Monday, October 20

Motivation Monday

Just a little while ago I sent out a tweet with the sentiment that I could hardly believe today is only Monday. I feel like I have lived a week within this day. Now that is not to say today has been a bad day, it it just that today has seemed abnormally long. It is so nice to be home now and share life here. 

Trying a new recipe for dinner tonight. Since Adam and I got married, there are few recipes that I have made twice, not because we haven't liked recipes I have found, but because I just always find new meals I want to try out. I am thankful that Pinterest fuels this little hobby of sorts, since it is not hard to have access to more meal ideas than one person could possibly cook in a lifetime! 

Tonight I am trying a broccoli cheese soup recipe out! It's a good thing my husband will eat just about anything, because I will cook just about anything...once. I will admit that trying new recipes often has resulted in some less than stellar meals. (Tonight's meal success still TBD as it is currently cooking). For example, a few nights ago I made: Italian Chicken Baked in Foil. We have enjoyed tilapia meals cooked in foil, I had all of the ingredients for the recipe AND it looked tasty enough...all things lined up to at least try the recipe. Unfortunately, not as yummy of a meal as I had hoped. It took much longer to cook the chicken than the recipe stated and the chicken was kinda mushy (which I am not a huge chicken fan to begin with, but mushy chicken is even worse!). The veggies were tasty was a plus! Again, thankfully Adam eats just about anything and is a willing participant in trying out new meals. 

As I think through my little cooking projects, they bring to life some wise and challenging words from President Roosevelt (FDR). "Above all, try something".  I came across this quote a few weeks ago and have been rolling the statement around on and off in my head ever since.  

I think that trying something is such an interesting little challenge. It's often so much easier to just do things we are most familiar with or use processes that have worked in the past, or to just give up when a plan or idea doesn't work out. The challenge to try something no matter what is hard because giving up or doing things the same way can be so much easier. So my motivation today to you {mostly myself, but you too!} is to keep trying something, even if it means a little extra work or time or the opportunity comes at the end of a long Monday kinda day :)

If you want to follow my meal projects check out my Pinterest meal planning board: 

Follow Kyla's board Meal Planning. on Pinterest.

Want to catch up on some of our weekend adventures lately? Keep reading...The last few weeks of life have been jammed packed for us!

I got to travel to South Florida to visit one of my oldest friends and share in the fun of her bridal shower. The trip flying down was a whole adventure in and of itself. My first plane of the day had 2 flat a huge departure delay, several missed connections, and subsequent standby attempts later, I eventually made it! Talk about exhausted. BUT overall it was such a fun weekend and always so special to spend time with good friends.

Adam and I successfully completed our 2nd Chicago Marathon. We had a strong race, raised over $1,600 for the health and fitness center at our alma mater and {my favorite} earned new medals, got 'free' t-shirts, and lots of yummy snacks & beer for our running efforts. Not to mention it was perfect running weather! It really was a surreal weekend. I barely believed we were actually going to run it again until we were in the start corral the morning of the race and despite marathons taking a huge amount of time to complete (if you aren't Kenyan) the whole day seemed like a blur the second we crossed the finish line together.

Last weekend aka just a few days ago, our adventures involved taking Adam's high school students to Six Flags for Fright Fest. We may or may not have waiting in line for 4 hours to ride ONE roller coaster, but it was kinda we both agreed it was worth it (despite being freezing & starving haha).

Finally our turn!!!!
This upcoming weekend we are looking forward to Adam's birthday, one of my brothers and my grandparents visiting us, and my installation at work on Sunday. The adventures never slow down :)

Monday, September 22

Happy Fall Y'all!

Happy First Day of Fall! After a long day at work, I am so excited to have some time now to sit down and finish this post to share some fall -freebies that I just love! Shout out to my sweet husband for working on dinner tonight so I could write!!

For what it is worth, my favorite season, out of the four options, is far. Give me a warm sunny day any day, heat/humidity and all, I will take it! Fall is mixed for me because the arrival of fall means that my beloved summer is over and winter is probably not too far behind... 

BUT,  with the arrival of fall means pulling new clothes out of the closet, events like Oktoberfest and apple picking are in season, not to mention enjoying warm ciders & lattes, flannel sheets on the bed, cozy blankets, leaves changing color, and a new season of decorating...all of which I love. 

So now that we are a full day+ into fall - I thought I would share a round-up of the top 25 must-have printables to help color your fall!

As someone who loves change, especially when it comes to rearranging/organizing/decorating our apartment, free printables just make me so happy! I love that there are so many talented and creative people who share their work and in turn help newly married people like me (Read: saving money like crazy) have cute & seasonable art for their homes :)

With all of these Top 25, each is only for personal use - not for re-sale and should not be altered or changed. There is nothing more frustrating than finding a cute pin on Pinterest labeled "free download" that is neither free nor downloadable (in my opinion) so I have found the direct links for easy downloading, and listed the blogger/artist/site who created the original printable. There are also 2 banners included on this list that I just love, so make sure to check those out.

I had my husband pull out my fall box this morning, so I will share some pictures later this week of some of these printables up in my own home. Until then...happy downloading & decorating to you!

PS. Be sure and follow my Thanksgiving Board! Adding lots of ideas lately :)

Follow Kyla's board Thanksgiving Planning on Pinterest.

Monday, September 15

A Monday & A Meal

I don't know if you are anything like me, but I have a hard time embracing Mondays. I can get a great night of sleep, have a delicious breakfast, a good cup of coffee, and have a good hair day but it still does not seem to impact my attitude towards this particular day of the week. I wish I could share that I have some strategy to overcome this, but for now I don't - just big plans to work on it.  

Overall, today was a regular kind of day with one exception - the silver lining of looking forward to Monday Night Football. Adam and I are Indianapolis Colts fans and when it comes to watching games we have 2 things working against us. 

1) We don't have cable/satellite (very loyal Hulu/Netflix consumers of course) so we are at the mercy of local channels and their broadcast rights to games. 2) We live in the heart of Green Bay Packer country, so all television programming revolves around Packer programming. 

All of this to say, when we have the opportunity to watch the Colts play, we get pretty excited about it. So that is a little bit of life today. Just a regular kind of Monday. A little ministry and then finally time for some football watching together. 

In honor of the Colt's game tonight, we tried a new recipe for dinner which I thought I would share here! Last year, my mom gave us a year-long subscription to eMeals which meant that every week for the last year eMeals has sent me a weeks worth of recipes and a grocery list to match. 

Since it is just the two of us we usually do not cook 7 nights a week, so even though our year-plan is over, we still have lots of meals to try out! 

On the menu tonight was a dish called Mexican Rolls - takes about 20-30 minutes to prepare, and then cooks for 40 minutes aka not something to make last minute BUT after making and eating it tonight, it is worth the process! 

Mexican Rolls


10 uncooked lasagna noodles
1lb ground beef or turkey
8 oz low-fat neufchâtel cheese, softened
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
15 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup corn kernels
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 TBSP chili powder
1 TSP cumin
1 TSP garlic powder
1 TSP salt
2 TSP dried oregano
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Cook lasagna according to package; drain & lay flat to dry
  • Cook ground beef or turkey in a skillet until brown and crumbly
  • Combine cheese, yogurt, taco seasoning, cooked ground meat, black beans and corn in a medium bowl
  • In separate bowl, combine diced tomatoes (drained), with tomato sauce and all spices
  • Spread enough of the sauce mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 pan
  • Spoon meat filling onto each lasagna noodle, spreading evenly over the length of the noodle; roll up and place seam side down in dish; Repeat with remaining noodles and meat mixture
  • Spoon remaining sauce over top of rolls, sprinkle with shredded cheese
  • Cover with aluminum foil & bake for 40 minutes

Hopefully you enjoy this meal as much as we did, would love to know how it turned out for you. Download your own copy of this recipe too :) 1. Gray 2. Yellow 3. Blue

Friday, September 12

Flashback Friday.

One of my best friends reflected to me this summer that she feels like my life is always busier in the summertime...and this summer that has felt especially true! Despite finishing internship, moving, AND getting married last summer...all of that still somehow seemed to take less time/energy/busy-ness than summer 2014 in the Rodriguez family. 

Thankfully though, our summer schedule has been full with seeing family and friends and doing ministry (yay jobs and Jesus!). We celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary with a day-trip to Chicago. Adam surprised me which was fun, despite the fact that that meant being woken up at 5am the day we were leaving...He's just great :) I will share more about our trip in a post all it's is a sneak preview for now:
For Adam, work is still kinda crazy since his church is still without a pastor, making Adam the only full-time ministry position on staff. For me work isn't crazy BUT as of this past Sunday I am officially transitioning from being a temporary fill-in to the official & called Director of Christian Education. In an added bonus, I teach 2 mornings a week in the school at Adam's church to help cover Confirmation classes that the Pastor used to teach with Adam. This time one year ago we had no idea where I would be working...God is cool.

Both Adam and I took our middle school students to a place called Camp Luther for their yearly Confirmation camp trip. My students go on a different weekend than his however, so I got to head to camp twice in the span of a week! 

Adam picked me up from my second camp trip and in keeping with our summer schedule this year, we headed straight to Indiana for his sister & brother-in-law's US homecoming :) Thankfully traffic was in our favor both directions of the 8 hr drive. It's been 20 months since all of us have been together, not that Adam's mom was counting or anything... :) Our trip was short but sweet. We squeezed in a spontaneous tour of Lucas Oil Field where the Colts play, celebrated Allison's birthday, skyped the all of the grandparents in Alabama, and his sister, mom, and I even got a mini-girls 'day' in. Whew. 

Our trip to Indiana was our last big trip/event of the summer...Kaitlin's wedding in Indiana, Jamie & Scott's visit, my family's visit, Vacation Bible school at my church, road trip to Mobile, Alabama for Granddaddy's memorial service, mission trip to Michigan, mission trip to Indiana, Camp Luther x 2, road trip to Indiana, Vacation Bible School at Adam's church...and now the school year has started which actually means our schedule goes back to more of a 'normal' rhythm. Ah. 

Today marks 30 days until we run the Chicago Marathon. Despite our schedules this summer we have been managing to fit training time in. We are at the point though were our long runs are just that..LONG. Tomorrow a 17 miler is on deck. Wish me luck!

I may sound redundant in writing this again, but I really could not be more thankful for getting to be together with many of our friends and family throughout this busy season of summer. Mostly, that means scheduling Skype dates or scheduling phone calls to make sure we don't miss out on life together...but hey whatever works :) If you have made it this far in today's post, I'm impressed...kudos to you, enjoy finding this cute & free download to use! Free download here > Lost Bumble Bee Last thing, for those of you who were wondering > yes it is cold here, it is currently 48 degrees outside...yikes! Winter is coming. Help!


Free download here > Lost Bumble Bee

Friday, August 1

14 Reasons to go on A Mission Trip.

At this time last week, I was on the tail-end of a mission trip with my youth group. Prior to leaving for our trip, I spent a lot of time making sure everything was ready to go, I even had blog posts planned out for while I was gone...I love my own crazy ambition sometimes, big plans people!

The truth is that best laid plans do not always work out. I know this, but as a planning kind of gal, it stresses me out a little bit when plans don't happen the way I plan them - silly right?! In the case of my pre-trip planning this time, I stressed myself out just enough to get a canker sore (Read: GROSS and painful).

All of this to say, what a week. I took my students (along with 2 other awesome adult leaders) to serve the city of Indianapolis, Indiana through Group Mission Trips Week of Hope. Cell phones/iEverything was turned in early Sunday morning, we loaded up a mini-van's worth of luggage and a 15-passenger van's worth of students and headed on our way. Brother #3 and his friend packed up the night before and my mom drove them (and brothers #4 & #5) out from Maryland to meet up with our group in Indianapolis to join our group for the week.

To compress and recap our whole week here is really a tough task. We arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon, spent Monday-Thursday serving at 13 different project sites with 5 other churches,  putting in over 2000 hours of service combined. We had fun exploring Indianapolis Tuesday night and Friday morning, I saw some of my family, and then we spent a night and day exploring Chicago on the way home. That is just a lot of stories and experiences to share.

Even to verbalize our mission trip experience, I (of all people) generally fall short on words. What I will say is God does pretty cool things in unexpected ways, and one of the best parts of being on a mission trip is really taking the time to acknowledge all of the ways He is working in our lives and the lives of others...constantly! 

Reflecting on my week, I am especially thankful to have a husband who is in ministry. There are few other people that would truly understand how important it was for me to be gone for a week leading a mission trip, what that experience is like from the leadership side, and  who know me well enough to support me through it all! Adam is that person. He even managed to fend for himself in the meal department while I was gone, which may or may not have included him grilling steak for lunch one day... :) 

The theme for all of Group Mission Trip sites this year was "Repair: Be a Story of Transformation". We spent time as a youth group digging into different stories in the Bible where repair or transformation occurred, and more personally what repair and transformation was going on in our own lives.

My 14 reasons for going on a mission trip are pretty awesome: these 14 students. 14 students who I was blessed to lead as we all experienced a transformation during our trip. For each student the transformation was different, but I couldn't be more proud of the way each of them whole-heartedly served Jesus this summer. What better 14 reasons to go on a mission trip? 

Thursday, July 17

Summer Time Update

In both expected and unexpected ways our summer has so far been very chaotic and full. Everything that has happened or we have done falls into a least one of the following 4 categories:

  1. Seeing family and friends
  2. Leading trips
  3. Working + running
  4. Seeing fireworks

We have been really blessed to have opportunities to connect with many family and friends over the past few summer months. A girlfriend of mine got married over Memorial Day weekend - which was a great way to start! Celebrating the starting of a dear friend's marriage was so great, always an honor to stand up next to friends on their big days. The added plus to all of this was that one of my best friends [Jamie] and her new fiancé [Scott] came up for the wedding AND had time to come back and visit with Adam and I in Wisconsin for a few days - winning all around!

3 days after Jamie and Scott flew back south, Adam and I were off to Chicago to chaperone the 8th Grade Class trip for his church's school. We love showing people around Chicago and had a lot of fun taking the whole group around - including using public transportation all day Saturday. They were all troopers and covered a lot of ground (Medieval Times, Wrigley Field, Blue Man Group, Giordano's Pizza, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, Museum of Science and Industry, and the John Hancock 360 Observatory!) The coolest part was getting to experience a new part of the John Hancock Observatory called Tilt. We all got a chance to lean out over the side of the top of the building, SUCH a cool view of the city!!!! There were also many dance parties during our van ride to and from Chicago, which was an added bonus. 

2 days after we got back from the 8th Grade Class Trip to Chicago - more visitor's arrived - my parents and 3 of my younger brothers came to town! All throughout college I worked summer jobs away from home, so this was the first year I have celebrated the actual day of my birthday with my parents and brothers in years. We had a fun week exploring the area with my family. They are all big Packers fans so a tour of Lambeau Field was a hit! We also checked out the local wildlife sanctuary, a cute local amusement park - it was the first time the 2 youngest of my brothers had ever been on a roller coaster - did some hiking at a state park, and shared lots of meals and time together. It was a great week!

A few days after my family left and drove back to Maryland, we got the news that Adam's Granddaddy had passed away. This was not completely unexpected, he had had Parkinson's for over 2 decades and had really been struggling health wise for the better part of this year. Adam's words from Facebook really say it all I think:

"Death was Satan's idea. The greatest irony; Christ's greatest victory comes from Satan's idea, death, when He welcomes believers into heaven. Grandaddy is now living a life without Parkinson's, without bed sores, without pain, weighing more than 60 pounds, and he can finally communicate again. I know you are too busy worshipping God to read this Facebook post, but one day I will join you Grandaddy"

We were blessed to be able to make the trip down to Alabama to be with his family and attend Granddaddy's memorial service. A few long days in the car were more than worth it so that we could all be together. We even got a little bonus time in on his grandparent's boat one morning!

Literally as we got back and walked in the door to our apartment from our trip to Alabama, we got super amazing bonus news that Adam's sister and her husband were going to have a BABY - Read: WE ARE GOING TO BE AN AUNT AND UNCLE FOR THE FIRST TIME!!!! They move back to the US this summer and we just couldn't be happier for them. We also can't wait to meet our niece/nephew in a handful of months!!!! Look how cute their announcement pictures are >>>

2 days after we got back from Alabama it was time for Vacation Bible School at my church. Talk about one thing after the other! For VBS I was the Bible Adventure leader which meant that each day I taught the bible lesson to all of the students - from 3 year olds through 6th graders. I love getting to share about Jesus to everyone, so despite some long days, it was always worth it to see all of the students at VBS have a chance to experience a Bible story in a meaningful way each day. My two favorite days were (1) when we re-enacted Jesus washing His disciples feet (yes I did foot washing with 40 preschoolers!) and (2) When I got to share about Jesus dying on the cross for all of us so we could always have forgiveness from our sins and students had to opportunity to write their own names on the cross and remember what Jesus did for them - really powerful to see students of all ages experiencing God's love. 

You might think that perhaps there would be break somewhere in the timeline of all of these things...but that has not been the case. VBS ended on Friday and then early Sunday morning of that same weekend it was time to get on the road to Michigan for a mission trip with Adam's youth group.   We traveled to Grand Rapids, MI and spent one week there doing community service projects. Our projects included everything from  working at local food banks and nursing homes to cleaning up people's yards.
I had the awesome opportunity to serve as a volunteer staff member for the camp week. In college I worked as permanent summer staff for Group Mission Trips Week of Hope so to say I was excited to serve this awesome organization again was an understatement. I very happily pulled my Red Shirts out for the week! Huge surprise bonus of the summer #2 (The first being the news of our niece/nephew!) - one of my best friends (Valerie) showed up at camp and surprised me! We had 24 hours together in the same place which was such a blessing, even though our visits are never long enough! Valerie works full time for Group Mission Trips and I knew she was traveling around to many camp locations this summer for her job, so naturally I was really hoping she was planning on showing up in Michigan...Adam told me not to get my hopes up! I hadn't asked her what her specific travel plans were specifically in hopes of a surprise and I was not disappointed :) 
On the way back to Wisconsin from our mission trip, we stopped through Chicago for a night/day. (Do you see a theme yet?!) We got to stay on campus at our college, show more people around Chicago, enjoy deep dish pizza, visit a Dragon Boat Racing Festival in Chinatown, spend some time at the Zoo downtown and finished our day at beach.
After getting back from the Michigan mission trip a few weeks ago, we have actually stayed put and have not entertained any visitors lately. For the 4th of July we finally got some relaxing time in, we were able to spend the day with friends on a boat which was so nice! Followed by grilling dinner together and heading back out to the boat to watch the fireworks downtown Green Bay. Otherwise, we have just been working and running in full force. 

Over this past weekend, we took some of Adam's students to a local Christian music festival called Lifest. It ended up pouring down rain from 6pm on that day. Thankfully one of our student's had an awesome mom who packed stylish rain ponchos for everyone - which pretty much saved our concert experience. The Newsboys were the headlining concert that night and they put on a great show. 

I leave this upcoming weekend to take my youth group on a mission trip to the Week of Hope site in Indianapolis, IN. Now that this update is finally posted, I am excited to start sharing some new series of posts I have been working on! Later this weekend, I will start sharing some of my reflections on moving and making our apartment our home because the crazy thing is - we have officially lived here for 1 year. Time is weird.  

Thankful for and love you all dear readers.