“Cold Water” (Hamlin Beach)

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Josh and I recently had the wonderful and much-needed opportunity  to spend an afternoon relaxing with friends over a picnic on the beach. We hadn’t planned it this way. but it ended up kind of being a celebration of Josh landing his new job at Paychex and Neme scoring not one, but two part-time jobs as a line cook. Kristen and I are so proud of our men 🙂

I packed some beachy snacks (trail mix with real coconut slices for the win!), and we made the long trek to Hamlin Beach State Park where we relaxed in the breeze and the sparse sunlight. Everbody kept complaining that they were cold, but I was praising God that my pasty limbs could enjoy the day without fearing the sun’s beating rays.

The swimming area was actually closed, so we went to a secluded area to make sure no one could see us get into the water–

I mean, so we totally didn’t get in the water! *cough*

Actually, I was the only one who ended up appreciating the, shall we say, “brisk” waters of Lake Ontario. I had a ball frolicking and swimming on my own, but there’s only so much solitary swimming and frolicking you can do before you get really bored . . . and look really stupid.

And they were having so much fun without me . . .

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I cannot express enough love for this picture

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The trip was all Stryker’s idea!

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“Photo shoot!”

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“Does this look pensive and mysterious?”

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“Gah! Skirt getting blown into the waves! Better go for cute and quirky . . . and wet.”

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“Eh, screw it. I’m just wet.”

Title is from the song of the same name by Damien Rice

Fuego Coffee Roasters

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At the Marriage Adventures weekend last month, Josh and I had the pleasure of meeting (along with three other couples) Tony and Renee Colon.

Tony and Renee stuck out to us for two reasons, one is that they have made the daring and exciting decision to let their creative passion take over their nine to five lives. After working as baristas for seven years, the couple purchased a coffee roaster and began selling their own brand of coffee. This weekend, they are embarking on something even more inspiring. They have opened their own espresso bar, Fuego Coffee, in downtown Rochester.

All of this creative power currently present in their lives brings me to the other aspect of Tony and Renee’s lives that made them seem exceptional to me. They truly have created beauty from ashes in their marriage. They have refused to let extreme tragedy keep them from–

Well, why don’t you listen to them tell their story themselves?

God bless you in your endeavors, Renee and Tony! You are an inspiration, and Josh and I hope we can have the pleasure of experiencing life with you in the future.

I’m off to see if they need any help at their new coffee shop 🙂

Photo and video credit: Taylor Isselhard

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Peace, Love, and Trust

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So something equally awkward and awesome that happened this week was that Josh and I created and hosted a 70s-themed Jeopardy game for our Pastor’s birthday party. Let’s just say the 70s was his era. I was “Alexa Trebek” and Josh decided that his attire suggested he should be named something uber-hippie, so he went with “Moon.” It was a blast, and the questions were awesome if I do say so myself.

Josh and I are spending a lot of time and energy getting involved with our church lately. It seems kind of silly in light of the fact that we are still struggling to find full-time jobs, but honestly . . . these are the people who give us the strength and support to get through these uncertain times. They are the one’s who remind us to trust in God–that He is in control.

Our faith family is with us through all of the awkwards and the awesomes 🙂

Awkward:

  • Making no money, so yeah, that’s a concern.
  • Our laptop’s keyboard has decided not to work again after the third time getting it “fixed.” Hello again, campus computer lab.
  • It rains a lot in Rochester even in the summer. Who knew?
  • A bunch of my theatre friends and I were so pumped for the Tony Awards, and then we got super busy . . . and forgot to watch them! Fail.
  • Going to a grand opening of a local bar and being told at the door “You can’t get in if you’re under 21.” “Um, I turned 21 in January. It says so on my ID . . .” “You say that, but it could be somebody else’s ID, and we can’t be liable.” “What??” “Well, okay, you can go in, but if you try to get a drink or even sit at the bar, we’ll kick you out.” WHAT?!?!? 1/22/1992 PEOPLE! I had two different guys tell me this same thing. So confused . . .

Awesome:

  • Applying for two positions at my alma mater of Roberts Wesleyan College where I would be working with people I know and love. Praying so hard!
  • Family vacation is less than two weeks away, and hey! Josh and I are pretty free with this whole unemployment thing going on:-)
  • Poutine. Living this close to Canada I had to try it. Wow.
  • Sunny days in the 70s. Just right 🙂
  • Speaking of the 70s, this:

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What I Wore: Piko Party!

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Marshalls top, American Eagle jeans, Payless leopard flats, silver hoop earrings from who knows where, watch from Loomis Barn

Josh and I went to our friend Piko’s birthday party recently. Piko is from Ethiopia and is one of the most colorblind people I’ve ever met. It enables him to see people for who they really are and what they have to offer–and he is one of the most brilliant, well-rounded, warm, engaging people I have ever met as a result.

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This backyard party boasted Russians, Jamaicans, Hungarians, Swiss, French, Africans from all over who spoke French, and then Josh and I . . . yeah, we felt pretty darn uninteresting lol. Oh, and then there was Piko’s girlfriend my classmate Rachel who is a black Jew. Can’t get much more interesting than that.

This group of people were the open and loving type that making conversation and laughter completely effortless. We were truly blessed to spend an evening with them.

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Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Party Empanadas

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Awkward:

  • Kristen, Neme, Josh, and I spent St. Patrick’s Day last weekend with just the four of us, some snacks, and one Guinness each. After experiencing (and in Neme’s case, growing up in) the party culture of Spain and spending last St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, nothing we could do this year seemed incredibly exciting. What we lacked in booze we made up for in food!
  • Those savory pastries in the picture at the top of the post are bacon-date empanadas. Bacon. And date. In an empanada. Sweet and salty paradise.
  • This picture of Neme where he is obviously wiping away tears of joy because my empanadas are so beautifully delicious. Not really . . . but he was close.

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Awesome

  • Okay, so seriously, I completely winged the empanada recipe based on something that Kristen’s host mom Ale (who owned a bakery) had made us in Spain. I was really nervous for Neme to try them because 1) he knew how good the originals were and 2) he is a cook. He had one bite and said the only thing in his limited English that I really wanted to hear . . . “Oh yeah.” Major win!
  • Spanish cheese on baguettes with cranberries and candied nuts. To die for.
  • And they sell them at Aldis. Whaaaaat?
  • A friend offered me a puff on a cigarette one chilly night, and for a split second I was like “Thanks! Wait, what? No!”

Acts of Renewal

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When I was a fifteen-year-old junior in high school, my mom, my aunt, and I made a trip to Roberts Wesleyan College for a preview day. They were both RWC alums, and I was casually looking for a Christian school to attend for my undergrad.

As a part of the preview weekend, I attended a chapel service. I was blown away as chapel consisted not of praise songs and a stodgy speaker, but of an American Sign Language performance to music followed by an amazing drama performance by husband and wife duo Acts of Renewal. The team merged teaching, humor, biblical stories, secular themes, and eternal truths into an eclectic, beautiful, and powerful theatrical performance. I was hooked.

Coming to the end of my Roberts career having been active in drama ministry myself, I couldn’t believe my luck when Acts of Renewal appeared on the chapel schedule in the final semester of my senior year. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip away. Following the equally inspiring chapel performance, I introduced Josh and myself as the founders of Muse Creative Arts Ministry and told them about the impact they had had on me as a young Christian and artist over five years ago.

That was the moment when Jim Shores and Carol Anderson-Shores became my friends.

It was so surreal that the artists who I had idolized as the embodiment of what Josh’s and my theatrical love could grow into as a couple were sitting down to lunch with me and wanting to hear about my life and accomplishments. Jim and Carol were a total encouragement and inspiration. They offered specific advice for projects Josh and I have volunteered to participate in for ministry purposes, and they expressed general excitement that people with similar passions and talents were coming behind them.

I am so blessed to have met them, and hope that Josh and I will have the joy of knowing them for years to come.

“Lost in the Light” (Bahamas)

I doubt that I’ve mentioned this in my long absence from the blog (except for in Awkward & Awesome Thursday, everything seems to come out there), but Josh and I were blessed with the amazing opportunity to accompany our senior class on a trip to the Bahamas on a Carnival cruise!

It was so wonderful to be able to spend time together as a couple but also fellowship with some great friends we’ve made throughout our three years at Roberts.

Now that we’re back in the States, I’m reflecting back on happy memories from the cruise and looking ahead to my 21st birthday!
Just another excuse to spend time with good friends.
More pics of our Bahamas vacation with friends after the jump!

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Familia Feliz

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Yesterday I photographed the intimate wedding of two very dear friends surrounded by their family in a candlelit living room in the Finger Lakes--a wedding that I’ve known about since last weekend, lol.  I guess it’s a long story.

Kristen studied abroad with Josh and I in Spain and met Nemesio while there. She already had a boyfriend at the time, and he was sure that he would never fall in love. He was wrong. After months of wooing the beautiful girl that had come into his life, Neme and Kristen became a couple–unfortunately just in time for Kristen to return to the United States.

In a move that surprised even those of us who knew him well, Neme made a trip to the US this fall on a tourist visa. While here, the two fell even more in love and decided that they wanted to be together forever. They couldn’t let Neme’s soon-to-expire visa keep them apart. Neme gave up everything that he knew and asked Kristen to marry him–which she did yesterday, the day that his visa expired 🙂

How awesomely awkward can you get?

Awkward:

  • US immigration laws. Not sure where I stand on those after having an experience with them that was so close to my heart.
  • Trying to take artistic photos in the dark with a flash. It’s a losing battle.
  • Josh couldn’t come because he was a) taking the Spanish lit final exam that Kristen missed to get married and b) studying for the GRE he has to take this Saturday.
  • Driving an hour and a half to watch my friends get married instead of studying for my two hardest finals.
  • Said finals. Two essay exams back-to-back. I think I have carpal tunnel.

Equally Awkward and Awesome:

  • Kristen’s wedding was officiated by her high school driver’s ed teacher and interpreted by her high school Spanish teacher! So sweet and funny 🙂

Awesome:

  • Their wedding date is 12-12-12!
  • Such a small and intimate wedding. It was absolutely beautiful.
  • Finally seeing these two start a life together. I’ve been waiting for this for months 🙂
  • Ferrero rochet cheesecake for a wedding cake.
  • Being done with final exams.
  • Getting to see The Hobbit soon!
  • The brand new Garcia family–Neme, Kristen, and little Kaci the yorkie-poo.

Making the Most of December

This isn’t really a to-do list, because almost none of these things are necessary for any reason. They’re just a bunch of things that I think will help Josh and I make the most of this Christmas season. It’s sort of like a Christmas bucket list . . . but not really because many of the items reappear on the list every year despite the fact that they’ve been “crossed off” every year prior.

Okay, I don’t know what it is . . . but it will be fun!

There are enough items both traditional and unique for you to choose one everyday, if you want. Whatever you do, be sure to make the most of your December.

  1. Go ice skating.
  2. Make eggnog or mulled cider.
  3. Buy children’s gifts for Operation Angel Tree.
  4. Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
  5. Splurge on a professional performance of the Great Russian Nutcracker ballet.
  6. Cuddle up in front of a fireplace.
  7. If you haven’t yet, decorate a tree. If you already have, decorate someone else’s
  8. Watch the movie White Christmas with a cup of white hot chocolate.
  9. Chop wood for a family that relies on a wood stove.
  10. Tired of Christmas music? Try traditional Celtic music.
  11. Go caroling with friends.
  12. Make chili for chilly carolers to come home to.
  13. See how many film versions of A Christmas Carol you can watch in a day 😉
  14. String popcorn and cranberries.
  15. Go to Wegmans and Sam’s Club on a weekend for holiday samples.
  16. Learn to knit or crochet.
  17. Send Christmas cards or letters updating family and friends on your year.
  18. Get invited to a Christmas party. This could be tricky . . .
  19. Make a snowman, snow angels, etc.
  20. Go to midnight showings of The Hobbit(December 14) and Les Miserables(Christmas Day).
  21. Go to a candlelit service.
  22. Kiss someone under the mistletoe. Warn them first.
  23. Shop a holiday craft bizarre.
  24. Help young relatives make a wreath or ornament.
  25. Help your family with Christmas dinner.
  26. Take a super late walk in the snow on Christmas Eve and see if anything magical happens.
  27. Make homemade soaps with personalized scents for gifts.
  28. Read A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
  29. Declare a snowball war.
  30. Watch at least one terrible Christmas movie. Try Kiss Saves Christmas.
  31. Go for a sleigh ride

Awkward & Awesome Thursday: Everybody’s Lives A-Changin’

Just two best friends playing together

This was such an exciting week! Parents moving, friends getting engaged and married right and left, Josh being so close to moving back in with his dear wifey–it’s too much!

Awkward:
  • The sheer amount of Adventure Time stuffed animals present at tonight’s get-together. Every size imaginable.
  • We have something like three miles of trails through the woods behind campus. How did I miss this for two years?
  • Being asked for my name and responding, “Thurston _Jessica.” It’s my login at work . . .
  • Going to the liquor store late at night to buy some of our favorite coconut rum to finally celebrate our 2nd anniversary, and realizing not only that the stores all close at nine, but that I’m under 21 and can’t legally drink in this country . . . That was my blonde moment of the year.
  • When I typed that sentence, I wrote that the liquor stores all close at “wine” by mistake. LOL.
  • Can I just say that you’re almost never invited to the weddings you expect. I feel like I’m always thinking, “Oh these friends of mine didn’t invite me to their wedding?” “Wait, who are these people inviting me to their wedding?”
  • Working on my screenplay for next summer’s film. So much stress, but so much fun! I don’t know whether to love it or hate it!

Awesome:
  • My family is officially moved in to their new Rochester abode! It’s so surreal to have them here 🙂
  • Co-workers Brandon and Stryker dropping everything to come and help move my parents into their new home. Somebody has an automatic invite to dinner any time they like!
  • Stryker’s townhouse apartment. I mean, I’m really not surprised, but seriously. Couldn’t just one thing about him not be totally and completely awesome and chill? Must post pictures of this guys decor at some point.
  • Just Dance 3 at midnight.
  • Surfing Google to help Josh research for the CLEP essay exam he’s going to be taking soon on analyzing and interpreting literature. I wanted to help him bone up on both classic lit and some popular contemporary novels. I don’t think referencing 50 Shades of Grey in an academic paper is going to help his grade any . . .
  • Two dear friends just got engaged yesterday with my help <3. The guy (that’s him with the beard in the pic above) planned an elaborate treasure hunt to the places where all of their most memorable moments occurred on campus, and Josh and I were one of the clues she had to find. So cute!