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Breaking Bread

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Breaking Bread

The dream I had for our back deck/porch/yard has always been to gather together with our family and friends and talk about God's word and our lives, laugh, break bread together, and play games! We have been working on our backyard for over a year now. Here we painted our deck (which sadly did NOT hold up in the Colorado weather elements). Here we laid sod, which sadly ended up frying towards the end of the summer (#renoprobz). We also decided to renovate our kitchen starting in May and much to my dismay our deck became the outdoor storage unit for our appliances and our contractor's tools and supplies. We had a dishwasher and stove among other renovation debris and tools on our deck for about 8 weeks. FINALLY, when our kitchen was nearing completion we were able to finish decorating our back deck and get some use out of it before the winter rolls in. I was afraid I would miss the precious summer time but as I am always reminded, God is faithful and I still had plenty of time to enjoy the backyard.

The day after our contractor finished up with the kitchen, I texted a group of girlfriends to see if they wanted to join me for an evening on the deck complete with yummy food and wine! I got a resounding "I am in!". During this party, my sweet friend (and also current ROOMIE! - more on that later) mentioned that she wanted me to teach her all my hosting ways for when she gets married soon. I had another friend comment to me about how it is hard to know how to host. This got me thinking. I love to host and it comes somewhat naturally to me but it isn't that hard and really everyone can do it! We all grew up with our parents showing us different skills and gifts. My mom, as well as, my dad and step-mom are all amazing hosts. My entire life, I have watched as they have thrown party after party and gathering after gathering. It is easily one of my favorite memories of growing up. Somewhere along the way, I picked up my own hosting style. A few tips I have learned through experience can go a long way for throwing an affordable gathering with a specific theme or style.

I am going to share with you how you can put together a girls evening at your house for less than $50 and not stress out in the process! I want to encourage you to invite others in to share in the hosting and use all the fun stuff you already have in your home that was a wedding present or a special purchase that we just don't use enough!

First - pick the night of the week that works for you invite girls over. I know that about 8 girls fit perfectly on my back deck. For me, I work a 9/80 schedule which means I have every other Friday off so I usually pick a Friday evening that I am already off to host my gathering! This automatically makes it less stressful for me.

Next, decide on the menu for the evening. I usually make the main meal and at least one side or appetizer. I will text the girls letting them know what I need help with. Do not hesitate to tell your girls specifically what to bring or just give them suggestions. Most of my friends love direction when it comes to contributing to one of these gatherings!  Sometimes I am as specific to say that I want someone to bring a cheese and cracker platter and sometimes I say "a side that goes with chicken". This allows people to make something they like but also lets them know what would be helpful! I love my girls, everyone is usually fighting over who gets to bring what and we always end up with SO MUCH FOOD! I love it.

My go to recipe for the meat is crock pot pork. I literally make this so much. It is affordable, easy, and Whole 30 approved!

I shop at my local Sprouts and pick up a 3.5-5.0 lbs of pork loin or pork shoulder (whichever they have that's on sale). I usually spend about $5-9 on the pork! That's it!!

The morning of the party, I put the pork in the crock pot. Then I add about two spoonfuls of garlic that is already chopped in the jar. Add some fresh oregano or other herbs from the garden (pick what you love but some suggestions are: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, & Basil). Then I add some salt and pepper to taste and put about 1/2 cup of water (or wine if you prefer. P.S. cooking with wine is not Whole 30 approved.) for the juice. That is IT! Just put on low for 8 hours and it is completely ready for your evening! Crockpot recipes make it really easy when you get home from work. You can just focus on prepping the table or the space you are going to hang out in.

For this party, I also made some basmati rice with garlic and some cilantro. I then just rummaged through my pantry and fridge and threw in a bowl of fresh cherries, some pistachios, and a bowl of green olives. All things I already had that were going to go bad if they weren't eaten soon!

When I am the hostess, I usually provide a few bottles of wine for the evening. Nothing fancy, I literally go to Trader Joe's and get 3 buck Chuck or maybe one "special wine" that is $4. I know big spender. To cutesy things up - I just poor the red wine in a decanter (a wedding gift) and put cute wine stoppers in the white and pink wines! I let the girls know they can feel free to bring their beverage of choice, so again there is no stress! I always provide some lemon and rosemary infused water in a cute pitcher (another wedding present).

To make the dinner special and set the ambiance for the evening, I usually pick up one of the $3.99 bouquets at Trader Joe's the week of the party. I keep a stock pile of my wedding decor for various church events and events at my home, so I will usually pull out a few lanterns and candles to set the table. Here is where it gets really fun... You know all that china, fancy cups, platters, and other STUFF you got for your wedding? Yeah, get all that stuff out! It is time to use it. I have been using Ben's grandmother's beautiful blue glasses, my grandmother's weeping willow dishes, and all the platters, pitchers, etc. that I have for these parties! It is so fun. At first all the girls were like, "wow! Where is all this from?" and I was able to tell them that it was basically all gifts and hand me downs and it was time to just use all the fancy stuff! This makes them feel very special and just makes the evening so much fun! You totally don't have to do this but for me, it is just really special to actually get to use all my serving ware. Finally, I pulled out the real napkins that my mom gifted me for Easter. Yep, that's right, real napkins. Don't be scared of the clean up, just throw them in the washer at the end of the night! These are from Target and are really cute!

If you can't tell already, I LOVE blue. Everything matches because, well, I buy everything in shades of blue and grey. Haha

This time together with friends was so sweet. I cherish these nights. I love encouraging the other women that they too can throw a dinner, that isn't overly expensive, isn't over the top but fosters an environment where others feel special and cherished! As you can see above, we had everything from pork to pizza rolls, to a cheese and fruit tray, to fresh cherries & veggies. We didn't have fancy Hors d'oeuvres. These nights are about being present in the moment. As a hostess, you can't lose sight of the point of the evening and you need to enjoy the friends you have over. Once I get the table set, I usually just sit down and focus on being present, I don't run around the whole time or let myself get stressed out. I just know that I don't have to control everything and it doesn't have to be perfect. I usually have at least one friend who brings their dog over to play with Trigger. We listen to country music or our favorite worship songs, sit under the market cafe lights, enjoy the amazing weather that Denver offers in the summer, and talk about life, marriage, our jobs, our ministries, and what we are learning about who Christ is. One of my favorite parts is towards the middle of the evening I usually prompt the girls to share what they are learning in God's word, what this season of life is teaching them, or how they are being stretched. I am always so encouraged during this time. I am beyond thankful for a community of women that are on mission in this city and are loving others with their time, their words, and their hearts. 

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We had such a wonderful time that I planned another evening just two weeks later. We changed up the menu but again it turned out to be such a precious time with these girls. As I swept the leaves on our deck last week, I was reminded of the changing season and I am so thankful I had these special evenings under the stars with my precious friends!

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Trigger and Abe were totally infatuated with all the food droppings they got! They were not happy to be temporarily locked inside.

Happy gathering -

 

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Throwing a Bridal Shower

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Throwing a Bridal Shower

One of my favorite things to do is throw a shower for someone who is anticipating entering the blessed covenant of marriage or someone who is preparing for a little one to arrive! I love to celebrate! Big or small, silly or serious, it doesn't matter - I will be there!

I have thrown many showers in the last few years with different themes, a wide range of guest list sizes, in various locations, and I have learned so so much. I spent countless hours googling etiquette and advice when I was planning these events.

In addition - My husband and I recently got married in December of 2014 and we were beyond blessed to have 7 showers thrown for us! Everything from traditional midday luncheons to a couple's shower to a winery work happy hour to a football themed co-ed shower to a bridesmaids' luncheon. It was one of the most very special parts of this season of life and I loved every minute of it. I loved it because it was all my favorite people from so many different phases and aspects of life all in the same place hanging out, laughing, and telling stories. That kind of fellowship is rare and it is valuable. 

I wanted to share some of my advice and areas not to miss! It can be overwhelming at first. You may have just been asked to be a bridesmaid or a maid of honor and you have no idea where to start. You want to throw a really special party to celebrate your friend but what does that look like?  

Date, Time of the Day, & Type of Shower: After you inform the bride that you would love to throw a shower in her honor and she accepts - one of the first things you need to set is the date for the event and time of day. It is such a fun yet busy season for the bride and many weekends will be filled with dress shopping, venue visiting, flower picking, and so much more. It is really important that you are patient and accommodating to the bride's schedule. I usually get my iPhone out and look at my calendar then together we usually go down the list of weekends in the time frame of about 6-12 weeks before the big day. Once the day is set - I will ask what type of shower they would like me to throw. I usually suggest the following ideas: a traditional luncheon shower, a couple's shower, and afternoon or evening shower. Each of these showers has a different vibe and I want to throw a celebration for the bride in a way that will bless her. This is a season of life that is dreamed about for so so long and every bride has different ideas and dreams. Sometimes my friend wants a traditional shower that they can invite their grandma and mom's friends to and sometimes my friend just wants a girls afternoon with wine & fun games. Whatever their heart's desire is - I want to help make that happen!

{co}Hostessing: When I offer to host a shower for a bride, I usually discuss who I planned on asking to help co-host and ask the bride for her approval. In addition, I ask if there is anyone else that should be included. I have hosted before and my best friend's mother wanted to co-host, as well as, a few of her long time friends. I am so thankful that I asked in advance about this so that I could include these other women who wanted to shower her during this season. Be mindful of the other relationships that are important to the bride and be flexible with having many or even few hostesses.

Setting the Budget: Once I have the list of other hostesses - I will have a discussion with them about the budget and what everyone would like to spend. This is one of those not so fun but so critical pieces of the puzzle. You don't want to set an expectation for someone to spend more than they are able or willing. In an attempt to avoid a dispute during this process - it is a good idea to set a budgetary amount and have the group agree. This will also be important as you decide the menu, beverages, decorations, venue, invitations, and other aspects of the shower.

Menu: Once you have decided on the type of shower you will throw - you can begin to discuss with the bride about the menu. I usually ask if there is anything specific they would like at their shower. {We all have had a Pinterest board that we have been secretly pinning pins onto for years.} I want to make sure that if there is something really specific they would like to have that I know about that! In addition - I ask about any dietary restrictions just to make sure I am considerate of this. I usually don't tell the bride the whole menu and I don't always get approval for everything that we are going to do - because after all you want there to be some fun surprises! Here are some menu ideas for various types of showers:

  • Traditional Shower - Brunch: egg + sausage frittata, yogurt parfait bar, coffee cake, spinach & mushroom quiche cups, breakfast casserole
  • Traditional Shower - Lunch: finger tea sandwiches (pimento cheese, cucumber, cream cheese), chips + fun dip (artichoke, corn dip, etc.), pinwheels, cheese + fruit platter, fresh veggie platter, pasta salad
  • Couple's Shower: pulled bbq sandwiches, cheese + meat tray, chips + queso, potato salad, sliders

Beverages: I usually serve a sherbet punch at all bridal showers. Sometimes this gets missed but it I try to always make it because it is always a hit! I will share this recipe soon. I always ask the bride about alcohol vs. no alcohol. This is very important to be respectful of the bride's wishes. Family is so important and alcohol should not be a source of contention. If you do decide to serve alcohol - I always go with something light. 

  • Traditional Shower - Brunch or Lunch: mimosa bar, sangria, white wine
  • Couple's Shower: white wine and/or sangria and beer {for the boys}
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Dessert: There are so many options with desserts. Again - I usually start with the bride and try to see if they specifically prefer a cake or cupcakes or if we have creative freedom. I think the most important part of the dessert decision is making sure it goes with the theme, time of day, and is displayed in a cute way. Below are some of the various desserts I have made, been served at my showers, or served at a shower that I helped co-host. My suggestion is to hope on over to Pinterest and pick something fun to make!

 
 

Decorations: Decorations - where to start with this one. There are so many different options you can go with.

  • Banner: I make my banners with canvas or fun paper but I recently noticed that Hobby Lobby has banner kits that are already pre-cut and really cute! I am going to be using those going forward. I sketch out my bubble letters on my stock of fun and cute neutral paper. I just keep a bunch of this in my craft box. This is a really cute thing to hang up that is really inexpensive. I usually write 'From Ms to Mrs' for 'The Future Mrs. {Last Name}'.
  • Pictures of the Couple: Email the bride and ask for a few of her favorite engagement pictures or pictures of the two of them to be printed and displayed at the shower. If you buy frames - you can also gift these pictures to the bride & groom. I usually go to TJ Maxx and pick one of the cute white, grey, blue-ish grey, etc. frames that are about $5.99 to $9.99. Love me some TJ Maxx.
  • Guest Book {creative}: It is always a good idea to have something fun for the guests to sign or write a little note to the bride and groom. Get creative (aka use Pinterest)! I have done so many different things. We threw one set of friends a game night engagement party (kind of like a shower) and we got a Jenga and had people write all over it so that when they play games in the future they can see all the sweet notes from family & friends! We also used this at their shower and they had it out at their wedding.
  • Fresh flowers: Fresh flowers are a must for me at all showers. I think they are an inexpensive way to spruce up the party! I usually go to the $3.99 section at Trader Joes or grab a bundle from Costco. They both have a great selection.
  • Party Straws, napkins, & plates: I keep a stock of fun straws (I know I sound like a hoarder - I promise I am not!) so I usually display some in the color that matches the party. 
  • Carafes, pitchers, etc: I received all of these for my wedding, so I just pull what we need out for the shower. This is an easy way to cutesy up your shower and be more elegant in your presentation!
  • Serving Ware: Again - I use whatever I already have in my kitchen. If it is cute, then just go for it.
  • Cake plates, cupcake holders, etc.: This is a really easy way to make the presentation of your dessert even more appealing. I have a few of these and just pull out what we need. These are things you can collect over time. It is not a necessity.

I usually lean towards something simple and leveraging what I already have. No reason to spend a ton of money. Luckily most of my friends like rustic decorations and thankfully that is all I have! Again - start with Pinterest. Pick a few (2-3) things that you want to have as decorations. Stick with those. Don't go too overboard. Sometimes I even assign one of these out to a co-host to make. Remember - its all in the details. Anything sweet and customized for the bride and groom is going to be very special. Just think about the bride and what she loves.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Guest List: This is always a touchy etiquette subject! Most books (with all their authority - by the way who gave them this authority?!) state that you should only invite those who are invited to the wedding. I have a few different views on this subject. My biggest piece of advice is talk to the bride! When in doubt - talk to the bride. Make sure you are keeping the bride's wishes and desires in mind during the entire planning stage.

  • Traditional Shower: This is when I usually talk to the bride and confirm that it will in fact be traditional and the only individuals that will be invited will be those who are invited to the wedding itself.
  • Work Shower: Most likely you are not inviting everyone you work with to your wedding but your co-workers may still want to throw you a shower. This is one of those times it is completely acceptable to invite everyone you work with to this work function. It is understood that it is just a time to celebrate your co-worker and there is not an expectation you are invited to the wedding.
  • Destination Wedding: I usually discuss with the bride and also advise that it is okay to invite special people in their life that they are not inviting to the actual event. In this situation - I encourage that we state a gift is not mandatory or expected but you would just like them to come and celebrate with you. Most people love to celebrate special times with people even if they are not invited to the big event!
  • Nontraditional Showers: Nowadays you can really set whatever etiquette you want for a nontraditional shower. For example - my parents live in Georgia and there was no way I could invite all of their friends to the big day in Texas. So they threw my husband and I a co-ed shower that was more along the lines of a party and invited all their friends to come over and hang out. No expectation - just bring themselves and celebrate with us. This was really fun and so many people came. Not everyone brought gifts and that was more than okay with us! We just wanted to spend time with them.

Invitations: Depending on the type of shower, the characteristics of the group attending, and your bride's prefrences - you will have to decide on the type of invitation to send. Evite vs. conventional paper invitation. My best friend, is like me, and we love cutesy and fancy things to pretend like we are much more formal than we really are! We like paper invitations. However - most of my friends do not. Our generation is essentially paperless and prefers everything online. For these friends - I make an evite using evite.com. My only opinion is do not use Facebook as a way to invite people to a party. It feels less special and less important. Take the extra time to get guest's emails or addresses and do it right. Remember if you are going to send invitations via the mail that you need to send the invites at least 4-6 weeks in advance. 

Tip: I design all my invitations myself using PowerPoint. I have purchased several packages of cutesy clip art from Etsy through the years and have downloaded tons of free fonts via here or here. Save yourself some money right here! Pick some cool Pinterest ideas and mimic them yourself. It is not that hard, I promise. I purchase all of my paper and envelopes through Paper Source. They are amazing! I will do a full post soon on my tips and tricks for designing your own party and wedding invitations. This is a serious money saver and just requires some extra time. I don't know about you but I have more time than money.

Favors: To do favors or not to do favors. This has been an area of discussion in the last few years. I currently air on the side of no favors. Unless there is just a really great idea that coordinates with the theme, the brides preferences, etc. then I say just skip favors and use the money for something else! 

I pray that you will have a fun and joyous time planning a bridal shower for a special friend. If you have been through this season before - be slow to speak and quick to listen. Remember this is her season. You have had yours and it was amazing. Don't pressure her to have a shower just like yours. Don't force your plans or ideas for this event. If you are in a season of singleness or unmarried - remind yourself that you will one day have a season just like this! Yours will be special. Remind your heart to be joyful for your friend even when your heart hurts because you desire marriage. Be patient - the Lord know's your heart's desires. 

Showerin' you with love -

Chelsea
 

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DIY Series: Painting Our House

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DIY Series: Painting Our House

As I begin to write this post, I am overwhelmed just thinking of where to start with the planning process and the actual doing process. I just want to disclaim that without our neighbors, there is just no way that Ben and I would have been able to do this anytime soon. They literally taught us everything we needed to know and on top of that actually acquired all of the paint. One of the neighbors works for a well known paint store so he knows the drill.

We started by painting 7 different colors on the side of the house to see what color we liked best. My biggest tip for this is 1) Do NOT skip out on this step! Colors look so different on the surface you are going to be painting and you can really get an idea of what it is going to look like. 2) I created a numbering system so that we could easily match the color on the house to the paint can. This was extremely helpful. I labeled the paint tins 1-7 then put little pieces of painter's tape with the corresponding number above each color as we painted.

Here are all the colors we were looking at. We have a craftsman bungalow - so we ended up choosing 5 colors total. I will get into more detail on that later.

Here are all the colors we were looking at. We have a craftsman bungalow - so we ended up choosing 5 colors total. I will get into more detail on that later.

We decided to go with the dark color on the right for the body of the house. We liked the color on the left for the window trim but decided to mix a slightly lighter color for contrast.

We decided to go with the dark color on the right for the body of the house. We liked the color on the left for the window trim but decided to mix a slightly lighter color for contrast.

As I mentioned earlier - we used approximately 5 colors on the actual house - I may be missing one? haha 

  • Base color of the house: Dark Grey
  • Window Trim & Ledges: Light Grey
  • Window Detail: Red
  • Beams: Dark Brown 
  • Ceiling on the Porch: White (with a silver tint)
  • Oh and our deck is blue... now I just need to pick an accent color for the front and back door! Ideas anyone?

Supplies (This is probably not a full list because you always need something else but it is pretty comprehensive):

  • 15-25 paint brushes of varying sizes (We had so many different colors we really used all of these and will probably purchase a few more before we are finished. Also you can always take back the unused brushes.)
  • Rollers + Roller Brushes (We uses 9 inch rollers)
  • Paint tin + inserts for the same size rollers you purchase (The inserts are great for easy cleanup)
  • Several mixing sticks
  • Hammer & screw for opening and closing paint
  • 2-5 5 gallon paint buckets with lids (We used these for cleaning brushes, mixing colors, & spraying the side of the house.)
  • Brown paper (You can find this in the paint section.)
  • Exterior painter's tape (this is much stronger than the indoor paint)
  • Plastic for windows
  • Towels for cleaning up messes (I have a pack of 20 or so from Home Depot for about $7)
  • Power Drill + drill bits (This is to take off storm windows, mail boxes, and anything else that you may encounter.)
  • Brick & Mortar Sealer

We decided to make the main day of painting a party! Ben and I made breakfast burritos and had mimosas ready for our neighbors and our sweet friends, the Baldocks! We somehow convinced Cole & Anna to come and help us for about 8 hours worth of painting an attempting to mount a TV (we will get into that another day! - its not quite funny yet.) We are beyond thankful for their friendship and community.

Ben really loves sausage and onions

Ben really loves sausage and onions

Brunchin'

Brunchin'

 
From Right to Left: Cole, Anna, Me, & Ben (also pictured - Anthony in the background!)

From Right to Left: Cole, Anna, Me, & Ben (also pictured - Anthony in the background!)

 
Our neighbor Rob - rented a sprayer and painted the front of the house in about 1 hour.

Our neighbor Rob - rented a sprayer and painted the front of the house in about 1 hour.

In Progress and a complete mess... but it is our mess!

In Progress and a complete mess... but it is our mess!

 
Ben painting the side of the house!

Ben painting the side of the house!

 

Prep Work: As you can see there is some white paint on the brick. This was where the previous paint had started to bubble. We scraped the paint off then painted a brick and mortar sealer over it prior to painting. In addition, we laid brown paper along the side of the house so that we could spray right up to the edge. We also painted the windows with plastic & used outdoor painter's tape to ensure that no paint got through to the actual window pane. Prep work is important! It is definitely not my favorite, I am so impatient but it is so critical. Also - we painted everything the dark grey and just went over any other details afterwards with the correct colors on the actual window detail.

Before - The day we put a bid on our home.

Before - The day we put a bid on our home.

After/Still In Progress - We still have some more window detail to work on but it is coming along and we are beyond thrilled to see this transformation!

After/Still In Progress - We still have some more window detail to work on but it is coming along and we are beyond thrilled to see this transformation!

Before - You may recognize this photo from the  D  IY Series: Painting the Deck  post!

Before - You may recognize this photo from the DIY Series: Painting the Deck post!

After

After

To be completely honest - we still have several windows that need to be finished with the detail painting and we are working on those in our free time! We committed to each other that the house projects would not completely take over spending quality time with our families & friends. So we take breaks and circle back to it when we are able. The Craftsman style  has a lot of detail on the windows that we are free handing. There is damaged wood and so many other little nuances that slow us down! But for now - there is no more green on our house! Hallelejuah.

  • Number of neighbors who have come over to say they are glad they no longer have to look at the "hideous green": 6+
  • Number of people who honk and throw us the thumbs up as we are painting: 1
  • Number of happy people leaving in a grey house: 4 + 1 puppy

Livin' in the grey zone -

Chelsea
 

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Progressive Dinner

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Progressive Dinner

This past Saturday we had a Progressive Dinner with our GC! If you are not familiar with Progressive Dinners, a Progressive Dinner is a travelling party where different courses of a meal are eaten at different people's houses. Progressive Dinners strike me as a southern thing. Only because I grew up in Texas and this is where I learned about them. However - you don't have to be southern to have an excuse to embark on a Progressive Dinner!

Theme: Farm to Table 

Our theme was loosely interrupted and as you can imagine can include and encompass so many different types of food!

House #1

At House #1 in our Progressive Dinner journey, we enjoyed fresh fruits, veggies, a veggie pizza, and sherbet punch! It was the perfect fresh appetizer entree to start off our Progressive Dinner. We also shared some embarrassing moments and formative stories... but I can't share those!

 
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House #2

At House #2 we had Margarita flavored cream-sicles, steak fajitas, and played telestrations! 

Telestrations is telephone + pictionary and is so funny!

How to Play: Each person has a stack of cards or paper with enough cards for each person in the game. For example, we had 13 people playing, so each person had 13 pieces of paper in a stack. The first round you write a "saying" on your piece of paper. We designated one minute per round and someone just put a timer on their phone that would beep every minute. After the first minute, you pass the stack of paper to your right with your saying on the top. The person looks at your saying, puts that piece of paper on the bottom, and then tries to draw it.  Then you pass the paper with the drawing to your right, they put the drawing on the bottom, and then try to guess the saying. You keep alternating between drawing and guessing the saying and go around the entire circle. At the very end you should end up with your stack of paper. We then read the train of though from beginning to end out loud and it was HILARIOUS! To give you an idea what happens... my saying was "don't get your panties in a wad" and I ended up getting a card that said "sacrificing a baby porcupine". We were literally crying laughing! I recommend this game to everyone! So easy and fun and you can really play anywhere with little supplies.

 
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House #3

At House #3 and our final stop, we ate Carrot Cake (with carrots from their garden) and Zucchini Bread (with zucchinis from their garden) for dessert! I am so jealous of their garden and their green thumbs! Also they "raise honey bees" (yes that is the proper phrase! I have been saying "growing bees" for a while now so I am just proud that I got the right wording now!) Jack was really interested in getting suited up to see the honey bees up close and personal. This was a very thrilling event but we did have one sting that resulted in a bee casualty! Sam has so much knowledge about honey bees, gardening, and DIYs.... He explained that bees feed off of pheromones and lavender spray actually calms bees down and masks some of their pheromones. (Tip for all of you who fear bees as I do) Thankfully he sprayed the bees before the bee stinging incident so we didn't get a swarm of 15,000-20,000 bees coming at us! We determined that the sting rate is very, very low. Considering Sam inspects the bee hive fairly often and is up close and personal with the bees, he has only gotten stung twice this year. Plus our sting case this Saturday. That means that you have approximately a .015% (based off 15,000 bees) to .02% (based off of 20,000 bees) chance of getting stung! Those are odds I like. I may even be starting to like bees a little bit more.. I mean maybe?! Don't get your hopes up too high!

We also played Salad Bowl & King of Tokyo. Salad Bowl is another fun game you can play anywhere with little supplies! I must credit my in-laws for introducing this game to me.

How to Play: Each person writes down 3-5 words on little pieces of paper within a certain theme or category. Our category was animals. 

Round 1: Catch Phrase

Round 2: Charades

Round 3: One word

During each round, each team gets one minute to try and get their team to guess as many correct answers as possible. You alternate teams within each round until all of the cards have been answered then it starts a new round! The idea is that you tend to remember the bank of words for each round as it gets more difficult. We split up boys vs. girls and the girls definitely won... by one point haha!

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Zucchini Bread
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Bee Injury
 

Progressive dinners are a fun way to spend time in fellowship and go to one another's homes without pressure to host a party for an entire evening! You don't need a reason to have a party and celebration, you just need a few good friends {or new acquaintances!}, snacks, & some fun games! My favorite part of this entire day was just sitting back and seeing everyone laughing so hard they were crying and spending intentional time talking to each other. I want to go back and re-live it all over again. We loved it so much that we have decided to have a part 2 to the Progressive Dinner adventure and go to some other homes!

Catch ya later!

Chelsea
 

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Mount Quandary

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Mount Quandary

This summer, I am excited to say Ben & I successfully hiked our first 14-er!! A true Coloradoan right of passage! We took our gospel community group up to the cabin for a retreat in July & 5 of us decided to take on Mount Quandary near Breckenridge, CO. 

Our crew consisted of Ben [my husband], Jack, Anna, Christi, & myself. We woke up on time [which is a big feat for this group, let me tell ya!], made coffee, ate breakfast, finished packing our packs, & were out the door only 5 minutes behind schedule! That is a win if you ask me. Our goal was to leave the cabin by 4:40 AM. We expected the drive to take us about 15-20 minutes. We had some slight GPS problems, aka we would rather follow Google Maps than take the signs that read "Mount Quandary Trailhead" at face value.

We made it to the trailhead at about 5:40 AM and began our trek. To give you some background on our experience level, Jack hiked Mount Quandary sometime in the last decade and told us that 1) If we were to get lost we had bigger fish to fry and 2) it was the "easiest" 14-er in Colorado [Anytime someone uses the words "easy" and 14-er in the same sentence is crazy!]. Anna hiked another 14-er like 4 years ago before she moved to Denver & also claimed it was pretty easy. Ben, Christi, & myself had NO previous 14-er experience. whatsoever. To sum it up - this is no group of professional hikers! 

The first quarter mile or so is quite steep. We got to a stopping point and I am like what? I thought this was "easy"!! I had noo idea what lay ahead of us. Our first 1.5 hours or so consisted of hiking in the treeline, taking layers on and off, taking pictures of the sunrise, laughing, talking, & eating snacks. 

Quandary - Sunrise
Quandary - Sunrise 2
Quandary - Group
Quandary - Girls
Quandary - Ben Morning
Quandary - Anna Morning
 
Quandary - Ben + Sun
 

We hit the top of the treeline and everything changed. We went from dirt & soft ground in the trees to all ROCKS. Loose rocks. Boulders. Everyone talked less & stopped more to catch our breathe. We eventually reached a certain point where the girls broke away from the boys and forged on. We were convinced we had some good momentum going and wanted to keep that up. Above the treeline there are several mountain goats that roam.  This provided some welcome distraction!

 
Quandary - Goats
 

So one thing to know about Mount Quandary is that there is mini peak that seems like it is the summit, but its not. My heart dropped when we realized that there was a whole other mountain to climb to reach the summit! See picture below. I was like "You want me to climb that? The snow capped mountain? You must have lost your mind!"

 
Quandary - Summit
 

This is where Anna and I decided that we were going to keep our own paces so that we wouldn't lose steam and give up. At some point on this last 2.5 miles, I started asking every single person coming down the mountain how much further I had. I had a variety of responses {One person would tell me I needed to stop focusing on how much further, its not that hard, & I should pick up the pace #rude and had one person encourage me and tell me exactly what the last part of the climb would be like and that I could do it!} but mostly encouraging responses. There were a few people on the climb that I would like to point out:

  • A kid, yes an 8-10 year old kid, passed me on the way up and then was coming down the mountain right as I was about to summit. Yeah - that will make you feel really good.
  • One guy was rogging (run-jogging) up the mountain..with no shoes on..yep that is right just barefooted.
  • There was a guy maybe in his mid 40s (the positive encourager I previously mentioned) who summit-ed in 2.5 hours - which is 30 minute miles! That is really hard to do. He seemed not even phased by the physical exertion!

Somehow, someway Anna, Ben, & I all made it to the summit of Mount Quandary! We were ecstatic. As we all trickled in, we could not stop talking about how hard it was & just completely in awe of the views & our accomplishment. It took me 4 hours to summit.

Quandary Summit - Chelsea
Quandary Summit - Anna
Quandary Summit - Ben
Quandary Summit - Anna + Chels
 
Quandary Summit - View
 
 
Ben + Chels at Summit
 
  • God's Plan to Cross Paths: We are at the summit when someone yells "Chelsea Garner!" Anyone who calls me by my maiden name, probably knew me from Texas or Georgia so I know its someone that I am not expecting at all! I yell "Who is that?!" and come to find out it is one of my community group girls from Watermark in Fort Worth, Texas!! There were four of us who were in community together for a year. During this time span we all got engaged & married. This was such a sweet, sweet season and I am forever grateful for these girls and how God orchestrated putting us altogether in a time where we really needed each other. I am still shocked that I saw Emily at the top of Mount Quandary!
 
 

On the way down you would think that it would be easier but it brings on a whole other set of difficulties. Your toes jam up against your shoes over and over again & your knees really start to hurt. Stay tuned for a future post about our 14-er tips! We wrote these down in our cabin log book and I think they are great tips to share! 

Quandary - View on the way down
Quandary - Clouds

There is something about being in nature and truly taking in God's beautiful creation that is almost indescribable. I never knew I would be one of those people that felt so close to God while surrounded with trees, blue skies, high elevation, & so many rocks! But there is just something about the wilderness that brings you to your knees and lets you know that you are so so small compared to God. That might sound scary but it is so comforting. I don't have to have it all figured out. But over the last few months of living in Colorado, I am seeing God's beauty all around me in a new light. This is not just in his creation of mountains, clear blue skies, clouds that cannot be real but also the beauty in community, friendship, and marriage. I am so thankful, so so thankful for this life.

Shout it from the mountains!

Chelsea
 

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