What I Wore Wednesday

Now that summer is here and I don’t have a day-to-day routine, I’ve gotten much worse about remembering to take pictures!  Oops.  But here are a few…Friday – interview

Don’t get too excited.  This was just a screener interview (to make sure I’m not a crazy and all that) with the school system.  You have to have the screener interview first, then if a position opens up the principal from that school can do an interview.

shirt/TJ Maxx; blazer/Gabriel Bros; skirt/TJ Maxx; shoes/Sofft via Rugged Wearhouse (Gabriel Bros); necklace/Burlington Coat Factory

Saturday I meant to take an outfit picture but totally forgot.  I can’t imagine why…

Oh yes, maybe because this cutie came to visit me…

You’d much rather look at a picture of Nora than me anyway :)

Sunday – church, driving around looking at houses, and more church

dress/Loft outlet; cardi/Loft outlet; shoes/Shoe Carnival? I think.

This was the outfit I wore last Sunday for our infamous attempt to find a church in Chicago that got drenched in sweat during that trek and failed to get photographed.  So after a nice washing, it got a re-do this Sunday (although it’s fate was yet another sweat-drenching while looking at houses on the hot Sunday afternoon)

Monday – shopping at Whole Foods in Nashville; dinner with Michael’s family

dress/made by me; sandals/Target

Yes, I’m still loving the two dresses I made and am wearing each of them at least once a week.  Don’t hate.

Now on to the topic of hair…I know it’s hard to tell in this picture since my hair and the shirt blend together, but I’m wearing pigtails.  I’m conflicted about this style – I see it on other “grown ups” and think it looks cute, but when I try it on myself I’m just not so sure.  I feel like a kid.  So what say ye?  Piggies or no piggies?

Linking up to What I Wore Wednesday

I always wanted a collection {Works for Me Wednesday}

I’ve never really been one for collecting things.  I really like stars and star-shapped items, and our living room is somewhat decorated in stars, but I don’t really “collect” them.  You know, like those people who you always know what to get them because they have their “thing” – frogs, UT stuff, apples, whatever.  I’ve always wanted to be one of those people, but alas I just don’t have a “thing”.

I also thought it would be neat for Michael and me to have something to collect when we travel.  But again, I couldn’t come up with anything.

But while working the book fair at school during my practicum this semester I had an epiphany…we could collect children’s books!  Meaningful and practical!  Now, Michael wasn’t quite as jump-up-and-down excited as me (not that I have a love of books or anything…) but he was willing to go along with it (he’s pretty great about jumping on all my crazy idea trains – wait ’til you hear our next one later this week!).

My reasoning was this: collecting children’s books would help us mark or remember those special trips and occasions, plus we would be building a library for our future kiddos.  And I think (hopefully they will too) that it will be neat to read the books to them and tell them “Mommy and Daddy bought this for you when we were in Chicago…long before you were born!”.

I kicked off our collection with a purchase from the book fair – a book about dress up and shoes and one of the little girls name is Caitlin!  So perfect.

Then I bought a Fly Guy book for my last day of my practicum (and was gifted two more by my sweet practicum supervisor)

The professors I worked for carried on the theme (although they didn’t know it) by giving me a book as part of my going away present – Can I Bring Woolly to the Library, Ms. Reeder?

We bought Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as our “souvenirs” for our Gatlinburg trip (and because I needed them for my book-themed graduation party!)

When we found Larry Gets Lost in Chicago, we knew it was the perfect acquisition to represent that trip

On the inside of the book I’ve been writing when and where we got them (i.e. Chicago trip spring 2012)

So if you too want to collect something and have no idea what, here’s one!

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.

it’s a love story, baby just say yes

Four years ago yesterday Michael asked me to marry him…and I said yes.  I’ll save the proposal story for another day, but today I wanted to share with you some of our engagement pictures.

These were taken by friends of ours from college, Zach and Sarah.  If you live in the Cookeville/Knoxville/Nashville, TN area and need a photographer I highly recommend you check them out! (here is their website and Facebook page)  They are so fun to work with and do an excellent job!  These are by far my favorite pictures of us ever (yes, even including our wedding pictures).

it’s more awkward and much harder to hold a kiss for the camera than one might think…

and to hold that crouched position for so long…

coolest picture ever

this scary goose didn’t like us getting close to her babies so she chased us – yikes!

All of our pictures were taken in Cookeville, TN – most of them on Tech’s campus, where we went to school (Tennessee Tech University).

just like Kermit

As in, it’s not easy being green.  I have yet to successfully keep a plant around, so here’s to hoping that this endeavor goes better than all previous attempts.

Yesterday we got started on another one of my 2012 bucket list items: grow something.

Due to our current apartment dwelling situation, we decided to go pretty minimal with our “garden” this year – just some tomatoes, herbs, and an aloe plant.  We got everything purchased and planted yesterday and sat it out on our patio with hopes that it will receive enough sun each day to thrive.  Fingers crossed.

our supplies

better boy tomatoes

cherry or grape tomatoes (I’m not sure which, or really even how to tell the difference)

oregano, sweet basil, chives, and parsley

sweet mint, rosemary, and lemon thyme (plus room for one more – I’d like some dill but haven’t been able to find any yet)

plus an aloe plant that is hanging out in the kitchen waiting for a pot

Now let’s hope I can complete my bucket list item and actually get my plants to grow…

Chicago trip

aka lost in Chicago

aka Google Maps stinks

What an adventure we had in Chicago!  It was fun but also crazy and stressful at times.  I don’t believe my feet have ever been in so much pain as they were on this trip, but it was worth it.

Forewarning: this will be a loooong post with lots of pictures.  But think of it as your very own “Chicago visitors guide” to refer to in case you ever decide to take a trip.  If you just want my recommendations of what to do/what not to do, skip down to the end of the post for the summary.  If you want to hear the whole recap and see pictures…

Here we go…

Friday

We flew out of Nashville Friday.  We experienced literally (every time I say or type “literally” I hear Chris Treager from Parks and Rec in my head) the easiest flying experience ever.  We got to my parents earlier than we expected, so we left their house (Mom dropped us off at the airport so we wouldn’t have to leave our car) earlier than we expected, traffic was much lighter than we expected, and so we got to the airport about 30 minutes earlier than we planned.  Then it took less than 10 minutes to check our luggage and go through security!  The lines were so short – that has never happened to me!  Then we found out that our plane was going to be a bit delayed, so we had over two hours for a nice, leisurely dinner (which turned out to be not so nice because we had terrible service, but at least we weren’t in a rush).

However, right before we left we found out that the NATO Summit was being in held in Chicago on the exact same three days we were going to be there!  That meant many foreign dignitaries as well as the president and first lady were going to be in town – talk about increased security!  Plus there were supposed to be tons of protestors flying/driving in from all over to protest…something.  We had planned to take buy a three day trolley pass to a hop-on-hop-off trolley (they drive you around to all the major sights, provide you with info about the city, you can get off at any stop, stay as long as you want, and then just get back on to continue your tour when the next bus comes along).  The company had great reviews and we thought that would be the perfect way for us to get around Chicago and see the major attractions since we’d never been and had no idea what we were doing.  But guess what, because of NATO the trolley tours were closed for the three days we happened to be there and want to use them.  Also, several of the museums and the Shedd Aquarium were closed too.  So we had to drastically change our list of things to see/do and figure out another method of transportation.

We got to Chicago around 10:00.  Again, all was well and we quickly got our luggage.  We had planned to take the “L” (short for “elevated” – aka subway or metro) to the stop nearest our hotel and then walk from there.  However, we didn’t count on the eight million flights of stairs that we would have to lug our suitcases up and down!  Then once we got off the L we were completely confused about how to get to our hotel and ended up dragging ourselves and our suitcases all over creation trying to find our way to the hotel.  But we finally made it (after asking for directions many times and getting hustled by a guy who I thought was just being helpful when he asked if we needed help but actually wanted money).  By that time it was after 11:00 so it was straight to bed for us!

Saturday

The Field Museum was going to be closed Sunday and Monday because of NATO so we decided we better do that first thing Saturday morning while it was still open.  So we hopped on the L and went to the closest stop to the museum.

Except when we got to the museum it was surround by these tall metal barricades and we could not figure out how to get to it.  We were already soaked with sweat from our hike from the L to the museum, then we were wandering around like dummies trying to figure out how to actually get there.  I think I now know how babies feel when they’re one one side of a crib/gate and see something on the other side that they want and just.can’t.reach.it.

some pier we stumbled upon while searching for an entrance

But we finally figured out how to get to the entrance, where we were promptly searched by the secret service (not that we looked suspicious or anything, they were searching everyone as they came in, just wanted to clear that up…) and then finally able to make it to the museum.

first of many Chicago skyline pictures – this one taken outside the Field museum

Here’s a trick we learned about many of the museums and exhibits in Chicago – they have multiple tickets you can purchase: a general admission ticket (usually around $15), and all-access ticket (usually $30-$40), or an a la carte where you purchase the general admission + extra add ons.  That was a little annoying because unless you purchased the all-access you sort of had to pick and choose which exhibits to visit.  Later I’ll give you my suggestion in case you ever decide to go.  For the Field Museum we chose to do the general admission + an add on to see the Ghengis Kahn exhibit.

Sue, the T-Rex

There was a neat little exhibit about shoes – I was fascinated with these “shoes for bound feet” – they were absolutely tiny!  I cannot imagine an adult women with such small feet!  The ones in the first picture looked like baby shoes to me.  The ones in the second picture are next to a pair of “normal” sized shoes for comparison.  Crazy.

So our thoughts about the museum: kinda boring.  For me, museums are too overwhelming.  I know that there is not enough time to look at everything and read every little piece of information, but it’s hard for me to pick and choose.  So I end up just meandering through just so say I “saw” everything and not really looking at stuff.  That probably just means I’m weird, but it’s the truth.  But seriously, this was ok but definitely not our favorite thing.

On our way to to museum we passed a Trader Joe’s – I was so excited because I’ve always heard of them but never been to one (it’s a grocery store, by the way).  We stopped in to take a look, and then on the way back to downtown/our hotel we went in and bought some stuff to take home, including the famous cookie butter.

For lunch we went to Giordano’s for some Chicago-style deep dish pizza – yum, so good!

After lunch we went into Nordstrom Rack – I’d seen that listed on some What I Wore Wednesday posts but never been in one so I had to check it out.  Verdict: not as exciting as I thought, I did get some super cute earrings though.  Then next door I saw Anthropologie and just about died from excitement.

I had never heard of this mythical Anthropologie unit I started reading blogs a few years ago.  And it seemed like people talked about Anthro all the time: clothes from there, home goods from there, re-creating crafts based on their stuff.  But the only Antro anywhere close to me is a mini one at Green Hills Mall in Nashville that only has accessories – no clothes, no home stuff.  So I was thrilled to check it out.  Most of the clothes were way more than I wanted to pay, but some of the jewelry and home stuff wasn’t too bad.  I probably would have bought more but I knew we had to fly home with whatever I bought so I limited myself.  I ended up with these latte bowls – I’ve loved them ever since I saw them on NieNie’s blog.  Hers was one of the first blogs I ever read, and I loved how she and her husband had all kinds of colors of bowls.  So I was pretty excited to get some for myself.

big ones and baby ones! (sorry for the el stinko phone pic)

After my impromptu shopping venture, we dropped our purchases off at the hotel, I changed shoes (my feet were in some major pain!) and walked to Navy Pier.

Navy Pier is just a pier with lots of shops, restaurants, and a little park thing (with a ferris wheel, merry go round, etc. – you can see the ferris wheel in the picture above).  It was just so-so for me; we walked to the end of the pier and back but had no desire to get on the ferris wheel (Michael would have enjoyed it but I would have been terrified so we didn’t go).  We were going to check out the Chicago Children’s museum but it was already closed (another lesson learned: all the museums and attractions close really early!).  We took a little boat “tour” – it didn’t leave the harbor but we got a little commentary about the various buildings we saw as we circled around.

I love this picture Michael took while we were on the boat

We grabbed some supper (Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville) and then dragged our exhausted, sore selves back to the hotel.

Sunday

Ah yes, another adventure in the making.  Saturday night we picked out the church we wanted to go to, figured out where it was, how to get there, how long it would take, and what time we needed to leave.  So we head out Sunday morning, get on the L, get off at our stop, and make the trek to where the church should have been.  But guess what, we couldn’t find it.  We walked up and down the street it was supposed to be on but couldn’t find it anywhere.  We stopped and asked multiple people and they had no idea what were were looking for.  We finally figured out that Google Maps had sent us to the completely wrong place – they had sent us to 55 (whatever street name, I’ve forgotten by now) when the address was really something like 11538-55 (that street name).  We were miles from our destination, about an hour away by bus, already late, and our Sunday clothes were soaked with sweat.  We just ended up going back to our hotel and having our own little church service.  Then we changed into more comfortable clothes and headed out for sightseeing.  So our church finding efforts, while valiant, were a total bust.  Thankyouverymuch Google Maps.

After the church fiasco we headed off to the SkyDeck (aka Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower).

We passed the library on our way but it was closed so we didn’t get to check it out

We also passed this little wall with all kinds of quotes about reading.   I loved this one “Read something luminous at night” – Edmund Wilson

We also finally saw some protesters.  And fortunately, this is the only time we saw any.  And they weren’t even protesting, they were just on their way to their site.  In fact, other than the NATO summit shutting down some of the places we wanted to go (Shedd, etc) we really didn’t have any problems.  We only saw protesters once.  We did see a few motorcades but it was no big deal, the buses were re-routed a few times but again, no big deal.  And the best part was that the police were out in droves all over the city to prevent anything crazy from happening so I felt more secure seeing them everywhere.

see the whole block of homeland security vehicles?

Willis Tower (Sears Tower)

Willis Tower is about as tall 315 of me

headed up to the top – they cram you in there like sardines!  and it goes so high so fast that your ears hurt and pop like being in a plane

view from the top:

We went out on the Sky Deck (if you don’t know what that is – it’s a glass or plastic ledge thing, fully enclosed, that it at the top of the tower – you can walk out on it and look straight down).  I’m not a fan of heights so I was a bit afraid, but I did it!

but only long enough to grab a quick picture for proof

We also found this book, Larry Gets Lost in Chicago, that seemed very appropriate for our experience

When we left the Sky Deck we went to Gino’s East for more deep dish pizza.  It was delicious, but the service kinda stunk.

Next on our agenda: Lincoln Park Zoo.  Verdict: loved it.

we never figured out what this bird was (I think it looks like a stork, but it was in the “birds of prey” exhibit and I don’t know if storks were birds of prey or not.  I thought they just, like, carried babies and stuff…) but anyway, it had a bunch of babies in the nest and it was really cool to watch.

Sun Bear – fascinating little creature that looks like a miniature bear crossed with a sloth with ginormous claws

polar bear cuddling with a rubber boot

it starts with an A, Ardvark, Ardvark, and ends with a K, Ardvark, Ardvark…

We stayed until the zoo closed (at 5:30!  why?) and got to see pretty much everything but the “farm” section (which we figure we’ve seen enough of in real life).

Then we headed to Millennium Park and Grant Park to see “The Bean”, the face fountains, and the Buckingham Fountain.

The face fountains were cool (and a little creepy) – the faces will randomly “spit” water at you – it was definitely a fun place for kids

I love this picture of the skyline reflected in the bean

 Buckingham Fountain

Sunday night we went to the Weber Grill for supper.  My food was just fair, but Michael’s salmon was absolutely the best salmon either of us have ever tasted.  It was incredible!  After we stuffed our bellies we took our yet again exhausted and sore selves back to the hotel.

(worst part about the trip was all the walking – even though I brought pretty comfortable shoes, my plantar fasciitis feet just couldn’t take the walking – by the end of the day I was hobbling around like a granny)

Monday

The Museum of Science and Industry wasn’t on our original list of things to do, but with some of our other plans shut down, we decided to check it out.  And I’m so glad we did – it was phenomenal!  Hands down our favorite thing we did the whole trip.  I can’t even begin to describe how cool it was!  It was about an hour bus ride from downtown, but it was so worth it.

On our way there we saw another motorcade

Ok, this thing was so so neat.  It was a screen with falling colored “sand”.  When you stood in front of it, the sand changed so it looked like it was falling around you, or you could “catch it”.  I have no idea how that works, but I was fascinated with it.


One of the things there that Michael really wanted to see was this “green” house (i.e. energy efficient and eco-friendly).  We were the only ones signed up for our time slot so we got our own little tour.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the house, but here’s the outside.we got to see some eggs hatching

and some already hatched chicks

there was a storm section where Michael made a tornado

The whole museum was incredible.  We could have spent all day there.  There was a really cool exhibit about the human body, an exhibit about planes, one about where food comes from, and more.  There are tons of hands-on experiments in all the exhibits.  Definitely a must-visit.  The only downside was that this was apparantly everyoneinChicagotakeafieldtrip day and there were bajillions of kids running around and hogging all the cool experiments.  But we still had a blast.

Even though we could have stayed all day at the Science and Industry Museum, we left so I could do some shopping on Michigan Avenue.  We ate lunch at the Grand Lux cafe then headed out to shop (well, I shopped and Michael walked around with me, reading on his Kindle while I browsed).  Sadly, it wasn’t quite as exciting as I expected.  Most of the stores were way expensive  (Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Coach, Tiffany’s, Burberry, Swavorski, etc.) and all I did was walk in to say I’d been there, but there’s no point (to me) browsing when I know there is no way I’ll pay those prices.  Then on the opposite spectrum, a lot of the stores were things we have here (Macy’s, Gap, Old Navy) – why on earth would I want to spend my vacation time buying things I can get here and then having to lug them home?  I did check out Crate and Barrel (I love home goods!) and H&M (much less exciting than I expected).  The main thing I wanted to see on Michigan Avenue (and in fact, the only thing I knew about in Chicago before we booked our trip) was…

The American Girl Doll store!

Be still my beating heart…

I loved my American Girl Dolls (still do, and sometimes get them out and change their outfits just for fun…shh, don’t tell)

I cannot even tell you how many hours were spent playing with them or how many dollars I saved to buy their little accessories.  I was stoked to get to see the store!

I was thisclose to bringing one (or more) of my own dolls so they could go to the American Girl Doll salon and get their hair fixed.  I just could not justify bringing another suitcase so Samantha could get a new ‘do.  Maybe next time.

I wanted to buy every stinkin’ thing in that store!  It was fantastically fun!

My Chicago trip was complete after that.

After that I had one last place I wanted to go – Filene’s Basement.  I’d heard about it from friends, and one of the very stylish bloggers I read frequently has clothes from there.  The one on Michigan Avenue had closed, but I had seen a sign for one elsewhere so we hopped on the bus and headed over there.  Only to find out that it had closed earlier this year, too.  Boo!  So no Filene’s Basement for me.  By that time (7:00) all the stores had closed (seriously, what is up with that?  The stores around here are open until 9 or 10, why on earth do the stores in Chicago close so early?!?).  We decided we wanted more of that delicious salmon so we went back to Weber Grill for supper and then to the hotel.

Oh yes, I also forgot to mention that despite the massive sweat inducing 90+ weather on Saturday and Sunday, we awoke Monday to a very chilly and windy day – I wore my jacket the whole day and we were quite thankful that most of the day Monday was spent inside.

Tuesday

We had done everything we wanted to do, plus there wasn’t really time to fit anything else in before we left, so on Tuesday we slept late, packed up, made a quick trip over to Anthropologie (which was pretty close to our hotel) so I could get some earrings I had seen on Saturday, and then headed for the airport.  This time we took a cab thing (not a limo, but not really a cab, maybe a shuttle car thing that our hotel provided?) so we didn’t have to haul our luggage all over creation.  We had another super easy check in at the airport, ate some lunch, and flew home.

random pictures that don’t fit anywhere else in this post…

I really loved seeing all the architecture in Chicago.  That surprised me since I don’t usually notice those things, but I thought it was so cool to see all the different types of buildings right next to each other.  It truly is a beautiful city.

If you’re still with me, pat yourself on the back – that was quite the long post.  If you’re a cheater and jumped to the bottom to see my trip advice…

In summary:

  • Wear comfortable shoes.  Maybe even take several pairs of comfortable shoes so you can switch them up when you start to get blisters.
  • Wear comfortable clothes.  Don’t be like me and try to wear cute clothes.
  • Eat some deep dish pizza at Giordano’s or Gino’s East
  • Museum of Science and Industry – quadruple yes!
  • Lincoln Zoo – definitely (plus it’s free!)
  • Skydeck (Willis Tower) – yes, unless you are terrified of heights (I very much dislike heights, but I wasn’t really scared except on the actual Skydeck, so it’s not that bad)
  • Field Museum – only if you really like museums, we didn’t care for it
  • Don’t trust Google Maps.  I only mentioned a few of the times that it got us lost, but it actually happened multiple times every day
  • We didn’t get to do the Trolley Tours or the Shedd Aquarium since they were closed (boo NATO!) but I think we would have really liked both
  • Oh yeah, don’t go during the NATO summit.
  • Weber Grill = best salmon ever
  • Michigan Avenue is not worth your time unless you are a hard-core shopper.
  • Except for the American Girl Doll store.  Best store on the Magnificent Mile.  Enter at your own risk, though, because daughters, mommies, and wives alike will desire many items from this store.
  • Navy Pier wasn’t that exciting but that could have been because my feet hurt so much that I just wanted to go home
  • Get a pass for the L (it can also be used on all the city buses).  It definitely beats walking everywhere.  I’m not a fan of public transportation but it wasn’t too bad.  We only encountered a few crazies.

Thanks for reading my ridiculously long vacation recap!  I hope it’s at least a little bit helpful for those of you ever planning a trip to Chicago.

our wedding

Three years ago today (can it really have already been three years?)…

this girl

and this guy

got hitched!

In honor of our anniversary here’s a look into our big day (note: these are mostly pictures of the stuff, not the people, because I know many people are not comfortable having their pictures posted all over the place…so I’m trying to keep that to a minimum).

I really wanted to get married in front of a lake, but there weren’t really any good places within driving distance and we decided we’d rather have more people get to come and not get married at a lake than to have our ideal location but lots of people have to miss because of the distance.  But we were able to find somewhere with a nice creek behind us.  We got married at The Rawlings in Joelton, TN and it was truly the perfect day.  The weather was beautiful, it wasn’t too hot, and the rained held off until everyone had left.  It was casual and fun (at least for me, I sure hope it was for everyone else!).

here comes the bride

Michael had to win a game of paper, rock, scissors in order for Kelly to marry usI sure am glad he won!

The flowers that the flower girls dropped were dried petals from every rose Michael ever gave me.   Many years ago my mom suggested that I always keep the flowers given to me by a boyfriend and then someday if we got married I could use them in the wedding.  So I saved all those roses and it was so special on our wedding day that the rose petals came from years of bouquets.

these sweet little girls did a magnificent job dropping those special petals

Miller decided she didn’t want to walk back out, so K.C. had to carry her

Speaking of Miller…

I can’t believe how little she is in these pictures!  She sure has changed a lot in three years!

Brendan and Riley, along with some of the other kids at church who are near to my heart, sang as the parents and grandparents were seated

After the wedding we posed in the creek

 Instead of a traditional guestbook, I made scrapbook pages using our wedding colors with lined paper for guests to sign.  Then later when I scrapbooked our wedding, I mixed the signed scrapbook pages in among the pictures of the reception.  Now our “guestbook” and pictures are all in once place.

yummy cake

a display of pictures of us through the years

I decided to use one of my favorite flowers rather than wear a veil

I was over the moon with my flowers.  A friend from high school did them and they were gorgeous!

We covered candy with personalized labels for favors.

our ringsI have no idea what was going on here…true wedding goofiness, I suppose

Happy three year anniversary to my best friend!

What I Wore Wednesday: Chicago clothes-fail edition

This week’s edition features the outfits I wore on our Chicago trip (which I haven’t blogged about yet, so you get a little sneak peek through these pictures).  However, the outfits I planned on wearing in Chicago aren’t exactly the outfits I ended up wearing…

I had several cute little sundresses packed to wear on our trip.  After the first day of tons of walking and tons of sweating, I realized those dresses just weren’t going to cut it.  Luckily I had the workout clothes that I had packed (intended to workout at the hotel, not realizing that we would walk so much during the day that there was no way I was also going to workout in the gym), however they weren’t quite as attractive as I would have liked (and I had to break my no t-shirt rule).  But I’m being honest so here’s what I wore:

Friday we flew to Chicago and got there really late so we just went straight to the hotel.  I wore this dress but forgot to take a picture.  I’m still loving it, even though it restricts my stride a little because it doesn’t stretch; plus random people comment on how cute it is which makes me happy :)

Saturday – sightseeing in Chicago

dress/Loft outlet; cardi/Loft outlet; shoes/Crocs

Halfway through the day we had to go back to the hotel to change out of my Crocs because they were rubbing blisters all over my feet.  They are normally comfy but apparently not for walking long distances.  I was so thankful I threw my TOMS is my suitcase at the last minute because I wore them with everything (whether they matched or not!) the rest of the trip.

Sunday I had a cute new dress that I wore to church (that was a crazy adventure that I’ll tell you about later!) but by the time we got back I was all sweaty and didn’t take a picture so you’ll just have to see that outfit another time.

This is what I wore the rest of the day Saturday

t-shirt/school; capris/Columbia outlet; shoes/TOMS via Journey’s

You can’t really see the lettering in this picture but I was proud to represent Warren Elementary all the way to Chicago

Monday – more sightseeing in Chicago

t-shirt/church camp; jacket/Columbia; capris/Columbia outlet; shoes/TOMS via Journey’s

It went from super hot temperatures Saturday and Sunday to quite cool temperatures on Monday and I had to wear a jacket all day.

I bought two paris of these workout pants at the outlet mall in Gatlinburg last week and now I wish I had bought more – they are very comfortable!

Tuesday – flight home

dress/Old Navy; purple top under/Loft outlet; cardi/Loft outlet; shoes/Target; necklace/Rugged Wearhouse (Gabriel Bros)

And there you have it – not exactly what I had planned to wear on our trip, but sometimes you just have to choose comfort over style.

Linking up to What I Wore Wednesday

fake-it French tips {Works for Me Wednesday}

I love long nails.  Sadly, my real nails break/peel too much for me to have long nails on my own (plus for some odd reason I don’t mind having long, fake nails, but I cut my “real” nails nearly every week because I can’t stand the feel of them when they’re long).  I’ve had acrylic/gel nails twice (once for high school banquet and once for my wedding).  I loved the look but I couldn’t stand 1. the cost, 2. getting them filed down when I went back to get them filled in, and 3. the way my real nails are incredibly weak once I take the fake nails off.

So one day while stalking reading Kevin & Amanda, Amanda mentioned how she was never able to have good nails, but she had heard about a $3 French manicure trick.  She posted a picture of her nails and they looked really nice.  I was intrigued.  I clicked on the link she posted (here) to find out more.  The secret is to buy the Broadway Real Life fake nails at Walmart and use those.

I couldn’t believe it (in my mind all I could picture were the “stick on” nails from my childhood) but I bought a box and gave them a whirl.  I loved them!  I’ve used them several times and I always get compliments on my nails when I’m wearing them.

These are the ones I buy – I have pretty small nails and so I prefer the petite nails.  Even the ones that say “real short” are still too long for me – I’ve used them a few times and I always end up filing the tips down a lot.

nails before

after

Andrea says that she can get two sets of nails out of one box (making each set $3), but I can only get one set and end up just tossing the other set of nails that I don’t use because they are way too big or two small.  So technically my nails cost $6, but that’s still not too bad.

They also don’t last nearly as long as professionally done nails, but I can usually get them to last for about a week…and that week includes dish washing, exercising, cleaning, and general clumsiness (I’m always whacking nails on stuff). Once I put them on, I just carry the little tube of nail glue in my purse so I can re-attach nails if they fall off.

Here’s a look at how well they do over several days – I put them on Friday morning and this picture was taken the following Tuesday morning.  Two got knocked off during this period, but both times I just dabbed some more nail glue on them and stuck them right back on.

Using these fake nails works for me!  I get the pretty nails I want for little money, commitment, or pain.  Then when I’m done with them and ready to go back to short nails I can switch back with no problem.

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday.

Pinteresting Tuesday: quilt edition

Now that I’ve started doing this block of the month, I’ve been bitten by the quilting bug.  I have no idea if/when I’ll ever get around to making all the quilts that I’d like to make, but here are some beauties that I’ve seen on Pinterest that are on my to-do list.

 

I adore this stack of books quilt!  How perfect is this to keep on your favorite reading chair to wrap up in while curled up with a good book?  It doesn’t look all that difficult either, so I’d say this one is definitely going to get made!

Source: dillards.com via Caitlin on Pinterest

 

Stars are one of my favorite shapes, and kind of the “theme” of my living room, so these starflower quilts make me so happy.

 

And I found this really great tutorial to help get me started.

 

chevron quilt

 

supposedly you can make this quilt all in one night

 

I for realz want some quilted stockings some day

Source: flickr.com via Caitlin on Pinterest

 

different but cool

Are you inspired yet?

how to be a more welcoming church

[source]

We like to refer to ourselves as professional church visitors.  In the past three years we’ve moved to two new (fairly large) cities and travelled quite a bit, so we’ve visited a lot of churches.  Sometimes our goal was to seek a new church home, other times it was just to find a place to worship while traveling.  Some experiences have been great, others have been terrible.

A month or two after we left Lexington we went back for a weekend to visit friends and attended our old church.  It so happened that the Sunday the sermon was on hospitality and it really hit home with us since we were in the process of “church shopping”.  The lesson was great and brought up some discussion among our friends about what our experiences had been – what things were welcoming and what were turn-offs.  So from all this visiting we have come up with a list of DO‘s and DON’T‘s for how to be a welcoming congregation and how to get visitors to return.

*Note* Before I begin, I just want to say that I am completely guilty of not welcoming visitors to church, so I don’t want this to come across as judgmental or condemning.  I think that many who are “lifers” (a.k.a. raised in the church and haven’t moved around a lot) like me just may not realize how uncomfortable or awkward it can be to be a visitor.  So the purpose of this post is just to give you a visitor’s perspective so that hopefully we can all become more welcoming.

how to be a more welcoming church

Let’s get started with some church visitor DON’Ts:

(all of these except one actually have happened to us)

  • Don’t tell visitors that unless they are a member of “x” church that they’re going to hell (because that is really going to encourage me to come to your congregation!)
  • Don’t reach up, take the visitor’s card they filled out and laid on the side of the pew to be picked up, and proceed to read it read it and discuss it…while said visitors are sitting in the pew directly in front of you. (I still don’t know why they couldn’t just have tapped us on the shoulder, welcomed us, and asked us about ourselves…)
  • Don’t stare at us…we are visitors, not aliens (one lady turned around in her pew and stared at us for over half the service)
  • Avoid awkwardly long handshakes (obviously everyone, not just visitors, could benefit from this.  It’s just really hard to have a conversation with someone while they are still holding your hand after shaking it)
  • Don’t completely ignore visitors (sadly, we went to some places where we were never spoken to)
  • Don’t tickle visitors (I know, right?  Seems absurd.  But I really did have someone come up behind me and tickle me…I really hope she had just mistaken me for someone else.)
  • Don’t walk up to visitors and announce that they are in “your pew” (this one didn’t happen to us, but it happened to family members when they were visiting a church – talk about unwelcoming!  Suck it up and sit in a different pew!)

Ok, I know that seems very obvious (and I wrote that mostly tongue-in-cheek to share some funny stories) but apparently it’s not obvious to some people since all those things happened to us!

Now let’s talk about what you should DO:

First of all, make sure the information in the yellow pages or on your website about services times is accurate.  There were several times that we would show up to a church just to find out we were late or early because the information online or in the phone book was wrong.

Next, make sure you have someone at the door to greet us and offer assistance.  Also, somewhere in the foyer/entry way/wherever people come in, there needs to be a way for visitors to find out where everything is.  We need to know where to go first – Do you have Sunday school, then worship? Worship then Sunday school? A song and a prayer in the auditorium, then Sunday school, then back to the auditorium for worship?  I can’t stand walking in to a church and having no clue where to go since every church is different.

Somewhere visible there should be a list of classes.  The best experience we had was when we walked into a church, the greeter gave us a list of all the classes offered (with descriptions), let us read over them and decide where we wanted to go, and then took us to where that class met.  I like to know what my choices are.  Something that I’ve never seen in any church I’ve ever been to, but that would be really nice, is a map.  Unless your church is tiny, it would be nice to have a well-labeled map so that visitors can find important places such as the auditorium, bathrooms, nursery/cry room, and classrooms.

Once we’re in the building and situated in the correct place, the biggest thing we want is for you to speak to us.  I know it can be awkward, but I would much prefer you attempt a lame conversation than to just be ignored completely.  It also really helps to be greeted by people your own age.  Of course we appreciate the preacher speaking to us and the older members of the congregation coming to greet us, but it’s really great if a younger person comes to greet us.

I know in the past, my main concern was that I would try to welcome someone who had been a longtime member of the church.  But now that I know how it feels to be a neglected visitor, I would much rather take the chance of accidentally greeting someone who wasn’t a visitor than letting a visitor feel ignored.

Not sure where to start?  Try this:

(walk up to visitor, tap on shoulder, etc.)

“Hi, I’m John Smith.  I don’t think I’ve met you before.” (that way if they are a long time member it puts the “fault” of not knowing them on you, rather than just saying “are you new?”).

Hopefully if they aren’t a visitor they will say something like “oh I usually sit over there, or I’ve been out of town, or something like that.  If they are a visitor then the response will probably just be something like:

“Hi, I’m Michael, this is my wife Caitlin.”

Then you could ask something like “Are you new to the area or just visiting today?

We’ll say something like:

“Yes, we just moved to Bowling Green in September and we’re looking for a church home.”

Then from there you could ask what brought us to town, what we do, if we’re students (we got asked this a lot because Lexington and Bowling Green are both college towns), where we’re from originally, etc.

From there, try to find some common ground.  It really makes conversation easier if you find out you know the same people or went to the same school or have similar professions.  Try to find something.

Not too hard, huh?

Just that initial conversation is wonderful.  However, it’s really great if you take it a step further.  Tell us about the upcoming gospel meeting, give us a flyer, and invite us to come to the potluck supper.  Or invite us out to lunch after church (if you aren’t sure if we’re crazies or if you think it might be awkward then get a group to go together).

The welcome that we received at our church in Lexington when we first started going there was one of the best welcomes ever and I have to brag on them for a minute.  The first time we came (a Sunday night, I believe), one of the young men came over to where we were sitting and welcomed us.  When he found out I was a teacher he immediately called over his finance who was also a teacher so we could talk (common ground…).  He gave us his number and invited us to the weekly dinner and devotional that the college and young adult group has.  The next time we were there (a Sunday morning) and different young man invited us out to lunch with a group of young couples.  We immediately felt welcomed and involved.

Finally, make sure to follow up.  Send a card but make sure to specify what church you’re from!  Many churches have cards with their names on them, but if you choose to use your own stationary make sure to write something like “We’re so glad you visited (insert church name here).  Hope to see you again.”.  When you’re visiting a different church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, it’s nice to know who you’re getting a card from.  You can also give us a call to ask if there is anything we need.  Also, if at all possible try to remember our names and greet us by name the next time we come.  That makes us feel so welcomed and we appreciate that you remember us!

Some good rules of thumb (suggested by our preacher at our former congregations):

  • The 10 foot principle: If I get within 10 feet of another person from the time I get out of my car to the time I get back in my car, I will smile, make eye contact, and say “hello”, whether I know them or not.
  • The 5 minute principle: Immediately following every assembly I will use the first five minutes to seek out someone that I do not know and introduce myself.  I will not discuss business of rush to a meeting.  I will put first things first and be friendly.
  • The 2 person principle: No visitor will sit or stand alone.  I will move to sit/stand with them and talk to them.

One last comment: smaller churches usually do a much better job of greeting visitors than larger churches; and this completely makes sense because visitors stick out more in a congregation with only 100-200 people where everyone knows everyone else, whereas in a larger congregation it’s harder to tell if someone is a visitor or just a member you don’t know.  That being said, sometimes smaller churches can be a little too overwhelming with their greetings.  As soon as that last “Amen” is said, we get rushed from all sides.  We do want to be greeted, but we don’t want to be pounced on.

Whew, that was a long post!  If you’re still with me, thanks for reading!

Feel free to leave a comment below about things that you think are welcoming/not welcoming while visiting churches.