vowrenewal

The other day one of my readers commented on my Friday Fun post, asking how I met my husband.

It was kind of hilarious, only because I’d been thinking just the day before that I’d never shared that story. Isn’t that weird?

I would love to tell you that we have a completely romantic story involving long distance letter writing (preferably in flowy cursive), a long courtship in which my husband beat out several potential suitors for my hand in marriage, and maybe even a proposal that involves a row boat, but no. None of that is a thing.

I met my husband in a bar when I was 23. You’re welcome, romantics across the land.

I did not grow up with a good example of marriage and I honestly had zero dreams of getting married. I went through a series of unhealthy relationships during high school and after, and was certainly not above dating a cute boy for a free dinner. I was young and lived alone and just kind of did whatever I wanted, scraping up enough money for bills and going out when I could afford it.

Then one night I was at a bar with a guy friend (it was ladies night, half price drinks, don’t hate) and I saw a tall, broad shouldered guy walking around. He was certainly better looking than the guy I was with, so I did my best to stare at him super hard, hoping he might take a hint. When the guy I was with headed to the bathroom, the guy I’d been staring at approached me and asked, “Is that guy your cousin or what, because he can’t be your boyfriend”.

Yes. That was the first thing he ever said to me.

So we talked and I gave him my number but I told him that I came with my friend and was going to stay with my friend, and also I’d been drinking more than I should have, so there’s that. It was before I found the Lord, okay? Things happened back then, what do you do.

Sometime around 3 am, while I laid in my bed with one foot on the floor, desperately trying to keep from vomiting (again) and stop the room from spinning, my now-husband Jess called. I was like, “Oh hi yes, I am totally fine, I haven’t been throwing up just now or anything,” so he asked me on a date for the next day and then I freaked out because I HAD had a lot to drink that night and what if he was ugly and just looked cute in my drunken state?

The night of our date, I made sure to have some friends on speed dial and met him somewhere because I didn’t want him seeing where I lived in case he was a psychopath or even worse, ugly. But it turned out that he was great and we were basically inseparable from that point forward, despite the fact that he was 6 years older than me and lived 45 minutes away.

Six months into our relationship, I found out that I was pregnant.

Jess was at work that day and didn’t even know that I suspected I might be pregnant. So I sat at his house and cried and counted all the hundreds of things I would never be able to do again while I waited on him to get home. I was a mess. I did not want a baby and certainly didn’t want to have a baby with someone I had dated for a mere SIX MONTHS. But Jess came home and I told him while snot and ugly tears streamed down my face, and he calmly told me that we would figure it out and everything would be fine.

He was mostly right.

I moved to his house, driving my pregnant self 45 minutes to work every day, quitting my job a week before I was due to have Jon David. It was hard. We lived outside a tiny little town, down a dirt road, and I knew NO ONE. We barely knew each other. By the time I had Jon David, we had been together with me pregnant longer than we’d been together with me NOT pregnant. To say that it was not an ideal situation would be an understatement. I was navigating a new baby, a new life as a stay-at-home mom, a fairly new relationship, and living in a new town all at once and there were some days that really just kind of sucked.

But we pushed through. We fought some and we struggled financially some, but we never ever broke up or quit. When I look back on our relationship, I think that’s the thing I am most proud of — neither of us ever quit.

wedding

In May of 2006, when Jon David was a year and a half old, we got married in Washington State where Jess’ mom lived, in a teeny tiny church. Jon David ran around the church during our vows and it rained most of the day, but I must be the weirdest woman ever because I didn’t really care. At that point it kind of just felt like a formality. Also, it wasn’t at all awkward when the pastor asked us during pre-marriage counseling why we thought we were ready to get married and we replied, “well, we have a one and a half year old, soooo…”

There are times I wish that I had had a bigger wedding or an elaborate proposal. There are times that I wish I could have enjoyed more time with my husband before we had our son. But I also know that we wouldn’t have the life we have now, which after 11 years still isn’t perfect but it’s as good as I could hope for.

We still fight some and we still struggle financially at times, but we have also grown SO much. I wish I could tell some of you who might be in a newer marriage or might be frustrated or wondering if you even want to have more kids because your husband doesn’t help like he should — that it can get better. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of resentments and my husband has learned a lot about pitching in without being asked.

If you would have told me 9 years ago that he’d one day read stories and do baths and change poopy diapers without being nagged, I might not have believed you. If you had told my husband 9 years ago that I would learn to fill my life with so many hobbies and interests of my own that I’d no longer hold him 100% responsible for my personal happiness, he wouldn’t have believed you. But marriages can evolve, if you just keep plugging away and always try to get better.

Church has helped a lot, too. In 2009, about a year after suffering the unexpected loss of my husband’s stepdad and brother within weeks of each other, I realized that life was bigger than we were. That I lacked the strength to go through life alone, with no God and no church family to help carry me through it. And even though I worried that church wouldn’t “want” us — that the way we met and the fact that my son will always be older than our marriage, meant that we weren’t good enough — I couldn’t have been more wrong. My church loves me, God loves me, and every day he gives me the strength to not murder my husband when he puts his dirty clothes on the floor right NEXT to the dirty hamper instead of inside of it.

So that’s our story. It’s not romantic and it’s not very holy or particularly interesting. It’s just two people who were flawed and made mistakes and decided to work towards being better versions of themselves. It will probably always be that way, but I am okay with that. Romance is nice, but it can also be fleeting. Also, my husband gives excellent leg rubs and is great at picking up a box of wine at the drug store, so I think that’s a sure sign of a successful future.

Don’t you?

Blendtec-Giveaway

Hey guys!

I am so excited to team up with a few of my favorite bloggers to bring you the opportunity to win a really cool prize!

What do you think about winning a blender from Blendtec?

I’ll be honest — I’ve always wanted a Blendtec and I still don’t have one. I just give them away and sigh and dream of all the things I would blend if I had one. One day, friends. One day…

But the next best thing to owning one is to see one of you sweetie pies get one, so here’s what is happening — enter using the super simple widget below. A few clicks, easy peasy, and you’ll be entered. One winner will win the Blendtec Designer 625 + Twister Jar (RV $599.94) and another winner will win the Blendtec Designer 725 + Twister Jar (RV $769.90).

Girlllll…your Thanksgiving gravy will be SO SMOOTH with one of these babies. Jealous!

Here’s the handy dandy widget — good luck, friends!

Blendtec Giveaway

This giveaway is being sponsored by Blendtec. It is not affiliated with Facebook or Instagram.

This Pumpkin Churro Layer Cake is a taste of the carnival in Fall form! Layers of moist pumpkin cake are dipped in melted butter, coated in cinnamon sugar and sandwiched between layers of cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Churro Cake -- layers of moist pumpkin cake dipped in melted butter and coated in cinnamon sugar.

I want to start off by apologizing for this cake.

Mainly I want to apologize to your butt. And maybe your hips or thighs? Because none of them stand a chance.

Sorry friends, just speaking the truth into your lives. This cake is a legit life changer. And a butt changer.

Wait, that sounded weird. You know what I mean.

Pumpkin Churro Cake Image

You know those desserts where after you make it, you can’t stop thinking about when you’re going to get to eat it? Like a weird fatal attraction to a dessert?

That happens when you make this cake. You make it and then you are just dying inside until it’s time to cut into it. Because once it’s been cut into, it ain’t no thang to shave off a hunk for lunch the next day.

Also, can we talk about why there is such a stigma attached to serving a partially eaten cake for dessert? Who cares if a piece is missing, right? Can we just write a new set of rules that makes it okay to eat a piece of cake prior to serving it to everyone else?

Pumpkin Churro Cake Photo

I mean, it’s pumpkin cake dipped in melted butter and cinnamon sugar – if there is a way you can say no to this, please come over and contend with my toddler because you obviously possess superhuman mental strength. So just eat it. Don’t wait on anyone else. Matter of fact, don’t even share it. Sharing is for losers, that’s what I always say.

And by always, I mean never. I have two kids, so I have literally shared my uterus twice. They don’t even blink when it comes to my dessert — Lucy been known to shove her entire hand into a glass of my iced tea, so.

Pumpkin Churro Cake Recipe Image

To make this cake you just whip up three layers of the best pumpkin cake ever, dip it in melted Challenge Butter, and then coat each layer in cinnamon sugar. The top, bottom, sides…all of it.

I am a Challenge Butter Ambassador, which I mention every time I get. Because hello, Butter Ambassador. I feel like I should have some kind of embassy or maybe immunity to the law, but really I just get to use the most incredible butter ever and then talk about it, which is even better.

Challenge Butter is truly the best tasting butter I’ve tried AND it’s from California cows NOT treated with the growth horomont rBST. Raising two kiddos I try to avoid any food from animals treated with hormones, so this is perfect for us!

Challenge also makes the creamiest cream cheese, which I used in the fluffy layers of cream cheese frosting. I highly recommend it!

Pumpkin Churro Layer Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 3 layer 8 inch round cake

Ingredients

  • Cake Batter:
  • 3 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Churro Coating:
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) salted Challenge Butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Frosting:
  • 2 sticks salted Challenge Butter, softened slightly
  • 8 oz Challenge Cream Cheese, softened slightly
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 3 8 or 9 inch cake pans and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In the bowl of your mixer, mix pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs on medium speed until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture, beating on medium until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Divide the batter into the three pans and bake for about 45 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched in the center. Remove to wire racks and let cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.
  3. Once cakes are cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours, or overnight if possible. This will allow the cakes to firm up enough to stand up to being dipped in melted butter.
  4. Once cakes are firm and chilled, use a serrated knife to cut off any domed tops and level them. Combine sugar and cinnamon and spread on a large plate. Brush cakes with melted butter and then dip in cinnamon sugar, coating the sides, tops and bottoms. Place cakes on individual plates while you work on the others.
  5. Prepare frosting:
  6. In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter, cream cheese, milk and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, blending until just barely mixed in. Increase mixer speed to high, beating for about a minute until fluffy and smooth.
  7. Assemble and frost cake, leaving edges bare. Top with leftover cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Notes

(Prep does not include chilling time) **Cake batter adapted from Taste of Home

Enjoy! I think you’ll love this cake!

 

***Sponsored posts make running this website financially possible, and I am SO grateful to have opportunities to team up with brands I love and use in my day to day life. Challenge Dairy is one of those companies! I have been compensated for this post, but all thoughts and opinions are 157% my own.

 

If you like Cherry Cheese Danish, you will LOVE these simple Cherry Cheese Danish Bars. They are a fast and simple way to whip up a batch of danish.

Easy Cherry Cheese Danish -- whip up a whole batch of Cherry Cheese Danish with this quick recipe!

I have always loved danish, Cherry Cheese Danish in particular. Especially when said danish is purchased from Panera, because that place is just so relaxing.

The only problem with relaxing places like Panera is that toddlers do not belong there. Toddlers do not belong anywhere relaxing, actually. In fact, there are whole businesses for toddlers that revolve around being as UNRELAXING as possible, like Chuck E. Cheese.

Cherry Cheese Danish Bars -- the simples and fasatest recipe for whipping up a batch of danish!

That’s what happens when you have a toddler — you get banished to all the unrelaxing places. So you drive by Panera and it beckons you with it’s smoothies and gorgeous displays of pastries and calm people wearing cardigans quietly working on their laptops. But you know that if you stop in, your toddler will most likely spill the $5 smoothie you buy them, crying and begging for a drink of your fancy coffee. Which you will give them because for the love, when a toddler is throwing a fit in a calm place, you do what you need to do to so you’re not responsible for disrupting the vibe of the calm, cardigan-wearing people. So you pass up Panera and instead opt for McDonalds with the PlayPlace, where you sit in the playground room that smells like feet, drinking a coke and wishing you had a pastry and a fancy coffee.

Story of my life, people. Welcome to my tribe. The tribe of stinky feet rooms and no relaxing.

Cherry Cheese Danish Bars Recipe

In light of my current situation, I decided to make my own darn Cherry Cheese Danish. Obviously I don’t have all the time in the land because, Life. So, I made this quick version that involves making a whole sheet of danish and then cutting it into squares.

The other cool thing about this method is that you can cut yourself a big piece but tell yourself that you only ate ONE danish, so no big deal. Also, you can cut tiny pieces for everyone else because hey — you deserve to be selfish every now and again.

(CLICK HERE TO EASILY PIN THIS RECIPE FOR LATER)

Cherry Cheese Danish Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 8 oz block cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cherry pie filling
  • Crumb topping (optional)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 TBS butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 TBS warm water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Unroll thawed puff pastry onto a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth and combined. Spread evenly on puff pastry, leaving 1/2 inch plain all around the edges.
  3. Spread cherry filling evenly over cream cheese, again leaving it off about 1/2 inch of the edge.
  4. Fold plain edges of pastry in, pressing in with your fingers to seal.
  5. Sprinkle pastry evenly with crumb topping and bake for about 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  6. In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and water until smooth and drizzle over pastry. Let cool before cutting and serving.

This is one of my new favorites — I can’t wait to try it with blueberry filling, too!

Enjoy!