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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

morning routine.

I'm really working on my morning routine. In fact, it takes up two (well, three, kind of) spots on my 101 in 1001 list -
#44 - Find a place to spend my mornings. 
#46 - Get into a regular routine of doing a devotional in the morning. 
#54 - Develop a daily routine. 

The fact that I am in a serious transition in my life makes it difficult to get into a routine and keep it. In less than two months, my entire day will be completely different based on where I get placed for student teaching. I could have to be there at 7 a.m., which would really put a kink in my sleeping until 7 a.m. habit currently. 

But that's pretty much an excuse, isn't it? Your schedule could always change, but that doesn't negate your body's need for a good routine to start off your day. By nature, I want to be a morning person and actually do a lot better when I wake up early. Therefore, this is what my routine would ideally look like: 

5:00 a.m. - Wake up! 
5:05 a.m. - Out the door for a quick walk with Cosmo
5:30 a.m. - Hop in the shower
5:45 a.m. - Turn on the news
5:50 a.m. - Make a cup of tea and a slice of toast
6:00 a.m. - Dry hair
6:15 a.m. - Make bed
6:20 a.m. - Do makeup
6:25 a.m. - Get dressed
6:30 a.m. - Gather necessaries for the day and out the door to my morning spot
6:45 a.m. - Devotional & quiet time
7:00 a.m. - Go through emails 
7:15 a.m. - Read through blogs
7:30 a.m. - Off to work! 

Just writing out this list makes me want to try and actually do this starting now! On that note, I may be going to bed very early this evening...! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


With Thanksgiving just about a week away, the idea of gratitude has lodged itself deep in my heart and has left me wanting to find new ways to express my thankfulness.

Many of you may have heard of Ann Voskamp. She wrote a book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. The title alone challenges me to live a better life! Where I am, right now, I can live fully. How reassuring!

The purpose of her book was to acknowledge one thousand gifts in your life that you are thankful for. I haven't read the book, but I've read her blog and have heard enough people talking about it that I got the gist. It's on my "to read" list (along with about a hundred others), and I'll read it eventually, but I don't have to wait to read a book to start thinking about what I'm grateful for.

Last night, I picked up a new MayBook that I recently ordered and decided to dedicate it to cataloging One Thousand Gifts. Here's how I started:

I only got through eleven last night, but they are some of the biggest blessings in my life that needed to be written down right away. This morning, I've added five more. I decided to start every entry with "I'm thankful..." rather than simply listing people and things, so that it's more intentional for me. Why am I thankful for that person or that experience? 

I encourage you to join me in this endeavor. I can't imagine that intentionally being grateful can lead to anything except richer living and more appreciation for the blessings around you. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

there's music in my ears - part 2

I'm resisting every urge I have inside of me to not decorate my house from top to bottom for Christmas for another week and a half. That hasn't kept me from starting to pull out my Christmas tunes, though. Here's a new playlist for you to enjoy - some of my all-time favorites are on here!

1. Hey Santa Claus - The Moonglows
2. Mele Kalikimaka - Bing Crosby
3. Sleigh Ride - Ella Fitzgerald
4. Run Rudolph Run - Chuck Berry
5. White Christmas - Otis Redding
6. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - Norah Jones
7. Carol of the Bells - John Williams
8. Please Come Home for Christmas - CeeLo Green
9. Rocking Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
10. Winter Wonderland - Darlene Love
11. Santa Baby - Michael Buble
12. I'll Be Home For Christmas - She & Him
13. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - The Carpenters
14. Auld Lang Syne - The Cast

Follow me on Spotify and subscribe to this playlist here!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

core challenge - nov. 12-18

I told you last week that I've rediscovered my motivation for weight loss. If I had had Pinterest two years ago when I first began this journey, I might have been much more successful than I was! I discovered this Core Challenge this morning and this is how I'll be starting. Obviously, the goal isn't too limit my exercise this week to this, but it's a starting place. Here goes nothing - will you join me? 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


This morning, I've had lots of thoughts running through my head. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Oh my gosh, I only have a few weeks left to finish my practicum hours!
  • Oh my gosh, I have so much to do in order to finish my last class! 
  • Oh my gosh, Progressive Dinner is in 32 days! 
  • Oh my gosh, Breakthru is right around the corner and we only have 63 kids signed up! 
  • Oh my gosh, I won't have an income in less than two months! 
  • Oh my gosh, what are we doing for Thanksgiving? 
  • Oh my gosh, who are they going to get to replace me? 
  • Oh my gosh, how much can I get done in advance so they won't need a replacement right away? 
  • Oh my gosh, where am I going to get a job for next fall? 
  • Oh my gosh, how am I going to pay my bills next semester? 
  • Oh my gosh, I have to be in a wedding in less than two months! 
  • Oh my gosh, I have to be in another wedding in seven months! 
  • Oh my gosh... 
  • Oh my gosh... 
  • Oh
  • My
  • Gosh. 
You see what I did there? I just listed out my fears. Fear of failure, of money, of the unknown, of the future. 

You see what I didn't do there? I didn't acknowledge that all of this is going to be okay. 

I know that God won't give me more than I can handle. I have learned that time and time and time again over the last two years. I also know that I work best with lists and I work best while listening to classical music. It puts me in a focused state that I'll look up and four hours will have gone by. I won't have moved, but I'll have a whole page checked off. 

Here's to to-do lists and Schubert. I'll see you on the flip side! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Checking the weather before I get out of bed in the morning has become one of my favorite habits. Thank you, smart phones, for this new part of my morning routine. This morning, however, I noticed that it wasn't going to get out of the 40s today. Hello, winter in the South! Just for the record, I love it. Made me realize that I needed to bundle up a little more today than I have been lately, which brings me to one of my favorite winter accessories: scarves! 

Here are some of my faves right now: 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

election day 2012.

Well, folks, today is Election Day. I'm going to take a wild guess that you already knew that! So here's my reminder: GO VOTE.

As a military sister now, this day has even more meaning for me. I hope you all understand and appreciate how much our men and women in uniform sacrifice in order to protect our freedoms and rights. We have a right to vote and are free to say whatever we want. My only request is that you be respectful in your speech today and in the days to come.

Monday, November 5, 2012


A little more than two years ago, I registered for a half marathon in Nashville with my best friend. I woke up on a Saturday morning, got dressed in the dark, and drove downtown. I parked my car, got into my corral, and waited for the gun to go off. It did, and as we slowly made it toward the start line, I made a decision: I had to get a handle on my weight.

I completed that half marathon, all 13.1 miles of it. I walked the entire way. The cutoff for the race was 4 hours. I believe I finished somewhere around 3 hours and 40 minutes. My best friend was beside me the entire time. She could have ran the entire thing, but she stayed with me, supporting me.

That day changed my life, because I knew that I was capable. My body was capable, despite the fact that I weighed 234 pounds. When those three numbers flashed up in front of me at the doctor's office just a week before, I was mortified. College had been hard on me, emotionally and physically. I let myself go and I had to take myself back.

I hit the ground running, literally. I downloaded apps on my phone to teach me how to run, I cataloged my food, I went to the gym every single day. The weight started to come off very quickly, because I was focused. By March of 2011, I had lost 30 pounds and was nearing "onederland" - the beautiful place where the first number on the scale is a 1 and not a 2.

Then my dad died and my world fell apart. Going back to the gym terrified me, because working out was an escape for me and I was afraid of falling apart on a treadmill in the middle of the YMCA. It's been over a year and a half and while I've had spurts of energy when it comes to getting back into my routine, nothing has stuck. Fortunately, I haven't gained. Unfortunately, I wasn't to my goal yet. I will reach my goal, and it starts today.

Here's my plan:

Catalog my food intake (and plan for it).
Exercise 4 times a week.

It's really that simple. The problem that I have had is holding myself accountable, which is pretty much why I am telling you that I have a plan, because I'd like for someone to make me stick to it.

So there you have it. Make me stick to it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

final wish.

I'd like to share a video with you that I just discovered. It's about 6 minutes in length and shares the story of a lifetime Colts fan who had his final wish granted by the team. 

This makes me think about my grandparents, all of whom have passed on from this life and into the realm of eternity. This makes me miss them, more than I normally do. It makes me long for the days when I could still pick up the phone and call them. 

Today is All Saint's Day. Every year, on November 1st, we celebrate those who have left this earthly world, and this is the second year in a row that I honor an immediate family member on this day. In March, I lost my last grandparent. This video makes me long for those last two months again. It makes me wish that I had taken the time to see her as often as possible, to call her everyday and tell her that I love her. This video made me realize that even when people are dying, even when they know that their days are numbered, they still want to live. 

I am dying. My days are numbered. It shouldn't take 85 years for me to figure that out. The lesson is to not take your days for granted and to live your life now. I plan on doing that.