"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend..." - Groucho Marx

The best gift my mother ever gave me was a love for reading. Between the worn covers of a book lives some of my closest friends. I can gently stoke the pages and relive the hours spent in that other life --so unlike my own. 

I am so thankful for those books. The characters I've met within them. The strange, unearthly attachments that have formed. Because, oftentimes, Washington is lonely..


Oooh Goodies!

This weekend was beyond exciting! Obviously, because it was a long weekend, but mostly because Steven and I received presents in the mail! Really, is there anything better than getting packages delivered to your front door? I can't think of anything at the moment...

The first package was a HUGE box from Bed, Bath & Beyond. You know what that means...REGISTRY PRESENTS!!! Our first one! I was so excited I ripped the packaging open even though Steven wasn't at the house. {Seems like you should open registry presents together. Oops.} Inside was every stinkin' picture frame I registered for! I was hoping to get 3 or 4 picture frames, but nope, I got 12! :) 

The second package was a small, light weight one and I knew instantly it was my ring bearer pillow from Ashley at Rustic Living. I opened it up and was beyond thrilled with the beautiful rustic, chic pillow I saw! I knew out of the many templates she let me choose from, this one was exactly what I was hoping for!

She wrapped the pillow in delicate, white tissue paper and tied it together with twine. I couldn't help but smile when I read the sweet note she wrote me and then laugh aloud when I read the letter to Huckleberry from her Golden Retriever Whiskey! So adorable!
Just another detail to cross off my to do list for the wedding day! Time is speeding steadily ahead and these gifts in the mail are a sweet reminder that the countdown has begun!

Happy Wednesday!


Memorial Day Weekend

My long weekend consisted of prettily wrapped packages in the mail (complete with an adorable letter to Huck!), baseball watching, fiancé loving, puppy cuddling, good food eatin' splendidness! 
How about yours?

Me and Steven heading to his little brother's baseball game
Jordan - Steven's brother ready to bat
Huckleberry exhausted after his first trip to the groomers
My beautiful ring bearer pillow cutely packaged from Rustic Living
A sweet letter from Whiskey to Huck
Huckleberry helping with yard work
Fresh cilantro and enchilada chicken


Friday Letters

This is what happens when you spend too much time alone with your dog.
Dear Huckleberry - You sure are a sweet pup! And the absolute best company in my big, scary home. It's much easier sleeping in a new place when you know your vicious guard dog is always keep watch for predators outside the window. Dear Weekend - First, you are extra long this week and I love that. Second, I am going shopping for all my bridal accessories this weekend and I love that as well. Dear Home - Living in you sure is expensive. There is just so much to be done! Why! Oh why! did I ever grow up? Dear Wedding - You are now 6 weeks away! :) Dear Steven - I will be your wife in 6 weeks. And you will be my husband. And together, my love, we shall live happily ever after.

Have a fun, festive Memorial Day Weekend, friends!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Pie

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Pie! How's that for alliteration?

I hate pie crust. I'm that girl that scoops out all the warm, gooey goodness in the middle of the pie and then scrapes the crust onto my mother's plate {or who ever happens to be sitting close}. So when I ran across this recipe on Pinterest, I thought that instead of making it in a cake pan, I could simply adapt this recipe to be a pie with chocolate chip cookie crust!

Here's what you'll need:
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 roll refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

Slice the cookie dough roll into 1/4 in. thick slices and place in a greased, standard pie pan. Press together so that there are no holes between the cookie dough slices. In a bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla. Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the cookie dough.
Spread the mixture evenly on the cookie dough.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool, refrigerate, and serve chilled.
I had a couple extra slices of cookie dough so I simply added them onto of the cream cheese mixture. The pie turned out to not be as pretty as it would've been, but really when has a little extra cookie dough hurt anyone? ;)
Nothing beats homemade cheesecake filling! And the cookie dough crust?? AMAZING!



Life In Our New Home

Some photos of the front yard.

Although our home is a work in progress, there are a lot of things I already absolutely love about it!
Such as:
  • Central Heat. I mean seriously, the last 8 months without central heat in the lake home was pretty terrible at times. Even when it was sunny outside {which, of course, is not often here in Seattle} I felt like I was living in an igloo.
  • My yard. There is soooo much yard work to be done, but I already love the openness, abundance of space, and, best of all, the PRIVACY! While washing dishes at the lake house I could easily see into my neighbors living room. Awkward. I would just smile and wave with my sudsy hand and then lower the blinds conspicuously. Again, awkward.
  • Our arbor. In the top picture to the left you can see that Steven and I have an arbor. It is in definite need of TLC but I am thrilled to see what kinds of fruit those trees bear!
  • My kitchen. Two people and a dog can actually fit into the kitchen now all at one time. Amazing, my friends. Truly amazing.
  • The ceilings. As you saw in this post, we have vaulted, wood beam ceilings. I love the look and overall feel they bring to this little home! So much charm!
I can't wait to share the decorating progress eventually! {Right now money is tight; therefore, decor is nonexistent!} It feels so nice to have a home you can say is yours. I am a homeowner. That tastes sweet on my tongue. I am a homeowner. Delicious. 


Not Your Average Sloppy Joe

Don't you hate when you have meat in your fridge and you have no idea what to do with it? You stress and stress over it everyday because you know if that slab isn't cooked soon it will be WASTED! And you, friend, do not like to waste food. So you nervously bite your lip and tap your fingers on the counter thinking how in the world am I ever going to make something edible out of this meat! 

Okay, maybe it's just me...

I am not a natural cook. I don't walk into the kitchen and simply whip something spectacular up. I research recipes, follow them to a tee, and still manage to some how mess the dish up. 

A few days ago, Steven took some ground turkey out of the freezer and said, Hey babe, you should cook this sometime this week. Naturally, I pretended like I didn't hear him. Ground turkey?? What the what is that?? And so there the turkey stayed. Until last night on my way home from work when Steven said, Hey, are you going to cook that turkey? If we don't soon it's going to be WASTED. Like a dagger in the heart! WASTED! Wasted food is such a pet peeve of mine. I mean seriously, folks, don't buy more than you can chew. There are so many that go without...

But let's save that rant for another day.

So there I am. Staring into the fridge with a massive ground turkey dilemma. Frantically I tore through the fridge and grab all the vegetables I had. One onion and two green bell peppers. I diced them, threw them on the skillet, and then dropped the ground turkey on top. {Without touching it of course. I don't touch uncooked meat. It's kinda an issue.} And then it hit me! A TURKEY SLOPPY JOE!

ground turkey
bell pepper
worcestershire sauce
cheddar cheese

Threw all the above ingredients into a skillet and cook on medium heat for, ERRR let's say 30 minutes? Add the worcestershire, cheese, salt, and pepper to taste. 
And there you have it! A healthier version of the sloppy joe! Steven loved it. Like thought it was the best thing I've ever prepared kind of love. 

That makes me laugh. If only he knew how truly clueless I am in the kitchen. I'm sure when we're married he'll discover the truth real quick! ;)


Chicken Coops and Tree Forts...Among Other Things

The previous owner of our home left some presents behind for us. 
Like this chicken coop in our back yard. 
Not going to lie, I'm pretty excited about the chicken coop. Some little chicks chirping around that will eventually lay me some delicious brown eggs? That sounds amazing! However, the building is in pretty ill repair and won't be a suitable home for some baby chicks for quite some time. {Chicken coop fixin' isn't very high on Steven's do-to list. He's more interested in weed eaters, fence repair, and beginning construction on his man cave in the garage.} But I would love me some chickens..someday. 

And then there's this pretty intense tree fort in our backyard. {tree fort? tree house?} It's technically not in a tree just surrounded by a lot of foliage. 
This baby is coming down! Don't get me wrong, I too can appreciate a well constructed tree fort, but it seriously just takes up so much space in the backyard! With a massive chicken coop a lot of space is already taken up-- so the tree fort is history. 

Along with a hutch type structure that the previous owner possibly used as a shooting target filled with hay and a miniature out house that was obviously made for the umpa lumpa's from Willy Wonka. 

There is a lot of yard work to be done, folks!
Lots-and-lots-and-lots of yard work.


Friday Letters

Dear House - You so pretty. I love you. Dear Huckleberry - The garage is now your new dog kennel. I know it seems scary right now, but soon I think you'll love it. You have so much space! And so many toys to play with in there. Your mommy must love you. Dear Work - You're really getting annoying. I just want to go home and do crafty like things to my house and plan my wedding, but nooooo, you demand my person every day. Rude. Why is growing up such a bummer? Dear Wedding - You have been slightly neglected with all the house craziness lately. But that shall all be changing soon. {Well, hopefully. Since my wedding is only 1 1/2 months away!!!} Dear Pinterest - We were already close, but now that I actually have a huge home to try your greatness on, I believe we are going to become the best of friends.

Happy Friday!


Tour De Casa

First off, let me say that I am embarrassed by the quality of these photos. I wanted to take pictures of our home before the mess of boxes and disorganization took over! But darnit, I was too excited to get moved in so these pictures were taken in haste. I apologize. 

Anyways, enough with the pleasantries. Welcome to our home!
Front entry way. There is a storage closet immediately to the left. You can see the hallway past that which leads to the two guest bedrooms and guest bath.
Immediately to the right of the entry way is our kitchen.
 Oh, pantry, you have been greatly missed. 
The kitchen flows into the living room.
 French doors take you out to the back deck. The large brick fire place to the right is one of my favorite features!
 And then the ceilings...LOVE. THEM. We have the same exact wood, vaulted ceilings in our master bedroom.
To the far left of the living room is another hallway that leads to the master bedroom. Also in that hallway is our laundry room. I decided not to take photos of the bedrooms/bathrooms just yet because the lighting was so terrible. Soon though, my friends! 

And here is our three stall garage..aka Huckleberry's new dog house while I'm at work. It has 3 skylights and windows all along the back and sides. The upstairs is going to be converted into Steven's "man cave" in time. I think it makes sense that the dog and the hubby share a play room ;) {Men and dogs just have so much in common, you know?}
Our to-do list is already a mile long but we are so excited to start this new chapter in our lives! I simply cannot wait till we are married and living here together. {There are a lot of spiders crawling about that I need Steven around to kill.} 

Priorities, people. Priorities.


A Torn Page From My Diary...

...because sometimes, happiness is found in reliving the pain.

A long time ago, I believe it was in 8th grade; I dislocated my left thumb and never went to the doctor to get it properly replaced. It’s an old injury that I rarely think about, but then, when it’s bended just right, I feel the aching in that joint. It’s not a sharp pain; but rather dull and almost non-existent, but a pain nonetheless. It always startles me when I feel it. Just when I’ve almost forgotten all about it, I do something silly such as pick up a coffee mug awkwardly, grip too tight while opening a jar of jam, or any other simple movement that agitates that joint. Normal things really. But it’s in those ordinary moments that something happens to make me once again feel the pain. The injury was never a gaping, open wound. No surgery was necessary for it to properly function again. Yet, the pain is still present. I tried to take care of the injury myself, and because of that, it has never properly healed.

It reminds me of you; my thumb --an old injury, that most days, never crosses my mind. Then something happens that reminds me –a mother calling her child after the same name in the grocery store, the curve of a stranger’s forehead, a laugh –and the pain returns. Dull, almost nonexistent, but there nonetheless. Again, it startles me how unexpectedly everything returns. I can feel, smell, hear everything I once loved. Perhaps, those remembrances are the things I still do.

The pain used to bother me. I used to regret never seeing a doctor to get my thumb properly reset. But it was an injury no one else could see. It seemed so easy to fix myself and simply move on. At first, the pain was unbearable. Thankfully, I have always had a high tolerance for pain. It was easy to repress.

I’ve learned that it’s too late for me to fix. The pain will always be there. Like the phantom pain of an amputee it is an ache I’ll always feel. Yet, I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve even learned to enjoy it. Like the breeze on a hot day or a drop of water after a long drought, it reminds me that I’m alive. I feel –even the most subtle aches, I feel.

And for that, I am grateful.


Happy Birthday {yesterday}, Lover Boy!

Sorry for my absence yesterday. It was a certain amazing fiancé's birthday. 25. Steven has lived a quarter of a century! Old man.

We celebrated his birthday this weekend at my lake house with some BBQ goodness and friends. And yes, there was cake. And yes, I ate about 3 too many pieces. 

But the big birthday thrill came yesterday around 6pm when we got the keys to our new home! 
For everyone who looks good in cell phone pics, I don't like you.

This has definitely been a crazy year for Steven and I. Me moving out to Seattle last July, getting engaged, planning a wedding, moving the wedding up by 4 months, buying a home...so many changes!!! I have been so incredibly blessed it feels unreal. Seriously, will someone pinch me just to make sure I'm not dreaming? Thinking back to just one year ago I never would have imagined this would be my life. That I would be engaged to the boy I met while working at Cracker Barrel. That I would move across the country to pursue this romance. 

Honestly, spontaneity is not in my blood. I never would have taken this step had the Lord not given me peace and strength. He is amazing. And His plans are so much greater than our own.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 
Jeremiah 29:11

Ah, do not fret my lovelies. More pictures to come.


Friday Letters

Dear Steven - Sorry I freaked out on your this week while finishing up the wedding invitations. I know you were just trying to be helpful, but some things in life are just meant for a lady to do. Like lick envelopes. It looked like you were molesting those things. I just couldn't allow it to continue. Dear Huckleberry - You have been such a good boy lately! Thank you for sleeping in past 5am. Dear sunshine - I know this is going to be a good weekend because you are going to make yourself visible every. single. day. With you around, Washington really isn't that bad. Dear Comcast - you are terrible, terrible, terrible. Dear home - you are almost ours. Steven and I should be getting the keys to your front door on Monday and we couldn't be more excited!!!


Love, Huck (part 3)

oh, Hi Grandma! it's your grandpup, Huck!
i have a little secret to share with you. mom says I can trust you with this sort of thing...
well, when I was younger I used to be afraid of the water!
i mean..it's wet. and cold. 
and there are no hotdogs in there --so really, what's the point?
but now I'm all grown up! {mommy says I'm 8 months old!} and I'm afraid of NUTTIN!
i love to swim!
i told mommy to take a few pictures for proof of my bravery.
so maybe, when you come visit me, you can throw hot dogs in the water..
and I'll go swim to them and catch them and eat them and love you.
while swimming I found a toy boat.
mommy threw the boat to me and I caught it in my mouth!
Because I'm brave.
{see, I use to be afraid to catch things and would run when mom tossed them to me}
but not anymore! I'm 8 months old! And fear NUTTIN!
but then...something terrible happened.
dad thought since I have been so brave lately that I might want to go for a boat ride.
well, he put me in the boat.
i may have been a little afraid...just a smudge though.
a very, very tiny bit of afraid.
like one bite of a hotdog kind of tiny.
when daddy took me out of the boat I ran inside and covered my face...
not my proudest moment.
but you know what would make me feel a lot better??
a hotdog.
{i like the kind that have bits of cheese in them best}


Read more letters from Huck here!


Temporary Confinement.

Sometimes words aren't necessary. I think Huck's face tells the story for you.
Obviously, he wasn't thrilled.
Oh, and that handsome little blonde boy is Hank. Steven's nephew.
I love the third picture, where he slips his little hand through the crate to securely lock the door.
Smart boy!
And the second picture cracks me up! 
Huck is so disappointed that instead of letting him out of his crate, Hank decided to join him.
Needless to say, Huck isn't too certain how he feels about Hank anymore... 


"I Have Found The One Whom My Soul Loves" Song of Solomon 3:4

Remember this post a  few days ago? About which ring bearer pillow I wanted Ashley to make for my upcoming wedding? Well, after narrowing my choices down to two I came to you, my stalkers who have excellent taste, to help me decide! You chose pillow #1! {Fyi, this was actually the very first one Ashley made and my favorite right from the start! So good job!}
 I absolutely love the burlap and twine! So cute! On the back of the pillow Ashley added a verse from Song of Solomon 3:4.
"I have found the one whom my soul loves"

I am ABSOLUTELY in love with all her rustic pillow designs and I cannot wait to get my ring bearer pillow! Go to her Etsy shop to see more shabby chic cuteness!


On My Wedding and Such

Many of you have asked for a wedding update and a wedding update you shall receive! If you've followed my blog since my engagement this past December, you know that the whole wedding planning process has not been all rainbows and butterflies for me. {As evidenced in this post} It is hard planning a wedding without your mom and bridesmaids nearby. I honestly think that is the root of all my emotions/hyperventilation/anxiety/anger/unproductively revolving around the wedding planning. I need my mommy. And my girlfriends. Simple as that.   

AND, I'd like to add that you girls who genuinely enjoyed planning your wedding are probably borderline  nuts...just saying...

So yeah, wedding planning...I really don't know how the let's move up our wedding by four months conversation began. I'm pretty sure I was simply musing a loud to my mother on the phone one evening about how it would be nice, since Steven and I already purchased a home, to be married soon after I moved in. That way, I wouldn't have to live alone in our home for 6 months {because really, where's the fun in that!}. And she said something to the effect of WHY NOT? Why not just move the wedding up, why not get married in the summer when people have vacation time rather than the fall, why not get married on the east coast so everyone that I love can afford to attend, why not live in the home I purchased with my fiancé 4 months sooner, why not do something spontaneous for once.

Those two words, why not, threw my mind into a frenzy. Really, what is the point of all the stress, financial strain, and waiting when we simply could get married sooner? This summer. Be man and wife. Why not...

So, naturally, I panicked. I wanted so bad to just through all my planning away and start from scratch. I knew the perfect location on the east coast and quickly called my uncle. Hey uncle jay, you know how much I love you, and you love me, I'm your favorite niece remember. And really it would mean so much to me if you could, if there is anyway, I'd really love it if, but I understand if not, but would you please allow me, canIgetmarriedatyourlakehousethissummer?!?!?!

Of course, Uncle Jay said yes. I can get married at his house, which nestles right on Lake Ontario in upstate New York, this summer. July 7th. I will be Mrs. Danielle Turner.

And so now, a new wedding is under works, and I am much, much happier. The planning is no longer something I dread {don't get me wrong, as a perfectionist it is still unsavory at times, but no longer a nightmare}. And everything has fallen into place so perfectly I just know it is meant to be.

For example, one of my bridesmaids was not going to be able to make the trip out to Seattle due to financial reasons {coast to coast travel is not cheap, my friends}. Now, not only can she attend my wedding, but she is going to be my wedding photographer! Whether she is by my side or behind the camera's lens, I really don't care. I am just thrilled to have her there. And many more close family and friends who couldn't make it to Seattle are now able to attend! My heart is soaring with happiness at this! What is the point of a wedding if you aren't surrounded by those you love?? It is better to save some dough and simply elope. 

Also, concerning the deposits I had already paid for the venue and photographer in Seattle. Got them all back. Yep. Every stinkin' penny. How sweet are they! Under the signed contracts, no one was obligated to return any of my money, and yet, everyone did. So Steven and I are not out one penny. Instead I've gained a peace of mind and a happy, happy heart and he's gained a happy fiancé, which, let's face it, makes his life A MUCH better one.

More updates to come! Happy Monday!


Friday Letters

Dear Brussels Sprouts, who knew you could taste so good? Nom Nom. You are now my new favorite green veggie. Dear Huckleberry, Don't listen to daddy. You do have a soul. Dear Wedding Invitations, by this weekends end {that just sounds weird} you will be on your way to new homes who will carelessly tear you a part completely oblivious to the delicate care I took in putting you together. Ah, but such is life. Dear Mom and Dad, Thank you for being so supportive concerning my last minute wedding plans. I know moving the date up to July 7th and changing the location to the opposite coast makes your life stressful, but, I must add, it significantly reduces the stress for me :) I love youuuuu!

Happy Friday, Friends!