Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bloggy Book Giveaway #2!

That's right! I get to do a blog giveaway with Sin Boldly! I heart this book and am curious to know what you think about it, too! And I just happen to have 10 copies to give away.

Here is the deal:

1. Leave a comment on this post letting me know you'd like to participate! Be sure to leave your email address if it's not linked to your name. If more than 10 of you are interested, then I'll do a drawing for the winners of the free copies this Friday, October 3rd. (If you don't win one of the free copies, you can still write a review and be eligible for the prizes.)

2. Write a short review and post it on your blog, Amazon.com, or facebook by Wednesday, October 29. Then comment on this blog when you've done it! I'll post all of the links here.

3. On Thursday, October 30, I'll announce the winners (3 randomly selected reviewers) of the prizes here.

The prizes?
Your choice - A NOOMA video, book of my choosing, OR handmade stationery from yours truly.

Questions? Email me at jjbrown611 at yahoo dot com.

Please note: This is open to anyone and everyone who reads this blog! Are you a blog "stalker" that doesn't ever comment? A family member that doesn't blog? A person of faith? Or maybe not? I think you'll enjoy this book.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Coming Soon To A Blog Near You

Yes another Bloggy Book Giveaway is in the works! AND with some great prizes.

Stay tuned.

Shoe Shopping

Yesterday I received a SUPER EXCITING birthday gift. A present that leads to one of my favorite pastimes - shopping for shoes.

Yes, you guessed right - a Zappos gift card. I'm jumping for joy inside. There isn't much more exciting than that.

But I could use some assistance here. Your job? Vote on your favorite option:



I Like:

Jetty by Privo at Zappos.comJetty
by PrivoZappos.com - Powered by Service


I Like:

Mesa by Privo at Zappos.comMesa
by PrivoZappos.com - Powered by Service


Or is there a brand I don't yet know about? An awesome style you've had your eye one? LET ME KNOW.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Its Great - To Be - A Michigan Wolverine

Because stuff like this happens.

Wisconsin lead 19-0 at halftime. The Wolverines looked baaaaad the first half. We're talking lifeless. Negative passing yards, and only 21 yards total. Josh and I were there in the stands, watching every painful three-and-out and every stupid turnover.


They scored 27 straight, and only let Wisonsin score 6 more points after that. The stadium went from dead silent disgust to wild, crazy, and excited. It was incredible to behold. LOVE IT.

Biggest comeback in Michigan Stadium history. Second biggest of all time.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Turning in my "Baby Card"

Can I, please?

Ever since college, I have pretty consistently found myself to be the youngest member (the baby) of every social group of which I've been a part.

Mars Hill small group? (I miss you guys terribly, by the way!) When we started that, most people were in the 26-29 range, and I was 22.

At work, I would consistently get the, "NO WAY - You're really only 23?!?" treatment.

And here in Bloomington, too. Most of our friends are in their late 20's on up.

Yes, good-natured teasing has been part-and-parcel of this dubious position.

BUT in two days I turn 25. Halfway to 50! I remember back in college when my friend Chris turned 25. It was like HOLY COW OLD MAN. And now, 6 years later, I'm there too.

I feel that hitting the 25-year-old-mark makes me a full-fledged grown-up. Am I wrong? In my mind, 25 sounds considerably older than 24. So I'd like to turn in my "Baby Card." I may still be the younger than many of my friends, but come on, 25 is respectably old.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fresh Apple Cookies

I'm such a fall person.

And really, what's not to love? Cool, but enjoyable temperatures, college football, apple cider, and the beautiful fall colors. MM MM MM.

Sadly for me fall comes a little later here in Southern Indiana, and today's forecast still has us at a high of 83 degrees. I can hardly bring myself to pull on a t-shirt - my long sleeves are beckoning to me. But on the flip side it doesn't get nearly as cold (as early) as what I'm used to. Basically fall lasts later into the year here, which is definitely a plus.

AND I can still bake like it is fall, right?

I have wanted to bake these cookies since we first received the cookbook as a wedding present. A few years ago, family friends put together an in-depth cookbook of tried-and-true favorites. From what I understand, they had so many requests for it outside of their family that they printed a few extras. I was thrilled to receive "Lanser Family Favorites" as a wedding gift and have used it a ton these past three years.

Fresh Apple Cookies

1/2 C butter, softened
1 1/3 C brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 C milk or apple juice
2 C flour
1/2 t salt
1 t allspice or cloves
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 C apples, chopped into small pieces with peel still on
1 C raisins
1 C chopped nuts (optional - I personally left them out)

1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 T margarine
1/2 t vanilla
dash salt
approx 2 T milk

Mix butter and sugar, and then add egg and milk/apple juice. Then add dry ingredients. Stir in apples and raisins (and nuts if you like them). Bake at 350 on a greased cookie sheet for 16-18 minutes. When slightly warm, frost with glaze.

Mine are slightly underdone, so I hope the girls coming over for movie night tonight don't mind! They're still delicious and go especially well with apple cider!

And now you know what I ate for breakfast this morning...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hi, my name is Jessica

And I'm a planner.

Sometimes I'm organized, and every now and then I have a clean house. I try to be responsible with time and money. And I always want to plan ahead.

We're moving? Where? I want to know all of the details years ahead of time. What kind of place will we live in? Let me get online so I can analyze our options. What kinds of jobs will we have? When will we have kids? I want to know so I can plan our lives accordingly.

I think this is probably normal. I mean, who doesn't like to know what to expect in the coming months and years?

For me, however, it gets in the way of trusting God. When I don't know what to expect in the future, I often turn to worrying, making arbitrary lists, frustrated crying, and peppering Josh with questions he doesn't know how to answer. As a result, I'm miserable.

Wouldn't you know, God keeps putting me in situations where I don't know the outcome. I can think of many times in just the past five years that I've had to wait and trust. Most of the time I've been pretty terrible at it. But I think that God, in his love, is going to continue to give me opportunities to trust Him. Goodness knows I need the practice. Now is one of those times.

We know very little about what our life will be like after May 2009. Josh will graduate from Kelley, and we'll move away from Bloomington. This much is relatively clear. But beyond that, like a location? Jobs? Friends? No idea. It is difficult for the compulsive planner within to come to terms with that reality.

But this fall, I'm doing my best to choose trust. God hasn't deserted me yet, and I believe he never will. He hasn't promised that life will be easy or absent of suffering, but He has promised that nothing will separate me from His love. He has bigger and better plans for my life than I could ever dream of, so instead of getting in the way with my limited comprehension and incessant need to know what is going on, I'm going to stand back and let Him lead us. Yikes, it isn't easy.

This passage, from a Reformed theological document known as the Heidelberg Catechism, has been a favorite since I was young:

Q. What do you believe when you say, "I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth"?

A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who out of nothing created heaven and earth
and everything in them,
who still upholds and rules them
by his eternal counsel and providence,
is my God and Father
because of Christ his Son.

I trust him so much that I do not doubt
he will provide
whatever I need
for body and soul,
and he will turn to my good
whatever adversity he [allows]
in this sad world.

He is able to do this because he is almighty God;
he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.

Q&A 26

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fashion Help Needed

Dear Internet,

As I was trying – and failing – to pack for a quick business trip I embark on tomorrow, a few fashion-related questions cropped up that I'd like to ask...

1. What color of pants go best with a yellow dress shirt?

Is khaki enough contrast? Does black look too bumblebee-ish? Does navy make me look like a walking advertisement for the University of Michigan (not that I mind that too much)?

2. Can I pull off light blue pants after Labor Day?

They aren't white, but they're pretty light.

3. What color of shoes should I wear with navy pants?

Black is out. This much I know. And I refuse to buy old-lady-navy-pumps. So... Tan? Brown?

Now that I look back, these are all pants-related.

As much as I enjoy warm weather, I'm ready for some cold - when I can break out my awesome wool dress pants that I love. But since it will be almost 80 degrees in Kentucky tomorrow, I'll leave those in the closet for now.

And I'll probably end up in all black again for my meetings tomorrow and Thursday. But I'd appreciate your advice for the future.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Our Weed

Friday evening, soon after our friends Patrick and Erin arrived at our house:

Jessica: We have the best weed in our backyard.
Erin: [blank, concerned stare that totally says are you saying what I think you're saying?]
Jessica: No, I promise we aren't growing marijuana behind our townhouse. A weed weed. Really.

And why did I feel the need to point out our blatant disregard for backyard upkeep?

Because our weed was the best I've ever seen. And by best I mean biggest. Jack-and-the-Beanstalk-esque.

I think that is in the neighborhood of 8 feet tall. And it sprouted up randomly over the summer. I didn't have the heart to pull it out (which I'm sure would totally take some doing!) when we moved back to Bloomington and it was as tall as me. I was too curious to see how far it would go. And then I proceeded to watch it grow another couple of feet over the month of August.

Sadly, it fell over in a big wind storm we had yesterday. Goodbye weed. I'll honestly miss watching you grow.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

So I Feel The Need To Explain...

This post came up in conversation tonight and I realize it hints toward a particular political viewpoint.

That wasn't the intent. I just thought it was cute.

Just to be clear - I'm pretty moderate when it comes to politics. I agree with certain issues on both sides, and honestly haven't yet decided who I'm going to vote for. And as I've mentioned, my ultimate hope lies not in American partisan politics, but in Jesus Christ and His kingdom. I think it matters more how I live every day than how I vote in November.

But I'll do my research, watch debates, and head to the polls in a couple of months.

On that note, I'd like to find some unbiased online resources to guide my decision. But I don't know which ones to trust. Any suggestions?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Meeting His Aunt

Riley has two "aunts" - my parents' dog, Chloe, and Josh's parents' dog, Nikki. We didn't think they'd get the opportunity to meet, since Nikki lives in Phoenix. But Josh's family loaded her and Nana Wallace up for a road trip to the midwest over Labor Day, and the two got to spend some good time bonding.

While he isn't emotionally dependent on Nikki, they got along quite well overall. Which is to say they managed to nap on the same couch with little fuss.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Positive Travel Experience

I'd just like to commend the Denver International Airport and Southwest Airlines for getting a couple of things right...

I find myself travelling a lot these days, especially for work. My laptop, iPod, cell phone, and new Sony Reader are never far away when I jet around the country. I don't know how I'd get by without them! But to use them effectively, I need a couple things:

1. Power. Has anyone noticed how very very few outlets there are in airports? And my laptop has pretty terrible resolution when it isn't plugged in. My iPod tends to go dead every once in awhile too, and needs to suck power from the computer. So outlets are my friends.

2. Internet. Free Internet. I refuse to pay for it beyond what gets pumped into my house. So a TMobile Hot Spot doesn't cut it for me. But I really appreciate the ability to keep tabs on my ever-expanding inbox while I'm waiting for a flight.

And you know what? Kudos to DIA and Southwest. Not only does the airport provide free wireless (if you don't mind watching a quick commercial), BUT Southwest has these incredibly wonderful little stations set up near the gates. Not only are there outlets a-plenty, they also have USB power jacks for devices like iPods. Incredible. And they wrap it all up in a little desk. With a stool. I almost jumped for joy.

I'm totally flying Southwest whenever possible. Into Denver whenever I can.

... And now I'm off to clean up that horribly messy desktop you see there.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Wedding Pictures!

My super-talented mom figured out how to put these together - aren't they beautiful?

Erin has friends in East Grand Rapids that were kind enough to host the party at their place. An incredible spot for a wedding reception - gorgeous!

Tent/table/sound system/light set-up started on Friday.

Gisel, Pablo's sister, setting up a tent.

Ondersma sisters - Brooke, Lauren, Chrystin, Erin.

Getting the bride into the dress without ruining the hair is always an interesting endeavor!

Last minute beatification.

Holy cow! How is it that we're all grown up?

All 6 bridesmaids - Lauren, me, Chrystin, Gisel, Brooke, Martha


What a cake! I totally dig the cake-topper, too.

Sure-fire signs of a rockin' outdoor reception - muddy feet and a dirty hem!

Attempting to dance latin-style with my dad.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dance Floor

I sadly can't post my own pictures of Erin's wedding yet since my camera cord has yet to arrive (silly me for ordering one on Ebay from a seller in Hong Kong)


Here is one I swiped from facebook of 5 of 6 bridesmaids and the bride herself on the dance floor...

Here we have Brooke (sister of the bride), Gisel (sister-in-law of the bride), Lauren (sister of the bride, who'd changed into something more comfortable), me (trying to get "get down" in a mermaid-style skirt that wouldn't budge), Chrystin (sister of the bride), and Erin!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My First Friend

Erin. We are cousins - our moms are sisters and our dads were actually best friends from high school. She was born four months before me and, along with her sister Chrystin we were pretty much inseperable growing up.

I spent a good chunk of time on Friday afternoon reminiscing about our (almost) 25 years of friendship so that I could prepare my matron of honor toast for her wedding the next day. The memories came flooding back to me...

-the time when we argued over an imaginary friend in the backseat of our aunt's car
-Erin's crankiness with me and Chyrstin for keeping her awake all night talking
-riding our bicycles to the candy store and figuring out the way to get the biggest bang out of $1
-the time she told our moms that I'd insulted her reading abilities - I was completely innocent, but was grounded nonetheless
-the time we picked every single tulip out of the front yard of my parents' house and used them to play "wedding" in the driveway
-taking driver's training together
-skinny dipping (and getting caught by strangers!) in rural Tennessee
-having an all-out kicking/scratching/hair-pulling cat fight on the streets of Disney World
-sharing clothes, secrets, and dating tips
-going to camp together, where she was so homesick that she slept in my sleeping bag with me for comfort
-borrowing Chrystin's car before either of us had our licenses
-I could go on and on (and on)

What an abundance of memories. Incredible. I was thrilled and honored to be her matron of honor yesterday.

Her wedding was beautiful and perfect and I'm so happy for her.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Almost Enough To Make Me Vote Republican

I'm honestly not making a political statement here, but this moment during last night's RNC was absolutely adorable.

Two of Sarah Palin's kids - Piper Palin with her baby brother Trig:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Happy Dance

My Etsy purchase came in today.

My Etsy purchase came in.

Hip hip hooray - today was the day.

And then I shopped again.

I'm clearly no poet. But my lovely ICKY Bags (+ a freebie key fob from the generous seller!) arrived in the mail over the weekend. They're awesome. I'm already excited to pack for my trip to Michigan this weekend for Erin's wedding.

And since my initial Etsy purchases have been so successful, I decided to go ahead and do some more shopping. After all, a certain someone has a birthday coming up.