Kentucky (pictures + words)

In true Anderson fashion, we left Illinois yesterday morning, drove six hours to Louisville, Kentucky, and of course, stopped to eat great BBQ. Iif you’re ever in the area, I would definitely recommend Mark’s Feed Store. The ribs & fried corn on the cob were both amazing…the Buttermilk Pie, not so much.marks3marksmarks2

 We then drove another hour & a half to Cave City, Kentucky. A few years ago, we spent a week in the Outer Banks and discovered the National Parks Passport. Now whenever we travel, we make sure to visit the nearest National Park & are able to make cancellations in our Passport. Caleb and I have been looking forward to visiting Kentucky so that we could visit Mammoth Cave National Park. Mammoth Cave is the longest cave in the world, and as of 2013 was found to be 400 miles long. However, experts believe that the cave might actually be more than 600 miles long.

This morning we went on two different cave tours.

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The first tour we went on was the Historic Tour.

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Overall, it was a great introductory tour, but it could have been a little bit better if the group size was smaller. There was also a couple that decided to bring their two year old on the tour, and although I would never vocalize my distaste for this small child screaming in the cave, and holding up the line as we walked through small spaces (there is one spot called Fat Man’s Misery), I may have rolled my eyes a few times.

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Our second tour, Domes & Dripstones, was amazing! The tour started with a 280 stair descent, and we were able to see beautiful stalactites towards the end.

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These pictures definitely don’t do the cave justice, but it was the best I could do without using my flash.

Even though we went out of our way to drive down to Kentucky, it was 100% worth it.

Tomorrow we leave bright & early for Upstate New York! I’m so ready to see my parents & sister. Ringing in the New Year just wouldn’t be the same without our family.

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A Very Illinois Christmas (pictures + words): Part II

 On Christmas Eve, we drove about an hour away from Belvidere, IL to Skokie, IL to visit the Lawrence family, which consists of Uncle Brent, Auntie Lala, Jamie, and Rylie. Skokie was also where I lived before my parents decided to move us to Upstate New York.

As we rang the doorbell, we were greeted by a very surprised and excited Jamie. She screamed, and jumped up and down, and gave us big hugs.

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Then there was sweet Rylie, who did the same, but could not believe that we were actually there! Throughout the entire day she continued to talk about how surprised she was, and how she was so happy that we were visiting.

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Rylie also loved photo-bombing all my pictures. 🙂

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Naturally, I had to take pictures with my camera. Auntie Lala was just as thrilled about my new gift, and may have tried to commandeer it. 😉 It’s completely understandable. I still can’t believe how beautiful each picture turned out.

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The Lawrences took us out for an amazing Christmas Eve dinner (Caleb is still raving about the Prime Rib), and then we went back to their cozy home to eat a delicious homemade apple pie, mini cannolis, and Italian cookies.

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They opened the presents that were in their stockings, and gave Caleb and I a gift bag filled with goodies & warm socks. We were also given the game Blokus….which is actually one of my least favorite games, but I am willing to be open minded and play at least once. 😉

Auntie Lala had this beautiful tea pot, and gave it to me as well! I can’t wait to find the perfect place for it in our apartment.

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Caleb and I had such a wonderful time with the Lawrence family, and the only thing that made leaving easier was the fact that we were going to see them again on Christmas Day.

Christmas morning came & we were awoken by the sound of little feet, and loud whispers. The cousins were so excited when Caleb and I finally emerged from our room.

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Caleb got a Seahawks shirt. I love his face in this picture. Heck, I always love his face. But in this picture particularly.

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That afternoon, the rest of my family came over for a very Italian Christmas dinner. We had a roast, lasagna, and for desert, cannolis and Italian cookies. There may have been a fight over Auntie Lala’s Pignoli Cookies.

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Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetMy beautiful cousin Raquel.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetUncle Sam & Raquel. 🙂
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My sweet cousin Isabella.

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Sisters.

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Jamie, Raquel, & Rylie.

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They’re all beautiful, but the best part is Joy picking her nose.

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Caleb had a cookie in his mouth.

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Emily brought out her trumpet, and played us a few Christmas tunes.

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Uncle Brent.

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The Iampaglia Family: Uncle Sam, Auntie Sara, Isabella, & Raquel.
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THIS picture is my favorite. Joy loves Caleb, and finally stopped running around to cuddle with him for a quick picture.

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“You’re the bacon to my eggs.”

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At the end of the night, no one was ready to say goodbye, but as you can see, Joy was ready for everyone to leave.

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This morning, we took our time drinking coffee, eating Christmas leftovers, and spending time on the couch telling stories. We spent five days in Illinois, but it feels like a blur.

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Aaron was done with me & my camera. 😉 Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

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It was hard to say goodbye, but as we started the next leg of our Christmas journey, I was filled with thankfulness. It’s so easy to take family for granted, but it is a beautiful thing when you can make every moment intentional. Hours were not wasted in Belvidere, but memories were made, and I had an amazing camera to capture each and every one. Caleb and I were blessed to be surrounded by cousins, and aunts, and uncles, and even though we were far away from both sets of parents, loneliness was foreign to us.

Even though it would be easy to drive back to Illinois & pretend that we never left, I’m so excited to see what the next few weeks have for us.

I hope you had a great Christmas!

xo,

Kelly

A Very Illinois Christmas (pictures + words) : Part I

On Friday we got out of work, grabbed a bite to eat, and went home to take a short nap before we started our trip to Illinois. We were planning on leaving at 10:30 and driving through the night so we needed a little bit of rest.

When we woke up, we packed the car and started our trip when Caleb “remembered” he left his phone charger in the apartment. A few minutes later, he called from inside & asked if I would come in to help him find it. I ran in, and instead of finding a lost phone charger, was welcomed by a table filled with Christmas presents.

For the past year I have been asking for a camera. Growing up, my mom often called me a “leaky faucet” because I am notorious for being persistent with my requests. I love taking pictures, and drool over photography in my spare time. Every time I brought up the idea of buying a new camera, Caleb would brush it off, and I finally came to terms with the fact that iPhone photography was going to be my destiny.

However, Caleb not only surprised me with a brand new Canon, but with two lenses, filters, a cleaning kit, a tripod, and other things I can’t think of as I write this.

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After I cried & Caleb took this picture, we hit the road (for real), and drove 14 hours straight to Belvidere, IL. When we decided to visit Illinois for the holidays, I asked my Aunt & Uncle to keep our visit a surprise for the cousins. It was so great ringing the doorbell & hearing squeals of joy from Emily, Luke, Aaron, and Joy as they realized what was happening.

Here are a few pictures of our visit thus far (some from my new Camera, and others from my iPhone):

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Baby Joy is by far my favorite person to photograph

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Christmas 7 Christmas 8We went to church & saw Luke, Emily, & Aaron in their Sunday School Christmas Program.  

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Luke let me practice taking pictures of him:

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Today we went into the city and visited Millennium Park & The Art Institute of Chicago:

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We saw a few of our favorite paintings: 

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Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

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Shoe Shop by Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones

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A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

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Greyed Rainbow by Jackson Pollock

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American Gothic by Grant Wood 

It’s only Monday, and we already feel so blessed to be here.

Liebster Liebster!

liesbster-2 A few weeks ago, Angie from Chasing My Halo nominated me for a Liebster Award- a way for others to discover and learn more about smaller blogs like mine. I was given eleven questions to answer about myself and my blog, and at the end of the post I’ll nominate ten other bloggers to do the same. I usually tend to shy away from link ups and nomination posts (sometimes I feel like I can’t be truly genuine or original with those types of posts), but every once in a while it’s nice to mix things up & try something different. 🙂

1. How did you decide on the title of your blog? When I started my blog, I tried thinking of something witty and original. My tumblr blog is called Oh So Easily Amused, but I really wanted something different. I went with “I Am Kelly,” intending to change it later on, but eventually decided to keep it. I’m still figuring out what direction I want to take my blog, but ultimately, I want everyone who reads it to feel like they are having a one-on-one conversation with me in every post. When I meet someone for the first time, the very first thing they know about me is my name (Kelly), and then as we go deeper into conversation, they learn more about my story and where I currently am in my life’s journey.

2. What is one word that sums up the heart of your blog and why? I’m going to copy Angie’s answer, and also say “genuine.” Even though I love writing, I made a decision early on not to write unless I feel like I’m writing from the heart. I don’t necessarily have the desire to become a full-time blogger because I couldn’t handle posting every single day. I always want to make sure that I am 100% certain that what I post is something I am proud of, and gives readers a true glimpse into my heart. Being genuine sometimes means being vulnerable, but I think transparency is a rare and beautiful thing.

3. What are your favorite pastimes other than blogging? I love reading, eating good food, binge-watching t.v. shows on Netflix, and traveling with my husband (he is the best travel companion).

4. What is your favorite aspect of blogging? I really love the community aspect of it, but I also love, love, love taking pictures and sharing them through my blog. I love being able to supplement my writing with photographs that I think help tell my stories just a little bit better.

5. Which project, recipe or idea on my blog would you most like to try yourself? Definitely the recipe for Pumpkin Spice Buttermilk Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. Just because fall is over doesn’t mean that pumpkin flavored things need to go away too.

6. Where does your blog inspiration come from? Places Caleb & I visit, thoughts about being a married college student, and anything Jesus inspires me to write through my own personal devotion time.

7. What is one country in the world you would like to visit? Why? SO MANY COUNTRIES. I couldn’t pick just one, but Thailand is definitely high on my list. If I had to list a reason, it would be so that Caleb and I can hang out with Mark Wiens.

8. If you have children, what are their names? If not, what are your favorite girl and boy names? We don’t have children yet…and hopefully will keep it that way for a while. However, we’ve decided on two names for our future children: Phoebe Jane & Judah Daniel.

9. A long-lost relative leaves you a large sum of money. What do you do with it? Pay off all our student loan debt, travel, and become full-time missionaries.

10. In your opinion, what is the best blog post you’ve written so far? (Include the links!) ALL of them! Haha, just kidding. 🙂 I think that “Start Somewhere,” and “Dad” are my two best posts.

11. Where do you see yourself in five years time? Hopefully Caleb and I will still be childless, and finishing up our second contract as English teachers somewhere in Asia.

For my ten nominees, I am nominating:

Liv @ ReadingandRouge.Blogspot.com

Victoria @ Sincerelyvictoriaharrison.blogspot.com

Shelly @ www.loganandjack.blogspot.com

Kayty @ www.simplysheard.blogspot.com

 Als @ Www.fimo-creazioni.it

Kim @ www.kimlhine.wordpress.com

Terrence @ www.girlrepurposed.com

Brittani @shiningfaith-brittanirae.blogspot.com

Tabitha @ www.arbitraryscrawling.com

Lana @ www.kosherthis.blogspot.com

Go check these ladies out!

An extremely late Thanksgiving post (pictures & words) + a little Christmas spirit

Finals Week almost killed me. Am I exaggerating? Probably. But I’m definitely relieved that this semester is finally over – it was the most mentally/emotionally challenging semester I have faced so far, and am really looking forward to our Christmas adventures. Only six days of work stand between us and a two-week Christmas road trip.

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On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Caleb and I packed our flea market suitcases (which are amazing), jumped in our car, spent an hour+ in traffic, went on a scavenger hunt for a parking spot at the Park & Jet, endured a lengthy security check, and spent too much money on a bag of chips because I didn’t eat breakfast.

After a 2 hour flight, we landed in Florida. We then proceeded to eat way too much chicken at Sonny’s BBQ.

Monday: Sea World 

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I got to feed & pet Sting Rays!

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This dolphin has a secret.

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I was so excited about seeing the Shamu show that I only took this picture. The guy behind me was just as thrilled. I don’t even care about the black speck in my tooth. I love this picture too much.

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Even though Thanksgiving hadn’t even taken place, Sea World was getting into the Christmas Spirit. The train fulfilled my greatest childhood dreams. The ride did not. It was pretty lame.

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Although it was in the 80’s, there was a vendor selling hot chocolate. We decided to get ice cream instead.

Tuesday: Wycliffe Headquarters & Rain

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We had originally planned a beach trip, but then it down poured the entire day … and into Wednesday. We opted out of the beach trip & visited the headquarters for Wycliffe Bible Translators instead. We also ate really great fish sandwiches.

thanksgivingbreak1Visiting Wycliffe was so exciting. Caleb and I have big dreams, including one day working with Wycliffe Bible Translators as missionaries. The visit made our dreams seem a little more real. They also had a really great section of photo shoot props which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Wednesday: Super Friend Day 

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One of my closest friends, Meredith, got married this past summer (go look at her wedding pictures here because they are beautiful), and moved all the way down to Sebring, Florida. Even though we were only able to hang out for a little bit, I am so glad that I was able to see her (and her cousin Elizabeth, too). 🙂 She is definitely a kindred spirit, and it’s easy to catch up where we left off….even after being apart for five months.

Thursday: T H A N K S G I V I N G 

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Two turkeys = a very happy me.

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I’m ashamed to say – these are the only pictures I have of Thanksgiving Day. I was definitely blessed when I married Caleb – his family accepted me as one of their own from day one, and it was so nice to spend the holiday with such hilarious and loving people. Baby Adam also helped brighten things up because he is adorable. Even though it was my first Thanksgiving away from my own family, I felt right at home eating my father-in-law’s smoked turkey, and my brother-in-law’s stuffed mushrooms. (If you decided to read this, Zach, I heard Tito Sandy would pay money for those)

Friday: Wreath Day

Today was one of my favorite days on our trip. Because Caleb’s family lives in Florida, we don’t have the luxury of short weekend visits. We get a lot of opportunities to visit my family, so when we see his family it’s a big deal for us. On Friday I was able to spend the afternoon hanging out with my mother&sister -in-law, and making these adorable burlap wreaths.

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We used the burlap wreath tutorial (it’s super easy), and added holly for the antlers, an ornament for the nose, and a bow for a bow tie. We had such a fun time making them!

Saturday: Our last day

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The last day is always the hardest day. We went mini-golfing (I’m not the best at it, and may have hit a little girl with my golf ball), inhaled the most amazing ribs (smoked with love by my father-in-law), and gave long hugs and shared reluctant goodbyes.

Sunday: our trip home 

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Our trek home began way too early, but after 2 hours in a plane, and an hour drive from Philly to Phoenixville, we were home. Traveling is something I love to do, yet I love the comfort my own bed brings. As much as I say that I want to be a wanderer and see as much of the world as I can, coming home always reminds me that one day we need to plant our roots … somewhere. Thankfully we have some time to figure that out.

That next week we were able to recuperate, do some laundry, and finally decorate our apartment for Christmas.

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This past week we did some Christmas shopping, and were able to put some gifts under our little tree.

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My owl ornaments.

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I love our little barrel wrapped with lights. In my opinion, lights make everything a little more magical.

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I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

How are you getting ready for Christmas?

“We Will Wait: an advent devotional guide”

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It is so easy to lose sight of what Christmas truly means – especially during times of spiritual/emotional drought, or of financial hardship. Thinking back over the last few years, I am ashamed to admit how cynical I’ve become; Christmas has become less magical, and I have struggled to find complete joy in a holiday I used to anxiously await year after year. Caleb says it will be different when we have children, but this year, I want to intentionally choose to change my mindset on Christmas. I don’t want to wait until we have little ones to see the joy and hope this holiday brings.

As I spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws (which I will hopefully be posting about in the next week), I was overwhelmed with thankfulness. This family has embraced me as their own, and every time I’m with them, they remind me that I belong.

Just the same, Christ has shown me that same love, and offers me an eternal hope of joy and freedom. He called me out of the darkness that was my sin, and gives me the chance each and every day to accept His love, and in turn, love others in the same way.

Although the Advent season has already begun (and I am very late in posting this), I would encourage you to check out We Will Wait: an advent devotional guide by Heather Boersma. You can purchase the e-book for $4.99, or follow along as she posts videos in the We Will Wait: an advent devotional journey facebook page.

Through her devotional, Heather shares her own unique and beautiful perspective on the hope, peace, joy, and love that we can find in Christ, and how we can get the most out of this Advent season.