Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bookshelf on a Budget

About a month before we got married, Mr. Handsome cleaned out the house he had been renting during dental school and brought everything back to his family's house so the two of us could decide what to keep.

He had some great second-hand furniture that he had received as gifts, including a couch and a kitchen table. He also had a large bookshelf. The minute that bookshelf made it inside, Mr. Handsome's 12-year-old sister, who is a major bookworm, was all over it. "Can I have it? Can I have it?" she asked eagerly.

Unable to resist her cuteness, I gave in. I also figured it would be a long time before we had enough books to fill such a big shelf. Well, I was wrong.

Several days after we had moved into our rental house in Tennessee, I realized that we needed a bookshelf. As newlyweds on a tight budget, we decided it would be financially irresponsible to just go out and buy a bookshelf.

What was I supposed to do? I walked through our house, looking for any sort of shelf that would work. At one point, I even tried balancing our books on a windowsill, but that didn't work very well.

I came across a plastic milk crate that fit half our books. Then I noticed a pile of empty moving boxes and thought, 'Why not just turn one of those into a bookshelf?' I pulled back the flaps, filled it with books, and voila! A makeshift bookshelf! It's not the prettiest think ever, but it meets our needs.What do you think?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wedding Planning: A Family Affair

Mr. Handsome jokes that his family hijacked our wedding. He's right, although I would say they lovingly hijacked our wedding, with my family's permission. Let me explain.

When it came to wedding planning, I was definitely not your average bride. What I was looking forward to was the actual marriage, so the details of the wedding just didn't seem to be all that important. The list of what I wanted our big day to look like was limited to the following:

1. Fun and relaxing for everyone (no stressing over the details)
2. Simple but elegant decor
3. Casual, affordable bridesmaid dresses that could be worn again
4. Reasonably priced
5. No tuxedos (too expensive and impractical)

Since the beginning of our dating courtship, I had envisioned walking down the aisle to a guitar instrumental of "Come Thou Fount," my favorite song, played by Mr. Handsome. A few family members offered to accompany him on other instruments, but I gently explained that I really just wanted my groom up there. That dream was fulfilled, so I was happy.

I did a lot of behind-the-scenes wedding planning, such as designing and addressing the 180 invitations, drafting the order of ceremonies, coordinating with the caterers (aka Mr. Handsome's uncle and family-friend), and meeting with the photographer (also a family-friend).

Mr. Handsome's family generously offered to host the reception on their rural acreage, and they ended up taking care of most of the details. Their family is significantly larger than mine, so it's true that his parents invited more than 300 guests, while my parents only invited 100. We broke from the tradition of the bride hosting the wedding in her hometown, but only because both our families agreed that it would make for the most memorable, relaxing celebration.

The flowers and decorations were planned by my mom, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, and cousin-in-law. Of course, they asked my opinion on everything, and I maintained a master list of all the plans to ensure that everything stayed organized and did not become too impractical or expensive.

Our friends and extended family were also eager to lend a hand, which allowed us to keep costs down while pulling off such a large event in only three months. By the time it was all said and done, we ended up DIY-ing most of our wedding.

So, yes, in short, Mr. Handsome's family ended up "hijacking" our wedding, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. In our situation, due to the location and timeframe, it would have been impossible for my family to do everything. And honestly, it was way more fun to have everyone involved.

More details coming soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How I Met My Husband

Several readers have asked how Mr. handsome and I met, so I wrote up the story for you all. Enjoy!

During college, I lived with a group of Christian girls in a house owned by a local church. While living there, I became friends with Anne, Mr. Handsome's sister. She started inviting me to spend time with her family because they lived only 20 minutes away, while mine lived 2 hours away. 

On one particular evening, Anne convinced me to come to her house for a birthday celebration and mentioned that her oldest brother would be visiting from dental school. Mr. Handsome and I didn't talk much that night, but I remember taking note of how thrilled his family was to see him. His little sisters laughed and smiled as he grabbed them and flipped them upside down. This was definitely a guy everyone loved, and he was good-looking, too.

During the six months that followed, I saw Mr. Handsome a handful of times at family gatherings. He would always make a point of sitting next to me and striking up a conversation. He was easy to talk to, and we seemed to have a lot in common. 

As we spent more time getting to know each other, I began to realize that God had been setting the stage for a relationship between the two of us. Seven months after we met, Mr. Handsome, with my dad's permission, asked me if I wanted to pursue a relationship. I said yes!

We lived two hours apart for the entirety of our 23-month dating courtship, but we still managed to spend a significant amount of time together. When Mr. Handsome and I weren't together, we communicated via phone conversations and texting. In addition to being handsome, this guy had all the attributes I wanted in a husband. Most importantly, he loved God, and he loved me.

In March 2015, Mr. Handsome orchestrated a more romantic proposal than I had ever dreamed was possible. He used his extreme last-minute planning skills to get me down to Florida without suspecting anything, and he surprised me on St. Petersburg Beach. (He also managed to get both sets of our parents there.) 

Mr. Handsome led me over to a private spot on the beach and read Proverbs 31. "I have been looking for a Proverbs 31 wife all my life, and I have found her," he said. "Will you marry me?" 

We have been married almost two months, and I am blessed beyond measure to be serving God with the man of my dreams by my side. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Homemade Chocolate Pudding


Happy Friday! To celebrate the end of another week, how about I share a fabulous dessert recipe with you all? Any objections? This recipe is quick and easy....and oh so delicious!

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup sugar (can cut down to 1/8 cup if you prefer a less sweet dessert)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups milk (any kind works)
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)*
Directions:
  • Whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy, 2-quart saucepan. 
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly until the pudding is thick (about 3-5 minutes).
  • Remove from heat.
  • Beat the egg in a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl.
  • SLOWLY add the hot chocolate mixture to the egg, whisking constantly. You do not want the egg to cook.
  • Whisk in the chocolate chips until they are melted and the mixture is smooth. 
  • Pour the pudding into cups or small bowls. 
  • To prevent a skin from forming, place wax paper or plastic wrap over the surface of the pudding. (This step is optional and can get messy.)
  • Refrigerate until cold (at least 2 hours).
  • Enjoy!
Feel free to experiment with different chocolate flavors. You can use a bar of chocolate if you cut it into small pieces so it melts easily. 

Makes four, 6-ounce servings. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Meet Ellie & Mr. Handsome


A number of you have asked me to share some information about myself and my husband so you can get to know us better. Your wish is our command!

My name is Ellie and my husband's name is Mr. Handsome. Of course that's not the name on his birth certificate, but I'm into nicknames, so I thought that would be a fun way to refer to him on my blog. 

We tied the knot in June 2015. I plan to write additional posts about our wedding, but I'll tell you right now that it was quite the production. We had a short engagement (three months), invited more than 500 guests to our wedding, and served a full meal. (Thankfully, only 300 people showed up.) We also held the reception in Mr. Handsome's family's backyard.

If we had not had so much help from our immediate families and extended relatives, we would have had no chance of pulling off such a big event in only three months. 

After the wedding, we jetted off to Grand Cayman for a week honeymoon before moving to Tennessee. My dad graciously gave us airline points, so the only thing we paid for was a rental car and a condo. 

Mr. Handsome is a dentist, and I am a journalism major. Both of us have a passion for serving others and making an impact on the world. Right now, my time is consumed by blogging, setting up our home, writing thank you notes, finding my way around our new town, and doing paperwork for my husband. When the latter three things subside, I plan to look for a part-time job that allows me to use my writing skills.

Both of us would love to have a "large" family (about 5-10 children...probably not 19) and are looking forward to seeing what God has in store for our future. Right now, we are focusing on growing closer to each other and the Lord. 

We enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and camping. Mr. Handsome is an avid fisherman, and I am currently trying to develop an appreciation for that hobby. It must be working because I spent over an hour wading in water that had to be about 60 degrees yesterday evening, and even though I didn't catch a single fish, I still managed to enjoy myself. I'm not sure why...

So that's us in a nutshell.  We're pretty exciting, aren't we?