Saturday, July 25, 2015

We are moving...

Since we are beginning a new chapter in our lives, I have decided to move our blog to Wordpress.

When I first established our blog we were newly engaged. I chronicled our wedding prep, our wedding, and our lives as newly weds. Now that we are starting a family, I thought this would be a good time to change. We will still be "Along the Strand," but we will have a fresh look with a more focused and creative spirit.

We hope everyone will love the new look. Please join us at: Hope to see you all there!

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July from the Strands: Explosive News

We have been holding on to a secret since May and we are so excited to announce our "Explosive News."

We're excited to say our own little firecracker will be arriving January 2016.

Happy birthday, America! Happy birthday to my hubby! And in January happy birthday to Baby Strand!

Happy 4th of July!

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Full Year of Change, Love, Loss, & Becoming Our Best

It has been over a year and a half since I last blogged and although I do not care for excuses, I know life often happens when making plans.

The past year was filled with deep dark valleys, towering ethereal mountains, and dusty plateaus where only the wind blows. It has been a year full of change, enduring love, the pain of loss, and the determination of becoming our best.

I was able to retain and increase my position at the middle school to a full time 8th grade Social Studies teacher, despite the wringer of public education cuts. Through tireless prayer from my friends and family, I was able to have this blessing and dream job, and allow Kenny to scale back his hours at work so he could return to school in hopes of earning a degree. Praise the Lord! We are so blessed!

Last summer (around this time), however, I experienced one of the greatest losses our family has ever experienced: the unexpected loss of a very dear and close uncle. We all continue to mourn for our loss and grieve, missing him daily, but it is amazing to me how his life continues to touch people. He is still a living testament of generosity, compassion, Living (because, man, did he Live), and of Christ's love. Although, we miss him very much, I know he is with us, and every once in awhile, I could almost feel his encouraging words and love, and I am reminded why we Live.

As quickly as the summer came and we experienced our dark valley, we also experienced those towering peaks, as we celebrated Kenny's 30th in Las Vegas, and we celebrated our One Year Anniversary on a little weekend get-away in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge.
4th of July in Las Vegas.
One Year Anniversary
Paper Anniversary
Up by Mary Hill Winery
Multnomah Falls
The 2013-2014 school year began with gratitude in my full time position as an 8th grade Social Studies teacher, but still as a relatively new teacher, I, as well as the most experienced teacher, felt the pressure and stress. I am sure everyone has heard of the changes in public education in Oregon as well as the Nation, so it must come to no surprise when the you hear the terms: Common Core, proficiency grading, on-demand writing assessments, and PLCs. On top of all of this, our 8th graders this year needed so much love and attention, and all though my heart more than wanted to mother and nurture them, I was often left emotionally drained and wounded. Oh, and for some reason, I decided to ensure I was invaluable to the school and took on the ever-time consuming task of After School Activities Coordinator.
Before & After
In reflection of the pressures, stress, and anxiety of the school year, I was forced to realize what was the most important thing in my pedagogy: the relationships I formed with students and (hopefully) the impact I had on their character (and HOPEFULLY a passion in learning from history and becoming active citizens to change our future world into a place of acceptance).

In the midst of the school year, we dealt with the transition of Kenny attending school and working part-time. There were some real budgetary adjustments we had to make and it was at times stressful, but the Lord continued to provide. My family, due to my uncle's passing, felt wounded and often disjointed, but we also came together and finding bonds we never had before. My closest group of friends also dealt with life altering events and losses, which I feel have only brought us closer together and we are finding the 'glue' that keeps us together is the simplest and sweetest of ingredients.
The Ingredients
As the school marks an end, it also marks a new beginning. Kenny and I (nearly two years ago, August) made a commitment to love it each other through sickness and in health. After what seemed like a dry, desert plateau for miles without end, we are finally in a position where we want to work to better ourselves: to bring out the best in each other. We felt almost disconnected at times, as two ships passing in the night, and now we are rendezvousing in a place where we both feel we should be. We want to live healthy and feel good. We eventually want to start a family and we want to be our very best when we are blessed with the said family. We do not know what the future holds. As I said before, life often happens when you are making plans, but we have both made a commitment to one another to better ourselves, our relationship, our spirituality, our careers, and our health. We are making baby steps, but I know we are heading in the right direction. We are attending Crossfit together, we are scaling back on the processed/chemical laden foods and buying more fresh/clean foods, we are taking more time to connect with one another, we are growing in faith, and we are both attending classes to better our careers.

I do not know what the next year has in store for us, but I am excited to see what happens as we continue to grow together. We will most definitely have more deep valleys, dry plateaus, and high mountain peaks, but we know we are in this together.
Love, the Strands.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Beginning of Our First Christmas

I am so thankful I married a man who loves Christmas just as much as I do. As soon as Thanksgiving was over we began decorating for Christmas. The first Sunday after Turkey Day we were picking up our tree at Sleighbells (which we picked out back in September mind you).
This year we began collecting Department 56 Charles Dickens' Village and of course we had to get three to start our village. We expect to pick out one or two each year.

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Thanksgiving at the Strand House

Kenny and I decided this year that we would host a small get together with our two immediate families at our new house. That meant that I was going to tackle the turkey once again. My first turkey was last year and it was quite the learning experience. This year I had some help and support, since my mom was joining us.

It still meant an early morning as I was making cinnamon rolls for breakfast and I needed to get them in the oven before the turkey took-over. Of course this meant turning on the Macy's Day Parade, the fire to take the chill off the house, and coffee pot since it was so early.

I was so happy at how it all turned out. Thank you Mom for all the help. When all was said and done, Kenny and I settled in with our turkey/eggnog comas and happily congratulated ourselves on hosting our first family holiday.

And in good ol' Jennifer & Kenny Strand fashion (yes, I married the man who loves Christmas just as much as I do—I wouldn't have asked for anything less), down came Thanksgiving and up went Christmas.

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Harvest Time

A weekend spent carving pumpkins with the husband and making wreaths with my mom. Pumpkins are from Baggenstos Farm and the wreath material is from Luscher Farm.

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A Much Needed Weekend Get-Away

In early October, Kenny and I were quickly realizing we needed a "reset" button. We had struggled with some family stress, trying to balance our new life together, and still sad over having to give up our puppy (see update at the end of the last blog post). So we decided that we would take a night and travel to Skamania Lodge
Kenny surprised me by upgrading our original room to a fireplace suite. We enjoyed drinks by the fire during a foggy autumn evening.

During the Sunday Brunch, we quickly realized that we MUST come back. All you can eat. Bottomless champagne. A stocked Bloody Mary bar for Kenny. Eggs Benedict. Bananas Foster French Toast. Need I say more?

As we were leaving the concierge told us how beautiful the lodge becomes during Christmas time and how they often get snow. I am thinking we may need a weekend away after the holidays. Maybe birthday weekend?

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

We Have Some Catching Up To Do

Well by this point we all know that Kenny and I tied the knot on August 10th, 2012. It was the wedding of our dreams. We couldn't have asked for a better celebration of our love and we are already talking about renewing our vows one day. We are so happy and so in love!

Needless to say, this whirlwind has got me all backed up on our blog. And I will try and take a moment soon to catch everyone up. We have the bachelor and bachelorette party to cover, as well as the wedding and the honeymoon, but at this time our crazy schedule is keeping us busy, so that will have to wait for another time (I know the anticipation must be killing you!).

But since the wedding, we have added an addition to our family already! He was born two days after we were married and he will be three weeks old tomorrow. Everyone, meet Leonidas, our Siberian Husky. 

We are looking forward to bringing him home at the end of September/first week of October. We will keep everyone updated on our puppy progress.

Two exciting things happened during our week back since the honeymoon: I began my new job, complete with orientation and workshops, in preparation to be a teacher in the Tigard-Tualatin school district. I am so excited! And I've been busy all week preparing for my students. The second thing is huge! On Friday we officially became homeowners! Woo whoo!!!!! We are so thrilled and can't wait to get the keys! Monday afternoon the keys will be handed over to us and then begins the big move! I am so excited to organize, decorate, and paint! So next to work, puppy plans, and a new house, I have a lot of updating to do as the weeks go by! So stay tuned!

*Update: a week into having Leonidas, we quickly realized that he would not be able to fit in our lives at this current time. We reluctantly gave him to a new home, but we knew it was the best thing for him. He is now living with a couple who live on the coast, have one of his older brothers, and his new momma is training him to be a Fire and Rescue dog. So although we still think of him and miss him, we know he is a lot happier and is given a lot more than we could have given him.
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

McMinnville Groupons for Guests

I have talked to several of our guests and since the wedding is essentially a local destination wedding for most, many couples/families are making it a little weekend get-away. I came across a couple groupons from the area that I thought I would share with everyone, just in case one of these wine tastings are of interest. I'll keep a look out for any other groupons from this area to take advantage of.

Embrace Oregon Tours—McMinnville
Four hour wine tour for one or two (up to 55% off)

Sample wines from three vineyards, feast on gourmet snacks, and learn about the region's viticultural history.

Amity Vineyards—Dayton-Amity
Wine tasting for two or four with logo glasses and $15 store credit for wine purchase (up to 55% off)

Well-established winery crafts crisp, food-friendly whites and approachable pinot noirs with estate-grown grapes.

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Tractor Jennifer & A Touch of 'Shabby Chic' (SPOILER ALERT!)

[Let me first start off by saying, if you don't want to know what the guestbook table is going to look like, don't continue reading. It's not set up, but the basic design is there.]


Earlier in the spring, my mom and I, took a little day trip to go visit my Granny and Grandpa up past Woodland, Washington (in a small rural area of Ariel, or is it Cougar?—I don't expect anyone other than my family to know where that is). Grandpa was cleaning out an old shed that was on the property from the previous/first owner (who knows how old the shed was or the things in it? Grandpa and Granny have been living here for as long as I can remember), which had collapsed over the years of snow pack. He found several old white-washed windows, some broken, but most of them intact. So he told me I could take however many I need—when I told him my idea for the guestbook table—and he even let me drive and operate his tractor too!

[*Quick Budget tip: Vintage touches are such an easy way to make a wedding chic and affordable! And you would be surprised what you can find hidden on your grandparents property!]

First time I ever drove one of those things, and although it was incredibly slow (I was maybe going 5 mph, which is hilarious when you look at the picture it appears as though Grandpa is holding onto the back for dear life—I am moving so slow in the picture the iPhone was able to take it in motion without even appearing blurry at all!), it was actually kind of fun (Grandpa even joked that if I was having so much fun I could come up and mow his lawn anytime).

So with the talented help of my engineer student brother (his abilities are endless, from espresso machine refurbisher to farm-grown cook-extraordinar—oh and he roasts and sells his own farm-grown coffee beans which are to die for [not your average joe]!), we were able to create my idea for a guestbook table and for a tri-window screen. I won't give away everything here, because you just have to wait and see. But it is going to be used in the decor in a very awesome way!

Mom and Jonathan cleaned the windows with a vinegar/water mix, and then used a wire brush to brush off the lose flakes of paint (be sure to protect yourself while doing this—old paint is generally lead paint).

There was some metal flashing around the windows that was carefully removed with a chisel and hammer. Old rusted hinges were also removed and replaced with some restored vintage-looking hinges.

The square window was cleaned and sealed (we used Modge Podge to seal the paint because the spray sealant we got turned out shinny, which took away from the 'shabby chic' look). Jonathan cut some pieces of wood (I think the wood is considered a 2 by 2?) and fortunately there were already holes on the dresser that probably once supported a mirror, so he was able to drill holes into the wood and just screw onto the dresser.

The three long windows are all hinged together and can now be folded out to create a window screen.

I am so happy how it all turned out and so grateful that I have such a talented and helpful brother! He did more than just these pieces, but I can't show that here ;)

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