Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

Here we are, finally, down to the last six hours of 2012. It's been interesting (and thought-provoking!) to read the different statuses posted by my friends. Some have said that 2012 wasn't so great, and they're hoping for a better new year. Others look back on 2012 with fond memories of meeting their true love, getting engaged, having a baby, etc, and wish for a repeat. I've been on both sides of the aisle; I remember this time last year that my best friend and I were almost giddy waiting for 2011 to be over. It was not a good year (we joked that one of us must have accidentally unleashed a mummy and invoked a curse - it was just that bad).

This year? Totally different. Even though it's had some really rough patches, too. The death of friends. Hard times. Sad things. But 2012 also brought with it some indescribeably sweet things - an album full of amazing new memories with Abigail, trips I got to take, new things I got to see, and perhaps best of all, my bestie met the love of her life, got engaged, and began planning her wedding. It always sounded so trite before, but now I get it - I love Joe because he makes her happy. :) I am incredibly excited about what 2013 will bring with it!

Although there have been years where I've made whole lists of resolutions, this year, I have only a few (keeping it simple, I guess, lol): I want to be available for ministry when God brings it my way; I want to go back to running 3-5 times a week; I want to continue being more responsible with my finances (I did so much better this year! But there's still lots of room for improvement); I want to work on living each moment mindfully.

What are your resolutions this year (if any)? What about 2012 - was it a good year or a bad one?

Here's hoping that, no matter what sort of year you had, 2013 brings with it amazing things! :)

Friday, December 28, 2012


Maybe the last randomizer of the year!

1. I am so looking forward to the New Year - for some reason, this random "reset button for life" always motivates me to think about what kind of changes I can start making now, so that I will be a better person next year. :) At this moment, it looks like there's an even chance of my family either throwing a party or having a family-only evening at home. For the record, I'm voting for the latter lol!). I guess I'm a Grinch, but this holiday season has worn me out!

2. We had an amazing Christmas - lots of family and friends, and a Christmas Eve part that I got to wear my amazing new dress to! I'll have to post pictures later - it's bright blue, has an asymetrical neckline, and a ruched/ruffled front. I had so many people tell me how awesome it was - call me vain, but I love getting told I look great! :)

3. I bought cute, red and brown, reindeer Christmas flannel pajama bottoms (I buy myself new PJ's every year) and bought a simple brown T-shirt to go with it. Then I found an adorable "Merry" shirt that was oh-so-comfy-and-cute on clearance for $6 that match with my PJ bottoms from last year! So now I have TWO cute pairs of festive PJ's. :)

3. Remember how I had the pattern picked out but no material? Well, I found awesome material at JoAnn's (dark gray, knit but not too stretchy) and they're having a sale this week - 50% off the clearance fabric. I'm praying that it'll still be there, cuz I can't wait to wear it!

4. Ten days til my bestie shows up on my doorstep. I. am. so. excited. :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

One Day Left!

What did Adam say to Eve at Christmas?
"Merry Christmas, Eve!"

It's here! I love Christmas Eve - somehow the last-minute scurrying seems less stressful and more festive on this day. Knowing that the forecast was calling for "wintery mix" today, I got all my errands done yesterday so that I didn't have to go out until tonight (candelight service at church, and then a Christmas party!!!). Last gifts picked up, laundry finished, nails done, new Christmas PJ's bought, then home to work on the very last of the last minute gifts, and to give my room a good cleaning.

I had the most wonderful surprise yesterday when a dear friend of mine that I haven't seen in a long time walked in to church yesterday! :) He's home visiting his family for Christmas, and brought news that his brother and sister-in-law, also dear friends, will also be arriving for the holiday! :) This is the part I love, seeing loved ones again!

We don't have any particular Christmas Eve traditions, but the night is always a fun one, whether it involves a party, a movie, late game night, whatever. I can't wait to see the tree get surrounded with gifts (we put them all out at once!) and lay out the stockings for morning. Sadly, I guess because I'm an adult now lol, I usually wish I could sleep in on Christmas morning, so I end up on the couch bleary-eyed waiting for someone to bring me a cup of coffee. :)

I love the fun of giving presents - I think I seriously like it better than getting! Sometimes. Anyway, I cannot WAIT for tomorrow for folks to open their presents. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Soaking It In

Tonight, for the first time, Christmas spirit has finally saturated my soul. It might have to do with the fact that I was given the first gift of the season today by my amazing Uncle Chris and Aunt Natalie and beautiful Abigail. :) Actually, I was given two! (They're pretty generous folks :)). The first gift was the leather storage bench I've been wanting for months now (it looks almost exactly like this). The second was this adorable shoot-me-now owl speaker. I kid you not... it's so. cute.

And let me just say, I wish y'all could have seen how beautifully it was wrapped - beautiful wrapping paper, big bow, handmade gift tag, the works. It completely fed my soul. In fact, I'm so in love with the tag that I added it to my door decor (which currently consists of a sprig of mistletoe, jingle bells, and a giant sleigh bell. :) Every time I've walked past, it's warmed my heart.

But anyway, Christmas spirit saturation... it might also have something to do with the fact that I have a week off due to having off Christmas Eve and the day after (because as much as I love Christmas morning at our house, I adore our informal tradition the day after of staying in PJ's, making a big breakfast, and spending time together).

My energy level is going back up - finally! I thought I was never going to feel like myself again after struggling with this cold/cough/virus for what... three weeks? And just in time for finishing all those last Christmas gifts. :)

I spent tonight working on refinishing my thrift-store-steal wooden kitchenette that will be going to my cousin Zoe. It came with dings and chips and the most awful hand-painted petunias on it. After a good cleaning, being completely disassembled, sanded, puttied, and repainted (light pink, dark pink, and grey) it's looking like a whole new toy! I can't wait til tomorrow - the doors and knobs get one last coat of paint, then I can reassemble everything, wrap it - sort of (lol I'm thinking ribbon, gift tag, and big red bow) - and cart it off to Chris' (where we celebrate Christmas) to await the big reveal. :)

I also made a Christmas gift that turned out entirely too small, made a new one that required that stitches be taken out multiple times, and broke a needle on the sewing machine. I'm honestly not sure which I hate more, sewing or painting...

I'm starting to think about the New Year and some of the resolutions I'll be making. I want to go back to running and eating well, I want to be more intentional about "feeding" my relationships (especially with my sibs), I want to work on developing some one-on-one ministry opportunities God has brought to my mind. I want to work on living mindfully in the moment, remembering that life is the here and now, not the someday. I want to work on being more organized and on putting my laundry away as soon as it's done (hah!). :) As you can see, it's a miscellaneous mix.

These last two weeks of the year are always a special time of pondering. When I think about all the blessings that God has brought into my life, particularly in the last few years, I'm overwhelmed. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Done In

I got home last night from out last performance and I knew I'd had it. I've been coughing for a week now, haven't been sleeping well because of it, and an exceptionally busy weekend plus the stress of wondering if my voice and lungs would make it through two performances finally pushed me over the edge, from "I'm good" to "I need a break." Anna was kind enough to agree to take Abigail to school me today so that I could sleep in, and I woke up feeling, if not really great, at least better. Which is good. Cuz we're entering the Christmas countdown, folks - one week to go!

This is my final list of what's getting done.

Tomorrow: Abigail and I are spending the day with my sibs. I'm gonna try to get my last few Christmas presents done while she's playing. We're gonna leave early and stop in at the dollar store to pick up supplies for our little Christmas playdate with Lilly (more in a sec). Tuesday night is Hobbit night with Dad, Maggie, Maggie's friends, and our church friends! (Very excited about this).

Wednesday: Christmas playdate with Lilly. I have a Christmas-y craft to make, a small gift for each girl to make for her parents, a snack, and a very special activity (I'll do a post on it later in the week :)). Wednesday night I'm gonna mix up my cookie dough to take with me to work on Thursday.

Thursday: Last gymnastics class of the year! While Abby is sleeping, I'm gonna try to get my cookies baked. I'm gonna take a plate to my mechanic on the way home. If Maggie and I go out for a "sister date" that night, awesome! If not, I'm gonna come home, take a nap, and then stay up late to wrap/finish presents while I listen to Christmas music or watch a Christmas movie in the background (still haven't seen Polar Express or White Christmas this year!)

Weekend to-do list: Finish and wrap all gifts! Buy new PJ's. Finish "A Christmas Carol." Drink hot chocolate. Think about resolutions. Make a list of things I need to get done after Christmas (lol!).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Almost There!

Today was the second performance of our Christmas drama - two down and one to go, then we can call it a wrap! :) When I walked into the church today I saw another actor and asked, "Are you all ready for Christmas? Cuz it's like, what, a week and three days away?
He counted for a second. "No, it's only ten days away!"

Truth be told, I'm ready for this last ten days, even though I still have two major gifts to finish and at least half a dozen small gifts to put finishing touches on. :) It doesn't matter - after Sunday, I intend to spend my evenings and free time working on Christmas gifts, burning Christmas candles, watching Christmas movies, playing Christmas music in the background, and generally soaking up all the goodness of this last home stretch.

The week holds lots of good stuff - a night with a friend to work on Christmas presents, and a big night out with the kids and some friends of ours to go see the Hobbit and eat dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. And then the weekend (!) leading right in to Christmas Eve, the candlelight service at church, and a very amazing part invitation. :)

And then, of course, the Big Day.


Thursday, December 13, 2012


  • Braised cucumbers? Gross! And I was fully prepared to like them, too. :( Kind of a sort-of-pickled-but-not-really taste.
  • I was sharing my frustration at not being able to find good quality knit material in this town, and my mom turned me on to Hancock Fabrics. Bingo! I've already found several prints I love online, so now I'm psyched to find some time to duck up to the HF about 45 minutes away.
  • I'm going to stick $10 out of every paycheck in a jar and buy a Keurig for my birthday. This was mostly decided by the fact that I've felt really under the weather this week, and being able to have a cup of hot, perfectly brewed tea in 30 seconds at work has been heavenly.
  • I'd still sell my right arm to be able to sleep in tomorrow... but we have 48 people decending on the house, so that's not gonna happen! (Maybe Saturday).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Odds And Ends

I'm Thinking About -

Monday, December 10, 2012

On Stockings

I was standing by someone's mantle recently and commented on their beautiful stockings. To my surprise, they responded with a groan and said, "Oh, I forgot, I have to stuff the stockings!!!"

I was surprised at the negativity! Maybe it's just because in my family, stockings are a huge part of Christmas morning. In fact, we kids once started talking about "would you rathers" and the question was raised, if (hypothetically) you could either have presents or stockings for Christmas, but not both, which would you choose? We almost unanimously chose stockings!

Our stockings were homemade by mom, and each has our name written on the top. They're not so big, but we stuff them so much that we never get to hang them - we always have to lay them on the table! :) I do the official "stocking stuffer" duties, which mainly consists of stuffing them with Capri Sun drink pouches and Lifesavers Explosion candies (I don't know how or why this tradition started, but it's a staple now!), and making sure everyone has a few small gifts. Then, after I lay them out on Christmas Eve, everyone watches for their opportunity to sneak the little gifts that we buy for each other into their respective stockings.

Is anyone else always amazed at the sort of things that are advertised as "stocking stuffers" in magazines and sales flyers? Most of the time they're WAY TOO EXPENSIVE!!! Maybe it's just cuz I'm stuffing stockings for eight people, but sometimes just one item costs the same amount that I stuffed someone's entire stocking with!

Here are my fav stocking stuffer ideas:

Young Children
(My favorite category... just thinking about it makes me want to go stuff Abigail's stocking LOL!)
New crayons (or make your own from the old broken ones!)
Sidewalk chalk
Mini containers of Play-doh (or make your own - it's non toxic!)
Homemade moon sand
Board books
Mini stuffed animals or dolls
Finger puppets
Matchbox cars
Flashlight (do this and customize it!)
Instruments (finger cymbals, harmonica, recorder, maracas, etc)
Hair bows or barrettes
Small bouncy balls
Bath crayons or paint
Crazy straws
Bubbles (maybe with some cool bubble wands?)
Cool new toothbrush
Socks (in pretty patterns, or with characters they love)

Older Kids
Flashlight (or a cheap headlamp - they love these!)
Inexpensive ($5 or so) gift certificate for ice cream or a soda - being able to pay for yourself at this age is so cool!
Headphones or earbuds
Dice or card games

Snack containers
Earbuds (embellish them yourself by gluing beads, buttons, etc to them!)
$5 gift certificate to iTunes
Keychains (they're starting to drive!)
Jewelery (for girls)
Funny flash drives
Extra SD cards for their camera or MP3 player
Homemade mix CD

Earrings, necklace, or any other jewelery :)
Small-size bath and body products
Room spray or scented wax melts (I LOVE these!)
Perfume or body spray
Eyeshadow palette, lip gloss, mascara, etc

Pocket/utility knives
Duct tape (bonus points if it's in a pattern/logo they love!)
Extra flashlight
Any kinds of food (lol!)
Anything small related to a sport, team, or hobby they love - keychains, socks, etc
T-shirts with funny sayings on the front

Book Lovers
A booklight
A fancy bookmark (splurge on a nice one, or make your own!)
Book plates or a nice stamp
A giftcard for the local bookstore... or (if you want to be the best gift-giver EVER) pre-order the next book by her favorite author, series, etc, and stick the info in the stocking

Always Cold
Mittens, scarf, wristlets, knit hat, or legwarmers (knit, crochet, or craft your own!)
A homemade heat pad
Thick fluffy socks
Handwarmers (my sister Anna gets these every year!)
Gourmet hot cocoa mix or instant coffee (Via, anyone? :))

Movie Lover
Microwave popcorn packets
Fav movie theater candy
Some movies from the $5 bin at Wal-Mart (or hit the thrift store!)
If you want to splurge, vouchers/tickets or a gift card to the local theater
Anything related to their fav movie

Any other good ideas? Do you have any stocking traditions? :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Randomizer

It's been awhile since I've done a randomizer post, huh? It seems like these days, this is the only kind of post I have time for! BUT, I am anticipating a little bit of a slow-down in the holiday pace this week, so hopefully longer posts will be shortly forthcoming!

1. We had to cancel our 40+ person party for the senior citizens in our church due to the fact that everyone at my house was getting sick, getting over being sick, or was just. plain. sick. Not fun. I thought I'd escape the wave since I've been doing so well lately, but I started feeling rotten on friday. :(

2. Today was our first performance of the Christmas drama/musical at our church! It was fun to see that I got top billing! :) (Although, as my dad pointed out, no matter how they listed it, alphabetically, by order of appearance, etc, I was going to get it lol). I didn't get a great night's sleep last night (way too much coughing), so I stopped on the way to church and grabbed a couple of Red Bulls for fuel. It worked - I got through the play nicely - and then as soon as it was over I was DONE. Came home and slept all afternoon. Hopefully I can keep it from getting any worse, and recover completely before next week's two performances (hey, a gal can dream, right?)

3. I've been trying really, really hard to keep up some sort of balance between busy and calm, between getting ready for the season and just enjoying the season. So far I feel like I've been successful, and hopefully that will continue. Highlights from this week: I bought my holiday candles (yay!) - this year I'm burning my beloved Fireside candle (that my fav coworker gave me the last Christmas before I left Wawa) (it's running uber-low... almost time to get a new one!!!) as well as two new favorites, Fresh Frasier Fir and Sweet Peppermint. As a trio, they totally fill my room with Christmas Spirit!

4. I unpacked all my Christmas decor yesterday and got it put out in my room. I realized that while I have a decent amount of Christmasy stuff (though nothing for my door - gotta take care of that this week!) I have almost no "winter" stuff for after the holidays. This won't do! I'm gonna check in at the dollar store tomorrow and see what they have, but I'm also contemplating this adorable little snowman wax warmer (or maybe the mini version).

5. I got six Christmas presents wrapped yesterday! They're sitting by my bedroom door, a reminder to get moving with the rest of them, lol.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Starbucks Tuesday Link-Up

Seeing as I'm a complete Starbucks fan, it just makes total sense for me to join up with the Starbucks Tuesday Link-Up over at "Nothing Less Than Bread" (which, for the record, is one of my fav blogs. :))

This week I actually have a new drink to share! Last week Maggie and I stopped in at Starbucks on our way home, and I wanted something festive, but not too strong, or sweet. I love the idea of peppermind lattes, but the peppermint is always too strong for me at Starbucks and makes my tummy unhappy. :( I love their caramel brulee latte, but they also tend to be really sweet. And don't even talk to me about the peppermint mocha - WAY too strong! :)

So I was standing there in line panicking cuz I had no idea what I wanted, and I got to the front, and on a whim I asked the barista if she could split the syrup pumps between caramel and peppermind. She could, and mixed it up for me, and I tasted it - INSTANT new favorite! (I may have had it several times since then lol). The peppermint is mild, the caramel is sweet, and splitting the syrup (as opposed to adding full pumps of each) keep everything from being too strong.

If you're at home and want to make this, and you have peppermint and caramel syrup, the formula is 3 pumps caramel to 1 pump peppermint (for a grande).

I had them make mine "skinny" - nonfat milk and sugar free syrup - so my new favorite clocked in at only 100 calories and no fat! Always a plus!

Sorry, I don't have pictures. :( Both my camera and phone are full to the brim (I need to buy a new SD card) so my picture taking abilities have been slightly curtailed as of late. :)

Hope you're having a lovely Christmas season! I've been trying to keep a balance going between getting stuff done and taking time to enjoy the season. This week I got the kid's stockings stuffed (yay!) so that's one thing checked off my "to-do" list. Still working on chipping away at those homemade Christmas gifts, but even that list is getting smaller, so that's encouraging. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Records

Although I love reading other people's Christmas playlists, I could NEVER make one of my own. It would last for hours... days, even. I'm a total Christmas music nut - even though I unpacked my box of holiday music really late this year, the box won't get repacked until, oh, maybe sometime in February? And I guarantee that when I run across it again sometime this Summer while cleaning, a few CDs will get pulled and listened to again. :) So a list of ten or twelve songs? Yeah...

But a list of my fav recordings? Okay, that I can maybe do! :)

1. Michael Crawford's "A Christmas Album" - This is my soundtrack for peaceful Christmas evenings, when the world gets a little too frantic and I need some soul soothing. Crawford's voice is amazing, and his interpretations of classic Christmas songs are new and fresh and yet honoring. If I could only listen to one Christmas song for the rest of my life, I'd choose his "Journey to Bethlehem" medley in a heartbeat.

2. Veggie Tale's "A Very Veggie Christmas" - Um, so, changing up genres just a bit, this is my Christmas-present wrapping CD. It's long (over 40 minutes) and just the right length for a good wrapping session, plus it's just fun :). Okay, call me juvenile. I can take it. :) (I also have their "Incredible Singing Christmas Tree" recording, and it has some fun tracks, but nothing like this. :))

3. Bing Crosby - The genius of this crooner cannot be contained to one recording; at last count, I have three. :)

4. Il Divo's "The Christmas Collection" - These guys are great and their Christmas recordings are no exception! Some of my favorite tracks include "When A Child Is Born" and "Rejoice."

5. Tony Bennet's "Snowfall: The Christmas Album" - Okay, it's no secret I have a thing for Tony Bennet. His collection is mostly old favorites retooled in fun ways - perfect Christmas pick-me-up!

6. Burl Ives "The Christmas Collection" - I grew up with Burl Ives' voice singing in my favorite childhool holiday movies, and listening to this CD always brings back good memories. :)

7. Michael Buble's "Let It Snow" - Michael Buble is smoooooth, and I especially love his version of "Grown-Up Christmas List". I can't wait
to check out his new Christmas album and hear his version of "Santa Baby"!

8. Rod Stewart's "Merry Christmas, Baby" - I love Rod's classic oldies and this Christmas collection is just in that genre! This was my new CD for the year and I'm loving it!

9. The Beach Boys' "Christmas Harmonies" - Come on, who doesn't love the Beach Boys?!? I was shocked when I was just doing some googling to discover that there are actually several Christmas albums by them... I think I need them all!!!

And two albums that I don't actually own, but cannot wait to get my hands on!

Andrea Bocelli's "My Christmas" - I've been a Bocelli fan for as long as I can remember, and this playlist looks amazing! I loved hearing his "God Bless Us Every One" on the soundtrack to "A Christmas Carol" last year - one of my favorite artists singing on one of my favorite movies? WIN!

Jackie Evancho's "Heavenly Christmas" - I really enjoyed her last recording, and I can't wait to add her Christmas songs to my playlist.