Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hump Day Ramblings

Nothing too exciting going on in the Layman house this week, which is certainly fine by me. We've been having some very fall-like temps which has given us opportunity to use our firepit on the new deck & just enjoy being outside.

Tonight we've got plans for hamburgers & homemade french fries for dinner. I've decided that we may not have nice patio furniture yet, but I want to eat outside so we'll be having an impromptu picnic...maybe complete with a blanket since we don't have a table! Hmmm...that's actually a pretty good idea. We also have some new mums to plant in pots & I am almost certain that smores & a big fire will be included.
I've still yet to catch up on my DVR, it seems like just when I start to get caught up a new week shows up & fills up the DVR again! Oh well, there are certainly worse things in life! ;o)
Yes, today is hump day but it's Thursday for me which means tomorrow is the last day of work for the week! Hubby & I have BIG weekend plans with something fun for both of us. Friday we are leaving fairly early to head up to STL for some shopping, then a nice dinner, & then....PHANTOM OF THE OPERA...duh, duh, duh, duh, duh....;o) It's playing at the Fox & we have fabulous seats!!! I've never seen the theater performance so I can't wait!
In order to get in as much entertainment as possible (and spend lots of money!) we are also able to catch a Cards game on Saturday at noon. It's the next to last game of the season & I'm already looking forward to ball park food. We haven't made it up to a game at Busch Stadium this year and I have to admit that this is probably one of my most favorite things to do with Hubby. We have great seats for this as well so I'm excited to get some good photos right near the field! They have already clinched their playoff spot, but I'm just hoping we still get to see a Pujols homerun!
On a more serious note, there have been several things happen recently that make me soooo thankful for the life God has blessed me with. I am so unworthy of all his blessings & he has given me such an amazing husband, family, work environment, home, etc. Who am I to be worthy of all these things? Thank you God for saving me, pouring out mercy on me each and every day, & giving me an incredible support system. You are an awesome God who amazes me with your presence.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Rewind

While being a golf widow this weekend, I certainly didn't lack for things to do. Friday I was pretty lazy and spent some time reading a book on our new deck, caught up on my Gossip Girl & 90210 that was on the DVR & hung out with some of our neighbors before taking Bogey on a walk.

Saturday I got up before the sun & went with a friend to a craft show. She had a booth selling her bows, tutus, custom clothing, etc. and had a fantastic day. It was rainy while we were setting up her booth in the dark--but the rain finally cleared out & it was a beautiful day. We spent the day selling bows & when we didn't have anyone in the booth we were able to catch up on life & everything else you could think of! We stuffed our face with traditional festival food including biscuits & gravy, footlong corn dogs with loads of mustard, sweet tea, & kettle corn to top it off! I've still got half the bag of kettle corn at my house...bad, bad, bad idea. Saturday night I was exhausted so I took Bogey for a quick walk & then I was in bed by 9:30.

Yesterday I went to church & then headed down to my parents' house for lunch. They fixed steaks & baked potatoes...YUMM!!! It was so good & so nice to visit with them outside of the work environment. I took Bogey down so he could play with his doggy cousins. We took him up to my grandparent's pond and he ran as hard as he could to keep up with the fourwheelers. He lived up to his breed & retrieved a stick numerous times out of the water--he was so exhausted by the end of the day. I dropped Bogey off real quick and headed to small group. We had a great discussion & I always come away from there feeling so refreshed that we have such a great group of Christian couples as friends!

After small group I came home and watched 17 Again (cute movie by the way), did some laundry and waited very impatiently for Hubby to get home. I was ecstatic when I heard the garage door start to open. He was super exhausted so he unloaded his car, fed Bogey & we went to bed. What a long weekend full of random happenings!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Golf Widow Once More

First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderful comments about our deck! We are already just loving it--I have big plans to spend lots of time out there this weekend reading and relaxing while the weather is just beautiful!

Hubby left this morning at 5 a.m. and drove to Dallas to spend the next 36 hours playing as much golf as he can. He has started planning an annual event (this is the 2nd year) where a bunch of guys get together and travel to play 4 courses in 3 days (Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, & Sunday morning). He'll get back home sometime late Sunday evening. This year he had around 10 guys who are joining him--4-5 that are his friends & 4-5 of his dad's friends. He was so excited and I'm so glad that he is able to plan something like this!
I have to admit, I hate it when he leaves, but it's so nice to wake up to these when he leaves early in the morning to be gone for awhile! He left me 2 dozen roses, and a super sweet I have the greatest Hubby or what?!?
I'll certainly be glad when he gets home--cause let's face it, the house is quiet without him! However, I have lots of DVR to catch up on, I'm helping a friend with a craft show tomorrow & I've got church and small group on Sunday. I think I'll have plenty of things to keep me busy!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grinning from ear to ear...

That's really the only way I could describe the look on Hubby's face when he walked out our backdoor & saw our new deck! He was grinning from ear to ear and just kept saying...I love it, I absolutely love it! I got home from work last night just as the contractors were finishing up. Let me just say that we are more than pleased with their work & I know that we'll get more than our money's worth out of the new deck!

The size & design is perfect in every way & it's plenty big for us to have some nice outdoor gatherings now. We chose to have fiberglass ballisters installed to help it seem more open and I'm very happy with that decision as well. Our backyard still seems plenty big and now we have a way to keep Bogey away if we need it.

Hubby standing on his (our) new deck!

A view of the entire outdoor space

Bogey was a big help setting up the fire pit--we'll keep the gate closed during the day & when we're not outside so we can protect whatever we keep up there, but for the most part he'll be more than welcome to join us.
Bogey quickly learned to play fetch off the new addition...he just flew off the top step & would hop back up without hitting the steps at all! I love his ears in this shot!
Hubby & I did some more yardwork last night & then settled in for the evening. I know I've said it many times, but we are going to get so much use out of this area! My parents came up last night & we had smores with them. I guess we need to invest in some more wood, I have a feeling we'll be going through it quite rapidly!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Outdoor Space minus Bogey

Ever since we got Bogey the one thing that has frustrated Hubby to no end is that we can't spend time outside on our patio. Bogey is either all over us or we're sitting in mismatched chairs (because Bogey is slowly destroying one of the wicker chairs) that are surrounded by remnants of dog toys, yellow dog hair, dirt, grass clumps, etc. Doesn't that just leave you with a nice relaxing picture?

We love to grill, love to use our firepit for smores or just to relax, and just like being outside in general; however, Bogey has made that nearly impossible or it becomes quite the task when we want to use our outdoor space. So...last week I come home to Hubby surrounded by pieces of paper, a tape measure, a yard stick, a pencil & a drawing of what I can only decipher as a preliminary idea for a...wait for it...DECK!!!!

Back up about 2 years: When we were building our house we had the option to either put a patio or a deck & after much deliberation we (meaning Hubby) chose the patio so we wouldn't have to maintain the wood of a deck. I only gave into this decision after Hubby promised to have the patio stained & engraved to look like tile (which I absolutely love!!!). I grew up with a deck and this was definitely my preference, but Hey..I was planning our wedding at the same time and my decisions were focused on blue chair ties or chair covers & silver candleabras or more flowers instead of wood or concrete!

Alright, so to get back on track...Hubby initially thought he wanted to build the deck himself, but after some research we decided it was much more feasible and would happen much more quickly if we would simply hire someone to do this project for us. So...needless to say, Hubby called a couple of people, got some good referrals, and on Monday night a guy came out to give us an estimate. They're building the deck today...yes, I said today...only about a week after Hubby originally brought up the idea. The deck will be complete with a gate so we can choose whether we want Bogey to join us or not!

To say I'm excited is probably an understatement, I had to think about it a bit, but now I can't wait for us to have a place to eat outside, have a fire pit, and enjoy the weather without Bogey getting everything so gross! I'll be sure to have pictures tomorrow!

Oh and just so you know, I've told Hubby that for any other big ideas I am requiring at least a 14 day cooling off period...I would never want him to think that every idea he has is so wonderful! ;o)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Rewind

We had a great weekend, but I will have to say it was anything but relaxing. It seemed like we ran from one thing to another...I guess that's what happens when you're out of town!

Friday night, we grabbed dinner at a local Chinese restaurant that has the BEST crab rangoon ever! Yum...I think I could have easily made a meal out of them! After dinner we headed to Best Buy; the computer we are currently using my parents bought for me when I was a junior in college--7 years ago! It has had the hard drive replaced twice and has unfortunately started giving us the blue screen of death on occasion. We made the decision to bite the bullet while we have money in savings so that we won't have to scramble around when the computer finally bites the bullet. We found a really nice HP computer with tons of storage space, Office preinstalled, & a years worth of anti-virus for a really good price. I hate spending large amounts of money at a time, but after we went and picked it up yesterday I knew we had made the right's a pic of our new toy!

Saturday morning I had to work until noon--after work Hubby & I grabbed a quick lunch then headed out to our favorite local nursery and bought some mums and a variety of other fall plants to redo the planters around our house. We also headed over to our favorite place to buy pumpkins, gourds, and all other things fall! Hubby is notorious for going overboard on the pumpkin purchasing and this year was no different! By the time we were done, we had 11 various gourds/pumpkins, 1 bale of straw, 2 corn stalks, 5 ears of Indian corn, & 5 small decorative gourds. I do have to admit that the finished product looked fantastic & always love how our front porch looks for the fall!
Some close-ups of our gourd/pumpkin/corn collection!

Saturday evening I headed out with some girlfriends for an impromptu Bachelorette Party--she is getting married in St. Lucia in the middle of October! We grabbed a nice dinner & then headed out to our local piano bar for some fun! The party was pretty laid back--not too wild & crazy which was definitely nice! Congrats Tacy!!!

It had been raining off and on pretty much all day, but when we headed to the piano bar the rain had basically stopped so I dropped my umbrella off at my car--BAD CHOICE!!! We went and hung out for about an hour or so and then decided it was time to head home. We walked outside to a was pouring cats, dogs, & any other animal that you can think of! I had left my car parked by the restaurant because I knew I wouldn't find anything closer & especially not anything where we wouldn't have to we headed out for the 3-4 block trek to our car! Let me just say...I have not been that wet while fully dressed in a long time! Needless to say the 3 of us that were headed to our cars together were soaked head to toe and cackling as we ran down the sidewalks in our heels, traipsing through water that was no less than 6-8 in. DEEP!!! I had water running down my back all the way home--but what a fun experience! We tried to stop at an overhang and grab a picture but it was raining so hard that was nearly impossible! At least we have the memories!!!

Sunday we went to church where it seemed like we needed to re-introduce ourselves since we'd been gone for 2 weeks! We grabbed a quick lunch, went and picked up the computer, & then headed home. We got there just in time to meet my mom & grandma to head to a baby shower for my cousin! I failed to take any photos but she got some super cute stuff for their little boy! While I was gone Hubby planted our fall planters & they look soo good!

Just one of our FIVE fall pots!

When I got home, we headed to small group--what a refreshing time to be with so many couples who are striving to live for God & learn more about what living for Him looks like! Our study this time is about parenting & while Hubby & I obviously don't have kids, we're looking forward to gaining lots of insight that I'm sure we'll use in the future! it's time to start a new week--but a short one for me because our annual fall festival is this weekend & our office closes at noon on Friday! YIPEE!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2 stages down...1 to go!

So....Wednesday evening we got back to Hubby's parents' house just in time to switch our bags, grab a good night's sleep and head out quickly the next morning for the next & final stage of our trip! This stage was most definitely created just for Hubby & his dad so his mom decided to do a little bit of reseach to make the trip for the ladies worthwhile. On Thursday we drove to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore & spent the afternoon walking along Lake Michigan & enjoying the beautiful weather. The lake was so peaceful & calm, it was stunning!

Originally, we though we'd fully experience the dunes & hike down to the shore--so we searched for the shortest trail & headed down...let me just tell you that walking on sand, in the sun, uphill is not very enjoyable! However, the views were probably worth it!

Once we got down to the shoreline, my poor feet were so glad to be covered in the cool lake water! There were beautiful round stones of all sizes & colors covering the bottom of the lake. The water was crystal clear & went for miles! I can't believe this is lakeside--it looks just like a calm bay on the ocean!

I hiked up my jeans, picked up my shoes, & Hubby & I enjoyed a nice stroll along the shore. We decided that on the way back we would just walk long enough on the shore to get to a parking lot where Hubby's dad could come pick us up. Man, that was a much better walk than hiking back up the sand dunes in the hot sun!
I so wish I would have brought a bucket so I could have very cautiously taken some of these home to use in our house! We did try to put as many in our pockets and we filled Hubby's shoes with some fun rocks that I hope to use in an arrangement somewhere. We weren't quite sure if it was illegal to take these out of the park but there were so some of them came home with us!
Can you believe how clear the water is?
The view back towards Lake Michigan from the boardwalk
The location where we walked back to our car used to be a lifesaving point for boaters who got stranded in riptides & beached their boats in the shallow waters along the shore. It was such a quaint little place & it still houses a Coast Guard Unit for the area. I love this shot of the sun!

Our stash..or some of it! We were both impressed with the largest rock which is actually a bunch of sand that solidified around several small rocks...I'm hoping to put it outside in our front flower bed.
After our visit to the sand dunes, we hopped back in the car and headed out for Traverse City, Michigan--our resting place for the evening. We checked into the hotel, cleaned up a bit, & then headed back out for dinner. We had dinner at this amazing restaurant on the bay called Apache Trout Grille...they had wonderful fresh seafood...this was probably the best meal of the trip. Plus the views were just wonderful!
View of all the sailboats moored for the evening!

Don't you just love those clouds!
Friday, the plan was for Hubby's mom to drop off he and his dad at this really good golf course, then she would come back and pick me up so we could shop for the morning before meeting up with the boys & heading home. Well...I think the boys forgot to include one major detail! The golf course was an hour away from our hotel!!! All I can say is that we really must love our men, because we got up at the crack of dawn to get the boys to their 8:30 tee time & then came back to shower & head out for some shopping. Again, the shopping was pretty much terrible but I always have a fantastic time with my mother-in-law so it was a great time either way!
We headed back to pick up the boys & had a late lunch at the golf course...let me just tell you I think the drive was worth it! Look at this view!
They have an entire row of white adirondack chairs all lined up in front of the clubhouse where you can just sit & enjoy the beautiful scenery & also watch the golf as everyone finishes up on the 18th green! After lunch we sat for awhile before getting back in the car for the inevitable trip home!

Don't you just love these!?!
We got back later Friday night & then we spent the entire day on Saturday just lounging around watching football. Hubby's dad grilled steaks for dinner & they were oh so yummy! We got up early on Sunday to head for home & pulled into our driveway about 6:30. Whew...what a trip! I've never been so excited to see my house as I was that night!
I can definitely say that was a trip that we will never take again but I'm certainly glad that we took advantage of Hubby's parents being in Michigan and saw some of the beautiful scenery up North! Hopefully we'll be heading back up for Thanksgiving and we'll get to spend a lot more time just relaxing (instead of spending it all in a car!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

The second leg of our road trip included driving to the in-laws house and then preparing for a quick trip to Niagara Falls, Canada. However, I do have to include one quick photo before I move on to Niagara Falls...I now present to you...Giant Jesus (or as I've been recently told Touchdown Jesus). Now, please don't take this wrong I love Jesus with my whole heart & he is my personal Lord & Savior...but I just couldn't resist posting a picture of the giant statue that we saw on the side of 1-75 outside of Cincinnati!

Now, on to the more important aspects of our trip. Hubby & I were in charge of lodging so we chose a boutique style hotel that looked fantastic online and was actually quite reasonably priced. We avoided staying at a hotel with a view of the falls because the rate was so outrageous! Here are a few pics from our hotel room, it was super modern & so fun! I'm certainly not a fan of modern decor in my home, but it's certainly fun to enjoy on vacation!

I loved the bathroom area! The shower was huge & had wall jets that were definitely nice after a long day of walking!
I loved all the dark wood accents & hardwood flooring!

After we arrived & dropped our bags, we immediately headed down to the falls. I really had no idea what we were getting in to, but let me just tell you the falls were incredible. It is such an unreal, fascinating natural site & these pictures really don't do it justice, but here you go!
The American Falls
American (on the left) & Niagara Falls (on the right)
Hubby & I
A picture from behind Niagara Falls...the drop off was just incredible!

A shot back towards the falls from behind--the bridge you can see is one of the bridges between Canada & the USA.

We didn't do Maid of the Mist, but we did the Journey to the Center which allowed you to walk in tunnels to get down closer to the falls & also to look out some portal holes from back behind the falls. We definitely got wet & please excuse the lovely yellow ponchos we are all wearing...they didn't give us a choice in color!
We headed back to the falls after dinner to see them all lit up...unfortunately only the American falls were fully lit, but they were beautiful nonetheless.

The next day Hubby & his dad played golf in the morning and my mother-in-law & I tried to find some good shopping and failed miserably. Oh well, it was probably good for me. After lunch we hopped in the car and headed up the road a bit to an adorable little town called Niagara on the Lake. We made a quick stop at a scenic overlook at The Whirlpool. Here's a close-up shot of the water churning many feet below us!
Niagara on the Lake was fantastic! It was so adorable and had some great little gift shops. Again, I failed to buy anything but I just loved looking at all the beautiful can they grow flowers in Canada! We also stopped at one of the many wineries on the way back into Niagara Falls and we purchased a wine that even I like (even if it is a dessert wine!). It's icewine and is made from frozen grapes, it's super sweet & just perfect for me!

Can you believe the size of those flower baskets? They were hanging everywhere!

Yes, Hubby wanted to take a picture with Bessie the cow.

...and then he convinced me to take a picture with the giant moose outside of the souvenir shop...
Hubby & I had a great time in Niagara Falls; however, we've seen it and there really isn't a good reason to go back once you've seen the falls & heard the roar they make falling. The rest of the town was honestly pretty run down and full of the typical tourist traps.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Country Boy meets City Girl

Alright, so here we go. I've decided to break our trip up so all the pictures aren't overwhelming! We started off the trip by heading out early Friday morning bound for Eastern Tennesee. It was a long day but we pulled into our destination just in time to get changed for the rehearsal dinner. Hubby & I weren't in the wedding so it wasn't really necessary to be at the rehearsal but my fabulous aunt invited anyone who was coming from Missouri since we'd had such a long drive!

Hubby & I had originally planned to stay in a hotel about 25 minutes from the wedding location, but my parents got there early and were able to negotiate getting an extra room for a very discounted it was such a nice surprise to pull in and see that this is where we would be spending the night!

The location is actually used as a retreat for missionaries along with being a bed and breakfast/wedding location. It was absolutely beautiful & such a perfect wedding location for Kevin & Ashley. This is the view across the property from my parent's balcony! Stunning!!!

Hubby & I had a huge room and although it was a bed & breakfast it was definitely not too Victorian or kitschy like so many of them seem to be! Our bed was super high & super comfy!

My cousin grew up on a farm & still has a lot of Country Boy in him, even though he now lives in Nashville and plays in a worship band. Ashley is certainly a city girl that I think is getting used to all of the country stuff! My aunt Belinda did an amazing job with the centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner. I love how she intertwined their two backgrounds & made it absolutely adorable! The rehearsal dinner food was also amazing!
Saturday we had the entire day to spend hanging out since the wedding didn't start until 4:00. They had a full size croquet field so we enjoyed a game...I happen to have decided that I really don't enjoy this game! ;o) Maybe I'm just a sore loser.

They also had some hiking trails, one of which lead to a field with some cows...are these not the most adorable/ugly cows you have ever seen?!?
Now on to the point of the whole weekend...the Wedding!!! As I've mentioned before, Kevin plays in the worship band that travels to all of Beth Moore's needless to say this was a wedding focused on worship & our heavenly father who orchestrates everything in our lives! Kevin even played a few worship songs at the beginning of the wedding & it was certainly unlike any other wedding ceremony I've been to or expect to attend in the future. How awesome to see a wedding ceremony so focused on Jesus Christ!
Yup, that's Beth Moore on the right saying a blessing over Kevin & Ashley at the end of the ceremony! Hubby & I waiting on the reception to start!
Another beautiful photo of the grounds!

The Jones Family
The Jones boys'--love these men!

Showing off the pockets of my dress! Obviously not a very flattering photo!

Hubby & I giving the big cheesy grin to each other!

First dance...are they just not beautiful together?!?

Mother/Son dance...this woman is like a second mom to me! Love them so much!

The Smart Family cousins in attendance...the bride & groom, his brother & girlfriend, & Hubby & I
This was an amazing start to our trip. We stayed at the reception long enough to get cake, said our goodbyes, & headed out. We made it as far as Lexington, KY before stopping for the night. Everything about their wedding weekend was beautiful!
Stay tuned for more photos...