Christmas Lessons + Living Room Tour

Merry (belated) Christmas! I hope you all had a wonderful and joyous holiday.

The Christmas season always conjures up a mix of emotions for me. There are such tensions that exist in this season. Tensions like generosity and greed, rest and chaos, spirituality and secularism, and the list goes on. If you're anything like me, you get overwhelmed by the attempt to balance these tensions. And if you're anything like me, you long for the good of this season, but get caught up in the tug-of-war, rat race that our culture has created. The most tricky part is that our intentions are often good, but they lead us to the materialism and chaos that encompass this time of year.

This year marked our first year of staying home for the Christmas holiday. We have been married over 4 years, and every year (including engagement), we have traveled back to Washington to visit family and friends. We adore Washington and we love our family and friends, but there was something restful about the idea of staying home for the holidays. Avoiding packing, traveling, and hustling all over the state of Washington, sounded peaceful. However, instead of embracing the added rest, I bought into the lie that I had to have the picture-perfect home for Christmas. Before I knew it, I was caught up the in chaos of Christmas decorations, meal-planning, gift-buying, etc. All of these things were done with great intentions, but amidst the process, I realized that I could never achieve the "picture-perfect" home because I would always be longing for more. 

As beloved Christmas cards filled our mailbox, I began to stress about the fact that we didn't create a Christmas card this year. I had decided weeks (maybe even months) ago, that I was not going to make a Christmas card this year. I thought it would be a good way to save money, especially since we have baby on the way. However, as more cards filled my home, the more I felt the pressure to create a Christmas card. And somehow I thought this was a good idea the week before Christmas! Ugh! I would come home from work and put in hours of time trying to figure out how to create a Christmas card inexpensively and quickly, all while having it demonstrate the same level of "perfectness" as the cards coming in my door. The more time I put into it, the more I realized it was impossible. I fell into the trap. I bought into the lies. I thought I had to do it all and be it all, because that's what this season is about. Oh, but wait, I had it all wrong! The impromptu attempt to create a Christmas card was an utter fail and a lesson in humility.

Peace and joy are words that are commonly used to describe this time of year. They are important reminders of the real reason of Christmas. If something you are doing does not bring peace and joy into this season, then it is not properly motivated and it is not worth the time or effort. My Christmas card flop led me to this realization and convicted me in the best way possible. It revealed my sinful heart by humbly reminding me that my strength does not come from within.

Decorating our home will always be one of those tricky balancing acts for me. In many ways it brings me great joy and peace. However, the joy can quickly turn into discontent and the peace can quickly turn into frustration. When this transition starts to happen, I know I need to stop. I need to refocus and readjust my perspective. I am not perfect and neither is my home. I don't need to be perfect, because my heavenly Father is perfect. I don't need my home to be perfect, because my eternal home is perfect. Jesus came to give us hope and to save us from our imperfections, weaknesses, and sin. That is where the joy and peace of this season comes from!

My holiday was filled with the tensions of this season. There were moments of generosity, rest, and spirituality. But there were also moments of greed, chaos, and secularism. We live in a world full of these tensions. We are human and we are sinful so there will be times that we fall on the negative side of these tensions. However, there remains hope, joy, and peace because of the amazing birth of Jesus - the true reason behind this time of year and holiday season.

I pray that your holiday was filled with the hope, joy, and peace of our great King. May we all remember the reason for this season and cling to that. May we also offer each other grace and forgiveness when the negative tensions of this season pull us in the opposite direction. Merry Christmas to you all!

p.s. Many of the decorations and furniture pieces are Dr. Handy Man creations. I can't wait to tell you more about each piece!


Guest Room Reveal

This is the first, of likely many, #hometour posts. We recently purchased our first home last spring, and while it was certainly "move-in-ready" and didn't require any big projects, the last 4 months have been spent turning it into the cozy place we call home.

In light of our recent announcement (#BabyVaux), this first #hometour post is of the current guest bedroom / A's office, and soon-to-be nursery. As you can see from the before pictures, the previous owners also housed their kids in this room (and had some impressive wall art!). But, the car theme wasn't our style, so we painted it a nice neutral color. As a University of Washington Alum (GoDawgs!), A decided she wanted the theme to be UW. The desk setup is from Ikea - it's a sweet mix-and-match deal where you can pick the top, legs, etc! The bedframe is our old bed frame (yes, we got a new bed - you'll see that soon!) and the nightstand is an original creation by Dr Handyman.

The frames above the bed have been filled with pictures of the University of Washington campus and stadium to finish off the room. Photos are unavailable due to a house guest staying with us for the month of October. 

What's your favorite part of our temporary guest room? Can you picture this room as a nursery? We're open to suggestions, but we're keeping it gender neutral! Leave a comment, we'd love to hear from you. 


A New Season

Well, only 501 days have gone by since the last blog post here, and a lot has happened and changed since that time. To give you the quick two minute summary...

- J traveled to residency programs, interviewed, and was accepted into the Michigan State Orthopedic surgery residency
- We skied the winter away in Colorado
- We thoroughly enjoyed a Seahawks Super Bowl victory (while living in the rival city of Denver!)
- We bought our first home (more pictures to come in our Home Tour)
- We celebrated J's graduation from medical school, A's completion of her graduate teaching program, and said bye to our amazing friends in Denver
- We made the move from Denver to Lansing
- We took a post-graduation vacation to the Dominican Republic
- A got a job teaching high school math in the Lansing Area

We also celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary this past July! Hard to believe it's gone by so fast. It has been a fun adventure and we can honestly say we are more in love today than ever before. We have added a section on the blog for posts about our thoughts, challenges, and adventures in marriage as we pursue #unordinarylove and seek to #staymarried for life. 

Lastly, and probably most exciting, we are having a baby! Ariel is due April 1, 2015 and we couldn't be more thrilled! We are attempting to prepare ourselves for "new normals" and are excited to see what God has in store for us as parents.

One other thing you will notice on the blog, is that we both began developing new hobbies. J took an interest to building furniture (shout out to Andy for an introduction to the hobby, and Ana White for many of the free plans), which has become very handy as we've settled into our new home. Ariel has become a talented beautifier and decorator, producing some amazing DIY projects. As we continue to post updates, you will find that many of them are on projects around our house as we seek to build and beautify. 

Stay tuned for future posts about random happenings in our lives as we seek to remain sane in the craziness of residency, teaching, marriage, and parenting! 

J + A


hitting the road

In six short (yet long) days, the husband takes off on an adventure -- his audition rotations. This marks the beginning of a crazy season for both him and me. Audition rotations take place all around the country at spots where the husband feels he has the best chance of getting matched for his future residency in Orthopedic Surgery. So for those of you who like to keep track, here's the reader's digest version of our next six months:

June: The husband is in Harrisburg, PA; I am soaking up CO summer and taking a summer class
July: The husband will be splitting time in Denver, CO (with me, yay!!) and Cleveland, OH; I will be enjoying my time with the husband, taking my summer class, and studying for the Math Content PRAXIS exam
August: The husband will be in Lansing, MI; I will be starting my 2nd teaching internship at Adams City Middle School
September: The husband will be in Detroit, MI; I will be fully immersed in the busiest semester of grad school thus far
October: The husband will be at a different program in Detroit, MI; as for me, see previous month
November: The husband will be in Akron, OH; and again, as for me, see previous two months
December: TBD - either the husband will take on an additional rotation or he'll be back in Denver and I'll be finishing up my semester

The husband and I will try to visit each other when we can, but due to our demanding schedules and limited funds, the visits will probably feel few and far between. My hope is to visit each location so I can scout each one out. I mean, one of these places will be our future home for 5 years and I've never been to any of them before!

Although this upcoming season seems completely absurd and undesirable, it is truly an exciting adventure. The next six months will play a huge role in determining our next 5 years and that is an incredibly alarming yet thrilling thought.

After the husband completes his tiring six months of audition rotations, things will slow down for him. He will have completed almost all of his 4th year medical school requirements so he'll finally be able to breathe and relax. The residency match process takes place in February which is when we'll find out where we get to move to in June 2014.

I know this next year will be a whirlwind and I'm sure we'll face challenges unlike any others that we've faced thus far, but I am looking forward to this season - a season that is truly building our future.

The husband and I truly appreciate prayers all along the way. In six days, we leave to drive across the country to get him settled in at his first rotation. We are making the most of this trip by visiting friends in Kansas City, stopping in Indianapolis, visiting my sister in Baltimore, and making a quick 36 hour trip to NYC. I'm really looking forward to this trip but I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to the husband. Please pray for safe travels, great time together, and an easy departure.



the in-laws came for a visit

Why is it that whenever you announce the word "in-laws" people immediately grimace, cringe, and comment? There's such a negative connotation around the idea of in-laws. Even if you think your own parents are great, once they become in-laws, there is apparently something wrong with them. It's a weird concept and I don't really understand it -- maybe because I'm one of the lucky few who has been blessed with some pretty great in-laws.

My in-laws are laid-back, happy-go-lucky people. They are easy to be around and they bring such joy to both my life and the husband's. We've basically been begging them to come for a visit (well, really, we've basically been begging both of our parents and our friends to visit). Either way, we were beyond thrilled to finally have them back out to Colorado.

Colorado has been overly snowy and blistery of late (despite the fact that it's spring) but our little weekend was full of warm sunshine just to greet our guests. The combination of having visitors and seeing my oh so beloved sunshine again, made me one giddy girl. I love exploring this great state and having visitors gives me the perfect excuse to do so.

Our weekend was the perfect amount of go-go-go and relaxing. As soon as the in-laws arrived, we wanted to get things started off right so we took them to a great patio happy hour spot in Denver, called Root Down. I highly recommend it! The next day was our adventure day -- a trip down south to Colorado Springs with a slight detour to gawk at the husband's cadaver that he's been so meticulously working on. While in the Springs, we wondered around the Air Force Academy, Garden of the Gods, and Old Colorado City. After a full day of driving and sunshine, we had a laid-back night of tacos and card games. Oh and of course, an inaugural trip to Yogurtland for the in-laws!

Sunday consisted of some of our "must-go-to" spots for our out of town guests -- Snooze for breakfast and Wash Park for fun. Since it was the first nice weekend in what felt like ages, the park was a zoo of volleyball nets, dogs, exercisers, and so on. We happily contributed to the masses and enjoyed our little spot of grass. Sadly though, the trees have no leaves since the snow keeps preventing them from blooming, hence, no shade to hide from the first intense heat of the year. Bring on the tan sunburn!

The in-laws last day in town was a little more low-key. The husband had to start his Orthopedic rotation in Denver and I had to study. But my attention span for studying when I have visitors is quite small, so a detour to go shopping with my mother-in-law was a must! She treated me to quite the shopping spree as a sweet early birthday present. I absolutely loved the gesture and of course, adored the added pieces to my wardrobe!

Overall, the weekend was quite a treat and the husband and I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful weekend.

Here are some visual representations of the weekend:

Thank you Jim & Dana, for everything!!!


Easter Celebration + Veggie Frittata Recipe

Easter always seems to sneak up on me. It's one of those holidays that is here and gone before you know it. I don't know exactly why that is. Maybe it's because it's always on a weekend so no one gets any extra work or school off. Or maybe because it doesn't necessarily require much preparation. No matter the reason, Easter doesn't get it's fair share of attention. It's this incredible holiday of celebration and jubilation. This year, I wanted to really soak that in.

Soaking in the spirit of the season meant preparing my home for Easter and spring. I created this sweet little banner with pastel springy colors and bunny cut-outs. I loved the pop of spring time color and the message is a great year-round reminder, "He is Risen!" In addition to my banner, I created my own bouquet display of springy flowers and busted out my homemade place mats. My one and only go at sewing. Maybe someday I'll pick up that craft more consistently. Today is definitely not that day though.

I know Easter isn't really about gifts, Easter baskets, or eggs, but I couldn't help but give in to the cliches and traditions of the season. I bought some plastic Easter eggs and spray painted them with glitter paint for a little sparkle. I filled the eggs with candy. I used these to add to the baskets I made for the husband and a sweet friend who joined us to celebrate. I forgot to take a picture of my friend's basket but here's the husband's "basket".

The fun thing about Easter is that it can be a week long celebration if you celebrate Holy Week. It kicks off with Palm Sunday and is followed by Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and then Easter itself. To reflect on Maundy Thursday and the last supper with Jesus and his disciples, I gathered with a large group of friends from my church and we enjoyed a massive meal together. It was such a great way to remember history. I usually like to spend Good Friday a little more somber, but my Friday was already booked up and I couldn't help but enjoy the wonderful spring time weather we were having. So instead of my usual somber Good Friday, I set out to hiking with some friends from school. It was the first hike of the season and it got me amped for the rest of hiking season. This hike was one of the many in Boulder, CO. 

Sunday finally arrived and the day couldn't have been more beautiful. We started out the day with a delicious breakfast consisting of an egg & veggie frittata (recipe to follow), fruit salad, and turkey bacon. After breakfast, the husband, my friend, and I headed to church. Before the service began, we watched and celebrated people getting baptized outside. It was so great!

After church, we celebrated with a huge church potluck at a park in downtown Denver. There was so much amazing food and great company. The day consisted of lounging in the warm sun, eating great food, playing bocce ball, and a boys game of shirts vs. skins soccer.

With full bellies and full hearts, the husband and I napped and rested on the couch for the rest of the evening. We forgot how much a full day of sunshine can take it out of you!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter celebration as well!

Here's the Veggie Frittata recipe:
(recipe adapted from a friend's recipe)


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli 
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 10 eggs (5 full eggs, 5 egg whites)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded or chopped small
Preparation Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Melt butter in oven-safe skillet on medium-low heat
  • Sauté veggies - spinach, broccoli, and onion for about 3 minutes or until soft
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (except cheese) until light and fluffy, then add cheese
  • Pour ingredients from bowl over cooked veggies
  • Cook frittata on stove for about 4-5 minutes
  • Transfer to the oven and bake for an additional 12 minutes or until the frittata is set
  • Slice and enjoy!
I love mixing up this recipe with different veggies or adding various meats to it - you could do ham, bacon, breakfast sausage, etc. Every time I make this, it's slightly different but every time it's delicious!


remember when?

Remember when I was a blogger? Yeah, I don't really know what happened. I mean, I have my list of excuses but still, I'm shocked by my disinterest and complacency with blogging lately.

A big part of it is that I appreciate the style of many different kinds of blogs -- food blogs, craft blogs, style blogs, personal blogs, and the list goes on. Some blogs are used to promote a blogger's small business and some blogs are simply there to share life with far off family and friends. As I read more and more blogs, I lost sight of what I wanted my blog to be about. I had so many goals but they weren't necessarily cohesive. I told myself I wouldn't blog until I figured out how I wanted to approach my blog and how I wanted others to see my blog. Well, I haven't actually answered those questions yet. I still want to but it's taking longer than I expected. Instead of completely ignoring my blog while I search for my blog's identity, I think I will still try to post a few things sporadically. The posts will probably vary quite a bit - some might be about food and recipes while others will just be updates about my life. Whatever they end up being, I hope you like it and I hope somewhere along the way, I'll rediscover my passion for what I want this blog to be.

A lot of life has passed and some events warrant a post of their own, but for now, here's a quick instagram photo recap of our lives over the past few months. 

I love finding new recipes and this Thai Turkey Burger was a big hit. The husband and I recently decided that cooking with ground turkey is way better than cooking with ground beef.

I made my first pie!!! Well, that's a bit of a lie. I've made a few other pies but this was my first "classic" fruit pie. I can't quite call it classic because it wasn't apple. But, I'm proud of my pie. It was a Pear Pomegranate Pie. Have you even heard of a Pear Pomegranate Pie? Probably not. I made it up. BUT IT WAS DELICIOUS! I promise to post more details about this another time and provide the much needed recipe. 

I visited one my best friends in Couer d'Alene, Idaho for her baby shower. Since then, her sweet baby boy has arrived and he is more precious than I could have ever imagined.

Snow. Snow. Snow. We've had our fair share of snow storms. In fact, I'm currently typing this while sitting at Starbucks drinking a hot chocolate and looking out the window as more little white flakes fall. 

The snow hasn't stopped me from going to school. Not once has anything been canceled due to snow. Unlike Seattle, Denver doesn't shut down just because of snow. 

The fun side of snow is skiing. The husband and I haven't made it up much this year but spring skiing is where it's at in Colorado so we hope to make it up a few more times. 

I've been fortunate enough to have a few weekend getaways to recoup and relax. This beautiful cabin was gifted to my Younglife team for a team retreat weekend. It was a much needed getaway. 

Being in school always means lots of studying but it also means making new friends. This is my sweet friend from my graduate teaching program. We are even student teaching at the same school!

Some great friends of ours recently got married here in Colorado. They both went to college with the husband back in Seattle so we had a fun night seeing old friends that came into town.

Pictures usually capture the sweet and fun memories of life and often don't fully capture the realities of life. Our day-to-day life over the past few months has been a bit less interesting. It's been full of studying, car problems, and doctor's appointments. I know, ICK! Despite those things not being so great, the husband and I are doing well and we're so thankful for the fun moments that have been sprinkled throughout.