Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tree Swing

There are always free things to do. You just have to go find them!
Like this tree swing for example. Our dating budget seems to be getting smaller and smaller lately so when we were trying to find a fun free activity, this swing stood out. 
Free AND fun! theory anyways. Hubby was not so fond of being up high, or being cold, or the fact that it was tied to a tree branch that could break at any second.....
Can you tell who Mr. Safe in my family?
I think his face portrays his feelings about the whole thing. 
 And so he quickly got off. 
I had a marvelous time on the other hand! I love swings! In fact, I used to get kicked off the swings in elementary school because I was "too reckless". Yeah that's right. I'm a reckless swinger.
Mr. Safe and I don't exactly see eye to eye on these types of matters. He won't let his feet go any higher than he can jump while I go on roller coasters that go upside down. I walk across a rusty pipe lying over a stream to get to school while he adds three blocks to his walk in order to avoid it. We are different to say the least. And that's why I appreciate this date so much. Because I know it wasn't his favorite.
But that's what marriage is all about right? Making compromises and making each other happy. And I must say that my Hubby does a great job. Especially since I told him that his original plans for a date stunk and I wanted to swing instead. 
If you are looking for a free date, try swinging together. It's great for all seasons and all ages. Find a tree swing, playground swing, tire swing, whatever you have and go for it!

Happy Dating!

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Romance Spotlight: Ashton

Hello everyone and welcome to my weekly ROMANCE SPOTLIGHT! My blogging buddy and neighbor Ashton from Something Swanky is here to share the story of how she met and married her hubby. She's pretty much hilarious. Make sure to stop by her blog for some fantastic desserts on your way out!
Take it away Ashton!

Hello, hello!
My name is Ashton and I blog over at Something Swanky Desserts and Designs.

I've been blogging about desserts for over a year, and I started designing blogs just two months ago!
I love doing both, because I'm obsessed with all things blogging-- so imagine how happy I was to discover that my next door neighbor was a blogger too!
Yeah. Mackenzie and I are next door neighbors :) It's awesome.
And we've both got cutie-pa-tuties that are about the same age.
Which is just even more awesome.
As much as I love Mackenzie and Friday Night Date Night, 
I must admit that I was not overwhelmed with excitement when asked if I wanted to guest post.

Don't get me wrong-- it's an absolute honor to appear on FNDN!!
It's just.... all this mushy-gushy love stuff.
It's not me. I don't do that.


which is what makes this post so painful for me to write---
my husband and I have the cheesiest, mushiest, gushiest love story of them all.

It's gross.

But here I am anyway, and you're looking for a love story.
So we might as well get this over with... yuck.

You should really know-- this is gonna be lengthy. Lots of little details here.
I wish I could pare it down a little, but most of them are kind of important to the storyline.
You've been warned.

I met my now-husband, Chris, in January 2004. He was serving a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I'm going to give a little background information for those of you who aren't LDS (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
In our church, young men ages 19-25 spend two years teaching the gospel to people. 
They can be asked to serve anywhere in the world-- and they don't generally get to pick.

Once there, they are asked to completely dedicate themselves to the gospel and spreading our message.
This means-- they don't communicate with the folks back home except through snail mail and emails once a week, they don't watch TV, they don't participate in social activities (outside of church functions), and they certainly don't date!

And this is what makes our story so unusual. 
You don't meet your wife on your mission.
(most of the time ;)

Ok, back to the story.
From the moment I laid eyes on Chris, I had a heavens-opening-angels-singing-pit-in-my-stomach kind of crush on him.
Oh my gosh. He was so ca-UTE! 

But missionaries are off limits. 
(And besides that-- he didn't reciprocate. Apparently he had a girlfriend. Technicality.)

And despite my gigantic crush, and my 17-year-old-boy-crazy mind--
I kept it all to myself and nothing happened.
Well.. almost nothing.

There were brief conversations in the hallway, frequent smiles, and the occasional (gasp) eye contact across a crowded room at church.

Silly stuff, really. But enough to fuel my somewhat-successfully hidden crush.
(not that it takes much when you're 17)

Then came our last Sunday together in my hometown.
He was being transferred to a new town, and I was moving to Provo, UT for college.
He asked to take a picture with me (which is customary for missionaries to do when leaving an area-- to take a picture with people they've especially connected with).
(this is the picture-- Chris is in the middle. 
Uh... we grabbed that other kid to make the picture a little less awkward-- 
and instead made it the most awkward picture ever)

And then,
"I'm going to need your email address to send you this picture," he said.

And that's how it happened. We exchanged email addresses, and soon enough we began writing actual letters to each other every week.
The next 18 months passed pretty quickly.

We continued to live our lives 2,000 miles apart, each doing very different things during that time.

Chris was proselyting day in and day out (and at some point, letters from the afore mentioned girlfriend stopped coming), while I was living the life of a single gal out at college!
(this was my childhood home-- I thought it was pretty cool that he got a picture here!)

As the weeks passed, the letters continued to come.
Sometimes we even recorded cassette tapes for each other to listen too.
That felt more like we were having a conversation. And I loved hearing his voice.

We only ever talked about silly, mundane, day-to-day things. 
Nothing romantic, nothing that screamed you are my soulmate.
Sometimes I sent him silly packages and cards. This one was my favorite:

And, impossible as it may seem, we learned a lot about each other. 
I learned how he handled daily frustrations, how he liked to spend his time, who was important to him, why he decided to serve a mission, and what he was looking for in life after his mission.

We never said I love you-- we never even said I like you more than normal!
But that's what I read in every sentence he wrote, and it didn't take long for me to fall completely in love through these letters and cassette tapes.

A pivotal point for us came in December 2004. 

I was in a serious car accident with two of my brothers. It was pretty ugly.

And I remember distinctly, as my brothers and I lay on the side of the road, waiting for the ambulance to come, thinking, "I wish Chris was here." I knew he would be a comfort to me at such a difficult time. I emailed him as soon as I could to let him know about the accident and that were were all going to be ok.
(me with some of my siblings, Christmas 2004, just a couple of days before the accident happened)

I don't even remember what he wrote back. I'm sure it was kind and comforting. What really stuck with me was that I had thought of him at all in such a chaotic moment. When he should have been the last thing on my mind-- he was the first. And that's when I knew. And I think that's the experience that really made it stick for him too.
He came home a year after that accident.

His family lived in California, so he made a special 3-day trip to Utah to see me.
By the end of those three days, we had established ourselves as dating each other exclusively, said "I love you," and planned on getting married by the end of the year.

Oh- and we got my first kiss out of the way.
Chris is the only guy I've ever kissed.
--which was totally not my plan (just if you were wondering), but that's how it worked out, and it's kind of special that way :)
(after our first date)

Chris moved to the east coast for a job offer, and I stayed in Utah for the rest of the semester.

In March I flew out to NC, where he was living, and got engaged.

I'm going to gloss over that bit of the story, if you don't mind.
None of you need to hear how I completely botched his proposal by impatiently demanding the ring once I knew he had it that story.
 (the day after we got engaged)
(our-- framed, sorry-- engagement photo)

We were married that summer (7 months after he got home from his mission), and it will be 6 years for us in July. We have a beautiful and active daughter-- she's fantastic!
(ugh- excuse the just-had-a-baby swollen face)

We're very happily married and love our little family to bits.

And I'm so glad this post is over. Whew!

Thanks so much for reading to the end!

And thanks to Mackenzie for hosting me on her wonderful blog!
Life is all about love and family, and that's what this blog is all about.

Thanks Mackenzie for putting that out in the blog world!
And when you're done reading all the ooey-gooey love stories and date ideas over here, swing by Something Swanky for dessert.

And I'll tell you all about my other great love-- chocolate :)

Thanks so much Ashton -loved it! Did I mention that she designed my blog and I get most of my blogging tips and inspiration from her blog? She's pretty much The Blogging Queen/Wonder Woman/Best Neighbor get it.

See you next Tuesday for another ROMANCE SPOTLIGHT!
Happy Dating!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beach Date

I don't know about you, but I am getting pretty tired of this whole 'cold' thing.  C'mon spring!

To help get in the spring mood, I thought I would share a date that Hubby and I had a couple years ago. 

We went to Hilton Head, SC for spring break!

Spending time on the beach is probably one of the best free dates out there. There are of course, tons of fun (and pricy) activities to do if you have the cash, but just being on the beach is enough for me. 

Enjoy sunrises, sunsets, and everything in between. It doesn't even have to be the ocean. Lakes often have great beaches too. 

We had another fun date at Virginia Beach last year that you can check out HERE

So go ahead, take a date to the beach! And enjoy wind, waves, and beautiful scenery all for FREE!

Happy Dating!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Love Notes in the Snow

We finally got some snow! And it's great for making love notes for my Hubby.

I had some dying roses from Valentines Day so I used the petals to make my heart with our initials a little more romantic. 

You can make all sorts of fun things for each other in the snow! And it's all 100% free! 
  • Hearts with initials
  • Love notes on the windshield
  • Snowmen holding love notes
  • Snow Angels
  • Simply write a love note 

You get the idea. Add some petals if you have them, but they are fine without too. 

Do you have any snow? Write a sweet little reminder to your Hubby of how much you love him!

Happy Dating!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Romance Spotlight: Elizabeth

Hello everyone! Welcome to weekly ROMANCE SPOTLIGHT! My good friend Elizabeth is here with us how she met and married her husband. I hope you take a moment to read their cute story and stop by her blog I Got Plenty of Nothing to say hi!

Take it away Elizabeth!

Tyler Laurent moved to my school district when I was in 5th grade. He was in sixth. I remember thinking he looked so silly. I distinctly remember thinking his hair looked like a skunk, it was bleached on top and dark brown on the sides. Plus, he had one earring. He looked so 90s. He had moved from a "suburb" school and my school was out in the country, so there were not a ton of kids with hair like that AND an earring. However, that was about all I knew about him. He was in a different grade so we did not see much of each other. He was in one of my Mom's plays a little while later, but I still did not pay him much attention besides making fun of him with my sister because of the way he said one of his lines. It was pretty funny, but that is not important to the story. In middle school, I remember  a friend of mine really liked him and even though he liked someone else he asked her to the 8th grade promotion to be nice. I thought  back then that he must be quite gentlemanly to do such a nice thing.

During my freshman year of high school, I began to take notice of him. He had grown a lot (he had before been quite small), gained quite a bit of muscle, was a great soccer player, started wearing contacts instead of glasses, and was shaping up to be the best looking guy in my very small high school. There was also not a nicer guy out there, which is way more attractive then simply being good looking. I started to play soccer as well my sophomore year and became friends with a lot of his friends. I started to sometimes hang around him and I was falling for him. He had another girlfriend at the time and she was quite attractive and went to another school, so I thought he would never even look at me. But, as luck would have it their relationship ended just a few months before my 16th birthday. 

I wanted a surprise party for my 16th birthday.  My sister and mom planned all of it and Jessica was nice enough to invite Tyler since she knew I liked him. The party did take me by surprise (amazingly since I asked for one) My mom took me to this pizza place and  all my friends and Tyler Laurent were there. We had pizza, and I am ashamed to say I spent most of my time with him. I hope my friends forgave me. After pizza, we all went to the dollar theatre to see Ocean's 12. I hardly remember the movie. I did purposely follow Tyler in so I might happen to be able to sit next to him (I was only 16....) and as luck would have it we ended up sitting next to each other. My heart was racing. My hand was down at my side and whether he meant to or not, Tyler set his hand on mine. You can imagine what I felt. I was sure he could hear my heart beating. He then held my hand somewhat awkwardly (in the position our hands were already in) and then deliberately changed positions into a more comfortable hand holding position, which signified that he meant to hold my hand!!! I could hardly breathe, my heart was beating so fast, and I could not believe that Tyler Laurent was holding my hand on my 16th birthday.

After this, we dated, went to prom he graduated, went to college, and then joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I graduated and went to college and after my freshman year, after dating for three eventful years, we were married in the Portland Oregon Temple on June 21st, 2008. It was the best choice I ever made and I am so glad my sister invited him to my 16th birthday party.

Thanks so much Elizabeth! Loved it!

See you next Tuesday for another ROMANCE SPOTLIGHT!

Happy Dating!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Baking Together

When Hubby was sick with appendicitis, there were so many people who helped us out. To say thank you, we made cookies for them and decided to make a date night out of it. 

Instead of getting a babysitter, we let Sweet B go to town on the dishes. She was happy to play in the water by herself which gave us more one-on-one baking time. 

Baking is a great last minute date. If plans don't work out, you can always find fun dates to have at home. Cooking and baking together is one of them and really gives you an opportunity to work together to create something. 

Try it! Instead of spending money on a night out, spend the night in and make something delicious together!

Happy Dating!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

FREE Valentines Day

I don't know about you, but gigantic fluffy teddy bears, elaborate floral arrangements, and expensive singing Valentines Day cards do not exactly fit into our humble students budget. 

That's why Hubby and I got creative this year. 

When he woke up yesterday morning, I gave him a "heart attack"!

You get the idea? He's being attacked by hearts! Get it?
A little cheesy I know, but that's why I love it. The more hearts the better of course. Free too! You can use construction paper or whatever you have around the house. Newspaper, brown paper bags, old receipts....anything!

Lately I have been seeing mason jar crafts smothering pinterest. I love them! They are so frugal and cute all at the same time. Unfortunately, I don't have mason jars. But I do have tons of baby food jars! So I decided to make some mason jar inspired candle holders. 

Simple as can be. They look great by themselves or with festive ribbon. Again, I just used what we had around the house. I happened to have some red ribbon left over from Christmas that looked great. (My nails even got a little festive!)

If you can't buy your Valentine a gift, take a picture and pretend you did! It's the thought that counts right?
Like this teddy bear that Hubby "gave to me".

And lastly, there are TONS of e-cards out there. Find one you like and send it to your Valentine for $0.00. 

Moral of the story? You can still have a romantic Valentines Day without spending a dime!

Happy Dating!

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