.Rough Week.

..and it's only Tuesday.

There simply is not enough time in a day to complete everything I need to do as well as want to do. Adam and I are also preparing ourselves for some bad news regarding a much needed home improvement project..it's nothing drastic but would be very disappointing. We have not heard the final word yet but it's not looking good friends.

There's plenty more I could go on and complain about but that would not be uplifting to anyone, including myself. So I will end this post by saying,



.Sliced Wood Wall Art Tutorial.

I normally do not post on Sundays but after I completed my little weekend project, I just had to share it! 

I was inspired by two lovely pieces of art, this and this, to create

Sliced Wood Wall Art:
Materials needed:

- Branches from outside (free!)
- Sticky Tack ($3.27 Walmart)
- Pencil
- Projector
- Miter saw or hand saw (recommend miter)

This entire project cost me under $4.00!
Making your Sliced Wood Wall Art:

1. Collect branches from outside. 
Hint: The smaller the diameter of your branch, the more intricate text you can trace on your wall. The largest branch I used is about the size of a nickel.

2. Using a miter saw or hand saw, cut your branches into thin pieces replicating the width of coins. (I must give a shout out to my super sexy husband who cut me every single piece on his miter saw.)
Hint: They do not all have to be the same width, it adds extra texture when each piece is slightly different.

3. After your pieces are cut, organize into three piles: Small, Medium, and Large.
Hint: This step will help you when it comes time to tracing your text with the wood slices.

4. Allow wood slices to dry in the sun for a few days.
5. Using your projector, display your image onto your wall.
Hint: Choose your desired font and words and arrange how you like it in Microsoft Word. This will be the image you project onto your wall. Feel free to use a tape measure to center it onto your wall.
6. Lightly trace the text using your pencil. 
7. Attach sticky tack to your sliced wood pieces. 

8. Using your smallest pieces first, attach to wall at the tips of your letters as well as the overlapping sections (depending on what font you chose).
9. Continue attaching your sliced wood pieces onto your traced text until you are both happy and finished!

I am thrilled with my final result and the simple fact it is exactly how I pictured it to look :) 

This weekend has been cloudy and rainy so this indoor project came at the perfect time! Some of the photos appear darker than others due to the changing weather outside. I was tempted to use flash but I resisted knowing natural light is always better--slowly learning more about photography.

Thanks again to my amazing hubs for slicing the wood, letting me borrow his projector from work, and assisting me in setting up :)

Happy Living--Happy Crafting
and remember
--Little Things Bring Smiles--up


.Little Things Bring Smiles Part 16.

The name of my blog is

Little Things Bring Smiles.

I chose this title because it is important to remember the little things in life and to rejoice in them. My reason for blogging is to share my life, all parts of it {including the good, the bad, and the ugly} along with my home, crafts, and DIY projects I complete. Each month I want to focus on the little things that brought smiles to my days. 

I would love for you to share your little things and see if they bring a smile to me, or another reader :)

 Here are my little things from February:
*Warning: this may be entirely about Iceland*

- Celebrating Valentine's Day with my love
- Attending my friend's wedding in MD
- Enjoying Lynchburg's first (and only) big snow
- Shopping and packing for ICELAND!
- Visiting my parents in NJ
- Leaving the country for the first time with Adam
- Experiencing Iceland
- Appreciating God's creation..the mountains, glaciers, volcanoes in Iceland
- Exploring Reykjavik with Adam
- Eating Icelandic food
- Visiting with family members in NY before coming back to VA

..the list really would never end talking about Iceland so simply see these posts to read about our amazing trip!

Always remember,
Little Things Bring Smiles!


.Iceland-Day Four & Five.

After taking a short break from the Iceland posts (I thought you all could use a change up) we are back with the final two days! Thanks for reading along on our first trip ever leaving the good ol' USA.

Day Four: I have been eager to relive this day and share it with you. Adam and I spent the entire morning and afternoon at the Blue Lagoon. Friends, if you are ever in Iceland, this is a MUST GO! We finally understood the true meaning of 'relaxation' thanks to the milky hot waters.
We were a bit excited and the first ones on the bus--I believe we were actually 10 minutes early, woohoo! As we arrived to enjoy the silica rich mineral waters everyone raved about, we were greeted by pure beauty. Adam and I commented we now understood our childhood crayon boxes that had 'Glacier Blue' marked as a color.
As you can see in the photos above, the floor covering is a thick mud. This mud is silica which gives the water it's milky appearance. It is also known to have healing powers for your skin and the Blue Lagoon recommends people to rub it all over their bodies. If you are wondering whether or not Adam and I did--well, I guess you will have to continue reading :)
I post these next pictures with a full heart. Thanks to my husband and Heavenly Father, I have successfully lost 30 pounds and on the track of getting healthy! This was the first two piece I have worn in 5 years and friends, it has never felt so good!
After our morning "bath" we ventured inside to take showers and lay down in the resort's relaxation corner. For those of you who read Day Three, let me say I came prepared for nakedness! I wore my swimsuit under my clothes so I was ready as soon as I stepped foot in the locker room. Unlike the last place, the Blue Lagoon has shower stalls with closed doors for those of us who have a thing for modesty..ME ME ME! I still saw lots and lots of naked women but I am proud to say no one saw my naked body, SUCCESS! Adam and I both took close to a two hour nap in these fabulous chairs:
Because we visited Iceland during it's off season, at times we literally had the place ourselves. Privacy, warm sun, hot steam, bubbling waters, and my husband..yes, it was a good day.
After our nap we ate lunch downstairs in the cafe and then headed back out into the waters. I have a feeling you will enjoy these photos :)
 Oh yes we did ;)
The weather quickly began changing and we all knew a storm was a' brewing. Just check out this moon ring below, a clear indicator snow is on it's way!
Before we headed back to catch the shuttle to our hotel, Adam and I took showers and changed into real clothes. I am pretty certain I used an entire bottle of conditioner in my hair--the silica waters may be good for your skin but they leave your hair feeling like straw..still totally worth it! We ventured onto the roof to see the view and snag one last picture of our time there. The snow was already falling!
We got back to our hotel around 6pm and hiked back to The Pearl for dinner. Our night was chill and we simply enjoyed each other's company.

Day Five: This morning was our final time waking up in Iceland. We were showered, packed, and ready to go with two hours to spare before our shuttle picked us up for the airport. Adam and I ate lunch at the hotel's restaurant and enjoyed an Icelandic buffet: Cucumber and mango, broccoli, couscous, sweet potatoes and cauliflower in red sauce, red fish with pesto sauce, and potatoes in cucumber sauce. The best part of the meal is sadly not pictured, pumpkin soup--it was delicious! I am also going to miss the coffee there, you were always served a little piece of chocolate with it.
 Last pictures of my man in Reykjavik, Iceland:
The cameras were packed up as we boarded our shuttle followed by our plane. My parents picked us up at JFK around 9pm after a 6.5 hour flight and treated us to dinner and one of our favorite diners. Keep in mind we were eating dinner 4am Iceland time--so strange! Adam and I rested up the next 2 days as we were staying with my folks in NJ.

You made it to the end of our Iceland vacation! I feel like I owe you a prize for staring at our faces for so long :) I hope this excites you to experience other cultures and I sure hope that little travel bug has taken a nice bite out of you! Now you tell me--

Have you ever left the country? If so, where?


.I am in love.

Friends, I am here again with a full heart. 

For the past year I have been dedicated to improving my health: My spiritual, mental, and physical health. Thus beginning a new journey.

This journey was between me and God. This journey's purpose was to treat my body as a temple, the way my Heavenly Father created it to be. This journey required steadfast prayer, commitment, faith, hope, and bravery. My journey?--To lose weight.

Almost a year ago I shared my heart on this blog. It was scary but I did it. I felt the Lord tugging at me to do so to reach people I may never get the chance to meet in person. I wrote about a very hard, depressing, embarrassing, and low time in my life: Heartache resulting in an eating disorder.

The past year I have faced my greatest fears. Fear is something different for everyone and for me, it involved doctors, specialists, MRI machines, appointments, results, and so on. My body needed to lose weight but more importantly, it needed to function properly. By this I mean to have a body that did not suffer from headaches, debilitating migraines, and ovarian cysts. For those of you not familiar with the pain, agony, and depression that coincide with these ailments, let me tell you: THEY ARE BRUTAL TO YOUR BODY. Brutal to your physical body, mental body, and spiritual body.

I have attended more doctors and specialists in the past year than I would have hoped to see in my life. I did it. I went through with the waiting period, the horrible exam period, and the most feared: the result period. God gave me strength, He provided me with a desire to go to these appointments, He gave me the ability to laugh after fainting at a few of these appointments, He gave me a heart filled with joy, and He gave me the most loving and attentive husband.

What I was not expecting were answers and though I did not receive an answer for everything, I did find two answers: My severe intolerance to Wheat/Gluten and my need for eye glasses. 

My chiropractor was the first to introduce me to the wheat-migraine relationship and my skepticism was put to rest after reading this blog. I felt the Lord provided me with these two completely different paths in order for me to do further testing to understand my body. I had expensive, in depth blood work completed to find food intolerances and was given my first answer to healing: Cut out gluten from your diet!

It seemed too easy that simply changing your diet would improve your physical health and not just in the weight loss department, but how your body functions as a whole. Going gluten-free was intimidating and stressful in the beginning but little by little God proved I could do it, and do it well. I have been gluten-free 5 months now and feel encouraged in every aspect of the word.

I have officially lost and kept off 30lbs since May 2011.
I have made a lifestyle change. My diet is 100% gluten-free and I plan to continue. The best part is not the weight loss, it's how my body feels and how it is functioning. My migraines have improved to what feels like 85% and keep getting better. The only time I feel a strong headache or migraine is around my monthly cycle which is caused by the changes in my hormone levels. You know what?--I'll take it! I gladly accept one bad headache a month that lasts 2 days compared to two week long migraines and waking up every single morning with a headache.

Friends, I am thrilled.

I used to ask Adam to rub my head close to every night and would even wake him at times to help me get medicine, an icepack, or to simply rub again. The other night I felt a slight discomfort in my head so I asked him to rub it and he paused, smiled, and said, "Woah Katie. Your gluten thing really is working, I haven't had to rub your head in months!" Hearing him say this made my heart just about burst! God was blessing Adam through my healing for everything he has done for me. Our marriage is strengthening because of my health and how I feel. Praise Jesus!

My body is still producing cysts but I am able to detect when and where this is happening and learning what my body needs. God is comforting me with familiar pain and allowing my body and brain to fully communicate. It is an amazing thing. I am hopeful healing will come regarding the cysts and to be frank, hopeful a pregnancy will assist in preventing the cysts as well as regulating my body's cycle.

I also had intensive eye examinations completed and had a scare for glaucoma but after further testing, the results came back negative! The eye doctor did find my need for glasses and I was not surprised. When I am driving and on the computer I feel my eyes ache resulting in a pressure headache. My blogging has slowed down a lot in the last few months and this is because I went through a time period when I simply could not be on the computer, it caused too much pain. Well, another simple answer as glasses has fixed this!

As the title says, "I am in love." Do you know what I am talking about?--My body! I am in love with my body for being created by God's masterful hands. I have not always treated it as I should but now, now I am striving to view myself as a temple..the temple it was created to be. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

I am working each day to give my body what it needs. Little things like exercise, eating healthy whole foods, and a good night's rest. I am continuing to have regular check ups at my gynecologist and keeping a journal of when my body produces cysts and headaches. I am remembering to praise God for answered prayer. I am smiling more, laughing more, enjoying my house, job, and husband more.

Life is good friends.

To celebrate my current weight loss and health, I bought myself another dress and this time, a little black dress. Now I simply need lessons on how to "pose" to show off an outfit. I got rather shy and ended the mini photoshoot short.  Glad the hubs got a candid at the end, it's actually my favorite!
Happy Living--Happy Health
and remember
--Little Things Bring Smiles--


.March 20th.

March 20th is the first official day of Spring.
 ..but that's not all in my family..

March 20th also marks my parents' wedding anniversary.
Today they are celebrating 30 years!

My parents met at the tender ages of 16 and 17 and were high school sweethearts.

They have been together ever since--36 years to be exact!

My parents have been the greatest example of God's love and taught me how to find that love, be that love, and spread that love with others. I truly thank the Lord daily for blessing me with caring, loving, and funny parents who have always protected, nurtured, and provided for me and my brother. As Scott and I each got married, our parents' number of children grew and it has been a special gift watching as they love our spouses with their whole hearts. 


Mom and Dad, 

I am lucky to have been raised by two people who know and love our Heavenly Father. Your example of teamwork and partnership amazes me and is something Adam and I strive for daily. Thank you for being an encouragement in our marriage and for being real with us, sharing what you have learned along your 30 years. We look up to you both and know your love, your marriage, and your dedication pleases the Lord. 

Adam and I are sending you our love today.

Happy Anniversary!


.Iceland-Day Three.

Day Three: This was one of our favorite days while in Iceland because we got to explore the breathtaking countryside. Adam and I purchased a tour day in our 'package deal' and were eager to see what it would be like. We met great people and had a wonderful time. I highly recommend group tours after our experience: Transportation provided for you, meeting people from all over the world, taking in beautiful countryside, and enjoying local cuisine!--It does not get any better friends :)
Stop #1: Thingvellir National Park. This is Iceland's most historic site and first national park founded. The area is known as "Parliament Plains" because it is where Iceland's Parliament gathered from 930-1789.

Our tour guide gave us a history lesson on the area and then let us have time to ourselves to snap photos and enjoy hot chocolate in the vistor center. Adam and I heard rumors that you often feel rushed on these guided tours but that simply was not the case for our day. We had plenty of time to just be alone with each other, soak in the sites, use the restroom, grab a snack or two, get a coffee, and have actual conversations with the other people in our group. Our experience was lovely and leaving us wanting to do it again..and again..and again!

While visiting the Thingvellir National Park, our group participated in a hike to a small waterfall. The pictures below are our attempt at capturing the beauty that is Iceland.
The picture directly above is the only stream in Iceland tourists and locals can throw a coin in and make a wish. The sun was shining deep into the water while we passed and the coins shimmering made it appear magical.

Something rather interesting we found out Iceland is covered in rock, lava rock to be exact. We learned the country does not have dirt and soil like we are used to, everything is lava rock. Because the land is rock, farming is difficult. Iceland has "hot houses" which are green houses that use heat and steam from the natural springs to grow produce. The lava rock formations are fascinating with incredible detail. After looking at these photos I think you would agree God is the ultimate artist and creator.

Pit Stop #1: Local farm to meet some Icelandic horses. On the way to our second destination, our tour guide pulled the van to the side of the road to introduce us to some horses. This was the best surprise and the highlight of our day! These horses are the only animal to remain outdoors all year round in Iceland. They are the size of a pony or large donkey and are covered in thick, coarse hair. There are 150 different color combinations. They were extremely friendly and simply so pretty to look at. I believe they were brought over on a viking ship from either Norway or Sweden and gave adapted to live in Iceland's environment. The little girl in me came out and all I wanted to do was brush and braid their hair..the picture's will explain:
Stop #2: Geysir. This was the first time Adam and I got to experience seeing a live geyser shoot up and lucky for us, this one blew every 5-7 minutes. The park had the geyser area roped off and circling it's border were tourists standing with their cameras in hand just waiting, waiting to snap that perfect picture. While Adam was shooting video, I found the most "photographer-looking" person and stood right next to them--I figured they knew it was "the spot." 30 seconds later the geyser went off, scared me so much that I jumped resulting in one trigger happy finger and check out the photos I managed to get by luck I tell you:
On the way to see the Geysir, there was a lovely little pathway and beside it were bubbling hot springs and the most vibrant moss I have ever seen. We also learned why Iceland is known to be so green despite it's name..any guesses?--I'll just tell you! Moss is the only form of plant and vegetation that will grow on lava rock and because the countryside is made entirely up of lava rock, you better believe it makes for fields of green. Moss is also known to keep it's green color all year round and we discovered this to be true. We moved snow off of some rocks and there it was, a glimpse into Spring and Summer. Just imagine:
During our free time visiting Geysir, Adam and I enjoyed Icelandic chocolate and let me tell you--it was delectable! It was creamier than any chocolate I have had in the states and take my word, I've eaten a lot of chocolate. This particular gift store was gorgeous. I wish I thought to take photos of the decor and their displays, it was the best mixture of rustic and modern.

Stop #3: Gulfoss. This is the most famous waterfall in Iceland and it is known as the Golden Falls because of the sediment and mineral count found in the glacier water. On a bright sunny day the water appears gold and has a rainbow over the falls. There were slight touches of blue sky when we were visiting but the snow began falling hard and the sun was definitely not shining. Adam and I were not able to walk down closer to the falls because the path was covered in ice and snow and was labeled as "closed." We thought for a second about jumping over the sign and rope but the thought of breaking a leg in Iceland when they clearly warned us not to scared us too much so we obeyed--our moms should be proud :) The temperature dropped extremely low during this time and although the site was stunning, we wanted to be indoors hence my "I'm cold and tired face" below.
Stop #4: Laugarvatn Fontana. This structure was designed to use heat directly from the geothermal hot springs to heat the waters. Each mini pool and sitting area were different temperatures. The only problem--getting out and "walking" aka RUNNING to find the hottest tub! As you see in the pictures, it was snowing on us..as we were in bathing suits..walking around in freezing temps..in Iceland..in February! Craziest, funniest night ever!!!
Something else happened while visiting these hot springs..a certain girl (ME ME ME ME!!!) was shocked and a little traumatized after a particular locker room experience.

A bit of a back story: I do not have any sisters and although growing up I had, and still have, very close girlfriends, we kept pretty private..meaning NO NAKEDNESS! Whenever we were in our gym locker room at school changing we each had our locker and would face it or go into a corner or whatever. We certainly never showered together naked..never hung out while naked..never had a conversation while naked..heck we never even got naked!!

Well..I was in Iceland and they feel a little differently about modesty. I suppose they take after Europe in the sense and friends, I have never felt so American in my entire life. Here's how it went down: Adam and I unpacked our swimsuits and change of clothes in the lobby and continued into our assigned locker room. The second I walked in, shoes immediately had to be taken off. Flip flops were not even allowed. This began my freak out over germs, foot fungus..you name it, I thought it! As I rounded the corner my mouth literally dropped. Boobs and butts were everywhere--wrinkly ones, fat ones, thin ones, old ones, young ones, perky ones, droopy ones, dimply ones--EVERYWHERE. I sort of died inside and freaked out at the thought of having to get naked myself in front of all these people. I surely lacked the gumption to do something like that and was extremely intimidated.

What did I do? Run, yes literally, into the closest bathroom and changed into my bathing suit in there. I even packed a cover up people..I wanted to cover up myself on top of already wearing a bathing suit while everyone else was sporting their birthday suits. I was the odd one. I successfully packed away my belongings in a locker and kept my eyes up high as I ran for the door outside. I was stopped--and was told to strip down to nothing and shower with the 10 other very naked women behind me. Um...um..um..no thank you???

I went under the water while the staff lady was not looking and rinsed myself all while wearing my bathing suit. Did I get dirty looks?--for sure! I was in shock at all of the nakedness and was purely intimidated by these women's' confidence and ability to be secure while naked. I am just not there, nope not even close. When I finally did make it outside I asked Adam how the men's locker room was and he replied, "Yea, we were naked but we are guys..it's different." Ugh I actually wished I was a man for a split second..okay, moving on!

Stop #5: Linden Restaurant. The Icelandic Chef attended the Culinary Institute of America and prepared us the best food we have ever eaten. My meal consisted of lamb, veggies and barley, baked potato, and a brown gravy and prune puree. It was fantastic:
Adam's meal was cod on top of a vegetable/rice/barley medley with different purees. I knew it was good because I had to keep telling Adam to eat slow and to enjoy each bite.
The dessert we ate is famous in Iceland and has given our Chef much attention. It was mousse. White chocolate mousse on top, raspberry gelatin with watermelon chunks in the middle, and a chocolate mousse on the bottom. Adam and I were served first and began eating it immediately. After Adam's second bite the Chef gasped and explained to everywhere not to eat it as Adam had started, layer by layer, but to bring your spoon all the way to the bottom and back to the top making sure to get three layers at once. It was very funny and proves how unrefined we are when it comes to cuisine.
Stop #6: Northern Lights. Our tour guide spent 2.5 hours driving around Iceland searching for the Northern Lights. Unfortunately the cloud coverage was too severe that all we were able to see were green tinted clouds. Most people in our group fell asleep but Adam and I felt like we were on storm chasers and remained active throughout the drive--we made the best out of it and I think the tour guide appreciated our spark :) Our van returned to the hotel at 1am after a very long spectacular day. Adam and I slept well this night.

I did it again--another long, picture filled post! I wish I could tell you that's it but there is more in store for later in the week. I hope you have enjoyed getting a taste of Icelandic culture. I am curious--has anyone who is reading this ever visited Iceland? 

Happy Monday!