anniversary

Hey all!
We in the Gilbert house have been quite busy lately! ¬†After our fun-filled weekend we took a little time to de-stress but not for long with Sunday’s fall launch of our high school group! I am really excited to see what is going to happen this year in TREK.

In other news, its our anniversary today! (Yes, our anniversary is Sept 11. I think that while it is important to never forget what happened on that day in 2001, it is equally important to move on in life. We have to let good things happen, too. We have to let people be married, and children to be born, etc. etc. My mom told people we were redeeming the day ūüôā )

It’s hard to know what to say about an anniversary. I think people so overuse the phrase “the day I married my best friend” and other romantic clich√©s to the point where they are sort of ruined for me (thanks a lot, facebook and pinterest!).

But I get why those phrases are over-used. The truth is, Kevin is my best friend. The truth is, we would rather just hang out with each other than anyone else. The truth is, when we’re off doing separate things, we earnestly look forward to being reunited. The truth is, we do talk about one billion times a day, just to see what’s going on.

We’re best friends. (I guess Tucker is our co-best friend. And Egan. Holler.)

So I guess two years ago, I married my best friend. 

And he still makes me laugh. A lot. And grin like an idiot. And feel all warm and fuzzy inside and all of that other romantic crap that I love to mock but secretly adore.

I won’t say that it was the best day of my life. Weddings are full of hustle and bustle and even some stress. It was a great day. But I think we’ve had better days since then. And I think we have better days ahead. I think we love each other more deeply than we did that day, and more fully.

The day we were married, our dear now-sister-in-law Melinda read a poem by e.e. cummings. This part gets me every time:

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Love is many things. It is incomprehensible. It makes us feel in a way that wells up inside and overwhelms because we feel we cannot adequately express it. It is a mystery and stretches us beyond what we know or think we are capable of. And there’s nothing quite like it.

Love you, Kev.

food pack follow-up

Well, I promised I would let you all know how the food pack went. It was fabulous!

Although it rained on and off most of the day, we still managed to stay dry under the tent. Over 750 volunteers packed 3,000 boxes full of food. We raised over $35,000 to make this day possible. Each of those boxes will enter into a home of a family in the Chicago area struggling to put food on the table. With each box comes not only nutrition… but a message of hope! A message of the type of nourishment that can’t come from food. A message of love, peace and hope. With each box, we share the love of Christ. 3,000 boxes.

Here are a few highlights from the day:

our rainy setting

250 people packing at once

massive assembly line

our volunteers ranged from age 3-90!

yours truly with Sterling... I'm already tired at this point

 What a day! I definitely could not have pulled it off without a slew of people including, Jimmy and Sarah from CHF, Sue Ann, Kim, Sterling and Bruce from the office, all of the support staff and of course my ever-supportive husband, Kev.

long weekend

Well folks. Labor day weekend is over… my favorite season has begun. I had been itching for fall for quite some time to be honest. However, I decided I would give summer one last try this weekend.

Quite a few of our college friends came into town this weekend for the celebration of this guy’s 1st birthday:

Which means we had an apartment full of friends from Friday-Monday. And it was so fun. And refreshing. And wonderful.

We:

  • played board games
  • went golfing (guys)/watched Dawson’s Creek (girls)
  • ate Portillo’s (the most delish Chicago hotdogs, italian beef and the one and only cake shake… which is a piece of cake thrown into a blender with a shake… it’s as good as it sounds)
  • went to the birthday party where we played bags, watched Austin get covered in cake, colored and ate
  • ate enormous breakfasts every day (Kev and my speciality)
  • watched movies/lounged around
  • played sand volleyball
  • went swimming
  • ate enormous dinners

All in all… it was the perfect way to end summer. I enjoyed some of my favorite summer activities with some of my favorite people and was really able to embrace the fun of summer time for one final time.

I wish I had taken more pictures. But I didn’t. Sorry.

However, just because he is the cutest ever… here are some more Austin pics:

Austy and Sarah

Sarah's trying to get him to blow kisses. He didn't.

Hope your Labor Day Weekend was a fabulous as mine! Now enjoy the 4-day work week!

 

morning

I am not a morning person. But I like morning. Quite a bit, actually.

What I mean is… I do not jump out of bed at 6:30 with enthusiasm and zeal for the day. In fact, I very frequently sort of roll/fall out of bed once Kev is leaving for work and I know my alarm clock is out the door.

Step one in the mornings is, of course, coffee. I prefer iced coffee, even in the winter. P.s. International Delight (and no… I have no affiliation with them whatsoever) recently created this iced coffee in a carton concept and it is awesome. I can just pour a cup right out of the fridge! It pretty much tastes like a bottled frap. Very tasty.

Step two then becomes drink the coffee in a relaxing location. Sometimes I like to sit on the couch, fire up my mac and check the news, favorite blogs or pinterest. Sometimes I like to sit outside on the porch and soak in the fresh air.

This weekend plans to be pretty hectic. Fun, but hectic! What better way to recharge than lounging around for about an hour this morning, blogging and catching up on the world.

Have a fun weekend, everyone!

my ugly feet... relaxing

clean

There is a mug that my mother used to sip coffee and tea from when I was a child. I have a very vivid memory of this mug. Lucky for you all… I managed to find it on Ebay (thus furthering my theory that with enough patience, you can find anything on Ebay).

This mug was always, to me, a picture of my mom- complete with pins hanging out the side of her mouth. Our home growing up was never filthy… but it most certainly was cluttered. Four creative minds occupying one home did not make for a tidy environment. Combine that with my dad tracking sawdust over every surface, my brother caked in Lord-knows-what and my inability to put things back where they belong and you have never-ending housework. My mom tried so hard to teach us how to clean… but the lessons never sunk in for me.

I guess the mug’s message became my personal mantra, whether I realized it or not. With all of the stuff that I do in any given week, how can I possibly have time to clean without sacrificing any of my other passions? Some people clean when they’re stressed. Not me. Some people clean when its dirty and they can’t stand it anymore. Not me. The only thing that can convince me to clean is the threat of embarrassment. As soon as I learn that someone will be coming over, I run around frantically, cleaning everything in plain sight until I feel less horrified at the idea of allowing someone in our home. I knew I needed help.

So. I called my mom. And I asked her to come over, and teach me how to clean a few things… most especially moldy tile grout and dirty window blinds. Sometimes, we still need help from our moms… I am not above admitting that. As a housewife… I hardly know what I’m doing.

So yesterday, we did a little cleaning. Mom passed down the cleaning Bible to me. And most importantly, she encouraged me. She let me know that this stuff doesn’t come naturally for a lot of people. Women don’t just grow up knowing how to work all day, come home and put dinner on the table every night and clean behind every dark corner. She also reminded me that I live in apartment… and a lot of time, I am dealing with neglect from previous owners. Sometimes it’s my mold… sometimes it’s someone else’s. And now I feel ok. I feel encouraged to clean more often, but I don’t feel that overwhelming sense of failure.

Like I said, sometimes we still need our moms.

So here are a few quick tricks she taught me:

Blinds snap off the walls. (Who knew?) Put some soapy water in the bathtub (I used laundry soap… dish soap works too). Dip the blinds in the tub and use a rag to clean off excess dirt.

See how clean they are?

Then you just hang them right back up again and put an old towel on the floor and they drip dry!

For moldy grout, mix bleach with baking soda until you have a paste-like consistency. Scrub the grout with the mixture. Repeat. It helps. A lot.

For calcium build-up, use vinegar, let sit. I didn’t know what calcium build-up was, really, but my clothes steamer has some weird white stuff in it, which is, in fact, calcium build up. Anyway, we put vinegar in it, turned it on so it would boil, and the calcium came right out!

Anyway, mom stocked me with a few more key ingredients to make the potions found in this book. Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean is full of helpful tips for cleaning. Because really, who has time to clean with the wrong product, just to be forced to do it all over again?

In conclusion, I hope no one comes over with a white glove any time soon, but I sure am feeling a bit less like an epic-fail in the housewife department. We may still be kind of a hot mess over here, but at least now we know the best way to clean it all up!

weekend

Well folks, it’s the weekend. I am getting totally pumped up (and a little freaked out) about a huge service project our church is hosting this weekend.

On Sunday, we are hosting the second all-church Food Pack! Last March, we had a team of 250 people packing boxes of food for families in need in our area. Our church’s partnership with Children’s Hunger Fund¬†has been so incredible. These events are awesome because
1. They connect people in church with each other. Serving with friends is fun! Meeting new people is fun!
2. Hungry people in our very own backyard receive boxes of nutritious food. A lot of times, we think of hunger as a problem in developing countries, but there is hunger right here, too. The Food Pack allows people to bring food into these homes, bringing nutrition, hope and the spirit-filling love of Christ.

This time around, we have 750 volunteers signed up. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of volunteers from age 3 to 85.

Service is more than something you do once in a while: it’s an attitude. An attitude of selflessness. Service is a moment when you step outside of yourself in order to meet the needs of others. Sometimes its uncomfortable. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it takes more from you than you might expect. My year as the Director of Local Serving has created so many opportunities for me to learn this. And as my last ‘official’ act in this role… I am hoping I won’t mess up too much¬†what God is trying to do here!

So hopefully… we pull this thing off without a hitch! I’ll let you all know how it goes…

b & e

Quite recently, two of my most favorite friends, B Head and Feick, were married. Their wedding was so so gorgeous at the historic Bowens Mills Farm in Michigan. B’s favorite color is olive green, which she decided to mix with peach for the wedding. And it was beautiful. Every aspect.

 

 

 

 

 

I had the sincere privilege of designing their invitations. After quite a few designs and plenty of inspiration, we came up with this:

The RSVP postcards turned outl like this:

B ended up printing the invites on a shinier paper… which turned out beautifully. She also used a punch on the edges for a little bit of extra pizzazz. Here’s how it all looked in person:

I hope I can share more of this wedding with you all in the future… it really was breathtaking and so meaningful for all of the friends and family there.

Happy Wednesday, all!

welcome

Well guys. I got trendy and made a yarn wreath. I’ve been seeing them all over for a while now and decided to take a stab at it myself. My former wreath was… a bit of an embarrassment. It was nice when I first purchased it… sort of woven together with vines and tiny autumnal flower accents. However, every time someone walked through the door, it would fall off. The tiny flowers soon became no more. It became far more of a nuisance than anything. So I had to set my sights on something different.

I admit… I resisted the yarn wreath because of the trendiness factor. What can I say? I can be too cool for school sometimes. But I sorted out my priorities and realized how much more important it is to have a wreath that welcomes¬†people, rather than sticks to their purses or sweaters and falls off the door every time.

So here is my new wreath:

Here is the bow at the top:

And here it is hanging on my janky apartment door:

Excuse the ugly flash but the janky apartment hallway also has janky apartment lighting…

Anyway. That is my new wreath. I hope that it helps people to feel welcome. And happy. And greeted. Come visit me and test it out!

 

fox & the hound

Tucker has a best friend named Fox. Fox is a Crazy Critter– a stuffing-less, dual-squeaking, plushy friend. And just like Copper and Todd, Tucker and Fox are best friends.

When we first bought Fox, he looked like this:

Now, he looks like this:

The poor little fox is missing a large majority of his body and both squeakers. Quite frankly, he is in rough shape! We tried to buy a replacement fox… but it didn’t take.

They go everywhere together… Fox sleeps in the crate with Tuck. Tucker carries him around the house all wadded up in his mouth (yeah… it looks as cute as it sounds). He tries to bury the fox in random places like couch cushions and behind throw pillows. Sometimes, he carries the fox around and whines quietly with anxiety when he can’t find a good place to bury it.

Rawr?   

I suppose that the moral of this story is that even though the fox is in terrrrrrrible shape, I simply cannot throw out this toy. Its in tatters but what can I do? I can’t throw it out… he will just search for it for days. The replacement didn’t work… so I just let him keep the fox as it becomes increasingly mangled.

How could you deny a face like that?

be still my heart- fall fashion part 1

It’s that time of year: the time of year in which I do silly things like wear corduroys to work in August. (That was yesterday’s mistake, although in my defense I rolled them up and paired with leather ballet flats?) I begin to light Apple Cider and Pumpkin Spice scented candles. I start dreaming of slow-cooked pork in the crock pot. I even start listening to my Autumn-themed mix cd a friend made a few years back.

My name is Gretchen and I am addicted to all things autumnal.

I just love fall. I love the colors turning. I love the smells, the activities and the crunching leaves. I love pressing leaves in old, heavy books, cuddling up with a scarf. But most of all… I love fall fashion.

I do not love summer fashion. I feel it leaves room for very little creativity. Fall is this open, gorgeous forest, and like Frost’s yellow wood, I want to pick the road with no leaves yet trodden black! Which leads me to a few fall outfits I feel I must have…

Chambray Polka-Dot Shirt: Old Navy
Mustard Slim-Slouch Chinos: Land’s End Canvas
Pop-color Oxfords (I wonder if I can paint the soles of mine…): GoJane
Accessories (including awesome mustache necklace): Forever21

V-neck Boyfriend Sweater: J Crew Factory
Burgundy Knit Jeggings: American Eagle
Dessert Wedge Booties: Toms
Chunky Knit Scarf: Forever21
Braided Belt: H&M
Gold Knuckle Ring: Forever21 

Twill Blazer: Gap
Chambray Shirt: J Crew Factory
Mustard Striped T: J Crew Factory (no longer in stock but I’m sure we’ll see more mustard stripes as we get closer to fall!)
Jeggings: American Eagle
Riding Boots: DSW
Gold Bangles: Forever 21
Gold Watch: Zappos (I’m sure there are cheaper gold watches at Charming Charlie… but they don’t have an online site)

 

Anyway… those are just a few of my favorite fall things. I shall put on my shorts today with an expectant and excited sense of longing for what the crisp weather will bring!