Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Easy Banana Cream Pie

It has been quite a long time since I've gotten a recipe up on the blog!
This one is definitely a favorite. 

Brad's birthday was last week... 
The big 25!! 

We had a great day celebrating Brad's turning a quarter of a century, complete with his favorite pie!
I love making his favorite treat on a special occasion,
and this pie is perfect for a summer treat, so timing was great!

This recipe is super easy and oh, so delicious! Give it a try and let us know how it turns out for you!

Easy Banana Cream Pie

2 Graham Cracker Crusts 
1 (3.4 oz) Box Instant Vanilla Pudding
1 1/3 c. Cold Water
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 pkg. Cool Whip, Thawed and Divided (You won't need it all, but I'm sure you can find a use for it)
2 Large Bananas 
Optional: 3 Squares Hershey Chocolate

1. In a large bowl, combine pudding, water, and sweetened condensed milk. Mix with a fork until well
    blended. Place in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
2. Fold in 1 1/2 c Cool Whip into the pudding mixture. Return to fridge. 
3. Slice one banana into the bottom of each crust to cover. Make sure to reserve the plastic domes.
4. Pour filling over bananas, dividing the mixture between the two crusts. Refrigerate for 10-15 min.
5. While the pies firm up, chop the chocolate into small pieces. 
6. Remove pies from fridge and top with desired amount of cool whip (about 1/2 pkg) 
    and sprinkle with chocolate 
7. Return to fridge for at least a few hours. 
8. ENJOY!!

Like I said before, this pie is easy, pretty fast to put together, and delicious!

What is your favorite summer treat?

Monday, July 21, 2014

On Choosing Love

When Brad and I got engaged, some people asked me what was different this time. 
Why now, when not before?

If you are new around here, let me catch you up a little. 
Brad and I met in preschool and were best friends through all of high school.
He left on an LDS mission, and I went to college.
He came home and we dated, but it just didn't work out. 
Eventually, I left on an LDS mission.
When I came back, things were just different. In the best way possible.
And the time was right.
The difference?
I chose to love.
If you want more than this reader's digest version, check out the whole story here.

So what do I mean when I say that I chose to love?
Well, before my mission, the first time we dated, I was constantly seeking reasons why I should 
or should not pursue the relationship. For each thing I adored, I found something I didn't.
I prayed and prayed, and felt more and more unsettled.
So eventually, I just decided to be done. Brad felt the same way.

The second time around, I started down the path of overanalyzing everything. 
Were Brad and I really "meant to be?"
Were we "soul mates?"
Could we be together forever?

I was praying and praying to know if I should move forward with Brad.
I was wondering if it was too soon. If I was totally crazy.
And then I had a bit of a break through.

This is from my journal right around the time that we started dating:

7 Feb 2013
On the way to Brad's house tonight, I found myself thinking “oh I hope I get an answer that this is right because I really want it to be right!” And then it hit me. I really do want it. I want it to work out. I am for the first time really acting to bring it about. And I know that the Lord knows all of those things and He wants me to be happy. Maybe it didn’t work out with Brad before because I didn’t truly want it. It was not the time. But now, I feel like things are different. The Lord is responding to my prayers.
I just have to pay attention.

From then, I decided to choose Brad. 
He was the very best man I had ever known.
He served the Lord and loved God more than anyone or anything else.
He was a hard worker.
He was kind and loving.
He served others because he wanted to. Because he loved them.
He was accomplished and had goals and dreams.
He treated me like a queen.
He was everything I had ever wanted, 
and I knew the Lord approved.

So I stopped worrying about whether or not we were meant to be.
I stopped wondering if there could be such a thing as "soul mates."
I stopped questioning my own thoughts and feelings.
And I chose to love.

Was Brad absolutely perfect?
Was I?
Definitely not.
Did I stop worrying completely?
Of course I didn't.
But I chose faith. And I chose love.
And in the end, I think that's what God wants for us.

Thank you to Darby Elizabeth Photography for the amazing pictures!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Brush Party Date

The blog has really been lacking on what we have been up to this summer!

We have just been having so much fun that I haven't made the time to blog as often as I should.
I will get better. Really.

Brad is still working at Fennemore Craig and loving it!
And let me tell you, they are spoiling us like crazy.

Every week we have had a super fun activity with them. More on those another day. 

This week, they treated us to a brush party!

I've been wanting to do this for a long time since I've seen them popping up on blogs here and there.
So I was super excited.

If you don't know, a brush party is basically a big painting party where the whole group is taught to paint the same painting. In the past, I've seen groups do a Van Gogh or a Monet and the like. 

Our group was able to follow our teacher in one of her originals:
Aspen at Sunset

You can see more of Carrie Curran's art as well as info on a class here

Brad and I don't have a lot of artistic ability...
Remember the finger painting?

But we took courage when they assured us that everyone would leave with something nice.

We were a little nervous to just jump right in, but Carrie was great and very patient and helpful!

One of our friends from Fennemore Craig said to take a picture of the canvas since it could be 
the best our painting looked! haha. He might have been right...

We started with the base layers and up to this point, we felt pretty good about our art. 

While that dried, we enjoyed visiting with friends, eating dinner, and admiring everyone's work.

Then it was time to paint the trees.
This part was a bit more difficult, but it was definitely fun!

Thanks to Carrie for snapping some pictures during the class.
We were definitely concentrated during this part!

In the end, everyone ended up with a nice little painting!
And it was fun to see how each person put a different emphasis on their painting.

Thanks again to Carrie for the photo! Like her Facebook Page here.

While Van Goghs we obviously are not, we learned a lot.
In all, we had a really good time, and would definitely do it again!

Have you been to a brush party before? What would you suggest for our next attempt?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

52 Date Night Ideas for Newlyweds

The first year of marriage is a blast! 
Seriously, so. much. fun.
Brad and I made a million memories and really came to love each other even more.

One thing that I wasn't expecting was that there was still so much to learn about Brad.
I guess I just assumed that since we have known each other since were 3 
that I knew him pretty much completely.
But there was so much to learn this past year!
I guess that once you live with someone, you find all sorts of fun things out.

So newlyweds need some date ideas that help them get to know each other even better.
They need date ideas that won't break the bank. 
They need romantic dates.
They need fun/silly dates.
They need dates where they can just be together.

So here I give you,

A year of date night ideas

And let's be real.
These would be fun at any stage in your relationship... not just for newlyweds.

1.     Guest Book Date
Your wedding reception was probably a pretty crazy night. You might not remember everyone you greeted, or if you saw everyone who attended. Spend an evening reading your guest book together. Reminisce about how perfect your reception was and talk about your loved ones who attended.
We loved this date and had a lot of fun reading all of the well wishes.

2.     Visit Important Places From Your Childhood
Take your spouse to see your childhood home, Elementary School, Jr. High School, High School, favorite teenage hangout, etc. Tell each other about favorite memories and things you did there. 

3.     Cook A Meal Together
There is something quite romantic about sharing a kitchen.

4.    Go Uno Bowling
This is just a fun and stilly date. You will see your spouse in a different light with this one. Find the directions here.

5.     Play A Favorite Childhood Game.
Remember Guess Who? Or how about Operation? Pick your favorite, find it on Amazon and have fun remembering when you played it growing up.

6.      Share old Pictures
This is a pretty common one, but lots of fun! Get out the old photo albums and show your spouse just how awkward you looked with those braces, how handsome you were at your Senior Prom, and the crazy hair do you sported in the good old days. Tell the stories that go with the pictures.

7.     Volunteer Together
There is little that will bring you closer together in your first year of marriage than serving together will.

8.     Visit an Arcade
Try to find one that has some fun old school games.
If you are in Provo, hit up the Nickel Arcade! Cheap and so fun.

9.     Exercise Together
Totally free date! And you will help each other stay fit and looking your best.

10.    Go For A Walk
We love free dates, and we love this one especially. It's a great time to talk and catch up 
after a hectic day/week. Grab a treat to eat while you walk if you want.
Walk at sunset so you can have a beautiful view and then stay out to see the stars.

11.     Plan Your Dream Vacation
Whether you can afford to actually go this year or in 20 years, this date is a blast!
It's free to plan/dream. Check out books from the library on your chosen destination, 
google the best things to do there, etc.
If you really want to get into it, make some food from the dream destination,
find some music to match or maybe a movie and have a little staycation.

12.    Watch a Favorite Childhood TV Show
Netflix and Hulu make this one possible. There are probably some shows that you watched that your spouse didn't, that you just have to introduce. Or maybe there is one that you both watched that
you can now enjoy together. For Brad and I, it's Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

13.    Go on a Hike
Another freebie. Can't beat it.
Plus, there is something wonderful about conquering a mountain together.

14.    Take in Some Culture
Find a restaurant with some cultural food you have never tried.

15.    Pinterest Date
Find a project to do together.

16.    Read a Book Together
Snuggle up and read to each other.
You can choose a children's book, or make this date last and
read a book you've both been wanting to read over the course of a couple of weeks. 

17.    Teach Each Other a New Skill
Do you love to garden, but he never has? Teach him! Make it fun.
Does he love baseball, but you can't seem to enjoy even an inning?
Let him teach you to swing the bat!

18.    Study the Scriptures Together
Your marriage will thrive when you put God first.
Not scripture readers? Find something that inspires you to be better and study together.

19.    Take in a Free Concert
Google what is happening in your area.
Lots of local up-and-coming singers/bands will give free concerts.
There is almost always something great you can find.

20.    Time Capsule Date
Fill a container with fun things from the year that you will open a year later.

21.    Babysit
Some day, you will have little kiddos at home and want to get out for a date.
Help someone else be able to do just that while you are kid-free.
Plus, it's really fun to see your spouse interacting with the little guys.

22.    Go to a Cultural Festival
This year, we went to the Holi Festival of Colors
We are planning to go to the Greek Festival in the fall. 
Most cities have cultural festivals, and some of them are free!

23.    Go on a Picture Scavenger Hunt. 
This is a fun group date. Get a list of items to capture on camera, and the team with the most pictures at the end of an hour wins.  More difficult items can be worth more points.
Think of things like: a street sign that starts with Y, a man wearing a greet shirt, a pigeon at a park, 
a purple car, a specific book, a person on a cell phone, etc.
Use Google or Pinterest for pre-made list printables. 

24.    Window Shopping
This is especially fun in an old downtown area that has a lot of character.

25.    Watch an Original Movie and then the Remake
We just did this with Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent. It was really fun!
Wait til the movie hits the dollar theater or Redbox to save some money.

26.    Bake Christmas Cookies
And then decorate them. Go all out!

27.    Draw/Paint Portraits of Each Other
If you want to get extra creative, do it with finger paint.
It will be fun to see how your other half portrays you.

28.    Visit a free Museum
Colleges are a good place to look for a free museum.
Some cities also have free nights once a month you can look into.

29.    Visit a Splash Pad
Sure, it will be full of kids, but you will have a blast!
If you are in the Mesa area, we recommend the new Splash Pad at Riverview. So fun!

30.    Build a Fort
Add some white lights to make it extra romantic.

31.    Fondue Date
Make sure to have the cheese and the chocolate.
Diets are not super handy for this date...

32.    Karaoke Night,
Do this one at home or on the town. It doesn't matter if you can sing or not. Just make it fun.

33.    Candle Light Picnic
Head to a park or just have an indoor picnic by candle light. 

34.    Star Gaze
Take a blanket so you can lay down and look up at the stars.
Super romantic. 'Nuff said.

35.    Drive Somewhere you Have Never Been, Just Because.
Pick a destination, or don't. Just drive, talk and see something new.

36.    Doorbell Ditch with Treats
Bake a yummy treat together and then take it to a neighbor. Leave it on the doorstep,
ring the bell,and run away before you are caught. If you are brave, hide in the bushes to see 
their reactions. And if you make double, you can go home and enjoy a little treat too!

37.    S'mores Date
Make a delicious treat at home!
If you don't have a fire pit, you can often use your stove.
Get creative! Find lots of candy options beyond the original chocolate bar.

38.    Backyard Campout
Don't have the time to get away?
Set up a tent in the back yard, roast some hot dogs (or cook them on the stove if you have to),
tell each other stories, sing campfire songs, and pretend you're in the wilderness.

39.    Holiday Dates
Make sure to know which holidays are coming up and plan a date to match...
Carve Pumpkins at Halloween Time
Write each other mushy love notes around Valentine's Day
Shoot off Fireworks for the 4th of July.
You get the idea.

40.    Go on a Nature Walk
Another freebie here! If you aren't quite up for a hike, but want
to get out and see the beauty around you, a nature walk is perfect. 
Make sure to grab a camera and even a picnic if you want!

41.    Have a Water Fight
Simple and easy. Grab a hose, grab some buckets and get wet!

42.    Build a Snowman
And then snuggle up for some hot chocolate after to warm up.

43.    Splurge Date
Get all dressed up and go to a nice restaurant that you've been wanting to try.
It's okay to splurge every now and again, right?

44.    Take a Class or Lesson Together
It's always great to learn something new together. And lots of community colleges offer cheap or sometimes even free classes that you can enjoy. 

45.    Host a Dinner with a More “experienced” couple. Ask advice.
Invite an older couple over for dinner and enjoy learning all about their successes in marriage.
Ask them about their fun memories from their early year of marriage, things they did for each other,
how they grew in love, things they liked to do, and such. 

46.    The $5 Dinner Challenge
Go to the store with only a $5 bill and come out with a full meal. Get creative.

47.    Q & A Date
Find a questionnaire like this one and see if you can guess each other's answers!
You will be surprised how much you learn about each other.

48.    Write Letters to Someone in Need
Maybe someone you know who needs a pick-me-up, or write to children in the hospitals.
Spread a little bit of love.

49.    Have a Movie Theme Night
Match your dinner and clothing choices to the movie!

50.    Paddle Boat Date
Lots of local lakes will rent paddle boats for quite cheap.
Spend a day on the water, enjoying the sun and each other's company.

51.    Go on a Bike Ride
Find a fun trail, or just get to know your neighborhood a little better.
Make it extra interesting and find a tandem bike to try out.

52.    Wedding Pictures Date
Look at all the pictures of the big day and remember each moment. Talk about the moments you loved most from your special day. Remember how handsome and beautiful you both looked.
It is especially fun towards the end of your first year of marriage to really remember your big day!

Like I said, the first year of marriage is a magical time. Make sure to spend lots of time together 
and fall in love more every day. Hopefully, these ideas will help you do just that!

If you're looking for an amazing gift idea, make sure to check out the YEAR OF DATES from the Dating Divas! They are absolutely incredible and they have done ALL of the work for you! Make sure to check them out HERE

The Dating Divas Store - products to strengthen your marriage!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Love Notes Book

Brad and I really like to leave each other little notes.
There is just something about a simple, hand-written piece of love that
really brightens my day. I love finding sticky notes around the house,
 a scribbled sentiment on the mirror, etc. The only problem is,
I want to keep them all, and that can get a little cluttered!
Or I find a note on my way out the door, in the car, etc. and hurriedly put it
in my purse, making a mental note to add it to my pile when I get home,
and totally forgetting after the craziness of the day.
Anyone else with me?

So, as part of Brad’s gift for our first (paper) anniversary, I gave him this:

Our Love Notes Book

This is a super affordable and easy little thing to throw together for your hubby.
All you need is a notebook (I got mine at Walmart for only $1.50. Score.),
 and some stickers (again, Walmart for $2.00 I think. Double Score).

Just arrange your stickers on the notebook like you want them, and voilĂ !
You have a Love Notes Book.

I had been planning on just getting a spiral notebook and decorating it with fun paper, 
scrapbooky things, buttons, etc. But when I found this little gem,
and all I had to do was add some stickers, I was totally in.

And look how cute it is on the inside!


If you have known me for more than 2 seconds, you know that
I am obsessed with polka dots. So great.

So here’s how it works:

Write a short or long message to your love inside the notebook,
and hide the whole thing for him.
He can hold on to it for as long as he wants,
and when he’s ready to return it, he will write on the next page
and hide it somewhere for you!

I am sure that this little guy will end up in the cereal cupboard, Brad’s backpack, under his pillow,
in his briefcase, in his drawers, on his side of the closet…
Anyone else have a good hiding place?

And the best part is,
 All of your notes will stay together in one place!!
You won’t have to worry about where to put them all or try to remember
where to find them when you want to remember something cute he said.

And seriously, how fun will it be when it’s all full
to go back and see our little messages to each other!

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