Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fall/Winter Recap

Hi world! I have been incredibly lax about writing anything lately; there has been a lot going on in the sense of just plain busyness, but not a lot going on in the sense of "omg big news I must share and elaborate upon." It's been about a month and a half? Well, the biggest events in that time period have been having family & friends visit at long last from the southern peninsula I call my first home! (I get in trouble with Darin for calling Florida "home" because Michigan is home now, right?!?)

One of my best friends ever, Heather, came to visit at the beginning of November and we were all over the place. She accompanied me on my first visit to Eastern Market and we bought plenty of goodies, and then took a nice little trek around downtown to see the riverfront, and the big ol' Christmas tree at Campus Martius! CHRISTMAS!!!

I feel a little dorky because I go to these places plenty of times and still want to take all the pictures ever. Whatevs, I am just trying to give Detroit some of the appreciation it sorely lacks.

We ate at some of my favorite dining locations (Motor City Brewing Works has jammin' pizza and, even though I have family connections to it, I still think the food at Santorini Estiatorio is yummy yums.) I wish all my weekends were this packed full of my favorite stuff.

My parents came for the week of Thanksgiving and we also did a bunch of Detroit touring and dining and good times! And also fixed some stuff in our house... gotta love a dad who is a handyman! :) It was a good time of finally seeing my own family and also spending time with my in-law family, who were all together for a delicious and cozy Thanksgiving at my S-I-L Stephanie's lovely new house. And the Lions lost by yet another few bad calls and lame mistakes. What is life.

(Insert imaginary pictures I took while they were here... worst child in the world.)

I did, however, run my first real race and my first 10K on Thanksgiving morning at the Detroit Turkey Trot! What a great time, anyone who can should do it. I got a late start out of the house so I missed out on meeting up with people from work beforehand but I totally surprised myself by how well I did running, considering that I didn't train whatsoever and hadn't run in probs over a month? (Geesh I am terrible) I ran the whole thing without stopping. The views were pretty great all over downtown Detroit, although it was getting rough towards Rosa Parks Blvd because there's less to look at and it was getting a little exhausting. I also for some reason thought a 10K was like, four miles. Not over six. So I was confused at how it wasn't ending after that mile marker, haha. But I did it! I had to use a port-o-potty and blew my nose a lot into my sleeves because it was cold and breezy but I did it!

And the one picture I took whilst with my parents was... the giant hamburger suspended from the ceiling at Mallie's, a Man vs. Food filming location that turns out to be only about 10 minutes from our house. Instead of a huge burger, I got... a salad!!

Since then, the holiday season has started to get pretty busy. Lots of parties and events going on. And I am going to have to talk Darin into returning to Greenfield Village in Dearborn to commemorate the one year anniversary of getting engaged there. It'll be a lot less of him being weird and me ruining his plans than last time, so it sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Although there aren't tons of good stories to tell, I can barrage everyone with completely whatever pictures that represent our life as Michiganders in pre-winter times...

The tiny little bit of snow that has showed up so far, about a week ago. Actually, even though winter up here terrifies me as a little Sunshine State baby, I am pretty jazzed for snow to start really falling soon!

My first visit to the Renaissance Center and GM Headquarters was on Friday night with some friends from Detroit Cru after a night of learning all about what it would be like to intern as full-time college missionaries (aka the dreamiest job ever). Carzzzzz

This was one of those views where you think, "I HAVE TO PHOTOGRAPH THIS AMAZING MOMENT LOOK WHAT I CAN SEE RIGHT NOW" and then your phone turns it into a murky mess. Anyways, it just encourages you to go to the top of the Ren Cen yourself to see a sweet view of Detroit/Canada.

Well, as it is Sunday, I need to continue down my list of chores that will make the rest of the week more bearable. Glad to catch myself up! Maybe I will please start doing a better job of chronicling important things in life.

Bonus pitchas!

Darin, showing off his masterpiece portrait of my eyeroll face. The media: Ritz cracker and canned spray cheese. >:|

My favorite cube of our IKEA bookshelf thingie that my awesome mother-in-law didn't want anymore. The Tigers & Judy Genshaft are a good pair.

Love, Lara

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Homesteadin' in the D

Happy Sunday, friends! I love this day of the week, even though Darin has to work for most of it (fortunately, not during church!). This morning, though, we woke up really late from our night downtown! It was poppin' in Detroit from the Tigers game and we got home a bit late...

Fall is definitely going on up here already. The high has been in the 50's all weekend, and the trees are looking so good. Darin's birthday is coming up, and I start my new job tomorrow! All in all, I'd say that this season has always been my favorite for good reason!

Lately, we've been doing two things in particular: watching The Walking Dead on Netflix and making fall goodies in the kitchen. Oh em geeeee, that show is out of control. It stresses me out to no end. While we were on a Breaking Bad kick, at least I didn't really care what happened to any characters. But with The Walking Dead, they are seriously doing everything they can to give me heart attacks.

However, the fall harvest is a lot more productive and exciting! One of the many things I am loving about fall in Michigan is the apple-calypse. I hear the crop was lacking this year, but I have been picking up bag after bag of Michigan apples.

I pored over a few slow cooker applesauce recipes and decided on using about three pounds of Gala apples and two tablespoons of brown sugar, as well as half a cup of water, and then letting them cook on low for 8-ish hour, or on high for 4-ish hours. After all that time, they fell apart so much that mashing them wasn't really necessary. Stirring them hard with a wooden spoon, as well as cutting some of the skins apart -- which I left in, for vitamins and ease, and it worked great -- did all the mashing needed. And, voila! I had applesauce! It would so good hot on vanilla ice cream, or cold like we usually eat it. Darin loved it too!

The best part is that it is SO healthy! The tiniest bit of brown sugar enhances the natural sweetness of the apples. I think the slow cooker does a great job of keeping the flavor locked in as the apples break down and dissolve.

Now, today's adventure was a little beyond anything I've attempted before... apple butter! I've had it at Cracker Barrel, I've seen it at TJ Maxx, I love it. It tastes like the essence of what apple should be. And, thanks for the millionth time to Pinterest, I saw the slow cooker version that would push me to making it on my own!

This was my inspiration: Slow Cooker Naked Apple Butter at Oh She Glows. Her recommendation is adding no sugar at all, making the healthiest and most natural apple butter possible. I went out and bought a decent variety of apples, following her advice of going half tart and half sweet. I got pounds and pounds of Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, and Jonathan apples to balance out the flavors, and then chopped them up and overstuffed the slow cooker, and set it to go on high for 4 hours. I used my immersion blender to blend it to death, until it was chunk free and smooth as velvet. Even at that point it tasted amazing.

I added a tablespoon of brown sugar just for my taste, and a squirt of lemon juice and a good dash of cinnamon. I let it keep going for another hour to thicken up. 

It is the most heavenly thing I've ever cooked in my life. Even compared to my favorite mint chocolate chip cake. Sweet Lord. This is an inexpensive homemade concoction you've got to try! I can't wait to make biscuits and smother them with this stuff!

Today's try was just to see how it turned out, but next time I'm putting my new canning water bath to work! Thanks Amazon gift card! Hope y'all like apples, because these may be my gifts of choice to give from now on... Anyways, happy fall and October, friends! I know my Floridian friends aren't getting much of that yet, but for us here in Michigan, I hope you're having as much fun as I am!

Love, Lara

A snapshot of the beauty in our neighborhood. Love ya, October!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thrift Is A Virtue

Good morning! I am enjoying one of my last weekdays where I can be at home at 11 a.m. in my cozy clothes doing nothing, since in two weeks I will be in an office at this time! Yay! But in the meantime, I am going to brew myself another cup of coffee and chillax until I have to go wipe some noses and plop bottoms onto chairs (since standing on them is kids' favorite but quickest-regretted pastime).

Being a young newlywed, I know how it goes trying to get the most bang for your puny buck. By puny, I mean lower middle class -- definitely not claiming poverty, since we have been blessed way too much with education, jobs, wedding gift money, etc. However, it's hard to see magazines and TV shows and get ideas for what you want your clothes and house to look like, only to remember that you need to be saving for a new car sans Detroit bullet holes (Darin's gift from old neighbors lol), not buying stuff from Pottery Barn or Sephora. Luckily, I am finding that if you budget right and look around, you would be surprised by the kinds of good deals you can find!

Home Decor

I wanted to decorate our house for fall somewhat, and saw these really cute mercury glass pumpkins on Pinterest (my vice), from Pottery Barn. But the small one alone is $24.50! Sheesh! However, on my once-in-a-while trip to Michael's craft store, I found a super thrifty solution. They had styrofoam pumpkins painted silver already, no DIY needed. And the day I was in, they happened to be 40% off that brand! What what! I paid $8 for three pumpkins for our coffee table. If we wrap them nicely, they will last a while, even if a way cheaper material than the PB version. Check out craft stores, they have some house decor that isn't too cheesy and crafty looking.


I have been loving the idea of darker lip color for a while now, and haven't really bought any colors in that family before. Darin prefers more natural peaches and pinks, and I usually like focusing on my eyes more in my makeup routine, so lips that are too colorful would be kind of overkill. But I wanted to try something new! I was at the store five below and saw a bunch of Wet n Wild brand makeup for super cheap. Perfect for trying something out before plunking down even $7 for a Revlon or other nicer brand. As it turns out, I like their lipstick a lot more than I thought, and I'll stick with this one until it runs out!

Haha no other makeup on today! But it's such a pretty color. It's called Sugar Plum Fairy and it's a matte shade, in case anyone was wondering. (Put on a layer of lipstick, blot it, dust some powder over it, and then smudge on a little more lipstick to make it last!)


Darin has made fun of my glasses for a while now. Actually, it was on Valentine's Day when he told me over Skype that he thinks they're ugly. Great timing, right? Obviously it didn't mess up our relationship since we are married, but I still have those glasses, since I think they are fine. However, I noticed a friend on Facebook mention that with you get your first pair of glasses free, and that hers actually came in the mail and that it was not a scam. Not a bad deal at all! I investigated myself, and they really are free! I paid about $20 for shipping and handling since I ordered the cheapest lenses, which is not bad for a $100 pair of Derek Cardigan wayfarer-style glasses.

Aren't they so cute? The style name is "Black Rootbeer" in case you want to see for yourself. I can't wait till they arrive! The nice thing is that they have a 366 day return guarantee with free return shipping, so if your prescription somehow doesn't come out quite right or the fit is off, send 'em back! Woohoo! Thanks, Facebook, for doing something for me rather than waste my life.

In short, don't give up on cute stuff on a budget! You'll find great deals in the most interesting of places! Now, to find a loophole to score a cheap Michael Kors bag... nah, that'll have to wait a few years.

Love, Lara

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Workin' Woman

Alright, people, big news, and I don't have the patience to write good build-up... I GOT A FULL-TIME JOB! A grown-up job! 40 hours a week! Dress pants! I am sooooo excited! I did about fifty cartwheels around my house!

God's providence is so above and beyond would I could've imagined. As I said previously, I turned down pursuing a job with Quicken Loans. The hours were too unforgiving -- minimum 60 a week -- and there were licensing exams and all kinds of crazy things that made it seem like it would put too much of a stress on more important areas of my life. I wanted to have time to spend with Darin, getting plugged into a church, etc. Yet after I said no, I got really nervous about ever finding a job. Darin and I both wondered if that was a mistake to turn down my one lead. On Wednesday, though, out of nowhere, things changed!

Darin's awesome cousin Melissa, who has a super family (and the cutest kiddos ever), asked a bunch of people she knew if anyone was looking for a job, because there was an entry-level opening at her legal firm. Whaaaaaaaaat. Darin pounced on that for me while I was at the daycare and had me send my resume, and before I knew it on Monday I was driving up for an interview! And no one else had followed through on their search for someone to fill this position, and right away I knew I was on the team!

I couldn't be happier. I can learn the things needed for this job, it pays well, and it's full-time at last. It is also a big blessing that my supervisor will be my cousin-in-law, of course. :) I am so jazzed! It is the most massive answer to prayer, that I have the chance to make money and gain experience with a great firm and still have time to spend on the important things in life.

Yesterday when Darin and I started our bible-in-a-year reading plan, something jumped out to us that seems like the perfect description of what our lives should be. It was this:

"They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do." Psalm 1:3

We noticed it because our street name was in there, so we are literally planted along the riverbank! Haha. But we were reminded that we are grounded and steady, faithful in our place, bearing fruit there continually. The river as the source of our power and nourishment sustains us and gives us success and life. This is where God planted us, and He has great things in store for our family! It may take time to see where He is heading us, but we're asking Him to see more of His kingdom come here, even on our little street or in our little offices.

Anyways, other news with us is pretty ordinary. We finally merged our bank accounts yesterday, so that's one more marriage check off the list! Now if only Secretary of State would SEND ME MY NEW DRIVER'S LICENSE FOR PETE'S SAKE but it's okay. It better come, though.

Those are the little headlines for today! Love and blessings!

Love, Lara

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

I have not written in a long time! It's for the best, I needed to wait a while to have some things that are actually interesting to share with anybody. We (Darin & I) have been living rather busy lives as of late with work and school, so I guess the "adult" life has started. COLLEGE STUDENTS: when people say you have tons of free time at school, believe them!!! I felt so "busy" until I had a house to maintain, a job to go to, and food to make that is somewhat healthy, let alone exercise or read. I did not heed these words. Alas, not important.

Actually, I feel tempted to be anxious right now for several reasons. I just turned down a second interview with Quicken Loans in downtown Detroit. This seems slightly like madness, because who would not pursue more of a full-time job in this economy, especially me? I really hated to do it. I was just faced with a hard choice: do I continue to pursue, and take, a job that requires 60 hours a week on the phone and over ten state licensing exams? If I were single or really interested in becoming a banker for life, this would totally make sense. But I foresee a future rather where I would be kept from attending any dinner bible studies, unable to spend time with family and friends if they came to visit me, and losing out on my most quality time with Darin. The stress would exceed the relief of making a good bit of money. After a great deal of praying about how to proceed with my full-time job search, I decided to hand it over to God and keep looking elsewhere.

Anyone in my shoes looking for work knows what I mean. It is really scary to let God take control of worry about whether you'll ever find a normal full-time job, let alone one that actually stirs any interests or passions in you. (I'm leaving that part on the back burner of my thoughts for the most part right now, haha.) He is able to bring something that allows me a teensy bit more freedom and time to enjoy life rather than dread it; rest assured, if you love phone calls, then you may think I'm a nut, but I think those days would pass so slowly! I am in His hands. If I have to resort to eating only oatmeal for the rest of my meals to make ends meet, then that's what I'll do. I won't make Darin do it. Just me.

So, if anyone would please join with me in praying for this job hunt, that would be so wonderful. I believe that God can give better gifts! Pray that I not only stumble upon something God has for me, but that I will continue to be wise, facing challenges at jobs but also seeking the qualities He wants.

Besides that business, we have been wedding hopping like crazy -- it's that time of year, and we contributed to it as well! -- and it has been a blast.

Macedonian wedding line dancing -- congrats Sam & Vanessa! We partied so hard that we overslept any normal church services... :|

My babester and I looking fancy :)

Later we got ice cream, zazzled up at Dairy Queen. It pays to have friends who work there.

Heck, other unorganized photos that represent what has happened lately, because I got to work at 7:30 this morning and am not in a normal state of mind:

I have to say, I concocted the hottest interview outfit of all time for Quicken last Friday. Maybe it's the first thing I prepared for... maybe. I wore a chambray long sleeve shirt with a brown-ish pencil skirt, a white fake J. Crew bubble necklace, and nude pumps. And curled my hair, which took as long as I remember that it always does, and consequently will continue to do only for special occasions.

Oh yeah, and I finally got (most of) my name changes done! This is a souvenir I took from the Social Security Office, because I was not allowed to take pictures of the even better George Takei Star Trek posters they had everywhere. This is the best ad campaign the government has ever thought of. Keep doing what you do, Social Security, except maybe let me tell you in advance how much faster my thing will be over with than the other people and let me leave sooner. Oh, and Secretary of State was a pain in the biscuit as well, as there was some error and I had to go BACK to Social Security to have them prove AGAIN that I did come in already. (Secretary of State is the DMV up here, to my Florida peeps. Weird, right?) Anyways, the Clinton cards are on their way. Hallelujah! :)

AND... drumroll... it's my birthday!!! Yay! I feel weird saying how old on the internet just because someone could figure out my exact birthday and steal my identity, so suffice it to say that it's not old yet. This is Darin's genius birthday card to me. He knows me so well. Nothing could warm my heart quite like a holographic pug that licks my face as I sway the card in the light. He says this is the closest I will get to owning one as a pet. We'll see. Anyways, we are having sushi after he is finished with class at our favorite restaurant in Dearborn, and then I get my presents! This guy put in hours worth of effort so I know they will be spectacular!

Anyways, that's all there is to say for now! Thanks for your prayers for us and for the birthday well wishes! We are still living the good life up in the Mitten!

Love, Lara

P.S. FALL IS COMING SOON. It's already in the 50's at night. Florida Lara is happy, but dreads the coming extra coldness... :| Stay tuned for my winter clothing picks.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Busy People

Mmmmm, this is an interesting Sunday. I am in running shorts and a tank top sucking on a cough drop and alternating between freezing to death and needing a blanket, and suddenly feeling like I'm on fire and tossing it off. I am indeed the carrier of the cold... at least, I hope that's all it is! It started up Friday night when I started to have a sore throat and just got worse since then. Yuck. Not how I like to spend my weekends.

I was warned by my coworkers at the daycare. Most of them said to take vitamins because they too got sick within a few weeks of beginning work. You cannot even imagine how many vehicles of germs there are in that one little building. I've worked with toddlers all of the past two weeks, and they have no concept of covering their face when sneezing or coughing. They let snot run all down their face and squirm and run away when you try to wipe it off, lest we actually look like we take care of them when their parents come to take them away. They put pretend plastic food in their mouths at their pretend cooking time, and then offer me a taste by trying to smash a shiny wet fake cookie between my lips. They are adorable and I really do pray over those little cuties as they run around that their futures would be great, but coughing up goo is the sacrifice one must make to be a part of their developing little lives. In short: I have an awesome job up here, no matter what!

We have been so busy lately up here in the Mitten. I didn't realize how much working even part-time would affect what our house looks like, haha. It was impeccable for our housewarming party last Saturday (HALLELUJAH!) but now is a disaster, with my tissues on the ground (GROSS!) and some laundry backup. Yikes. Someone please invite themselves over so we have an urgent need to get on the ball with household cleanliness. I am letting Martha Stewart down.

At least, in that respect. As for interior decorating, she should be proud -- we finished that monster map wall art and managed even the hardest part, hanging it up!

We were seriously on crack to make something so heavy before thinking about how to affix it to the wall. Good grief. We blew a decent bit of money trying out different wires, hooks, and buying a stud finder until we got it pretty doggone secure. Rest assured, house guests, it will not topple over and give you brain damage! It was all worth it when people kept telling us how awesome it looked at our housewarming party. :)

Speaking of that party, it was so much fun! Thanks to all our friends and fam that came to hang out with us! We ended up with so much food leftover that it was just silly, and were out by the bonfire till about two in the morning, but that's the sign of a good time, I think. I have to add that the honey brough from Uncle Mike and Aunt Nancy's bees -- yes, they really do have their own hives and everything! -- is soooooo good! I do love some good honey on my toast.

Other than that, it's just work, work, work, for us both. And for me this weekend, lots of "severe cold" medicine and tissues. I haven't gotten this sick in years. Thanks, little kiddos! 

Love, Lara

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Yesterday's headline: Happy 1 month-aversary to Darin and me! (YES that is grammatically correct people) Wow. So weird. It's yet another one of those times that on the one hand, time flew, but on the other, I feel like I've been married for a long time. I am used to seeing Darin when I roll over and wake up in the morning... in those last quiet moments before we have to be running out the door to some place. I am used to putting the toilet seat down, which is not this huge pain that some ladies complain about. Our giant sink full of dishes commemorates a month that we have to take care of this house and pretend to look like mature adults!

Last night, Darin and I were sitting on our office floor chillaxing and reflecting on our marriage and our walks with God so far. Both of us realized we've taken so many things for granted that it is shameful. We so often doubt that the Lord can bring amazing things to pass when we have ample reassurance of His truly breathtaking power and love for us! I know for myself that there are plenty of things I ceased to thank Him for when I forgot about it, and that is a pitiful thing.

First of all, I am to be so thankful for our home. It is beyond anything we could have dreamed with our little poor people budget. We can't wait to have people over more often, and are praying for big hearts that seek plenty of times to do it. And I'm thankful that God gave me a talent and strong passion for cooking and baking -- it gives us an excuse to make some people come finish off my experiments! (If they are not disgusting, of course. Usually not.)

As I went through a list of lots of things I need to continue to thank God for -- a job, health, family, friends, etc. -- of course I dwelled on how thankful I am for Darin. What happened next was that I was completely wonderstruck with our story, and that we could be here today. How could a Florida girl end up all the way in Michigan like this? It's honestly a huge miracle in my eyes, that this all began because we were on the same conference in Panama City Beach. Darin couldn't even afford to go; his friend Andy paid the three hundred or so bucks needed because he really wanted Darin to come. I almost studied abroad in Istanbul, Turkey over that week, but because my dad was so vocally against it, I decided to wait on that trip and do something else. Big Break, magnet of all who wander at Spring Break, you brought us into your grasp through a game of volleyball. My roomie Ashley at the conference met Darin playing on the beach and introduced him to the rest of us later. And that was that. We were getting married.

I am thankful that we met in this miraculous way, and that we survived a miraculous long distance relationship. The wait to see each other was at times torture, and the dropped calls and Skype issues were enough to make me scream. We stayed together in a miraculous way.

I am also thankful that Darin is even alive today and that we got married at all. In February, when he was living in East Detroit, someone in his neighborhood got into a dispute with someone they knew and pulled out a massive gun to fight back. As they duked it out, Darin's car was in the crossfire at that moment. (If you want to see a really scary looking vehicle come check it out. Still has the holes, haha.) If he'd been coming home at that moment, or was still in his car, he'd be done for -- there's a hole at head-level in the passenger's window. We joke that we wish that person had shot the engine out so that Darin could get something new, but I never stop and think about the grace God showed us in that moment. Everyone was okay. No one got hurt. Darin and his neighbor reconciled and shared barbecue.  It is the craziest story we probably have, as Darin got to share to one of our elderly neighbors here who noticed the bullet holes, and we really should never stop praising God for His providence six months ago.

Now we both are working married people with an exciting new season in life. What could I even ask of Him? Probably prayers more along the lines of these Jon Foreman (and originally, bible) lyrics that come to mind:

Won't you create in me a clean heart, O God
Restore in me the joy of Your salvation
(Psalm 51)

It's a theme that pops up a lot in my life, so I keep writing about it! I hope it keeps popping up for you too!

Love, Lara

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fun in the D

This morning I couldn't stop myself from going through all my travel photos. (I am employed and start work next week so this bit of Thursday laziness is okay by me! Just to justify my bum actions to myself... sigh.) I think the little map on Facebook caught my attention and had little pins on the places I've been, and it made me nostalgic about all the really cool things I have been able to do already in my lifetime.

I really am the most blessed, lucky girl in the world, in my opinion. I can't believe that at age 22 I've set foot in so many countries. I got to see Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, hear Big Ben chime, cross Latinski Most (the bridge where Franz Ferdinaned was assassinated in Sarajevo), jump between boats in the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, and so much more. Even seeing the awesome things within the U.S. is so exciting! I rode the carousel in Central Park and wandered around Alcatraz, and put my hands in Marilyn Monroe's prints on Hollywood Boulevard. I really treasure experiences like those. If it came down to it, I'd sell most of my clothes and things if it meant I got more memories and tried so many new things.

I know it will be a while before Darin and I are able to "travel" again. We would love to go to the Balkans and visit my friends and be total tourists someday. I personally would love to go to Thailand and China and Tanzania but we will not get too far ahead of ourselves, ahaha. Luckily, I am getting more than my fill of new adventures while we are somewhat homebound for the time being!

Darin found out about a Mustache Day at the DIA in honor of a new Dali exhibit, so we went with some friends to enjoy some art... and then brewskis at the Motor City Brewery. I had me some Ghettoblaster for the first time, yum!

I promise someday, I will use a real camera and not be so Instagram-tastic. It's just so easy.

And then, for the next fun thing...

D totally surprised me yesterday by coming home with tickets to the Tigers vs. Yankees game! I was so excited -- I said that I was thinking I wanted to go for my birthday present this year. (I needed an occasion for my Verlander shirt!) Since the Tigers would mostly be away in September, Darin picked out some awesome seats and we had such a good time! I am learning things about sports. ;) We lost but it was a great game anyways. Plus I am a cheapskate gross girl and kept my cup as a souvenir. Whatever! I will start a Detroit weird souvenirs hoarding club.

Every day, I become more and more convinced that God knew what he was doing setting the two of us up and making it so that I would need to move up here for the beginning of our marriage. I really do love this place. Detroit has character that other cities don't have. There is history, former opulence, an all-American feeling, urban flavor, grittiness, and pride. Growing up in Florida, things are mostly too new for that. Our old things are Spanish forts and the winter homes of the famous people from up here. (Seriously -- Henry Ford's winter home was in Ft. Myers I think, haha.) It has a special place in my heart, but now, Detroit does too. I may live about 3 minutes outside the west city limit so it's pretty close. :)

Hopefully, one day, we will be adventuring overseas again, whether just for fun or specifically to share the gospel, but until then, I am thankful to have "smaller" adventures here in Michigan to tide me over!

Oh, and because I sort of mentioned it hit-and-run... I am indeed employed now! I am starting next week at a daycare! It is such a relief. I am starting part time so I am still looking around for other ways to fill that time and make some more bacon but it is better than alternating between going on a cleaning frenzy in our house and then lying around like a couch potato. Anyways, more stuff to come!

Love, Lara

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Real Life Begins

I am seriously in a high place of thankfulness right now. My life up here in Michigan so far as been incredibly blessed and promising; the Lord is continuing to meet needs (and just plain wants) that we have had.

First of all, I am in a great position for getting a job very soon! I'll speak more on this later, but have applied to a few places involving child care and have been given paperwork to turn back in and hopefully be employed. Today I braved the needle again -- TB test, the least awful but still a needle -- and once the results come back I can hand all that in! I AM SO RELIEVED. It's interesting how the best opportunities that have come up do involve young kids. That is not what I went to school for and hasn't been my job application focus this whole time but the doors opening are in this direction, so I am excited to move this way and see what is coming my way, because I know it's for a reason.

Also, Darin and I have already had a great deal of community and friend time sent our way upon returning home. We've hung out with several friends and lots of family, and have gracious dinner invitations headed our way to spend more time with people up here. This is something I have been praying for long before coming to Michigan. The hardest thing to leave behind in Florida has not, shockingly, been the weather or Cuban sandwiches, but definitely friends and family for company. Not only is it awesome having Darin around approximately 91839182 times more often than when we were dating, but also connecting with his friends and hopefully making them my friends too! YOU HAVE TO. YOU LOVE ME. :)

I am really loving life up here so far! The weather has been beautiful -- I can't believe how cool it gets at night, haha. There are some super cute bunnies in our yard that I'm sure gardeners hate but I love watching them hop around. Our house is so cozy and is coming together one bit at a time. I am getting used to where things are and finding new spots for hanging out. Darin and I really liked dollar beers at Chesley's down the street and walking to the park near our house after dinner. I am also an mPerks gangsta at Meijer and you KNOW we're living large with fancy groceries and whatnot. Woohoo!

The best part is knowing that we have plenty, but we sure don't need it. If it were taken away somehow, we would still have a God-fearing family in this house (or another house). We know we don't need it all and that our circumstances don't have to be this good to believe in God's faithfulness to us. Being content is all the more reason to rely on Him.

"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13 (I love when this verse is in its context!)

Can't wait to bring more of the Clintons' adventures as I start working and we head out on the town more often for different things!

Darin hung up all our instruments on the wall in our office and it looks so good!

Yesterday's sushi and Batman date since Darin got a day off :)

My ADVENTURIN' KICKS!!! I finally did the Chaco, Southern delight but bane of my poor husband's existence. Darin, I promise it'll be worth it when we do our outdoorsy business and my feets are happy!

Love, Lara

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Biggest Life Update Ever So Far

Where can I even begin to catch up on what's been going on since I last wrote??


(The gorgeous, gorgeous photography is all thanks to Lauren Schumacher Photography. She is so talented and so much fun!)

Hoooooooolyyyyyyyyy guacamole. I just can't believe it finally happened. The final countdown happened so stinking fast that it would be scary unless you are as sure as I was/am that you were doing the exact right thing. As soon as Darin arrived we were getting our marriage license, packing more things, bachelorette partying, setting up the church, and rehearsal dinner-ing our last single days away. It was so busy but so much fun. Not to mention I have the most helpful friends and family who were all over the place helping get things on the right track and making sure I did not go fruit loops. Which I did not! Success!

First of all, I seriously had the best bachelorette party ever. It was so laid back and fun without being gross in the slightest (NO, I did NOT see Magic Mike, for the last time!). We went to this awesome place in Baldwin Park where you make your own chocolates and had the best time. You can cover all kinds of crazy things with chocolate on a conveyor belt or fill truffles with fun flavors -- I kind of wish I could work there now.

We got to wear some neato paper hats! I look like a 4 year old.

We then headed back to my friend and maid of honor Heather's house for baked potatoes for a great dinner, and then drove out to Universal CityWalk for the night, ending up at a dueling piano bar, which was so fun! They did a great job, and even sang a little "going to the chapel" song for me! :) Lots of crazy drunk college guys there for a 21st birthday congratulated me, haha. We hit up a Latin dancing club there afterwards for a brief bit, before deciding we lacked the skills needed and were tired.

Everything about the wedding experience went so great. The rehearsal dinner at my parents' house was so laid back and fun, and everyone loved the homemade pizza (and Dickeson family recipe drank of course). Slumber partying with my friends before the wedding was so good, especially since those chicas are a little far away now. :( And before I knew it I was downing a yogurt and speeding to my hair appointment. Note to everyone smart: don't forget a button-down shirt. This n00b had to cut off her t-shirt to avoid ruining the hair. Luckily USF lost the game it was from so it isn't a huge tragedy.

As I anticipated from everyone else's wise words, the wedding was a huge blur. Everything happened so fast that it felt fake. Thus, nothing really felt too serious or intense and I never felt the urge to tear up once, even though my sweet groom got a little misty-eyed! I felt bad because I on the other hand had a huge case of nervous giggles and had to hold them in as I walked down the aisle, stood up there and said all my vows -- and then did actually laugh when my dad's phone rang twice while officiating the ceremony and when our cute baby niece/flower girl Drew was babbling away during the wedding -- and before I could blink I was walking back down as a wifey arm-in-arm with my boo! So crazy. We had to hustle to the park for pictures, and then hustle back so everyone could eat Tijuana Flats, and then hustle down to dance and cut the cake, and then after dancing a bit, hustle as my mom pushed us out the door to be sent off through the cloud of bubbles into the getaway car (GO GRANNY CAMRY!) and off!... to finish packing at my house before hitting up the Hilton at Universal.

It was so much fun, and so laid-back. It was the kind of wedding meant for a Lara. Nothing was too serious, little mistakes were funny and not devastating, and I think everyone had fun. I felt like it was a success when my photographer messaged me to say that this was her favorite wedding so far to shoot because everyone was so nice and had a spirit of fun and excitement all day. Yay!

I have to insert my little two cents about the wedding budget. Everything turned out gorgeous and fun and for a lot less than some people will spend. Here were our vendors and stores, which all turned out amazingly!

  • Dress -- JCPenney (yes, it's really a wedding dress, I promise!)
  • Venue -- North Park Baptist Church
  • Catering -- Tijuana Flats
  • Photography -- Lauren Schumacher Photography
  • Florist -- Sheridan Flower Shop
  • Cake -- Sam's Club (haha it was a 15 coconut cake) and a good friend Becca made some delicious cupcakes
  • DJ -- mwahaha my iPod and my brother
  • Officiant -- my pops and Darin's dad
  • Bridesmaids dresses -- Forever21, Nordstrom, Express
  • Groomsmen outfits -- JCPenney, Etsy for the ties
It was a super fun day but I am glad it's over and that we're getting into married life now!

Our honeymoon was also a blast, booked with the gracious help of our friend (and Darin's sister's mother-in-law) Deb, who has some skills with travel agent business. We went to Captiva Island, Florida at the South Seas Plantation Resort for a week and it was just lovely and so fun. Darin and I went on a dolphin cruise and saw tons of cute dolphins jumping around in the wake, ate at some fancy and exorbitantly expensive restaurants, rode a jetski (which was so scary for me... Darin drives fast), kayaked in the Gulf, tanned a lot and beach walked/swam/etc. 

Just the Instagram version of some of our adventures! :) We had a great time but we're happy to be home, especially after this beast of a trip...

But 18 straight hours later (and LOTS of being bored driving through Ohio at 2 a.m. haha), we are home sweet home in Michigan and are happy as ever. It's definitely a task getting our house to be cozy and set up the way that works best for us, and also me unlearning my Florida driving ways to become a true Michigander with the doodly Michigan lefts. But it's worth it for the nights spent so far game night-having and hookah-smoking and ice cream-getting with friends and going to giant family gatherings. And spending some gift cardage at Target and Bed, Bath, & Beyond. 

Life with the D has been the best adventure so far.

More later as stuff goes on! Love, Lara

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Invisible Warring

In case you didn't know, it's just ONE WEEK until my wedding! Technically less, actually, because it is midnight now and therefore a week from the first day of our honeymoon. :) I can't believe it. The past  six-ish months have been so long and so short at the same time, truly a phenomenon of physics.

One thing is for certain: I never want to look at another pinwheel again.

Or program. Or tablecloth. Or iTunes (still not done with my own wedding music!).

Wedding stuff is seriously getting poopy now. I am burned out for sure. Every day has mostly been comprised of me and my parents doing wedding-related shopping, crafting, planning, freaking out, and other activities. I barely see any of my friends, mostly because the majority of them are not in Orlando at present but also just due to me being busy and them having lives. I keep being left around 10 p.m. to yet another night of Frasier reruns. Don't get me wrong, Frasier is my favorite television show ever -- there just comes a point where you are ready for a little more jazz going on in life around that time than Kelsey Grammer.

The stress and boredom that comes with cutting out programs on a $6 paper cutter all day manifests in ways that aren't good. I find myself getting more irritable a lot faster. When my neck hurts and I've messed up a handful and need to print more, I feel more fussy. That collides with my interactions with Darin, who is also very busy with work and other things, leaving both of us exhausted throughout the day. I take his busyness and tiredness as him nonverbally saying, "You're not that important to me. I don't want to talk to you," rather than "You are so important to me, I am just really tired right now and can't talk long." The continued frustration of having less and less quality time with him as the wedding draws near makes the occasion all the more frustrating! It seems illogical, but it's hard to plunk down and DIY more and more for your wedding when you are worried your groom isn't really that excited to be with you himself.

Stewing in feelings of sadness, it hit me like a ton of bricks tonight as I was washing my face: SPIRITUAL WARFARE, CHICA. That is the connector between everything else. Satan is a master deceiver and wants God's children to feel uneasy and frustrated when huge events that glorify God approach. There are so many little opportunities for him to do his work, from conflating small issues into mountains of irritation for me in wedding planning, to twisting my interactions with Darin into visions of rejection and loneliness. Getting married and becoming one is a huge day of joy in the Christian kingdom because it honors God's plan for starting families and doing ministry as a permanent team, embodying the love Jesus has for his people! Why is it a big surprise that Satan would be so interested in meddling with a bride the week of her wedding?

What encourages me to consider is that he does this because we are moving towards something that is God's exciting plan for us, one that we are so grateful and overjoyed to take. There isn't a doubt in my mind that I am doing what I am meant to do. I am getting married to not only a godly and strong man, but also one who is my best friend! Realizing how much he means to me and how much our union pleases God and should point to Him combats the lies that want to take hold of my life as the wedding gets closer. It's important to pray for the strength to say no to untruth and withstand the temptation to have an outburst that I will regret later.

Believe that God is good.
Believe that He loves you.
Believe that the people He's given you in life love you, too.

I am hoping that this message is more firmly anchored into my heart. It's the weapon I need to fight these invisible wars and be the victor in enjoying this last week before I marry the love of my life and start my brand new life by his side!

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

Love, Lara


Tuesday, July 3, 2012




I can't believe it. This past month and a half have really flown like crazy. From back on December 22nd when we got engaged, through the months of my final semester at USF, it never seemed to get any closer. Until now, that is! When you can say you're getting married in less than 10 days you know it's on!

I am so blessed, and am taking time tonight to lay out these blessings before the Lord in prayer and thank Him for every single one. It's just so incredible. The littlest things are so wonderful. I am rejoicing in how Darin is such a great uncle -- he made dinner for his (and soon to be my) nieces and nephew, and took them to get ice cream and a movie rental. They come over and swim and hang out at our house now. Might I mention that I'm jealous I can't be there for that yet? But I seriously can't get over how I am marrying the best guy in the world. Gosh. He just jazzes up my life so much. 

Something I am also so deeply grateful for, that a lot of people can't claim for themselves, is my amazing in-law family. I am the luckiest girl ever. You hear people you know vent about how their mother-in-law is always meddling in their business, and how their brother-in-law keeps borrowing money, and other nightmare tales. I am actually so excited for the family I am joining soon! They are fun, laid-back, and so easy to be around and get along with. They joke around and spend a lot of time together, something I like since I don't live near any of my aunts or uncles or grandparents. They've been so gracious in hosting me and keeping me company when Darin is at work, haha. They put so much time and effort into the bridal shower they threw in Michigan, which was so fun despite the mishaps! I am proud to be taking their last name soon! :)

And, let's not forget, I am thankful for people willing to help out in getting this wedding shindig on the road. My friends (and Mom, of course) offering to help me spray paint, hot glue, tie ribbons, hole punch, and myriad other things are keeping me sane and giving me company during the most mundane of tasks. I have some sweet hookups for parts of the wedding, such as a great friend from church named Becca who is taking care of our cupcakes, and my Mammaw for sewing me a garter and the ring pillow among some other things! I am showered with help and company!

The final countdown is on!

Love, Lara

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Fortnight


It's finally beginning to sink in now that the major issues are being ironed out, and my time is now spent mostly on trips to Hobby Lobby for decorations and going through checklist after checklist for important wedding things, just so I don't forget something monumental.

Today was the third and final bridal shower! It was an absolutely awesome time, spent with my best friends from church growing up in Orlando and their moms, who often were moms to me as well from giving me rides to school to housing me during summer school while my parents went on vacation. It was at the house of some of my favorite three ladies, Ms. Gina, Caitlin, and Elena, who I've known for a ridiculously long time and who are so hospitable and fun. We had some delicious chicken salad sandwiches and Texas sheet cake (yessss ma'am the South will rise again!), and made toilet paper dresses and reminisced about funny stories from times past.

Hotties!! Basically I had the best time catching up with some people that have meant a lot to me for a huge chunk of my life. I wish I could have about forty more showers if it means I can keep seeing everyone over and over.

Completely aside and off topic, I am in love with that dress I got from Forever 21 and the $4 necklace I wore today. Dang. Stylish.

I also feel really great about an awesome Pinterest-inspired idea for our guestbook! This website has some great suggestions for unique guestbooks, and I really liked the idea of using a photo book of our brand spankin' new engagement photos as ours! I didn't feel like spending the $40 for a regular book that I likely won't read often at all, so it made sense to make a book using Picaboo with our engagement photos -- which we were going to make anyways -- but leave space for signatures and messages from our wedding guests! I went with Picaboo because Livingsocial had a deal where I paid $20 for a $60 book! Cha-chiiiiiiing! It should be gorgeous!

Especially because our engagement photos look awesome.

My fabulous and talented friend Kristin did an amazing job and was so much fun to be with as she snapped some very genuine pictures of Darin and me. We really do look like that when we're laughing. We hiked all the heck over Detroit and you will see how fantastic those photos are if you leave us a sweet note at our wedding! :) Shameless plug: she is a great photographer and a great friend!

Well, back to shoulder exercise and mixing our wedding music. Won't be too long now!

Love, Lara