cheers to the fourth!

Happy Birthday, America! (That is how I explained the 4th of July to the 4-year-olds I was teaching last year. That is probably the simplest explanation I think they can grasp. Although they totally get fireworks + eating watermelon.)
I'm off-linin' it a day early because we are going to be busy today cleaning + cooking before the holiday weekend. My agenda today includes making salads and desserts for tomorrow, cleaning the kitchen and sweeping the dog hair off the floor because we have company tonight! Our friends Randy + Danielle and finally coming to St. Paul so that we can take them to some of our favorite spots. Then we'll spend Friday with my family and hopefully catch a couple fish. :)  
 I snapped these pictures yesterday. The first two are of the fun + festive July images are from my daily planner. Mine is a Lilly Pulitzer Large Agenda and I can't recommend it enough. I thought I found my perfect planner before, but this one is far superior. It's girly without being too girly and has plenty of room to write. The last two are from my backyard yesterday. 

In the archives of Project Simple Life:
July 2010: fourth. (loved writing this one...)
July 2012: sparkly skies


my list: kitchen tool favorites

The prompt for #fmsphotoaday is 'something beginning with a K' which is perfect because I have been meaning to share my favorite kitchen tools! These are the ones I use daily/weekly, whether I'm flipping an egg white omelet, zesting a lemon or whisking up some of my favorite pancake batter. Most of these we got for our wedding 4+ years ago, so they are still in almost - new shape.

The links below direct you to the exact tools or something similar. enjoy!

1. rachael ray nylon turner set. perfect for: flipping fish, omelets, chicken breasts, anything! we use our small + large flippers every single day. love them.
2. microplane grater. perfect for: grating hard cheeses, garlic, or cinnamon sticks, zesting lemons + oranges.
3. stainless steel utility whisk. perfect for: delicate cake batters, folding ingredients, whisking powdered sugar into cream cheese to make frosting. (note: we used plastic whisks for a while but threw them away because they did not hold up to anything that we wanted. constantly bent. no good. will always buy good quality instead of cheap.)
4. paula deen solid spoons. perfect for: stirring anything. ours are used several times a week. we sometimes put them in the dishwasher, but my mom's advice is always to hand wash anything wooden.
5. rachael ray spoonula set. perfect for: anything you would use a spatula for. but better. con -- will not fit in the peanut butter jar.
6. kitchenaid santoku knife. perfect for: dicin' and slicin'. except tomatoes. serated all the way for those bad boys. santoku knives are amazing. we have 3. mom's advice again -- wash by hand to avoid rusting.
7. stainless steel measuring cups. perfect for: doin' their job. buying quality works again. we registered for these plastic measuring cups and the numbers rubbed off and it was no good. so now we use these and my preschoolers play with the plastic ones.


summer on instagram // june.

The Hestekins love summer. 

june 2014: 
We love that we don't need to make work a priority.
We love walking Leo.
We love seeing our families.
We love that baby T is almost walking.
We love concocting new drinks.
We love watching the sunset over the church across the street.
We love stir-frys and grilling vegetables.

I'm joining Chantelle's Photo a Day challenge in July! We starts tomorrow and post every day with the hashtag: #FMSphotoaday.  Information about daily prompts are here. Follow me on Instagram by clicking the icon on the right sidebar or here.

answering questions and drinking cider beers.

Last Thursday we kept up our traditional going-to-trivia date (it's a tradition if you do it 4 times in 7 months, right?) and headed over to Minneapolis to Mac's Industrial Sports Bar to play a game of trivia.

Now, here's the confession -- I offer up no help whatsoever to our trivia team. Out of 50+ questions, I know...maybe....3. My saint of a husband never gets upset though, because let's face it, there are worse things in the world.

This is definitely one of Chad's happy places -- drinking new beers. answering trivia questions about completely random topics. exploring our new city. riding the lightrail. getting out.

 Yes, we named our team Pied Piper. Reason being? We love Silicon Valley. Erlich is completely crazy + hysterical. And it stars our man, Martin Starr, from Freaks and Geeks and Party Down.
Good night. Good good night. Let the tradition live on!


here's to the weekend!

Chad + I are going "up north" for an adult Christian retreat! (sidenote: when I was teaching preschool last year, we played a game where we were 'flying like butterflies' and could pick anywhere we wanted to go. One of my boys picked "up north"! very enthusiastically. Apparently, "up north" is just something that every Minnesotan knows. Even ones that are four.) We plan on fishing, praying together, meet up with friends, listening and note-taking during amazing presentations.

I hope to reflect on our weekend next week, but for now I want to leave you with some links for the weekend:

* Moriah wrote about how some evangelism is done by being a quiet influence instead of speaking.

* This summer, we're planning on having some house guests. Mandy jotted down some ideas like setting out a tray of essentials and remembering to stock the fridge with goodies.

* I think one of the important lessons I'm learning is how to apply makeup correctly. Jo-Lynne wrote about makeup mistakes and I know I'm making 6/8 of them.

*I can't wait to try some of these healthy summer recipes! Some of them are clean - eating approved and perfect for my grillin' hubbie to make.

*The Goldfinch has been on my to-read list for a while. Looks like I'll have to add some of these book recommendations too.

(Photo taken on our family trip to Lake Tahoe in August 2009.) 


when I was a girl.

When I think of my childhood, I think of summer. Particularly, the summer of years 8/9/10. I think that those summers melted into one long, childhood summer full of riding my hand-me-down black bike with red tires that used to be my big brother's and sticky hands from not eating my freezee quickly enough. God made summers long, bright, and carefree. 

Summer was when I got to explore. To be. To not worry about time and when I crawled through the long green, fresh smelling grass with my dad's magnifying glass searching for ladybugs.
Summer started with sweet purple and white lilacs on the side yard and ended with long shadows that we cast on the grass while we were climbing all over our blue metal swing set.
Summer was the smell of calamine lotion on my mosquito bites.
Summer was finishing the dishes quickly so that we could watch reruns of the Monkees before going outside and perfecting our gymnastics routine.
Summer was flying on my bicycle down the hill on my way to Tourtellotte pool with my towel slung over my shoulders.
Summer was walking to school with my dad, reading magazines in his chemistry lab while we gave mom some alone time.
Summer was long car rides and falling asleep in the backseat with my lumpy pillow propped in the seat belt.
Summer was sprinklers and freezing cold, straight-from-the-hose kiddie pool water that we'd have to wait an hour to warm up so we could go in.
Summer was infrequent showers and frequent wearings of the same outfit.
Summer was ice cream sandwiches and biking around the block.
Summer was Barbie towns in my sister's bedroom since that was where the air conditioner was.
Summer was skinned knees and popcorn with melted butter on Saturday nights.
Summer was sitting curbside at Lancer parades. And a full plastic bag of candy.
Summer was learning to "march" like a Lancer from my pre-drum major sister.
Summer was sleeping in our tent in the backyard...once. with extension cords and a lamp and radio.
Summer was marathon viewings of Beauty and the Beast.
Summer was tanned skin and blonde hair.
Summer was sidewalk chalk on the driveway.
Summer was soft sand under my toes while swimming in the lake.
Summer was my birthday cake and special dinner.
Summer was VBS crafts and cookies and juice.

Summer was good.

Summer is good.

*The idea of this post originated at orangepoppy by Rebekah. This is my version. View her's: here.


someone's sleepy.

It happens every time that we come back from "Grandma and Grandpa" Hestekin's house. While there, Leo gets to run at full speed around their backyard, chase squirrels up their giant tree on the side yard by the bird feeders, and chase everything that moves. Not to mention, he gets to play with their dog Braunie until they are both wiped.

When we come home, we get the most exhausted dog on the planet. We can say his normal trigger phrases like "who's here?" "where's Karma?" or "wanna go outside?" and we get....nothin' outta him.  His eyelids struggle to stay open when we call his name and he lays completely motionless (except for the light wagging of his tail).

But it's true of humans too, that when we come home from a long weekend, we don't want to really do anything. Leo just doesn't get anything out of a beer and season one of Breaking Bad like we do.

There are many parts of pet owning that I like (and many others that I don't like), but watching Leo sleep is one of my favorites. We love our sleepy boy.

In the archives of Project Simple Life:
August 2012: what I like about Leo
October 2011: Leo. (The day we got him.)



 Several Thursdays ago, we went out to the ball game. The Brewers were in town and since my parents and some of Chad's cousins only live about 90 minutes away, we decided to treat ourselves (and my parents) to a baseball game. I mean, look at that view of downtown Minneapolis! We had been to Target Field only once before, so it was definitely a treat to go and root for our actual team. (Just because we crossed state lines, doesn't mean that our baseball loyalty changed.) :)

This game was our gift to my parents for their wedding anniversary. They have learned the art of simplicity, so always tell us that we don't need to "get" them anything for special occasions. And that "being together is enough for them". I like that perspective quite a bit.

Chad's awesome cousins, Brian, Kellie, and Terry came with and helped us cheer on our Brewers!

 During the game, Chad was able to get some "action shots". Target Field was celebrating "Retro Night", so both teams wore their old school uniforms and all of us got Kirby Puckett jerseys (which my parents are wearing in the above picture).

It's always nice to see a win!

In the archives of Project Simple Life:
March 2009: When I finally admitted to the world that I like baseball. All thanks to watching it with Chad.
June 2009: We went to a Brewers game the day after we got engaged!


150 by 8.31

Chad and I are kicking up our fitness goals this summer.

In the past year, we have tried different monthly ones (ab challenges, squat challenges, plank challenges) but our problems with completing them revolved around the fact that we tried doing them all at once. When Chad got home from a 10 hour day of work. We basically set ourselves up for failure. I was still getting a daily workout in, but we weren't working at something together, something we both enjoyed.

This summer, though, we have set ourselves up for success. Inspired by the Tone It Up girls (read about their challenge here), we are going to do 150 by 8.31. We will walk/run/jog 150 miles by the end of summer. I averaged it out to 1.5 miles each day.

We know that there will be days that we won't be able to do this together (like tonight, when Chad goes to a Brewers/Twins game). But the days that we can do it are awesome. Even if it is just 1 mile. We are getting out there at night. We are not making excuses because we are holding each other accountable. 

Funny story about day 1 (June 1st): We went to the Grand Day Festival on Grand Avenue in St. Paul and started tracking our miles there. We went two miles in the wrong direction because I was holding the map. So on a day that we should have only gotten 2-3 miles in, we actually got 5 in. That's what happens when the directionally challenged wife is leading the husband and wife team around... Luckily, Chad put a positive spin on our day and reminded me that we're just that much closer to reaching our 150. 

We do need to come up with a "we finished!" reward. Sushi? Twins game? Funnel cake at the State Fair? We'll let you know. :)

I would love to hear if you and your love work out together. Are you setting up a "challenge" like ours? Feel free to adapt this one to suit you and your family. We're only the 4th day in. :)


what april brings us.

It's easy to get depressed when winter just doesn't seem to die. We all know in Wisconsin that we always get one last big April snow/ice storm and we all hate it. We are supposed to get 6" in the next day and frankly we all hate it.Especially when we have had those pleasant days of grilling outside and walking our dog  in just sweatshirts. Our Facebook and Twitter posts are clogged with complaining to God about this stinkin' weather and we get jealous of our friends in Washington and Florida who go on with their perfect weather days and apologize for posting pictures of themselves eating outside (lucky ducks). 

Sidenote: Two years ago, on April 24th, we were on our way to a Decemberists concert in Madison and considered turning around during the two hour drive down there because of the ice/slush/snow storm that hit. Seriously, at the end of April?! :)

But, these disastrous weather days bring us cozy nights inside. When we hear the thunder bringing us snow like it did last night, we snuggle under the blankets more. It seems fitting to light some candles and play the music stations on our television instead of the basketball game. Last night, I spied some boys in their cozy spots. I quietly grabbed the camera, turned the ISO sky-high and captured what our night inside looked like. 

Gone Girl. (determined husband wants to finish it tonight. especially since he got to the good part, he says.)
Sweatshirts pulled over his head. 
Gin + tonic by his side. 

One last cozy night. That's all we're good for. Next time, we better be reading outside with our grill fired up and our backyard busy. We are ready. (and have been for a while.) :)


he + she // twenty facts about us.

He is currently reading Gone Girl.
She is currently reading Brooklyn.

He records Bar Rescue, Moonshiners, and Drinking Made Easy.
She records old episodes of Sex and the City.

He listens to Jay Mohr Sports.
She listens to Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 on the radio because she forgets to charge her iPod.

He knows all the starting pitchers for the Brewers.
She knows all the Real Housewives...from every city.

He grills the meat for the house.
She makes the sides. (and has never started the grill)

He puts hot sauce on his tacos and red pepper flakes on his pizza.
She appreciates that he doesn't make the chili spicy, otherwise he'd laugh at her over-the-top reaction.

He can drive a motorcycle.
She is content with being the passenger.

He starts the prayers at night.
She follows along.

He loves dark beer.
She does too, as long as he tastes it first and deems it acceptable.

He grew up with dogs and cats and gerbils and birds.
She had a fish. in eighth grade.

He wears t-shirts and jeans.
She does too, when she's not trying to pass exercise clothes as real outfits.

He was raised in Wisconsin.
She was raised in Minnesota.

He follows sports bigshots on twitter.
She follows bloggers on instagram.

He played soccer and trumpet in high school.
She played volleyball and clarinet.

He has the Tim Allen sound as his text alert.
She has the song from Amelie as her ringtone.

He once caught a 30" walleye.
She has caught 2 fish in her entire life.

He hates folding laundry. especially the socks.
She hates washing and drying the dishes. (he doesn't really like it that much either.)

He likes playing basketball and tennis.
She likes working out on a treadmill or stairmaster or elliptical.

He makes jokes all the time.
She laughs all the time.

He willingly listens to baby name suggestions for our futures.
She has had a list going since high school.

Special thanks for Kelly for inspiring me to do a fact list after reading the one she made about her + Dustin: here.


thirty on april first.

30 facts about my husband

01. He loves a good adventure.
02. He is good at planning them too.
03. He makes me feel safe + secure. whether that's in our house on lyndale with our puppy between us or in a strange hostel in london.
04. He is reassuring and soothing which helps his worrisome spastic wife.
05. He assures me that he can grill just about anything. and will stop at nothing to prove it.
06. He has a good singing voice that can be heard on our way to the store with him in the driver's seat, in our pew at church, or into a microphone at karaoke.
07. He works so hard at what he sets his mind to.
08. He is the stabilizing force in the Hestekin house -- especially with both of us currently job hunting.
09. He doesn't complain. ever. even when we eat chicken four times a week because that's what I like.
10. He doesn't mind being called 'papa' which just started with the addition of Leo.
11. He is so good to Leo -- truly man's best friend.
12. He is patient enough to sit through Dancing With the Stars, even when the Clippers/Lakers game is on.
13. He has the biggest heart which is full of gold. and love for his entire family.
14. He is a little kid -- laughing at his text message notification sound and Wipeout and funny YouTube videos of people falling.
15. He loves discovering new restaurants and avoids chain restaurants if he can help it.
16. He can max out the leg press machine at our gym.
17. He is passionate about his hobbies and not just because other people think they are cool.
18. He has dreams about his careers and acts on them in little ways (so far...).
19. He sees me in the best light and encourages me daily.
20. He has the best taste in music. and alcohol. connoisseur in both.
21. He doesn't play games with people -- he's always himself 100% of the time.
22. He is good at drawing, even little doodles of dogs on scratch pieces of paper for our nephew are better than anything I whip up.
23. He doesn't complain when I ask him to 'make the smoothies tonight' or 'put the clothes in the dryer'.
24. He understands the importance I place on photographing our food before we eat it. and then instagramming it. :)
25. He doesn't require fancy things to make him happy. example -- tonight we are having beef stroganoff at his parents' house for his birthday dinner.
26. He doesn't need a calendar to remember the important things.
27. He looks so cute with his hair spiked with gel. and with his new frames.
28. He is always up for new. "As long as it makes you happy" he says.
29. He completes our family. Home doesn't feel right unless I know he's there.
30. He loves me with all my quirks + annoyances. And I him.

So, happy birthday to the best man, friend, and husband I could have. Thank you for blessing me with him, God.

credits + links:
photo -- taken by me during our day trip to Bruges.
inspiration for the husband fact list -- marta's lists for dan. so sweet.
read other birthday posts written by me: 26. 27. and 28.


ready or not.

image // 1canoe2

hello, and welcome to my abandoned blog. while you were away, I wrote a stream of consciousness post re: our future. spring. so many people view spring as a time to clean the house out, get rid of the winter cobwebs and start new.
start fresh.

we are like so many of those people. our starting new and fresh exists not only with our house (which desperately needs some tender loving care) but our life. our jobs. our careers.
 where we go from student teaching/graduation.
 what's the next step?
 where's the job?
 what will I be doing?
 where are Chad, Amanda, Leo and Karma going to live?
 and how many people are going to be affected by our decision?

 those are just some of the constant questions that are churning and turning around in my head. and giving me constant anxiety in the deep down pit of my stomach. I have finally discovered the flaw in myself -- I'm too in my head. over-thinking and constant questioning of my decisions are my middle names. why I do this, I don't know. I think it has something to do with my caring heart. I care too much about how my decisions affect my family and I care too much about what people think about our decisions.

i have been repeating a mantra to myself the past month.

whatever happens, God's in charge.

I say that whenever I'm over-thinking and over-analyzing what we are going to do with our life now that our time to start our life is finally here. driving in the car, at the gym, at the shower, washing the dishes, browsing employment sites online.

getting through this head space and figuring out what we are going to do with what God gives us will be the biggest mental accomplishment of Amanda Hestekin to date.

ending student teaching, graduating and getting a job?
jumping off the edge of the cliff? 

 ready or not, here we go... :)


grandpa's party.

A photo-heavy post today because I am student teaching and working and I don't have enough time to write about those adventures quite yet. My grandpa retired from being a pastor after 62 years (! -- that still amazes me) a couple weekends ago and his church threw him a party. Now, at most events, I'm the one that is behind the camera but I took this one off and handed the camera to Chad. All the below images are from his perspective and I love seeing what he captured that day:


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