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:


the verbs of august.

reading // Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Have to mix up the non-fiction and the fiction sections of my small library. Both are currently in my purse (Anne) and my gym bag (Seabiscuit) waiting for me to crack their spines back and dive back into stories about Lakes of Shining Waters and horse racing in the '40s.

listening // the hum of the fan before I fall asleep. I must have been one of those babies that loved white noise because I sure love it now. (is that true mom?) Also, recently got into Spotify again and have downloaded: The Wailin' Jennys, Lianne La Havas, and The Best Coast.

watching // Dawson's Creek (ah! I can't seem to shake it! I keep talking about it, but I am almost done and I am not a quitter!) and while I am not watching TV (ahem, Real Housewives) I am usually watching Leo sleep, since there's nothing cuter. No, seriously, until we have children that puppy sleeping while be how I measure cuteness.

baking // I. don't. bake. currently, I mean. For several reasons: 1) My kitchen is tiny and the thought of having the counters (two) open long enough for me to bake something is laughable and 2) I have lost quite a few pounds and I can't keep those pounds off if there are baked goods sitting in my house (extreme lack of self-control with this one when it comes to having snack food in the house. Chad is lucky if he gets any treats at all).

enjoying // the calm before the storm. School/student teaching/hectic schedule/10 hour days starts in 5 days. 5. I keep telling myself I'm ready, so here's hoping the inner pep talk is working.

wanting // this might sound very 'first world' of me, but Chad and I want a Keurig machine. We used one in the hotel room during our stay in Madison and loved the single-serve concept. Hopefully they go down in price (maybe around Christmas?) so that we can get one.

celebrating // this weekend with my grandpa since he is preaching his last service ever before retiring. He has been a Lutheran pastor for over 62 years! A weekend with almost his entire family sitting in his tiny Minnesota church seems very fitting for such a wonderful man.

doing // day off stuff. laundry. (am I always doing laundry?) blogging. grocery shopping. packing. a trip to Kohl's. organizing. snoozing with Leo -- you know, the usual.

drinking // my daily water -- at the gym right above the water fountain there's a sign that says "Drink More Water" with a little water droplet next to it that is saying "Your body loves me!" (I'll just have to take a picture of it for you because it pretty cute.) And when I'm not drinking water, it's usually Sam Adam's Oktoberfest or a glass of wine for supper.

*original post concept can be seen here at:  take me for a twirl.



the Madison farmer's market blows my small town one outta the water.
I think that every year around this time of summer, I write about how I don't want summer to end and I don't understand how other bloggers can be writing about fall fashion and fall baking and soups -- things that are the furthest from my mind. I try to hold onto the end as tight as I possibly can. And if that means escaping two hours south to Madison for the weekend then that is what I have to do.

Our weekend in Madison was the exact ending to summer that we both needed -- it was full of food, drinks, television, naps, walks, bike rides, pictures, exploring, and driving together. perfect.

p.s. If you are my facebook friend or follow me on instagram, you'll have already seen my other Madison pictures. But, if you are interested: instagram (@projectsimplelife) #madcation



Today Sheena posted one picture and wrote about it. Then she asked bloggers to do the same.
Above is my picture.
Below are my words.
gallery walls remind me of grandmas.
grandma hulke's wall leading downstairs.
grandma hallauer's wall in the hallway off the kitchen.
glancing up at the same picture of g + g while I was eating my breakfast at their table.
slowly adding to my own gallery wall above our couch.
I always ask for picture frames for Christmas.
I love looking at people's pictures when I go to their houses.
it all started with one picture.
the 11 x 14 picture of us kissing in our wedding clothes.
then we went to paris.
so I added the eiffel tower picture that chad took.
I love the pictures chad takes (I think more than my love for my own pictures).
etsy purchases were added -- the paris postcard and the she + he shoes.
then an addition flash card from a thrift store.
a fabric scrap wreath.
a photobooth picture.
a free download.

all these pictures are us.
right now. 
before kids school pictures are added.
and their artwork that we'll frame.
but that's in the future.
God's got all that ready for us.
Thank goodness.

so this is our first edition.
it's ever changing.
evolving to what is relevant. 
in the present.

p.s.  funny enough, I posted about this very subject in 2009! Read my thoughts: here.


12 on the 12th. // august

01. The Olympics is closing as I type. Now what will Chad and I watch together? I know...old episodes of Louis on Netflix. (Sidenote: 'Imagine' gave me chills.)
02. I love that the Olympics inspires people to get fit. My bodypump instructor never fails to bring up Lochte or Franklin during our hour together.
03. Chad bought me the Canon 50mm lens for my birthday. I think I'm in love.
04. I also think I'm in love with the following: apples + peanut butter, cottage cheese + scrambled eggs, and ripe peaches (they don't need anything added to them).
05. Leo does this cute/annoying thing when I have popcorn sitting on my lap -- he'll get as close to me as possible, look up at me and give me those puppy eyes. I cave and give him some of course, but not without making him 'sit' first.
06. Pacey Witter is unlike any guy that I went to high school with. I'm currently watching DC because 1) I wasn't allowed to when I was a kid 2) I want to see what all the fuss around it was and 3) I am a bored during the day almost-back-to-school-student-teacher.
07. My nephew and sister called me on my birthday earlier this month and sang Happy Birthday on my voice mail. I may never delete it.
08. I am in current desperation to find cute, modest/teacher appropriate, comfortable clothing for my student teaching days. I guess I'll have to shop. :)
09. Current Reads: Seabiscuit and In Defense of Food. I have this thing with non-fiction at the moment.
10. I have a problem with buying fabric from my local thrift store and thinking that I'll do all these great things with it when really it just keeps Karma company up in the attic.
11. The Olympics also makes me pine for London again and forces me to commit to putting all my pictures in an album (and share some with you!)
12. Chad and I have three days off in two weeks. Chad and I want to go somewhere. Maybe Chicago??


what I like about... // Leo.

Disclaimer: I started writing this post the night that Leo chewed my phone charger. I was pissed and needed a reminder of why I love my dog. 

Quick recap: Leo is my dog. He is a 12-month old yellow Lab who we took in last October when he was a puppy baby. I never ever expected to be a dog owner, but Chad always wanted one and that little Leo completely won me over. Now I get to have my boy (and Karma our cat) with me all day long...and I love it. If you are not a dog lover like I, feel free to skip over this post. :)

what I like about... // LEO.
01. When he gives me the 'I'm so cute and I know it' look by putting his head on his front paws and looking up at us.
02. My nicknames for him: 'Boo-Boo', 'Lee-Lee', 'Boo'. He has heard me say them so many times that he actually responds to them now.
03. I am trying to sound as un-corny as possible, but when we first got Leo, Chad and I worked as a team and figured out what he wanted and how he was to fit into our life that would be the best for all of us. A tiny little preview what is to come once there are baby Hestekins.
04. His floppy dark tan ears.
05. His dark chocolate eyes.
06. How smart he is -- he understands the command 'back up', plays tug-of-war, can find any ball we throw at him, and runs to the door when I say "who's here?".
07. Swimming with him is always an adventure. As is driving in a car with him -- he loves those windows open.
08. How he always sighs like the weight of the world is on his shoulders when he lays down.
09. The white tip of his tail and the white diamond shape on the top of his head.
10. How much he loves Chad. The quintessential picture of man's best friend with those two.

*Even though Leo rocks, there are things he does that I can't. stand. Namely: chewing through two pairs of my shoes, two of Chad's shoes, one printer charger, one computer charger, three phone chargers, one pair of underwear, and one thousand tissues.


tomorrow is my birthday.

And while I could wax poetic musings about how I'm happy to be celebrating in my town instead of where we were last year, I won't, because comparing Europe to Eau Claire would be like comparing Chef Boyardee to the Italian pasta dishes that Bethany is currently eating in Rome -- it's just not right.

So it's true that last year's birthday rocks this year's birthday outta the water...maybe.

But I don't know. I know that Chad has a baseball game with our family, a trip to my parent's house for cake, and a visit with friends who we haven't seen in over a year planned -- but that's all I know.

Last year I happily sat next to him on the airplane from London to Minneapolis for eight hours watching four movies and eating three meals. But this year I will probably sit next to him on our couch on Saturday morning. We'll probably be watching the Olympics with our breakfast plates on TV trays and our Leo snoozing in the corner.

And I'm good with that. Because I'm finally understanding God's lesson that He has been teaching me the past two years: that I don't need much to be happy. Being married and having the day-in and day-out with him that I do has shown me that.

So happy Saturday to you. My birthday wish (my one of many) is that you take a sec to find some part of the day that makes your heart happy.

I was hoping while I was writing this that I wouldn't end on a sappy, syrupy note, but oh well. :)

Looking back....
birthday post: 2009
birthday post: 2010
birthday post:  2011

because it's just not a project simple life birthday post if I don't include a cupcake // credit.


XXX Summer Olympics.

work out.
watch the olympics.
watch the olympics with chad.

I do sprinkle in some time for eating, showering, and general everyday-ness, but most of the last week has been the above schedule. I love it. I follow almost every event, my favorites so far being swimming, men's and women's gymnastics, rowing, and beach volleyball. And I can't wait for track to start in a couple days.

summer far surpasses winter in my humble opinion. 
in every way. 

some of my favorite moments are seeing U.S. Olympiads on the stand singing the national anthem, Ryan + Michael in the pool, and Gabby on the beam and uneven bars. And I completely believe that those P & G commercials were designed for criers like me (as well as those little vignettes about the athletes before their event starts). I soak up the events every night with Chad, not updating my twitter feed until after for fear that someone would spoil the outcome (especially since I follow Misty May and Michael Phelps now). (:

I think the last time I was this invested this much in the olympics was in 1996 during the magnificent seven's reign in gymnastics -- watching their events on the floor of my house in Mankato with my mom and older sister, clutching my Olympic Barbie (who had the uncanny resemblance to Shannon Miller).

image 1 // here
image 2 // here
collage // project simple life


happy weekend.

Whenever Chad goes away for a weekend trip, I always seem to write about it. I write about how sad I get when mine is the only toothbrush in the toothbrush holder and mine are the only pillows on the bed. Then I write about all my big plans to get everything done in three days before Chad gets back home. Cram as much shopping, writing, eating, errand-running, and chores as I can.

This time around, those lofty goals are still on my to-do list (I actually did write out a list) sprinkled with fun things like watching the opening ceremonies with a glass of wine and sushi (and pining for London again) tonight and the farmer's market and editing pictures tomorrow morning. Will you be watching the Olympics this weekend? It's my absolute favorite!

It might not seem like the most thrilling weekend to date, but it's just what I need before our whirlwind August rolls around...



five purchases shown.
plus three honey sticks.
one Saturday ago.
ten dollars spent.
turned into kebobs.
kale chips.
roasted potatoes.
plenty of cereal and berry breakfasts.



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