miles and the cicada.

The cicadas are getting thick here. They've discovered they have wings and now driving down the interstate sounds like lightweight hail and results in gooey smears all over my windshield. They dive bomb at you when you're standing outside to fill your car with gas or walking across the parking lot into the grocery store. If you drive with your windows down, they will gladly join you.

We're trying to make the most of the situation so yesterday we thought we'd let Miles in on some of the fun. Nate went out and grabbed a cicada and brought it in the house. Normally I do not want any kind of bug in my house, but cicadas are kind of ideal because they don't run away, they don't really fly, and they're not destructive. So we set it down and let Miles have at it.

He had a good 10 minutes of fun with it and then he killed it and ate it. We heard they're high-protein snacks for pets as long as they don't eat too many (they can be difficult to digest) so we'll only give them to Miles as treats.

Yum, yum.



We're about 50 days out from the wedding, but last week Nate and I met up with our photographer for some engagement pictures. Here's a sneak peak.


Today Nate and I joined a couple from church to participate in a Ravenchase Adventure Race in downtown Nashville. Think "Amazing Race" meets Music City. There were more than 70 teams of four, and we were given clues and had to walk around to various places and decode more clues and fill them all out on an answer sheet.
Megan, Keith, Nate, and me with the gold rooster.
I was trying to hold up eight fingers ...
It was so much fun! The clues had us everywhere from the State Capitol to the AT&T building to the Nashville Public Library, Shelby St. Bridge, symphony center, Country Music Hall of Fame, up and down Broadway, dancing on the sidewalk, solving word searches on the go, and in a second floor billiards hall. Tons of walking and problem solving and decoding ... quickly, because all the other teams were out trying to finish early too. Fortunately I had figured out before lunch how to use a Vigenère cipher, so we saved a ton of time on that part of the race.

I've got to say, it was pretty intense. I get really competitive when it comes to stuff like this and we were bookin' it. It took us 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete the challenge ... we got 8th place! Out of 70 something! Yeah!


cicada hunting.

This afternoon Nate and I went cicada hunting. Yep, cicada hunting. Brood XIX has invaded Nashville and well, why not? Prior to this activity, I was pretty squeamish around cicadas. I let Nate do all the actual cicada touching, but they aren't so terrifying when you spend a little time around them. Check out these clips of our adventures.

Cicada close-up

The emergent cicada
Cicada collection

Nate and me

The G.O.S.P.E.L.

It’s the full story of life crushed into 4 minutes.
The entirety of humanity in the palm of your hand and crushed into one sentence.
Listen. It’s intense, right?
God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life.
The greatest story ever told that’s hardly ever told.
God. Yes, God.
The Maker and Giver of life, and by life I mean any and all matter and substance.
Seen and unseen, what can’t and can be touched:
Thoughts, image, emotions, love, atoms, and oceans.

God: all of it His handiwork. One of which, His masterpiece.
Made so uniquely that angels looked curiously.
The one thing in creation that was made with his imagery.
A concept so cold it’s the reason I stay bold.
How God breathed into man and he became a living soul
Formed with the intent of being infinitely, intimately fond
Creator and creation held in eternal bond.
And it was place in perfect paradise ‘til something went wrong.
The species got deceived and started lustin’ for His job
An odd list of complaints as if the system ain’t workin’
And used that same breath he graciously gave us to curse him.
And that sin seed spread throughout our souls’ genome.
And by nature, your nature, your species, you participated in the mutiny.

Our. Yes, our sins. It’s nature inherited. Blackened the human heart
It was over before it started.
Deceived from day one and led away by our own lusts.
There’s not a religion in the world that doesn’t agree that something’s wrong with us.
The question is, what is it? And how do we fix it?
Are we eternally separated from a God that may or may not have existed?
But that’s another subject. Let’s keep grindin’.
Besides, trying to prove God is like defending a lion, homie.
It don’t need your help. Just unlock the cage.
Let’s move on, on how our debt can be paid.

Short and sweet: the problem is sin. Yes, sin.
It’s a cancer, an asthma, choking out our life for us,
Forcing separation from a perfect and holy God
And the only way to get back is to get back to perfection.
But silly us, trying to pass the course of life without referring to a syllabus.

This is us: heap up your good deeds. Chant, pray, meditate.
Well all of that, of course, is spraying cologne on a corpse.
Or you could choose to ignore it, as if something don’t stink.
It’s like stepping in dog poop and refusing to wipe your shoe,
But all of that ends with, how good is good enough?
Take your silly list of good deeds and line them up against perfection.
Good luck. That’s like past your pay grade.
The cost of your soul—you ain’t got a big enough piggy bank.
But you could give it a shot! But I suggest you throw away the list
‘Cause even your good acts are an extension of your selfishness.

But here’s where it gets interesting. I hope you’re closely listening.
Please don’t get it twisted; it’s what makes our faith unique.
Here’s what God says is Part A of the gospel.
You can’t fix yourself. Quit trying. It’s impossible.
Sin brings death. Give God his breath back. You owe Him.
Eternally separated, and the only way to fix it is someone die in your place.
And that someone gotta be perfect or the payment ain’t permanent.
So if and when you find a perfect person, get him or her to willingly trade their perfection
For your sin and death in.
Clearly since the only one that can meet God’s criteria is God,
God sent Himself as Jesus to pay the cost for us.

His righteousness, His death, functions as payment.
Yes, payment. Wrote a check with his life
But at the resurrection we all cheered because that means the check cleared.
Pierced feet, pierced hands, blood-stained Son of Man.
Fullness, forgiveness, free passage into the Promised Land.
That same breath that God breathed into us, God gave up to redeem us.

And anyone and everyone, and by everyone, I mean everyone
who puts their faith and trust in Him and Him alone
Can stand in full confidence of God’s forgiveness.
And here’s what the promise is:
That you are guaranteed full access to return to perfect unity
by simply believing in Christ and Christ alone.

You are receiving life. Yes, life.

This is the gospel.
God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life.



Yesterday after work, Nate and I headed down to Hillsboro Village to meet with Katy at Provence Breads & Cafe. She's the catering manager, and we met with her to talk about what they could do for us for our dessert reception.

Fruit tart! The one we tried had raspberries and kiwi.
This was the last super crucial thing on our to-do list, and it was amazingly easy. I think the meeting only took 10-15 minutes. We told Katy what we wanted, how much we had to spend, and she said they could do it. The best part? We got to sample some of the pastries!

Macarons … probably good, but we weren't fans.

Most of their pastries also come in mini sizes,
so we'll have a nice combination of desserts for everyone's tastes.
Planning should get a lot easier once we know how many guests we'll have. If you get invited to the wedding, RSVP! Even if you can't make it. Your friends will love you for it.

Since we'll be in Kansas next weekend, I only have five planning weekends left! And one of those I need to do some serious cleaning so Nate can move in. One of the best gifts I ever got was a house cleaning from my real estate agent on my 1 yr homeowner anniversary. It's a little too pricey for me to just buy myself, but those ladies are awesome.

Last night I made chicken fried chicken … which I'm pretty sure should just be called "fried chicken", and mashed potatoes. Actually, I've never been great at frying anything, so I baked the chicken. It was still pretty good.

Things have been a little slow in the office this week with people being gone and me waiting for things to be passed on to me. I hate slow days because I know things will hit me all at once down the road. I will withhold my rant on this. I use my Twitter to be passive aggressive about things that frustrate me. I am terribly cynical sometimes.

Last week I grabbed up a couple of Bon Iver tickets for the end of July. He is playing at the Ryman here in Nashville and Nate and I are both fans, so I thought it would be a fun "we've been married 18 days!" treat.

51 days and counting …



Today in the mail I got some jewelry parts I ordered. I looked for a long time to find jewelry for my bridesmaids, but I couldn't find anything I liked. And it was expensive! Even when I found something I kind of liked on etsy, I thought, Well, somebody made that! I could do that! After a little research, I ordered the pieces to make earrings and necklaces myself ... exactly how I want them. Aqua glass pearls.

Earrings made with a ball post stud, earwire safety nut, corrugated rondel beads, 8mm glass pearls, acculon wire cable, and crimp beads.

The final product! I have white glass pearls to make a necklace for me. I made 6 pairs of earrings; 2 extra sets just in case something breaks. Most of the pieces I bought came in sets of 100, so I could make 54 more earrings if I want. I'm pretty sure I will never buy jewelry again. When you calculate price per piece, I made a set of earrings for 34 cents. That's what I'm talking about.

59 days to go!




Tonight I made soft giant pretzels! (A dessert to our Parmesan crusted tilapia.) This was a result of a Kroger trip the other day. Nate and I were passing through the baking aisle when he was drawn to a $6 box kit for making pretzels. I was like, "What? $6? I'm not paying that much for a box of pretzel mix! Honey, I'll find a recipe when we get home." I'm kind of a cheapo, but these homemade ones were probably even better. And I got to use my bread machine which made it pretty easy. Nate said they tasted like Auntie Anne's.

In other news, Nashville is under siege by cicadas ... aka the Cicada Invasion 2011. Apparently this is a 13-year cycle, and these suckers have been "napping" since I was in the fourth grade. I spotted my first one on Saturday when I was at Musicians Corner with Anne. I calmly informed her it was crawling up her shoe, and it was the ugliest little booger ... big orange eyes and about the size of a grasshopper.

This Saturday, there were molted skins all over my foundation, and this evening when I went out back to pick strawberries, I saw three in the strawberry leaves and went right back inside. Nate went out and brought in fresh strawberries. I guess if you can't beat 'em, make some money off of merchandise. You can get your own Music City cicada swatter here.

We're officially two months out from the wedding. Still lots to do. We're trying to finish up invitations this week.


don't help yourself.

Every Saturday morning, Nate comes over for turkey bacon and eggs. Around 10, Nate headed out to help get some things done at the church, so I went out and braved the camel crickets to pull the lawnmower out of the shed and get started on the yard. I finished the backyard and was just starting on the front when my neighbor Kevin waved at me. I stopped the mower and walked past the hedge.

"Did I do something wrong?"

What? As Kevin and I talked, he confessed that he was really insulted when he heard Nate's dad was buying us a lawnmower. He thought he had done something wrong, and that I didn't want him to mow my yard anymore.

Kevin has a huge riding mower called a Bad Boy, and he starts in his yard and mows several of the yards on our block. I'm pretty sure he loves it. So even though we thought we were doing Kevin a favor by taking care of our own yard, he felt really bad that he didn't get to mow my yard anymore. I assured him I was greatly appreciative when he mowed, and he said, "Well, you don't worry about it after today." Deal.

I had no idea that for the last two months Kevin felt this way. I'm so glad he spoke up! Some people just really like helping out, so to deny them the opportunity doesn't do them a favor at all. Kevin is mowing my yard the rest of the summer. I'm staying out of the heat and avoiding mosquitoes and a bad tan. Win-win.



Nate finished up designing our wedding invitations on Wednesday, and yesterday I had them printed at FedEx Office (20% off … of course I found a coupon). Last night we went to Michaels and bought some decorative card stock (on sale for 40% off!). We printed the invitations on "natural" card stock, 2 per page (5x8 each) and our decorative card stock is 12x12. Nate put guide marks on the invitations, and we are meticulously using my cutting bar to cut the invitations and card stock to size.

Then Nate glued each invitation to a piece of decorative card stock and kept it flat beneath a heavy collection of Jonathan Edwards' works. Some of the paper is pretty wild! Most people's invitations will look different; only 4 will share the same decorative paper type. We thought that would be fun. (Although I think someone might get a crazy design and think we did that for all of them!)

We worked most of the evening before calling it quits around 10. We probably won't get these mailed out until next week, but I think they look pretty awesome. We know most people put the parents' names at the top, but it kind of distracted from our names. So they're more like a subtitle. We do not do things traditionally around here.

This navy blue paper is probably my favorite, even though our colors are aqua and black. (We really can't agree on what shade of aqua we like, but it's not really a key component in anything.)

64 days to go. I am ready to be done with planning!



I'm not exactly sure what we've been eating lately because things have been crazy and I've kind of been slacking in the cooking department. But I got my act together this week and planned some meals.

Sunday night we had honey-glazed pork chops with California blend vegetables. The pork chops were really easy; they only used honey, brown sugar, and a little salt/pepper. Our honey was straight from a bee hive in Maize, Kansas, thanks to Nate's dad.

Last night was taco night. A quick and easy favorite, and tonight I made orange curried chicken (Nate's fav) with mushrooms and green beans. Free green beans, I might add. We picked them up at Kroger and they were too light to register on the scale at checkout, so our cashier got frustrated enough to just give them to us for free.

And I am so so so excited about our strawberries! I picked 15 fresh from the garden this afternoon and there are plenty more that will be ready in the coming days. So much more delicious than store bought and free! We had strawberries for dessert dipped in Cool Whip. :) I'm really excited to go all out with the garden next year when I'll hopefully have more time to take care of it. We will be eating well in the Jones house.


one year.

A year ago today, everyone in Nashville was siting in their homes watching it rain. And rain, and rain, and rain. In fact, it rained for three days. And Nashville experienced the worst flood in history. We started off today with some rain, but it was a drizzle compared to May 1, 2010. Here's a quick look at how things went down:

© All rights reserved.