Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shadylane Designs

I have been eager to share my newest blog designs! The two I did this past month have been so much fun to work on, and I love how the colors and the concepts came together. I like to have my clients pull together ideas with Pinterest. Even if they don’t have a fixed idea in mind when they start, once they begin pinning images and pictures it falls together, sometimes even in ways we didn’t expect.

The first one I want to share is for Kristin of Fancy Free Life. She was starting a brand new blog, and as things were coming together she found a scripture that inspired a name change. It was the perfect fit, and we even put the scripture in her sidebar. I love the colors that came out of her pinned images and loved the delicate touch of lace.

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I really really love this finished design. The colors, the fonts and how well it matches her personality. It was a pleasure to work with and get to know Kristin too. She’s so sweet and a good photographer. Her most recent blog post is about a photoshoot turned surprise proposal. It’s the cutest story.

The second design I did was for April of Memoirs of a Panda. She is in the military and lives on an air force base in Germany! She was looking for something bright, busy and full of personality…and that’s exactly what her design inspiration pin board was full of! Lots of fun to look at! I pulled colors out of the images she loved and went with bold lines. She also took advantage of the handwriting font option and I was able to use her own personal handwriting in her design. It adds a very personal touch that I love.

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“Panda” is a callsign she was given on a deployment and then a training exercise, and now its serves as kind of an endearing nickname that her good friends and a lot of coworkers call her. She embraced it by using that for her blog name. I didn’t want to go to literal with pandas, but there are a couple hidden in the design. You should head over to her blog and see if you can find them! And say hello while you’re there. April is a ton of fun!

Are you looking for a new blog design that really captures your personality? I’d love to work with you! Check out my blog design packages and see if something that I offer will work for you. I’d love to see your name in my inbox!

What are your favorite features to see on a blog?

Do you like sidebars full of links, or a more clean and simple look?

Have you started a Pinterest board for design inspiration?

 

DESIGNING

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday’s Letters

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Dear Summer: I didn’t know you were going to be full of rain and thunderstorms. Not that I’m complaining really…the heat is not my friend. Dear Coffee: I love you and I hate you (message from my tummy). Dear Disposable Camera: I’m glad you came back into my life. I’ve been having fun looking through your lens for a change. Dear Late Nights: Its nice to meet you again…I just love blog designing in your company. Dear New Office Lights: you make my space complete! I’m so glad I have a handy electrician friend who came and installed you for me. Dear Best Friend Kelly’s Baby: I’m so eager to meet you and find out if you’re a boy or a girl. Its time to come say hello to the world…you’re past your due date! Dear White Nail Polish: thank you for making my opaque Essie polish look good. You’re a lifesaver. Dear Spider in the Garage: please stay in the garage and don’t come in my house! Dear Husband: thank you for killing the huge spider in the garage. And for loving me.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Things I love Thursday

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Yay! Its Thursday again, and I am so excited to share the little bits of goodness I’ve found lately. Sometimes I come across blog posts and cute things and think: “Man, I wish I’d come up with that idea.” But then I remember: “Oh yeah, I can share it for my {things I love} Thursday post!” It works!

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>>>> Joy the Baker and her “Notes to self: how to live, how not to live, and how its okay if I burn the cookies.” The most recent one: You’re Allowed. It just makes me smile when people are real on their blogs. She gets it.

>>>> Sass, Class and Badass: a little e-book from Kate of Wake Up Lovely. It’s a delightfully refreshing take on becoming the women we want to be…from the inside out. From a few little tips to change things up daily to wise lifestyle choices, you'll find something within these pages that you can cling to. Kate's writing will make you think, make you smile, and sometimes make you laugh out loud. Sass, Class & Badass is a fun, quick read with lots of depth. And its free! I really enjoyed all her tips and you should totally download it and read it with a cup of tea this afternoon.

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>>>> Water Bottle Eyes…you just have to click the link and check this out. And be forewarned: I’m doing this at the next party I have. You’re all invited!

>>>> Bespoke is an Australian zine with both digital and in print versions that is “made by the handmade community, for the handmade community.” And it is so lovely! The zine publishers take submissions from all around the world and share stories, inspiring blogs, tutorials, photography, recipes and crafts. The zine is put together so well, and is just a joy to read. I got the digital download and loved it, I can only imagine how great it is in print. My favorite article from Issue 6 is called “Caged Creativity: the Peril of Not Reaching our Potential” which delves into the connection between life fulfillment and expressing ourselves creatively. Definitely something I’ve been thinking about lately. The blog connected to the zine is just as yummy! Aren’t the covers just lovely?

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>>>> My Pinterest “wish list” board is filling up will all sorts of fun things. Usually its camera gear, but lately I’ve been drawn to cute skirts and hair accessories. And these killer day planners from Erin Condren…so cool! 1-2-3-4-5

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>>>> I really want to take this calligraphy class offered by Melissa of I Still Love You. I have a calligraphy set that my mum gave me, and would love to learn how to really use it.

>>>> I love this idea of doing a travel journal in your own hometown. Carrie came up with a list of prompts of pages to create with things like postcards from your town and takeout menus from your favorite places to eat. I love how her mini turned out.

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What do you {love} on this lovely Thursday?

What is inspiring your creativity lately?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Best Macaroni Salad

While searching for new recipes to try for our Summer Manifesto list, I’ve been pinning so many that look delicious. I thought I’d give one a try that I could do all by myself and share it as another “Stop Pinning, Start Doing” post. And it turned out so good! Chris loved it. The Pioneer Woman takes better pictures of the process than me, but I had fun giving it a try. Her recipes are easy to follow. I’ll look for more to try in the future too!

Introducing The Pioneer Woman’s Best Macaroni Salad Ever!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Elbow Macaroni Pasta
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • 1/2 can Black Olives
  • Pickles (I used dill pickles)
  • 3 whole Green Onions
  • Marinated Artichoke Hearts (I added these as more filler)
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Pickle Juice to taste

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We enjoyed ours with some grilled chicken (off our new barbeque grill!) and it tasted so good together. It is a crisp and fresh tasting salad. And we had most of the ingredients in our fridge and pantry. I’ll definitely make this again…maybe even for people other than my husband!

Have you done any Pinterest project recently?

Do you like the Pioneer Woman’s recipes?

FOOD

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A few more “Little Things”

Earlier this month I started a list of the little things that bring me joy and that help me to celebrate the everyday. I want to keep a record of them for myself to remember, and also to help show others that even little things can make a big difference in your day. I’ve started a page that I keep adding things to whenever I think about it. And so today I wanted to share just a couple more.

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4. Really garlicy homemade Caesar salad.

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5. Rude customers coming in and apologizing after the fact.

6. Going through old pictures and reliving the good memories.

7. Mental hugs.

8. A really good color scheme.colors

This one is from my most recent blog design. I’ll be sharing it soon!

9. Fun blogging awards like this one I got from Amanda. Come check out her post about it to see her 7 random facts and who else she nominated. Thanks girl!

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10. Taking pictures with a disposable camera.

What are some “little things” bringing you joy today?

Do you like to keep lists of the things that make you smile?

I’d love to hear about your “little things” too!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Around My Town: Ephrata WA // The Bookery

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And in my town my favorite place to get coffee is a little bookshop turned coffeehouse called The Bookery. There is something about the smell of books mixed with the smell of fresh ground coffee beans that sings to the soul of every creative. Its like an elixir of inspiration and caffeine in the perfect proportion. It wafts out onto the street of my tiny town named Ephrata in central Washington State.

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My favorite baristas, Melissa and Jamie are there most mornings when I stop by, and the owner, Stephanie is so helpful and will order in any book you’re looking for. Its my favorite shop downtown. I love the atmosphere, the quaint gifts and knickknacks available for purchase, and the coffee…oh the coffee!

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It was here as one of their daily specials that I first tasted my favorite drink: the Salted Caramel White Chocolate Mocha. Every bit as decadent as it sounds. I like it hot in the winter, but this time of year I order it iced or blended.

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Something else that is great about small local businesses is that they care about the other “little people” in their community, and The Bookery is no different. They have a Local Authors section on their bookshelves and support local artists by displaying and selling their work, like photographer Gavin Seim. The walls of this little shop proudly display his stunning photographs.

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There are books to browse, jewelry to admire (and secretly want to buy all of), home décor and lots of cute coffee mugs. Cards with clever sayings, journals to buy and info about the latest music festival or theater performance.

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It’s a hub…a place to come where they know your face and how you like your coffee, and they’ll remind you of the newest release from your favorite author. And even the kids are warmly welcomed with their own special table.

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This is my favorite coffee shop in my town. And the first local business I’m sharing for my new feature: Around My Town. I’m looking forward to sharing the places that make this little town we live in really special and are worth celebrating.

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Do you have a favorite coffee shop in your town?

Are you loyal to small businesses?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our history at Lake Chelan

As we mentioned, Lake Chelan is a special place for Chris and I. It was there on the beach as the sun set that we fell in love. And we went there on our honeymoon. So we thought it would be perfect to go back again for our 5th anniversary and take another picture in the same spot. The weather, however had different plans. There was no sunset…the clouds were too thick. And as the summer thunder storm started we understood why.

Here are our pictures:

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So its not exactly the “sunset on the beach” picture we were hoping for, but a memory we’ll cherish just the same. We sat in the car together watching the wall of rain come towards us, pointing out the lightning strikes and listening to the thunder. We held hands, said “Happy Anniversary” to each other, and welcomed in the start of another great year together.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 5 year wedding anniversary! We hope that you’ve enjoyed this special Anniversary Week here on the blog. It was a lot of fun writing and sharing our love story with you. To read the story from the beginning click HERE. Thanks for helping us celebrate!

We are so excited to share the images from our anniversary photo shoot that we had with Marta of VonGrey Photography. We had so much fun on the shoot and we know we’ll treasure these images for many years to come.

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Chris took today off work to spend with me and tonight we’re going on a little drive together to Chelan and out for dinner. And we’ll be checking number 10 off of our Summer Manifesto list…taking a picture of the sunset on the beach in the same spot as we did the day we fell in love and on our honeymoon. We’ll probably say “Happy Anniversary” to each other way to many times, but that’s okay…its how we roll.

Today is a good day.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our Love Story: Memories from these first 5 years

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Being married for five years to Shaina has been nothing short of fantastic. We have done a whole lot in that short amount of time. We moved from Spokane, to Soap Lake due to my work, and from there we bought our first house here in Ephrata Washington and are in the process of turning it into a home. We are just starting to learn Russian so we can help out in the territory where we live and preach. We’ve learned ASL to also help in that regard. I love learning with Shaina, she is so fast and sharp, where as I’m more of an intuitive learner. Problem is my intuition can be way off sometimes. We balance each other out though. Where I am weak she is strong and where she is weak I am strong. We’ve also learned how to take turns in that regard. When all in the world seems wrong, and everything I put my hand to seems to fail, she is right there to pick me up, or let me sleep it off, whichever I seem to need. When she feels like the whole world has turned on her, and everything she’s trying to accomplish has gone awry, I get to be the strong one and lift her up.

Here are some specific memories that bring a smile to my face that we haven’t told yet. Here is the exact moment I fell in love with Shaina. We found ourselves at this party in Chelan that turned out just ridiculous. There were minors being given alcohol. People, who were supposed to be setting a good example as Christians, were doing the exact opposite. People who were vulnerable to overuse of alcohol were being negatively affected. Shaina and I looked at each other, and knew we both felt uncomfortable being there. We made our separate excuses and left in separate cars and went to the beach in downtown Chelan. There, sitting at a picnic table we watched the sun set, and talked a long time about what we just saw, how we felt about it, and many other things. From that point on I knew I was in love. I knew I had found the woman I would marry.

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Another fun story is, if some of you don’t know, Shaina is deaf in her left ear. That’s not the funny part, of course. The funny thing is of the two of us, I say “WHAT”, way more often. Sometimes I will say back to her what I thought I heard her say, and she gets this look on her face, like: “How did you get that from what I just said?”  What’s remarkable about this is they test my hearing at work every year. Every year I score way above average. I have really good hearing; apparently what I hear at times gets scrambled around pretty well. I’ve had to develop the habit of waiting a half a second to unscramble and then respond to what I heard. It doesn’t always work though.  For example, once I heard “I would like to buy a stalactite.” What she really said was, “What would you like to eat tonight?” It keeps us laughing, that’s for sure.

In 2008 we bought our first new car. It’s Shaina’s car, and it’s a kiwi green Ford Focus, and her name is Chloe. The Idea of owning a new car was foreign to me. I had never owned a new car, the idea never occurred to me. I had repaired credit, which is almost as bad as no credit, or bad credit. My score was atrocious somewhere in the five hundreds, really bad! It was this however that got the ball rolling in the idea of buying a house. We improved my credit score to up into the mid to high six hundreds in under a year and then the search began, we got a great deal on a little three bedroom, two bath. Brand new stick built home. We love it and it beats the pants off renting. If I have the option, I will never have a landlord again. I love being a homeowner, and I have Shaina to thank for it. She is so good with money, and has taught me so much about controlling my impulsive spending habits, and really taking care of our money. We work as a team on this. We always let each other know if we are going to spend money, and we always save the receipts.
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We have learned so much together, and every step has been a joy in retrospect. That’s not to say things haven’t been rough at times. But the one thing I think we have learned that is most useful is that we have each other, no matter what! We are never alone, no matter what distance may separate us, we will find a way to be there for each other. We have developed a mental hug for just such times. When Shaina is having a real rough day at work and I can’t be there physically, I give her a mental hug. I picture her in my mind, and then I picture gently wrapping my arms around her and squeezing. I throw all my mental energy, every ounce of positive energy I have into the mental act. It works. It makes her feel better to know I care enough to pretend to hug her in my mind. I like to imagine that that energy finds its way to her through the phone receiver. It makes me feel good to know that I can help a little. And it pushes me to get back to her as fast as I can, so I can give her the real thing. These are a few of my favorites and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
PS. I need the mental hug too from time to time and she gives them right back, and I always feel just a little better!

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SheSaid

When I stop and think about how fast these last 5 years have gone by it makes me so glad that I’m a blogger and a scrapbooker and a photographer. I have documented so much of our life together in these 3 ways. But for today I just want to share a couple things that I love about our marriage.

We get to spend so much time together. I work in an office by myself most days so when he gets off of work he comes and hangs out with me for the afternoon. This worked when he was driving school bus and now that he drives garbage truck too. I love it. We are best friends and really close companions. We started our relationship long distance and so its foundation is communication. Back then everything we talked about was on the phone and that’s continued to be a way we like to communicate. Because Chris drives garbage truck for work he has a weird schedule and his days start at 3am.  That leaves me to wake up alone in bed a few hours later.  So we’ve formed a routine where we talk on the phone every morning when I wake up.  Sometimes just a few minutes to say good morning, but most days this is when we have our heart to heart conversations.  I look forward to our talks every morning and cherish starting my day being reminded of the love we share. 

We love to talk to each other, to share our feelings, discuss things and laugh. We laugh a lot. That is something I distinctly remember from every chapter of our lives together…laughing. It helps us to keep a healthy perspective on life and not to take things to seriously. And it always brings us together when we’re going through something hard. We talk together, we laugh together, we pray together and we just are together. 

I think that because of how much time we’ve spent together over the years and how well we know each other, its led to our ease in decision making. We are usually “of one mind” on things and can make decisions fast. I remember how surprised our real estate agent was when we were picking out the color to paint our new house. It was literally: “This one?”... “Hmm…What about this one?” … “Nope…this one!” “Yes, that’s the color of our house!” Probably under a minute. I like that about us. We don’t really argue about many things because we feel the same way about most things. And we’ve taken the bits from my way of doing things that work, and the bits from Chris’ way that work and melded them together.

And we both work to our strengths, even though they’re a little different from the norm. For example, Chris does our cooking. He loves to cook, always has. And he developed skill and knowledge from his mother and living on his own before we met. And that’s what works for us. It took me some time to get over feeling like I was less of a wife because I couldn’t really cook. But if he likes to do it and is good at it, then why push to make our lives match a social norm? I do help out a lot in the kitchen, even though I’m not doing the cooking really. Chris calls me his Sous Chef. I’m glad we have a big kitchen in our new house so we can be in there together. Its another time we get to share.

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Singing has also been a big part of our life together. We both love to sing! We’ve actually found the best karaoke DJ around in a little dive in Soap Lake called the Del Red. They have karaoke every Thursday and Saturday night. And Chris and I love to go. Since I’ve been sick we haven’t been very often, but when we lived in Soap Lake you could find us there most weeks. I love to sing a little Jewel or KT Tunstel or Adele and Chris sings a mean version of “I believe in a thing called love” by The Darkness. And we do “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once together.

Our love of singing actually led us to get involved with the local community theater. They were putting on a production of “Once Upon A Mattress” which was one of my favorite plays from high school, and so I wanted to try out. Chris came with me and with the encouragement of everyone there, he tried out too. We both got cast, but I was unable to stay on for that show. Chris however, got bitten by the acting bug. He thoroughly enjoyed that first production and together we were able to do 2 other plays, “Razia’s Shadow” in 2010 and “The Doctor In Spite of Himself” last June. We love to support our local theater and go see the plays that are put on, even if we’re not in them. We go and usher for at least one performance and see our theater family again. We’ve made a lot of close friends through the theater, and we’re glad it’s something we did together.

I also fondly remember many road trips. We’ve made the trip up to Northern BC (where I’m from) two times since we’ve been married. That’s a 10 plus hour trip. And we go to see Chris’ family on Whidbey Island too, which is about 7 hours. We got to go to Portland in 2010 which was so much fun. And whenever there is an assembly we travel back and forth from home. I love to travel with Chris. This is getting a tad repetitive, but I like spending the time together. We listen to our favorite songs, or buy a new album and learn all the words. Or we take turns driving and read to each other. Or we just talk. And we take a lot of pictures. In June 2010 when we went up north I was in the middle of my 52weeks project. I had this idea for an image with the fields of small yellow flowers growing alongside the road. So we pulled off the road and Chris helped me make my idea come to life. We love to take pictures on Deception Pass Bridge that leads to Whidbey Island, too. One time we posed by some darling graffiti. I love that Chris gets my love of photography and likes stopping to take pictures on our trips.

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These past 5 years have been so good. I love being married to this man and sharing my life with him. We make a great team. I am excited for where the future will take us and the many adventures we have yet to experience. I’m glad my best friend is at my side.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Our Love Story: The Wedding

HeSaid

The perfect day…that’s what it was. The day you never forget, no matter what happens. June 22, 2007 for me will always be the best day of my life. Shaina and I were wed that afternoon at in front of our family and close friends. There are so many memories from that day, where to begin? Let’s start a few days before the wedding.

I spent two consecutive days driving back and forth from Seattle, picking up my friends who were able to fly out from Massachusetts, My best friend Matthew Gagne and his wife Eunice, and my buddies Manny Gomes, and Micah Gentile. It was becoming a well-traveled route for me. My best friend Nate (from the story of the day we met) was also my best man. Rather than rent tuxedos we bought new suits. So we had taken a trip to Tacoma to K&G for new suits, I got a dark brown suit with golden tan double pinstripes and Nate got a lighter brown suit with stripes done in squares of muted, subtle teals, and reds. We made a handsome pair for sure. It was just going to be me and him, Shaina, and her best friend Kelly, plus her youngest sister was our flower girl. We intentionally kept it small.

All of us guys were at my buddy Nate’s house the night before the wedding.  We all got a late start on the day. When we were all up, we went to my parent’s house for breakfast, after which I drove my friends up the hill at Mission Ridge, the local ski hill that my parents lived at the bottom of. We took in the good views, relaxed and just enjoyed the moment. I wasn’t nervous, just excited, and happy beyond words. We all went back to Nate’s and got ready, after which we went to one of the local parks for pre-wedding pictures. It was there I was shown my beautiful bride. She was and remains truly breathtaking! Shaina will always stay that beautiful in my mind.

The time had arrived.  No one was late. We married on a Friday, so we would have the whole weekend to ourselves. My Dad gave our wedding talk, and did a great job. At one point my dad made a reference to how, as you grow older together, some couples start to look alike. I looked over at Shaina and said “Sorry!” That got everyone laughing! We had a small reception for family and friends and we kept it to sixty people. The reception was at a nice place, which normally was a bistro, but catered, did the cake, and hosted the reception. For some reason we couldn’t get my bands P.A. system to work till the very end, so just Shaina and I danced to one song before we were off for our honeymoon. We danced to George Benson’s version of “Beyond the Sea.” A good tune If I ever heard one, and great for a dance.

That closes the story of the perfect day. A day I will never forget: June 22, 2007.

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SheSaid

We had initially planned on an October wedding. October is my favorite month, and it just seemed perfect. But in all our planning with me 3 hours away it became clear that for us to start our life together in Spokane, we needed to be together in Spokane. So we moved the date of our wedding to June. That meant we now had 2 and ½ months to plan our wedding.

And it was all I ever wanted. Moving the date up took a ton of the pressure off. We were able to keep things super small and simple and I never felt overwhelmed by the details. The day before the wedding was spent with my best friends Kelly-Anne and Katie and my littlest sister Katrina at my parent’s house in Omak. We spent the day swimming in the river and painting our nails and putting together the bouquets. The morning of the wedding we woke up early and my mum drove us down to Wenatchee. We got ready at a friend’s house and my cousin Hannah did everyone’s hair.

I vividly remember seeing myself ready in my dress for the very first time.  I remember imagining Chris’ face when he saw me in my dress as his bride. I felt beautiful because he thought I was beautiful. And then the actual moment when he first saw me was even better than I had imagined. My heart swelled with so much love for him. This was it: the day we would become husband and wife.

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We went to the park for pictures before the wedding…special ones of Chris and I and our bridal party. My best friend Kelly-Anne was my Maid of Honor and Nate (from the story of how we met) was Chris’ Best Man. And my little sister Katrina got her wish to be a flower girl before she turned 10.

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And then we headed to the Kingdom Hall for the ceremony. My friends and I went to wait in the women’s room while people came in and sat down. Hannah did touch-ups on my hair and I went over my vows. And we waited and waited. Finally we heard over the speaker system Chris’ dad say “Well, the Bride is in the bathroom waiting, would it be okay if we started a little early?” It was probably one of the only weddings in the history of ever that started ahead of schedule!

Chris’ dad was the one who gave our wedding talk. It was personal, funny, poignant and memorable. He made us laugh, and invited us to read the scriptures that applied to us ourselves. That was neat. He referenced Adam and Eve’s purpose to “fill the earth” and gave us a “Go Team” sign and a wink. And then he prayed to God for us as husband and wife.

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After saying our vows and exchanging rings we shared our first kiss as a married couple.

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And then we were headed to the reception. We invited our close friends and family to join us for dinner and dessert. We were able to find a small bistro run by a friend who catered the meal, made the cake and let us use her space as the venue. It was lovely and intimate and a fond memory sharing the evening with our loved ones. Chris’ parents had made wine especially for the wedding and even created wine labels with our pictures on them. And the cake was amazing! White chocolate with hazelnut cream filling (so good I licked the plate!).

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And then we hugged everyone goodbye and drove off on our honeymoon.

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The day was perfect…one that we still fondly talk about and remember. My one regret: not having it videotaped. I wish I had thought of it so we could listen to the talk again and watch back the day we became husband and wife.

That was five years ago already…and these five years have been the best of my life. I love being married to Chris and sharing my life with him. We’ve had some good times and made some wonderful memories. Even through the hard times we’ve always had each other, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.