Thursday, December 6, 2012

Peppermint-Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Every time there's a church event that involves bringing food, I've noticed that I try extra hard to bake/cook something new and from scratch. It's like I'm tricking people into thinking "Shannon knows how to cook". We're having our Harvest Christmas party tonight and due to my new last name, we fell under the dessert umbrella.

Several months ago, I bought a Martha Stewart Living Groupon subscription which also got me a free subscription to Everyday Food (which sadly they're discontinuing!). I've already grabbed so many great recipes from this little digest! It's full of hints and baking tips that are actually helpful for a basic cooker/baker like me. So when I saw a Christmas cookie section this month, I knew I had to make one for our church party. I settled on the Peppermint-Chocolate Sugar Cookie--mostly because how festive they looked and who doesn't like peppermint? Plus I got to use my trusty mixer!

  • Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted (just a note, I didn't sift, I wasn't patient enough and it was fine!)
  • 3-5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 12 round peppermint candies, crushed, for decorating (I used more)
  • *Makes 2 dozen*


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract on medium-high until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in egg, then flour mixture on low. Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place, 2 inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are lightly golden, about 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks and let cool completely.
  3. Stir together confectioners' sugar and enough cream to make a spreadable glaze (if you like a strong mint flavor, stir in up to 1/4 teaspoon extract). Spread a thin layer of glaze on top of each cookie and sprinkle with candies (I used my Martha chopper!). Let dry completely on racks.
And here's what mine looked like:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Not to Brag or Anything...

...But I have the best husband. Even though we've only been married for about 4 months now, he's continued to impress me in new ways.

  • He's not afraid to make dinner.
  • He'll never turn down a trip to the grocery store with me.
  • He'll join me on trips to HomeGoods and World Market...for the 3rd time in a week.
  • He cleans the shower, because it literally tires my arms out so quickly that I can't finish.
  • He cleans on his days off

BUT there has been one obvious thing that I have noticed that he is the at...He loves inviting people to church. Ryan has been intentional with almost everyone we know up here (known for awhile or just a little) and invited them to church on multiple occasions. Some we know are saved, some we know are not saved, but either way Ryan loves seeing people we love and care about come to the church we have grown to love and care about. Usually the woman in the relationship is inviting couples over for lunch, or hangout time; nope that's all Ryan! He's constantly reaching out to multiple people to check-in, stay in touch and invite them into community with us. And I just love that. So, I had to brag, and if you haven't been invited to Harvest's coming :) Love you boo!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gratefulness in Livin' Small

We live in a slightly greater than 800 square foot condo. We only have one parking spot, we can only park 2 visitors at a time, we have only one bedroom and one bathroom and we live 4 stories up. Real transparency here, I sometimes get bummed out when I see other people's houses, heck apartments that are 4 times the size as our humble abode AND paying maybe half as much as we are for rent/mortgage. Sometimes these ungrateful words want to jump out of my mouth: it's not fair.

Ryan and I have always shared thoughts and dreams about moving South--you know, just somewhere outside of Virginia and well, anywhere below the Mason Dixon line. We would love to settle down in the Carolinas, or maybe even Georgia. I would love for our children to grow up with an adorable southern accent, live on sweet tea and sunshine, and then skooch them off to a college so that Ryan and I can feed off of their school spirit--Clemson anyone? We'd totally be those parents. But we aren't there yet, we might not ever get there. We've been talking about it more, but who knows the Lord might have something different for us!

Back to our itty bitty condo--for a LONG time, I was not a fan of living in Northern VA. The DC Metro area takes a LOT of getting used to. There is a laundry list of things I still don't like about this area--the price to live up here, the amount of time you lose commuting to and from places, the crowds, the traffic. But in living here, I'm finding that I'm incredibly grateful and blessed to be where I'm at in life, living in NOVA, livin' small. Sure we are living in a condo the size of most people's master bedroom, but we still manage to entertain, to set aside time to intentionally invest in friendships we have grown to love, to attempt to cook decent meals and to decorate our small space exactly how we want it.

For now, I'm grateful that we don't have to fill a huge space, because in all honesty I probably couldn't handle it right now! We are incredibly blessed to have a roof over our head, to be living 30 minutes from our Nation's capitol, to both have secure jobs, to live near a metro and to have the time to spend together in an area where time is so precious. I'm grateful for our small space because really, when you think about it, it's hardly a small blessing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

To DIY or Not to DIY: Favors

For some reason, our idea for favors came relatively early on in the wedding planning process and as soon as we figured it out we couldn't walk away from it! I'm a HUGE proponent of favors that make sense. If we didn't figure out a favor that made sense, and emulated us as a couple then we probably would've scrapped them all together. Here's the thing about favors (and here I go with lists again):

1) They aren't absolutely essential. Honestly, 50% of the time I go to weddings I will completely forget to take a favor, either on purpose or unintentionally. For something you're buying with the expectation that every one of your guests will take a favor, those statistics are not in your favor and that will also eat up cash monies!

2) If you want people to take them, make them useful. And here's where I'm gonna get opinionated...When I'm a wedding guest, I'm not going to take a plastic container of bubbles with curly ribbon on it, or a handful of almonds packed in a tulle, or a tiny picture frame with your faces in it and date. It may be cute and sentimental but it's clutter in my eyes. Your guests want something they can use and not clutter their house.

3) Make it YOU! Favors should say something about the two of you! If you're just having favors because it's "protocol" see number 1.

At first, (again I was super DIY advantageous in the beginning) I wanted to make homemade salsa and can them in cute mason jars. I can't cook super well, but I can make a mean Chili's-taste-alike salsa. Chili's was our go-to restaurant while we were dating so I thought it was perfect! And it would've been, except the logistics, time involved in preparation, transportation, etc started making my idea more complicated. Not to mention, it also didn't really go with my theme or the Italian food we were serving. So we scrapped the salsa and went back to the drawing board.

We went with cotton candy--something we both love, and let's face it everyone loves some cotton candy every once and awhile!


150 1.0 oz Cotton Candy in Pink from
Kraft Brown Stickers from Staples
Umm and that's it!

Now if you go to the FlossZone website, it looks super sketchy. I originally wasn't going to use them just based off of their stuck in the 90's website with flashy background. However, there weren't many others that shipped out cotton candy in bulk in clear packages, so I was limited. You had your standard carnival type, but that was way too big for what we were using them for. I even emailed them some questions, and they got back to me quickly. I had these arrive a few weeks before the wedding. I splurged and bought the Kraft brown stickers instead of the standard white and designed the sticker to match our invitations/theme in Adobe. They were that easy. We ordered 150 (we had 160 guests) because knew not everyone would take one. Grandma would probably not like any cotton candy. And yes, I'm sure there are some other  crazy people who don't like the goodness of cotton candy. We STILL had leftovers-- I would say we had about 25-30 leftover. 

What we came up with was one of the easiest to prep, was SO us, matched our color palette, and it cost about $0.80 per person. Not to mention we ate a LOT of those leftovers :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

To DIY or Not to DIY: Centerpieces

Centerpieces oh the great centerpieces. These guys were one of my favorite parts of our wedding! The thing about centerpieces is that you have to think of everything in multiples. In my case, I had 20 tables not including our sweetheart table. Costs AND your time can really stack up when you're making or buying things in quantities of 20! The centerpieces were the first major decor decision that I knew I had to make 1) because I would need to start gathering items early and 2) because it was my first budgetary priority in decor.

The Inspiration

For months, I combed through Pinterest, Etsy and countless wedding blogs. I knew I wanted flowers, but that's it. I also knew I fell madly and deeply in love with these wooden planters (below). Sadly, I knew I would not spend $20 per box.

Then I remembered my resources. My dad. You see, my dad built my childhood home. Surely that means he can do anything. As it turns out making a square box wasn't so hard after all (who would've thought!). Now the wood, where could I get my hands on some barnwood? My mother, who was also a great resource, is an expert at finding things for free. She asked everyone under the sun if they had any barnwood. Turns out my dentist, who is also a good family friend I might add, had a barn. With wood. That was falling over. And gave us the wood for free! Thanks to my awesome dad, I had a handmade centerpiece on each table. It made it extra special that I had such a unique touch at the hands of my dad.

After I had figured out the main focal point of the tables, I started to think of the table as a whole. My mom made burlap overlay squares to break up the white table clothes, we collected grapevine balls, mercury glass tealights, pinecones, acorns/nuts, etc to fill out the table. I wanted everything to be natural, simple and not too overpowering. I also decided to DIY the table numbers. I kept it super simple and cheap by going all paper. We went with two different variations, here was the end result:

In action!

The table numbers were relatively simple. I used:

Mini easels from Joann's (these were about 99 cents in store)
Stain from Walmart
Kraft brown cardstock from Michaels
Assorted craft paper from Michaels
White photo corners from Michaels
Martha Stewart Glue Pen from Michaels
Martha Stewart Fine Glitter in White Gold from Michaels
Clearly, I kept Michaels in business.

For the flower illiterate (that I still am), our florist used: pink stock, yellow zinnia, white asclepia, yellow black eye susan, and september aster. My favorites were the fluffy light pink stock :) I was not about to DIY flower arranging. The stress of that far exceeded the "cost savings". It would have been far too time consuming to order wholesale from all over the country, pray that they don't die on the way, and then arrange them the day before/day of. No WAY! So glad I had an awesome and creative florist.

Favors are up next!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

To DIY or Not to DIY: Invitations

I've had several people ask about this and that from our wedding, soooo I decided to blog about a couple of the DIY things we made and DIDN'T make.

Anyone who has a Pinterest account, is engaged or knows someone who is engaged knows the term DIY all too well. And to be honest, I thought I would DIY 10x more than I actually did for my wedding. A DIY wedding is actually more time consuming and sometimes more expensive. I quickly realized that I realistically didn't have the time to DIY everything I wanted to. But I still wanted to be creative and to DIY some. I assessed a couple things:
  • My abilities-- what could I handle on my own (realistically) and what did I have to leave up to a professional? For our wedding, I knew I could handle a lot of the paper/signage since I dabbled in a little graphic design. My graphic designer brother, Jeff would say otherwise haha!
  • My time-- how much time was this going to take away from other more important projects? i.e. should I spend more than 2 days on my "dream" Mr. and Mrs. chair signs for one picture? This came to a conclusive "no". 
  • My resources-- do I know someone who is really good at _______? For example, I knew my dad could build everything under the sun (he built my childhood home afterall), my mom could sew and I had some crafty friends who did have the time to focus on one specific thing.
  • My priorities-- this guy is important. Is this something that you absolutely want to make a priority to try to do on your own? For me, my priority was to do the invites on our own. I wanted something totally unique and very "me". Who knows me better than me??

Invitations/ Save the Dates

Let me say this. Doing your own invitations is a LOT of work and very time consuming. I now know why they pay people the big bucks to have someone do it for them. If you don't understand what resolution, dpi, bleeds, kerning and have your measurements exactly right, you could have a big costly mess on your hands in quantities of 150! I had to do a lot of learning in order to make sure that everything came out right the first time. 
The Save the Dates were sort of my first "trial run" of do I really know what I'm doing and can I handle the invitations. After we got our engagement pictures taken in October, I went right to work on save the dates. The great thing about using your engagement pictures for the main focus of your save the dates is that it's a relatively simple paper good. Let the picture do the talking! Because I'm a marketing nerd, I really wanted the save the date to set the tone for what the wedding would look and feel like. I essentially branded our wedding. If you were a marketing major, you understand! The fonts and the "logo" I used were seen in many different aspects of the wedding. DIY-ing our save the dates was probably the cheapest thing I did. It only cost me about $25 bucks through Smartpress

Invites were a lot more labor intensive and ultra detailed. For example, your invitation card has to be slightly smaller than your envelope. Talk about tedious. And of course, I was going to be picky about everything. We had a soft, rustic and simple theme and I wanted this to come out in the invites! I did go with a little splurge on the pocketfolds. The thing that I loved about Paper and More is that they detail out every measurement you need to know. This was SUPER helpful!


- Pocketfolds in Recycled Kraft Brown (A7 Himalaya) from Paper and More Here
- Reply card envelopes (4 Bar size) from Paper and More Here
- Envelopes in Recycled Kraft Brown (A7 size) from Paper and More Here
- Twine in "Blossom" from The Twinery Here
- Large tag punch and scalloped edge punch from Michaels
- Custom stamp via Etsy
- Invitation, reply card, info card all from Smartpress

Here's how they turned out.

If you ask me, those would cost upwards of $600 if I had gone through a stationer. It probably cost me around $300, which wasn't really saving money in my books. I totally could've done invites way cheaper, BUT I loved them to death and they were a big priority for me. 

Stay tuned for centerpieces!

**All the lovely pictures are from my fabulous photographer, Katelyn James**

Friday, September 28, 2012

So We Bought a Car...

My sweet little 2002 Cavalier
I have been saving money ever since I got money for birthdays and Christmases. Ryan and I are both the type of people that once it's in savings, it stays there for a VERY long time...until it gets used for something big! I was lucky (and blessed) to be essentially given cars ever since I've been driving. Granted, the first car I drove was a taupe Plymouth Voyager van, I was lucky to NOT have to pay for it. After my grandparents passed away, they willed me their tiny Chevy Cavalier. I was so thankful for that meant I no longer had to drive a minivan! It was also free! The Lord provided for me in the car department, even though they were not the most glamorous, nor did they have any "fancy" features. 108k miles later and after saving for forever, I finally looked at my savings account and made a mighty fine sales pitch to Ryan that a new car was in our near future.

For two introverts like Ryan and I, car buying is essentially the equivalent to getting all of your teeth pulled. Some people, namely my mother, love to wheel and deal and to make demands for this and that. We on the other hand, are terrible at it and dread it like the plague. I hated knowing that it was going to be a war as soon as you stepped foot onto the dealership. A war where knew we had a significant disadvantage and the wrong personality for.

Excuse the awkward stance, but I was excited!
It wasn't a pretty process. We got let down a few times, we felt disrespected sometimes, we felt completely taken advantage of sometimes, and we even got ugly with each other. Hello first major marital dispute! Needless to say, I'm overwhelmed with joy that we don't have to do this for years. After about 3 weeks of looking, we knew exactly what we wanted, how much we were willing to pay for it, and who we didn't want to buy it from. When they say that it becomes a game of emotions, it's really true. We didn't want to buy it from one dealership strictly because we didn't want to give commission to the manager on our deal.

Last night, we drove all the way out to a Pohanka Honda dealership in Fredericksburg and were in and out in 2 hours and drove our brand new 2012 CRV home! We loved the quick experience we had, they cleaned/detailed the car before we even got there, and we felt really good about the people that earned our commission. Praise Jesus for power windows and cruise control...oh and a sunroof ;)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Church Planting & Window Watching

If you've kept up with Ryan and I over the past couple months, you probably know that we are a part of a church plant called Harvest Bible Chapel. For several months in the early spring, we had been wrestling with some things with our previous church and eventually decided the best thing to do was to leave and start the church hunting process. Again. It was a hard decision for us, since we had made several great connections with some people and staff there. After Googling what seemed like every church in a 30 mile radius of Fairfax and visiting a couple, we came up empty handed. What? There are LOTS of churches in Northern Virginia, and we couldn't find just one to plug into? We were frustrated and confused. We did know that Jesus calls us to be a part of the local church. So, we kept going.

The long-story-short version is that we found our church home in a church that didn't even exist yet. Through Twitter. Thank you social media. We've now been a part of a small team of a handful of families to help build up Harvest in Fairfax that just launched in the beginning of September. It has been a blessing to be a part of, but boy has it been a lot of work. I have a new respect for just how much work it takes to run a Sunday service. And right now, we're a bare bones version compared to some other local churches that have countless ministries that go on every Sunday. I also feel terrible for being a "bystander" for so many years. The truth is, I never really got plugged into a church until I graduated college. Sure I went, but I never served. I was strictly there to get fed and to evaluate how they did this and that. I was not a part of a local church, I was the window watcher and because of that, I missed out on really being a part of the church. So much of my mindset towards church was what was the church going to do and offer me, when it really should have been the other way around.

After jumping into facets of ministry I said to myself that I could never do, having to step out of my comfort zone and putting my "needs" and wants aside, I've found church planting to be both immensely rewarding and simultaneously exhausting. Sure we're the only couple without kids, we're the youngest and least experienced in life and we're in a completely different phase of life than most, but it's in those things that the Lord has chosen to use us and bless us beyond those differences. I've actually really enjoyed being around lots of kids, learning from those who are older and more established, and most of all serving under the same purpose.

The truth about church planting is that bottom-line it's not easy. There might be personality difference, you'll almost definitely do things that will stretch you, and Sunday will be a much longer commitment than your hour to an hour and a half service. My pastor, Dan always quotes Matthew 16:18 where Jesus says, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Jesus will build his church regardless of bystanders and window watchers, like I was. But there is a greater joy that we can freely partake in by being a part of the building and serving of His church. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to use my gifts for a purpose greater and bigger than me and that the Lord changed my heart, the heart of a bystander.

From our first launch team meeting!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Homemade Queso Blanco Dip: The Best Stuff on Earth

Whenever we have friends come over for dinner, I always feel the need to fool them that "oh I cook like this all the time!" Just kidding, I totally don't own up to that. I do get motivated to really cook food and to start from scratch. Last night we had some friends coming over and we had some tasty tacos complete with homemade queso blanco sauce. I've always wanted to make this from scratch since the canned stuff is pretty sub par. My heart gets weak for anything with queso sauce. It always means that whatever it's slathered on, is bound to taste 10x better. We also got to use our sweet little server that they got us for our wedding! Gifts in action!

There are lots of different ways you can cook this stuff. I saw lots of recipes where you do it on the stove and some were microwaved. I've had them both ways, but I was short on time and decided to go the quick and easy microwave way. Honestly, I think it tastes the same whether you microwave or use the stove. Stovetop recipes will have you standing in front of the pot constantly stirring so the cheese doesn't burn. When you're cooking things at the same time, this make it extra hard. I would've burned it for sure! I finally found this recipe that I pinned on Pinterest and followed it exactly other than cutting the recipe in half. Here's the full recipe. You'll definitely have leftovers! Here it is:

1.25 lb of White American Cheese (I also used Land O'Lakes and it was delish!) cut into cubes
You can find this at the deli counter, I had the lady slice it so all I had to do was rip it into little pieces instead of cutting

1/4 cup of diced green chiles (these come in a cute little tiny can)

2 pickled jalapenos, chopped
This is what's giving it some kick! The more you put in, the spicier it gets.

1 ounce of pickled jalapeno juice
This measurement stressed me out, I just poured some juice from the can of pickled jalapenos (above).

2/3 cup of whole milk
We only had 2%, and I wasn't about to buy milk that we wouldn't drink otherwise. Use whatever milk you have on hand.

1/2 a cup of cold water

A pinch of cumin (optional)
We threw this in. Also, this measurement stressed me out.

1. Throw all the ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. I used a medium sized measuring cup which worked really well since it does bubble up quite a bit and I could pour it out easier.

2. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stopping every minute (or so) to stir. You'll notice it's really watery at first, but it firms up once it's out of the microwave and fulled mixed.

3. Serve and enjoy! We poured it all over everything...our tacos, our chips. Only the best way to eat it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Easy Oatmeal Apple Crisp

Pinterest is seriously my best friend for finding new and easy recipes. Fall graced itself with either an early arrival or a preview of the awesome cool weather we'll be getting soon! Because of the weather, I was feeling inspired to make something fallish for our last Harvest Launch team meeting a few weeks ago, but I wanted it to be fresh, not from the freezer. I also wanted it to be EASY! I pinned this gem while I was on just about every wedding blog known to man trying to plan my own wedding. Here's the recipe:

6 medium apples, pared and sliced (I used gala but I heard Honeycrisps from Whole Foods are super sweet and good!)

1/2 cup all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/3 cup softened butter or margarine

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup of oatmeal flakes

3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease baking dish (I used a 9 x 13) with additional butter.

Cut your apples. I went ahead and cut mine twice so they were more bitesized.

Cut your flour into the softened butter until well mixed. Then add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. 

Sprinkle yummy goodness topping over your apples. I will say that I found that I needed more topping since it didn't cover the apples. I just took the remainder of the butter and added in a little bit of everything (oatmeal, nutmeg, cinnamon, flour, brown sugar, etc.)

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the apples are bubbling.

I've already made this recipe twice, and it's been a hit! Serving warm with vanilla ice cream is a MUST!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wedding & Honeymoon Highlights


So, Ryan and I have officially reached our 2 month mark of marriage! It has flown by and yet at the same time we both feel like we've been married for WAY longer. We love not having to say goodbye to each other at night, watching an episode or two of Big Bang Theory (our latest obsession) before we go to bed, making dinner together and having "our" place to share.

I completely neglected to blog about our wedding/ honeymoon! So, here's my quick attempt at recapping two of the most memorable events in our life thus far:

The wedding was simply 100x better than I could've imagined. I had several awesome and creative helpers who made the reception look amazing, vendors who were phenomenal at what they do, and the best wedding guests a girl could ask for. We loved having family all together, literally seeing everyone off their feet and dancing, and just had such a blast celebrating with each other and so many others. It will forever be a day that I treasure and look back on as such a blessing. Jesus even held back the nasty storm looming during the ceremony by about 20 minutes. We got really lucky!

Now, I know that most girls get very caught up in the whole wedding planning process and the actual wedding day itself. BUT I was super pumped about the honeymoon! It's like the icing on the cake after the wedding! Ryan and I love traveling so we couldn't wait to cross the pond and see so many awesome places.

We flew into Rome after a long overnight flight. It was 10 a.m. there but our bodies felt like it was 3 a.m. We both didn't get much sleep on the way over, maybe about an hour. I confess I spent many of those hours I could've been sleeping, reading Hunger Games instead. All we wanted to do was sleep! But, like every other hotel, you can't check in until after 2. We only had that day to check out Rome before we left on our cruise so after finally getting into our room, showering, taking a 30 minute nap and running after the shuttle like crazy tourists, we made it to heart of Rome. We saw as much as we could--the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, and may other ruins that were just hanging out in the middle of the city. We definitely want to go back to see more since we felt like we missed a lot.

I must say, after being hesitant to go on a cruise for our honeymoon, it was such an awesome way to see some pretty awesome places in Europe. We quickly found out which places we liked and want to come back and visit longer (everywhere in Italy) and some places we would never have to visit again (France). The Norwegian Epic was an intense boat packed with countless enterainment and food options. There was never a shortage of things to do. We can't wait for the next cruise we go we have to go on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise, right Ryan?? ;)

Here were some highlights:
-We got lost in the airport for a good 45 minutes trying to find the hotel when we arrived.
-Fanta from abroad tastes 10x better than it does in the States. It's not as sweet.
-We almost got picked to be on the boat's Newlywed Game. I was mortified.
-I learned how bad Ryan's snoring really was :)
-Florence had the best food and was the cutest town we went to. Unfortunately, we were so directionally challenged that we couldn't find Michaelangelo's David sculpture even though we were one street down
-We walked Barcelona by ourselves and probably covered at least 8 miles of ground trying to see Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia and Las Ramblas
-We met at least 8 other couples that were on their honeymoon. They were easy to spot :)
-France.....was not our favorite. The people were rude, the food wasn't great and if you don't know French you're not worth their time of day. They did have good shopping however!
-We learned that we liked edamame after being shown how to eat it by 2 Japanese ladies who didn't speak a lick of english. They looked at me like I was crazy for not knowing and kept asking where I was from.
-I finally got to enjoy a nice glass of sangria and tortilla espanola in Barcelona...I always knew I'd come back just to eat it!
-We bought lots of beautiful ceramic goodies in Amalfi and then they plumetted to the ground in peices from the bus. It was terrible luck and we were so bummed.

Okay this is getting long, but long story short we are enjoying each other and married life! As scary as it is to jump into a huge life-long commitment, I couldn't ask for a better partner to be walking through life with.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Today's the Big Day...


Today's the day! The day two of us as individuals will join together as ONE team. I am humbled and thankful that the Lord has brought us to this moment in his perfect timing. There are lots of fun things that I love about you:

-That we both get excited about every season of the Bachelor/Bachelorette (#teamjef!)
-That we both can ALWAYS find room for Sweet Frog
-That we both love to eat food, very selective food I might add!
-That we both love to give and serve others
-That you love pedicures, not ashamed!
-That you can't grow a beard
-That you would rather wash the dishes by hand
-That you have a love for highschoolers that I will never understand
-The way you laugh
-The way you fold your t-shirts and sweaters
-The way you smell (when you're clean!)
-The way you hug

It's in those small things that my love for you spills over the criteria of the typical "perfect man". There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord gave you these qualities, these quirks, these strengths to be ready to team up with me. I can't wait to see you today, to celebrate with you, to commit to you and to officially be "Team Shaughnessy". I can't wait to experience the adventure of life we're about to embark on, for the people we'll encounter and the places we'll go and see but most of all, to do it together. I love you!


-Your Bride

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Changing Times

I haven't posted in a LONG time! Life has been flying by and sometimes I forget to stop and look around at what's going on. Ryan and I are in our final month and a half of wedding planning. It's all starting to feel a little more real. I can't tell you how excited I am to see everything all put together, our friends and family celebrating with us and just to experience marriage as a whole. It's crazy to think that it's almost here!

In other developments:

-We found our sweet humble abode! We'll be living in Vienna near the Orange line so that Ryan's commute is a breeze. He's currently living there now and loving the fact that he can just walk to the metro. We really lucked out with this space too! It's got a lot more square footage than we thought we could initially afford and is so light and airy! Don't get me wrong, it's definitely tiny--a little over 800 or so square feet. You're probably thinking to yourself, that's not a lot of space at all, but up here that's HUGE for the location and the price we're paying for rent. We're spoiled with a little loft space that opens up the living room and makes it feel a lot less small than it actually is. The Lord truly provided. It's been fun to slowly make it a home, I love the decorating!

-We're joining a new church! This is something that the Lord has so graciously allowed us to become involved in and we're so excited to be used by Him. Ryan and I had been really wrestling with a lot of things regarding our current church for several months. We LOVE the people that we've met there, which made the idea of leaving so much harder. Now if you follow @shaughnessy22 on twitter, you will remember that Ryan took a several month hiatus from Twitter. One day out of the blue, Ryan decided to get back on the Twitter train and that day he saw a tweet from @hbcfairfax. So long story short, Ryan meets with the pastor of this new church plant coming to Fairfax, hears his vision for the church and tells me we should consider joining this team to launch the church. I was skeptical at first and thought there was no way that we would actually be doing this. Nonetheless, here we are and so pumped! Thank you Jesus for using social media to reach into our hearts and to call us to help build your church. It NEVER ceases to amaze me how the Lord works and it is by far through his will that we are in such a humble position. If you're looking for a church in the Fairfax area, I would encourage you to check out Harvest Bible Chapel of Fairfax on September 9, our official launch date!

-We're both going through some job transition. Ryan switched to a rotational job position about 2 months ago that will have us in the area for at least 3 years. After that, we're moving South! Just kidding, we'll see! He's currently working at the Department of Homeland Security HQ and will be switching to another department every year until he graduates from this program. He's also going back to school to get his MBA. Would you ever have thought that my Ryan would be going to business school? Love it!

I just went through my first salary/promotion negotiation last week. I received a job offer from a competitor firm and my current firm fought really hard to keep me. They worked with me to figure out some additional responsibilities that I could take up and feel like I'm moving in a career direction I want to go. I will be leading the marketing efforts of one of our industry groups and couldn't be more excited for such a big jump in responsibility. In any place I've worked, I've always made it my goal to have a work ethic that reflects Christ. So all you new college grads out there, work hard and aim to be indespensible. Don't think that your assistant or associate-level job will get you no where. You never know what building blocks you're setting up!

So those are all the major changes that are going on or have gone in the future Shaughnessy house! If there is anything that I've learned from going through all of this life change is that HE never changes (Hebrews 13:8). Being a person who is SO resistant to change, I haven't always reacted the best to all of this. Something that I've realized is that Christ has called us to a life of change. Romans 12 talks about how we are to be constantly renewing our minds. The Christ-centered life dictates change and a constant working effort towards making Him the center of this changing life. I'm still learning this the hard way. Change is good and necessary and we have the Lord as our anchor, the unchanged and the immovable to sustain us through life's uncertainites. I'm thankful that I can know that and claim that.
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