i'm catching up on my posts and did two at one time, so if you missed the other one about our holiday activities so far just scroll down...or go here. this year i hosted a table for the women's ministry christmas dinner at our church. it involved decorating with a centerpiece, using your china, and providing placecards/favors.christopher helped me out greatly with the creation of the placecard holders. first of all, i have to thank chris' cousin pam for letting me take some pecans from her yard at thanksgiving! i was in their front yard walking eva and noticed how pretty some of the fallen pecans were. anyway, christopher was so sweet to drill slots in the pecans and hollow them out with his dremel. (good excuse to use the man tools, huh?)then i painted them with some shiny acrylic paint.and added the placecards.i actually used the same centerpiece i used last year but changed it up by spray painting some of the pinecones with silver & gold paint. i also added some of the gold pecans i didn't use from the placecards. i was trying to mix the silvers & golds so that my gilded dishes (i really just wanted to use the word gilded!) would blend better with the silver tray & flatware. thanks to my mom for letting me borrow her fine flatware, as i don't have enough of my own! for the favors, i stuck with the pecan theme. i made my grandmother's sugared pecans (which she always has at christmastime!) and put them in some tiny (and therefore cute!) chinese takeout-looking boxes. i really had fun with this project and was pleased with how everything turned out.
it's been a while since our last post, so i'll catch you up on our holidays goings-on...we went to the farm in south georgia (chris' mom's side) for thanksgiving. we had a baked turkey and a fried turkey. christopher was in charged of the fried one, and it was delicious! i've already decided that in 30 years or so, whenever i'm responsible for taking over holiday meal preparation, i'm going to let him fry it up! it's so much faster and equally delicious. the next day while the boys were doing something with beef brisket (smoking, maybe?), i stayed inside with the girls and we made christmas mice- an idea mrs. cathy got from her friend. at the beginning of december, we had a christmas party with christopher's work at the very lovely westin poinsett. these are some friends that we actually know through church, lori & brandon, but the husband also works at ge. this month we also had a christmas party with our sunday school class. the boys didn't want a picture, but here is one of the girls: and finally, last weekend we did christmas with the golden side of the family. here is a picture of us: christopher, his two brothers, and his parents. kevin, his middle brother, just got engaged this month and this is his fiancee, andra! i have always wanted a sister!
october is missions month at our church. a couple weeks ago we had an amazing multilingual service and shared the Lord's supper with Christian believers of other cultures in the area. we've been learning about some of the conditions around the world, and some of the financial statistics are eye-opening. for example, if you sold everything you owned and could come up with $2,200, you would be in the wealthiest 50% of the world. if you did the same and could come up with $61,000, you are in the wealthiest 10% of the world. (for most of us young people, it will only be a matter of time before we can achieve the latter.)
by nature, i enjoy things- clothes, going out to eat, taking trips, other luxuries. i pray that i won't be materialistic or ever love these things more than i love the Lord. lately God has been showing me that i have SO MUCH and have been blessed in so many ways. i am so thankful for this fresh perspective and feel content with what i have, knowing that it is really more than i need. a year ago, i was impatiently wondering, "when will we ever pay off my student loans so we can buy a house?" now that we are debt-free, i feel God challenging me to ask, "how can i use what i have to be a blessing to others? how can i glorify Him?"
i am touched by recent reports from some of our friends. a couple we know left this month to be full-time missionaries in a middle-eastern country, trusting God to compel other believers to give enough monthly to fund their efforts. our dear college ministers from GT, jamey and mary, are continuing to minister to college students in louisiana but more recently have been taking steps to adopt a child from uganda to be a little brother to their three sons. (check out their adoption blog.) they are stepping out in faith, knowing that God will provide for that which He ordains. this is God's love in action, and i want to be a part of it! i'm not exactly sure how God is calling us to respond, but i want to be prepared to say YES!
today in the mail, we got a christmas gift catalog from samaritan's purse, a ministry founded by billy graham's son whose mission (quoted from their website) is to "follow Christ's command [in Luke 10:30-37] by going to the aid of the world's poor, sick, and suffering." please check out the catalog here. i love the format, as it reminds me of a department store catalog. i couldn't help but cry as i read what different amounts will buy for those around the world- such as $75 to rescue a child from exploitation or $9 to feed a hungry baby for a week. not your typical christmas presents!
our praise band sang a worship song sunday that vocalizes what i'm feeling:
You said, Ask and you will receive Whatever you need You said, Pray and I'll hear from heaven And I'll heal your land
You said Your glory will fill the earth Like water the sea You said, Lift up your eyes The harvest is here, the kingdom is near
You said, Ask and I'll give the nations to you O Lord, that's the cry of my heart Distant shores and the islands will see Your light, as it rises on us
fall is definitely here! last weekend we went apple picking at sky top orchard with liz and scott- and little miss leah, of course!it was very picturesque, walking around filling our baskets with handpicked apples of every kind. i am thankful for my tall husband whose reach far outstretches mine! i love how the rows of trees were labeled with the type of apple. we had to pose here, for obvious reasons:this week i made apple streusel muffins and apple crisp. i also sliced up winesap apples- the kind my grandmother picks from her backyard for her fried apple pies. they freeze well, and i will be making some pies of my own soon. for saturday's game, we are taking apples & brickle dip (among other things). speaking of games, here's some photos of the gt season so far. first game: this is the dress christopher picked out for me in chicago. here i am with the girls, linda & katherine:christopher's whole family ended up coming for the white-out game. we're not sure of the last time the four golden men were together at a football game!a few weeks ago, we had a church picnic with our newlywed sunday school class (and the teachers & their kids): the class is actually a lot bigger than this. we recently split into two classes because it was growing so much. so sadly, christopher and i are no longer newlyweds!
this weekend, chris & i went to charlotte to hear brad paisley and some other country music artists. we went with our friends from church, the kelleys and the swingles. here's me with the wives, britton and meg. chris is in a bible study with the husbands. here's matt with his wife meg. and here's gary with his wife britton. chris & i took the day off work on friday, slept in, and had a leisurely morning before carpooling to charlotte after lunch. we had a great time! there were some other artists there, including darius rucker who used to be in hootie and the blowfish.
last wednesday, august 11th, marked 3 years of marriage for christopher & me! we are thankful for God bringing us together and for strengthening our marriage these past few years. we have many more to go! we spent the weekend celebrating with a trip to charleston, which chris planned and kept a surprise until last week. i hadn't been there since middle school and had been wanting to visit again, now that we're south carolinians and all. we stayed at an antebellum hotel downtown called the mills house.on friday evening we took a carriage tour of downtown. i love the quaint row houses and cobblestone streets! on saturday, chris & i each planned an activity. there was an art museum two blocks from our hotel, the gibbes museum, so i couldn't resist that! chris was very patient with me as i enjoy taking my time looking at paintings.chris chose for us to visit ft. sumter, so we took a ferry that afternoon. he definitely enjoyed looking at the monument and old cannons. i was reminded about how little i retained from u.s. history, which i attribute to having coaches for all my high school history classes! we ate delicious food (especially seafood!) all weekend. my favorite restaurants we went to were magnolia's, where they serve kind of a modern southern cuisine, and hominy grill, a quaint brunch place where the servers wear t-shirts that read "grits are good for you." when we left the hotel on sunday morning, there was a torrential downpour! chris had to navigate alternate streets so as not to forge the rivers that various streets had become. we had planned to drive to the beach at isle of palms before going home, so we headed there (less than a half hour drive), hoping the rain would subside. it did briefly, but began again. we just decided to enjoy our time there, since we were getting wet anyway! my husband is a master of surprises. i brag to my coworkers (who, being counselors, are pretty good at confidentiality!) that christopher is like a vault...i haven't had a chance to blog about it, but he also surprised me on my birthday in july. i wanted to get some friends together at my favorite restaurant in greenville, the lazy goat (mediterranean tapas food). chris made all the reservations. my favorite part of any meal is dessert, and this is especially important on a birthday. i thought maybe friends could come over for cake and coffee afterwards. chris led me to believe he had some amazing dessert in the fridge (i wasn't allowed to look in it all afternoon), and then surprised me at the restaurant by having them (singing, of course), bring out a mint chocolate cake from their sister restaurant/bakery. it was delicious! i love christopher!
last weekend, we drove to the chicago area for my friend tori's wedding. it was around 11 hours, and chris drove the entire way. (i promise i offered to help, but he doesn't mind driving and i don't prefer it!) we passed the time by listening to a lot of brad paisley music (we're getting ready to go to his concert next month in charlotte!), listening to my mom's favorite book, to kill a mockingbird (which is a lot funnier than i remember it being in 9th grade), and talking about our dreams for the future and life in general. i feel like we have some of our best conversations riding in the car together. so we arrived in naperville (a suburb where tori lives & where all the wedding activities were held) on thursday night. on friday, i enjoyed a fun day with the bridesmaids getting manicures & pedicures and having a delicious lunch of tortellini soup and apricot/apple salad. these menu items were courtesy of the bride's sister, catherine, who is a regular martha stewart! (she was also the one behind the yummy dishes at the bachelorette weekend.) friday night we of course had the rehearsal followed by the rehearsal dinner, in which tori & ron rented out their favorite tapas restaurant. the bacon wrapped dates and the goat cheese balls were my favorite dishes.on saturday morning, we started getting ready at the hotel. then we moved to wedding & reception location, arrowhead golf club, to continue getting ready for the ceremony at 5pm. here's the gorgeous bride with her sister catherine and mother debby before the ceremony. their ceremony was held at a beautiful arbor outdoors, and the reception was a lot of fun. they had several meal courses, my favorite of which was the cold stone ice cream bar. there was also a photo booth & funny props (hats, sunglasses, etc.) to make silly pictures. we danced until nearly midnight, when they served a late-night snack. then we sent the bride & groom off with sparklers. today is actually tori's 26th birthday, and they are currently enjoying a two-week honeymoon in scotland, france, & italy.chris & i spent the fourth of july sunday exploring downtown chicago with carrie and her husband eric, who were also there for the wedding. (carrie was a good friend from middle & high school. she & eric met in college at mercer and now live in lawrenceville.) here we are enjoying deep dish pizza at gino's east. my favorite attraction was going to the skydeck at the top of sears tower. 103 stories up, they have The Ledge where you can walk into a glass box and see the city below. we also walked along the magnificent mile, and chris picked out an adorable dress for me at h&m. it's white and gold- he has of course already got his mind on football season! chris' favorite thing we did was a river boat tour of the architecture of chicago. at the end of the day, we watched fireworks shot off of navy pier. using the walking directions feature on google maps, i calculated how far we walked on sunday: 6.6 miles! no wonder my calves were aching for two days afterward! all in all, this was simultaneously one of the most fun and exhausting trips i've taken in quite a while.
this weekend the riddles celebrated grandmother's 80th birthday. on the way to alabama, i got to see wes & blakely. here they are with their sweet son, ashton, who will be two in august. as you can see they are expecting again soon- another boy, collin, next month! grandmother picked the restaurant, lloyd's, and we enjoyed a great seafood meal. (sorry for the blurry picture. i think it was focusing on the flowers, but you get the idea.) then we went back to the house for cake & ice cream. here's the beaming birthday girl!it was great to catch up with my cousin, ashley. we missed chris- his softball team was playing in a tournament, so he wasn't able to come. he held down the fort and kept eva company all weekend.
katy told y'all about what she did last weekend, so now i'll let you in on my half of the story. i've been working a ton of hours lately, so sorry you haven't heard from me in a while. typically we drive down to alma, ga on memorial day weekend for a good time of eating and family fellowship with the rimes (my mom's side of the family). since katy wasn't able to go this year, i drove down to my parents' house on thursday night and made the rest of the drive with them on friday morning. we got to alma around mid-day to find another typical scene: folks shooting something just for fun. :) my cousin chuck (fellow TECH man) made a potato gun earlier in the week, and he and kyle were giving it a whirl. needless to say, around 20 lbs of potatoes and a few cans of white rain hairspray were gone by the end of the weekend, and they weren't used for salad or hair fixin'. my grandfather started our memorial day family tradition about 12 years ago with the pig pickin'. those of you who went to high school with me probably remember this. we did that for 5-7 years, and for various reasons stopped cooking the pig for the last several years. well, this year we went "whole hog" again. my cousin will set in motion the awesome plan for the grandsons who would be there to begin doing this again. all the plans were made and the supplies were gathered before we got to alma. one important thing was missing:
the 90 lb pig!
we picked up the pig on friday afternoon from d.l. lee & sons, a meat processing and packaging plant owned by some other cousins of ours (my great grandmother was a lee). if you ever see any lee brand sausages in the store, pick up a package - they're delicious. we can't get them up here in greenville, so i brought a few packs back for future enjoyment.
we went to bed semi-early on friday night and woke up at 4:00-4:30 the next morning for cooking. the day started out with preparing the coals. getting charcoal and wood ready for pit coals is much more fun if you have the right tools.
we put the pig on at about 5, and the rest of the morning was full of coffee, smoked sausages, talking, watching the pit temperature, adding new coals to the fire, and jerry clower's greatest hits. here's one of my favorites.
(l to r) will, me, kevin, & jay intently watching the pig.
around 11:30, we turned the pig and gave it a slathering of some of good sauce.
after it was finished cooking, the "chefs" enjoyed a few moments of pulled ribs and other good meat - a true reward for waking up early and cooking all day. finally, the chopping and pulling commenced to produce the final product: lots and lots of chopped and pulled pork (enough for 31 with 2 hams left over).
6 of the 7 rimes grandsons (l to r) kyle, me, will, jay, kevin, & chuck
folks, this was some good eatin', and we've definitely renewed a family tradition.
on sunday mr. mike cooks up a low-country boil, and it was as good as ever.
some delicious low-country boil: shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes, and onions
of course, most of the family was there and we had a good time talking, eating, driving around town, shooting potato guns and real guns, fishing, sitting under the carport, eating (repeated for emphasis), and relaxing in general. memorial day weekend and most others with our family are just a good ole' southern good time.