The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Revisiting My Sixteen-Year-Old Self July 18, 2010

Last weekend I had the chance to revisit the habits of my teenage years. (I feel so old saying that!)

I heard early last week that two of my favorite artists were performing together within five minutes of my friend’s home in Fort Wayne. For the last probably 5 years, I’ve said my dream concert would be to see Jars of Clay, Caedmon’s Call and Plumb in a concert together, but I know that would never happen, considering the difference in styles of music. But this concert was almost that, with both Jars of Clay and Plumb.

I’ve been a fan of Plumb for 13 years. I remember jumping up and down in front of the TV when I saw a Plumb album in the credits of an episode of Roswell, having recognized it earlier in the episode. (I wish they still did that with TV shows!) I can recall listening to her music when I rode the bus to school in middle school, as I  sat in front of my locker in high school and while I stayed up late pulling all-nighters in college. Her music pointed out  some rather unhealthy relationships I’ve had and helped me from holding onto them.

I’ve been to probably 40 or so concerts, yet I have never seen Plumb perform live or even seen a tour schedule where she was close enough that I could consider going to a concert.

It wasn’t until college that I came to enjoy Jars of Clay’s music. For some reason, I heard the song “Boy on a String” in 1998 and decided I didn’t like any of their music based on that song alone. Boy, I was missing out for years, not to mention the fact that Plumb’s debut concert tour was with them!

This was the second time I had the opportunity to see them perform, but it was much better. Last time, I was in the second balcony of an auditorium with a point-and-shoot digital camera. This time, I was in the front of the crowd at an outdoor festival with my beloved Canon Rebel and its change of lens, and for a fraction of the cost.

The concert was great! I think I had just as much fun taking photos as I did listening to the music. Had I completely followed my routines for what I did in high school. I would have had the bands sign a CD or something afterward, but I had left all my CDs in my car, and I figured I would be home late enough with the three-hour drive I had to make yet that night. I like to think that my habits have matured slightly since then, even if I did decide to go to the concert at the last minute, knowing full well that I needed to be at work at 8 am the next morning.

I maneuvered my way toward the front during Jonny Diaz's performance.

Plumb performed next, and I was more than thrilled to be standing front row.

I took a bunch of fun individual shots during the third band, NEEDTOBREATHE. I was focusing more on my camera while I waited in eager anticipation for Jars of Clay.

Jars of Clay had a great show. I am still in shock I was still front row at that time.

Sure, I may have had a difficult time staying awake Monday morning, but the concert was well worth it. Now that I’ve seen Plumb perform live, I think I’ve seen just about every one of my favorite artists since growing up, from Sandi Patty to Ray Boltz, from All-Star United, DC Talk and the Newsboys to The W’s and The Supertones, from Switchfoot to Superchick, from Caedmon’s Call to Jars of Clay and Plumb. Christian music concerts, I think my long-lived relationship with you may be closer to parting ways.

I was thrilled when Jars of Clay decided to perform an encore song.

How about you? Are there any activities from your high school years that you wouldn’t mind occasionally slipping back into your life, if even for a weekend?


Epiphanie Bags & Why I Love ‘Em March 31, 2010

Filed under: Photography,Photos — Erin Joy @ 12:41 pm
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Normally I don’t post twice in one week, but the chance at winning one of these bags at or a Canon 5D Mark II made it worth it. The airline coupon wouldn’t be bad either. Maybe then I’d get to see some more of Europe! 🙂 Anyways, here’s why I want to win one of these bags:

Let’s just say that I think these bags are genius. I bought a giant brown purse from Maurice’s about a year ago so that I could carry my camera in the same bag as my wallet, but it’s obnoxious, and there’s hardly any protection for my camera in there. (Just imagine: it’s in the same pocket as my keys!)

So, when I found the Epiphanie bags site, I fell in love. Not only are they big enough to hold both my camera and my purse items, but it also looks more like a purse than a camera bag. How great is that? Every other camera bag I’ve found is so blah and looks like a guy should carry it.

Now I really want one … but it’s being put on my “wants” list rather than my “needs” list until I can figure out where I’m getting the money to pay for it.

So, here are the photos I’m deciding between for the red bag contest. I need votes to decide which one I want to post for the contest:


What do you think?

Oh, and have you seen all the beautiful new products & contest for pro photographers on I want to win stuff from them too.


Go-To Gifts for Bridal Showers March 16, 2010

It seems like everyone dreads a bridal shower. Whether it’s the games or the socialite interaction between people who have only the bride in common, it’s an accepted obligation that people do not seem to look forward to when they are preparing for a friend’s wedding.

And then there’s the gift. What do you get for a wedding shower gift? According to most bridal shower etiquette web sites, I have found that the gift should cost anywhere between $25 and $75, depending on the type of shower, and it should be something useful for the house. That makes sense to me.

But it also says that the bride’s registry should not be advertised in the invitations and should be spread via “word of mouth” or on a wedding web site. This is  something I think a lot of couples are starting to ignore, as most of the invitations to wedding showers I’ve received (or sent) in the past couple years have included registry tags.

If you haven’t noticed already, I am “going through that phase in life” where all my friends are marrying and being merry. After not knowing what to get after the first one or two, I decided I needed to find a unique go-to gift that I can give so that I don’t have to end up buying a bunch of dish towels every time someone got married. (It’s just not fun enough to give just that in my opinion.)

It didn’t take me long to find something fun that people will remember and that people will find practical: Plungers!

How often does a person get a gift of a plunger? And women who are getting married usually don’t think of the fact that guys tend to need a plunger a little more often than girls do.

From that decision came the question, “How do I wrap this?” That’s when I was able to get a little bit creative.

The first time, I found a bucket to put it in and wrapped it using some black towels rather than some paper. (Make it as useful as possible, right?) That worked for a couple of times, but it’s difficult trying to wrap a bucket in a towel. Normally, it’s a towel in a bucket, so I decided to decorate the plunger like a flower.

I used the bucket as a pot and bought two brown towels for the dirt. I wrapped the base of the plunger in the towels and taped on construction paper petals and leaves. It was cute, I’ll admit. The bride even gave me the “award” for the most creatively wrapped gift. But I kept thinking back to my logic before, “Why not make all of it useful?” That’s why I’d wrapped it in towels instead.

So, last time I had a bridal shower to attend, I scoured the shelves for something that would look like flower petals and for something I could use as the leaves. I found a green dish cloth for the leaves and some sponges for the petals. I ended up tying both of them on with ribbon. It turned out cute, and the bride loved it. Of course.

Each plunger is specially chosen for the couple’s situation and personalities. Not everyone can use a full-size plunger, so I even bought a sink plunger for my friends who would be travelling by airplane back and forth between London and the States.

If you’re attending a shower sometime soon, you’re welcome to use my idea, just make sure I’m not already going to the shower, too. Otherwise, neither of us will get the award for most creative gift.

And one last thing: when I get married, I just ask that everyone else does not get me a plunger. Trust me, I own too many already.

So, what’s your go-to gifts for a bridal shower? Or even for a wedding?


First Hints of Spring March 3, 2010

Filed under: Life in General,Photos — Erin Joy @ 12:14 pm
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The last couple days I’ve been driving home with my window down because it’s felt warm. The sunshine is so bright, something I’ve missed incredibly this year. I don’t even mind that I’m temporarily blinded on my way to work in the morning. I even switched from wearing my wool coat to work.

But I’m in Michigan. So, that means this “warm” weather we’ve been having has only been about 38 degrees. That may account for why I’ve been needing to take some DayQuil in the morning the last two days as well, but I just can’t help it.

There are other signs, too, that say that spring may be just around the corner. I saw a cardinal as I pulled into the parking lot at work this morning. Listening to the radio in the car, people were calling in with different “signs of spring” that they’d seen, including an opossum showing up at a concert last night. I’m not quite sure how that means it’s spring, but that person was convinced.

My favorite sign, however, is the tiny little snowdrop flowers that begin to bloom. When I was a little girl, we had an abundance of these right outside our kitchen door, and I’d pick a handful to put in a dixie cup for my mother. I am not sure which of us enjoyed this tradition more. In fact, some of my favorite memories as a little girl were when I was picking flowers for my mom to put in the kitchen window. Sadly, we don’t have a kitchen window any more, and the flowers we put on the table often get shoved off onto a counter.

Mowie, the photographer of a food photography blog I recently started following, was able to capture a beautiful image of one.

What is your favorite sign of spring?


Whatever happened to December?? December 17, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 10:37 pm
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If you’ve been avidly following my December journaling adventures (hah!), you may have noticed that they suddenly ceased. Well, there’s a reason for that. But I’m not telling. I will, however, provide you with the missing Day 5. 🙂

Dec. 5th

Practicing for the church Christmas musical today helped restore a little of my elusive Christmas spirit. Although “practice” may not be the right word for Josh, Cai, and I did: entered the stage when told, sat on a bench, and accepted gifts from the four wise men and women (didn’t know there were four, huh? Guess you’ll have to come see Bertrand Bible Church’s Christmas play on December 13 to hear the story!). Then we exited stage right. I think. No, it was our left, so stage left. Right? Good thing I’m not an actor, that always confused me. Cai had a blast crawling up and down the stage risers when he wasn’t sitting (not) quietly on my lap, and I think the whole musical will turn out great. Tim Blake always does an awesome job of writing and directing!

After practice and a quick emergency stop at Wal-mart to find a shirt to wear for family pictures later, I checked out Brandywine High school’s Christmas bazaar. Actually they called it a holiday bazaar, but that’s a personal pet peeve of mine. Although I didn’t find any Christmas gifts, I did connect with a couple area writers who are forming a Niles-area writer’s club! What perfect timing! God truly works in mysterious ways—I’m so glad I followed His prompting to go scope out the bazaar!

Due to my serendipitous meeting, we barely squeaked into our appointment at Picture People, which was absolutely swamped. Everybody and their mother-in-law came for family Christmas pictures today! Cai didn’t cooperate all that well—he either raced away the minute we posed him or wailed. I’m very impressed with our photographer, who still managed to capture some adorable shots. She has a very quick trigger finger.

And speaking of mothers-in-law, we met up with her and my sister-in-law after the photo shoot, and she helped with the monumental task of choosing just a couple of pictures from all the amazing ones. I dread that part. I just want them all! We had a great visit with them and Josh’s grandma that evening. Cai sure enjoyed all the attention! I wonder if he’s getting spoiled. When he doesn’t get his way, he screams and growls. Which, of course, everyone finds hilarious and laughs at him, which doesn’t really reinforce the “no.” Oh well. We’ve got time. Did I mention it’s his first Christmas? Nothing better for Christmas spirit than watching a child experience Christmas lights, trees, ornaments, Santa, Christmas cookies, and presents for the first time! I’m loving it!


December Days 9 and 10 December 11, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 8:11 pm
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Dec. 9th

Winter set in with an attitude today. I think we’d all become a bit complacent with our nice fall weather (remember that 8″ snow deficit in November?), and Winter had to remind us that we do, in fact, live in Michigan! Now it’s making up for lost time with extra nastiness. Fifty-mile-plus winds today, plus a few inches of snow and cold temps equals icy roads and a noisy mobile home. Cai and I took refuge from the things banging on our house and visited my parents. Real houses are much quieter. He’s still feeling icky, but hopefully is on the mend. Seemed a little better today than yesterday. Last night was very rough, he finally ended up in bed with me after mommy got tired of getting up and down. So neither of us slept well.

I just realized that we leave for Christmas traveling in a little over ONE WEEK!! EEEEK!! I’m trying to kick my calendar-gifts production into overdrive, which meant I got three pages done today. Woo-hoo. I figure I have at least 36 different pages to do, more if you count just switching out photos. Then go buy the paper and ink. Then print. Then embellish. Then assemble. Then wrap. Then stick on these cute little photo gift tags that Picture People gave us for free in the hopes we would buy more but we didn’t because we’re cheap and besides I won’t use more than 20 or so anyway.

I have a long ways to go. It would help if I’d ban myself from Facebook, but the problem with banning yourself is that it’s been historically proven to be a bad governmental model. If the same person is judge, jury, and executioner they’re not likely to pass or enforce the death penalty (read: no FB) on themselves. When’s the last time you read about some old-time king finding himself guilty of treason and ordering himself executed? Not in my history books. So, since it won’t work anyway there’s no point.

This week when you see me on Facebook give me a shout and tell me to get back to Christmas presents, because I don’t have the self-discipline to tell myself. 🙂

Dec. 10th

Today, for the first time in weeks I think, Cai and I stayed home all day. We didn’t shrivel  and die or turn into shy, maladjusted human beings from the lack of contact with other people. It was actually rather nice. We snuggled and played, and Cai napped (yay!). I finished several more calendar pages, and made sure to keep up on cleaning “maintenance.” Of course, we kept Christmas music playing! That is, when Cai wasn’t changing the station, turning the radio off, or switching to CD (he loves the stereo). Josh came home early from work, unfortunately, because they didn’t have enough to keep him busy. He finished sealing our door to keep out the bitter cold sub-zero-wind-chill temperatures, and braved the cold to pick up a few essentials at the grocery store for me. I need to embark on a serious grocery shopping excursion this week, but not sure the budget will allow me to. I hate money, especially around Christmas time. Such a spoilsport.

In case you’re curious about how the calendars are coming, here’s a sneak peek at one of the pages ready to be printed:


December Daily Day 8 December 9, 2009

Filed under: Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 12:30 pm
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Today marked my second day of enforced cleaning isolation. Thankfully I got the majority of cleaning finished by about 3pm, and Grandma got to see her grandbaby! To be perfectly honest, it’s not 100% clean like some people’s houses I know. But that’s just not happening for us at this point in our lives. Josh still needs to mop our three small areas of linoleum, and I need to clear off the catch-all table by the front door and do some filing. But otherwise, the clutter is put away, floors vacuumed, sinks and counters scrubbed, laundry manageable. As long as I’m happy it’s all good – because I’m the mom! Hah!

I started on the first page of my hybrid calendars. Twice. The first time my computer overheated and died. Second time Photoshop crashed. This is not an auspicious start. I’m nothing if not gosh-darned stubborn, though, so if/when Cai naps tomorrow, I’ll remember to plug in my cooling fan and save every three seconds. Here’s the templates I’m starting with. I’ll include pictures of the finished products too (assuming I ever get that far!). Right now the plan is to buy photo ink and nice matte photo paper for my parents’ printer and print them at home. I can do multiple to a page and make sure everything is how I want it. Not sure if it will end up cheaper or more expensive than having them printed somewhere else. But I like the control. I know that’s a shock to some of you…

Cai’s getting sicker. He ran a fever tonight, poor cheeks were so flushed, and you could just tell he was miserable. I don’t anticipate a good night. We’re all praying that this bug runs its course before Christmas – we’re leaving the 18th to travel for a week to both of my grandparents, one in Iowa and the other in St. Louis. It’s just not Christmas without traveling to see family, but it would be pretty miserable with a sick anyone.

PS – A certain observant someone brought to my attention the fact that I somehow missed posting Day 5. Obviously I can’t count (I’m an English major, remember??). So I will post it later today 🙂 – I’m sure you all are dying to know what excitement swept the Huegel household on December 5, right?!