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Engaged | Anna & Jose

I’m so excited to finally share these photos with you today!  My friends Anna and Jose recently got engaged and kindly asked me to capture this special time for them.  They met in class at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS), so the campus has a lot of meaning in their relationship but it also made for a beautiful location for our session several weeks ago.  I’m so excited for you, Anna and Jose, and we can’t wait to celebrate your wedding soon!

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A Little Catching Up & A New Side of {Glimpses of His Grace}

It’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged, but that’s not to say I haven’t been hard at work on all things Glimpses of His Grace.  As some of you may know, I went back to work full-time at the end of September…the understandable – but until now unexplained – impetus for my sudden hiatus from writing.  But that’s not the end of the story.

I’ve always been fascinated by the artistry, creativity, and skill of the many talented photographers whose work I’ve followed, and dreamed of one day being able to capture beautiful memories for others myself.  I even fancied building a bit of a side business down the road if after getting my feet wet, I found that photography was something I truly enjoyed.

In February of last year, I invested in my first DSLR camera and eagerly began to learn and practice.  Suffice it to say, I have a lot of room for growth in my newfound skill until I’m anywhere close to where I’d someday like to be, but I suppose even the professional photographers whose stunning work I so envy started out as a beginner at one point!  Most importantly, I learned something about myself I never would have known…I love photography.  The entire process – from scoping out a new location, to working with a client to capture the perfect shot, to editing photos and designing my own packaging, to the smile on someone’s face when you hand them the final product – it all makes me crazy happy (dare I say giddy?).  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

By the fall, I felt ready to begin practicing on more than just our dog Ike and my hubby, though they both make wonderful and obliging subjects (for the most part).  I also knew that with my personality, I would never psych myself up to launch my photography the way I wanted to if I didn’t just force myself to jump all in at once.  So, with much encouragement from my hubby, I advertised openings for a series of mini shoots (for free, mind you – practice and a start to my portfolio was my only aim) on a Saturday in mid-October.  Thank you so much to all of my friends from our small group who allowed me to practice on you in my inaugural shoots!  I never could have imagined how much I learned in just one day.  A key take-away being this: For the love of Pete, don’t accidentally kneel in a giant fire-ant pile while while you’re stuck behind the camera.  I’ll bear the scars from that unfortunate encounter for a long time to come!  In all seriousness though, I learned tons from those first sessions.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to photograph several events for our church, and to take family portraits, photos for Christmas cards, engagement pics, and just this past weekend, my first maternity shoot.  And I’ve loved every bit of it!

While I’ve posted the sneak peeks of all of these sessions on my Glimpses of His Grace Facebook page, I’ve been remiss in sharing them here.  I’ll get around to that to-do item, but until then I simply wanted to touch base and catch up!

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P.S. Sneak peeks of my most recent session will be up on the blog shortly!

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A Project in Progress & A Project Complete!

Once upon a time, there was a little spindle-leg side table that sat patiently in an antiques store waiting for a buyer.  She was pretty, everyone thought as they walked past, but she was just too beat up and rickety to warrant taking her home.  That is, until I got ahold of her! A little TLC goes a long way.

I first posted on this project in progress over 3 months ago, but owing to some toasty weather that rendered our garage/workshop unbearable and a temporary job, all of my furniture flipping plans basically ground to a  halt during the past few months.  But no more!  I dove back in to the world of sanders, stain, and paintbrushes over the past few weeks and can finally say that I finished the spindle-leg table!

Remember this sad, wobbly table?

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How ’bout this, after some tightening up and a fresh coat of stain on top?

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Well, here it is now…finally finished and ready to sell!

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I had stained and lightly poly’d the top of the table previously, but Hubby and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to protect the wood more thoroughly against spills, etc., so I topped it off with two coats of clear satin spray paint to seal it.  Having completed all the sanding and prep work on the bottom half of the table before my hiatus, I went straight to applying two coats of Olympic’s Flagstone grey.  Once the paint had dried completely, I lightly distressed the table with some 220 grit sandpaper.  It felt so horrible at first to turn right around and “ruin” the painted finish I’d worked so hard for, but after strategically sanding a few places, I felt like the table looked much better with a bit of instant “age.”

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I’m so glad I can finally say I’ve finished this project!

Now my current project underway is a castoff twin headboard & footboard set.  We spotted the pieces by the curb in the neighbor’s trash pile late one evening while visiting some friends in Warner Robins.  Thankfully we’d driven the truck that weekend, so we just tossed the furniture in before hitting the road back home.

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Unfortunately, we realized once we got home that one of the finials on the headboard was missing.  It had probably unscrewed itself and was back by the curb a few hours’ drive away.  Alas, it was too late to rescue it.

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It looks like the previous owners had attempted to sell the set at a garage sale, since there was a sticker pasted on the headboard that read “$22.”  I’d say that’s an awfully high price to ask for this piece at a yard sale, but their inability to sell the furniture was certainly our gain!  It’s a bit dinged up – I’m pretty sure it took residence in a little kiddo’s room – but with some sanding,  fresh paint, and a plan to address the missing finial, I think it’ll look great.  The footboard has already undergone its initial transformation, sporting a coat of Behr’s Rain Storm, and deep tealy-blue shade that I had on hand. (Hooray for Home Depot gift cards!)

Hopefully this project won’t take me 3 months to complete!!

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This project was shared on:

Embracing Change
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The Best Part of Waking Up

You know that sing-songy jingle “the best part of waking up is…”?  I’m sure you can finish it from there!  Well to me, that sentence doesn’t end with “Folgers in your cup.”  Although I do love a good cup of coffee, I don’t usually drink it in the morning, nor can I quite stand to drink it plain, bitter black.  I’m far too much of a frou-frou coffee sort of girl.  To me, the best part of waking up – besides the joy that God has gifted me with another day – is opening my eyes each morning to see my best friend waking up next to me.  And knowing that no matter where life takes us, no matter where we are, so long as he’s there, I’m home.  See, there he is…the handsomest guy around!

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Then there’s our sweet pup snoring away in his bed (or on the end of ours as the case may be).  He snores like an old man, by the way. Cute and endearing…until you’re trying to fall asleep. But besides Hubby, Ike boy is the fella I see the most of most days and who keeps me company around the house, and he is loyal and loving to boot.

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After sharing photos of our office way back when, I’ve been meaning to share pictures of the other rooms in our house for quite some time.  When I woke up to a find our bedroom awash in sunshine after a week of rain and dreary weather, I couldn’t help but snap a few pictures.  I love it how to room just glows when the sun hits it just right.

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We have our lightweight quilt on the bed for the summer right now, but we pull out our heavier quilt (which matches the damask pillowcases) when the weather gets chillier.  And don’t be fooled by those unassuming pom-pons…they do not like to stay put. I’ve got about 10 stashed away in a drawer waiting to be reattached after they declared mutiny.

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The small wooden box on Hubby’s dresser is one that he brought back from Afghanistan this past December.  It was handmade and the craftsmanship is absolutely beautiful; it’s also the perfect spot for him to stow all his deployment mementos and such.  And that there’s my wedding bouquet.  When Hubby and I were planning our wedding, Mom and I decided to make the bouquets and flower arrangements ourselves and opted to do so with faux flowers, both to save money and to be able to enjoy those treasures for years to come.  (If you’re interested in how we made the bouquets, stay tuned as I’m planning to share some of our wedding memories and budget-friendly tidbits as we get closer to our anniversary in early November.)

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Can you believe my mom drew the picture in the silver frame?  She’s a pretty great artist, especially for having really picked up pastels, watercoloring, and so forth just in within the past few years!

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And so sorry if you’re tired of seeing pictures of Ike, but I couldn’t help it!  Just a few parting shots of our sleepy snuggler in his perch…

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What’s that you said?  Did you say…walk?! 

So what’s your favorite part of waking up?

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A Road Race, two Restaurants, and Rain

This past weekend, Hubby and I competed in the Wounded Warrior 8K in downtown Jacksonville.  The race benefited the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that supports and serves wounded service members and their families as they heal and reintegrate to life post-injury.  To all those who contributed to my fundraising goal of $99, a big thank you! We made it, and for a great cause too!

When Hubby and I registered for the race a little over a month ago, we considered the facts – 1) that the race started at 8am Saturday morning, and 2) that Jacksonville was several hours’ drive – and quickly decided to book a hotel for two nights and turn it into a fun weekend getaway.  We’d been to Jacksonville together once or twice before – namely to celebrate our 1st anniversary two years ago –  and were excited to explore the city a bit more and indulge in some truly fresh seafood.  Having married a Maryland man who grew up on copious amounts of freshly-caught seafood, I’ve admittedly become somewhat of a seafood snob in the last few years!

Case in point…my first of many Old Bay steamed crabs on my first trip to meet Hubby’s family 3 summers ago:

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But I’ll get back to the seafood discussion in a bit…

The Wounded Warrior Run was perhaps one of the most eventful races I’ve participated in in quite some time.  First of all, I’m sad to say that despite my oft-spoken goal of training to prepare for the 8K, I didn’t run more than twice during the entire month leading up to the race.  Thankfully, having been a competitive runner in college a few years back, enough of that muscle memory kicks in that I can make it through a race in one piece without any training…but it does require my wonderful husband’s constant encouragement along the way and results in a bit more pain and soreness than it otherwise should.

Secondly was the rain. And when I say rain, I mean downpour!  Ten minutes before the race was set to start, the announcer informed everyone that there was some bad weather rolling in and that they were going to start the race early to try to get everyone finished before the worst of the storm hit.  He added, “If you see lightning, don’t try to finish the race, just seek cover.”  As if 800+ people were going to be able to find cover in the midst of all the skyscrapers downtown!  No sooner had the race volunteers haphazardly assembled us at the start line, then the rain let loose. First in a steady sprinkle, it soon turned to sheets of rain just as the starting gun went off. The first 2 miles of the 5 mile race was like running repeatedly through the little kids’ water playground at your favorite water park. We were positively drenched from head to foot.  There was no point in trying to avoid puddles because there wasn’t a dry spot to be seen, and our shoes felt five-pounds heavier having become so water logged.  We simply kept our heads down and kept our bodies moving as best we could as water streamed off of our faces.

Here’s us before the race.  Suffice it to say, we were in much wetter shape by the end!

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Thankfully, the rain let up after about mile 2 and we really enjoyed the race overall.

For lunch on Saturday, Hubby and I consulted Yelp and uncovered a gem of a restaurant called Thai Spice Kitchen.  The restaurant received a great review in the Florida Times last August, so we decided to try it out ourselves and we were not let down! Both the red chicken curry and the chicken pad thai were fantastic. Be sure to try it out if you’re in the area!

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For dinner, we headed out to Jax Beach following another Yelp lead and enjoyed a fresh seafood spread at Marlin Moon Grille.  Little did we know, the eatery is based out of Ocean City, Maryland where Hubby’s family vacations.  The crab dip was good, which Hubby and I assume is a good indicator for the quality of their Maryland-style crab cakes.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to enjoy said crab cakes because they were $28 for two, which seemed a tad overpriced to us.  Instead, we opted for the blackened shrimp and grilled Mahi tacos, which were very tasty for a more budget-friendly price. Overall, I’d definitely recommend the restaurant but caution that it’s a bit pricey for what you get.

The rain waylaid our plains for an afternoon at the beach but, Jacksonville, you were a blast!

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What I’ve Been Up To…

Well hello friends! (Just a heads up, my apologies for the utter randomness of this post, and the general lack of pictures, which by some blogging standards is a big no-no.) My goodness, it’s been a long time since I’ve written! But I promise I have a valid excuse…I’ve been keeping fairly busy working as the interim receptionist at our church for the past two months and, boy has it been a blast! I’m just about to wrap up my time there later this week, and I will definitely miss it.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the creative outlet it became, and by the friendships I found in such a short time.  It also opened my eyes to a whole side of the church that serves and operates behind the scenes in many cases and may not be terribly obvious to the average church-goer, but that is so vital to the larger aim of keeping a church moving, growing, and thriving in Christ.  Especially since Hubby and I hope to serve in the ministry in the future, it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world!

In other news, I’ve enjoyed being back at work so much so that I’ve decided to search for another job in a similar vein.  It’s been a learning process because, in all honesty, this is the very first time I’ve ever had to write a real “civilian” resume and submit job applications. The military simply didn’t have much of a need for such things; your last year’s performance report was essentially your resume for nearly all intents and purposes.  As for applications, you could provide input to the Air Force in terms of where you’d like to move, or what jobs interested you, but ultimately you’d end up wherever the military called.  The last “interview” I had was for the Honor Chairman position I held for my last two years at the Academy…and that was over 6 years ago!  Anyway, I’m confident that God will open doors where they need to be opened, close them where He sees fit, and ultimately bring me to just the place where He wants me to work and serve.  Jeremiah 29:11 has long been one of my favorite verses and says “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Isn’t it comforting to know that, as a follower of Christ, our Lord knows exactly the steps He has planned for us, whether or not we can see them!  I’ll be sure to let you know how everything pans out!

So what have I been up to the past month or so? Well, where to begin?! Reading, I suppose…lots of reading. I’ve been gobbling up book after book with relish, and visiting the local library very nearly every Friday to return my latest reads and pick up the next few books I’ve had on hold (I’ve had Fridays off while working for the church).

Just this past Friday, I picked up my next novel from the library and proceeded to immediately hole up at Starbucks in an overstuffed chair, iced hazelnut latte in hand, to dig in. I’ve tackled the majority of my summer reading list with the exception of the last book on the list, but got exuberantly off track after reading Kate Morton’s work. Her novel The Secret Keeper was everything I wanted in a book and more; her writing style is powerfully evocative, her characters so intriguing and purposefully developed, and her storytelling so captivating as she slowly peels back the veil to reveal the truth at the heart of a family mystery. One night as I sat reading in bed next to my Hubby, I was so surprised by several revelations in the story that I audibly gasped “Wha??” (pretty loudly, I might add) and read the next few pages as quickly as I could turn them, only to gasp in surprise yet again at a twist I never would have seen coming. I haven’t been that captivated by a book in more years than I can count. I’ve always loved to read, but I feel as though that love has been rekindled in its fullest sense these past several months. I’m already halfway through my next novel by the same author, The Distant Hours, in only 3 days.  Suffice it to say, I highly recommend Kate Morton’s literary gems.  You can check out her website here.  I also loved Jennifer Worth’s poignant memoir, Call the Midwife, as much or even more so than the PBS mini-series it inspired.

I’ve been slowly paring down our household items to begin preparing ahead of time for our big move planned for next summer.  Hubby will officially be separating from the military in June of 2015, and we’ll be packing up for seminary a few hours up the road in North Carolina.  We’re very excited, but it will certainly be a big change.  And seeing how quickly the past few months have flown by, I have the feeling it will be here in no time!

Well, that’s about all I’ve got to write for today. Wishing you a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Until next time!

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A Little Something Special for the Camera

Hello friends! I hope you all are having a wonderful, relaxing Sunday afternoon.  It’s oddly quiet around here since Hubby and I just said goodbye to my youngest brother and his lovely fiance after they spent the weekend with us. We had such a great time together; I hate that it had to come to and end!  We spent Saturday tubing and snorkeling at Ginnie Springs in northern Florida, shared a delicious – not to mention expertly grilled – steak dinner (thanks Dan!), then topped off the day with a movie night at home.  I have to say that, regardless of Rotten Tomatoes’ high reviews, The Grand Budapest Hotel ranks as one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen. It was like tagging along through someone else’s imaginative stream-of-consciousness storytelling on fast-forward. But…that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it nonetheless. After church today, we beat the crummy weather by enjoying a few games of bowling. So much fun!

But I’m getting myself sidetracked! What I wanted to share about today is a camera strap cover that I was recently gifted for my birthday (thanks Momma and Pops!!).  I’d had my eye out for a cute camera strap cover for a while since getting my camera this past spring.  I wanted something hand-crafted and unique that met the “3 P’s”: padded, pretty, and had pockets for my lens cap which I am forever stuffing in my purse or pants pocket…probably not the best places to keep it!  Of course, the first place I looked for such a bag was Etsy.  I compiled a list of my favorites, and had finally narrowed it down to one a few weeks ago.  So when Mom asked me what I might like for my birthday, I knew right away!

This camera strap cover is from Janie Lane Studio, and I love it! (Sorry for the rough lighting…our house isn’t the best for picture-taking indoors, especially when it’s done using an iPad.)

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The cover came wrapped in cute packaging along with a nice note from Janie Lane Studio owner, Dana.

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Here are a few close-up shots of the adorable flower appliqué detail and the ever-so-useful pockets.  One of the pockets is larger with an elastic top and is great for keeping my lens cap handy, while the other is smaller without the elastic top and is great for stashing spare memory cards and such.

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If you like the looks of this strap cover, be sure to check out Janie Lane Studio’s collection! And thanks Mom and Dad for the thoughtful gift!

Next on my wish list of camera accessories to save for is a hand-made camera bag.  I’m going for something cute and girly, but with good workmanship and padding that will keep my camera and maybe one or two spare lenses safe and sound.  I love the looks of the Snugglens camera bags, but am going for a much smaller size than most of the ones she currently has up for sale. Has anyone heard of or bought a bag from a shop with similar but smaller camera bags? If so, I’d love to hear your input!

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