Friday, December 23, 2011


that’s why it’s called “Killer Chocolate Cheesecake”

IMG_1801… see …

and this is the book I have a date with this afternoon.  along with copious amounts of bittersweet chocolate and cream cheese.  it’s going to be amazing.  again.

in an effort to expand my culinary repertoire, I usually try to find a new chocolatey creation to make for Christmas Eve dessert … but this year, even though presents were purchased and wrapped in a timely fashion, the busyness of parties, rehearsals at church, out of town family, etc … I haven’t had the time to find a new fantastic display of sugary delight.  thus, dessert this year will be a re-do. 

one.  because it was so raved about the year that it made it’s first appearance.
two. because I’ve made it a few times since, and has become relatively easy {and thus, won’t cause me the stress of wondering, “will this turn out?”}
and three.  because, hello, it’s called killer chocolate cheesecake. 
enough said.

for all those that don’t appreciate the deliciousnses that is “cheesecake”, you are missing out.

best of luck on the escapades in the kitchen this weekend! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ready to go.

I know I’ve already bragged about how on top of things I’ve been this Christmas … and well, I’m sort of about to do it again …

I have one last present that is due to arrive on my door step this evening (so says the UPS Tracking system) … and upon receiving that one last package, all gifts will be in my possession.  shortly after it’s arrival, it will be ooohhed and awwed over for a few, and then promptly wrapped up and tied with a bow (or brown twine to be specific).  it will then be placed under our humble little Christmas tree … at which point in time, I will sit back in relaxed satisfaction.

100% done.  finished.  ready for the fun to begin.

come friday evening, I will have my killer chocolate cheesecake baked to deliciousness and cinnamon rolls ready for baking come Christmas morning …

after that, my Christmas responsibilities will include: (in no particular order and most likely on repeat)

snuggling with my cute husband in our pajamas
eating lots of good food
watching my hubs play with his christmas presents
singing with the fam
laughing (in my very full and loud laugh, as it has been described)
sipping on pepperminty hot chocolate
napping by the fire
and so on …

man, I have been so on top of things (bragging again), I even got the package sent off to the southern of the two dakotas for the benson family … get this … BEFORE Christmas.  this should not be something to be proud of, but for some reason, I am really good at buying gifts but really bad at sending them.  therefore, the fact that their package is due to arrive approximately 2 days prior to Christmas, I am feeling very proud.  so proud, actually, that it just might make me better at sending gifts in the mail … on time.  what a concept.


aside from being totally on top of things (last time, I promise), we have also been able to celebrate the season with a party or two …

one was a bit of a formal occasion … I love an excuse to get all dolled up … and thankfully, so does my hubs (although I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t use that term to describe it)

when I casually asked erik what he was wearing to the party, I presumed he would respond with: my nice jeans, collared shirt, and that black sport coat (an ensemble that I actually adore on him)

but much to my surprise, he came down stairs in a tie, a vest, a pair of gray pants and square toed black shoes. {sidenote:  ladies, if you can find a man that enjoys dressing well, it makes getting dressed up that much more fun!  i.e.}

anyways, as usual, we didn’t get a pre-evening pic, when shirts were still tucked in, hair was still in tact, and makeup was still visible … but these will do!

IMG_1784ejdancemy favorite from the night

merry almost Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

sneak peak

as in the past 2 years of my “married woman/adulthood” status, i included in our Christmas card another poem:  {call me cheesy, but the rhyming just seems to come to me}

Merry Christmas!

As raindrops turn to frozen flakes,
Ice adorns the ponds and lakes,
Peppermint and cocoa warm,
As clouds embark on winter’s storm,

To a close comes the year,
A chapter ends as new is near,
With steady haste the pages turn,
With every line, in life we learn,

This year began, at the start,
A little pup stole our heart,
So home we brought the tiny guy,
He’s grown as every day goes by,

Lost have we a sock or two,
Clothes and trees he likes to chew,
Hyper describes him not enough,
Energy wrapped in short-haired fluff,

A few more pages passed us by,
Then celebrated 2 years high,
Loving blessed wedded bliss,
Thank the Lord for gifts like this,

Summer’s page came late this year,
Spring held on to each sweet tear,
But then the heat arrived in style,
And warmed us up a good long while,

Thirty years marked September,
The decade third, he’s a member,
The Mister’s moving up the hill,
His younger wife in twenties still,

As leaves depart the trees to fall,
Thanks we give as is our call,
Embracing future pages blank,
For hope and love we have to thank,

The chapter’s full of memories,
Pages filled with histories,
Laughter painted pages bright,
The chapter new is turning right,

So as your story turns it’s page,
And blank becomes the coming stage,
May love & laughter be your song,
And joy define your story long,

And in between each line and word,
May every carol be truly heard;
For the story told is more than trees,
More than snow and Christmas things,

More than decking halls around,
It’s angel’s harking heaven’s sound,
In the breathe of infant sweet,
Beside the King, we bear a seat.

my Christmas tips

Hello again.  The season has got to me!  It’s taken time {and my writing} away from me.  But, I am pleased to announce that I am 95% finished with my Christmas shopping {including the wrapping}, I have helped not only my parents with gifts for their friends, but am also in the process of running around the little town of Folsom {thank you Mr. Cash for putting this place on the map} to help my grandmother with her gift for my mom.  Whewww.  I’m worn out just thinking about it.  Ok, not really, because most of it is finished!  {Sorry for bragging, but I’m a little proud of my “on-top-of-things-while-working-a-full-time-job” status, right now.

In light of my Christmas-To-Do-List being almost completely marked with checks of completion {that’s pretty metaphorical, because I’m not really the kind of person to make lists and actually cross them off}, I thought I’d share a few of my money saving tips for this season. {Only because I am really exited about them!}

Christmas cards: 
Ordering Christmas cards from Shutterfly or My Publisher {or even Walmart} with all those cutesy pre-made templates {though fun}, can be expensive.  I’m talking $1-$2 PER-card-expensive.  My tip:  design your own {I used photoshop this year, but last year, I used the power duo: picasa and picnik}.  Save it as a picture and then simply order them as 5x7 pictures … for an even better price, do it through Costco.  I purchased 45-5x7’s for $18 {printed in one hour} … and I didn’t even have to twist any arms to get them to throw in the super nice silver-lined Christmas envelopes for free.  Yes.  I said FREE.


Wrapping paper: {this idea was stolen borrowed from another crafty thinker off of pinterest}
Paper bags.  Total cost: FREE {with the purchase of groceries of course}
Make cute labels out of scrapbook paper
Tie with twine: Walmart for only funf {or cinco, is you are more familiar with espanol than german} dollars. 
Saves moola on paper and bows.
I am extremely pleased. {I’m all about themes … I like it all looking the same.  Is that weird?}


Lastly, an uber girly gift idea: {also stolen borrowed from pinterest}
Lemon sugar scrub {contents already in my cupbards}: lemons, sugar {I used brown & white}, & olive oil
Glass jars: $1 each from Cost Plus {or World Market … whichever you prefer to call it}
More twine and a cute label designed on picnik.
Super cute … and it makes your hands {and even your lips} feel softer {and sweeter!}than you know what.


So, there you go.  I can be crafty … every once in a while! 

I hope your Christmas lists aren’t distracting you from enjoying the season and the gift that is Christ’s birth!

Friday, December 2, 2011

the hunt

last saturday morning, we greeted the sun as it rose to light, and we began our hunt while the mist still laid low to the ground.  we loaded up the gear necessary for the hunt, and we set out in the quiet.  we sifted our way through the brush and the branches dampened with dew.  we stayed low to the ground as we whispered under our breathes.  the sight of our breath, thick and heavy, reminded us of the cold; while adrenaline and excitement permeated our bones.  the hunt lasted a short while, as we quickly embraced the beauty revealed in what soon became our very own …

Christmas Tree.

aaaaand cut …

just kidding.  sort of.

this is what we did last week, but maybe with a little less drama {though exciting, was it not?}

so, yes, last weekend, we embarked upon the hunt that basically symbolizes the beginning of the Christmas season.  while the Benson household began listening to the music that defines the first 25 days of december {go ahead, laugh at me.  but, I like it too much to only let it grace my speakers for only 25 days out of all 365 in the year … and erik likes it too, so I’m not the only one to blame}; Christmas seems to become official once Thanksgiving has passed and the tree has been hunted.


… as you can see, my brother shares in my enthusiasm for Christmas …

and let me just say, apple hill proves to the best {my biased humble opinion, mind you} location for the hunt.  check out that view {I realize this photo fails to actually show the view, but just imagine the the sierras behind those tree tops}. 
it’s not too shabby. 


erik had an affection for the charlie brown Christmas trees.  I’m not sure if he felt bad for their lack of attention or whatnot, but this was the first of many that he suggested.


don’t we look like rugged hunters?  I thought so. 


the final product. 

I hope you are enjoying your Christmas season as much as I am!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


We are officially within 24 hours of the Day of Thanks … that is the day that commemorates the thanks given for the harvest, safe travels to the Americas, and so on, by the Pilgrims in Plymouth.  Call me a nerd, but I still love the story!  Remember the days of making Indian {excuse me, Native American} vests out of paper bags and Pilgrim hats out of construction paper, in school?  Well, in my days as a munchkin, we still did those DIY history projects.  I have no idea if they still teach the actual history of Thanksgiving in schools now a days, but if they don’t, shame on them. 

The many {repeat: many} things for which I am thankful are not limited to this thursday … and in all hoensty, they shouldn’t be. 

1 Chronicles 16:34
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
      For His mercy endures forever.

{just in case you needed reminding, we were called to give thanks before an official holiday designating the need for thanks was ever instated}

Last Thanksgiving, we spent a week with the Bensons:



which resulted in the BEST stuffing I have ever had {sorry mom}.  and a wonderful time with dear family … even if my California blood nearly froze!  it was incredible!

prior to my first South Dakota Thanksgiving, my family had always {literally, ALWAYS} spent the holiday with my mom’s parents.  we grew up with traditions upon traditions that will always be cherished.  everything from the same movies, to the same cornflake potato casserole, to the same stories.  the cousins, the day after Christmas tree hunting, the apple café, and so on.  wonderful traditions that will always define my thanksgiving memories.

but this year, we are embarking on yet another new adventure.  that is, the Mexican thanksgiving.  in the 3o-some years my parents have been married, my dad has not spent one major holiday with his sweet family.  not because he didn’t want to … but simply because he abides by a tradition that he claims is “the Mexican way” {all major holidays are spent with the wife’s family … a tradition that my sister broke upon her first married Thanksgiving.  and sorry dad, but I broke it too …}  given the importance my sister and I have found in spending the holidays with the families that raised the loves of our lives, we decided it was well time we spent a holiday with my dad’s family.  so this year, the kids made the decision.  and we are bringing my parent’s along for the ride.  it’s LONG over due! 

so in a few short hours, we will be buckling our seat belts for a drive to see my dad’s parents.  we cannot wait!  it will be a short trip, but a blessed one, no less!

so here’s to growing up and making new traditions! 

there are a million things for which I am thankful … from the smallest of joys to the abundant gifts of provision, I am so blessed.

but every Thanksgiving, for the rest of my life, will be a reminder of one of the greatest gifts I have received …

Thanksgiving day, 2006, was the first day my eyes met those of Mr. Erik Benson.  The cute contractor I had heard so much about for the nearly 3 years prior.

it’s been 5 years since we met, and my heart hasn’t stopped racing …

Julie & Erik Wedding_164

may your Thanksgiving be truly blessed, with the remembrance of God’s grace and provision, regardless of the difficulties we face in this earthly life … may you be surrounded by His love!

{P.S. in re-reading this post, I realize it is a bit scattered; reminding me why I haven’t written much recently … call it writer’s block, or whatnot.  But it certainly doesn’t flow}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

all the single ladies …

this past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time with a woman that I won’t hesitate to call, one of my faves.  her coordinates on the map are exactly too many miles south of my location {the city of angels, to be specific}; but I’m lucky enough to get a call when she temporarily relocates to the northern region I like to call home.

as is usually a part of our conversation, we talked for a while about single-hood, a state of life in which she is currently situated.  not necessarily to her liking, but she is there nonetheless.

our conversation about the over abundance of fabulous women caught in the world of single-hood got me thinking.  why are there so many women moving their way through life without a suitor?  even my husband doesn’t get it.

are guys dumb?  blind?  insane? why aren’t these fabulous women getting snatched up by a great, well-rounded, God-loving, adventurous gentleman?  are there any more out there?

we often try to analyze the situation at hand, by diagnosing the problem that seems to breed amongst young adults on the west coast {I specify the west coast, because that’s all I know … and my mid-western husband claims these problems are not so common in the center of the states, where chivalry still exists}; the problem of “non-dating dating”.  {yes, I gave it my own name}.  people date in groups.  they meet in groups.  they get to know each other in groups.  and they date in groups.  {not that alone-time is a requirement for dating at all.  courting is still a thriving option, and a smart one at that – if you ask me}.

however, when all is done in “groups”, one nearly discards the responsibility of pursuit.  initiating an introduction … and subsequent conversations thereafter.  why is that?  why has the good old fashioned “boy meets girl, boy pursues girl, boy falls in love with said-totally-fabulous-girl, and they live happily ever after” story seem so rare?  it’s more like, “boy and girl meet in a crowd and then see each other occasionally when the crowd gets together until someone says ‘hey, you should like him/her’ and then they mutually decide that they like each other enough to try it out”.

I was pursued.  for 5 months, we were just friends.  friends that hung out all the time, but still; just friends.  no hand holding, no cuddling; nothing.  he kept calling and he kept coming around.  until I knew him.  until I knew who he was as a man, as a friend, and as a companion.  through 5 months of pursuing me through friendship, he showed me that my heart was safe in his hands.  and then, he asked me to be his girlfriend.  after he asked my dad, of course.

call me old fashioned.  it’s how I think it should be.

the only consolation I could give my dear friend, amidst my lack of understanding of her current state of life {although I know what it’s like to be single … I may have played hard-to-get, but I was the only girl of all my friends to never {repeat: NEVER} get invited to a fraternity formal – or any other boy-asks-girl-type event – the entire duration of my college career.  I may have pretended I didn’t care.  and I really may not have cared … most of the time}, was that this is an incredible opportunity for you to grow in Christ and into the kind of wife you want to become.  it’s cliché, I know.  but a cliché only becomes a cliché because it’s rooted in truth.  right?

the deeper your heart is in the word, the greater you will know Christ.  by knowing Christ, you will learn more about yourself … who you are, who you want to be through Him, and how to get there.  use the advantage you have of time.  time to learn about the kind of wife God wants you to be for your husband.  time to rid yourself of those habits/reactions/not-so-uplifting-traits that seem “ok” while on your own, but might hurt your future roomie down the road.  because he’s going to be more than a roomie.  it’s more than a never ending sleep over.  it’s marriage.  the biggest and most serious commitment you will ever make in your life.  it’s never too early to start preparing yourself.  your husband will thank you for it. 

it may seem far off and not in the plans for you.  but you don’t know that yet.  so don’t be afraid of ending up alone or worried that you aren’t going to fall in love … because you are too rad to waste time worrying.

use your time to prepare yourself.  don’t you hope God is doing the same work in him; for you? 

my friend asked me what I wish I had “worked” on or learned about myself before getting married.  my answer: my fear of looking foolish.  when someone critiques something I did/am doing {or insert a million other possible situations here}, I get defensive.  I make excuses.  I justify every action.  it’s not becoming.  it’s not good.  {hence my reading and re-reading of psalms}  my reaction usually ends up hurting my husband.  the man that continually reminds me “I’m on your side.  always.”  I hate that I need that reminding.

had I been reading and fervently preparing myself for wife-hood earlier in life, with my future husband in mind, maybe I’d be at least a few steps closer to being the kind of wife God has called me to be.  {and missing all those fraternity formals wouldn’t have been such a {secret} bummer.}

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

and he can sing ...

those who knew him before his "california" days {he's entered into his 8th year as a californian now ... i so have him beat with 6 whole generations of californian flowing through these veins, but that's besides the point}, well, they knew he could sing.  they probably saw him leading a choir or standing beside the vocal chords of both his dad and his brother {i have pictures to prove that those Benson Boys can sing with the best of them ... and i realize pictures don't really prove vocal ability like audio documentation would, but that's all i have, so bear with me}.  but upon erik's crossing of the californian border, he just about put his singing days on hold.  why you ask?  you've got me!

he would talk about his days of singing, but would lower the decibels of his voice just enough, the second he noticed my ears perked up to hear him {after i belted, quite loudly mind you, a few bars of the song leaking through the speakers}.  even when he started learning how to play the guitar, just after we got married, he would sing so softly, one wouldn't even know the strumming of the guitar was being accompanied by words.  i called him out a time or two ... and wouldn't you know, the wife has some weight.  slowly, as he became more confident with the instrument at hand, the volume increased.  soon enough, he would belt out a few bars to frank sinatra in the car ... just enough to make me swoon.  that man has got a voice.

but his musical goal wasn't just to sing.  it was to learn the guitar and to lead others in worship.  he's been strumming the guitar regularly for over 2 years now ... and i've grown joyfully accustomed to hearing his music throughout the house daily.  but the next step, to improvement, to confidence, to the goal ... was to play in front of people {the wife does not qualify as "people" in this situation"}.  he was encouraged by good friends and fellow worship leaders and by the nudging of his biased loving wife.

finally, he said ok.  he took a step.  a leap, rather.  knowing only a few songs in their entirety and never having played with others, he said he would strum in front of our small group.  it's intimate and comfortable.  a perfect setting for the first-timer.  {the fact that the usual worship leader said he wouldn't come if erik didn't play might have helped nudge him into playing ... just maybe}.  the room was dimmed and the acoustic sound of the solo guitar was beautiful.  he sang and he played, and he inspired the group.  everyone sang so strong and intently that erik's nervousness was almost undetected.  there is no doubt, the Lord was in that room.  the inspiring factor in all of this, was that he felt called to do something ... to take a step out of his comfort zone {which if you know erik, you know that there aren't many zones in which he is uncomfortable}.  multiple people thanked him for his willingness to bless them with his step of faith.  they were challenged to the point of sharing how they were feeling called to step our of their comfy cozy zones of life.  and they said they would do it.  i can't wait to hear how the Lord moves in their lives this week!

one of his favorites to play right now is this piece by Tim Hughes: At Your Name

At Your name, mountains shake and crumble
At Your name, the oceans roll and tumble
At Your name, angels will bow
The earth will rejoice, Your people cry out

Lord of all the earth we'll shout Your name, shout Your name
Filling up the skies with endless praise, endless praise
YAHWEH, YAHWEH, We love to shout Your name, O Lord
[ Lyrics from: ]
At Your name, the morning breaks in glory
At Your name, creation sings Your story
At Your name, angels will bow
The earth will rejoice, Your people cry out

Lord of all the earth we'll shout Your name, shout Your name
Filling up the skies with endless praise, endless praise
YAHWEH! YAHWEH! We love to shout Your name, O Lord

We love to shout Your name, O Lord

At Your name, angels will bow
The earth will rejoice, Your people cry out

Forever I will love You
Always I will love You
Forever I will love You
You have won my heart

I will sing for You

Friday, October 7, 2011

and they ate Mexican food

last weekend, Erik and I had the distinct pleasure of hosting the lovely Esh family at our oh, so humble abode.  promptly after the South Dakotans flew into Sacramento International Airport {SMF} late Friday evening, the laughter commenced.  it then continued until approximately 12:00 noon on Monday, when they returned to good ol’ SMF; at which point in time, they flew away from us {most likely to their relief, but to our dismay}

Now, in this instance, my usage of the word “laughter” is not simply an expression of happiness; although that was the expression that consumed most of our time together.  But more so, I am using the term to reflect the overall enjoyment experienced upon our time with the Esh’s.  For instance, the unexpected quips of sarcasm, the ever-present wit {mostly displayed by the two persons from the Benson/Yeadon line}, the memories remembered, the stories divulged, and the passions shared.  It was refreshing; and it was lovely.

watching the likes of their very own miniature running around was a blast.  I mean, I’m pretty sure you could substitute “little adventurer” for “Shalom” any day and she’d come a’ runnin.  can you say “love”?  I’ll say it for you “l-o-v-e”; as in, “I love that little red-head i get to call a niece!”

and then there was the mexican food.  I know there are a few taquerias in the southern of the two dakota’s, but I couldn’t help myself.  I probably tired them out of refried beans, cheese, and tortillas for the next month.  {sidenote: much to my husband’s dismay enjoyment, I could/would NEVER tire of the three essential ingredients to all things mexican}  and I can’t help that it’s my go-to entertainment food.  it’s just that good {and yes, my husband even suggested it, so they can’t blame me entirely}.  I gladly welcomed the Esh’s to california with not only breakfast burritos, but homemade carnitas {en los tacos}, and huevos rancheros {ranch style eggs}.  all topped with, beans, pico de gallo {sans cilantro – I forgot to grab the greens from the store}; sour cream, queso, salsa, tapatio, and so on.  it didn’t take long before they noticed that most of the mexican food I make is simply the same ingredients in a different form.  oh, but so good.

we even stuffed them full of apples.  {not in any form of mexican food, mind you}  but apples a la Apple Hill.  the place of my fall-loving youth.  and I think they liked it!  we saw apple orchards, embraced the pony ride {for sweet Shalom of course}, and indulged in the goodness of all foods containing apple as the primary ingredient.   between the 4 1/2 of us {Shalom may only be 1.5 yrs old, but her appetite could easily be considered that of at least half an adult … at least}; we consumed in one sitting: 2 pieces of classic apple pie, 1 piece of sour cream apple pie, 1 apple struedel, 1 apple cinnamon sundae, 1 caramel apple, and approximately half a gallon of apple cider.  that’s not including the apple pie we purchased for the next night’s dessert.  we’re beginning to channel johnny appleseed; aren’t we?  well, I’m not afraid to speak for the rest of the group when I say, it was all very, very good.

and since this post is already bordering short novel status, I’ll sum the rest of the weekend up with a few pics: {and reinforcement of the fact that we loved spending some quality time with Esh’s before they move to Africa.  our conversation was certainly blessed and filled with the Lord’s presence.  needless to say, it was truly wonderful}


Apple Pie Deliciousness


I knew I would be so mad at myself if I didn’t get a picture of the brother and sister together … and since I forgot to do it at one of the pretty places we visited together, starbucks served as our backdrop.

IMG_7678 copy

Surprisingly, Porter was calm, all weekend.  I think Shalom has some sort of magical tough.  He was even afraid of her at first … which I consider a good thing.

IMG_7672 copyIMG_7660 copyIMG_7693 copyIMG_7689 copyIMG_7686 copyIMG_7702 copy

I’m very impressed that a one and a half year old can swing by herself.  is that surprising to anyone else; or is it just me? 

IMG_7705IMG_7707 copyIMG_7710

thank you for coming all the way to california to visit us!  our time together was truly special and we are so grateful for the memories that we created!  we will continually be praying for your ministries in africa and can’t wait to hear how the Lord uses you to share His Gospel. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

because I like the sunset

Last week, we had dinner up at the parental’s house, aka the-best-place-to-watch-the-sunset in the grand ol’ county of el dorado.  bias you say/think?  no.  it’s been confirmed.  by none other than me {and a few others who have had the privilege of standing on top of the world valley a la the cliff claimed by the paredes casa.} 

anyways, it was just so stunning.  I can’t tell you how many pictures I have of the sunset from the same spot, at the same angle, at the same point in the sun’s descent.  some with clouds, some without.  some pink, some blue, some orange, some yellow, and some filled with rain {super cool by the way – and yes, I realize that is not a color, hence breaking the rule of parallelism – oops}.  well, this sunset was just like the others.  beautiful.  so what did I do ….. again?

I popped out the ol’ iphone to snap a few {more} shots, of course.   my mom sharing in my enthusiasm for the sunset {and reading the thoughts that I didn’t yet know were in my mind} asked if I wanted her to take a pic of the hubs and me. “well of course … that would be lovely”

per the norm, we performed the “we are a couple and we love each other pose” as seen here:


at which point in time, erik laughed and said, “so is this picture going to look like every other picture we take?”

to which I said something along the very thin lines of: “what would you rather do?” {can’t you tell that’s what I’m saying?}


promptly, the photographer requested something more dramatic, to which erik came up with this:


striking is it not?  it is.  thank you sun for being at the right spot at the right time to make those cool little color dots in your flare.  and thank you erik for looking a bit like a vampire … although a happy one at that!

this picture makes me laugh so much … I love it!  it’s beautiful, it’s playful, it’s romantic, and it’s hysterical.  much like the marriage to which we vowed. {swoon with me, please?}

and because I know you really wanted a detailed play-by-play of what it takes to get a picture out of the Benson’s, I will leave you with an actual picture of the sunset:


breathe-taking.  california may be a little bit crazy, but man, do we have nice sunsets.

p.s. props to the iphone.  you did not let me down.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the power of the stache

I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that men under the age of 30 40 have an unexplainable infatuation with the mustache.  no matter how much my mind attempts to understand their fascination with said facial décor, it is stalled by the distraction that is the mustache and remains only an attempt {with no mark of completion}.

I was under the impression that the mustache had almost ceased to exist come the turn of the century.  it was a thing of the 90’s {and previous decades dating back to who-knows-when} … at least for men under the age of 50 … and for Tom Selleck.  now, don’t get me wrong, I have never had a problem, per se, with the mustache.  in fact, when I was little, I grew so accustomed to the dark, fringed lip of my father, that when he shaved it off, I thought my mom was in bed with another man.  needless to say, the day my dad shaved off his mustache was a bit traumatizing for the confused little girl that I was.  who was that strange, smooth-faced man?  I knew him not.  obviously, those feelings of doubt left the moment I realized, it was, in fact, still the same man. {thank the Lord}

but now, in the year two-thousand-eleven, soon-to-be-twelve, the mustache still exists.  talk about staying power.  I mean, how many decades have women tried to convince men that their upper lip does not need concealing; that it does not make it look bigger or smaller, or whatever the desired affect is … how many?  I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’m guessing it’s a lot.

yet, for this younger generation that is proudly donning the upper lip fur, it seems to simply be a statement piece.  again, I have no idea what that statement might be, but it’s a statement nonetheless.  is it the “I don’t dress for women” statement?  or the “I can pull this off because I say I can” statement?  again, who knows?  only the mustache wearer himself.

the obsession has even hit the even-younger-generation … and by that, I mean, jr. high.  yup.  it’s hit the ages of boys that have yet the ability to grow facial hair.  Last week, the jr. high youth group at church celebrated “mustache thursday”.  wow.  and how?

now, I am the first to admit, I like a little scruff on Erik.  the 2nd day shave is my personal fav.  and I don’t complain when it grows beyond the 2nd day, because, well, I think he’s cute regardless.  but the other day, I came home to something new.  I came home to this chops/stache/combo-thing:


{and yes, that is his, “don’t make me laugh so I can look tough in this picture” face}

interesting, hu??  I just laughed and documented it for 30 years from now.  and all that to say {about the mustache}, he shaved it off the next day.  not the whole thing, just the upper lip; leaving chops resembling Wolverine from x-men.  my giggling persisted a few days later until he shaved the rest.  I kind of felt bad when he shaved it off, because he seemed to like it so much. 

I’m just considering the mustache {and facial hair altogether} as one of those things that women will never fully understand about men … until we meet the Lord.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guess What??

Guess whose face I get to see in less than 2 weeks!!!!


That’s right … my sweet niece, Shalom!  Although I have a good feeling she is much bigger than she was the last time I saw her …

I can’t wait to squish those little cheeks!

I’m not going to lie … I’m pretty excited to see her dad and mom too!  Before they fly away to minister in Africa! 

Friday, September 16, 2011


I am birthday twinsies with this particular gentleman:


Yup.  That’s the prince.  of Wales.  And by birthday twins, I don’t mean that we just share the same month and day on the calendar as the anniversary of our birthday.  We are 100 percent birthday twins. 

September 15, 1984

My mom always tells me that {since she was the only preggo lady in the hospital at the time of my intended arrival} she remembers seeing it on the news: Princess Diana was in labor with son numero dos.

To make being twinsies with a prince even more exciting worse, when my mom got this good housekeeping mag in the mail: (yes I googled it, because I knew I would remember the exact issue that seemed to stay in her magazine basket for years to come)


… She told me she could imagine herself sipping tea with the Princess as their children played in the courtyard.  I’m not sure why, but I thought that the fact that we were the only 2 children {in all of the world – bear with me, that’s how my mind worked at the time} born on September 15, 1984, we were destined to be married.  Again, bear with me ... I’m not entirely sure why the correlation of birthdates and marital compatibility makes sense in a little girls head, but apparently, it does.  Now, I am fully aware that she was joking at the time, but for a brief period in my youth, I actually thought I was going to marry him.  I’m pretty sure I was the age he was in the magazine pic when those thoughts of being a princess filled my young little mind … but alas, I was going to be a princess one day.

Well, as you can see, I didn’t marry Prince Harry … and I can’t say I’m disappointed in the least.  I have a prince of my own … and we are birthday month twinsies {which totally counts in my book as a positive and appropriate birthday/marital compatibility correlation}

Monday, September 12, 2011

remember the gravy …

remember this post from the beginning of the year?  I do.  and I must confess, I haven’t been nearly as faithful in writing in our “gravy” journal as I had planned.  like most new year’s resolutions, things start to drop off the list of “I’m determined to do this {insert object of determination here}” right around the 3rd or 4th month in.  it’s sad.  pathetic, really. 

but, all is not lost.  not yet.

given our lack of actually using a pen to document that little gift for which we are thankful {yesterday, it was a kiss.  and a cup of coffee}, our effort is now made real by the fact that the journal in which we are jotting our gravy has become an accessory to our daily bag of “these are the things we carry around with us all the time”.  it’s a little added weight in my purse.  it will become like an appendage.  with us, all the time, to the point of annoyance.  at which point, we remember that the cause of  my over-filled bag is a reminder that the fact that my bag is over-filled is gravy.  did that make sense?

I didn’t think so.

anyways.  this post, from Jess Anderson reminded me even more about the importance of being thankful for everything.  every day.  even the little tiny, seemingly not so important things, but but in reality, they are important.

so thank you for sharing Jess.  I am reminded once again, of the ways in which I am richly blessed.  I don’t want to waste precious seconds dwelling on the unexciting parts of life.  I am determined to be thankful for the gravy.  every last drop of it. {although the drops never stop …}


one of my 12 favorite months.  ha.  just kidding.  my list of favorited months is smaller than the list of months in general, however I do believe each month has something extra special about it.  whether it be a character of the weather pertaining to that particular month or an occasion within it, they are all special in one way or another.

but september.  there is something about september.  it just sounds different than the others.  maybe it’s because it’s the first of the “em/obers” to occupy the kitchen calendar.  I’m not sure.  it’s just different.

the coming of september signals the coming of fall.  even when the weather fails to turn crisp and cool at the moment the clock turns onto september 21st {the first day of fall}, it seems to bring that excitement for what is to come.  pumpkin flavored treats begin to grace the menus at cafes and local eateries.  stores start to display the newest scarves and hats and mittens and sweaters … the kind that make you wish for a rainy day and a cup of tea. 

september is also the month of so many birthdays … and I love any excuse to have a celebration.  my husband’s to name just one.  mine, to name two.  my cousins, to name three.  {yes, we were birthed from sisters just 3 days apart from each other.  we were pretty much twins growing up. it’s true.}

anyways, I promise not to wish away this wonderful month with anticipation for the fall.  the summer in the west coast state came a little late this year, so it might stay a little past it’s time, but I guess I can live with it a little longer.  after all, the preparations for fall aren’t determined {necessarily} by the weather.  we can still display pumpkins even in the warmth of late september.  it may not be ideal, but it’s time will end … and fall will makes it’s appearance. 

so thank you september for being the starting point.  thank you for providing the change of the tide.  I will enjoy your warm summer days with the hopes of a cool breeze at the setting of the sun. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

bragging rights

here is yet another post dedicated solely to bragging about non other than, my husband.  why, you ask?  because I can

I claim my bragging rights as his wife.  it’s not only my privilege, but also my duty.

it’s not my fault he gives me so many reasons to brag.

so forgive me if my bragging gets dull, boring, or over-the-top.  it’s just gonna happen every now and again.

today’s reason in particular for my bragging:


this could very well be a picture of my husband, sans the earring.  and maybe adding a few extra inches via some spikey hair.

the reason for his resemblance to this well-known friend of the household cleaning supply, is that upon my arrival at our little abode last night, I was greeted not only with a very sweet hug and kiss {at the door of my car no less}, but also with the smell of “clean”.  {I realize that “clean” is more of a descriptive word – i.e. adjective, but in this case, it’s very much a noun.} 

the sink was free of food caked dishes, the carpet newly vacuumed, the bathrooms sparkly clean, and onions already chopped for dinner.  in fact, he cleaned so much, that I continued to notice more “clean” things throughout the evening.

impressive.  spectacular.  I mean, I’d love him a million times a million even if he didn’t clean the house, but you know, it’s a wonderful surprise!

his work has been a little slower than usual these past few weeks, but he has certainly not slowed down.  i.e. my clean house.

ok, I’m done bragging now.

as always: until next time …

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

porter = klepto

remember this face?

IMG_0676          IMG_0703

well, it’s not so little any more … nor so innocent.  at just 9 months old, this little pup has turned into a thief.  yes, like most pups, he is a bit of a chewer {although not as bad as he could be}.  he is also a whiner {he just can’t help being separated from his bff’s by a thin glass door}.

but more ridiculous than most puppy behavior are his kleptomaniac tendencies.  his primary weakness?  our bedding.  for a pup that’s not allowed on furniture {especially our bed}, he has found a way to bring the comforts of said furniture to himself.  

here is how he works:

he begins his night nestled on his mat, lovingly placed on the ground by erik’s side of the bed.  he starts early, by stretching his long body along the side of the bed, so as to appear still obediently situated on his mat; while in reality, he is inching his way toward his target.

approximately 2 minutes after the lights go out and voices have quieted, he makes his move.  he quietly turns the corner at the foot of the bed and begins to feel for the excess comforter.  {given that our summer months are marked by high digits, the comforter seems to make its way towards to foot of the bed more often than not.}

he grabs {even lacking opposable thumbs, he still “grabs”} the edge of the comforter, lays down, then rolls, pulling the comforter off of the bed and around his dog haired self. 

most of the time, we sleep so hard, we don’t even notice what has been stolen out from under  over us.  until we get cold.  at which point in time, I sit up, feel for just a corner of the comforter and pull.  now, keep in mind that I am not a very strong individual while I am awake.  much less after my rem cycle has been interrupted by the onset of goosebumps.  I am no match for the dog who used my comforter as the tortilla to his burrito.  more often than not, my failed attempts to reclaim the comforter result in erik waking up and giving it one good pull … enough the hear the dog roll out from said burrito.

don’t believe me? 


IMG_0985IMG_0987IMG_1013IMG_1014IMG_1198IMG_1212 IMG_1189

*note: most pictures taken on different mornings.

we are seriously lacking …

in pictures of “us” … as in the two of us, together.  not sure why.  but 2011 has been a bad year for the “let’s take a picture together!” breaks in our adventures.  {we went camping with no one but ourselves – and the pup – for an entire weekend, and we left without a shot of us together.  now that’s lame.}  we have lots of pictures from this year … tons actually.  many of food {I like to document it when it’s yummy and pretty}.  lot’s of Erik {that’s what happens when you are the picture taker}.  most of our dog {mainly when he was still a pup.  but for some reason, I seem to wake up and see the mess he made at the foot of our bed with our comforter, and find it odd enough to document by taking a picture.  I have too many pictures of the same occurrence.  I’ll prove it to you later}

so, in an attempt to take more pictures of “us”, here are two from Erik’s 30th birthday celebration weekend:



both taken from phones, so quality is also lacking, but hey, at least we got a few pictures!

I’m taking notes from Davey & Jess who are exceptionally good at “self-timer specials”.  now I just have to convince the husband that taking the time to set up the camera and to take enough pictures to ensure that at least one of the snapshots is photo book worthy, is a task I am ready to take on.