Monday, December 13, 2010

Ugly Sweaters and Gingerbread Eggnog

Christmas festivities are upon us and this is certainly a favorite time of year for the Taflans. Not only is Christmas a joyous time, (Happy Birthday Jesus!), but two days after is our wedding anniversary. It's a season of celebration!

In our house we've been crafting, wrapping, and dressing up in ugly sweaters. We dress up in ugly sweaters for fun... at a Christmas party hosted by some friends of ours of course :) Mine had lovely plastic candy canes dangling from it, as well as cats hiding in presents - yuck - and dear Matthew found a lady's sweater at Goodwill for only $4 that he had to cut thumb holes into just so he could stretch the sleeves down his long arms. It was utterly disturbing and I am proud to say that my honey took home first place prize for the ugliest sweater! (You go dear!)

With Christmas festivities comes great food and yummy, seasonal drinks. Have you tried the delicious gingerbread eggnog? We found it at Lowe's Foods and love it! It may not be new to the stores, but it's new to us this year and I don't think just one carton will do! Yum... enjoy some Christmas in a cup!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Pilgrim & An Indian

I would just like to take a moment to post how awesome my husband is and how much of a trooper he can be when it comes to putting up with my childlike ideas. I'm a kindergarten teacher, so silly ideas are to be expected!

It was two Fridays ago when all of kindergarten had a Thanksgiving feast together. My students wore their Indian headbands, macaroni necklaces, or Pilgrim hats and I wore an Indian outfit I found at an vintage/costume shop. My sister spotted the dress and at $7, I couldn't resist. I fringed the bottom and sleeves, and found a headband for $3 at the same store. Not bad for something cheap and simple! When I got home from school that day I said, "Why should this only be worn once, when it's very appropriate for this time of year? Let's dress up for Thanksgiving!" (Picture my husband rolling his eyes). Matthew laughed a little at first, then realized I was serious and didn't say much else until Thanksgiving morning. I helped him choose Pilgrim-ish clothes and he wore the hat I made just for him - same as my students, just adult size ;) I got excited at the thought that this could be a new tradition and we can dress up for Thanksgiving every year... but my husband told me he thought differently...

Here we are Thanksgiving day at my parents' home. This Indian maiden is in love with one handsome Pilgrim!

A little fun with the SiStErS! (oh, and some little Thanksgiving friends!)

Comical...yes, but silly things lead to great memories!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We're Alive!

No, North Carolina has not devoured and swallowed us whole... we Taflans are just now slowly rising to the surface of the craziness of life. And by life I mean moving in with mom and dad, boxes everywhere, moving again to our little white house, more boxes everywhere, adjusting to work life 45 minutes away in opposite directions, working busy schedules, and just trying to get a grasp on these last 5 months of North Carolina living. I think it's safe to say our heads are now above water! Boxes are disappearing, our house is looking more like a home, and work is a bit more of a routine now and not so new and stressful (a job update will definitely be a future post). If it weren't for God's promise to provide, the love of a spouse, and supporting family just minutes down the road, then we probably would be swallowed up by all that's been happening!

Without further ado, welcome to our Little White House, as we so lovingly call it. This 1940s/50s home was quite a surprise and blessing to us and we eagerly spend each spare moment we can settling in. It's charming and sits on about 3 acres (are chickens in our future? bok, bok) and is the perfect size for us. The yard is a major plus, as well as the shed, sunroom, and many old windows for natural light. The house is not without its quirks though... for example, the landlord likes to keep everything white, and this means globbing it EVERYWHERE to the point that it has dried dripping down walls in some places (yikes!), there's no overhead lighting in the family room, the kitchen ceiling is only 2 inches taller than my dear husband meaning he has to remember to not walk under the light fixture, and our somewhat private lot happens to sit directly across from a gas station on a somewhat busy highway. Nevertheless, we are pleased and blessed and excited.

Plan to see updates on our little rental as we tackle projects here and there. We can only do so much given that we are just renters and not owners... but we are excited to add some color and beauty to the place. For now we just toss around ideas and will wait until the weather is warmer and our work lives are not as time consuming before we set to work on some things that better be easy on the wallet :)

We have much to be thankful for this year... Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An Answered Prayer

Let me begin this post by saying God is SO good and will always provide. He quickly answered our prayers for me to find a teaching job and did so in a matter of just two short weeks of living in NC! With the referral of a friend, I had an interview the day after turning in my resume and was offered the position a few days later. Oh and the best part? It's kindergarten, just like I was hoping for!

I have been hired at a Montessori school which means I will have to go through extensive training over the next year to be Montessori certified while teaching full time. The school is not completely Montessori though, because they are still a public magnet school, so I don't have to toss out all of my traditional teaching methods and tools (thank goodness, because this was incredibly terrifying to me!). It is going to be incredibly hard, as some coworkers have informed me, and I am prepared for this I believe. I have a very supportive husband, God who is faithful, and a loving family close by that I can lean on. This last month has been filled with some stress, anxiety, deep breaths, and prayer as I prepare to meet the challenge that lays before me this school year. I report to the classroom Tuesday for a week of meetings and I meet my children the following Tuesday. Oh goodness!

As for my sweet spouse, he has spent his days applying for jobs, doing small home projects for my parents here and there, and editing a wedding he filmed in Savannah (more to come on that later!). Matthew has an interview lined up (yay!) the week of the 23rd with a company in Burlington that we are praying about. It will be his first interview here in NC and even if he doesn't get the position, he's just happy to have an interview to break the ice. It's only been a month and a half, and we are trusting God's timing with Matt's work situation. Once he is employed, we plan on beginning our search for a place to live that is closer to work. Unfortunately, my job is an hour drive, unless there is traffic, near downtown Raleigh and the drive alone is exhausting. I'll be relieved when we live a bit closer... We look forward to having a place to call home outside of the city somewhere in a peaceful setting, although we'll most likely live in an apartment for the next year or two to save up for a house :) We don't know yet. In the meantime, we will continue to live here in my parents' house enjoying the blessing their home is to us.

I'd close with a photo, but after 10 minutes of trying, it's just not going to happen. You see, internet out here in the country is quite slow... and uploading anything can take years when the satellite is acting the way it is now. Not too mention that if we go over our daily usage limit, they shut our internet down for 24 hours (gasp!). I don't quite understand it, especially when a mile down the road they have high speed internet and cell phone service, yet here we have neither. Oh well. Photos will come at another time when we're out using internet somewhere else. At least for now I was able to put up an overdue post :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

North Carolina Residents :)

Well, it has been exactly one week since we arrived in NC with the last of our belongings. We said good-bye to Florida as we made the long drive up I-95, stopping at rest areas along the way to capture some video of our trip (hope to be edited soon!). I'm happy to say that the majority of our stuff is organized into some designated area here at my parents' house and we've had quite a productive first week!

On July 4th we attended my family's church where we were greeted with warm smiles and welcomed into the area. We spent the evening watching fireworks at the town next to ours and were able to enjoy a day at Tweetsie Railroad on Monday. We went as a family since my dad was off of work and my youngest sister had a friend with her. I had not been to Tweetsie in over 10 years and it was quite the treat. Matthew and I marveled at how peaceful and relaxing the park was compared to a busy Disney World. We decided we'll certainly take our own children back there one day so they can experience the train adventure and the beautiful mountains (ah, mountains make my heart sing!). We thought our niece and nephews would love the place as well. Following Tweetsie, we drove down the road to Blowing Rock and paid the small fee to see the sight, an Indian legend. After taking pictures and eating some much needed ice cream, we loaded up the cars to make the 3 hour drive back home.

In the meantime, I have applied to approximately 5 more jobs and was called for an interview on Thursday! My sweet husband drove the hour long commute to drop me off and picked me up after with a pretty bouquet of flowers. I love his thoughtfulness :) Overall the interview went well and I will find out the decision sometime next week. I'm hoping to get the rest of my paperwork in Monday/Tuesday and will continue the waiting period from there. We've been praying and listening during this time of waiting and Matt & I know God will certainly take care of us and show us the right way. Aside from my job hunting adventures, Matthew hopes to be in the office of a production studio helping out in the next week or two. He received an e-mail about coming in to assist with editing and we pray that will lead to something great!

We had lunch with friends, the Elias, in Durham on Thursday and loved the time we were able to spend visiting and chatting with them at a great place called Parker & Otis. Tonight we are going out for pizza in downtown Raleigh as we are now a part of a pizza club (woohoo!). Friends of ours, a couple we did video work for in their wedding down in Florida, has moved to the local area here and invited us to join. They are heading it up and were a part of a pizza club in Orlando in the past. We get to eat pizza at popular places once a month as we search for the best. We're excited to be with old friends and meet new ones, as well as get some good food!

We'll be leaving Borders soon to head out for dinner. Internet at the house is sadly very slow... so venturing out for internet will be quite frequent for us. Thankfully the library in the town over from ours is very nice and has great internet service. We just happen to be at Borders (a favorite of mine) in Wake Forest because we shopped around the Raleigh Flea Market today. It's tempting to buy all the wonderful things I see, but I am reminded that we don't have a place of our own yet, and we don't know what our next place will look like. We will have to share our interesting finds in another post though!

I'll close with a picture of us on top of Blowing Rock. Look at those mountains!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Scrapbooking Projects

I thought I'd share the digital scrapbooking pages I have created with my Memory Mixer software. I'm still new with the whole thing, but I love creating the pages to give as gifts. I do wish to create an album of our first year of married life, but have yet to begin :) My biggest dilemma is deciding what type of paper I would like to use or what embellishment would look best - then taking the time to look at everything I have and search online for more. I think I just need to give in and buy the online themed packets here and there when I see something I like rather than spend hours searching. I might try to do another page later today.

I printed these size 12x12 and bought nice frames from Michael's. My mom loved it and has them hanging in her craft room!

When my dad saw what I had created for Mother's Day, he said, "You know, that would make a great Father's Day gift." I took his advice and created pages for him too. He has yet to see them because they weren't quite ready for Father's Day. Dad will get them this weekend. :)

I created this page last week for the girl I've babysat since she was an infant (5 years!). I'm going to miss her very much when we move. It's placed in a white frame and will match her room perfectly!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Where Shopping is a Pleasure"

My how we will miss this beloved grocery store when we move to North Carolina. In fact, I miss it already. If you have never been to a Publix, and happen to be in the southeastern US, then do make a stop in one and here's why...

You see, the husband and I decided to shop at Wal-mart {shudder} for groceries when we were first married because we assumed it was the more frugal option and being newlyweds, we were in it to save money. If you've ever been in a Wal-mart, at least here in Florida, it is pure chaos! You go in with a "get in - get out quick!" mentality. Oh, and need I mention the loooong lines? Or how when you opt for the short DIY checkout you almost always end up waiting for assistance? :( Have you even tried to squeeze down the bread aisle? [insert other frustrations here]. As my husband puts it, "Crazy people don't go to Wal-mart. Nobody is crazy before they get there - Wal-mart creates the crazy people." Agreed, agreed. Now don't get me wrong, I still choose to frequent the store for craft supplies and other various items when necessary, just not for food. One day I expressed to Matthew how instead of going to Wal-mart for our grocery shopping, I wanted to go to Publix - where shopping is a pleasure (I have to add that in there because it's so true!). We've been there many times before when we needed different items for a particular recipe or wanted better quality produce, but for a time Wal-mart had our $ due to the convenience of the location on our way home from church. We put an end to that madness!

Grocery shopping can be quite a chore, but when I go to Publix I admit that I honestly feel fine, even good, about going! You can't beat the friendly workers either. What about prices, you might ask? Well, with plenty of BOGOs and amazing coupons for great quality products, you are doing yourself a favor by skipping out on the chaos elsewhere. And if you still aren't convinced, please check out their website... My favorite is checking out the Season's Peak portion of the site where I can read about the fruits and veggies in season, as well as find recipes of what to do with them. You may wait in a long line every now and then, but guess what? It's ok because you're at Publix! Yes, it's true, I heart Publix. Call me crazy, but I walked into the store yesterday for the last time and left knowing I just had to pass on the goodness! I could go on, but I'll spare you the grocery talk :)

And Publix, if you're out there in the blogging world, pass this plea on to the big guys upstairs...

Dear Publix, We will miss you oh so very much. Please come to North Carolina so the Taflans can enjoy grocery shopping once more (sigh).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Job Searching

"Do you have a job lined up for when you move?" is a question both of us get asked at least once a week since we announced our decision to move to North Carolina a while ago. We understand we aren't exactly doing things in the "normal" order - like not having a job before we move to an entirely different state and leave our other jobs behind (scary, I know!). We do know that this is what God has planned for us, meaning He will most certainly provide as He always has. God is the source of the comfort and peace we feel about making such a big decision - although I'll be honest and say that there have been times here and there when I have a moment of brief panic about not being able to support ourselves! Thankfully my thoughts are redirected by Matthew's solid thinking or through scripture.

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Ah, see? We'll be taken care of :) I put this verse in a frame when we were first married and it's one we have both come to memorize upon seeing it on a daily basis. And along the lines of being taken care of, Matt established contact with a video production company this past week when we were in NC. He met the owner and left feeling quite good about the connection. This company has seen his work on his website and would like to use Matt to edit some projects beginning as soon as we move - starting off on a volunteer basis like most free lancers do to get established. Once he's shown them what he's capable of, they can hopefully use him regularly and pay too. Yay! Aside from that, we're working on marketing TaflanPictures for wedding videography in the local Raleigh/Greensboro area.

Where do I stand in the job search? Well, I sent out 10 applications to Wake County yesterday. It's a bit far from where we're staying, but that'll be fine if I get hired! These 10 were in addition to about 8 I've sent out to other counties. My NC teaching license is now official so that will definitely help the process. Time to wait and see...

Keep us in your prayers as we continue searching for work and listen for God's voice through it all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sing a Happy Working Song

All right everyone, time to tidy things up

Come my little friends
As we all sing a happy little working song
Merry little voices clear and strong
Come and roll your sleeves up
So that we can pitch in
Cleaning crud up in the kitchen
As we sing along

And you’ll trill a cheery tune in the tub
As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain
Lug a hairball from the shower drain
To the gay refrain
Of a happy working song

We’ll keep singing without fail
Otherwise we’d spoil it
Hosing down the garbage pail
And scrubbing up the toilet

How we all enjoy letting loose with a little
While we’re emptying the vacu-um
It’s such fun to hum
A happy working song
A happy working song...............

Today I set about cleaning the apartment as we prepare to move out next week. I am sure you are wondering if I wore a beautiful ball gown as I scrubbed the tub and vacuumed the floors. Well, sorry to disappoint but, no, just a knock-around dress. Did wild animals come to assist me in the chores? No, but my birds carried on pretty tunes while I worked :) If you haven't seen Enchanted I would recommend it as a cute, fun movie that leaves you feeling happy and wanting to sing. My happy working song today was singing along to whatever came across the radio... And to make cleaning even more interesting, or should I say to give me some motivation, I decided to create my own cleaning supplies using vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, soap and oils. I have a small assortment of cleaning supplies already, but decided to step away from the chemicals for our sake and the birds, as well as instill a new, positive habit of using something more natural and less harmful for cleaning (not too mention it's pretty cheap and versatile!). Here's a photo of my new stock of supplies...

Like the gloves? I thought I'd treat myself to something pretty for cleaning. I now have carpet stain remover, bathroom tile/tub spray, and an all purpose spray that I'll use in the kitchen. The vinegar left over can be used most anywhere, as well as the baking soda. Our tub is sparkly and the kitchen smells fresh. I plan on giving the rest of our old cleaning supplies to someone who could always use extra items for a downtown organization she manages. I'm looking forward to making more items like this in the future!

*If you'd like to know how to make your own household cleaning supplies, you can go to this link below. I've recently become quite the avid reader over at Young House Love (very inspiring) and I can bet you will be one too if you aren't already :)

Young House Love: All Natural Homemade Cleaners

Happy Cleaning!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Carolina Bound

A suburban, one trailer, and 15 hours later my husband and I arrived at our destination in North Carolina on Wednesday. We were blessed to borrow a trailer from a friend at church and spent ALL day Tuesday loading the thing. It was SO incredibly hot and humid - as in over 100 degrees. Of course, this is expected in Florida, but a little break would've been nice. We managed to move all our furniture ourselves and leave behind a small portion of what will be needed when we go back for two last weeks of Florida living. Here's a photo of the accumulation of boxes in our family room with the exception of furniture already loaded in the trailer. It'll be crazy to go back and hardly have anything left! Matthew said it'll make our next trip seem like a breeze.

Oh, I can't forget to mention the little fact that this trip is really only supposed to take 10 hours... with a trailer we drive slower of course, but with a broken alternat0r which leads to a dead battery means no driving at all. Yes, we were stuck at a rest area 2 1/2 hours away from my parents' house for an hour(thank goodness it was there and not on 95!), then managed to get the car jump started and drove on little to no battery for another hour before deciding that it was too dark to not turn on our headlights... which we were avoiding using because we didn't want to suck all the life out of the battery. We managed to exit to a gas station, as the lights on the car were slowly dimming and waited another hour for AAA to bring the tow truck. Thankfully, my dad was in a very late meeting only 15 minutes away and happened to have a hitch on his truck so he could take the trailer, and the birds, and us home. What would a girl do without her dad? Needless to say, my dear husband fixed the car himself the next day and it appears to be working well. I am quite proud :) Guess the true test will be tomorrow when we drive it 650 miles back to our apartment... God has us in His hands that day as it could've been a whole lot worse!
The night before we left we added a new feathered friend to the family. Meet Monte (pronounced monty) - at least we think that'll be his name. We had several ideas, but Monte makes the most sense given that Altamonte is the city of our first "home" together and Sunny is already named after the Sunshine state. He is a blue parrotlet, which is the smallest parrot in the world. We had discussed getting one before to keep Sunny company during the day while we're at work, but didn't have easy access to any. I just happened to be at the pet store dropping off the last of the gerbils (thank goodness they are ALL gone!) and they had just weaned parrotlets in sky blue and then the darker blue. Our family may think we're crazy for getting another bird, but we didn't feel like it was a bad idea and having a friend for Sunny will be good. I guess that makes us bird people? We hope one day the birds will like each other, but for now we have to keep them supervised at all times when they're both out of the cage. Our Monte has a lot of character already and is much more active than our Quaker. He's a big bird in a tiny body! And he was quite a trooper as his first full day with us was spent on the road to NC. Our birds will have some miles on them!
Isn't he cute?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vacation Home

This past Christmas, my parents bought us a vacation home. It's not just any vacation home... it fits in a large bag, is portable, allows my 6'5 1/2" husband to stand inside, and takes approximately 24 minutes to construct. Check it out:

Isn't our tent lovely? The bag it is toted in made us laugh when we saw the words Vacation Home and the cottage style windows in the front. We were thrilled to have a tent of our own - which meant no more borrowing or sleeping in our suburban when we felt like camping. Each month we looked ahead at weekends that might be available for camping so we could use our new tent, but none worked out until Memorial weekend. I had given up even trying to go camping until after we moved to NC because available weekends had diminished and the FL weather is steadily creeping up to unbearable. I came home one evening last week and my husband had all the camping gear out with a note saying, "How about camping this weekend?" I couldn't resist - even if it was for just one night.

We chose to camp at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine (no, not the picture above ;). It was one of the state parks I had on my list of places to go and it just happened to have Sunday night open! We left right after church with our bird and all to begin the hour and a half drive. It was definitely worth it! The campsites are great and the opportunities at the park are numerous. We set up our tent in record time, explored the beach, cooked dinner over the fire and stayed up late in the tent playing card games. Sunny didn't seem to mind camping much. He didn't squawk incessantly which led us to believe he was content - even with the incredibly loud insects surrounding us. And guess what? I didn't forget the pillows this time! See first camping post here.

Sleeping through the night wasn't too pleasant as a rain storm approached and seemed to last the ENTIRE time I was supposed to be sleeping. I was lying on the air mattress (which we have yet to make it comfortable) praying no thunder and lightning would approach or else I'd have to sleep in the car. Thankfully, we had only rain, and lots of it. In the morning we were pleased to find just a small puddle in a little corner as opposed to a wet mess - it's fixable.

We awoke to a very warm morning, ate our muffins, and headed to the park shop to rent us some bicycles. It was fun riding around observing others' tents and RVs, soaking in good ideas for our next trip. I hadn't ridden a bike in a while, or with my husband for that matter, and I thoroughly enjoyed the activity. We forgot to take a picture though. Oh well. Guess we'll have to do it again!

Here are a couple pictures from our 24 hour visit to the park. I'm glad we got to go and I recommend the park to anyone in or visiting the Florida area. It's definitely worthy of a long weekend stay.

see our kite up in the sky? :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We've set the date!

It is official... the Taflans will be moving to North Carolina on July 3rd! We are both excited and anxious as we wait to see what God has in store for us. We'll be settling in the triad area with my parents temporarily until we locate jobs (yikes!) and figure out where to live in relation to work. We feel at peace about this decision and are thrilled to be near loved ones. Living in Florida has made us homesick now and again and we hope to be rid of this as we settle in closer to both families :)

Let the accumulation of boxes begin!

Friday, May 7, 2010


This week was Teacher Appreciation week... I must say I am quite blessed with the students and parents who are a part of my first year of teaching. Each day this week I was brought gifts and cards by the students, which always makes me smile when I read what they've written or see what they've picked out as a present. Children are sweet (at least mine are!) and I couldn't have asked for a better kindergarten class! When I'm feeling exhausted or as though I could scream if I have to repeat myself just ONE more time... God always provides me with a student who gives an extra hug, says "I love you," or will smile and exclaim, "this is so fun Mrs. Taflan!"

I'll have to post pictures of the poster my room-mom put outside my door on Monday and the apron she made with all the students for me. Oh and you would not believe all the sweet treats I received! And to think I was starting a new exercise program this week... :)

Also during this week was the National Day of Prayer. Our kindergarten team leader invited me and others into her room yesterday morning for some prayer time before our school day started. It was so comforting and a blessing to know that I am surrounded by fellow Christians and we can share in prayer together. Definitely a great start to the day!

Since I'm gone all day tomorrow to babysit, Matthew and I are going out for a date night. Well, we call it a date night but that doesn't necessarily mean we're going someplace special. We're really just going out wherever we feel like going - if we think of something. Maybe a walk by the lake if live music is playing tonight. I don't know. I do know that it's nice to end the work week with a relaxing evening out with the husband!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Where did April go? I feel as though I was just getting excited about spring break and here we are going into May. I believe time is only going to seem to go faster over the next couple months. Every weekend in May is filled with an activity of some sort that we must attend or accomplish, then June is when my year of kindergarten comes to an end. Not too mention we'll be packing in the midst of the chaos (my classroom AND the apartment) to move us to North Carolina (yay!) by the second week of July, with a loaded trip in June as well. Following the final move in July will be a wedding the next weekend in Georgia of my good friend from high school, and the tiring hunt for jobs is continuous. By the time we get back from the wedding, elementary school will be starting in less than a month assuming I have a position - say a prayer! Oh my! It's all wonderful things that are taking place though and we are looking forward to this next step in our lives. I just have to remember to rest and take my vitamins!

My husband had a birthday this past week. We celebrated with our gift cards to Outback, complimentary b-day dessert, and gifts at home. I purchased a camping chair for him, but not just any chair. It's a Mojo 400 lb chair :) He may not be near 400 pounds, but he sure is tall and this chair is quite roomy. Now he has his own for when we camp although we won't be camping until after July according to our busy calendar. We were excited when we read in the church bulletin today that we'll be having a church picnic on the 15th of this month - it said to bring your chairs, canopies, etc. Guess he'll get to use his new chair in the near future after all. I have pictures but don't feel like going to get the card and waiting on them to download. Maybe another time.

This photo below is of these metal collapsible baskets I picked up in my Papa's shed while home on spring break. His shed is filled with "treasures" and I figured he wouldn't miss two little baskets. I asked first, of course! I've wanted hanging baskets in the kitchen for over a year now ever since we saw some at a garage sale. I thought they would look nice with fruit/veggies inside. I could've paid a dollar at the time but didn't, and now here they are free with some work. I cleaned them, Matthew painted them (he really wanted to do some sort of project one evening), and I wove ribbon around the top edges. I like it. If I set the fruit or vegetables in it just right, it doesn't look uneven like it does in the picture. :)

My other project last weekend was attempting to make strawberry jam! I had been toying with the idea for a little while and found a very informative website a few weeks prior. Once I had read enough and realized that no, I don't have to spend so many dollars on canning supplies and proper tools, I took the plunge. My husband was a great encouragement too - his words were, "Let's do it!" and he helped get the cans out of the boiling water for me. Note for next time: invest in canning tongs. My mom made strawberry jam last year and husband and I both loved it so making our own was exciting. I bought 8 small 8oz jars and 4 lbs of strawberries (I think it was 4... I sort of guessed about halfway through). Either way, it was quite the process, but enjoyable nonetheless and I felt accomplished. There's something about making your own jam, or sewing your own skirts, etc. that makes you appreciate homemade items much more. I love the idea of pursuing a simpler, efficient, old-fashioned way of life and am hoping to do more things like this in the future. It's rewarding... Speaking of rewarding, the work going into the jam was worth it. One word: Yum! We ate through one already, gave one jar away, and have 6 left. I hope to try other jams soon. Go here if you'd like to learn how:
Check out this neat crate we found while thrifting yesterday. We love it and plan to use it as a shelf. Matthew put the pitcher and shakers in there just for fun and to keep the box out of the way until we know where we want it. Imagine these and some more in different sizes on the wall in a kitchen somewhere (or your pantry) holding glass jars, cookbooks, or vases with flowers. We're on the lookout for more! Of course, we need a house and a larger kitchen than the little one we have now :) It'd look plain silly if we put it in the one we have. One day!

Time to rest for another week of school. We should have butterflies in the classroom tomorrow - assuming they hatched out of the chrysalis this weekend. Oh, and did I mention the rodents had babies again? 4! Thankfully, the daddy and last male from the first litter are in a happy new home in a classroom down the hall. I'm hoping to be rid of all gerbils by summer...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gentle Rain and an Oil Lamp

It's Sunday evening and my husband and I are sitting in the tiny room of our apartment that we like to call the nook. It barely fits the table and chairs for four, but we love the two large windows and the storage closet :) It's where I set up my sewing machine and where I sometimes bring my computer to accomplish things when I get distracted in our office. Tonight a light rain falls outside the open windows and my husband has lit the oil lamp I bought him for Valentine's Day (see photo below of how I modified it). He and I need to take more moments like this to enjoy the simplicity of our little home. If only the weather would stay this cool when it rains... we do not look forward to the humid afternoon short Florida storms that leave steam rising off the streets in a matter of minutes. For now, we'll enjoy the weather as it is.

I added artificial red flowers with stems to the base, along with valentine stickers that can be read when the lamp is lifted, to give the red tint and filled with oil. The flowers in the chimney were just for show of course.

Spring break has come and gone. Even though it was only two short weeks back, after going back to teaching this past week I feel as though break was eons ago. I can't believe there are only 8 weeks left of my first year of teaching! To make the most of my break, I created a long to-do list of all I wanted to accomplish before the week was over. This included groceries, shopping for items for my classroom (this happens most constantly), finishing plans and paperwork for when I returned to school, sewing anything just to satisfy my desire to do so, reading up on blogs, packing for our brief trip to NC, among other things. I'd like to share some of my spring break efforts.

*Easter started my break. Matthew and I were invited to have an Easter lunch with a couple at our church and their family on Saturday. We really enjoyed ourselves as we played Bocci in the yard, conversed with church family, and ate yummy food. The next morning we went to church for the Easter service and headed over to the beach for some fishing. We certainly did our share of fishing... only without the fish. What we did catch was too small. We saw more wildlife that day than we had in a long while. We love going to Canaveral National Seashore because of the privacy of the beaches and untouched nature. We saw raccoons on the bank searching for clams, many many porpoises (it was unreal how many we saw that day - usually it's countless manatees), and horseshoe crabs that swam quite close to me.

Outside our apartment Easter morning. Notice our apartment number is on the ground. Guess the painters didn't feel like replacing it when they finished their job.

Taking a break from fishing to move to another location in hopes of more fish. No such luck.

*Before we left for NC, I tried my hand at sewing again. When you don't really have anyone to show you how or what to do, you spend a long time looking at photos online or reading pattern after pattern - at least I do. I thought I'd be basic and sew a simple skirt, and by simple I mean no zippers or buttons, just some handy dandy elastic. Using some fabric I had lying around, I set to work and the skirt turned out alright. It's a bit big, but I wore it to school this past Monday. I began working on another one and need to finish the hem and waist. The Wal-mart closest to us hasn't remodeled yet like the others meaning fabric is still there! For a little over $5 and some time, I can have myself a new skirt. I don't wear shorts much when it's warm, so skirts and sundresses are my favorites. Having more skirts for school is always a bonus! Here's a photo of the navy skirt I finished, the almost finished skirt, and then some fabric I haven't yet touched. I'll have to think of something crafty to do with the scraps.

I hope to be able to whip these skirts up in an hour or less one day. I do love the idea of making my own skirts for $5.

*I have also been working on a crocheted fabric rug. I was browsing Wal-mart's fabric section over the break and came across these rolls of fabric called Stripz. I had always wanted to buy some, but couldn't decide if spending the $20 would be worth it. To my surprise, they were marked down to just $9! There happened to be a print I fell in love with so I snatched it up and headed home. I had a vision of this pretty crocheted rug in my future laundry room. Right now our "laundry room" is more like a closet so the rug won't work in there. I began working on the project and love it. I sewed the strips end to end and used two rolls. I believe I'm going to go back and crochet some rounds of darker green fabric to finish it off. I bought 3 rolls, and am saving the last roll of my stripz for some sort of matching curtain? when we have a laundry room. Maybe I'm thinking too far ahead, but what wife wouldn't want something pretty to look at while doing the chore of laundry?

I finished my second roll of fabric and am now on the hunt for a darker green to finish it off. Such a simple project!

*In North Carolina we had a relaxing time. Sadly, my youngest sister and mom were away on a trip to Europe with my sister's school. Ok, sad for us, but definitely not sad for them! We really missed seeing them though. We did enjoy visiting my other sister at UNC Chapel Hill for a day and hanging out with my dad around the house. Matthew and I visited my grandma and cousins in Virginia, and played in the tall wildflowers at my papa's house. We were sure to stop by Missy's Grill, the local hotdog place, to get our fill of the delicious hotdogs. The 10 hour drive was worth it as always, and we look forward to the day we are there for good!

Outside of Missy's Grill. Hotdogs with ketchup and slaw... yum, yum.

With the sis at UNC. Can't wait to see her more!

Wildflowers a.k.a. weeds. I tell my husband that I've always wanted to wear a white sundress with a straw hat, and have my photo taken in a field of all sorts of wildflowers. This is the closest I've come, lol.

That about sums up my break. It's dark out now and my mind is slowly switching into school mode as I think about what I need to gather for tomorrow. We've planted lima bean plants this week and our caterpillars arrived as well! Much excitement in the classroom as always :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's almost time!

I just have to share my excitement.... spring break begins Friday for me! I can't wait :) I've been working hard and am ready for a week of resting (I hope!). I'm going to miss the kiddos - some of them even groaned about having to leave school ::smile:: The break will be good for all of us. We are getting a bit antsy in the classroom.

No crazy beach outings or partying on a cruise ship for me. Spring break will happily consist of an Easter get-together with church friends, hopefully some sort of craft or project when I find the time, and then a trip home to NC from Wednesday to Saturday - with taking it easy mixed in there as well.

Happy Spring to all ;)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Does the Photographer dance?

My husband and I covered a wedding last night. I left after school to come straight to the site of the ceremony to get ready for pictures and videography. Not much of a break in between and we arrived home at midnight when it was all over. Quite a looooong day, but I do just love weddings! I get to work with my husband and become more skillful in his line of work; not to mention soak in beautiful ceremony/reception sites, wonderful ideas for future weddings - I have 2 sisters ;) - and also be an important part of someone's special day. My absolute favorite part is seeing how my husband works his magic in the editing process. I usually let out a sigh and say "that's so sweet!"

So I have a funny story about last night. This couple had quite a party at the reception, with an open bar fueling everyone's excitement. I was on one side of the dance floor holding up a flash for my husband while he was on the other side of the dance floor photographing/filming. This guy walked up to me who had more than enough to drink and steps in close to ask a question. Matthew & I had run into him before when he yelled, "Hey photographers! What's up? How's it going?" and gave us hi-fives. I recognized him, smiled politely, and continued on with my job of holding the light. This guy leans in and says, "So does the photographer dance?" I look at him, then look at my husband and laugh replying, "Not usually. I guess if he wanted to he could, but he's working right now." There was a moment of silence as I went back to working amused ast his question. The guy says to me with a puzzled look on his face, "I was talking about you." Another quick moment of silence. Wow. Duh, I thought as I laughed even more - to me, I = kindergarten teacher, not photographer. Silly me... my husband wasn't the only photographer/videographer there that night... I'm one too! After a few more remarks of him telling me how he's single and wants to dance I shared how I was married to the guy with the camera and dancing is not part of our work. He said he'd ask my husband if he can dance with me just a few seconds and I walked away smiling to myself as I went to tell Matthew about the man I thought wanted to dance with him :) This interesting fellow later came up to me at the end of the night wanting to know if he could be my follower... oh boy.

The night ended well as we witnessed another happy couple starting a new chapter of their lives. It's possible we'll have another wedding coming up in April. I sure hope business will continue to pick up for us when we move to NC. To see our latest wedding, go to Livesay Wedding.

As I sit here with Sunny, I realize my husband will be home shortly and I have laundry to finish before we head out the door to do some shopping. Must go get that done!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts here and there...

I have several things I wish to write about, each of which could be a separate blog post of their own. I have been putting off blogging because lately I've been quite wrapped up in reading these other blogs I have found. Amazing craft blogs, thrifty blogs, and sewing blogs have found their way into my bookmarks folder making it all the more tempting to read and set out on a creative craft adventure instead of using the time to blog myself. Tonight I will attempt to type all that I've been meaning to blog about and to do so in a concise manner, I think I'll post a photo and write briefly about each. With my almond cookie tea by my side (definitely a good purchase on my journey to acquiring a taste for hot tea), I'll begin.

This is me and my wonderful mom! She came to visit me a few weekends ago. Mom was able to come in and spend a day with my class and what a big help she was! She took down winter things in the classroom and helped put up my spring items. Mom also worked with my students, met other K teachers, and the kids loved having her there. It was amusing to them to have their teacher's mother there that day. It was special having mom come see and experience my very first classroom! The weekend followed with some relaxing, Sonny's BBQ, and shopping. Boy do I love and miss my momma :)

Remember the scrapbooking software I mentioned? MemoryMixer arrived the other week and I eagerly set to the task of scrapbooking our first year of married life. This photo here is only of the first page. Yes, it may be plain but I'm only a beginner ;) I'm working on understanding the software and sorting through page selections and embellishments can be quite a task itself! With so many options I tend to take a looooong time sorting through and deciding what I'd like to use. I told my husband I'll probably change every page I make a hundred times before I decide to get it printed. Actually, looking at this one now I think I've decided what needs to be tweaked a bit. Anyhow, it's quite exciting and I look forward to creatively scrapbooking future photos.

These two photos are our latest garage sale finds. The neat lanterns were $1 each and I'm still looking for good place for them. Apartment space can be a bit low. The pretty glass made them unique. For $2 we found this plant stand that we bought flowers for the next day. I love having color outside our apartment door. I also found a rolling chart stand for my classroom. I've been wanting one of these for a while so I can hang poems, songs, etc. that we've learned throughout the year and the kids can have easy access to it during centers. This lady had one for $8 and it works great in the classroom!

My middle sister Hillary and dad flew back to NC today. Dad happened to have meetings here in town and Hillary came since it was her spring break. It was great seeing them both! We went out to dinner, saw Alice in Wonderland (a bit strange), and went out to Inlet Harbor - a great restaurant on the coast. This is us on the jetty at Ponce Inlet. Notice the windswept hair? The weather was quite awful while they were here and that particular evening the rain had finally subsided but the wind was still blowing. I'm glad Matt & I were able to spend time with them both. Now all that's left to visit is my youngest sister :) We'll see...

North Carolina here we come! Well, not for a few months anyway. It is official - the Taflans will be relocating to NC this summer :) The what-ifs, hows, and wheres are numerous, but we know God will surely provide. We feel at peace about moving there to be closer to family. Our prayers are for guidance and job-seeking. I'm in the process of getting my teaching license in NC and he's already made contacts in the Raleigh area here and there. I got side-tracked tonight looking at apartments online. Thankfully, if no jobs turn up by the time our lease is up here in mid-July, my parents have graciously opened their home to us until we are able to locate jobs and get back out on our own. I can't wait! Family will be close again and his family will be only 7 1/2 hours away as opposed to 17! I just need to continue praying and remain patient.

I think this is all I'll write for now. It's getting late and my mind is not focusing so well - probably due to our squawking bird... poor little guy had to have his wings clipped today after a not so nice flight into the closet door. It was then that we said we'd had enough and didn't want to risk injury. I think I'll go get him and sit with my hubby on the couch as we wind down before bed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I have to share that I just purchased a digital scrapbooking software that I think I'll be quite pleased with. It's called Memory Mixer and I bought the latest version off their site. I hope it arrives in the mail this week! I've been eyeing the Creative Memories digital software for the longest time, anxiously awaiting their release of a version compatible with Mac (supposedly this Winter). Well, they haven't put anything up on their site in reference to a Mac release so I researched quite a bit this evening and after much reading, decided on Memory Mixer. It's one of the few that's Mac friendly and has the highest ratings. Yea! I love scrapbooks and the beautiful papers and embellishments - I just don't quite have the time. With the software, I can use it on my laptop anywhere and print through my company of choice. I can't wait to scrapbook our first year of married life! I'll have to share my first page when it's all finished :)

*On a side note, does anyone know how to insert a link and it actually work? I click on the link button and everything looks as though it'll work fine, and then it shows some silly error message when clicked on from my blog. Help would be appreciated.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

One more thing...

I know I should get ready for bed, but I just remembered that my husband mentioned he had a blog that he was going to try to devote time to with an emphasis on his passion: pictures in the form of videography and photography. Well, I decided to read it in these past few minutes because I had neglected to do so before.

I wanted to share. Check it out here: (it won't let me link it for some reason...)

After reading his two posts, I smiled and thought of how cute he is. The video of his favorite part of the day warmed my heart. Mmm... it's a blessing to be in love.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Critters, critters everywhere!

Let me begin by saying that I am in no way a fan of small rodents... especially ones with a rat-like tail. Ironically, I happen to have 7 gerbils under my care. Yikes! It all began when I decided to give my students a class pet for their "holiday" (Christmas) present.

You see, I thought I'd be smart and let the children vote on either gerbils (another teacher had one and it was all they talked about), fish (I already have a tank), or hermit crabs (definitely my first choice). After they opened their surprise from me, we took a vote. I made sure to explain ALL the responsibilities that came with each pet and we talked about working together to provide a happy home for whatever was decided. Unfortunately for me, gerbils won by a landslide. You know in kindergarten, it only takes one kid to say, "Vote for gerbil, ok?" and all follow suit.

In early January, I headed to the pet store to purchase a cage and gerbil. Thankfully my husband was there to guide me in cage decisions, etc. because he and his brothers owned little rodents when they were kids. We left the store with two gerbils - I didn't want one to get lonely - and cringed as I listened to them scratch and scurry in their box on the way home. I told myself it would be worth it when I saw 20 smiling faces the following morning... and yes, it was (the children's smiles and squeals of delight get me every time ;)

Unbeknown to me, gerbils can begin the whole mating process at a young age. Oh, did I mention that the guy at the pet store couldn't tell me if I was buying male or female? His response... "Uh, they're too young to tell. We just got them in." Silly me, I bought them anyways. Well, about two weeks after purchasing them, I noticed that their affection for one another had blossomed quite quickly. I did some major research on the habits of gerbils and found out that in approximately 24-28 days, little pups would arrive.

That day was Wednesday...

Imagine my surprise when I glanced over at the cage Wednesday after school in between meetings and saw an unattractive pink squishy thing in the cage. I gasped and called my husband right away. "Matthew, dear, I think my gerbils had a baby! wait, two, no four... oh my goodness, there are five babies! What do I do?!" I said as I counted and recounted. He assured me that they have a natural instinct to care for their young so I don't need to do much of anything. After staring at these critters for a very long time, I decided they weren't so revolting after all. Even a hairless, blind, squishy pink gerbil pup can have a teeny bit of cuteness to it - not to mention watching a mother and father care for their young is cool to watch. I was reminded that God created such animals and instilled in them this instinct to nurture that's pretty fascinating for a small rodent. Nice.

Eww...and Aww...are appropriate responses

Well, the babies are now 5 days old and all 5 are still alive. My knowledge of gerbils has grown more than I ever thought it would...ever... and I hope the babies all live! My students were absolutely THRILLED with having an entire family in the classroom. It also works as a great tool to keep the class quiet because "the babies need to rest." :) I haven't told the kids yet, but I already found another home for the male gerbil and hope to have him rehomed in a couple weeks. When the babies are old enough (7 weeks) I will re-home what's left and keep a female with the mother. Smart plan, I think. Lord-will there will be a female in the mix! For now, my class and I will continue to watch as they grow and develop - hoping nothing goes terribly wrong and they have a happy classroom life!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Be Mine

Another Valentine's Day has come and gone. Matthew and I laughed as we tried to remember the other 4 Valentine's we've spent together. We can vividly recall our first one - we'd only been dating for about 4 months at the time. I created a valentine on a poster and surprised him with it at his apartment. Probably one of the only times I've successfully been able to show up somewhere and genuinely surprise him. I'm not as great as my husband - he's the Master of Surprises :) although I try and he loves my attempts. We then headed to Sonic's and had this amazing cherry brownie bite ice cream of some sort. Yum!

Our second Valentine's day is kind of a mystery... we thought that was the year my roommate and I cooked a special dinner for our boyfriends, but no. According to photos, I just discovered that the dinner happened to be the same year as the poster valentine. Hmm... maybe the pictures recalling the event are on Matt's computer. I know there are photos somewhere because we rarely go without our camera. Sadly, our 3rd Valentine's is a mystery as well. I guess we've had so many great times together that Valentine's Day just sort of blends in :) Does that happen to anyone else?

Last year's was significant because it was our first one together as a married couple. We celebrated by sharing a romantic dinner by candlelight on the floor of our new apartment. Sweet memories. Thankfully, I can recall this year's because it was only 2 days ago! My husband's gift to me was his time and money. He knew I was wanting some new dress clothes for school (guess me grumbling every time I pick out something to wear finally paid off.. jk), and he devoted his Saturday to... yes... shopping with me! I can wear my own self out shopping for clothes and now that I'm married, I'm aware of how much I can wear someone else out. After lunch with an old friend, we hit the ground running.

I checked my watch and checked my husband: approximately 3 hours until he'd expire according to my calculations. Time to get moving!

Several hours later we left the mall with clothes - always means success - and my dear husband suggested we go grocery shopping since we were out. I was amused at how 3 hours had passed and he hadn't once said anything about his feet hurting :) Ok, he's really not all that bad when it comes to shopping... he enjoyed himself and even came out with a nice looking black button down shirt. He prefers shopping for me and with me as opposed to finding clothes for himself. Let me tell you, finding decent clothes for a 6 foot 5 1/2 inch thin man is no easy task.

Sunday after church we relaxed at our apartment and headed to our 5:30 reservations at a Turkish restaurant, Bosphorous, in Winter Park. Matthew made the arrangements and the food was wonderful! That is where we found ourselves reminiscing on past Valentine's. Love is a wonderful thing and should be celebrated and recognized more than one designated day a year. Isn't it amazing that we have an unconditional love exemplified by the Heavenly Father that we can rely on? I take comfort in knowing that no matter what happens, His love abounds. It is God's love that is an example we can follow in our daily lives. Love is certainly worth celebrating. Praise Him for giving His love, and surrounding us with people to practice on ;)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Breezy Saturday

It's so nice to be able to have the windows open and feel a fresh breeze blow through. There's only a short time we can actually do this in Florida and I'm enjoying it immensely. It's a high of 65 today and sunny. I feel a bit guilty freely enjoying this weather when my parents have had wintry mixes, sleet, and snow off and on for the last week and Matthew's parents have a blizzard happening in Ohio... and no electricity. Guess I should do my best to send some warmth up their way!

Today I was on my way to the grocery store when I noticed that my herbs have sprouted in the pot outside our door. I planted them about two weeks ago - even though January is a bit early for planting. It's Florida... the cold won't last much longer. This year we're going to have cilantro (Matt's pick), garlic chives, and lavender (my pick). With my leftover seeds, I secretly tossed them onto the little landscaped island outside our building. The apartment landscapers never seem to care about that spot, so I thought having some extra herbs pop up would be a nice surprise ;) We'll see! One day, we hope to have a nice spot of land of our own where we can plant to our hearts' content... yes, one day.

I wish my husband was here to enjoy a relaxing, breezy Saturday as well. He's been at work since 7 this morning photographing youth sport teams. When he gets home he'll have just a small chance to rest before we head out to a get-together with our Sunday School class. We both are looking forward to this. It's Mexican themed and I am in the process of making Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie... the recipe looked easy enough so we'll see how it tastes later. I was a bit disappointed as I put the ingredients into the dish because the smell very much resembled breakfast cinnamon rolls and there's nothing really Mexican about cinnamon rolls. Oh well. The recipe got great reviews and I think it'll be yummy served with ice cream.

This past week was a bit rough for me. A very stressful event happened at school last week that carried over to this one. I was constantly reminded to trust God and everything will turn out fine. For me, this was difficult to do because I kept going over every possible scenario in my head that could take place and worried over how I'd prepare for it. After wrestling with this for about four days, I finally began to feel some peace and relax a little. One morning as I was getting out of the shower, this song came into my head and it was perfect:

"I will cast all my cares upon you.
I lay all of my burdens down at your feet
And anytime I don't know what to do
I will cast all my cares upon you."

With this comforting chorus, my prayers, and prayers of others, the incident came to a close this week with little drama. God is so good! I can look back now and see how He handled things and how silly my worrying was.

Matt & I started Crown Ministries this week. It's a faith based approach to dealing with finances the way God intended us to. We've been looking forward to doing this with the small group we meet with every two weeks. There's homework to accomplish, scriptures to memorize, and questions to get us thinking deeply about the direction our financial life should take. Call me a nerd, but when I saw the hard back books, nifty carrying case, and the challenge of homework, I was quite excited :) I'm curious to see what God will teach us over the next 10 weeks.

To finish this post, here is a picture of the latest sewing project - a request by my husband. He asked if I could make him a pouch for his graphics tablet so it's protected in his bag when he travels. We went to JoAnn's Fabrics last week and I smiled to myself as I watched him roam through the aisles of fabric obviously overwhelmed. He decided on simple stripes (yay for easy sewing!) with a soft liner. I hope to have this simple case finished this weekend. It's nice being able to use the sewing machine again and get in some MUCH needed practice. I think I'll go work on finishing it now before we leave.

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