May 31, 2011

Chrystabel Photography

I just HAVE to rave for a moment about my favorite photographer in the world. Her name is Alex. And she is awesome. She started her own company, Chrystabel Photography, a couple of years ago and decided to pursue it full-time last year. She has an awesome eye, really unique/cool editing skills and techniques, and one of those great, laid-back, funny personalities that makes even the most bashful kid or the camera shy fiancé comfortable during the shoot. (You know how 20-30 year old men never really like to smile for the camera? She can fix that!)

Alex photographed our engagement session and our wedding last year, and I can't wait to have babies so she can photograph them too (okay, I CAN wait to have babies, but when I finally do, Alex will be called!). Here are a couple of my fave pics by Chrystabel Photography.

Oh, and did I mention she does amazing graphic design as well? Yep. She designed our save-the-dates...

Here's one from my best friend's engagement session.
Then Alex designed my wedding invitations... (gorgeous!!!)
Then I got married and Alex was there to capture every moment!

Alex photographed my friend's wedding a couple months after ours... I love this shot!!!
And she photographs babies-on-the-way...
And babies with popped collars...
And babies growing up!
And sometimes she just takes pictures of pretty places. Oh hey, Seattle...
I basically consider myself Alex's unofficial PR agent and my current goal is to get someone in Arizona to hire her. Right now she lives in Seattle and could possibly relocate to Cali, but just think, you could fly her out to your wedding for a mere $200 or so. Totally worth it if you ask me. Or maybe we'll have her come visit us and you can book a shoot while she's here. And to all my Seattle readers, BOOK HER NOW while she still lives in your area! You won't regret it!

May 30, 2011


This is my favorite place right now. La Grande Orange. Or if you're local, lazy, or just struggle to pronounce French - LGO. This place got me through the last two weeks of the semester. I wrote many pages of my Renaissance paper AND my mommy blog paper there. In fact, on the day my mommy blog paper was due, I was there for NINE hours straight. Yes, nine hours. That's longer than a regular work day. I would say this was a negative experience, but it wasn't because I was at LGO. And LGO has everything I need for a full day of writing.

I start my LGO day off with a Havana Latte. Yum. It's a latte made with a pump of condensed milk to sweeten it and it's delish. I like to accompany my latte with an LGO English muffin. They are homemade goodness. The BEST English muffin you will ever have. Just typing about it makes me hungry. Every once in a while, I will trade in my English muffin for French Pancakes (aka crêpes with strawberries and crème fraiche on top). Sometimes I will eat my English muffin for breakfast and have the crêpes for lunch, if I am pulling an all-day-er at this place.

Combine this amazing food and caffeine with a pretty awesome music selection (Black Keys, Ray LaMontagne, John Mayer to name a few that I've heard recently) that is played at a reasonable volume (so many coffee shops around here crank their music so loudly that you can't even think), lots of electrical outlets and a low murmur from the other patrons and you've got yourself a pretty great study spot. This place is probably too crowded for studying on weekends, but I have found that it's a nice place to work on weekdays. It's still pretty busy, but you can always find a table and they don't care if you sit there for hours on end. And if you need a snack about six hours in, you can always grab one of their fresh pastries or run next door for gelato. I have done both, obvi. But I try not to indulge in both on the same day....

If you are in the Phoenix area, I strongly suggest you visit LGO as soon as you can. And if you live far away, come visit and I will take you there!

Just me, Petri (the tiny computer), and The Faerie Queene at LGO.
Did I leave that water bottle there? I can't find it.

The weekday morning crowd. So pleasant.

Hello Havana Latte. I love you.

May 27, 2011

Welcome to Flowers Fade Friday!

Welcome to my new series! Before I started this blog, I had another blog called Flowers Fade. I started Flowers Fade as part of a challenge I gave myself to read through the Bible in a year and blog about my reflections on my daily readings. This happened to be the year I got engaged...and married...moved to Arizona...and started grad school. It was a crazy year. But I was faithful to my Bible reading and fairly faithful to my blogging (like once a week-ish). In fact, although my reading was extremely time consuming, I feel like my utter reliance on God's Word during those twelve crazy months is what sustained me and brought me joy and peace in the midst of so many transitions. Since my Bible reading plan ended in December (okay...on New Year's Day... I got a little behind on Revelation over Christmas), I have been trying to maintain this blog AND Flowers Fade, and, to be honest, it's been really difficult! Basically, I have failed at it. But even though my year-long journey through the Bible is done, I have felt really convicted about continuing to post about the Bible and what God is teaching me through His Word. Specifically, I know that God has gifted me with the ability to teach. He has also given me a talent for writing coupled with a passion for instructing other women on what it looks like to live a gospel life. So I cannot give up Flowers Fade completely, even though I am WAY too busy to run two blogs.

So here is my solution! Flowers Fade Friday. Every Friday I will write a short devotion on something from my Bible reading that impacted me during the past week. These will be very similar to the postings I wrote on my old blog, but instead you will find them on this blog! I hope they encourage you to love Jesus more and maybe even lead you to take your own journey through the Bible. If you aren't a Christian, please feel free to read the postings and ponder. Or skip them. I will be back with regular, ridiculous AZ Russums content every Monday. But, secretly, I hope you don't skip them... :)

For this first posting, I will just fill you in on how Flowers Fade got its name. There is a verse in the Bible that says:
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever."
--Isaiah 40:8--

The world is always changing; it's unpredictable and unreliable. People are fickle and sinful. Times of calamity and times of peace will come and go. People, animals, and even plants are always dying and being born. But one thing never changes and that is God's Word. Some may claim that parts of the Bible no longer apply to today's culture, but that is simply not true. Jesus is for all people and all times and all cultures, and the Bible is God's way of revealing Christ (who is the perfect, human image of God himself) to us. The Old Testament points to Christ's coming and the New Testament shows us the Savior who lived the perfect life, died to save sinners, and rose again to conquer death and offer us eternal life. The Bible is an absolute reflection of a God who is perfect, holy, loving, eternal, and unchanging. And because God is eternal and unchanging, His Words will never fade away.

May 26, 2011


I love my missional community. They are just so freaking great and you are about to see why. We decided to do an end-of-the-year bowling adventure, even though none of us really wants an end-of-the-year anything because we will miss each other sooooo much! Okay, at least I will miss them that much. But don't worry, we invited everyone over for burgers last night, so I will post more pics of us together again soon!

*You will note in these pictures that most of us are wearing green shirts. Of course, we planned this. Well, I planned it, because that's the kind of stuff I do. Have I ever told you how much I love it when people dress like twins? I really love it. My kids are going to hate me someday... Anyway, if you are doing a big group event in public and you want to stand out as a group, it's fun if everyone wears the same color. It's like saying "oh hey, we're a group." So here we are - as a clearly defined group (you will note there were a few rebels - despicable!)...

Adam refused to put on his green shirt. He would rather wear work clothes than be unified??? Really???

Micah forgot his green shirt. Boo!

My favorite ladies and my favorite little man!

Fist pumping rebels

Big O.J. /  Little O.J.

Helping Hudson bowl...

O.J.'s turn!

Heath and Lisa! Cute.


Natalie is so anxious about her brother's bowling.


Oh hey pizza face.

The Puhala kids are getting their dance on!

Look at that form!

Velcro is fun.

I love this little goober.

*People tried to hassle me that my shirt was not really green, and I realize it is not AS true of a green as the other shirts around me, but it was green. First of all, you must know that I put this shirt on at 7:00 in the morning and then went to work on my mommy blog paper for NINE hours. That's right. Nine hours straight of writing and I still wasn't done when it was time to go bowling. I had to frantically finish and post my paper after all the bowling craziness, but before the midnight deadline. Rough night. I also HAD to wear a tank top so my pits had air flow all day. I cannot type while sweating, so all my green shirts with sleeves were out. So lay off my shirt. It's green; it's just a different shade. Want to know how I am CERTAIN it is green? Because I color code my closet and this teal-green tank is clearly at home in the green section, while some of my blue- green shirts are more blu-ish and are carefully placed in the blue section. My closet says this shirt is green and my closet doesn't lie.

May 25, 2011


We have been blessed with SO MANY visitors since moving to Arizona. I'd like to think that people really like us and want to see us, but let's be honest... it's probably because we live in the desert where it's sunny almost every single day. It's hard to pass up a free place to stay in Scottsdale where it's 80 degrees when it's rainy and/or snowy where you live. But I don't care about the motive. I love seeing friends and family, so if they come for the sun, that's fine with me. But I am not joking when I say we've had a LOT of visitors. Like a really unusual amount if you ask me. Here are all the visitors we have had in the past six months.

Our first first official visitor was Micah's sister, Malea, who came down for a weekend in November to watch the Seahawks play the Cardinals. (I guess our first visitor was actually my own sister, Katie, who helped us move into our apartment, but since she had to sleep in the midst of boxes and was given the task of organizing our kitchen cabinets, she was treated more like an indentured servant than a visitor.) So the first visitor who got a bed with sheets and their own room was Malea.

A week later, Micah's mom, Cheri, came for Thanksgiving week. We had fun showing her around Scottsdale, introducing her to my extended family at Thanksgiving, and Micah took her up to see the Grand Canyon. I had to work, so I still haven't seen it....sad.

At the end of December I had an almost-surprise visit by one of my very best friends, Kristin. When we found out the TCU HORNED FROGS were going to the ROSE BOWL(!!!), Kristin decided to hitch a ride with some friends who were making the Fort Worth to Pasadena trek for the game. She had them drop her off at my place for the weekend, so we got to spend four glorious days together while I was on Christmas break. I have learned that visitors when I am not in school is a very amazing thing! Kristin was here for New Year's and got to meet lots of our new PHX friends at our impromptu fiesta! She also was by my side as the Horned Frogs won the Rose Bowl, one of the happiest days of my life!

Just two weeks later, Sarah, Bekah, and Ashley flew down from Seattle over MLK Jr. weekend to run the Phoenix Rock 'n' Roll marathon. It was so fun having them here for a sunny, crisp winter weekend and we all conquered the race together. So much fun!

In February, my sister came back as a real visitor. I didn't make her clean or organize anything this time, and she got a bedroom sans piles of boxes. We had lots of fun. Tried some new recipes, went shopping, ate Chick-Fil-A. Basically experienced all the good stuff in life.

Right before or after that (sometime in February) Micah's grandparents were also here. They didn't stay the night with us, because they were staying with another relative out in Mesa, but we did have them over for afternoon lemonade and introduced them to Yogurtland. We forgot to take pictures...

In March, another best friend, Allison, came for her spring break. We were horrible at taking pictures, but we had lots of fun. We even tried out a swing dancing place in Phoenix. Most of our group struggled, but Allison has become such an amazing swing dancer in the past year or so, and it was fun to watch her in action.

In April and May things got crazy because it got hard to balance school with our continuous flow of visitors. My mom came to visit during the first week of April. I cooked lots of new recipes, we got pedicures, finally watched Toy Story 3, and got to have lunch with one of my mom's life long friends. It was great.

Two weeks later, my sister came again, needing some escape from the Seattle rain. Because it was so close to the end of the semester, my schedule was completely insane with paper writing and presentations, so I was not such a good hostess this time around. Katie went back to being an indentured servant and made most of my meals for me (bless her!), but she got unlimited access to our pool for a week, so I feel I repaid her with bronze skin. We also bought matching shirts (see below), so we can carry on our tradition of dressing like twins...

At the beginning of May, I got more surprise visitors. My friend, Amber, contacted me and told me that she and another friend, Jenny, were taking a last minute trip to Phoenix the following week. I got to meet these two amazing ladies for lunch and lots of talking! What amazing women. They were setting up the restaurant for the dinner crowd by the time we finally left...

The very same week, my best friend, Camille, flew into Phoenix for 24 hours for work and got to stay the night with us. Although I had a paper due the second day she was here, I could not be more thankful for this brief little visit. I felt like her presence was so refreshing and encouraging in the midst of the stress of the semester. Love her.

During the same 24 hours that Camille was here, Micah's cousin, Erin, was here with her husband. We met them for a Cinco de Mayo dinner before they left town for Vegas the next day to celebrate their one year anniversary. It was so fun to see them, but we forgot to take pictures again!

Just a few days later, Micah's friend, Ryan, came to visit. Micah only worked half days while Ryan was here, so they had lots of fun golfing, playing basketball, and swimming. I, unfortunately, was writing another paper during Ryan's visit, but I did take a break to introduce the boys to Smashburger!

Now we are moving onto boy visitors. Ryan left two weeks ago and next week Justin is coming! Justin is one of Micah's college friends, but all three of us are very close due to the year we spent living in Lake Stevens as adults. When you are an unmarried, Christian adult living in Lake Stevens, Washington, it is hard to have a thriving social life. So when Justin, Micah, and I all lived there, we hung out all the time. I can't wait for Justin-i to get here!

We already have Micah's brother, Daniel, and his girlfriend, Kaitlyn on the line-up for late August, and my dad told me on the phone last week that he might try to get out to visit us at some point this summer. So who's next? Just let me know if you want to book a visit! This $100 mattress (that we try to make bearable  with a memory foam pad AND a feather topper) might be calling your name...

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