Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Budgeting Ideas from Pinterest.

After my blogpost yesterday I got curious about budgeting ideas that might be on pinterest. I'm not much of a pinterest user myself, but I like to dabble here and there. I found a few useful article with ideas I liked. Here's a few of my favorites:

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 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

Two Years Later.

I've probably confessed before that I don't consider myself much of a public speaker. The funny part about this is that because I'm all personality and energy and ridiculous decibels - other people usually think 'oh becca could totally do that'. I've tried to challenge myself in recent years not to be afraid to talk to crowds. I'm good one on one and I don't mind mingling with strangers at parties and social gatherings so why shouldn't I be able to address a crowd, right?

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

When I Grow Up....

I was thinking yesterday about who you dream of being as a kid. Revisiting the home my Mom grew up in brought back so many fond memories of being a kid for me and when I returned to Tampa to MY home it got me thinking about who that little girl in the picture dreamed up being. I've shared some of those dreams before...I dreamed of living in Florida. I dreamed of owning a home. But what I've been thinking more about is who I dreamed of being.

When I got home from church yesterday I was standing out front having a chat with my neighbor. I make an effort to know all the people who live on my block and visit with them whenever I can. When I was growing up we always had people in and out of our house, we still joke that we basically grew up in a hotel with all the company that constantly stayed for game weekends, holidays, etc. My parents are great hosts.

In my preteen and teen years I spent every minute I could talk my Mom into letting me, at the Huhtas. This is when I really caught a vision for the kind of homeowner/hostess I wanted to be. Nancy, who you've heard me talk about many times before and her kids are my Tampa family. I still love being with them every chance I get. But for the purpose of this post lets stay focused...

Nance was that amazing hostess who didn't have to plan a week in advance for you to come over. You always felt welcomed in her house, with little or no notice. You could call and say 'I'd like to come over today' or 'what are you having for dinner' and she'd welcome you like she'd been waiting all along for your arrival. I loved that. I still love that. And I remember thinking, 'I want to me like that. I want my home to be the place people want to go and I want to be the hostess that makes everyone feel special and welcomed, planned or not.

My neighbor mentioned that his brother, sister, and cousin were in town and they were headed out to the beach for a few hours. I'd been planning after a day of watching football with friends at Beefs that I was going to grill out. ALL of my guy neighbors get excited when I grill - so I invited him to come by later for a burger if he wanted. He was, of course, all about that...but as I pulled back out of the driveway to head to Beefs I realized, hey, why not have them all?

And so I did.

I fired up the grill and we ate in my living room off paper plates and talked about New York (where his cousin lives and I went for the first time this year) and all kinds of weird things that come up when you have 3 nurses in one room (like me having a panic attack over giving blood even though I had my wisdom teeth pulled without a pain killer). And in the midst of these fun festivities I thought, this is it. These last minute, low key, hangouts - this is who I dreamed I'd be.

I'm scheduled, organized, and totally OCD but I still purpose to be someone who will drop my plans for working on my budget and dusting my baseboards to throw together food and sit around and spend time with people. My Dad does a brilliant job of reminding me that people are what matter. Not agendas or chores or things....people.

The importance of loving people really clicked with me recently. My roommate, Bekah, and I had invited our friends over back in October and we invited a neighbor (who's new to the block and close to our age) to come over as well. We introduced him to our friends and fed him, of course...and throughout the course of the night our churches came up. My roommate and I attend different churches and we each had friends from ours present. I didn't think much about it until two weeks ago.

My neighbor called me out of the blue and reminded me that when he'd been over I'd talked about my church. He said, 'the way you described it and your excitement about it stuck with me...I was wondering if I could come sometime?'. I called him back and gave him the scoop on days, service times, etc and told him he was welcome to come with me sometime soon. Last night it came up again...he told me how great it was to move in and be instantly welcomed by Bekah and myself. We've had him over to eat 3 or 4 times now (food is the key to everyones heart, right?) and welcomed him to two parties we've had. Honestly, that's just the way we are...we're inclusive. But I hadn't thought about that much until he said it got him curious about my church.

More than ever I am learning that loving people is the key. I'm not much for yelling on street corners or preaching in the streets, but I'm open and honest about my faith and I purpose to be someone who loves the people God brings into my life with all I've got. It's neat when you see the Lord use that. It's also a great reminder that people are paying attention to what we say and do, even when we don't realize it.



Sunday, November 27, 2011


Hello from Winston Salem, North Carolina. By the time you read this I'll be back in Florida but I'm writing while I'm away. I'm thankful now I toted my macbook with me on the road, it sure is fun to be able to keep up with blog world while I have more time than usual and fun to be able to post pictures to facebook, etc.

This has been a really special trip for me. I spent the first night in Raleigh/Chapel Hill with my older sister, Rae, and my brother-in-law Chris. My baby niece is due any day now and I was sure hoping she'd come in time for my visit but she's not quite ready, I guess. We ate frozen yogurt and french fries and watched Modern Family at their place Wednesday Night.

Thursday morning we woke early, worked out, and headed to Winston Salem to spend Thanksgiving with my Momma's side of the family. Winston Salem is a precious town, if you've never been here, it's worth a visit. The people are delightful and the the roads are named after Robin Hood!

I'm treasuring this time with my sweet family including my amazing cousins:

My sweet cousin Whitley and I on the front porch of the house our Momma's grew up in.

My Wessy and I on the front porch swing. Many a summers have been spent on this porch.

My first night here we spent looking through old photo albums and I had to share with you this find:
I haven't changed a bit, have I? Ok, so my eyebrows and my haircut have come a ways but that face is just about the same.

What a blessing having a family like mine is. I couldn't love them more. These trips are the best - I'm loving it.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wedding Bells.

Hello lovies.

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?

Another banquet.

Another birthday.

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

Book Club Friday - From the Road.

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 assume you all have heard enough about these books and I don't need to fill ya in. Suffice to say, I'm finally getting around to this one.

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


Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.

-G.B. Stern

I've been enjoying reading blog posts about all that people are thankful for this year. In light of war, famine, natural disasters, and a recession/depression; I'm encouraged to see that Americans seem to be more in the Thanksgiving spirit this year than ever before. This has been a tough year for our country but we still have so much to be thankful for.

I should probably have the longest list of all. This year has blown me away. I am so blessed. I could go on and on forever but to keep this short and sweet I'll give you my Top Ten.

Becca's Top Ten - Things I'm most Thankful for this Year

1. Faith. I think in the midst of this crazy year I'm more thankful than ever for my faith. For the gift of knowing that my life has a bigger purpose than just surviving this earth. That I have a God to go too in any and every circumstance.

2. Family. I have an incredible family and I write about them often. I'm thankful that my family loves the Lord. I'm thankful that I still have all four of my grandparents in my life and for the wisdom I get to soak up during my time with them. What a precious blessing they are to me.

3. My home. I've shared previously that as a kid who grew up in over 20 different houses before leaving for college, I've always had the desire for a home. I have that now, and man does it feel good. The batch pad has grown with me over the past almost 2 years (in December). I'm thankful for another successful year as a homeowner. It keeps getting better and better.

4. Provision. I've experienced the Lord's provision in miraculous ways this year. He has met every need and I feel him changing the desires of my heart to line up with his.

5. Friendship. For my long term readers you know that friendship for me over the years has been feast for famine. I'm thankful for 4 solid years of great friendships, since college. Deep, meaningful relationships that I can't imagine a day without.

6. Health. Some of you may remember my struggles with my health in 2010. I'm thankful that this year I've bounced back and found some normalcy. I feel good and I'm more thankful than ever for good days.

7. Council. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with friendship in my case. This year I've purposed to seek good, godly council in my decision making and I've seen a vast improvement in many areas as a result. I'm thankful for the wisdom people have shared with me this year, as I work towards lofty goals.

8. Tampa. Tampa is home to me. It always has been. I'm thankful for this season of life in which I get to live and work in my favorite city. I don't take a day of it for granted, because tomorrow isn't promised. I am treasuring this time.

9. Travel. I'm thankful that this year I was able to see New York City for the first time. I'm thankful I got to visit my best friend in her hometown twice (with 2 more on the books). I'm thankful I got to see my family members in several states this year. I'm thankful for frequent flier miles I gain from my work travels that allow me to travel for fun as well.

10. You. I'm thankful for this blog. For what the Lord has taught me and continues to teach me through my interactions with you and my writing. For your comments, your encouragement, and your challenges. I'm thankful for the wisdom shared on others blogs. I'm thankful for each of you that have shared in and continue to share in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope you celebrate today and everday all the good in your lives.



It's Ok Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving loves. I have to say, tgiving is not my favorite holiday (Christmas is). Since I don't eat turkey or pie I always feel a bit out of place but don't worry I eat my weight in mashed potatos like a boss.

I couldn't resist linking up with two of my bloggin' favs for It's Ok Thursday which has become the starting line of many of my texts with friends including a recent from my sweet friend Katie:

'Hey it's ok to buy your boyfriend a really soft shirt so you can wear it'. Oh yes, yes it is!

So this thanksgiving I'm saying it's ok.... overeat. Do it. Go big or go home. Join the clean plate club. Let your inner fatty loose. wear your 'fat jeans' so you won't pop a button. (or if you prefer, just leave that top button undone all day under a chunky sweater). workout thanksgiving morning so you'll be extra hungry and can justify 'carb loading'. travel in skinny jeans or leggings in hopes of avoiding what I can a 'gina poke' from the TSA security. Man I hate those people. feel overwelmed by holidays because you feel at the mercy of other people's planning (I'm an OCD control freak, we know this). be giddy with excitement about your black friday TV because you can watch movies in BED now (Hey, it's ok that the rest of the world has been doing this for YEARS without me) have a love/hate relationship with New Years - it's never as good as you hope, right? obsessively clean your house before you go out of town because you love coming home to perfection. secretly hope your neighbors never sell their homes because you love them all and don't want crummy replacements, ever. overpack. We all do. not dress up to travel but also not look like a bum because you never know who you'll meet. I've met a guy I later went out with AND gotten 3 job offers while flying. color code your planner. love it's ok Thursday. enjoy twitter more than facebook because you can tweet about all the people who don't have twitter.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Missing a Piece and a Video Blog.

First off, a video to say farewell as I head to NC:

And now the real season for this post:

As I pack and prepare for my trip to the Carolinas it's with a bit of a heavy heart. There was a great debate about how the holidays would be spent this year with Dad busily working and unable to travel, Rae pregnant and ready to deliver my precious niece any day, Ruth still in school, me in Florida, and Mom wanting to be with each of us. It was hard for me to commit to a plan that involved any Christensen left behind - but alas, it will be a Daddy-less-thanksgiving day for me.

I'm thankful he pressured me to go be with the rest of the family, even if he can't be this year. But it's been a bit of a sad week for me, prepping for Thanksgiving with one piece of the family missing. I sure do hate when we can't all be together.

So today I thought I'd add to the long list of things I'm thankful for - this guy. In a country sorely lacking in good fathers, I really hit the jackpot. My Dad is my hero, my inspiration, my leader, my advice giver, my encourager, my face twin, and I couldn't love him anymore than I do. Sure do wish I could be with him this Thanksgiving - but looking forward to a Christmas in Indianapolis with him soon.



Recipe: Grilled Sweet Potato Fries.

If you all hunt the web for everything like I do - then you may have already tapped into the weath of food knowledge that can be located on I've previously shared my obsession with grilling everything from pineapple to burger to side dishes on my grown girl birthday present. But I HAD to share this recipe for homemade grilled sweet potato fries. They are delish, healthy, and easy to make.

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

Bargain Huntress.

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' 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. : ]



Creating Space - 2012.


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?


Monday, November 21, 2011

My Style: Banquet.

I miss when Lindsay did My Style Monday's even though when they were going on I couldn't always get my act together to post. Oops. Since I asked you all for advice on what color shoes to wear with my dress for my work's banquet this past Thursday I wanted to make sure you got to see the finished product.

The dress was a traditional gift from my Momma who helped me pick it out back in September - which I was visiting her in Indiana. I took Autumn's advice and went with nude heels - although I opted for BCBG wedges instead of heels, because I wasn't sure I could hack it in heels all night on my feet (13 hour work days are intense, after all).

Are you all feeling a little spoiled by getting two blog posts in one day? Well that merriment just might continue for the rest of the week! We.shall.see!

If you haven't already, please do make sure you sign up to give and get some holiday cards this year - here.




'if I am content with little, enough is a feast' - Isaac Bickerstaff

My Tampa bff and accountability partner, Aubs, and I served this weekend at our church in the 'holiday helpers' booth. We worked both services so a good 6-7 hour shift of selling turkey dinners for church members to buy that will feed the needy in our community. I am always excited to see my church, Grace Family Church, meeting the needs in our community and this Christmas they are on it. We worked the food booth as I called it, but there was also the opportunity to adopt a family, adopt a child, etc.

The reason I share this is because I went to give of my time, something I find I tend to be selfish with - but what I received was worth far more. I was blown away my the generousity of my church family. There eagerness and excitement to give blessed my heart more than you know. I was most touched my a single Mom who came to me and said that while she couldn't afford to adopt a whole family - she thought we could pair her and her son with another single mom and kid and they would give them a Christmas. Wow.

The quote I shared above was from our message this week which really got to the heart of keeping life in perspective. We keep Christmas pretty simple in our household but this year more than ever I'm excited for the holiday season to be about giving. Of time, resources, and sometime even money. God is so good.

What are you all doing this Christmas to bless others? I love hearing your ideas!



Friday, November 18, 2011

For the Love of Snail Mail.

We all know how much I love snail mail and how much I love the holidays so I'm teaming up with Krystal and Meghan to make sure we all get enough holiday snail mail this Christmas season! We know the holidays can be chaotic AND expensive so we're giving you the chance to spread some holiday cheer without breaking the budget! The three of us are hosting a holiday card swap!

Enter your information below and we will pair you up with 4 other bloggers to exchange cards! You're welcome to include fun photos or little extras but please keep it simple - this is a one stamp kind of deal!

This is a win win friends - so get on it.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


So I made a bold move this year and put my blog address on my Christmas cards. The big debate amongst bloggers seems to be - how much privacy do you keep as a blogger? Many bloggers don't share their blog with their 'real life' friends and enjoy the privacy of being able to share openly without judgement. Clearly, that is not the case with my blog. There's nothing anon happening here (not even comments!). BUT even though my blog is public via facebook - there are quite a few people who will receive my cards this year who don't know about the blog yet.

I decided though this would be a great way for them to keep up with me. Despite my diligent letter writing and forced phone call making (I am not a phone talker) - it's hard to keep up with everyone and even when I do, it's hard to remember to relive all that's going on. I have a busy life, in case you haven't noticed. ; ]

So tomorrow night is our banquet for work and I'm excited to wear my cobalt blue dress my Mom bought me (that I previously shared on the blog). Hopefully I'll get some pictures up Friday morning.

Wednesday (one week from today) I will be headed to North Carolina to see my sweet family there as well as hopefully meet my niece (if she arrives in time). It will be a whirlwind Thanksgiving with my flying in Wednesday night to Raleigh, driving to Winston Salem with my sister and bro (if no baby) for thanksgiving and a 10am departure Saturday morning to head back to Tampa. Saturday I land at noon and I have a wedding at 2:00 out by the beach. So I will be in a sprint to get my bags, collect my car, assemble myself, and drive out to the beach for my former coworker and sweet friend Joy's wedding festivities.

Then back to this side of the bridge for another engagement by 6. Never let em see ya sweat, right? Even holidays are manic for me.

I've got 50 christmas cards printed and read to address so I figure I'll take those along to the Carolina's with me next week and knock them out - then they'll be ready to ship in mid Decemeber. I bought those cute disposable goodie boxies to deliver Christmas baked goods to my favorite neighbors (have I ever mentioned how much I love my 'hood?). My Christmas presents are more than halfway bought AND I wrapped 3 of them already.

After Thanksgiving the official countdown to Christmas begins folks.

Let's do this.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The Art of Growing Up.

'a true friend prods you to personal growth, stretches you to your full potential. And most amazingly of all, celebrates your successes as if they were his own' - Richard Exley

People are quick to use the line 'misery loves company' but as I've grown up what I realize is that through a rather crazy year of ups and downs I have chosen to be happy with this life I've built and as a result it has been easy to be happy for others. Talking this through with a friend the other day I said it something like this - 'I guess I finally realized that I've grown up this week. Because when I think back on the people who have hurt me most over the years and how hard it use to feel to forgive them now I look back and I hope that the Lord blesses them as much as He's blessed me'.

This is what one might call a breakthrough. The point in your life where you're so happy (not that everything is perfect, by ANY means) that even the malicious motives of other people that have contributed to who you've become and where you are in life can feel like blessings. That you can be thankful for the good and bad circumstances that brought you here and hope the best for those who have hurt you. Breakthrough.

This year has tried my communication skills like no other year before it. I started the year single, living alone, and in a pretty easy role at work. By mid year I was in my first serious relationship since college, living with a roommate, and had taken on a much bigger role at work with more responsibility as I entered my 3rd event season on staff. I remember laughing to my best friend as I said, 'I swear I started this year thinking I was a GOOD communicator and the more I've learned about communicating the more I realize how much more I have left to learn'.

The relationship didn't last, the roommates still going strong, and I survived a crazy event season feeling like I really grew. But most of all I take away from this that growing up is hard! Learning to communicate openly, honestly, and out of love is challenging, even for those of us who are obviously very good at saying alot without really saying what we mean. The gloves came off and the honesty box was entered and I have to say that as tough as it's been - the growth has been worthwhile. I anticipate that like most disciplines, it will get easier the more I practice it. Or at least, I'm hoping.

I'm thankful that the while misery may love company - so does happiness. This is the life I wanted. This is the future I'm building. And I'm excited for the successes of my friends and my foes. I'm thankful for the people who build me up and the people who have forced me to grow stronger.

Oh my oh my...the art of growing up is hard to master.


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Book I Couldn't Put Down.

I got back in my groove by participating in last weeks Book Club Friday - but after reading this post by Heather, I immediately downloaded this book on my Kindle ereader:

Never one to keep good ideas to myself - I immediately told Candy, my best friend and Brandy, my sweet friend from back in Indiana to download it as well. I knew they both had e-readers and they've bought books I've recommended before. I needed someone to obsess with me while I read at rapid speed.

Let me just say that I couldn't put this book down. I finished it literally in 24 hours (and this was a workday - so know that I read on lunch, at stoplights, while I dried my hair, etc).

My one caution should be that there is some 'adult content'.

I loved it. Brandy finished before I did (she stayed up late and read it all in one night) and Candy was close behind. They both LOVED it as well and we've spend the rest of this week trying to decide if we want to buy the other 2 books Jamie McGuire has written, even though they're not in the same genre. We've also all felt sad it's over now that we hurried through, we wish we'd rationed it out! Ha! Thanks for Heather for a great recommendation - it made my week!

Currently reading:

Watch for a review on this next week.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I love when a good book sucks me but I have to say after 24 hour with my nose in a book - it felt good to resurface today. I love a book you can't put down and I'll share on Friday during Book Club Friday just what book had me reading at stoplights and on the treadmill so I could try'n function in society while absorbing every word as fast as my eyes could move.

November and December are crazy months but to of my favorites to be certain. Holidays, family, shopping, baking, still football season. What's not to love?

Coming up for me:

- Our work banquet which will include hearing Nicole C Mullins sing live (yay!) and Dr. Ben Carson as our speaker. After seeing the movie about his life, gifted hands, I have to say I'm giddy with excitement to hear what she shares.
- A batchelorette party
- A wedding
- A post-elopement wedding reception (not for the wedding I just mentioned)
- A trip to North Carolina
- A trip to Indianapolis
- A couple days in the 'burg with my bestie
- Christmas parties for work and friends
- Birthday parties/dinners/festivities
- Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years

Ee can I just prance around for 2 months in fabulous dresses and heels please?

One month to the day after the end of our event season for work ( I work in event - in case you missed that) it feels good to be down almost 10 pounds, back in the gym 4 days a week, AND back in my reading groove, having demolished 3 books in the last week. Ah, I'm back.


Sunday, November 6, 2011


November is the one month out of the year people all over the US purpose to be thankful. I have to say it's been easy to be thankful year round since my return to Tampa just over three years ago. But I'm thankful this year in a new way. As I reflect back on this year, I'm thankful that if I had to do this year over again - I would literally do it over, the same.

I have grown so much this year as a friend, a daughter, a sister, a homeowner, a coworker, an employee, a leader, a blogger, a reader, a writer, a christian, and a person. I have faced more obstacles than any previous year and I'm happy to report with more grace than in years past. I've gone through some tough times with friends and relationships and grown and learned from them in a way I can be proud of.

I am thankful for grace and forgiveness. For the people in my life who call me out and hold me accountable. For new, attainable goals. For provision. For spiritual growth. And amazingly, for the Lord allowing me to see some things and some people really clearly this year.

It has been a year full of many things - good and bad. But I find myself living in a state of thanksgiving for where the last few years have brought me. I'm loving the life the Lord has given me and the person I feel like he's growing me into. I have never been this happy to be me.

What a great year this has been.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy Saturday.

As you read this I'm off hunting through other people's craftiness at the Junior League Holiday Gift event at the Fair Grounds. So, happy Saturday to you and happy hunting to me.

I believe I shared last year that I wanted a tradition with my best friend when it came to Christmas. The chances that we'll get to spend Christmas together are pretty slim with our families living in different places and our lives seeming to keep us a few thousand miles away. So, for now, we settled on exchanging Christmas ornaments every year. Last year I gave her a starfish painted to look like santa claus with my name and the year on the back. Today I'm off hunting for her Christmas 2011 ornament (maybe I'll post a pic after I give it to her) - I thought the JL fair would be a great place to find a unique one.

She gives me one too but as I may have previously confessed I've never actually had a tree in my grown up life. For now, I spend Christmas with my parents every year (and one or both of my sisters depending)and they have a tree so I've never felt the need to have my own. I hate the idea of storing Christmas decor all year to use it for a month. I guess I could take Tara's route and leave it up year round to make it worthwhile?

I've been toying with the idea of a small fake tree though - maybe buying one after the holidays this year for next year? (I'm cheap, this much you know).

I did hit up the Nordstrom Semi-annual sale this week and at regular Nordstrom all I bought was this fabulously comfy tee:

We in Tampa are lucky enough to have a Nordstrom Rack as well - and I bought an additional two shirts on clearance there. I've been trying to build up my 'tops' wardrobe. It seems like every time I have anywhere to go I reach for a dress as my go to outfit. But the weather may someday decide to cool off a bit here AND sometimes a girl wants to wear jeans and sit with her knees apart, you know? So for those such occasions said girl needed some shirts.

Yesterday I wore my new White House Black Market jeans for the first time. I snagged them on clearance during my outlet mall trip with the girl last weekend for $20! I got several compliments on them, especially the slightly ornate booty pockets I was feeling self concious about. I usually pick very plain pocketed jeans.

I know this is the season for buying gifts but I have to say -I save up a little for myself this time of year as well. When I'm out snagging fabulous gifts and nifty prices, I want to have room to splurge on a few things for myself as well. $20 jeans and $12 shirts are in all the time, in my mind.

Anyone doing black friday this year? I don't get up early for anything that involves a crowd, but I am hoping to snag a small TV for my bedroom during the pre-black-friday-online-deals. Arguably, cheaters do sometimes prosper. Just saying.



Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday - Books, Weekend Plans, etc.

It's been a while since I participated in a book club Friday. If you're wondering why it's because I've been stuck trying to finish the same book for WEEKS! The crazy part about this is the book was just good enough I couldn't quit, but not good enough to suck me and get me done with it quick.

So for the book portion of today I should tell you I was finally able to finish The Help.

I have to say what I found most fascinating about this book is that Stockett was a first time author - the Help is her first book! What? Can I get a lunch date with her and talk about what she did right to have such a widely read first novel that went on to be a successful movie? I need some advice, sista.

I had a great talk with my Mom about her take on the movie (she's not a big fiction reader) and she said it hit home for her. My Mom grew up in small town North Carolina during the integration of schools so the racism that's dealt with the the Help as well as the overwhelming desire of that 'middle class' to be socialites isn't far from the truth of her childhood. It was fascinating talking through some of that with her after I finished the book.

I haven't watched the movie yet but I hope to in the near future (redbox style). As for the book - it was good but not great for me. I was glad I read it but with as slow a read as this was for me I would also somewhat hesitate to recommend it. Does that make sense?

I'm headed to a wedding tonight, the Junior Leagues Christmas market Saturday morning, some babysitting, lunch date with my friend Jason Sunday after church, etc. November and December are going to be delightfully busy with fun activities and parties. I can't wait to send out my Christmas cards and distribute my baked goods in the cute Christmas goodie boxes I bought.

What are you reading lately and what are your weekend plans?

Oh yeah, I'm already flying through the 4th book in James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series - 4th of July.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's Ok Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

I haven't done one of these in a while but I think it's about time I did a 'it's ok Thursday'. So, this week I say it's ok.... be halfway done with your Christmas shopping (glass half full - not half empty) look forward to baking goodies for all of your neighbors. feel sentimental about everything. randomly cry while on a jog praying for your soon-to-be-born niece, it's crazy how much I already love that kid. have made your packing lists for your next three trips, one of which isn't until February. be wicked excited for a lunch date at Nordstrom Cafe with Nancy and Blaire today. be over the Help and happily devouring the next James Patterson in your series. have a love/hate relationship with working out. put 'take your vitamins' on your to do list everyday so you will and so you can check something off first thing. pray in the car, the shower, and on your workouts because you have alot to talk through with the Lord lately. shameless record Lifetime movies on the Tivo. love dogsitting because it reminds you that you do not want an everyday commitment to a pet, even if you really like them. already be planning the details of my spring trip to DC, even though I haven't set a weekend yet. literally dream everynight about visiting your best friend.

Hey, it's ok.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When Good Things Make Me Crazy.

I tend to be a bit obsessive. Not in a Lifetime movie kind of way - but I have a habit of becoming so excited and motivated in certain areas of my life I allow them to take over. This is a tough balancing act for me because while they're usually good things - ie: working out, healthy eating, learning to cook, or budgeting - even too much of good things can be bad. I'm a self proclaimed OCD with far more emphasis on the obsessive and not so very much compulsive with a ridiculous enthusiasm to reaching goals. That was my fancy was of basically admitting I'm crazy.

The good news is - I have two close friends I'm extremely honest with (ok, so I'm extrememly honest MOST of the time with everyone) and they reel me in when I'm obsession with succeeding at something starts to run over the rest of my life.

I need to be better at balancing things. Learning to let the small stuff slide. Being content with my best and not feeling like I have to beat myself up when the good isn't great or my best isn't perfect. I tend to be a 110% all of the time kind of gal with high expectations for myself. Sometimes the girls have to reign me and give me the 'Rome wasn't built in a day' speech.

I AM learning though. I'm trying to grow and take it all in stride and learn to just relax, laugh, and enjoy. This has been a strangely logner and harder process than one might imagine. Whew. I feel better having confessed this!