Sunday, December 15, 2013


I have felt very thankful recently for my life. Perhaps it's due to the holiday season, or that I will be seeing dear family and friends so very soon, or my current circumstances, or what my pastor said today. I choose all the things.

Here is a list of my simple thanks:

#1. For Tombstone Pizzas.
  I mean, Tombstone Pizza nails it every time, but I'm using those cheesy beauties symbolically. Michael and I haven't had much money due to unforeseeable car problems and foreseeable debt. Luckily, we've had enough to pay the things we need to every month- but that's not what I'm particularly thankful for (although, yes, obviously I am thankful for that). The lack of money has meant that Michael and I have been able to spend a lot of time together at home eating cheap pizzas, playing games, talking, cooking new foods that we can freeze for a whole month, getting on each other's nerves, having important fights, having unimportant fights (like, is it rude to start eating a bag of chips before we bring them to a friends house?), watching so much Star Trek, listening to our favorite music and laughing our butts off. I'm sure this is a common occurrence for most married couples, and I think it is an important one. We are learning so much right now, and I wouldn't trade a million bucks for it (but maybe, just maybe I would trade a million pizzas for it). I'm so very thankful for our Tombstone Pizza days, and I think we will look fondly on them in the future.

#2. For my old friends.
  This is an obvious one. But I can't help but gush when I talk about my oldie but goodie Greenville friends. We've been fortunate to have two of them, Jordan and Niqui, living not too far away from us in Durham, NC. Michael's an introvert, and I am borderline introvert/extrovert, so moving to a new place and having to constantly meet people can be a little exhausting at times, and to see such familiar faces every now and then is so great. The best thing about old friends is that you always pick up right where you left off, without skipping a beat. When we go to Durham, we immediately flop down on Jordan and Niqui's couches, ask for food and tell each other funny stories- it's so natural (asking for food, that is).  I've also been able to keep up with Rachel, Caitlin and Erica (my roommates from Senior Year that I haven't been able to see), and that always proves to lift my spirits and make me feel so happy with life. I am reminded through these friends that I am loved. What a great thing to be reminded of, no? Plus, we'll all be reunited oh so soon! HOLLER.

#3. For my job.
  My job as a special ed. aide can be super taxing at times. Especially when you work with a punk-ass child like the one I get to work with everyday (I mean that in the most loving way). In the same breath, this job excites me because it is so challenging. It's been a test of patience and positivity- two things that I regularly fail at. It's been a test of completely forgetting about my own frustrations and myself, in order to focus on some kids that don't have it so easy. It's also been a test to take each day in stride, counting every little positive occurrence with each kid as a small victory, and not expecting huge results over night. All of these tests- patience, positivity, not to be self-absorbed and recognizing life's small victories- sure seem like things I will be learning the rest of my life, so I am very thankful that I am continually reminded of these hard things everyday. Also, the ladies I work with in the special ed. department are fantastic, I've never seen such a supportive team in the work place. I even had one of my coworkers chase me down because she noticed I was upset, which was due to a pretty difficult day at work, and she only had uplifting things to remind me of. How great is that?

My list of thanks has at times looked more like a list of doubts and concerns- not having much money, not having many new friends yet, or having a hard job are all unsettling things. Right now though, I can't help but look at this list and feel even more blessed by the sometimes uneasy and unfamiliar life that is being thrown my way.

Last but not least, a fitting Taize chant that my pastor had us recite in church today:
Keep me, O God, for I trust in you,
You show me the path of life.
With you there is fullness of joy.

Amen. Here's to Tombstone Pizza days,  difficult kids who are teaching me more than I could teach them, and old friendships. What have you been thankful for lately?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Discoveries, Changes and Stuffz.

Dear Discoveries, Changes and Stuff,
Thanks for keeping Michael and I preoccupied this past month. You met us when we were fresh and ready to tackle whatever you had in mind, and you left us not only with new places, sights, items and conversations but also a bit tired and a bit weirder than when you found us. Keep doing your thang.

Here are a few exciting, nerdy, new, fun, and terrible (only one) things from this past month:

One of our favorite additions to making our space feel more like a cozy home are our new stringed lights:

We found the coolest town, Floyd, not that far away from us. The town held their annual Oktoberfest and we were able to enjoy live folk music, local food and beer:

My bestie, Erica, sent me a pillow with squirrels on it (we call each other Squirrel. Because we can):

Michael's mighty beard is back and ready to deter the winter winds:

We have some new housemates that are much smarter and faster than we are. Michael likes to swear at them:

We were able to travel to North Carolina and see some of our other besties, Jordan and Niqui:                               

Our frequent topic of conversation this past month and Michael's current obsession: tiny houses. Our plan is to take over the world with tiny house communities. Prepare yoself:

Michael got me into his childhood favorite, Star Trek: Voyager. I'll just say this: I'm a straight up nerd now. Live long and prosper, snitches. 

Oh, and also,
I traded in my Starbucks apron for some teacher clothes- I got a new job!
As much as I liked my co-workers at Starbucks, my schedule was not working for Michael and I. Our days were completely opposite- I'd work nights, he has classes during the day, and I'd work weekends and he has weekends off.  It was enough to make us feel like we might not enjoy the next two years in Virginia if my schedule was to remain the same.

Not long after I started to talk with Michael about finding another job, I received a call from our local Elementary School asking if I could interview for a Special Education Aide position. I was offered the job a few days later, and I started a week ago! It has really been a blessing thus far. Not only do Michael and I have similar schedules now, but I am extremely excited about what I am doing. In a nutshell, I work side by side with two kids, a 3rd grade girl in the morning and 4th grade boy in the afternoon. I help whenever they need assistance in the classroom, and occasionally teach them in a one-on-one setting.  I think it will be one of the most challenging jobs I've had to date, but probably one of the most rewarding as well. 

We've been blessed so far by our time in Virginia. Here's to many more discoveries, changes and stuff.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DIY: Pumpkin Spice Latte & Chai

Earlier this month, Starbucks put the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte back on the menu. After a somewhat frightening experience of customers realizing we finally had this drink and 1000% of them ordering it, I thought it'd be fun to try and make my own Pumpkin Syrup and share it with all you cray cray PSL fanatics. Since I have access to the Starbucks syrup, I was able to make my homemade version taste almost the same (if not better), and for less money, less calories (24 cal. per tbsp), and less chemicals. After trial and error, I finally came up with my best version of Pumpkin Syrup:


1/2 cp. Granulated Sugar (I used Organic Brown granulated sugar)
1/4 cp. Brown Sugar
4 tbsp. Libby's canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp.Nutmeg
1/2 tsp.Cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick
Optional: 1/4 tsp. of Ginger if you want it a bit spicier. I liked it better without.


1) Add water and sugar to a small pan and wait for it to boil (it boils quickly!).
2) Reduce it to a simmer and add in the other ingredients
3) Stir occasionally for five minutes
4) Let is stand & cool for 10 minutes
5) Store in air-tight container and keep for up to three weeks!

Pumpkin Spice Latte:

For those of you who don't know, a latte (as well as all espresso drinks), is primarily steamed milk, with shots of espresso in it. Since I don't own a steam wand or espresso machine, I improvised. I would add as much syrup as you want, but 2 tbsp was enough for me. 


-Pumpkin Syrup


1) Fill most of your mug with milk and either microwave or boil it.
2) Add a splash of coffee to taste (or if you have an espresso machine, put in a shot)
3) Add 2 tbsp. of the syrup and bring it to a boil on the stove!

Pumpkin Chai:
One of my favorite drinks is a chai tea latte, and I'm happy to say that this Pumpkin Chai is SO extremely delicious. I feel like I am drinking Fall (you'll understand once you try it) and it gives me insta-comfort. I've worked at two different coffee shops, and at one they used hot water mixed with chai, and the other used steamed milk. I prefer the milk because it is much creamier and sweeter (milk sweetens as it is steamed or warmed up). For the chai, I use Oregon Chai Original Concetrate. You can buy this from almost any grocery store- I bought mine at my local Kroger. 


-Oregon Chai (I bought the Chai Tea Original concentrate at my local Kroger)
-Pumpkin Syrup


1) Fill up your mug with equal parts Chai Concentrate and Milk 
2) Put it in a pan and add 1tbsp. of the PS
3) Bring to a boil

Enjoy friends!

Here's a  a bonus track from Mumford and Son's latest album that I've been listening to lately. It's really beautiful and a bit softer than the rest of their songs:

Monday, September 9, 2013

{Project Life}: for the scrapbook challenged.

My past attempts at scrap-booking have been at best, a place to keep some photos. At worst, mangled pages that look as if a three year old got into some glue and stickers. In fact, it looks like someone with ill intent made those pages- limbs are missing in photos, heads are floating, there are smudges across the page, lots of exclamation points and failed attempts at writing pretty. I swear I was just trying to preserve memories in a creative way and not make it look as if I wanted to murder all of my friends.

I am definitely craft-challenged. For awhile, my inability to scrapbook made me scoff at those who successfully scrapbooked: 
"It's SO lame when people try to take cool pictures and make cool memories and stuff ."
"I have like a thousand better things to do- like play Nancy Drew computer games with my best friend and eat cheese." 
Ah yes, to be completely self-unaware.
I now embrace my inability to be crafty and have found a rather easy way to scrapbook.
I'd like to share.

One of my best friends and roommates from college, Rachel, is probably the most crafty person I know.  Although she'd be able to make a blank scrapbook page look like magic, she started to use this scrapbooking kit called Project Life. It's seriously the easiest thing for someone like me. I'll show pictures of what I've done so far:

You start with a few basic things:
1. A core kit. Most of those pretty pieces of paper came in the core kit and are made specifically for the vellum sheets. The one I am using is the Kraft Core-Kit.
2. Vellum sheets- the reason why this project is so easy. There are various packets of said sheets that have a different array of pockets. This takes the guesswork out of negative space and all of the awkward-ness that follows. 
3. A binder. I don't have one yet, but I might make a binder instead of purchasing one.

If you aren't among the Scrapbooking gods, then I suggest giving this a go. It's easy, fun, and probably better than playing Nancy Drew computer games and eating cheese all day (although somewhat debatable). 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

to the mountains we shall go.

Well, it certainly has been a long time since I've written my last post. To all of my fans (which is definitely just Rachel Zahniser-Cranston), I apologize. To everybody else, you're welcome.

So much has happened since April. For starters, I am sitting about 600 miles due East of where I wrote my last post. Before I get into that however, I'll back up even further.

The school year ended at Greenville College, and Michael and I had to say goodbye to a few of our housemates. Several new people moved into Big Blue for the summer, and we shared plenty of good meals, watched plenty of great shows, played many a game of fierce badminton (not so much), ate lots of party potatoes (a Trapp family recipe- it's the best thing that has ever hit my mouth), and celebrated numerous birthdays. 
Michael and I celebrated our one year anniversary in St. Charles, Missouri, and our housemates surprised us with cake and wine when we returned. We vacationed in Pentwater with the Trapps- which is always such a relaxing and fun time. We picked our dear friends Josh and Rachel up from the airport from their year-long stay in Norway. We were able to reunite with old friends and laugh our butts off as usual. We were glad to spend the summer with some new friends as well. I also created and sold a painting. All in all, I'd say it was a mighty fine summer.

But also, we got bed bugs. About a month before we moved, our housemate Carrie found a few bites on her body. And then Haley did as well. And then we started to find them on our stairs. And near our beds. And in our cups. And in our eyeballs. And on our windowsills. And in our couches. 
All of these are true besides one. You decide.
Seriously though, bed bugs are the worst creature you can imagine. They come out at night when their prey is most vulnerable, sense your body heat, and then come suck your blood. Then they leave and crawl back into their stupid little bedbug havens. Since you have no idea where they are exactly living, you then have to assume that they are EVERYWHERE. So, we had to disinfect everything. This meant washing all of our clothes (high heat kills bed bugs) and storing most of them in someone else's garage. It also meant using our car to heat all of my husbands books (which by the way, is so. many.). It also meant spraying all of our items with 90% rubbing alcohol. Michael started to have bad dreams about CVS running out of the alcohol. What a terrible creature. But, it also forced Michael and I to pack up our belongings earlier than expected and be ready for our big move.

My lovely sisters came down for a day and helped Michael and I pack and my parents came a few days later to help us move our stuff to Virginia! My husband's impressive brain has taken him to Virginia Tech to receive his Master's in Philosophy. He was able to get tuition remission as well as a stipend to be a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Yes, I'm allowed to brag about him. If I could high-five his brain, I would. So, we are now living in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and we seriously couldn't be any happier. We are living in a renovated carriage house on a Bed and Breakfast property, and it is the coolest place that I think we could have found. Here's some pictures:

Oh yes. We love it and all of the rustic charm it has to offer. I'll post soon about some of my favorite details in our little carriage house.

In the first few weeks we were able to spend a weekend with Jordan and Niqui (who just moved to Durham, NC), go to North Carolina and visit Grandpa and Grandma Trapp, finally hang out with the Schade family, and have dinner at Jordan and Niqui's new place. Michael started school and is loving it, and I found a job as a full-time supervisor at Starbucks within two weeks of living here.
We are finding friends through Michael's philosophy program- it has been extremely encouraging how welcoming everybody has been. We've also visited a few churches, and are excited to return to a few of them. To top it all off, we live in a drop dead gorgeous area.

God is good.

Till next time.
Grace & Peace.