Tuesday, December 25, 2012

and unto us is born this day.

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain 
That Jesus Christ is born! 

Christmas is my favorite day of the entire year. 

My family always winds up in the same house, regardless of where life has taken us. The hour we rise has gotten a little later as we've grown older. Coffee comes first now... even before presents. There isn't an insane dash to rip the paper off as quickly as possible. It takes over an hour. It's less about me and more about all of us doing this together. It is as if we've finally discovered that this holiday isn't about the individual, it's about us being together. I love that. 

Today is really about Jesus. He's here and He came to be with us, in our form. He did so that we wouldn't be afraid of Him, but so that we could relate. Isn't that beautiful and awesome? 

I hope today is wonderful for you. I hope that you have the perfect Christmas that you want and hope for. But if your Christmas isn't perfect - if your family gets in an argument or you're grieving or life is just hard, remember that Jesus came for all of us, in the situation that we are currently in. He didn't expect us to be perfect. If you're Christmas is more black than white, it's still Christmas. Thank God for that! 

Fragile fingers sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

Friday, December 21, 2012

things I love: Christmas edition.

1. Christmas trees.

This is the first year that I've had a real Christmas tree and I love it. My house smells delicious. I took several hours decorating it, placing ornaments carefully and making sure that there weren't any holes. I think it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

2. Wrapping presents. 

There is nothing more satisfying than finding the perfect gift for someone, coming home, wrapping it immediately, and placing that bad boy under the tree. Also, it's December 21st and I've been done with my shopping for several days! Every year, I pick a theme for my wrapping and this year has to be one of my favorites!

3. Warm socks. 

I'm a sock person. There's nothing more wonderful than putting on a new pair of socks. For most of the year, the only time I wear socks is when I'm working out, but during the winter I have so many more opportunities to wear socks. This year, I made a decision to wear cute socks! Don't you think they're cute? 

4.  Handwriting my Christmas cards. 

I have found no greater pleasure than sitting down and handwriting Christmas cards to the people that I love. Writing notes has always been something that I have enjoyed, but it seems to be even more special this time of year.

What are your favorite things during this season?

Ornaments: Macy's, Pier 1 Imports, Hot Pink
Tree topper sprays: Hot Pink
Garland: Pier 1 Imports
Wrapping paper, ribbon, and baker's twine: Paper Source
Socks: J. Crew
Christmas cards: Paper Source

Thursday, December 20, 2012

work that body.

Have you ever had a moment where you just NEEDED to exercise? 

That's a weird question, I know, but I had a moment like that last night. I was driving home from dinner with my family and my head started spinning -- work, work, work, wrapping up my job, thinking about student teaching, Christmas shopping, blah, blah, blah... I knew what I needed to do. I needed to run. 

Running is a new thing for me. For once in my life, I'm actually beginning to enjoy it. I've tried it several times throughout the years and it never clicked. A few months ago, it clicked and I don't dread running anymore. Tonight I needed to clear my head and that's exactly what happened! 

Sometimes, I don't need to run. I need to walk in my living room, roll out my yoga mat, and stretch. I need to twist my body and release the tension that has built up inside my joints. Yoga is cathartic and works wonders when I need to let go of outside worries and focus on the simple things. 

With Christmas just around the corner, I bet some of you are still looking for last minute gifts. If you have an exerciser on your list, here are some suggestions: 

Do you have a kind of exercise that is your go-to for free therapy? Share your favorites with me!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

pop of color.

I love nail polish. Unfortunately for my bank account, I am one of those people who feels pretty much naked when my nails are bare. For many years, my favorite brand of polish has been Essie. I tend to stick with neutrals on my fingers and bright pinks and reds on my toes, but occasionally I'll go out of my comfort zones and pick something wild. Here are some of my favorite shades:

Beyond Cozy - "a decadent silvery gold glitter" 
a great holiday shade - PERFECT for New Years Eve

Don't Sweater It - "a warm, cozy and creamy mauve"
my go-to neutral for winter

Fiesta - "a shock of creamy hot pink"
usually reserved for summer toes, but works great for a pop with a dark winter outfit

Lollipop - "candy cane red"
says it right there in the name!

Mademoiselle - "the most classic grown-up pink"
my go-to shade all year long when I can't make up my mind

Mint Candy Apple - "creme de menthe mint"
put it with just about anything

Power Clutch - "a striking, deep gray-green"
for when you want to feel fierce

Skirting the Issue - "an exquisite, fashionable burgundy wine"
perfect in peep-toes

Where's My Chauffeur? - "an opulent turquoise" 
a new shade this winter

What's your favorite brand and shade? Any go-tos when you can't make up your mind? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

there's music in my ears - part 3.

Some of my favorite Christmas tunes are the more traditional hymns that I grew up with. Some of the versions on this playlist are a little untraditional, but they put a fun spin on them! Some of the versions are the ones you've probably heard a hundred times throughout your life. So here's a new playlist for you to enjoy - I hope you do!

1. Angels We Have Heard on High - Relient K
2. Do You Hear What I Hear? - Bing Crosby
3. What Child Is This? - Burl Ives
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Glee Cast
5. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - Carpenters
6. The First Noel - *NSYNC
7. O Little Town Of Bethlehem - Johnny Cash
8. Go Tell It On The Mountain - NEEDTOBREATHE
9. Away In A Manger - Mindy Smith
10. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Amy Grant
11. O Come All Ye Faithful - Harry Connick, Jr.
12. Little Drummer Boy - Audio Adrenaline
13. Joy To The World - Mariah Carey
14. O Come, O Come Emmanuel - Third Day
15. O Holy Night - Kari Jobe
16. Ave Maria - Celine Dion
17. Silent Night - Justin Bieber

Follow me on Spotify and subscribe to this playlist here!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

family matters.

I thought I should take a moment and introduce you to my family, since I reference them a lot. Drum roll please...

This is my momma. Her name is Nancy. She's pretty much the greatest woman on the planet. She works at Williams-Sonoma and makes the best chicken noodle soup you'll ever put in your mouth. Actually, she makes the best of just about everything. She loves to decorate for holidays. You should see her house right now - every surface is Christmas-ized! She is a reader, a gardener, and the definition of a good mom. 

This is my brother, Will. That little munchkin in his arms is Newman, his English Bulldog. Newman weighs 90 pounds now, so it's hard to snuggle him like that anymore. Will is 23 and a sailor in the United States Navy. He is stationed in Jacksonville, Florida and serves onboard the USS Gettysburg. He has quite the collection of snow globes. He loves to go deep sea fishing and reads more than you would probably think.  

This is my brother, Roger. He's 22 and a senior at the University of Tennessee. He is majoring in political science and business. He's trying to decide whether or not he wants to graduate school. He's the go-to man for his fraternity, Kappa Sigma. He's currently the Social Chairman and plans one heck of a date party. He has a very impressive collection of nutcrackers. He plays chess and likes to duck hunt. 

This is my baby sister, Katie. She's 19. Isn't she beautiful? Katie is the toughest young lady I know. She hasn't had what you would call a normal high school experience, but she is all the stronger because of it. She loves to bake and has the cutest aprons I've ever seen. She enjoys bubble baths and yummy candles. She also reads like a fiend and is pretty much the sharpest person in our family. She also happens to be the funniest. She also happens to be the only member of our family with a permanent nickname. 

This is my daddy, Roger. He's no longer with us in this world, but I was honored to have had him in my life for 23 years. He was, without a doubt, the best dad there ever was. He was funny. He was kind. He took care of the people around him. He worked hard. He was creative. He loved his family with every fiber of his being. He had a silly little laugh that came out when something really tickled him. He told outrageous stories, including one about a lion who wore a bandana and drove a Jeep, that we actually believed as kids. He always answered the phone. He drove with his left foot hanging out of the window. He hated wearing shoes. For about 90% of the year, he wore khaki shorts, a white Polo shirt, and Reef flip flops. He loved to hunt and he loved to fish. He loved books. He made a mean ham & cheese omelet. He was the best, and I miss him tremendously. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

board games.

One of my favorite things to do is play board games. Call me a nerd if you want, but they're so much fun! Over the last few days, my family has broken out several different ones and have had a blast! I'd like to share my favorites with you. If you're looking for something to do with your family or a group of friends, look no further!

1. Apples to Apples is just plain fun. A "game of hilarious comparisons" - players take turns pulling a green apple, which are mostly adjectives. For instance, it could be gentle. The other players submit a red apple, which are mostly nouns, that they feel best relate (or, if none of their cards relate, it could be the complete opposite!) You could have a bunch of red apples that say Mother Theresa, Adolf Hitler, and bunny rabbit. The person who pulled the green apple then chooses the red apple that they like the best and that person keeps the green card. The person who gets to a certain number of green apples first, wins! The more people who play, the funnier this game gets!

2. Cranium is my go-to game for game nights. This game is played in teams and there are four categories of questions - Data Head, Word Worm, Star Performer, and Creative Cat. Half are trivia and half are performance-based. The way you roll determines which question you get. There are Club Cranium cards, which means everyone plays! There are four quadrants (they are actually little brains!) on the board that serve as a reset. When you get to a brain, you really need to get the first question correct so that you can get on the fast track! If you get on the fast track, there are only four spaces to get through to get to the next brain. If you miss the first question, you'll be on the slow track and have to move across eight spaces to get to the next brain! The first team to get to the big brain in the middle and get a question right from all four categories wins!

3. Scrabble is my all-time favorite board game. This one is kind of tricky, because you have to be able to spell well in order to play. Believe it or not, there is strategy involved to this game - it's not just about the words! There's not much else to it, but get a couple of people around a table and you'll be sure to have a good time!

What's your favorite board game? Are there any that you don't like? Let me know!

Monday, November 19, 2012

museums to visit.

86. Visit ten new museums.

I'm trying to compile a list of the museums that I'd like to get to see. Here are my top fifteen - hopefully I'll make it to at least ten of them.

1. The Museum of Modern Art - New York City
2. Guggenheim Museum - New York City
3. Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York City
4. Library of Congress - Washington, DC
5. Andy Warhol Museum - Pittsburgh
6. National Portrait Gallery - Washington, DC
7. Museum of Flight - Seattle
8. Georgia O'Keefe Museum - Santa Fe, New Mexico
9. Wright Museum - Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
10. International Spy Museum - Washington, DC
11. Please Touch Museum - Philadelphia
12. The House of the Seven Gables - Salem, Massachusetts
13. Holocaust Memorial Museum - Washington, DC
14. The Field Museum of Natural History - Chicago
15. The Salvador Dali Museum - St. Petersburg, FL

What is your favorite museum? Any suggestions for me?

Friday, November 16, 2012

travel essentials.

Do you get to travel as much as you'd like to?

On my 101 in 1001, I have a couple of items directly relating to traveling. Namely:

11. Visit five new states.
58. Travel out of the country. 
82. Take a road trip.
96. Visit a castle. 
100. Go whale watching. 

Problem is, as a member of a family of six, we drove just about everywhere as kids so my list of states left to visit is actually very low and most of them are very, very far away. And since I know that you're dying to know, these are the states I haven't been to yet: 

New Jersey
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Dakota
West Virginia

That's it - 15 left. And somehow, I want to get to at least five of them before May 13, 2015. I need to start planning strategically and knock out a couple per trip! Anyone up for a Washington & Oregon trip? How about Minnesota & Wisconsin? I hear it's beautiful up there! 

When it comes to traveling, I have a few things that are an absolute must. Flying back and forth from Texas to Tennessee in college taught me how to pack well and what you can afford to leave behind. Here are my suggestions: 

1. It's absolutely essential to have a great piece of luggage that you can carry-on. Come on people, you don't have to check a bag if you're just going for the weekend! Personally, I don't like to roll suitcases through airports, so I opt for bags that are easy to carry. I just received this Longchamp Expandable Travel Bag for my birthday last month and it's already my favorite. First of all, it's Longchamp, so it's sturdy. Second of all, it's expandable, which means you can make it as big or as small as you need it to be. Third of all, when it's expanded, it's BIG - plenty big for a weekend trip, even with a hair dryer and three pairs of shoes! 

2. I have long been a fan of Vera Bradley. While I don't carry her tote bags as much as I used to, I still stand by her cosmetic bags. They're lined, which makes them so much easier to clean should you have a mishap in transit. The large cosmetic bag, pictured above, is big enough for a full-size shampoo and conditioner, body wash, face wash, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. If you're taking a carry-on, thus no full size bottles, you can fit even more in there! 

3. There's nothing worse than juggling a purse AND a carry-on while traveling. Since I usually try to not check a bag, I'm limited to just one other bag for my essentials. Having a bag that meets all of your needs is a must! I have tried all of them, it seems like. There will be some things that I love about a bag, and then one thing that I hate which makes it a never go-to for air travel again. I usually travel with my laptop (maybe this is my issue), so I need a bag that is big enough to have my laptop in it and strong enough to at least be propped up. My go-to bag for this purpose is the large Longchamp tote. I place my laptop in its sleeve in the middle of the bag and pack other things around it. Works like a charm! 

What are your travel essentials that you never leave home without? 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

life, according to instagram.


1. Table decorations for baby sister's 19th birthday dinner. 
2. Happy birthday, baby sister! 
3. This smells so like Christmas, it should be illegal. 
4. Celebrating Laura at her bachelorette party. 
5. Birthday flowers make a girl happy! 
6. Diptyque, in my bedroom. Finally. 
7. 25th birthday dinner with my four best girls. 
8. Baby lobster love. 
9. Happy Halloween from Bumblebee and Waldo! 
10. Inspiration. 
11. Book of the moment. 
12. First Christmas movie of the season. 
13. Beautiful flowers from a thoughtful little brother for no reason at all. 
14. A fabulous new restaurant. 
15. My living room. #instagramhousetour
16. My kitchen. #instagramhousetour
17. Beginning of my One Thousand Gifts. 
18. Makes you think... 
19. Where I sleep. 
20. Lots of Friends watching going on lately - back to season one.