friday faves [part 5]

Happy Friday, folks!
This has been a really nice week. Relaxing, productive in a fun way, and just what I needed. 

Ben's birthday was a success yesterday, filled with birthday bacon, movie watching, and a Giants t-shirt. He's low maintenance when it comes to birthdays, so a lazy day was right up his alley. He says thank you for all of your awesome birthday wishes too, by the way.

We have a date night scheduled for tonight, with more birthday celebrations. I'm wearing my fancy new dress, and we have wedding gift cards, so I'm already calling it a good night. Saturday is my mom's birthday, so we're going home to spend time with her [and do laundry], and then all of us kids are taking her out to dinner. After dinner, we have Ben's birthday party planned and with the theme of Cowboys & Indians, how could it not be good?! Sunday should be a lazy day, full of football and homework [on Ben's part], so I am just as excited for this weekend as I could be.

Here are some cool links to keep you company over next few beautiful days:

- I caved and bought this scarf earlier this week. It's pretty and comfy and just so perfect for fall! 

- This website for a restaurant in Boston is so cool that I want to visit just because of that. That's some good marketing right there.

- Allie wrote a post with some good tips for making blog friends earlier this week. The main one? Attach your e-mail address to your Blogger profile! It drives me CRAZY when you don't.

- In our budget, Ben and I gave ourselves some money each month to have fun with and buy whatever we want without having to ask each other. I already spent a good chunk of mine for October on these pretty babies.

- This looks chocolate-y and delicious and just what I want to drink after a long shift at work. Well, maybe not the first thing I want to drink, but you know.

- And, as always, my favorite What Should We Call Me's from the week: this and [not safe for work or anyone who doesn't like swearing] this

I hope you guys have a wonderful wonderful weekend. See you Monday!

my birthday boy

by BA

to the boy who unexpectedly stole my heart on May 14, 2009,

    the boy with the dance moves that inspire crowds everywhere,
    the boy that takes my sass and fixes it all with a big hug and a few forehead kisses,

    the boy who I can count on to build anything I need and fix anything I break,

    the boy that's the life of any party he goes to,

    the boy who gets excited about the dumbest things and wins my heart with his happy eye crinkles,

    the boy who looks just as good in cowboy boots and a black t-shirt as he does in a well tailored suit,

    the boy who willingly and without a complaint takes the public bus to school so that I can have the truck to go to work,

    the boy that vowed to always wash the dishes and has followed through on that so far,

    the boy who I share my heart, and now my life with,


I love all 22 years of you and I hope that you know that today and every day for the rest of your life.

the words

I had planned to share pictures from around our apartment on here today, but that's just not going to work. I love our place and am super proud of it, but it just doesn't translate well into pictures. it's like that awkward girl in high school that's pretty in real life, but has a talent for making the weirdest faces right when the camera shutter opens [me].

so today is for sharing the paintings of our vows, done by sweet Alana. we got frames for them yesterday and hung them up last night, but there are no pictures yet. I've been too busy just laying on the couch looking at them.

Ben and I wrote our vows together a few nights before the wedding. we grabbed a blanket, headed to a park, and sat on the grass talking about what we wanted to promise each other and how we should say it. we each wrote our own, but kept reading the drafts to each other, and at the end of the night, we knew we were finished when we read them to each other and cried.

that night is one of my favorite wedding memories. and then a few days later when I walked down that aisle and we read them to each other for real, with all of the weight and the promises behind them, with all of our loved ones there to hear them too, well that one is a memory that I will hold in my heart forever.

I want to remember

it's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that summer is gone for this year. the 10 day forecast doesn't have a day above 70 degrees anytime soon and my days of wearing sandals should be coming to an end. the leaves are changing, we have to put 2 blankets on the bed at night, and it's normal to eat soup for lunch and dinner every day for a week. 

and as much as I love all of that, I'm already nostalgic for summer 2012. it was, for a lot of reasons, the best summer of my life. I never want to forget what this summer was like, so inspired by Elise, this is what I want to remember about my favorite summer:

I want to remember how the day that I graduated college was a day that I felt so supported. in my mind, it wasn't a big deal, but all of the flowers and the giant celebration dinner and everyone that came to celebrate proved otherwise.

I want to remember that the Monday after graduation, I set my mind to train for a 5k and I did it. I fell in love with running, my body fell in love with running, and I finished that 5k on the 4th of July with Ben by my side.

I want to remember all of the bonfires, empty beer bottles, and late nights that turned our close college friends into the kind of friends you know will be there for your entire life.

I want to remember everything that went into planning our wedding, with my mom and my sister and, of course, Ben by my side.

I want to remember my wedding dress fiasco because it proved to me that there are at least 3 people in this world that want nothing more than for me to be happy, and they'll support me in whatever I need.

I want to remember all of the photo shoots, sleepovers, and driveway tanning sessions that my sister and I had, making the most of our last summer with the same last name.

I want to remember celebrating 3 years with Ben and then realizing that we were going to have to start counting all over again once the wedding happened.

I want to remember falling even more in love with Ben in this first summer we got to spend together since the first one, when we fell in love.

I want to remember surprising Jessa with Lady Antebellum tickets and dancing the night away in the rain with her.

I want to remember realizing how loved I am at my bridal shower.

I want to remember sitting down to write our love story, remembering all of the tiny details that turned a "him" and a "me" into "us".

I want to remember turning into a crying monster 2 weeks before our wedding and having my sweet Ben talk sense into me and comfort me at the same time.

I want to remember how damn full of love the week before our wedding was. people were coming into town for it, helping out with whatever we needed help with, and spending good, quality time with us. 

I want to remember how the Wednesday of wedding week was the storm before the calm. 

I want to remember how much of a blurr the day before the wedding was, but at the same time, so crystal clear and so so wonderful.

I want to remember how freaking awesome getting married was.

I want to remember the adventure that our honeymoon was: nachos y cerveza all the time, blue water, inside jokes, and all.

I want to remember the first time that I'd been to Bible Camp in two years. it was pretty much the same as I had left it and our friendships picked up right where they left off.

I want to remember coming home from our 15 days of vacation to a call that our apartment was ready for us. and with that, I want to remember the thousands of trips in and out of the house to pack up, in and out of the apartment to move in, and in and out of the fridge to get beer to calm our nerves.

I want to remember our first night in the first place we ever shared together.

I want to remember all of the nights we stayed up late, watching How I Met Your Mother, eating spoonfuls of peanut butter with frozen peanut M&M's in them.

I want to remember making this place our home: going on walks to explore our neighborhood, decorating to our heart's content and making meals together.

I want to remember starting an Etsy shop, with all of the late nights drawing cards, all of the trips to Office Max, and all of the help that Ben gave me.

I want to remember starting a life together. a real, honest to goodness, flaws and all, life together.

I want to remember this summer as the summer that was overflowing with love.


this first weekend of autumn has been a good one.

it's the first that's really felt like fall, with the chill in the air that brings about clear skies, so Ben got my boots out of the attic for me and we went for a few walks to enjoy the sunshine. I worked every night this weekend, but it was good work. I think I'm going to really like this job, thank God. it makes giving up my free time for it easier.

the days this weekend were lazy, filled with sleeping in, finishing up How I Met Your Mother in time for the season premiere tonight [tonight!] and football on Sunday, of course. some family was in town, so I saw them on Saturday night and we went to lunch with my grandparents on Sunday afternoon. I finished up my tomato soup, answered e-mails like a champ, and crossed some other things off my to-do list.  

it was a weekend of nothing special, but everything special all at the same time, ya know? it was the first that we both stayed home in a long long time and it was really really nice.

here's to Monday and the start of a new season.

friday faves [part 4]

another fave wedding picture by BA

happy Friday, friends!
in the spirit of trying to be thankful for what I have, I decided to do a different type of Friday Faves today. normally I share my favorite things from around the world wide web, but today is different. today is more meaningful and more beautiful, so these are my favorite things from my life:

1) every Monday, Wednesday & Friday, Ben leaves for school before I have to leave for work. he wakes me up 10 minutes before he has to go, I get up and make him lunch, kiss him goodbye and then go back into our warm, cozy bed for a few minutes to actually wake up. I love having those few moments with him in the morning, and I almost love climbing back into the warm bed even more.

2) during my lunch breaks at work, I've been taking my food out to the truck, rolling the windows down, and eating while I listen to some damn good music and feel the sun warming me up through the windshield. Pretty soon, it's going to be too cold to do this, so I'm trying to soak up the beautiful days while I can.

3) Ben and I didn't live together before we got married, so can I just say how nice it is to kiss goodnight at the end of the night and be laying right next to each other?

4) that kickball league we joined a few weeks ago turned out to be one of the best decisions yet. we play a friendly game of kickball for an hour and then head out to our sponsor bar for cheap drinks and fun times with our best friends. it's perfect.

5) my Etsy shop is slowly gaining business! putting orders together to send out is turning into one of my favorite things.

6) even amid a weekend full of work shifts, I know that this one is going to be a good one. here's to weekends!

also, here's to new visitors! if you're here from Story of My Life, welcome welcome welcome! if you're in the mood to stalk and/or just want to know more about the girl behind the blog, check out my welcome post, my about me page, and/or our love story. thanks so much for stopping by! I'd love it if you left a comment to say hey so I can stop by all y'alls blog and get to know you, and I'd love it almost as much if you decided to follow along. if you guys are anywhere close to as awesome as Jenni is, I'm so glad to have you :)

turning it around

I've been in a mood lately. On the outside, I'm normal and everything is just wonderful [because it is], but on the inside, I'm bitter. And it's ugly.

I recently had to pick up a second job to help pay our bills. My first job is only 16 hours each week, so I have plenty of time to work another job, but all I've been doing is complaining: whining to Ben, whining to my family, dreading going in for each shift. It's frustrating when I think about our situation quickly because the Air Force pays Ben to go to school each week. He earns us income by being student and I get jealous that I actually have to work to help support us. I realize that this makes me sound like a lazy, spoiled brat, but I'm trying to be honest here. Sometimes I'm exactly that. My new job is hosting at a chain restaurant and I actually think I like it. The work is easy and perfect for my personality, and I get to work with one of my best friends. It's just not the hours that I want to work, so I complain.

But you know what? I'm lucky that I have two jobs, let alone one. For the beginning part of the summer, Ben was the only one making us any money and I felt so lame, just mooching off of him. I'm glad that I can find work and I'm thankful that I can make money for our little family. And that friend that I get to work with at my hosting job? He recommended me and helped me get this job. I'm thankful for him helping me out.

The day that I started this new gig, I was getting changed, whining about having to give up my Saturday afternoon to go do something lame while Ben got to sit around and watch tv, like a normal person does on weekends.  I was bitching about having to wear dress clothes, complaining about being tired and hungry, whining about having to work at all. And Ben, clearly annoyed with me, said "sweetie, can you just do this for us?". I sighed and said "yeah, whatever", but that little request from him has been eating away at me since.

I don't want to work. I don't want to clean up Ben's messes or stay up late keeping him company when he has homework to do and I'm tired. But you know what? This is what I signed up for. In marrying Ben, I signed up for a partnership, I signed up for putting him first, and I signed up for working as part of the team. As much as I may dislike working on a Friday night when we'd normally be out doing fun things, this is what our team needs right now. So every night this weekend, while I'm off doing my hosting duties, and Ben is out drinking with our friends or other such fun activity, I'm going to try not to be bitter. I'm going to try to remember that I'm doing this for our team, and that I love my teammate with everything I have, so that should be enough for me.

I'm going to try to remember to do every small thing for my husband with great love, even when I have dirty dish juice splashed on my clothes and guests annoyed with me that they have to wait 30 minutes for a table. I'm doing this for us.

 from here

autumn in New York

New York City has my heart. I went for the first time with Ben about 6 months into dating, at Christmas time, and last year when I went with my senior class at the beginning of January, Ben showed up to surprise me and proposed. so, when the idea came up to get away for a weekend and head down to the city, I jumped at the chance.

from here

we're going the first weekend in October with a few of our college guys, and I am beyond excited. as much as the boys will want to just sit around and drink [which, believe me, I have no problem with], I also want to see the city! the timing is perfect, as it's going to be obvious that it's fall, with the crisp air and changing leaves, but it won't be too chilly or too gray yet [hopefully]

with the help of Joanna's NYC Guide, I've been making a list of things I'd love to do while we're there. cross your fingers that I can convince the boys to follow my lead.

Photo for
from here
1. the Hudson River sunset cruise is my birthday wish. yeah, my birthday isn't until November, and yeah, tickets are $80 each [Ben wants to know if they hand you a chunk of gold when you get on the ship], but it just seems so perfect. I figure we can drop the boys off at some bar and make this an outing for just Ben and I. we can pick up some pizza to enjoy on the ship with our complimentary drinks, and we'll make a date evening out of the whole thing.

from here
2. from May to October every year, the Met has a rooftop exhibit. you can check out the art, enjoy a cold beverage, and look out over Central Park. a few of the guys in our group are total artsy fartsies, and I'm a sucker for anything Central Park, so this is a perfect compromise.

from here
3. The High Line is a park on Manhattan's West Side that's built on the historic freight rail lines. it's different and beautiful [and free] and seems like the perfect place for a picnic lunch.

from here
4. and yes, I want to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge. I've heard that going from Brooklyn to Manhattan is the prettier route, and we're thinking of staying in Brooklyn at least one night, so hopefully I can convince the boys to walk in in the morning, maybe with a bagel and some coffee in hand.

that's all I have right now! we're only going to be in the actual city for maybe 36 hours, so we can't get too crazy, but if you have any favorite things to do in New York, I'd love to hear them! I'll just be over here counting down the days and planning my outfits. if there's any time to make sure you look good, a trip to New York is that time.

roasted tomato & garlic soup

I know that yesterday I said I was going to share my smoothie recipe today, but I changed my mind. I'm a woman, what can ya do? tomatoes are still in season, but they won't be for long, so I decided to share the recipe that Roasted Tomato and Garlic soup I mentioned yesterday. make it while you can!

this soup is delicious, folks. I made it back in August because I had an abundance of tomatoes from the market, but I froze it and have been breaking it out in this cooler weather. Rachael instagrammed it, after finding it in Gourmet magazine [August 2009 issue], and I was all over that recipe. it takes a while to make, but it is so so worth it. perfect for a rainy fall day.

what you need:
- 4 lb tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 6 cloves of garlic, left unpeeled
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbs butter
- 3 cups of vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste

what you do with it:

1) preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) arrange tomatoes in a large baking dish, cut side up. add garlic cloves to the pan, drizzle the whole shebang with olive oil , and salt and pepper to taste.

3) roast tomatoes and garlic  for 1 hour, then let them cool in the pan. remove the garlic cloves, peel them, then toss them back in.

4) in a large stock pot, melt the butter and then cook onion, oregano, and sugar in it, over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the onion is softened [when Stephanie made this, she pointed out that you should be careful to not let the onions carmelize, so it should only take about 5-7 minutes].

5) add the tomato, garlic & stock mixture to the pot, juices and all. cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

6) let the soup cool for a bit, then puree in batches in the blender. force it through a sieve into a clean pot [news flash: if you don't have a sieve, it's not the end of the world. I tried forcing my soup through our bacon splatter guard and that didn't work, so I have kinda chunky soup. still delicious].

7) if you're planning on eating the soup right away, add the heavy cream, salt & pepper, and simmer again for 2 or 3 minutes. if you're planning to freeze it, wait to do this step until you're ready to heat it up to eat it.

8) pour that soup into some pretty bowls, get a good loaf of bread to dip in it, and enjoy!

9) get your husband to do the dishes.