Monday, December 26, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Normally we go out for a nice dinner and exchange gifts before she heads off to Joplin, MO and I head to Carmel, IN to celebrate the holidays with our faraway families. This year we decided to change it up and cook in. Auburn is an incredible cook and I credit my recently found love of cooking to her.
I agreed to grill steaks for the first time. Mind you, I had to google on my iphone how to do this but I figured I've managed not to have any grill disasters yet, so why not? I grilled filet's and make a bleu cheese topper.
Ta da! They came out surprisingly good. I was of course worried, but they really were delish.
Auburn let me off easy - all I had to do was grill the steaks and pick up a two liter of diet coke. She did all the real work. Garlic red skinned mashed potatoes, these amazing green beans that were inspired by a PF Changs recipe, and apple fritters with ice cream. I told you she was a good cook.
After dinner we got to Skype with Auburn's boyfriend who lives in Texas and who, sadly, I haven't gotten to meet face-to-face yet. And of course, exchange gifts. Auburn is pretty much the best gift giver ever...
She gave me a pizza stone...for my grill! As you all have probably noticed I'm more than a little obsessed with grilling everything from fruits, to veggies, to bread, to meat so I am THRILLED about my pizza stone (pictured above) and my sweet new pot holder that covers both arms! She also got me (but I was out of hands to show on in the photo) an italian cookbook. I love love love Italian food.
Some of you know me well enough to know that buying teams other than Colts or Bears gear slightly pains me but since Aubs is a die hard Cowboys fan with a dream of someday returning to Texas to reside, I got her this:
It was such a sweet, special night for me and I great reminder of how the Lord has blessed my life with great friendships. I'm so thankful for of his gifts, but Auburns friendship in my time in Tampa has been priceless. I can't imagine doing life without her. I feel so, so lucky to have her as my bestie.
Hope you're Christmas season is off to as good a start as mine! I'm headed to Indiana today so spend some time with my sweet family. Colts game tonight, who's tuning in? I'll be the one in blue...oh wait...
Friday, December 23, 2011
The Girls who Keep my Twitter Feed Interesting:
Neely - @neelykins
Kerbi - @KerbiH
Amber - @brunchwithamber
Ashleigh - @ashleighhbowers
First off, with Jan 1st looming in the not-so-distant future I thought I'd start by asking: How do you stay organized?
Neely - I have a life planner, a blog planner, and post it's :)
Amber - I have boxes, drawers, baskets, etc. for everything! Everything has it's own place. I recently started saving my Birchbox boxes after I empty them and use them to store things too. I also make sure to put things away as soon as I'm done using it so that way I don't find myself with a mess. I also use my planner religiously. The second I make plans or an appointment, I pull out my planner and jot it down so I won't forget.
Ashleigh - As a SAHM, I really don't have a strict way of organization-- I am pretty laidback, but I DO NOT like clutter! I keep all of my daughter's appointments, recipes, meal plans, grocery lists, playdates, blog posts, giveaways, deadlines- in my Erin Condren life planner. Otherwise, I just go with the flow :-)
Kerbi - I have an EC life planner & an EC school planner, my iPhone, and post its!
Most of these girls it seems have an Erin Condren planner as Ashleigh referenced. I first saw one on Neely's blog but since have seen lots of the bloggers join the force. I love that you can customize the front cover with all of your favorite things - naturally, mine would basically just need to say diet coke in big black letters on the front.
I haven't joined the EC force, but am faithfully sporting a Coach planner for the 6th year running. While working for Coach in college I got my best friend Candy, too many purses and accessories, and a planner that changed my life. I color code mine with highlighters because like Amber, I'm totally OCD. With a strong emphasis on the obsessive.
Something none of the girls mentioned that I do to stay organized is my Harriet the Spy notebook. I don't actually spy on people (well I do, but I don't take notes); I do keep a small notebook with me at all times which is filled with my daily 'to do' lists as well as grocery lists, birthday cards I need to send, etc. The list notebook. This has changed my life. I never forget things anymore.
Next question: What's one thing you 'do yourself' to save money?
Neely - I do my eyebrows, trim my bangs, and sometimes bake bread.
Ashleigh - I do my own mani/pedis, cook instead of going out, and I use to make baby food with L was little.
Kerbi - I do my own nails every other time (in between nail appointments), I do my own eyebrows, and I shave with conditioner instead of shaving cream.
Amber - I do my own eyebrows. I also do my own manicures and usually my own pedicures. I know this isn't DIY, but I wear jeans twice before washing them if they don't get dirty. It saves a laundry load sooner than later. ;) I also stretch my contacts out. Not the best thing to do for my eyes and my optometrist hates me for it, but mine are 2 weekers and I wear them for a month. So a 6 month supply lasts me a year! :) I'm a bit of a Sbux addict, but I try and make my own coffee at home as much as possible. I try and borrow/swap books with friends/family instead of buying it myself.
(Amber - we clearly need to start exchanging books! I love love love to share books)
Um first off, all you excellent eye brow pluckers need to give me lessons. I have to get my cave man eyebrows tamed by a threader about once a month. I am horrible at plucking. Horrible.
Things I do myself to save money...hmm. Cooking at home instead of eating out is a big one. I DVR movies instead of renting them, since I already have to pay for cable and there's always good movies on, if you plan ahead.
Question #3 (mostly because I'm curious): What one item do you always buy when you find one that fits?
Neely - Jeans and bras. I have a very hard time finding bras that fit right. Sad but true.
Kerbi - Bras. I just found my fave at Target and bought 2 of every color they sold. Sweaters, short and long sleeved tshirts, I find a good fitting one and buy every color.
(Kerbi - this makes you a woman after my own heart. I once bought 5 of the same dress in different colors because it fit perfectly)
Amber: I will always buy a pair of jeans that fits me like a glove! Being as short as I am, but having a set of hips - it can be very hard to find jeans that fit me perfectly. Also, bras are important. If I have to wear this sucker for most of the day, I want it to be comfortable. Luckily VS makes the best bras (in my opinion) and I can always find something that fits great! Oh, and maxi dresses. Most of them I swim in because they're too long, but when I find one that just barely touches the floor like it's supposed to, I get it. :)
My answer to this is simple and won't shock most of you...dresses! I have over 50 dresses and I feel no shame about it since I wear them probably 4 days a week on average. To work, out with friends, to church, on errands. Some of that is because I love them and their easy and some because I live in Florida and it's pretty much always hot. But if I find a great dress that fits - I always buy it.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
I'm currently reading this book which came highly recommended on a newsletter from my library (which is also where I got this book):
From Amazon: John Ajvide Lindqvist has taken the horror world by storm. His first novel, Let the Right One In, has been made into critically acclaimed films in both Sweden and in the U.S (as Let Me In). His second novel, Handling the Undead, is beloved by horror lovers everywhere. Now, with Harbor, a stunning and chilling masterpiece, Lindqvist firmly cements his place as the heir apparent to Stephen King.
One ordinary winter afternoon on a snowy island, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter Maja across the ice to visit the lighthouse in the middle of the frozen channel. While they are exploring the lighthouse, Maja disappears – either into thin air or under thin ice -- leaving not even a footprint in the snow.
Two years later, Anders, a broken man, moves back to his family’s abandoned home on the island. He soon realizes that Maja's disappearance is only one of many strange occurrences, and that his fellow islanders, including his own grandmother, know a lot more than they’re telling. As he digs deeper, Anders begins to unearth a dark and deadly secret at the heart of this small, seemingly placid town.
I'm only 50 pages in but I wouldn't describe this book as 'horror' at all. Suspense, yes but not horror. Although I imagine losing a child for any reason is horrific. So far I'm impressed with how well written the book is and the imagery the author is capable of.
On Kindle I bought:
(this is in prep for my trip there in April - I wanted to learn more about the history of the country and their culture there)
I also still have the 2nd and 3rd Hunger Games books downloaded to finish as well. After that, well, I've got a list if I get through all of these in time to tackle more. Whew. Let's hope I get plenty of reading time.
Any of you planning on getting some reading done this holiday season? What's in your book pile?
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I haven't written much about this season and what it's been like but before this year ends I wanted to share a little about what the Lord has taught me through a season that began 0-13. If you've read the Old Testament you'll be familiar with Moses and his story as it's featured in Exodus. Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, where they were slaves. After which, they wandered the dessert for 40 years. Yes, you read that right, 40 years!
Now I'd encourage you to read the story of HOW the Lord came to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. The story of how Moses used plagues on the Egyptian people to finally get Pharaoh to release the Israelites is a pretty crazy story chalk full of miracles that include when he parted the Red Sea. Seriously, read it.
So now they're wandering in the dessert complaining because what else would you do if you're stuck in the dessert for 40 years, right? Part way through this epically long period of wandering, they start feeling like maybe slavery wasn't so bad. Hey, at least it wasn't the desert even if we had to work all day in the sun, be beaten and whipped, and eat everyone else's leftovers.
This of course had to annoy/frustrate the Lord as well as Moses. Hey, remember those miracles we did to get you of there? Remember when I was literally raining down food from heaven to feed you everyday in this desert? Can I get a little appreciation?
Eventually the story ends well and the Israelites do make it to the Promiseland. But that's not really where I'm headed with this. After the best 9 year run in Indianapolis Colts franchise history (as referenced in the article), we went 0-13 to start this season. That's right, for 13 painfully long weeks we didn't win one single game. It was a long fall from the top, from winning a Super Bowl, to here - with our most promising title for the year being earning 'first round draft pick' (which goes to the worst record in the league).
My dad was quoted in the article as saying, ' Footballs like life,' he said. 'This isn't cancer, but it certainly teaches you what it's like in hard times. You've got to face it. You've got to be a man'.
This football season is what you might call the desert. And about 5 games in (which felt a bit like 40 years) I recognized this year as that. I knew with clarity, I am in the desert. I can be like the Israelites and I can whine and whimper about what this desert season feels like OR I can remember all that the Lord has done to bring me here. The miracles.
When I look back at Dad's time in the NFL, I recognize that it's been chalk full of miracles. And I don't just mean on the football field. If you read the article you know that my Dad is in and of himself, a bit of a miracle. Born to 15 year old unwed mother, placed for adoption in LA, and adopted my a Pastor and his wife.
But our story is miracle after miracle. Our time in Indianapolis started off on a rough foot. After the best 5 year run in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history we were blindsided by a full staff firing. I had just finished my sophmore year of high school. It would be the first move I made without my best friend and older sister, Rae. It rocked my world and began the longest season of struggle I've endured to date. What I see when I look back though, is the Lord's hand in it all. Even desert seasons have purpose.
This year hasn't been without tears and hardship. Without careless words from media, old college ' buddies', and strangers in the stands. This year hasn't been easy and much of it hasn't been fun. The first 13 games of this season were hard. There has been heartbreak, disappointment, and worry to go around.
The Lord, like he did for the Israelites in the desert, has a way of keeping us encouraged when we need it most. The article I linked above was just that for me. A reminder of the Lord's faithfulness, purpose, and plan to prosper. That article highlights how the Lord has used not only a tough season this year but the years of sacrifice and faithfulness of my precious Dad to bring glory back to Him.
I don't know what the next few weeks hold, starting with the game I will attend tomorrow night in Indianapolis, as we enter it 1-13. What I can tell you is this - God is good. Win or lose. Super Bowl wins or first round draft picks. I believe with as much conviction at the end of this long, hard season that God's plans are to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11).
I want to close with the exerpt from the article:
They might struggle. The crowd mght boo. THe calls for firing the coaching staff might be renewed and invigorated.
Christensen will call the plays. He will smile. He will compete. He will suffer and he will enjoy and he will soldier on.
'Football is important,' he said. 'Winning games is important. But this is about more than football. It's bigger than that. It's about the city. It's about using the platform. It's about making an impact'.
If you've been reading the blog for a while, you may remember that I've done this before but I will be making Red Velvet Pancakes - topped with whipped cream, hersheys syrup, and sprinkles.
Picture and recipe cred.
I will be making my Mom's famous coffee cake recipe which my sisters and I all love. Actually, I would be willing to bet we'll be eating some of that over Christmas in Indiana.
Lastly (for me, there will be much much more food) I will be stealing this idea from pinterest and making french toast shots:
Photo and idea cred.
If you're coming to our brunch, be excited. If you're not, well, I wish you were and I hope you're planning some yummy New Years fun of your own!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I have been frantically looking for a few cold weather outfits so I can survive a week in Indiana. I literally called my mom after 3 days of shopping clearance racks and reported, 'I think I can come home, I have 3 long sleeved tops now'. After four years of living in Tampa AND losing over 50 pounds, nothing I had from my days of living in the midwest has remained. Ok fine, some of that has to do with that I refuse to store anything I don't wear regularly and I love, love, love to purge things.
Anywho, I found some great things on the Nordie Rack's clearance racks and that's how I got introduced to Zella.
It started with this top (excuse the self portrait - but admire the new hair)...
It was marked down from $60 to $19 and it looked comfortable and met the long-sleeved requirement, so I bought it. I'd never bought anything by Zella before so I thought, I'll buy one and see what I think. So I wore it to my spa day on Saturday as a trial run and loved it. So naturally, after getting a giftcare and a coupon in the mail I went back to Nordie Rack for more...
I bought this top in two colors:
I bought it in a pretty deep turquoise color and a dark pinkish about the color of the one in this photo. They were also clearanced for $19 each and I thought they'd be perfect for lounging around showering my niece with love and for the gym to try and keep the Christmas weight at bay.
While I'm living on the edge I also bought another pair of black pants (because again, I live in these suckers). I couldn't find a photo of the exact ones but they're wide leg, draw stringed, and pretty freaking comfortable.
While we're talking bargains I also have to make one more brag here...
I've never owned a Northface Fleece before (I think I was literally the only student at Purdue without one) but I found this one at Nord Rack for $30 and I had a coupon and a giftcard! Whoo hoo. I also love the color green, so that was a win as well, considering this was the only one they had.
So I feel not only really proud of my purchases but much more prepared to for almost 10 days of hopefully not freezing my tush off in the midwest. You can find me by the fire with my ugg boots and my new sweats, reading a long list of good books.
This is my copy of what will now be my passport photo!
The wait wasn't bad at all and the two gentleman working were cranking them out. I was in and out in just over half an hour which was a huge answer to prayer since everyone told me it would be a lengthy experience. I managed to do a few days worth of Sonic surveys (for free drinks) and play a little words with friends and before I knew it - it was my turn!
The hardest part has been that to get moving towards the trip I had to fork out quite a bit of cash from the get go - for my deposit and then $180 for a passport. Ouch. But I believe the Lord will provide every cent I need to make this trip a reality. My travel fund took a hit but I'm excited that my family has agreed to make my Christmas presents contributions and several of my friends have asked if they can pitch in!
I have my first mission meeting the Sunday after I return from Christmas in Indiana - so I'll know more then about my supply needs, vaccine needs, etc.
The first person I called to tell about the trip is my friend, Rafael, who spent some time in Haiti and who's excitement for the country and the people after that trip inspired me and I think pitched into my desire to go there, specificially. We finally caught up over this past weekend (he's on West Coast time, which makes it harder). I have to say, that boy inspires me with his hunger for knowledge and his desire to truly help people. I can't wait to tell him all that I see and learn while I'm away.
My sweet friend Jess has agreed to host a yardsale for me in February to help me raise money for the trip - so I'm grateful to her for her support and the donation of her time and driveway!
Until I update again - please keep praying for my trip. April will be here before I know it!
Monday, December 19, 2011
I'm in for a crazy half week before an early morning departure Thursday for Indianapolis. I'm looking forward to finally meeting baby Noa, seeing the Colts play Thursday night, time with my best friend, and catching up with friends and family. I've spend some of this week trying to find a few long sleeved shirts and sweaters in prep for freezing cold. I will pretty much be living in jeans, ugg boots, and possibly blankets to makeup for my lack of winter clothing. It will be in the high 20s at night and love 40s high 30s during the day. Yikes!
I did get to enjoy a spa day this weekend where I got my haircut and colored, a facial, and my eyebrows threaded. So I should be ready (and slightly less unibrow like) for my trip home.
Feeling gratefult to start this week off with a Colts victory - a wonderful Christmas gift from the Lord!
I can't wait to post a picture of me and Noa for you all to see sometime next week.
I hope you're final week in prep for Christmas isn't too overwelming and that it's full of food and the people you love. I love this time of year to remember the birth of my Savior.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Here we go again...
1. The G Free Diet - Elisabeth Hasselbeck
2. Firefly Lane - Kristin Hannah
3. Half Broke Horses - Jeanette Walls
4. Fashion Babylon - Imogen Edwards-Jones (Do not recommend - totally forgettable)
5. The Almost Moon - Alice Seibold
6. You Can Be a Friend - Tony & Lauren Dungy (children's book - loved it)
7. One in a Million - Priscilla Shirer
8. Baby Proof - Emily Giffin
9. The 7th Victim - Alan Jacobson
10. He Speaks to Me - Priscilla Shirer
11. Private - James Patterson
12. The Postcard Killers - James Patterson
13. Heart of the Matter - Emily Giffin
14. Step on a Crack - James Patterson
15. Run for your Life - James Patterson
16. Love and Respect - Emerson Eggerichs
17. Worst Case - James Patterson
18. Sacred Marriage - Gary Thomas
19. Beauty and the Beast - Marie Le Prince de Beaumont
20. id know you anywhere - Laura Lippman
21. If You Have to Cry Go Outside - Kelly Cutrone
22. Discerning the Voice of God - Priscilla Schirer
23. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
24. Tick Tock - James Patterson
25. Summer in the South - Cathy Holton
26. 1st to Die - James Patterson
27. Compact with the Devil - Bethany Maines
28. 2nd Chance - James Patterson
29. 3rd Degree - James Patterson
30. Ruth - Kelly Minter
31. These Things Hidden - Heather Gudenkauf
32. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
33. 4th of July - James Patterson
34. Beautiful Disaster - Jamie McGuire
35. 5th Horseman - James Patterson
Note: links to book reviews for the books I felt like reviewing/had time to review.
Friday, December 16, 2011
So proud of him, today and everyday.
Monday, December 12, 2011
I took the weekend off from blogging and well, alot of other things I normally do. I'm a go getter. I get up an hour early almost every morning to do chores, read my bible, read, etc. before work and I go hard til my head hits the pillow in exhaustion at night. But even I know when I've tuckered myself out and it's time to relax a bit. This weekend was that tuckered out recovery weekend.
Friday I worked all day, babysat for four hours, and then went out. Now, I have a funny here. I told my clients when I arrived (in sweats, no makeup, and a straight haired ponytail) not to be startled when they came home and I looked completely different. Since by babysitting I mean the kids were asleep before I arrived - I decided to use those few hours to get ready to go out with friends afterwards. When they came home I was plopped in front Criminal Minds with curly hair, a full face of makeup, and a fresh change of clothes. She remarked, 'you weren't kidding - I barely recognize you'. Ha!
Well congrat to Daniel who graduated Friday morning from USF - and what fun I had celebrating him at Fly Bar downtown (pic below) on the rooftop.
I, Becca Christensen, stayed in bed until 10AM on Saturday. This has to be a post-college record! But after seeing 2am the night before (which is highly unlike me and my old lady ways) I slept in, relaxed, and even watched a little TV! I managed to get my lazy butt out of bed and to the Nordstrom Rack where I got 2 pairs of Under Armour sweatpants for $9 each! I was so pumped. I'm about ready for my Indy Christmas trip now.
Saturday night I also babysat but this time I worked on some reading, paperwork, Christmas cards, etc. and then came home and promptly fell back into bed.
Sunday consisted of church (GREAT message on Mercy this week), lunch with a sweet new friend, more movie watching (oh redbox, I love you so), a little shopping, a few chores, and some hangout time with my long time friend Sean.
I also got the wheels turning on my 2012 trip to Haiti! I told you all there were big, crazy, awesome plans coming in the year to follow but I'm only now starting to get them in the works! My trip to DC is near having a date, and I turned in my PTO request, filled out my application, made me deposit, and booked a doctor's appointment to work towards a Haiti missions trip in April of 2012.
So, please pray me up as I hit the ground running and prepare to leave the country for the first time, go on my first missions trip, and serve serve serve with all my heart. I couldn't be anymore excited about this opportunity!
Hope your weekends were as fun, relaxing, and exciting as mine.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Ok I'm going to start off by cheating because let's be honest, sometimes we cheaters actually DO prosper...the first item on my list I bought for my Mom to give me. ; ] Aren't I a doll to help her with her Christmas shopping? It will arrive this week with a free gift box included she can stick it in and under our tree.
I actually had a surprisingly hard time decided what I wanted for Christmas this year. I work hard, I save up, and I buy what I want/need as it happens (and I can afford it). I usually ask for practical gifts some of which have recently included: carpet, tires, and a gas grill. So keeping with the practical but with a fun flare I told my Mom I'd really like an across body bag for my upcoming travels including my Spring trip to Washington DC!
This is the one I picked:
From Coach's Madison collection - I selected this all black leather one. I wanted something simple, chic, and timeless I'll use on many trips to come (I've got 3 in the works and we haven't even started the work related trip planning for 2012).
I asked my best friend for a robe. NOT a big terry cloth chunker but a simple, soft, jersey one. I don't have a picture but I bought her one a few years ago and ever since have kind of wanted one for myself. I don't currently own a robe, so this has been on my wish list for a bit.
In a dream world I would be getting this: I already confessed I do a great job of getting what I want - one way or another. But this has been on the wish list for quite sometime because it is just that a WANT. An expensive want. With no 'need' mixed in there. So I keep talking myself out of it. BUT if any of you would like to buy me one for Christmas - I will make you mashed potatoes on the regular. Deal?
My relatives are going to pitch money into my travel fund - which I'm stoked about. I want to see the world - or at least DC and my best friend at some point in the near future.
I would also REALLY like a chic overnight bag like this suede bag from Abro:
Other than that - I'll take NO snow, my family together, meeting my niece for the first time, our second annual downtown pizza date with Jon, some time with my favorite Indy friends, and a little rest and relaxation.
If you're coming to this blog for the first time because you received my Christmas card with the address - welcome! I decided to add this link to my Christmas cards in hopes that this blog will continue to keep those who care enough to read, updated on my life. In the past I have frequently included a letter with my Christmas cards and this year I thought, 'why not put it on the blog?'. This way those of you who won't receive a card can still read it and those of you finding your way here two years after it's birth, will also have it.
2011 has been a big, beautiful year for me. This month I complete my second year as a homeowner to which I am grateful to the Lord for allowing me to survive with only one fall down the stairs, one broken door handle, and one new microwave! Whew. I will admit sometimes owning a home makes me feel old and when that happens I make a few good jumps on the bed, which no one can tell me I can't do anymore!
This year 'the batch pad' as I've so affectionately coined it has seen many visitors, a roommate, a few parties, and lots of love. My Mom stopped in and made some beautiful changes and additions in the spring. My sweet sister Rae and brother-in-law Chris made their first trip to stay with us, while in Florida for my sisters baby shower. My best friend Candy visited twice and with her husband, Josh, one of the times. My friend Ashley from my high school years in Carmel, IN made her first trip to Tampa/the batch pad in the fall bringing with her great memories and making new ones. Many others have come for a meal, a movie, a sleepover, or just to witness my grilling mastery.
2011 brought my Dad here briefly for a game, some nachos, and a big cup of frozen yogurt. It took me to Indianapolis, Baltimore, DC, New York City, St. Louis, Raleigh, Pittsburgh, Lexington, Minneapolis, and more for both work and play. It brought with it my 2 year anniversary at my current job with All Pro Dad as well as three and a half years of membership at my church, Grace Family, where I have never felt more at home.
In 2011 I ran a 5k (I use ran loosely). I read over 30 books. I began writing my first book (which may or may not ever be read by anyone but me). My blog reached 45,000 views. I willingly spoke in public on several occasions. I lead a small group bible study in my home. I wrote well over 100 handwritten letters after my 2010 commitment to be more thoughtful (and 'old school').
This year has brought new experiences, new challenges, and new opportunities. I continue to be blown away by the Lord's patience, provision, and persistent love of me. I am eternally grateful for the frienships the Lord has provided and the incredible people He's placed in my life for this season and I hope, many to follow.
On December 4th, the Christensen/Breslin clan welcomed sweet Noa June into our crazy families. My sister put it perfectly when she wrote, ' how appropriate that our Noa joins us during a season of thanks for all of the Lord's blessings, of which she is one of the greatest'. Sweet baby Noa is an answer to so many prayers. I hope that in the close of 2011, in 2012, and beyond I am able fulfill my new role as an Aunt with grace, love, adoration, and a whole lot of fun! I am blown away by how much I loved Noa before she had even arrived.
Noa was a great reminder to me of the Saviors love for us. That at this time, so many years ago, his Son was born to save us - me & you. What a beautiful image of the Lord's unfailing love for us and how grateful I am for that this Christmas and always.
I'm humbled by the blessings 2011 has brought, not the least of which is each of you. I look forward to doing life with you in 2012 here on the blog, in real life, through letters and phone calls, and by praying for you and with you. This has been a bit of a 'desert' year, one to remember all the Lord has already done and his promises for the future. I have never felt more blessed or more excited for all the Lord is yet to do with me.
May I close this letter by sharing that I spent time studying 1 Samuel in recent months and I wanted to share this verse as a prayer for my own life, for yours, and a challenge to us all:
'Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you' - 1 Samuel 12:24
All my love,
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
If you spend New Years in New York you can place your wish on the wall for the whole next year. Well, why can't we have our own wish wall? Since the batch pad is not to be poked with a million holes I've decided to take the crafting and create a stellar (I hope) cork board version where our brunch guests can post their wishes for 2012. In June of this year when I visited New York this was my favorite wish and the most fitting for me...I want to be this happy forever.
I guess you'll just have to wait and see what I post for this year. Right now I'm leaning on my own spin of this tutorial for the board.
Maybe I should let some of you send in your wishes for our board?
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
While my sister was in labor and working towards having my sweet niece I was in downtown Tampa celebrating the Costa Rican elopement of sweet family friends. It was a beautiful celebration and I'm grateful for the Huhta's who welcome me as an honorary family member regularly!
Sweet Brynnie and Me.
For those of you who sent me encouraging notes, texts, tweets, etc and sent prayers up on my behalf for last nights little public speaking number - I am grateful. Your thoughts, words, and prayers meant so much to me and I hope the Lord was honored by my testiment to his provision and goodness in my life and that the recent FPU graduates were encouraged by my words. What a joy and an honor it was to celebrate with them.
It was a busy, busy weekend but a great reminder to me of God's goodness.
Friday, December 2, 2011
I'm spending the weekend with this lovely lady as my roommate:
We're already enjoying chilly daily walks (well, chilly for Tampa) and I am suspicious she's enjoying making me scoop poop!
I'm thrilled to be celebrating the Costa Rican elopement of a sweet friend on Saturday night in downtown Tampa. I still haven't decided what to wear and I desperately need to find time to get myself a pedicure. But besides that, I'm excited to celebrate their wedded bliss with eating and perhaps some dancing with my Tampa fam tomorrow night.
I'm nervous but excited to give a little talk at the FPU graduation on Sunday night and then grab a little face time with my sweet friend Kayla who I have not seen nearly enough of lately.
I'm hoping to finish the second Hunger Game book, read some of the next James Patterson in my series, finish addressing my Christmas cards, and finally return a few phone calls that are long overdue. I'm also looking forward to baking up some goodies for one of my sweet friends I'll see Sunday night - thankfully he loves my baking (because I can't bake if I might end up eating it all... ). Whew. Here's to the weekend!
What are your weekend plans?
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I figured I'd peak through the clearance rack and see what I came up with. I found this dress from 50% off (an additional 25% off with my coupon) and thought it would be great for Christmas parties, etc. I do own it in pink, already so I knew it would fit.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
via quirky momma (this was my fav article):
- We do the “packets” budgeting system. All spending money we take out at the beginning of each month. We then pay for everything with that cash, when it is gone there is no more till the next month. This budgeting method works for us, find one that works for you!
Cash is king in most budgets. Any of you tried this method to keep yourself from overspending on clothes, entertainment, or some of the other tough catagories?
- Surround yourself with “frugal-minded” folk. If you don’t have any friends who are willing to make a frugal journey with you try looking online, Frugal Village is a great network, and One Income Dollar and the Prudent Housewife are both great inspirational blogs. We found it is easier to save when you are not surrounded by spend-happy folks.
My closest friends are budgeters (some because I make them be) and this really does work! We do more redboxing, cooking in, groupon dining, etc because were all trying to be smart with our money. The best part is then no one feels like they have to bow out because of funds - were all fund concious and we help each other out!
- Meal plan and coordinate so that leftovers can be utilized fully, yet keeping variety. (Ex: Tacos day one, use left over taco meat day 2 for stuffed peppers)
I love doing this. I plan my meals at end of a week, grocery shop over the weekend, and cook on Sundays usually for my lunches and dinners for the whole week. This would be slightly more complicated if I was feeding 3-4 people, but it works great for us singles or just marrieds. Packing my lunch to take to work has saved me TONS.
Also from Pinterest and worth reading is this ladies post.
If you're thinking about going to a cash system in 2012 there are some precious make-your-own-cash-envelop craftings happening there as well.
As for me, I'm not sold out on being 100% cash...BUT I will say, using cash in my trouble areas (clothing, food, entertainment, travel) really helps me keep to what I say I'm going to spend. Budget reasonably...you know you're not going to spend only 20 bucks in 6 months on clothes...we realistic. But determine what's appropriate and stick with it.
Here's to a budget friendly 2012 with lots of saving in store for me.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Naturally, I had to take speech in college like everyone else and because I can write a good speech, I was able to do well. But every critique I got came back reporting that when my nerves take over I talk so impossibly fast I'm hard to understand. Honestly, I think that's pretty much every day anyway.
So, I'll take all the prayers I can get this week as I prepare to give a 5 minute talk for this season's FPU graduates. We've talked about budgeting here on the blog in the past and I think most of you who have been here for any length of time know that I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and that like most things took in SERIOUS. It was excited to announce via twitter when I became debt free (other than my condo, they don't make you count house debt) and I've been diligently saving for my 5 year plan.
So, I'm headed to hopefully inspire the new grads the way I was inspired my taking and later leading the course, myself. I've written out what I want to say and will most likely be practicing it in front of the mirror all week to hopes of speaking in understandable English by Sunday.
I think it's important to celebrate your successes, your met goals, your accomplishments, and your milestones. I'm coming up on 2 years of living on a budget, 2 years of being a homeowner, and 2 years since my weight loss journey with 60+ lbs kept off. I feel really good about the last couple years!
I also wanted to get some feedback from you all. Do you budget? What do you find works for you? Are you good about saving? I'm always looking for good tips and tricks.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Are you read this I'm en route from North Carolina back home to Tampa for a whirlwind day of wedding festivities. I spend the last 3 days in the Carolinas with my sisters, bro-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents and I now much hurry home to celebrate my sweet friend Joy's nuptials.
Joy and I met in May of 2008 when I moved from Purdue University to Tampa, FL and took a job with Impact. Joy and I were the Teen Impact Coordinators together, each assigned to our own territory and we worked together planning retreat, events, speeches, pranks, and just about anything else you can think of. She's been a sweet and faithful friend since our departures from Impact as well and I've grown to cherish her in so many ways.
Here's a little picture tribute to my friend Joy on her wedding day:
John Mayer Concert - September of 2008. (clearly before I dropped 60+ lbs)
Rocky Horror Picture Show on broadway - October 2008 (am I little bit redhead here?)
End of the year banquet for work.
Celebrating one of our birthdays...I think mine?
So this morning I'm flying home, grabbing my car, changing my clothes, and driving out to the beach to watch this sweet friend and beautiful lady tie the knot! Congrats and may this be the beginning of your happily ever after!
Friday, November 25, 2011
Hello from North Carolina!
I hope this blog post finds you all fat and happy after a great thanksgiving feast yesterday. I'm still in NC for another 24 hours before I jet back to Tampa for wedding festivities but I wanted to share with you what I brought with me (via Kindle) to read while I'm away.
Months after reading the first one (so clearly I'm not obsessed) I'm finally going to read the second book in the Hunger Game trilogy - Catching Fire.
I'm more excited to share this one:
From Amazon (booklist): Maggie has just returned home from a long stay in the hospital to repair the leg that was badly injured in an automobile accident; Caleb has just returned from prison, where he served nine months for driving the car that hit Maggie. In spite of a court order to stay away from her, Caleb continues to encounter Maggie and even ends up working for Mrs. Reynolds, the same elderly lady who Maggie helps. Telling the story in alternate chapters, Elkeles reveals the traumatic accident and its consequences from both victims' points of view. Maggie can no longer play tennis and is now convinced that she is ugly; Caleb must endure the harassment of his former friends, especially the beautiful, seductive Kendra. Not everything in the crowded plot is adequately addressed, but Elkeles creates raw emotions, dialogue, and high-school ambience that's just right. Maggie and Caleb are complex and authentic teens whom all readers will embrace. Theirs is a delicate, delicious love story--without the happy ending.
I have a feeling it won't be the best written book I've read to date BUT it looked like a fun vacation type read. It's also only 99 cents on Kindle so for my other ereadin' friends - you may want to check it out. Hope you all are getting to happily read off your food comas as well.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I've recently been exploring their steak topper ideas as Auburn and I will be changing up our Christmas dinner tradition and cooking in, instead of going out this year. Auburn is an incredible cook and I want to be like her when I grow up. But I've offered to grill steaks for our dinner this year, so I'm trying to take a page from her book and do it up right. I'm leaning towards a topper that involved blue cheese. Mmm.
Anywho, hope you enjoy my new favorite recipe. Let me know if you give it a try!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
You all know I love a bargain more than the next wanna-be-fashionista and fall/winter really brings it out in me. I don't believe in store credit cards, which I've probably shared is a direct result of my taking the Dave Ramsey course a few years back BUT I have to say I'm a huge supporter of stores who are not issuing rewards debit cards and Nordstrom is the one that got my vote. I signed up for the Nordstrom debit card, which comes directly out of my normal checking account but I still get points as if I had their credit card - cha-ching. This way I'm never tempted to spend money I don't have BUT I still get rewarded for being a more than faithful Nordie Rack shopper.
Since the Tampa Nordstrom Rack is just around the corner I peruse the sale racks fairly regularly, hunting for buried (clearanced) treasure. This week I found this fabulous jacket market down from 158 to 38 AND thanks for my Nordstrom debit card, I had $20 in 'Nordstrom Notes'...so for $18 I got a jacket I can't wait to wear in North Carolina this week.
Please excuse the makeup-less face cell phone photo, I will try to be more prepared in the future.
Anyone participating in Black Friday this year? I have a few friends that make this a tradition and I admire them but as for me and my house? We don't fight crowds an early hours in the cold. We watch the pre-black-friday specials online and strike while the irons hot and sans tent, hot choco, and crowds. This year I diligently hunted for a petite TV for my bedroom. I'm not a huge TV watcher but since my roomie moved in, in May, the idea of having a second TV in the house, in my bedroom started to appeal.
So I present you, my new darling...
Don't ask what's on the TV, there was a commercial on at the time, ok? And that weird glow on the wall is because my accent wall (located directly behind is magenta. But I had to show you my first ever Black Friday purchase. : ]
In 2010 I shared all that I learned from my church's 'Creating Space' series and the steps I would take to create space in my own life. Well, 2011 came and went with purposeful busyness that has accomplished many new goals and while I'm thankful for that, I realize that it's time to revisit creating space as 2012 is quickly approaching.
While I'm not one for new years resolutions I do find that the new year lends itself to reevaluating where you're spending your time and how you're using your resources. What needs the boot in 2012 to create space for new opportunities? What good things can go so God things can come?
I hope to find a quiet spot over Thanksgiving to really start muscling through these areas so that I can streamline and begin this new year with purpose and poise. Anyone else worried that if they aren't intention this holiday season will leave them exhausted and uninspired? I want to use the time I get off work and out of town to regroup and redouble my efforts towards my long term goals/five year plan.
Anything getting the boot in your lives for the coming year? Anything you want to create more space for? Any advice you want to give me for 2012?