Merry Christmas Eve!

So much has happened since I last blogged, so I'll be updating a bit before 2014! But for now, here are some pictures of our decked out house!

Our frosty tree with aquamarine and spring green!
Our mantel! My sister Emily made the Christmas tree garland!
Close up of our cute stockings! Made by my Mom.
Close up of one of the mason jars. I love these!
Our Disney Christmas village. Thanks, Mom!
Our candy candles!
Our wintery apothecary jars.
And our table -- with our Christmas cloth and pastel ornaments.
Merry Christmas Eve! Hope you are having some great times with friends and family.



Barbecue Chicken Pizza and the Parable of the Yeast

My weekends are quiet. In fact, so quiet, that I got the edits to a manuscript back to my major professor in record time. Well before she needed them (gold star for me from me)!

My weekday nights are quiet too. There are no pranks being pulled, no shenanigans. My partner in crime is off at class, prepping for a big exam.

Today is my last day of summer. I spent the morning combing through a delightful essay I stumbled upon called "The Gender of God in the New Testament and the Spirituality of Women." Then I headed off to a dentist appointment, ran a few errands collecting red onions and gouda cheese, and watched episodes 10 and 11 of season five of Breaking Bad. I started watching the series about three weeks ago. Yeah...

Tonight promises to be full of Breaking Bad and barbecue chicken pizza. My favorite.

oh no
As I was warming the yeast in water and making the dough, watching it rise, I reflected on The Parable of the Yeast, which I had never read or learned before this morning...
He spoke to them another parable. The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened. (Matthew 13:33) 
This parable follows The Parable of the Mustard Seed, one many of us know. Both of these parables contain nifty metaphors for God, in one God is feminine, the other God is masculine. A baker, a farmer.

Food for thought. And food for bellies.

Gouda cheese, red onions, chicken breasts cooked in Sweet Baby Ray's


Well, hello there...

It's been over six whole months. And to think I used to update daily!

Why the hiatus? My last blog post just cannot be topped. I came here every-so-often to update but nothing could really top it. Nothing felt important enough to share while We're Engaged! would be officially moved into the past. So I set up a wedding website and continued to update the bomb dot com with my Instagram feed of little and big moments in my life and mostly pictures of food. And neglected you, Dear Blogosphere.

I always get butterflies as I relive these moments. I am so lucky.

Texts when Sean actually received the diamond.
Always the prankster.

But I am back! I cannot believe it has only been six months. By the same token, so many things have happened since then. 

We celebrated our engagement and St. Patrick's Day with corned beef and friends!

My little niece, Daphne, exclaimed that her favorite President is Obama. What more can you really expect from Nisson ladies?

She also gathered about three Easter eggs.
My mom proved that she's the toughest cookie (and the sweetest too).

I finally finished that little master's thesis and acquired some fancy schmancy letters after my name (that's Natalie, the Master of Science to you).

My sister, Emily, and brother-in-law, Taylor, announced that Daphne is getting a younger sister this December! I cannot wait to meet you, Evie!

We went to Disneyland.

We visited family in Salt Lake City.

We found the most beautiful Church to tie the knot: the Carmel Mission Basilica! It's going to be amazing. We also found our reception venue: Los Laureles Lodge.

We camped in Yosemite.

We partied in Las Vegas.

We adventured into the Redwoods.

I've had several wonderful conversations with Ali who is studying abroad in Santiago!

Facetime froze at a hilarious moment.
We celebrated the legal recognition of Sarah and Gloria's marriage!

Wow! A lot happened in six months.

And today, I begin my fifth year in graduate school. How time has zoomed right by! I am excited to jump back into coursework, my research, data collection, and a side project I'm working on. By this time next year, I hope to be Mrs. Natalie, ABD--All But Dissertation. Lots of work ahead!

Happy autumn! I "leaf" you with this adorable photograph of Ben.


We're Engaged!

Sean and I are engaged!

Sean proposed at Point Bonita, my favorite place in California. Point Bonita is Northwest of San Francisco, with an amazing view of the Golden Gate (my favorite bridge). It’s home to an active lighthouse, which helps ships navigate into the San Francisco Bay.

To get to this hidden gem requires a short hike where you cross two bridges and walk through a hand-scraped tunnel and see gorgeous views of the Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s simply breathtaking.

Sean and I had been talking about getting engaged, married, and having kids for a while. The fact that we are going to be together forever is not new. But his proposal was a surprise!

Sean is a jokester, always with a trick up his sleeve. There have been oodles of moments where he’s gotten down on one knee to tie his shoe (a la Jim from The Office). Or when he’s called to me to fake propose. But there was one rule to this madness: he was not allowed to ask, “Will you marry me?” but he played with that as well, ending the question short a word. He joked about having the ring. If I dared to start snooping around, he’d beg me not to. “You’ll ruin it! You don’t want to do this!” He kept me on my toes. His plan to joke about everything worked. When it was real, it was a total surprise.

Last week, Sean texted me an emoticon of an engagement ring out of the blue. I sent back a picture of a diamond. He responded, “Oh did your diamond show up at the door today? Hopefully they made you sign for it!”

As usual, I got excited but I thought it was just another prank. “Ahhhhhh! Don’t text such things.”

“Just checking. Lol jk.” 

“Agh!!! Hahaha.”

Lol jk has become somewhat of an inside joke to us. Weeks ago, when I told my dad that Sean might propose he responded, "Are you sure, I haven't received a call from Sean asking permission. LOL. JK." I'm sure my dad didn't realize it, but there's a lot of ways a person could take an "lol jk." Torture, I tell you!

Back to the story. He had just received the stone. During his lunch break he called me, just to add to the torture. "What are you up to?" I asked.

"Oh, just looking at your diamond."


That evening, he asked for my mom and dad’s blessing over the phone. He told me he did this. I didn’t believe him. He talked with my mom right after I had finished a phone call with her, and he called me right after. I told him, “There’s no way! I just talked to her. Impossible.”

“Oh, I guess you’re right.”

As with all other exciting moments in our relationship, we have difficulty keeping the surprise to ourselves. This is why neither Sean nor myself has ever received a gift on a birthday or holiday. It always happens about a week or two before the event. Sean couldn’t keep it to himself and I couldn’t help myself from prying. He made me close my eyes and handed me a ring box. Inside with was a tension clasp (a fake ring to showcase a diamond). I got really excited and I started asking questions. I got shushed. “Don’t get so excited. That's S's [a member of Sean's family].”

I was sad. It was just another elaborate hoax. But by the end of the day, I had seen the certificates for the diamond. I knew that it was getting set and that he would have it on Friday.

Friday rolled around. I spent the morning dolling myself up and after working, I got a manicure. I was sure it would happen this weekend. Sean came home angry and sad. It wasn’t ready yet. He said he was planning on doing it that night. He felt bad. I did my hair and nails. I was excited. He was really angry.

I thought it was another joke and that he really did have the ring. But as the evening continued, I was pretty sure he didn’t have it. He asked if I still wanted to go to Point Bonita. I thought there was no reason to change our plans just because the jeweler screwed up.

Sean didn’t sleep all night. I thought it was because he was so mad. And I was feeling pretty crumby and excited, because I wanted to go to Point Bonita and I wanted him to propose! While we drove the next morning, I was excited but uneasy. I felt like we were going to go to Point Bonita, I’d be waiting for it, he wouldn’t do it, then I would be angry and sad on the drive home and he would be upset because he couldn’t have done it anyway! UGH!

In the car, on our way!
We hiked down, taking lots of photos.

He set up his tripod, which was nothing out of the ordinary. We often take photos of ourselves and landscapes with a tripod.

We moved to THE SPOT! Sean got the photo set up, framed just the way he wanted it.



He got down on one knee. “Are you serious?” I asked. “Yes!!” He told me how much he loved me and how he wanted to be with me forever.

He asked, “Natalie Sadler, will you marry me?”

A moment of 100% happiness and excitement, I said, “Yes! YES!!”

He put the most beautiful ring on my finger. The moment we embraced began the applause! A docent for the lighthouse and a few visitors congratulated us, asked to see my ring (my hand all shaky!), and asked if I said, “Yes.” OF COURSE!

We stepped back to the tripod. Held each other tight. Sean told me that he didn’t get to say all he wanted to say in the moment. It was just too exciting! So he read me the most wonderful love letter, his planned proposal. I will hold those words near and dear to my heart forever.

His proposal was perfect. Surprising, sweet, sincere. This was the happiest moment of my life! Sean and I have never been more in love. Sean was the best boyfriend and is the best fiancĂ©. I can’t believe how lucky I am. I have a partner in life who loves me for who exactly I am. He knows me better than I know myself. Even when we fight, he never puts up a wall, but always wants to talk. He brings out the best in me, is quick to forgive and forget. Our relationship is so full of love; sometimes I can hardly believe it’s real.

From that first message online, to the small talk on our first date, all the moments we’ve both opened up and showed our real selves, to this moment. It is incredible to be at this point in life with someone so wonderful. It’s real. I have found my partner, my husband-to-be. The guy I’ll meet at the end of the aisle, the man who will be holding my hand through parenthood and through all the tough and beautiful stuff along the way. I am just so happy and so excited! I love you, Sean!

And just a few photos of my gorgeous ring! I love it so! I'm going to wear it for the rest of my life!


15. Get my A1C below 7.5

Remember this thing? Well, I did it!

7.4! Woohoo!

It took longer than it should have. It was a lot easier than I expected it to be.

For those of you unaware, the A1C test shows what percentage of red blood cells are carrying sugar around. The lower, the better (within reason), when it comes to reducing the risk of diabetes complications and just generally feeling good. It gives an average blood sugar (166) across the past 2-3 months.

I was finally able to get it down using four methods: (1) Recording blood sugars in a Google spreadsheet; (2) Remembering to test before eating a meal, and sticking to it; (3) Not worrying about individual numbers, but the average; and (4) Including Sean. For a long time, I have gotten so frustrated at the random highs that I have given up. But those random highs are not a big deal. It's all about the average. And having Sean help me has made it all so much easier.

It was easy.

I've also taken to enjoying diabetes memes and hashtags on Instagram. For example...

Helps me feel like I am not alone. :-)