christmas Craft-Stravaganza! Amy decided to put together a crafting day, and we invited our mom too. It was fun!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Race Day Thankfulness

Today, I am thankful for four awesome people (the sister included) who stood out in the rain to watch me run.  I am a lucky girl!

Ashley's turn!  Today I'm thankful for comfy sweatshirts!  Mine kept me warm during the race today.

Come back tomorrow for the race recap!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday: Thankful Style

Today, I am thankful for this blog!  Reading what my sister put up yesterday basically made my day!  And it absolutely cracks me up when the brother-in-law says "Do you need me to take a pic for the blog?"  Now we just need to get some more readers!  :)

Ashley's Turn!
I'm thankful for Black Friday shopping!  I was one of the crazy people out at 9:00 last night got home about 1 am.  When I was a kid we didn't leave the house on the day after Thanksgiving and now, I can't wait for it! 

Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving!  Now onto Christmas prep and Amy's big race TOMORROW!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sisters: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Today I am thankful for Amy because I always know I can look up to her.  There are plenty of things she has done for me in my lifetime that have gotten me to where I am today.  My college degree was due largely in part from her support through times when I doubted myself and others doubted me as well.  I may not thank her enough and we have our share of disagreements, but I'll always be more than happy to sit in the cold or rain to cheer her on at a race... I have to live up to the reputation she has given me and remain her Biggest Cheerleader!

Amy's Turn:

I am thankful for Ashley because she can always make me laugh, even when no one else can.  She always seems to know exactly what to say to make things better.  No matter what, I know she is in my corner, and that is a powerful feeling.  I can only hope that I do the saem for her and can be the cheerleader that she is for me, because she deserves the best.  She is smart and talented, and makes me proud to be her sister.  In a nutshell, she is a person I can always count on and who gets me in a different way than anyone else in the world.  I am a lucky girl!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pre-Thanksgiving Thankfulness

Today, I am thankful for the super nice lady at the post office today.  I was there sending a LOT of boxes overseas from a supplies for soldiers drive we held at my school, and she came out to help me carry boxes.  Made my day!

Ashley's Turn;
  Today I am thankful for this blog... because it encourages me to be thankful and it will provide a journal of memories for Amy and I.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spaces: Upcoming Craft-stravaganza!

Amy and I have put together the idea of our first annual Christmas Craft-Stravaganza.  Both being in new houses this year we are in need of some things to decorate our houses with and what better things to decorate with than things we have hand made ourselves!!  So we've taken some ideas from Pinterest and are going to put them into action this upcoming weekend. 

Here is a preview of what I plan to make!

Photo frames on candle sticks.

   and wooden hearts painted with chalkboard paint for ornaments and gift tags!

I (Amy), have some projects up my sleeve as well:

I'm really excited to get to develop my own Christmas decorating "theme," and I want to go with a silver/white sort of thing.  I'll have other things mixed in, of course, but I just think the silver and white is so pretty!  This project is from, but the link I click on Pinterest gives me an error.  Looks like I'm coming up with this tutorial on my own!

Ashley and I have been saving up wine bottles for months, so I think this project project will be a great use for them.  Now just to find some elegant things to put in them!

This is my first time having my own Christmas tree, so I will be making LOTS of ornaments to decorate it.  This idea (from link is broken) is one of my absolute write memories from  the year on it.  I think this will be a great tradition, and I'm picking an amazing year to start it!  I'm thinking a white ornament with silver Sharpie?

We can't wait for the Craft-stravaganza!  It's gonna be epic!

On to being thankful!  Ashley first...

Today I am thankful for feeling appreciated.  I started my day today with a message from my boss saying how much i'm appreciated for the hard work I do every day and it put me in the best mood.

And now Amy...

I am thankful for to-do lists!  Even if there is a lot on it, somehow having it on a list makes me less stressed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful #21

Wow...21 days?!?

Ashley's up first:  Today I am thankful for Etsy.  It gives such good ideas!

Amy's turn: Today I'm thankful for coworkers who turn out to be great friends.  It makes the work day (including a 12-hour one like today) so much better!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Hard to Come Up with a Month of Thankful Titles!

Yeesh!  This coming up with thankful titles is getting tricky!  Sorry for the boring titles!

Today, I'm thankful for yoga.  I don't do it often, but I did "Yoga for Runners" off of this morning.  It was tough, but I feel great!  Maybe after this half marathon I'll look into taking a yoga class...

Today, I am thankful for good smelling candles.  I just love the subtle smell they fill your house with when you have one burning.  My latest favorite is a Yankee Candle scent called Sugared Plum.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stuff: Seven Days Away

Well, folks, the countdown is on.  In only seven days, I am running my FIRST HALF MARATHON!

As I mentioned the last time I posted about running, if you had told me years ago that I was going to do this, I would call you a liar.  But, life sometimes throws you a curveball, and running was a good focus for me during some difficult times.  Now, it's developed into a passion of mine and an amazing source of confidence.

Running in Central Park= awesome!

In 2011, my goal for myself was to run a 10K.  Over the summer, I got to focus more on my running and decided to try some longer distances than I had in the past (three and four miles, with the occasional six thrown in there--but only with a friend--were pretty much my limit).  After seeing some success with adding distance, I started toying with the idea of trying a half marathon instead of a 10K.

So, the Internet research began.  And I found this training plan from Pink Runner.  My biggest fear about half marathon training was not having it fit into my crazy work weeks during the school year.  This plan looked like one I could actually do, and so I decided this could happen.  I started looking for races, found one close to home in 14 weeks, and got this party started!

Thanks to my friend Kenny for taking this one at my most recent 5K.

The training plan was for 12 weeks, but starting 14 weeks before the race has worked out well for me.  I repeated a couple of weeks because of my sister's wedding and my New York trip, which kind of threw off my routine.

And now, here I am, only a week away from the big day!

I am soooo excited!

Yet, I am soooo nervous!  I have become an even worse germ-a-phobe than I already am in fear of getting sick and not being able to run (*knock on wood*, cross your fingers for me, and all that good stuff).

I feel so fortunate for my little cheering section that is forming to come out and support me.

I *think* I'm ready.

And now, I need to go run.  Can't ditch the training plan now!
Today, I am thankful for dancing.  I had a super fun afternoon with some students and other teachers yesterday.  Definitely the start of a great weekend!

  Today, I am thankful for craft shows!  I look forward to the beginning of Autumn up until Thanksgiving simply because there is a craft show every weekend somewhere near my house.  I may not always buy something, but I get inspirational ideas from the people there.  I am one of those people that loves to give gifts that no one else can give.  Therefore most of my unique ideas come from craft shows!! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

What are you Thankful for?

Today I am thankful for the weekend!  I'm in need of some rest and relaxation.

Amy's Turn,
Today I'm thankful for my students.  They can always make me laugh.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spaces: "L" Marks the Spot

If you know me, it's no surprise that I wanted to make something for my sister and new brother-in-law's wedding gift.  I had been eyeing this tutorial from Lemon Tree Creations for quite some time now.  My sister loves personalized stuff, so I decided now was the time to make them!

All I really needed for this project was some plates and a porcelain pen.  The hardest part was the plates, as I was kind of picky and wanted a set on a stand, and the only one I could find was at World Market, only in stores (not that I have a problem going to the store because I LOVE it...but let's say I may have procrastinated a little and wasn't happy about the 40 minute drive to get there).

Once I got the plates, I started off my finding "l's" in fonts that I liked.  I got a set of 10 plates, so I made 5 matching sets.  I scribbled all over the back in pencil, then went over the outline in pen to transfer the pencil onto the plate.

Then, I colored in the outline with my porcelain pen.

After finishing all the plates, I let them dry for about a day, then baked them according to the instructions on the porcelain pen.
I was really pleased with the way they turned out...and I hope the newlyweds are too!

Today, I'm thankful for coffee!  Although I may hold the record for the fastest development of an addiction, that stuff is just. so. good!

Ashley's Turn!
  Perfectly fitting along with the theme of the blog above.  Today I am thankful for my hubby Matt!  Today marks 2 months since our wedding day.  And we use the plates shown above with our dinner tonight!  We love them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Midweek Thanks!

Today I am thankful for Downy Unstoppables.  A great new product that made not only my laundry smell fresh and clean but my laundry room as well!.

Amy's Turn,
Today, I am thankful for Diet Dr. Pepper because it helped me get through my masters class tonight. 

           Hope you all had a good Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spaces: Painting!

    This weekend was a big weekend for me and my house, I was able to decide the color I wanted in my powder room.  It was Valspar paint called Opal Slate .  The project took a little longer than I had hoped it would, but I am very proud of myself and the final turn-out of the room.  All I need now is to add some throw rugs which I have yet to pick out. 

This is where I started, taped off and ready to go.

This is the project in progress.  The hardest part was cutting in around the sink pipes. 

    And after a day's work and some drying time, this is the final product of my powder room painting project.   A big thank-you to Amy for assisting me when I reached the ceiling. 

I have furnished it with some of my own photography.  However I feel, now that the walls have a little color, they are in need of more decoration.  It will take some time to find the perfect piece to hang... any ideas?

Today I am thankful for my house.  It is finally turning into a "home!"

Amy's turn!  I'm thankful for Glee!  Their music always makes me smile. :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Starting the Week the Thankful Way

Happy Monday, folks!  I ended my school day by saying "Have a good weekend!" I hope that's not an indication of what the rest of my week will be like.  Eek!

Today I am thankful for my job.  I get to spend my day with a ton of great kids and teach them to love reading.  What a great way to make money!

Ashley's Turn,
   Today I am thankful for poetry.  I love it but tend to forget how much I enjoy it, I find it relaxing and inspirational to read and write poetry.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sisters: New Recipe Night- Amy's Choice!

Tonight it was Amy's turn to choose a recipe for New Recipe Night.  Since the weather is getting cooler, she decided to try something we haven't done before.  We made a black bean and butternut squash soup from Clean Eating Chelsey that we agree was very good.  It was a little bit spicy while being a little bit sweet at the same time.  Definitely two thumbs up!

The hardest part was peeling and cubing the squash...and waiting for it to be done! :)

The rest of the vegetables cooking in the pot before we added the beans and squash.

The finished product!  (excuse the blurry picture)

We approve!  If you can't tell...Amy is blowing on her soup, not simply making strange faces.

Today, Ashley is Thankful for Scotch Blue Painters tape!  Without it, painting my bathroom today would have proven to be much more difficult.  The post about the painting to follow!

Amy's Turn: Today I am thankful for New Recipe Night!  It is always something special to look forward to.  :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekend Thank-You's

Amy's Turn,
Today I am thankful for ikea.  What better super crowded way to spend a chilly Saturday!

Ashley's Turn,

 Today I am thankful for ambition.  How else would people meet goals and complete projects without the drive to succeed. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Today, we are both thankful for the same thing: the veterans.  So many people, including the families, have made great sacrifices to make our country the fantastic place that it is.  We are so very grateful; one day truly isn't enough.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stuff: NYC-The Next Episode

Over the weekend, I brought you up to speed on the first part of my awesome trip to NYC. I am to tell you about the rest of the trip!  I've been reading so many blogs about the NYC might say I'm in a New York state of mind (har-de-har-har).

The next, and last, full day of our trip to New York started off with a run in Central Park. Running geek that I am, this was on my must-do list, and it was amazing!

Here I am, smiling it up as a run.  My running buddy was tired, so I was running up the hills and back to get the adrenaline pumping.  :)  Just seeing Central Park was not enough for me...running was the way to go!

Of course, we had to stop every once in awhile to take in the scenery.
After our amazing Central Park experience, we stopped for bagels...also amazing.  Then cleaned up and went for another long walk through the city to Serendipity, the restaurant from the movie.
The wait was pretty long, so we ended up getting dinner along with the dessert we intended to get.  It was...notice a theme in this post?...amazing!  Possibly the best carrot cake ever...and this girl knows her carrot cake!

Finally, we capped off our NYC trip with tickets to The Lion King.  It has been my dream for YEARS to see a show on Broadway, and it was definitely all that I dreamed it would be.

All I am basing this on is my memories of the show, but I swear this theater is where TRL used to be filmed back in the day...what do you think?

All in all, I'm so glad I decided to spend the money and go on this trip.  It was truly living a dream of mine.  So, needless to say, today I am thankful for the opportunity to see New York City and have a great time.

How about you?
Today I am thankful for siblings... Amy and I have a very close bond but every day I watch 2 little boys (brothers) establish the bond of a sibling and its very special to watch it all unfold.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Midweek Thanks!

Today I am thankful for the Internet!  I vaguely remember what the world was like before the Internet became a way of employment, communication and life in general.  Today I am thankful for the Internet as it allows me to find things, and share my own ideas!

Amy's turn:  Today I am thankful for chocolate.  Need I say more? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spaces: Changes in Ashley's house

I've had a lot more free time since my wedding has came and gone.  I've had time to look around my house and think about what needs to be done to make it less of a house and more of a home.  I wanted to start out adding more things "to scale" in the house.  And figured that our little table in the kitchen was a great place to start.  I didn't want the wall to be bare when we first moved in so I added a little couch table to the space.   It just started to look too small so Matt and I headed to ikea to pick up a new shelf for the kitchen. 
I didn't waste any time getting started with the building process...

This is where we started......

after the box was emptied...this is what I had to work with there are some additional big pieces that were not included in this photo.   (The cardboard is not part of the shelf).

In progress...

It's complete!!  Next up now is bigger baskets for storage.

Matt and I are still getting used to this new and bigger piece of furniture but it's growing on us and looks much better in the space!   I love how the options for using it are endless!  We can change the baskets, add more or remove them completely.  I've also decided that this shelf will become a display for my holiday decorations. 

I've also been busy adding these saddle back bar stools from JCPenney to our kitchen for additional seating!

And finally: 
Today I am thankful for sleep.   It's been a long day and I can not wait for a goodnight sleep!

Amy's turn!

Today I am thankful for the rain.  It's kind of cozy being cooped up in here...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thankful Challenge: The Next Episode

Today was one of those days that you have to keep reminding yourself what you're thankful for.  So, today, I am thankful for this sweet little gift I got from my sister, that I hung up in my closet and have reminded myself of multiple times today. :)

Ashley's turn!

Today I am thankful for music.  It's great how one song can bring back great memories and set the mood for the whole day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stuff: Broadway Bound

About a month ago, I got to go someplace I have been dreaming of for a loooong time: New York City!  I figured today would be a good day to bring you up to speed on my trip, in honor the NYC Marathon this weekend.

For starters, I've never been on a plane before.  So, my best friend was bound and determined to get me on a plane this year.  I was hesitant, but this summer I decided we should go for it, and we booked the trip.

Despite being pretty nervous, the plane trip wasn't so bad.  Dare I was mildly relaxing.  It's not often I don't have much of anything to do except read.

The first night got off to a bit of a rocky start, with my friend losing some important items and the two of us ending up here:

However, the next day we were ready to rock.  After a nice little walk through Times Square, which is where we stayed, we hopped on the subway and headed for Downtown Manhattan.

Our first stop downtown was Ground Zero.
Unfortunately, we couldn't get reservations for the memorial, so we were only able to see it from the fences around the outside.  However, we headed to St. Paul's Chapel across the street, which was truly humbling.  This chapel is only yards from Ground Zero and stayed standing through all of the damage.  I felt weird taking pictures in and around here because it feels like such a sacred and solemn place to me, but I had to remember this:

As we know, firefighters around the world came to help after the World Trade Center attacks.  The chapel served as a sanctuary for many of these volunteers.  Firefighters who came to help left their badges at the chapel, and it was really awe-inspiring to see.

Our other stops in Downtown Manhattan were the Statue of Liberty (amazing, eventhough I wasn't willing to spend the time in line to take the ferry and only saw from the shore)...

...and a pretty cool walk on the Brooklyn Bridge.

After hopping back on the subway, we stopped at Rockefeller Center, and the amazing St. Patrick's Cathedral, where we actually saw some people get married!

That evening, we snagged a table in the middle of Times Square and chatted while taking in the sights.  It was a pretty awesome night.

Well...I feel like this post has been much longer than I anticipated, so I think I'll cut it off with day one and bring you up to speed on the rest later this week.
However...I still have time to be thankful!  Today, I'm thankful for fall colors.  The pretty scenery has helped me through more than one run these days.

 Today I am thankful for family.  After an awesome dinner out with my mom, her dad (our grandpa) and sisters (our aunts), Amy and our cousins last night I have realized that its nice to have a close family!