an anniversary...

Five years ago today, a handsome boy from Ohio, who flew over 2000 miles to Oregon, proposed to his girl in a field over-looking the Portland airport at night.  She said yes, and they've been together ever since.  It was the perfect setting, the most romantic gesture, and a story to tell children and grandchildren for years to come.

Celebrating our engagement anniversary today.  Landon's taking off work early and we've cleared the entire afternoon to spend time together...our most favorite thing to do.


little moments...

When life gets so busy that I forget which things I need to make priorities in my life, I see an image like this in our home and it brings me back to reality.

There's nothing sweeter than watching my husband parent our son in a loving, patient way.  I see so much of Landon when I look at Finn, and I see how Finn looks up to his dad and admires him greatly.  It makes my heart so happy when I see them together.

Life can easily become caught up in new gadgets, latest trends, money, materials, status.  But at the end of the day, all those things don't really matter as much as building relationships and setting a foundation of kindness, love, and morals for our children.

I will be savoring these little moments as I see them, and always remember these early years in Finn's life.  I am a truly blessed mama and wife.  God is good.


DIY toms makeover...

Someone gave me a pair of toms a couple years ago, and I wore them a ton...so much that my toes started wearing holes in the ends of the shoes.  I started looking at some new models online and almost bought a new pair, then hearing my husband's voice of frugalness in my head, I thought about trying to save some dough and see if I could refurbish my old ones first.

Fortunately for me, the toe-hole-wearing-out problem is a common one, and there are tutorials of plenty online.  I decided I'd make a go at recovering the ends of my toms, and if it proved to be a horrible mess at the end, I'd buy some new ones, feeling satisfied that I had at least tried my best.

After reading some advice and tutorials, I bought some fabric glue and a remnant of printed canvas material, and set to work.

I sewed a straight seam on one end of the fabric and cut out two pieces.  I lined up the sewn seam with the diagonal front seam on the shoes, then glued everything on.  I feel like my fabric glue was either cheap or just not working well, so I broke out my super glue to give the edges a good solid stick.

I won't give all the steps because it was a pretty completely thrown together project.  But, they turned out decent-ish, and if I can get them to last another year, I'll be happy.  Part of me was a tiny bit disappointed I liked the turn out since that meant no new toms for me right now, but the more I wear them around, the more I love them.  It feels good to make something last just a little longer, and being able to spend some time crafting does a body good.


mama style: fall is here!

Sweater Dress, H&M
Tights, Target
Boots, Charlotte Russe

I am so excited for fall!!!!  It's my favorite time of the year, and it's the best season, in my opinion.  Apple cider, bright skies, crisp air, pumpkins, warm fires, layering clothes, my boots, flannel, spices, crunchy leaves...I love it all.

While it's officially fall here, the mornings are really cool but the afternoons are still wonderfully warm and comfortable.  We are enjoying this gorgeous weather and making the most of these beautiful days.

We did a mini photo shoot on our patio on Sunday since we got dressed up a little more to head to church.  Finn was happy to help out.  I love him in his little flannel. :)

Here's to all the mamas out there.  You are beautiful and lovely!


whole30: halfway...

It's about halfway point for us in our Whole30 challenge.  It's been hard but very rewarding, and we have noticed some good changes in our food habits.

*We eat a TON more veggies than we used to.  Like, for breakfast, lunch, and supper.  Some of my favorite ways to eat veggies lately are cut up cucumbers and tomatoes, some vinegar and olive oil, dill weed, and a dash of salt.

*We don't have as many sweet cravings.  It's been amazing this past week as I realized I didn't really want anything sweet.  In fact, I was craving things like fresh zucchini and meat.  This isn't to say we don't have those days that a cupcake or brownie sounds amazing...it's just not as frequent as it was a few weeks ago.

*Landon has more energy and is sleeping better.  I am not sure if I can say the same for myself, but I don't feel exhausted in the mornings and need a cup of coffee to get going.

*I have lost a few pounds and leaned up a bit.  My muscles are a bit more defined, and I haven't really done any working out.  No running, no cardio.  Just a bit of walking and my weekly yoga.

*We stop eating a few hours before going to bed.  I think this is the most helpful thing we've been doing.  Normally, we would eat a snack at 9:30 or 10, and then just lay in bed watching a movie or whatever before bed a little while later.  Now, my stomach doesn't feel bloated and full, and I wake up ready to eat a big breakfast.

*Some foods just don't taste as good as they did only a few weeks ago.  My brother had a wedding party last weekend, so Landon and I ate some food that wasn't allowed on our challenge.  We had some cake, and some chips, and beer...plus some other not so Whole30-friendly eats.  We noticed that our stomachs weren't settled, I wasn't satisfied with my usual portion sizes, and Landon got a headache.

It's amazing to do something like this and see how your body reacts to different foods.  We are trying hard to stick with it for two more weeks and see even more benefits!  I guess our aim is to understand how certain foods make us feel, and to be more intentional with what we eat in the future.  I am super excited to be done with the challenge and eat some sweets for our anniversary, but I truly believe that our habits have changed a bit, and it will be interesting to see how those are next month.


new shoes...

Dear Finn, How did your feet get so big?  I swear they used to fit inside my palm, and now they are looking like toddler feet!  Your toes were hanging off your summer sandals, so we got some new kicks for you since the weather is getting cooler.  Let's make a deal, how's about you stop growing so fast and let us savor these days with you a little longer, ok?  I love your chubby thighs, your little toes that get so dirty, and hearing the patter of your feet as you run across the driveway.  I want to freeze these memories in my head so I won't forget.  You are my sweet boy, and I love you more than I could ever say.


a marriage celebrated...

On Friday, we headed out of town to be with family as we celebrated the marriage of my younger brother, Jonah, and his wife, Anna.  We had a family dinner for both sides on Friday night, then celebrated all day on Saturday with friends and family.  They actually got married in a simple ceremony at a courthouse earlier in the summer...just the two of them, without a huge group of people watching.  Then, this weekend, they had a ring-warming ceremony and potluck where all their family and friends could come to visit them.  They brewed their own beer recipes for the day, had homemade ginger ale and herbal tea, an appalachian wedding cake, and everyone brought dishes to share.  The day was gloriously beautiful, and everyone had a wonderful time.

They have always gone through life to the beat of their own drum, and when they found each other, it was truly a match made in heaven.  They are both unique, generous, kind, eccentric, artistic, talented, and they don't follow the typical path.

It was such a special time as my entire immediate family was there...my brother and his girlfriend from Denver, my parents, Jonah and Anna, and my sister and her hubby and daughter.  Family can be such a blessing, and it was all the more evident this weekend.


whole 30 challenge...

A few months ago, Landon and I heard about the Whole 30 food challenge.  After doing a similar slow-carb challenge in February, and after eating a lot of junk food this summer, we were ready to change our eating habits using this challenge.  I have read about some fellow bloggers who have done it and loved it, and I have heard some other friends on Facebook talking about how awesome it is.  So we were excited to try it and hopefully stick to it for 30 days!

We started on Tuesday since, let's be honest, Labor Day was on Monday and Landon's mom made Texas Sheet Cake, so......
Today we are into day 4, and I know it's still early, but we are excited about finishing strong and we are keeping each other accountable.  One of my closest friends is doing it with us, so she texts me every day to see how it's going.  I love her so much!

So far it has been hard, not gonna lie. :)  We are cutting out milk, cheese, and other dairy products, all grains, legumes, refined sugars, alcohol, and white carbs like potatoes, pasta, flour, and pretty much anything processed.  Instead, we are filling our plates with a lot of veggies, proteins like eggs and meats, some fruits, and some other things like sweet potatoes, nuts, healthy fats and oils.  It's not been surprising how hungry we have been this first week, but it's awesome to know I can literally eat a giant plate full of good food, and not feel bloated afterwards.  After just a few days, I am realizing that I need to eat a lot more at each meal to hold me to the next.

We aren't supposed to snack in between meals if we can help it, and that's probably been the hardest part for me.  We are so used to eating a snack at night after supper, almost right before we go to bed.  And while I still crave those no-bake cookies at 9:45 at night, I know it's not what my body really wants or needs, and kicking these cravings is what I'm looking forward to.

Landon and I aren't using this challenge as a weight loss program, but more of a habit-kicking/examining program.  I do believe that sugar can be an addiction, and I know I struggle with eating emotionally, and that's something I want to change.  Landon has been a huge support in deciding to do this with me, and it helps me so much on the days (like yesterday, and the day before) I really wanted to cheat. :)  But come, on, 30 days is not that long, and I am determined to make to October 2nd!  Which will be perfect because the 3rd is our anniversary and we will be going away and celebrating for a few days, and I am sure we'll splurge a bit on our food.

So, I'll keep you posted occasionally on how we are doing and feeling, because writing about it here is just one more way to keep us going strong for the next 26 days!  I have a Pinterest board started on meals, so I can keep going back to good ones when I'm not sure what to eat, so feel free to check that out too.  And if you have done this challenge or just like eating clean and wholesome, send recipes my way, I'd love them!


a reminder...

I seriously can't make stuff like this up. :)

I am so thankful for a son who embraces life to the fullest.
If only all of us adults could be more like our sweet and innocent children.
If only I didn't care what people thought, and sang to my heart's content.
If only I didn't need an audience to play my favorite instrument. 
If only I spent more time focused on passion rather than things that don't really matter in the long run.

Thank you, Finn for reminding me today that life is to be embraced.
I love you, little man.

(p.s. he insisted on wearing his beach hat around the house today.) :)


mama style: summer date night...

Tank and necklace: H & M
Skirt: Charlotte Russe

Last week, Finn got to go hang out with Landon's parents for a few days so we could de-clutter our house.  We worked pretty hard and got rid of a ton of stuff we rarely use anymore.  It felt so good to get things cleaned out.

We made sure to spend some quality time not cleaning together, but just hanging out on a date.  I love dressing up just a bit since I'm at home a lot with Finn and don't get the chance very often.  It was a gorgeous summer evening when we went out, so I paired a simple black tank, with a red mini skirt I love, and a fun necklace.  It was perfect as we sat outside on a patio drinking margaritas and eating mexican food, then heading over to a classy tasting room at a local meadery.

It was such a wonderful night, and so fun to dress up a bit more than usual.  Date nights are so precious to Landon and I, and it feels so good to spend time with my best friend!


at the river...

One beautiful day this summer, Finn and I stumbled upon a hidden gem of a park near our house.  How could this amazing place be so close to us and we never even knew it?!  Finn and I both love being outdoors, yet in more natural settings.  He loves playgrounds and sliding and swinging, but he loves getting dirty and playing in mud a lot too.  I don't like playgrounds...they are packed, I don't feel like I fit in with the "mommy" crowd, especially in the area we live, and I feel like I have to watch Finn constantly.  But parks like this one?  I love them.  I grew up roaming the outdoors with my siblings for hours on end, and rarely we went to traditional city parks with the playground equipment.

Usually, we are the only people around when we come to this park, and I can bring a book and read while Finn plays to his heart's content, or I'll practice my rock-skipping abilities (which are getting slightly better) on the river.  I don't feel like I need to watch him constantly, and I'll call out if he's getting too far into the water or too far out of my sight.

Plus, we get to see a lot of fish, birds, snakes, squirrels, and geckos that we normally wouldn't see around our house or out and about.  I think Finn enjoys the freedom he has here as well...getting to run as fast and as far as he wants in the wide open field, and getting dirty while he plays.

I try to overcome my dislikes for playgrounds, and I do take Finn to our local playground on occasion. He loves sliding and swinging very very much. :)  It's just awkward sometimes.  I feel like I'm on a first date with some of the moms as we try to make small talk and find common ground, or we just don't talk at all and just nod and smile. So awkward! Guess I need to work on my playground talk.  But more often than not, you will find Finn and I exploring our new river park find and loving the outdoors.

If you are in the Indy area and want to check it out, it's called Hazel Landing Park and it's just north of 96th street on Hazel Dell Parkway.


Simple strata recipe...

We love having simple egg dishes for a quick and healthy supper.
Here's a strata recipe I recently made that we all loved.

Sausage & Pepper Strata
- 1/2 lb. ground pork sausage
- 1/2 jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage to the skillet, and cook until browned.  Drain onto paper towel-lined plate.

Combine sausage, peppers, onion, eggs, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Stir with a whisk.
Pour mixture into a pie plate or small baking dish rubbed with oil.
Bake 20 minutes or until center is set.  Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.



Today I am thankful...

*For my best friend and the best husband this girl could ever want or need.

*For this warm weather.  Summer isn't gone, and I am going to bask in this sunshine!

*For the choice to be joyful and optimistic each day.

*For smiling cheeks and slobbery kisses from a very sweet toddler of mine.

*For warm coffee in the morning and beautiful mugs to put it in.

*For family that drops everything to be with or think of someone who is hurting.

*For witnessing the love of a father that was so great and powerful, it touched hundreds of people at once.

*For friends who don't just talk about hip stuff or the weather, but challenge me and inspire me to grow.

*For the gift of music, which can cross any language barrier.

*For songs that make me cry, and songs that make me dance.

*For the chance to rest and be quiet every once in awhile.


summer highlights...

We have been soaking up this summer with lots of time outside, on vacation, with friends, and just hanging out at home.

Here are some highlights!

I finally got a tattoo I had been wanting.  My sister and I went together and each got one, and it was a fun time to do a "first" with my best friend.

Finn played a lot of music.  He is getting so much more interested in singing and playing instruments, and he loves strumming Landon's ukulele and playing his harmonica.

We took a vacation to Virginia with Landon's family, and Finn absolutely loved the beach!

We went camping with our small group.  Finn was the only child in the group, and he did really well!  We'll be doing more of this in the future.

I spent a lot of time with this guy. :)  Lot's of coffee dates, some weekends away from Finn, and just good quality time.  I love Landon more than I could ever describe.

We ate a lot of s'mores.  I mean, a lot.

I got a Bill Murray tank off of Etsy, and have worn it a bunch of times already.  It's quickly becoming my favorite summer shirt.

Finn spent a lot of time naked or almost naked.  Summer is great for that! :)

Needless to say, we have had a busy but good summer so far.  I feel so blessed to have such an amazing family, and live in such an amazing place!  Still planning on soaking up the rest of summer and doing what we love best...spending time together.


summer lunch...

Here is a quick and healthy summer lunch I enjoyed today.

Avocado & Grape Tomato Salad

- 1/2 avocado
- 8 to 10 grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Slice the avocado and tomatoes.  Arrange on a plate.  Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the vegetables.  Top with the greek yogurt.


little man...

Just loving life with this little man right now.  He fills my heart to the brim with happiness and love.  I am so blessed to get to be his mama.


iced coffee...

After some super busy weeks, vacation, and lots of summer fun, we are finally relaxing for a week....before heading out for some more fun weekends in August.  Doing as much to relax and savor each day of this quickly passing summer, one of my favorite ways is to enjoy a nice iced coffee.  It's been our go-to drink this year, and it's nice to have one that tastes so good and isn't too bad for us either.  Landon takes his black, and I take mine with a bit of milk or half and half.

To make mine at home, I just brewed some strong coffee, then chilled it overnight.  I threw in a few ice cubes, added some whole milk, then filled up the cup with the coffee.  Love it!

I can't wait to share some photos from our vacation we just recently got back from.  We enjoyed touring around the Williamsburg area, and Landon and I got to take an amazing whitewater rafting trip just the two of us.  Summer is so exciting!!

Now, off to enjoy a gloriously beautiful day outside.  I think Finn and I will be exploring a new park in the area and do a bit of hiking.  Happy August!


a backyard concert...

Hoefer House Band 7.13.13 from Leah Rife on Vimeo.

On Saturday, we had the privilege of enjoying a wonderful outdoor concert in my sister's backyard.  Landon's brother, Daniel, and a bunch of his friends are an incredibly talented group of musicians, and they played and sang for us for two hours under the sky.  It was such a relaxing and fun evening, as family and friends gathered to listen, eat, and fellowship.  Hannah put together a delicious S'mores bar, and there was a cotton candy machine that Landon's other brother, Benjamin, brought.  Finn absolutely loved it, and sang and danced along with the music.  It brought me so much happiness to see so many people together just appreciating the simple things in life on a warm summer night.


Guest Post...

Today, I am guest posting over at Something Ivory, Kate's beautiful blog.  She asked me to participate in her Ambassadors For Marriage series she is running.  It was such a treat to think through the questions she sent, and I loved the informal interview format she gave me.  You can read my guest post here.  Kate has a such a refreshing blog, and she is a very talented writer, musician, and creative type.  She always has a wonderful take on life.  I love getting to know new friends through the blogging world!

So thankful for a long 4th of July weekend with my amazing husband and our family.  Ready to enjoy and savor this week!


a simple lunch...

For my simple lunch I threw together...

*Two large handfuls spinach leaves
*1/2 medium zucchini, chopped
*small sprinkle of mozzarella cheese
*1 clove garlic, minced
*olive oil
*balsamic vinegar
*dill weed

Craving something green and full of goodness today.  But I am also looking forward to some yummy treats for the 4th of July and the weekend.  Landon and I are making donuts for the celebration.

We are going to try to take Finn to see some fireworks tomorrow night.  Not sure exactly how he'll react, but hopefully they will be fun for him.  I'll be taking off until next week, so happy 4th of July and happy summer!!



baby girl headband...

Some good friends from our small group recently had a sweet baby girl!  It's their first, and we get to see them today when we take some food over to their house.  They didn't find out what they were having until the birthday, so it was a wonderful surprise for everyone that knows them.

As soon as we heard, I knew I wanted to make a little headband for the little one.  Finn tried it on to model, and I have to say, he looked pretty darn cute.  It made me want to have a little girl someday so I can put headbands on her.  Maybe I'll just make some sweatbands for Finn to wear in the meantime. :)

So happy for our friends!  What a blessing this child is and will be to so many people!!


farm fresh...

We have been enjoying checking out the farmers markets around here this season.  It feels so good to get up on a Saturday morning and head out to buy veggies, fruits, and eggs from the local vendors.  If the weather is nice, we try to bike or walk on the Monon and get a little activity in as a family.

This past Saturday my mom came with us, and we walked a little ways up to Carmel to the market and had a wonderful morning.  We bought these delicious free-range eggs and have been savoring them ever since.  I also tried a walking waffle for the first time, and it was mouth-watering.  It's a dense waffle with sugar cubes mixed into the batter, and it is heaven in your mouth, pretty much. :)

We hope to have many more Saturday mornings together as a family, trying new treats, buying fresh food, and supporting our local farmers.

P.S.  Happy July!!


summer feet...

My feet having been loving all this warm weather we've been having.  It's summa time!!

Here are some of my summer feet tips to ensure your tootsies have a good summer just like you:

*Pick a fun nail color...branch out from your go-to selection and try something new.  I would normally stick with neutrals or pinks on my toes, but I found this great aqua color today and I love it.

*Give yourself a foot massage, or have a buddy give you one.  I always tend to focus on my neck or shoulders when I feel like a massage would help, and I forget about my feet.  I love to sit cross-legged on the floor and massage my top foot, and flexing my ankle to help release the built up tension.

*Balance on one foot.  Not kidding!  Yoga has taught me that standing on one foot during balance moves can help tone and strengthen, and make your feet feel great.  My favorite balance pose is tree pose.

*Stick those feet up!  Another great pose in yoga that rejuvenates the feet is legs up the wall pose.  It's a great way to relax as well.

*Wear comfy shoes.  I love my Sanuk flip flops...they are so soft and supportive while keeping my feet cool in the hot weather.

*Moisturize.  I always pay attention to my face, and hands, but I forget about moisturizing my feet.  I love using coconut oil for my all over moisturizer.  You can get it at your local health food store.  Just scoop some out and rub it in (maybe while you give yourself that foot massage!)  Coconut oil is really great for your body, and it gets deep down into the layers of your skin rather than sitting on the surface.

*Exfoliate those heels.  Mine get dry if I forget to exfoliate, and I love using my pumice stone to gently rub the bottoms of my feet.  You can also use a mixture of brown sugar and olive oil to scrub as well.

I hope you have a great start of your summer, and your feet enjoy a little pampering!


summer riding...

We have been taking advantage of this great weather lately by going on bike rides.  I'm trying to be more intentional to be active and get outside this summer, so we go on a lot of walks, hang out at the pool daily, and go biking.  Having my new-ish bike has made things a lot easier on me physically, so I feel like I can get out for longer rides.  We love the front mounted child seat that Finn uses, and he loves to face the open road and watch everything come his way.

Today, we got adventurous and went for an 8 mile round-trip ride.  I always get a little nervous with the traffic around here, and because I don't consider myself a cyclist by any means, it adds another level of apprehension.  I rode mainly on the sidewalk, with a bit on the road here and there.  At one point, we were at a stoplight, and I thought it was safe to cross, but then saw some cars heading our way.  I had to hit the brakes rather hard, and had to jump off since I stopped so quickly.  Ugh, I hate being in front of so many cars and almost falling into the street, but we were fine, and I reminded myself I would never see those people again. :)

We road 4 miles to our favorite hang out spot, The Hearthstone, in Fishers.  Finn made a lot of friends there as we sat down for a nice cool drink and rested a bit.  I was feeling really great about Finn and I making it out and being so active, and then a sweet mama strolled in her 6 month old twins for a little drink.  Then I was like, "No, she's doing great!" :)  She looked great too, and we chatted a bit about our bike seat she noticed, and her little ones.  I love meeting other mamas out and about.

After we rested, we got back out and rode home.  I decided to ride on the road on one portion that didn't have a great sidewalk, and I even stuck my arm out real cool like to signal we were making a turn. :)  Haha, if only a real cyclist saw us.  It only took an hour there and back, and it was such a nice change of pace to our usual routine.  Although, I feel like I could get even more comfortable and start doing this a few times a week.  It feels great to be out on a sunny summer day!

Happy summer everyone!


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