Friday, December 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

I know I am a little late blogging about our Thanksgiving, but we have been busy pretty much every weekend since Thanksgiving.

After a few planning derailments, we all ended up at my parents house the day before Thanksgiving. It was great having both Stan and Abe home together. It has been a while since we have all been home at the same time.

Now, on to the all the family has become a new family tradition that the girls cook one night, my mom cooks thanksgiving dinner, and the boys cook the night after Thanksgiving. We started this last year and it was really fun and it keeps my mom from being in the kitchen the whole holiday. This year we changed things up just a little and just the girls cooked. Last year we had so much food left over from 3 big meals that the guys decided not to cook this year. I don't think the amount of leftover really had anything to do with it, I think it was that they didn't want to cook. We (the girls) decided to cook pizza. Since there are 3 of us (me, Lindsay, and Priscilla) all made our own pizza so we would have a variety. I made a chicken pesto pizza. Check out our delicious pizzas.

Our whole family is very competitive so when we are all together we turn everything into a competition. Because of all the competitiveness, this weekend was fulled with lots of game playing. The entire weekend was spent either eating or playing games. Each night we would sit around the table playing Taboo. After we went through all the cards (both front and back) we changed to playing fish bowl. I don't think I have laughed so hard in years. On Thanksgiving day the girls challenged the guys to a game of bocci ball. All the Hodges kids are very competitive and lucky for me so is my sister-in-law Lindsay. None us of had ever played bocci ball before so we all came to the field with the same skill level. I'm pretty sure that the guys thought they had it in the bag but they were wrong. The girls dominated!! Not wanting to lose to girls they challenged us to a rematch and they lost again.

When the fun of bocci ball was over we started playing in the pile of leaves we raked up. I know this is something that small children do, but there is something about going home for the holidays that turns us all into children. The fun started when Justin threw my parents cat into the pile of leaves. It only took seconds for the cat to race out of leaves and hide from us. After the cat, Justin thought it would be a good idea to jump into the leaves. Then it went downhill from there and for some reason we started kicking leaves at each other.

My mom not only made a great Thanksgiving dinner she also made a great centerpiece for the table. She is always making the house so festive.
Continuing with the competitive theme of the weekend Abe & Lindsay challenged Stan & Priscila to a game of corn hole.

While they played corn hole, my dad took me for a ride on his motorcycle. Don't I look styling with my pink helmet?
We ended the night making gingerbread houses. It was a contest (I told you we were competitive) I'm sad to say that Justin and I didn't win. Stan & Priscila won. I can only blame Justin for this loss.
Going from left to right, Stan & Priscila, my mom's, Justin's mom's, mine & Justin's, and Abe & Lindsay's. I really think we should have won, since we had both a reindeer and Santa on our roof.

Since, we are an hour and a half from any good shopping we didn't get to experience any of the Black Friday deals. We did however send the afternoon shopping around Winona (all 3 shops). Friday night we had a talent show...yes, that's right we had a talent show. (Did I tell you we are a competitive family?) I didn't get any pictures of this and I'm still hitting myself for not taking pictures. I played the recorder, Stan & Lindsay salsa danced, and Abe & Lindsay wrote and preformed a song. Justin was chosen to be the judge since he really has talent. Abe and Lindsay won the show with their on rendition of Carol of the Bells, Thanksgiving style.

We had a great time and always love when we are all together.

Friday, December 16, 2011

5 Great Years!!!

I can't believe that Justin and I have been married for 5 years. It seems just like yesterday I was planning our wedding. I am so bless to have Justin as a husband.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Our Fall Decor

Before we put away all of our Thanksgiving/Fall decor, I wanted to share what our home looked like during the months of October and November. This post will be mostly pictures (there's not much to say about pumpkins and candy corns).

We didn't carve a pumpkin this year. I was a little disappointed because Justin has carved some great pumpkins in the past and knew this year would be no different. Since he failed me, I guess next year he will have to carve two to make up for this year. :)

I made these cute candy corns with poster board and yarn. You can make your own too. I found the idea on Pintrest.

Now, that Thanksgiving is over, it's time to put everything away and start putting up our Christmas decorations!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jar of Hearts

Normally I keep all my posts pretty light and fun, but I wanted to share something a little different this time. I hope you will find it to be encouraging.

I can't remember the first time I heard Christina Perri's song "Jar of Hearts," but it wasn't long after hearing it that I that went to iTunes and purchased it. I really liked the song, and as with all songs I really like, I listened to it over and over. After listening to it many times I started to notice an interesting parallel in the song.

If you haven't heard the song, she is basically singing about a guy who keeps coming back to her and is constantly trying to bring her down with his lies. However, the lyrics also give a relatively accurate depiction of the fact that as a follower of Christ, I also have someone who is constantly trying to bring me down with his lies and to convince me that my Savior is not all He claims to be.

Over the past few weeks our church as been doing a sermon series on spiritual warfare. At the end of the first sermon, I thought about how perfectly this song summed up what Satan tries to do during those spiritual battles in our lives and what our response to him should be. It's not a perfect metaphor, but there are definitely some strong parallels. If you have not heard the song before I encourage you to listen to it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Bazaar

I love reading, but that wasn't always the case. When I was a kid I didn't spend much time with my nose in a book. I guess I was so busy playing with my dolls or pretending I was a teenager. When I was in college I would get a book and start reading it, but you know how it is when you are in college. If you are not reading something for school you just aren't reading anything at all.

However, in the past few years my love for reading has really grown. I almost always carry a book around with me (you never know when you will have time to stop and read a few pages).
I don't really like to buy books though. I would much rather check a book out at the library. As a result, I have become a big fan of MC's annual book bazaar. Last year I got a lot of great books for really cheap. I am sad to say that I have yet to finished reading all of them but I am working on it. You can read about those books here.

Since I no longer work at MC I had to find out all the details from Justin. Looking back at my last post I knew the book bazaar took place sometime in early fall. I would ask Justin almost every week if he had received any emails about it. Finally, while I was driving on campus I saw the sign announcing the book bazaar. I was super excited!

Once again, I stocked up. I have to say that I am not very familiar with many of these books, but for only $1.00 per book you really can't go wrong.

Here is the list of the all the books I bought at the book bazaar.
  1. Thin Rich Pretty: Beth Harbison
  2. Burnt Toast: Teri Hatcher
  3. True Colors: Kristin Hannah
  4. The Road to Eden's Ridge: M.L Rose
  5. A Reliable Wife: Robert Goolrick
  6. The Ninth Wife: Amy Stolls
  7. And One Last Thing: Molly Harper
  8. The Three Weissmanns of Westport: Cathleen Schine
  9. The Lost Recipe for Happiness: Barbara O'Neal
  10. Irreplaceable: Stephen Lovely
  11. The Beach House: Sally John
  12. Body Surfing: Anita Shreve
  13. No One You Know: Michelle Richamond
  14. Lost and Found Jacqueline Sheehan
  15. Let Them Eat Cake:Sandra Byrd
  16. In Her Shoes: Jennifer Weiner

I have set a goal for myself to read all the books I have purchased before the next book bazaar. Well, maybe just the ones that I bought at last year's book bazaar. I also might start writing my book reviews again. You will just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guitar Hanger

I am really excited about this post because I am getting to share a small project we did in our office as well as give Justin's mad guitar skills a shout out. As many of you know Justin is a great musician, as I am writing this he is telling me not to say that, but I think he is great so I am going to let everyone know.

Now, onto the reason of this post. On any given day you could walk into our home office and see Justin's guitar and guitar case lying on the floor, taking up all the floor space. I am not sure why he never used the guitar stands he had but for whatever reason the guitar always ended up on the floor with the case wide open. In our dream home he would have a sound proof music room but at this point in our lives he is having to make do with a music/office room. After tripping over the guitar one too many times I knew something had to be done.

Don't get me wrong, I love it when Justin plays his guitar - I just don't love it when I can't walk into our office. So while at a music store one Saturday afternoon I convinced Justin that he needed to get a wall mounted guitar hanger. Let me back up a little...I really have no problem with Justin leaving his guitar out, my problem is with the open case on the floor and the fact that he always put his case in the back of the closet and had to remove almost everything from the closet to get to his guitar. So, not only was the case always sitting in the middle of the floor but also almost everything in the closet.

I never thought I would love having this hanging on our wall!

Once we got home, Justin put up this new wall mounted guitar hanger. I LOVE IT and Justin does too. Now the floor of our office is guitar-free. Also, Justin is able easily access his guitar whenever he is in the mood to play his guitar...which is all the time.

I never thought I would be this excited about a wall mounted guitar stand!

Well, I spoke too soon!! When I came into the office to upload my images this is what I found. Now, you can see why I was so excited to get the other guitar off the floor.

This guitar that is normally at church but Justin brought it home to practice. I hope he plans on bring it back real soon. I can't stand having all this stuff on the floor in the office.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Progressive Dinner

Way back in May (I know I should have posted about this months ago) Justin and I were sitting at home on a Friday afternoon thinking about what we should do that night. Tired of our usual trips to the Renaissance to window shop, we wanted to do something different...something fun. We contemplated taking a quick trip to Memphis but quickly talked ourselves out of it. Normally when we are out of ideas we either go to the Renaissance, call friends, or do nothing. On this particular night we decided to call a friend. There is nothing like being bored with someone else.

Thinking we would grab a bite to eat and just hang out, we thought our friend Katie would be great company and would make the night much brighter. So we called and, lucky for us, she didn't have any plans for the night either. We picked her up and heading to Sonic for a happy hour drink. While trying to decide what we wanted to drink, we noticed a snow cone stand and changed our minds and headed there. After we ordered our snow cones, Katie came up with a great idea to go to different places to have dinner...a progressive dinner. After much diliberation on where we would go, we decided the only stipulation was that it could not be a chain. So we started our progressive dinner out at SnowBiz with snow cones (Yes, I know that SnowBiz is a chain and the rule was made after we had already ordered!).

Our next stop was Babalu for appetizers. We had heard they had the best guacamole and that they make it at your table, so it was our first choice. Justin makes a great homemade guacamole so lately we have been trying guacamole at any restaurant that has it on the menu. Most of the time Justin's is so much better, but I have to say that Babalu makes a great guacamole and gives Justin's a run for its money.

At this point we were almost full but we could not stop just after our appetizers so we while were thinking of where to go next we headed to Dogwood. After a little going back and forth about where we should go for our main course, we finally decided on Local 463. It was a little out of the way but so worth it. Justin and Katie had burgers and I had a pizza. The burgers were huge! It was a great restaurant and will be one that we will revisit.

Finally, it was time for dessert, which is my favorite part of any meal. We wanted to go somewhere that served good desserts but when we started thinking about where we should go, we came up short. We finally thought about Mint. I had never been there before so I was really excited to try the place out. Once, there we went back and forth trying to decide on how many desserts to get, of course, I wanted try all of them. In the end we got three different desserts, a chocolate cake, a cheesecake, and beignet balls. All three were delicious and worth all the calories.

I am so glad that Katie joined us and turned a dull Friday night into a adventurous outing.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Justin's best surprise ever!

Thursday the September 30th started out like any other Thursday. I went to the gym in the morning, had lunch with a friend, and did some stuff around the house. Around 5 that afternoon, Justin sent me a text telling me to look under a coaster in our office. When I first got the text, I thought it was Justin telling me he was on his way home from work. When I turned over the coaster I was surprised to find a QR code. I scanned the code and it took me here.

When I finished reading the poem I had the biggest smile on my face and picked up my keys and headed out the door. It took me a little while to find the second QR code, but when I did, knew I was on a fun scavenger hunt. During my fun outing Justin left me clues all over MC's campus as well as a few places around town. The places I went to find the clues are as follows, click on each link to view each clue:

The last clue lead me back home to check the mail box. When I opened the mail box I found Justin's iPod Touch with a Post-It note that said press play. This is the video is what the final clue. I encourage you to watch the video before scrolling down and reading the rest of the post.

The word surprised could not describe what I was feeling when I found out that Justin had planned a weekend trip to New York! If you know me, you know that I love NYC. I had less than 12 hours from the time I found out we were going to NYC to the time we had to get on the plane. Justin and I had ran around getting packed and getting everything ready before we left. Justin worked really hard to keep the trip a surprise. We had some plans already made but Justin had called everyone a told them of his surprise and told them we would not be able to keep our plans. He really thought of everything. It was awesome!!!

I don't think I slept the night before we left. I was excited and I kept thinking of things I needed to do and things I needed to pack.

Now on to NYC. Justin and I have been to NYC together 3 times, but each time we either stayed with friends who lived there or went with friends. To read more about our past trip click, here. The other two trips to NYC happened before I stated blogging so I don't have any posts to link to, sorry. When I found out that we would be going to NYC alone I was very excited. It has been a long time since Justin and I have been on a real vacation alone. I think it might have been our honeymoon almost 5 years ago.

We had a great time walking around NYC. We didn't do to many touristy things this time but here are some images of our trip. After checking into our hotel we went on the hunt for a place to eat lunch. One, of the many reasons we love NYC is the restaurant options. Living in Clinton you only have a few options when it comes to places to dine. NYC has 100's of options to choose from. When we are out of town Justin and I try to stay away from chain restaurants if at all possible. Its fun and it ensures that we try new places and different foods. This is my lunch at Le Pain Quotidien (This might be a chain...oops. I think it's a New York chain though.)

We sent a lot of time walking around Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Union Square, Time Square, and the Upper East Side. Here are a few of our favorites pictures from the trip.

This is the 9/11 memorial. If you are in NYC you really need to make a stop here, just be sure you get your tickets before hand.

In our all trips to NYC we have never walked the Brooklyn Bridge to this time we made a point to do it. I am not sure if you can tell but there were a lot of people walking and biking on the bridge.

Time Square!!

A very delicious banana and hazelnut crepe from Max Brenners.

Views of the Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park.

We had a great weekend and I am so grateful for a husband who would go through all the trouble of surprise me with a special weekend in my favorite city!