Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Haiti Update: January.

Well January is coming to a close and I thought I'd fill you in on a few of the latest deets of my trip! January was a productive month of prep for my April trip to Haiti.

- I got the first round of my hep A and hep B vaccines.
- Met with my doctor to discuss health related things.
- Got my passport in the mail.
- The fear of not getting my birth certificate back was eliminated...whew!
- Attended my first missions meeting.
- Made my second big payment. I'm happy to report I'm well over halfway paid!
- Wrote my first (very small) set of support letters.

I shared mid month how the Lord has blown me away...that has continued. I'm a funny little Christian in that my relationship with the Lord is kind of quirkily (I made that word up) honest. And I told the Lord as I set out on this journey that I'd give it 100% but I needed him to keep reminding me along the way that I wasn't insane to decide to do this.

This month the biggest reminder of that came from a sweet friend. I hadn't asked this friend to contribute financially to my trip but one very long, hard day, I came back from the mailbox with what I thought was a card. I exchange mail with this friend regularly and I felt excited to read her thoughts for the week and I always find encouragement from her snail mail...what I didn't expect to find was nearly a third of the money I needed for my trip to Haiti.

I'm tearing up just sharing this with you as I think of how the Lord has constantly used people in my life to encourage me that this trip to Haiti is His plan for me. That gift grew my excitement and the belief that the Lord has something big for me waiting in Haiti. Her provision that met a physical need and her words that met an emotional and spiritual need for me were beyond words...I pray the Lord will richly bless her for being that vessel for me.

With a yard sale coming up on the 18th of February and a few support letters out, I expect that I will be able to fully pay for my trip very soon. I feel grateful for your prayers and may I assure you - they are being heard, answered, and felt!

The heart of my personal prayers for my trip have been changing. I've moved beyond my safety and the avoidance of aids and bad water to praying the the Lord will strip away 'me' so that all that remains to offer the people of Haiti is Christ's love. I hope to serve passionately and work hard. I pray that the church we build will be a beacon of hope to the people of Haiti who will attend there. I pray that it will allow the truth of Christ's love and ultimate sacrifice to abound in a land that has endured such hardship.

I've had a tough couple of weeks personally. When I went to church this past Sunday, I realized that when I go there weary I experience the renewing of my strength. God meets me there among my fellow attenders and I have to say, they have never felt more like a church family to me than they do now. I am grateful to worship with them. It is an honor and a privileged I don't take for granted. I say this to share with you my excitement that the hard work of our team in Haiti will provide that place for others. I beam when I think about the Haitian church having a place where there weary can go, and find the Lord's strength.

It continues to be the cry of my heart in 2012, that the Lord break my heart for what breaks His. I am humbled, encouraged, and blessed by your willingness to lovingly support me as I take this journey. Less than 3 months to go!!


Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Swap Loot.

Note: A special thank you to Heather and Katie for hosting this book swap and for giving me the best partner on the list!

I'm thrilled that this book swap made me partners with Darby, and you should totally be following her blog if you aren't already. I am really enjoying reading it myself, and I love interacting with her. We had a great chit chat about books, after which she sent me this one:

I received it Monday night the 23rd of January, and I HAD to finish my current read (Serendipity) so I could begin Orange is the New Black the next morning. Immediately after hearing Darby's taste in books and her suggestion of what she wanted to send me, I knew I was going to enjoy it. It sounded a little like a book version of one of my favorite movies, Broke Down Palace. Except, in this case, the girl actually did the crime.

I was drawn in from the beginning by Piper's way of weaving an intricate story, while leaving out the 'fluff'. It's open, it's honest, and she never plays the victim. Now halfway through I find her character likeable and her view of how punishment in our country works to be fascinating. I am loving this book for it's unique subject matter and way of exposing the insides of prisons in the United States.



Friday, January 27, 2012


Growing up I was frequently told I 'wasn't much of a writer'. I was determined that one day I would be a writer, in some capacity or another and 10 years later, my blog is quickly narrowing in on 50,000 views. Writing certainly doesn't come naturally to all but like most skills, it can be taught, learned, practiced, and perhaps even perfected. If you’ve dreamt of starting a blog, writing a book, or having your thoughts published don’t allow the challenge of learning to write to dissuade you from fulfilling that dream.

Learning to write did not come easily to me. Being mildly dyslexic, even learning to read others writing was a challenge for me. I loved the written word from a young age and I wrote diligently in my journal for years before I gained the confidence to share my writing with others. By college I was finally given positive feedback by teachers who believed that I had the skills needed to become a writer, if only I would hone them.

Many of you have probably faced this same dilemma. You’re ready to write something worthy of being read, but your skill set and confidence aren’t where they need to be. If so, consider getting writing tutor. Online tutoring is a popular way for busy writers to get the help we need to grow our skill set without going back to school. Make time for what is important to you and be willing to put the time and effort into developing your skills.

Don't Waste Your Life.

There seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life this week...prison. No really. I'll share more about this at a later time (on the 30th) but I participated in a book swap through a blog I read and my sweet partner sent me a memoir written by a woman who spent a year in women's prison. I was about 100 pages into this yesterday morning when I attended a video watching with my coworkers of John Piper's called, 'Don't Waste Your Life'.

The video wasn't what I expected, but they interviewed prisoners from Angola (in Louisiana). Each of the three featured men were facing life in prison without chance of parole or pardon (sorry, I don't think that's how they say it). Each had found faith within the prison walls. I was blown away by their use of the word 'freedom' to describe how they feel within their faith. These men, who spend 23 hours a day in a cell. These men who also spoke of being unable to use the restroom alone or chose when they turn off their lights at night. They feel free.

I share this to say that as the Lord teaches me and grows me this year I am struck by how we can be prisoners to our own lives. Do we experience freedom, even as we're allowed to come and go as we please? Do we appreciate the ability to take walks outside or to spend holidays with our loved ones?

Even more sobering for me perhaps was the realization of how our actions are paid for by the ones we love. As I read Piper Kerman's story and as I watched these men in Don't Waste Your Life I'm humbled by the fact that we all my mistakes. Perhaps mine haven't put me behind bars for life, but I've also been given the luxury of a good home life. The men in the video were all in the midst of life sentences that began when they were in their late teens. Who wasn't a bit of an idiot at 18? And how different would my life be if I were still paying the price of my 18 year old sins?

They spoke of their spouses, their parents, their own children and the profound affect their incarceration has had on those they cared for most. One man shared that he had always desired to be nothing like his own father, who had been incarcerated. Then he said, and here I am, absent from my own children's lives for being just that. He had turned into the man he loathed.

As a social worker by education the failures of our 'system' aren't lost on me. I'm not ready to break open the prison doors and free them all but I admit that I feel a sense of sadness when I think about how many people's lives are ended by one bad decision. One decision I recognize I'm not beyond making myself. By the grace of God, that has not been my life...but I recognize that as a sinner, saved only by His grace, it could have been.

When I consider what it looks like in my own life not to waste this time, this freedom, it grows my excitement for Haiti. For the chance to get my hands dirty loving on the Lord's children. Heavy on my heart this week are these thoughts:

Matthew 25:40 - 'The King will reply, ' I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me'.

'If you judge people, you have no time to love them.' - Mother Teresa

When I think about my purpose as a believer I truly believe it's to love others and that always brings me back to my favorite verse about love...where the Lord says in his word that love never fails.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Ok Thursday...

First off, I will be featured as a guest blogger on Lindsey's blog today so please stop over there and see what I had to say about being Financially Fit.

Its Ok Thursdays

Ah, that favorite time of the week again.

It's ok...

...to be wicked excited for a trip in 8 days.

...to pack a week in advance, knowing you'll pull everything out and change your mind...twice.

...to plan on reading two books on your trip, knowing you won't have time.

...to schedule your blogposts so you can truly relax while you're away.

...to have a love/hate relationship with flying. Love to people watch. Hate to be trapped on a plane feeling like you have to pee just because you shouldn't while the lights on.

...to give dirty looks to TSA when they make you get in the 'naked machine'.

...to rarely guest post because you care barely do enough writing for your own blog.

...to judge people who talk about how they never have time to read, but watch 15 hours of TV a week.

...to like twitter more than facebook, but enjoy the ability to stalk facebook photos.

...to pretend to be asleep on planes when you don't want your neighbor to talk to you.

...to be stoked to use your travel blanket you asked for and got for Christmas.

...to find most of the new blogs you follow through 'it's ok Thursday'...if they say something I do is ok, I feel instantly connected.

...to quit sending people cards who never send them back.

...to put a certain amount of pages per day on your to do list to read so you'll meet your goals.

...to be pretty much all around nerdy.

Hey it's Thursday and it's ok.



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Goals - An Update.

A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

- Ayn Rand

I set 12 goals for the year 2012. I achieved much in 2011, but my goals list was not one of them. And so, I hope to be more focused with this years goal list and to report back with more frequency. Accountability is key for me. What you have to realize about goals is the importance of achieve, not competing. I have a competitive spirit I frequently have to stuff down.

I have to remind myself that the purpose of setting reading goals is to expand my mind, avoid the TV, and keep illiteracy at bay. Not, however, to beat anyone else by reading a greater number books or deeper, longer, more classical books, for that matter. The point is to meet my own goals and standards and not to compare myself to others. This same principle applies to each of my goals. I admit, though, that I often struggle with this.

That disclaimer being said, let's talk about my goals and where I'm at as January draws near it's end...


1. Well, I've read 7 books so far in 2012. Being just under 4 weeks into the year, I'd say this makes my goal of 50 look attainable. More than that, I find that my love of reading is growing in leaps and bounds. I'm thankful for the blog community where I have found so many other diligent readers to relate too. I don't really know how to use it well but if you're on Goodreads feel free to add me!

2. Leave the US for the first time. Well, you can expect another Haiti update soon - much is happening in my prep to meeting goal #2. But you can count on April being the month I tackle this one officially....

3. Take Washington DC by storm. I can happily report that my plane ticket has been book for my trip to DC in May...so this goal is also in the works.

4. Skydive, even if indoors. Hm, not progress on this yet. Although, I have been watching the groupons.

5. Lose another 20 pounds. I changed this goal to add 'by Haiti' in early January and after 2 weeks I'm over 6 pounds down. So I'm hopeful that I will lose 20 and possibly more before I depart on April 21st.

6. The dates are set for me to finally see my sweet cousin, Whitley, play ball this year. You can anxiously await pictures and a full report in March.

7. Shower my niece with love letters. This is going well. I've made her the most precious Valentines Day card I've been making myself wait to send...

8. Slow but steady progress towards my unspoken goal #8.

9. Crap. I haven't written anymore pages for my book. Boo.

10. Visit one new state. Maybe I should take suggestions on which state it should be?

11. Get back into photography, for pleasure. I'm hoping Haiti will give me some inspiration for this.

12. Write, I have! Here, often, honestly...and even for my own personal benefit to possibly be shared at a later date. I've also been writing letters and e-mails to several of you who have reached out for help or advice. I enjoy the chance to be thought out, as writing allows me.

Thanks for cheering me on...I'm so pleased with 2012 so far. I'm sad to see a month of it come to an end next week. I'm cherishing every moment.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Continuing a Year of Experiences.

Note: If you're semi new to the blog go back and read this entry to see why this year has been themed the year to experience.

I said this year was about experiences and if you were worried I would let you down perhaps I can give you hope. This is the year to go for it. This is the year of no-holds-barred. I've laid the ground work, and I'm enjoying the benefits now.

I determined that even though I will be headed to see my best friend in 10 days (whoo hoo), to Haiti in April, and to DC in May...it was time to get some travel on the books to see my sister, my bro-in-law, and my beautiful baby niece, Noa. The great thing about budgeting for travel is that I get to do what I love...go. And since that budget is always growing, I don't have to wait 6 months to buy a ticket. I talked to my sister Sunday night about an Easter weekend trip, and Monday on my lunch break, I booked it!

Let me note here my absolute love of Southwest Airlines. I do all my travel with them and so I was able to buy one leg my flight in 'points', and the other leg on sale for $94. It was budget friendly, easy to book, and hey - I can even over pack! Nothing but love for the Southwest way of travel (hey Southwest, you should totally make a flight to Haiti!).

What I have grown to appreciate about being responsible with my money is seeing my hard work pay off. I have learned to live simple, save hard, and prepare for these exact moments. Because I want to be with my sister to celebrate my nieces first Easter. Because I value the chance to be a part of my brother-in-law's church congregation and see him in action. And most of all because I have learned the value of experiences over things.

When I think about my role as an Aunt and what I want Noa to admire about her Aunt B - I hope that she sees my unfailing love for her first and foremost and that she treasures the time I'm creating for us to be together. I hope she grows up knowing that being there for her every step of the way has always been a top priority. And hey, I wouldn't mind if she's telling her kinder garden classmates how cool her Aunt B's life has been with a shoebox full of postcards from the places I've been, either.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina - you're on my books.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Randoms.

Hello loves,

I took the weekend off of blogging and texting (for the most part). With several things in my life/family up in the air, I just needed a break. Turns out texting is semi necessary to my actually having a life on the weekends so I broke it a few times, but I felt my phone at home while I spent time in the gym, and left it on silent while I ran errands and went shopping. It was a welcomed break from being too available.

I'm plowing through my 7th book of 2012 as I work towards 50 by the end of the year. I'm currently reading:

I bought this book at Big Lots. No joke. I had just gotten back from New York City where I ate Serendipity and the title/cover grabbed my eye. I bought it for all of 2 dollars and it went into that inevitable stack of 'to read' books that we all have stashed beside our beds or somewhere in our homes screaming 'you said you were going to read us'. Yeah, that stack. I think I previously mentioned I was going to try'n tackle a few of those so I could yard sale them in Feb. I'm 230 pages in and with less than 100 to go, I think it's safe to say I actually like this book. I thought it sounded a little dark for me, but it's been really entertaining and kept my attention this weekend. I would be willing to bet I'll finish it in the next day or two.

I had coffee outside in the beautiful 70s weather with my bestie on Saturday morning. Man, the South Tampa Starbucks is quite the place for people watching (read: outfit judging). One of my sweet friends, Jon, had given me a Starbucks GC in honor of paying off my debt and being debt free (don't you just love your Dave-Ramsey-approved friends?). After a 3 part workout that morning it was fun to relax with coffee and my sweet Aubs.

My Saturday continued to go well when I went on a treasure hunt that turned up the final piece of furniture for my bedroom (well, at least for now)....

I dislike rooms that look too heavy on the furniture. I do not want to feel trapped within the furniture in a room, it make me anxious. So furnishing my room has been a slow, well thought out process of trying to keep the furniture from owning the room, but making sure it's pretty, pleasant, and functional. That chair was burried for the last 2 years under a big leather tote thing full of crap. I ditched the crap in early jan at the tote has been relocated to the living room to hold throw blankets. So the chair has resurfaced and actually looks like a chair again. Fab.

The piece with the tag on it is of course what I purchased Saturday afternoon at HomeGoods (I love HomeGoods and all it's cousins: TJMaxx, Marshalls, etc). The little drawers at the bottom are the new home of my power cords. Between my Kindle, iPad, ipods (2), iPhone, Macbook, etc...I feel like I'm swimming in power cords! So now they have a little home, out of the line of vision (but not stuffed in a bathroom drawer).

I shared previously that my goal was to lose 20 more lbs in 2012...then I changed it to 20 pounds by my trip to Haiti, in April. I'm happy to report that my week 2 weigh in put me down 3.4lbs for a total of 6.4 in 2 weeks. 13.6 to go by April. I can do this.

I was able to FaceTime with my sweet family last night, since they were all together in NC (without me, I might add) this weekend. My niece is already growing so fast. I feel so grateful that my family has gotten this time together, even if I wasn't able to make the trek (I really need a private jet, don't you think? Need!).

The countdown til my next weekend of travels is almost to the single digits: 11 days to Scottsburg. Let's be honest, the packing will probably start sometime this week.

Happy Monday morning - this girl better starting getting ready for work!



Friday, January 20, 2012

5 Wardrobe Additions I Hope to Make.

First off, happy Friday!

When I revamped my closet last week, I started a list of things I'd like to add to my wardrobe in 2012. Out with the old and slowly in with the new. I used this lovely thing we like to call the Internet to browse some fashion blogs about items everyone should add to their wardrobe in 2012 as well, to make sure if there was anything fetching on the list, I was in on it. I thought since we haven't talked fashion in a bit, why not today?

1. First up, a new black cardigan. I have one and only one and it's seen better days. Since I wear one on the regular to work and over weekend-wear, it's time to replace it. Hoping to tackle that with the help of Nordstrom Rack this weekend.

2. An envelope clutch. I have a metallic silver one but I want a practical one. I'm leaning towards a navy blue one I found recently and love...but we'll see. This image kind of makes me want a practical neutral one.

3. A bomber jacket. I think this makes sense with my current wardrobe and I will get a lot of use out of it. So, I ordered one this week. Part of my deal with myself was that when I cleaned out this closet so I really knew what I had, what I needed, and where things were - was that I could add some pieces I really love and will use. So, I got me one of these...

I ordered it this week so it will be here sometime next weekend. It may make it's debut for my trip up to KY/IN on the 3rd. We shall see. May I also note that this girl's facial expression really gives me the creeps?

4. Bangles. I'd like to add some new bangles to my collection this year. I love wearing them and I'd like to snazz up my bangle wardrobe with some fun new colors.

5. Grey Pencil Skirt. I really want one. I have the perfect shirt to wear with it when I get one too.

Planning on watching the sale racks of the next few weeks. I also still have a few giftcards/christmas money I can spend. So, expect to hear about these things soon.

Also, I found a fabulous lace top I'm in love with during the Ann Taylor clearance event. Maybe I will wear it to the Tampa Bloggers Meetup next weekend. Who else is coming? I'm so stoked for this.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Ok Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

Special thank you to Neely and Amber for these, I freakin love 'it's ok thursdays'.

So this week I'm thinking it's ok....

...to crave chips and salsa every single day of your diet (as long as you don't give in)

...to be so desperate for chocolate you'd kick a puppy or trip an old lady.

...to have a love/hate relationship with Jillian Michaels. Hate dealing with her at 6am, love the results.

...to have a midweek weigh in just to make sure you'll hit your weight loss goal by the official one (freak, I know).

...to treat yourself (hello, Ann Taylor shirt for 7 bucks each).

...to love your city and STILL want to travel every weekend.

...to love your friend who talk budgeting with you a little more than all the others.

...to not respond to every text message you get, especially if they're about things you can talk about yet (still appreciated the love)

...to hate getting shots.

...to be cheap. Not even just thrifty, but downright cheap sometimes.

...to be scared to buy any flavor of Chobani yogurt other than pomegranate because it's the only you're sure you like.

...to secretly judge people who make excuses for everything (fine, not secret, I openly judge...blast)

...to say what you think.

...to wish you were with your family because they're together without you right now.

...to want to report your progress towards your goals everyday, even though you know that would be wicked annoying.

...to be so proud of your closet, you made a blog post about it.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blown Away.

Do you ever have what I like to call 'oh me of little faith' moments? Well, I do. One of my favorite blog posts of 2011 was finally being able to talk about this football season and what the Lord taught me. That may have been the first time that I experienced a desert season with joy and the expectation that the Lord had a plan.

I'm not going to rehash that here today...today is about another time the Lord has blown me away recently. I've already told you all I committed to go to Haiti the day I found out there was a trip. My heart for that country has grown of there years and since I flippantly said I'd go if my church did, I knew I had too when I got the chance.

With the lofty goals I set for this year I felt a little scared at the idea of raising $900 plus buying a passport, getting vaccines, meds, etc. But I sat down and wrote out my prayers. I talked specifically with the Lord about my fears, my anxiety, and my needs. If I was going to go to Haiti I needed Him to clearly keep marking my path for me and encouraging me along the way.

The bible says more than a couple times that when we submit our requests to God we're called to have faith and believe he'll do it. So I set out to do just that and had a little 'help me with my unbelief' clause at the end.

The Lord continues to blow me away. With 24 hours of deciding to go a group from another church offered to do a fundraiser for me and and 2 friends offered to help support me financially. My family agreed to put money towards my expenses and trip as part of my Christmas, and bought quite a few of the supplies I needed.

I started to doubt myself when I went to the first meeting and the Pastor leading the trip said it was a mostly man trip, because we'd be laying 35 pound cinder blocks 12 hours a day. But as I sat in the back and thought 'maybe I should get out of this' that same Pastor who I haven't spoken to in years walked right up to me and said 'Becca, I was so excited to see your name on the list for this trip. I couldn't be happier to have YOU, specifically, for this trip. You're the first one we approved to come'.

Ok Lord, I get it. Here I am, send me?...

But it gets crazier still friends.

My application to go to Haiti held the question: what are you most afraid of when you think about this trip? For those of you who have been following this blog faithfully you know my health has been a bit of a struggle the last 2 years as my doctors and I have fought through how to treat my severe case of IBS. Combine bathroom related problems with a 3rd world country and you pretty much have my worst fear. But I told the Lord I was committed...

So I marched my butt down to the doctors office on my Monday lunch break with my speech all prepared. It was going to go something like this: 'I'm going on this trip Doc, so give me whatever you've got because I don't have time to be sick I've got a church to build'. Can I just say that the Lord delivers me more than I ask for or imagine, on the regular. Not only did my Doctor help me make a stomach plan (Can I get a whoo hoo?) BUT he also agreed to write my prescription for my malaria meds (when I find out which antibiotics are recommended for the region I'm going too) - and said he'd do it via the phone so I didn't have to pay for another appointment.

What a blessing! The health center was going to charge me $50 to write the prescription. Ah, and while were talking about the health center... that's where I was told to go for my vaccines. Mind you, I was also told I'd have to wait in line, outside before they open, in the ghetto, to get them done. They don't take insurance, and each shot was going to cost me 50 bucks plus a 30 dollar 'administrative fee'...oh and that's per shot, per round (hep shots are series shots..). They also said there was one other option in town to get my vaccines but the first time would be $185 and I'd have to go 3 times to finish my vaccines. Ouch.

I was prepared to do it. I was in this trip for the long haul. But when I look back at how simple my requests were to the Lord they can be summed up by this, 'Lord, meet the needs I don't even know I'll have yet. Meet me where I'm at and meet me everywhere I have to go to get to Haiti and show your people love'...

Just before finishing up my consultation with my doctor he said, 'Hey Becca, what vaccines do you need?'. I responded Hep A and B - but that when I'd called the office they said they don't do international travel vaccines. To which he said to me, ' we do hep a and hep b, and we can get em done for you today while you're here'. I was thrilled not to have to wait in line at the health center so I got both shots done....

That's not even the good part! When I got back to the office I logged into my insurance policy online and looked up the cost for those vaccines with my insurance (since I wasn't going to be able to use my insurance either of the places recommended to me, I'd never checked). Are you ready for this? $22 a shot. Instead of $80-$120 a shot. Now when you think about the fact that I need 3 rounds of these shots, that's a TON of money. He probably saved me, what, 500 bucks?

Oh me of little faith...I feel so grateful the Lord gives me more than my little faith can imagine.

Hey, I'm going to Haiti!

And I won't be coming back with any of the heps. ; ]


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cleaning Bug 2012 (and more Batch Pad pics)

Ok so I was happy to read that I'm not the only one who has had the cleaning bug so far this year. I found this great post on The Secret to Success is Support's blog Friday. I love a good blog post about being organized more than the next girl - but I especially love that Gigi took on her closet clean out with a friend.

When I returned from 8 days away in Indianapolis for Christmas this year, I literally came home and started cleaning. My friend Kayla can testify to this, since she picked me up from the airport and witnessed the beginning of the whirlwind. She came with nothing and left with 2 kinds of dishwasher soap that just didn't work out for me (but I couldn't throw them away, they were practically new!), a tray (that was gifted to me but doesn't go with anything in my house), and a few other randoms.

With my yard sale coming up for Haiti (don't know about Haiti yet? check here) I decided January was the perfect time to go through EVERYTHING in the Batch Pad. And so, it began.

When my Mom was here last spring we did a big overhaul on the garage which included ditch all the boxes and changing what needed to be stored to plastic totes. Did you know that bugs love cardboard? Hince, I won't store any of my stuff in actual boxes anymore. Yuck.

I had an entire tote of office supplies. I believe I've previously confessed my obsession with office supplies? Anyway, they've been in that tote for an entire year without me desperately needing them (or with my buying more because I forgot I had some) - so, I went through them and either, saved, tossed, or relocated them so they would get used up or gone quickly.

Anywho, friday night I came home from work and decided to stay in since I wasn't feeling well. Most people relax when they're sick yes? But not this girl. I go to work.

This is my walk in before (please reserve judgement):

Not hoarders worthy, but certainly not looking awesome.

An hour later when I determined to pull every single thing out, my room looked like this:

My best friend couldn't fly in from Indiana for this - but I did FaceTime her in on my ipad from the floor of my closet for the fun. This cleanup went on way past midnight on Friday night and included finally vacuuming and dusting out my closet before I started returning only the things I wear/use. Whew.

I'm happy to show you that progress was made and my closet now looks like this:

Ta da! I mean, I know there's still alot in there, but honestly, I got rid of ALOT. I made about 8 garage bags of things for my yard sale, too 4 bags of trash out Monday morning from all my bathroom and junk drawer clean outs, etc. I really did good about only keeping what I wear (which obviously is still a pretty decent amount). I will say, however, that another benefit to doing this was figuring out what I still want to add to my wardrobe, or what needs to be replace (like my poor very faded black cardigan).

If you feel like you're in a wardrobe funk this might be the perfect way to remember what you have hiding in your closet, and revamp all at once.

Also, I cleaned the whole rest of the house as well so I thought I'd share at least one picture from the main floor while I'm at it (hopefully more pics to come in the near future!)...

Anyone else caught the cleaning bug in 2012?


Monday, January 16, 2012

12 Things I'm Already Loving in 2012 - v2.

Last weeked I told you 12 things I'm already in love with about this year. I loved your responses and I loved how I felt about celebrating and appreciating a great start to this year. I don't know if this will be a weekly post per se, but expect many more 12 things posts in 2012. I want to make sure I keep my attitude in check and remember to be thankful.

1. Motivation. I feel so motivated to reach my goals this year. My 2012 goal was to lose 20 pounds...the I decided to do it BEFORE my trip to Haiti, in April. Totally doable. Losing 3 pounds this week to start it off? Feels good.

2. Outdoor workouts. Iv'e scheduled in a couple outdoor workouts per week. Because I'm lucky enough to live in Tampa, FL and the weather here is beautiful. Monday night I was headed to the gym when I switched directions, headed to the bayshore, and finished my workout by walking to the end of the pier to appreciate this view.

3. Being an Aunt. Even though my sweet niece, Noa, lives in North Carolina - I love sending her letters and getting pictures of her from my sister. I love being an aunt.

4. Goodreads. I don't care enough to find a bunch of friends but it's fun being connected to my blog friends who have set goals for 2012 reading lists too. I've been reading consistently... 5 books down...45 to go.

I'm going to combine these next two...

5. Shopping. I let myself do a little shopping this week. Which goes well with 6. Having the chance to wear my new sweater because it's chilly-ish for Florida this weekend.

7. Brilliant friends. When I had an investment dilemma this week - I knew just who to call (thanks Jon).

8. Scheduled travel. My trip to see my best friend is less than 3 weeks away.

9. Groupon goods. Got a camera for super reasonable to tote to Haiti with me.

10. Good hair days. I've actually had like 2 this week. That's fairly remarkable for me.

11. Baseball caps. Couldn't live without them.

12. The blog. I'm loving blog world lately.

So much to be thankful for and enjoy about this fabulous year.



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pizza on the Grill & a Hockey Game.

It's no secret, I am a football girl. I come by it honest, in my family football is THE sport. I spent much of my childhood running the field, pacing the sidelines, and screaming in the stands. It's also not a secret that I know little about other sports...any.other.sports. But, that's not because I don't enjoy them.

I was given four club level tickets last minute on Wednesday for Thursday nights Tampa Bay Lightning game against the Carolina Hurricanes. I was thrilled. The only thing I love more than attending sporting events is attending them with free tickets! (this is not a joke, I'm probably the cheapest person you know). Plus, what's not to love about any full contact sport? I'd much rather watch football and hockey than tennis or golf! Can I confess - I like it when they fight? (I guess it's a good things my parents don't read this blog - they would not be proud of that statement)

I already had plans to make pizza on the grill with my neighbor, Edmund. Lucky for him, I ended up getting tickets and he happens to love the lightning. I had bought all the fixings so naturally I still wanted to try out my grill-friendly pizza stone (a gift from my bestie, Auburn, who also joined us for the game). I put together a cheese and mushroom (yuck) per Edmund's request and topped the rest with just cheese and pepperoni (fine, I like my pizza like a kid).

Let me pause here to say - I need to stop trying to combine too much fun into one night. After working til almost midnight Wednesday night, planning a day that involved a full day of work, cooking for 4, and getting us to a hockey game on time - was more than I should have determined to do. So as a result this pizza cooking experience was experimental. The first one was undercooked. Edmund and I ate it anyway and it wasn't so bad (and thankfully, neither of us got sick). The second one was better - but we ended up putting it in the oven on broil to try'n get Brett fed before we had to leave for the game...next time, I will do this at a more leisurely pace. Oh, and not make my pizza so thick!

The game itself was really fun - although sadly lacking in enough fights for my personal taste. Aubs and I snagged a few pics. I was called out for my blue and white (even down to my purse) because lucky for me, colts colors and bolts colors are the same. That made it easy to be rather festive.

For those of you who put in your vote on my shoe dilemma on facebook I went with the majority: Michael Kors (the top pair). Thanks for the imput, you sure do know how to help a girl in a fashion crisis out!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Personal Style.

'Fashion fades, style is eternal' - Yves Saint Laurent

On a lazy Saturday afternoon between workouts and chores I was chatting with my roommate about style. I was sharing with her my surprise when people say they like my 'sense of style', I've never really thought of myself as someone who has one. Stay with me on this - to me you can define your friends style, right? Most people's style can be tied up with a neat bow. One of my sister's is trendy while the other is a bit more ...bohemian? My 'style' if you will, is not really defined. I'm not classic but I'm not trendy. I'm not hippie or bohemian or edgy.

I chalk this up to the fact that I don't dress for style - I wear what I like. I wear what works for me (and sometimes things I love that I later realize don't actually look good on me at all). I think the most important factors to anyones personal style are that they know how to dress their body, and how to incorporate their personality into their wardrobe.

When I think of the people who's style I most admire, they are people who can look put together but effortless in one outfit. Probably my favorite example of this is Lauren Conrad (yes, of the Hills). I love her, always have. But as she's developed herself as both a fashion designer and a brand in and of herself, she has that perfect blend of natural style and a hint of personality. Here's a few examples:

Photo cred.

Photo Cred.

Photo cred.

Whose style do you appreciate and what defines your personal style?



Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's Ok Thursday, Again.

Its Ok Thursdays

It's that time again. Time to justify all my quirks. Whoo hoo...

So this Thursday I say it's ok...

...to read at stoplights. Hey, how else am I going to get 50 books done in 2012?

...to loathe morning workouts, even though you feel 100 times better on days you do them.

...to be over zealous about reaching all of your 2012 goals (they're year long goals, don't have to do them all the first month).

...to be weird about giving out your cell phone number, even though you have (as the verizon guy announced) 850 phone numbers already.

...to lose sleep if you didn't finish everything on that days 'to do' list (and yes, every day has a list)

...to be stoked to make homemade pizzas on the grill and go to a hockey game tonight.

...to LOVE getting free stuff (in this case - 4 club level hockey tickets).

...to be proud of yourself every day that you remember to take your vitamins (celebrate the small things, right?)

...to obsess about your budget. I love love love budgeting. And saving. (the saving part is pretty new).

...to love Kona coffee. I can't even drink other coffees anymore. Even Starbucks has lost it's edge for me.

...to love Sam's Club, even though you're single and you don't need family sized everything.

...to love clean sheets!

...to save your In Style for the weekend because it's the highlight of the month.

...to get a route 44 sonic diet coke every day during happy hour. (yes, every.single.day.)

Hey, it's ok.



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Weekend Recap.

The weekends come and go too quickly it seems. Monday always sneaks up on me and usually trips me while it's at it! Whew. But this weekend really was just what I needed!

Friday night we hit up Fly Bar downtown for dinner. It's this great Tapas place I've recommended on the blog before if you live in the Tampa area. But it's seriously one of my favorites. Lucky for me it's also Kayla and Jessica's fav too. So we met up for dinner and then hung out on the roof top deck for a bit.

I managed to get in bed at a decent hour so I could start Saturday fresh...

Kayla and I met for a mid morning walk on the Bayshore and did a leasurely 3 miles while catching up on life and what 2012 might hold for us. You may already have noticed how stoked about this year I am!

After our walk we headed to the local Starbucks to sit outside and enjoy out drinks (I got a skinny peppermint mocha) because I had a few Sbux giftcards from Christmas and I was dying to work on my latest book. We sat across from each other and read for an hour or so...making this morning productive to both my goal to drop another 20 lbs in 2012 AND my reading goal (On Sunday I finished book #5 of 50).

The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent getting things done around the batch pad. I came back from Christmas vacation with a list of things to do through, clean up, and clean out. With my Haiti yardsale in the works, it's good motivation to declutter! But honestly, I created a monster in myself - because I am LOVING the purge that's happening now.

I tackled the garage this weekend - cleaning out totes, organizing my yardsale piles, sweeping out, and spraying to make sure no bugs find their home in my garage this winter. I have to tell you a funny here though. Not too long ago, I ran over my broom with my car. This happened because I use to keep in the corner of the garage and I didn't realize it had fallen over, when I backed my car out right over it and this happened:

Oops! The funny part though, is that the other day I was in such a cleaning frenzie, I didn't want to stop to go to Target and buy a new one. So I was hunched over holding the two pieces of my broom, sweeping. This is how my neighbor, Bob, found me. I have a VERY friendly block and I absolutely love my neighbors. In fact, on Saturday, I spent a good part of the day hanging out, outside, with my neighbors. Anyway, Bob got such a kick out of my and my broken broom that he said he'd buy me a new one if I was that poor. : ]

Don't worry though, I did get a new broom - so I won't acquire any sweeping related back problems, I hope.

While in Indy I picked up a Colts sweatshirt for one of my other neighbors, Billy. Billy and his wife Alice have been so good to me since I moved into the neighborhood. They're generousity inspires me. And they've rallied all the neighbors to contribute to my yardsale for Haiti - which really touched me. Billy and I both love to grill so we have many a chats about football while we were cookin'. He's been extra supportive of my Colts this year and I wanted to make sure he had the colors to wear! He was THRILLED. He loves his new sweatshirt.

Saturday night I did a little babysitting (working towards my financial goals for 2012 - what can I say) which really meant reading and watching Netflix all night while the kiddos slept.

Sunday I got a morning workout, did a few things around the house, went to church, and had my first missions meeting! I'm getting so excited about my trip! Hopefully you caught my Haiti update post on the blog yesterday. If not, feel free to read that next. I also got to FaceTime with my bff - and finish the night (and my 5th book) while babysitting Sunday night as well.

I'm feeling good about this year...it's been productive, but in a relaxing sort of way. And it's only just begun.

24 days til my next trip!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Haiti Update: January.

Whew, it seems like just yesterday I sat down to write the December update. I supposed that means April is going to sneak up on in a fury of preparations.

Thank you for the kind words since I announced my intentions to go to Haiti. Your encouragement has lifted me up and grown my excitement for all that the Lord has for me on this trip. I've read every comment, text, e-mail, and tweet with your words and soaked them up!

I had my first missions meeting yesterday. I was excited to finally get a little more info after felling like the last month my mind has been swinging with Haiti info. I will say, I got a little scared when I realized how phyical this trip will be. We will be doing construction, which I knew, but this will include lugging and laying 35lb cement bricks for the foundation of a church in Haiti. Ouch. I've been advised along with the rest of my team to train, physically, for the difficulties we will experience physically. Jillian Michaels and I have some big dates coming up!

I'm pleased to announced I've been officially 'approved' to go from the church - so this trip is REAL!

Many of you have been kind enough to want to help! I've spend some time thinking about how this could best be done. I LOVE finding ways to contribute to others mission ambitions myself, so I wanted to find real, tangible ways for you all to be a part of this trip (if you want too) whether you're a friend, neighbor, family member, or blog world friend. So here are some ways you can help, all of which I would be grateful for!...

1. Prayer. I mean it when I say that if what you've got to give is prayer - I will TAKE IT! I am excited, peaceful, and confident in the Lord's provision for my safety, finances, etc but I will take every last prayer with a grateful heart. This is certainly a crazy little adventure of which, I will need the Lord direction every step of the way. If you're committing to pray for me - I'd love to know about it, and I would also love it if you'd remind me along the way that you're praying and how you're praying! That would really to my heart good.

2. Supplies. If you want to 'give' in a tangible way, I still need a few supplies. I shared before that my Mom bought quite a few things from my list for my trip as stocking stuffers, but there's still some basic supply needs. If you aren't in Tampa but you'd like to send me a supply care package, I will happily e-mail you my address (as long as I semi know you - so I'm not giving my address to creepers ha ha).

Here's a list of some of the things I still need:

- Water purifying tablets (you can google them - they're for international travel)
-Granola bars and...
- Other prepackaged snacks
- Peanut butter
- Dry shampoo
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer ( I got some in my stocking but I'm thinking I may need a good bit of this)

(May I state as a disclaimer that if I end up with too much of any of these things I will happily donate them to my fellow travelers. I promise not to hoard 100s of packs of baby wipes all for me)

3. Treasure/Trash. Yep, you read that right. What might be your trash can be turned into treasure. My sweet friend Jess has agreed to host me a yard sale and I will be accepting any donations of things you no longer need/use/want to be sold to benefit my trip. I figured this was a simple way that anyone who wanted to contribute would have a chance to do so, however big or small your donation. So if you want to clean off your bookshelf, clean out your closet, or get rid of a pile of tees taking up too much room in your dresser save them for me! The yard sale will be Saturday, February 18th in the Northdale area - and I will most likely start taking the donations in the week before (I can't store them for 6 weeks...) Again, if you want to ship a box of stuff, I'll take that too.

4. Finances. I wanted to list this last because I'm not a big fan of asking for money. So I'm not going too. I'm just going to put it out there, that if you want to contribute financially to my trip - that would wonderful. The trip itself costs $900 and in addition I have to get immunizations, a passport, etc. So it's not cheap. I trust the Lord to pave the way and feel completely comfortable with it all. But several of you have asked about giving and I am touched my your generosity. If you're interested in giving money wise - please e-mail me for further info.

(Another disclaimer - if there is a crazy influx of funds I do promise not to use your money on a new handbag - if I raise over what I need for this trip, I will be donating the rest to the members of my team who need funding as well. All donations will go towards the Haiti trip)

For more info on any of the above need listings you can e-mail me at: thequeenbc@gmail.com

Thank you for your continued love and support.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

12 Things I'm Already Loving in 2012.

1. Starting the year off with friends, over brunch. It was a delicious and relaxing way to ring in the New Year with some of my favorite people. A great way to start this year off on the right foot.

2. Being halfway done with my 5th book of 2012. When I'm in a reading groove, I'm REALLY in a groove. (I read 15 pages while doing my hair the other morning)

3. Friday Night Lights on Netflix. My boy E hooked me up with Netflix on my new iPad and I'm pretty much obsessed with this show right now. Even though I've seen at least the first 3 (of 5) seasons, I'm going back through from the beginning. I should probably be pacing myself so I don't run out of episodes too soon.

4. Year Three. I'm in my third year as a homeowner and well into my 3rd year at my current job. Year three feels good.

5. Travel! My decision to make this year's theme 'experiences' was well received by friends and blog readers alike. And I am welcoming the first few months of that with travel. I received my e-mail from Southwest yesterday saying 'your next trip is just around the corner' and I squealed with excitement. First up, Scottsburg, Indiana. But that is only the first of many travels coming soon (FSU, Haiti, DC...).

6. Family. I feel closer to my family than ever going into this year and I am loving that.

7. FaceTime. I started using FaceTime after I got my iphone in the fall but since becoming an iPad user, I'm loving it even more. Feeling like I can sit at home and have a face-to-face chat with my best friend in Indiana, one of my closest guy friends in Chicago, my niece in North Carolina, etc has really made this year exciting so far.

8. Budgeting. After 2 years of successful budgeting I started 2012 with the best lead yet. I feel good about reaching my financial goals this year, staying debt free, and enjoying that travel budget I've worked so hard for.

9. Living in Florida. May marks 4 YEARS since my move to Florida and I can say very honestly, I've loved every minute (ok fine, maybe there have been 10 minutes here or there where I curse the heat or something).

10. Chasing Dreams. I've determined that your 20s are the time for chasing your dreams and I'm giving that my full attention and effort. Stay tuned for how that's shaping up for 2012.

11. Cleaning up and cleaning out. Since I came back from Christmas vacation a few days before my return to work I had time to do a little simplifying. Clean up some clutter, prep a few boxes for my upcoming yardsale to raise money for my Haiti trip, and make a list of what I still want to go through. Honestly, I even cleaned out the condiment section of my fridge, some of which has probably been hanging out there since I moved in, in December of 2009.

12.Being Me. That sounds weird, but honestly - I love my life. I'm so thankful for the people in it, living in my favorite city, and all that the Lord has given me. It's good to be me in 2012.


Friday, January 6, 2012


Well lovies, my flight is booked. DC 2012 is happening. I was talking to a friend over Christmas who said, 'I really want to come visit you this year, but I just have to find the time'. Here's what I've learned about life - you don't find time, ever. You make it. Make time for what matters and what you value, because otherwise it slips by and the next year you'll say the same.

One of the great benefits to my job in events is that I travel for work. While traveling for work (on flights I book) I rack up points, usually with Southwest, my favorite airline. I get to use the points for pleasure. And so, after my trip to NYC last year where I used a freebie flight to make it an affordable, though not 'cheap', trip - I was inspired. Why not for this season of life where I get to travel for free one or twice a year to see major US cities? And so, the plan to visit Washington DC was born.

Truthfully, I'm already dreaming of where my 2013 destination will be! I know, ridiculous.

I did get that across body bag I wanted for my trip for Christmas so I can travel light at least while I'm perusing the city. I've started a list of all the places I want to go, see, and of course, eat (hello, DC Cupcakes).

Going to DC is #3 on my list of goals for 2012 - so here I am taking a big stride towards it, with a booked flight. May can't come soon enough. But it will have to wait it's turn, because Haiti is coming up first, in April. And before that I'm headed to Scottsburg to see my best friend and Tallahassee to see my cousin play baseball in March. Whew, 2012, I like you already!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's OK Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

I'm back in Tampa and back on this link up with the girls. I love Amber and Neely - especially interacting with them in twitter world.

So here we go again...

It's ok...

... to not know what to do with yourself when you're visiting your parents for 9 days (why yes, I read 4 freakin books).

...to hate the cold weather and want to live in Florida forever.

...to over commit, sometimes. ( fly home, work 11.5 hours, host a brunch less than 8 hours after that...whew).

...to refuse to call your goals 'resolutions' even though it's pretty much the same thing.

...to want to travel every weekend.

...to obsess about budgeting in an attempt to stop obsessing about spending (clearly, not obsessing about anything doesn't work for me)

...to obsessively watch the NFL twitterfeed for the fate of friends.

...to want to watch every single episode of Friday Night Lights (best show, ever)

...to be giddy with excitement at the progress towards previously mentioned 2012 goals

...to be freakishly proud of yourself for finally having a 'big girl' savings account

..to have a crooked spine because since Christmas you've been toting your Kindle, ipad, planner, and book EVERYWHERE.

...to fake like you're asleep when the nutcase beside you on the plane seems too chatty.

...to check your southwest rewards points regularly to see how close you are to more free flights (even though I booked a freebie YESTERDAY)

Hey, it's ok.

Love, B

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas Vacay Recap.

Disclaimer: I promise this blog will not be this boring forever - new layout coming soon.

Hello loves,

I hope 2012 is off to an excellent start for each of you. I feel refreshed, motivated, and blessed as I begin what promises to be my most exciting year yet (do I say that every year? Well, it's true).

I returned on Saturday from an excellent, and blessedly long, relaxing trip to Indiana where I'm pleased to report I finally met my niece...

Noa. Sweet Noa.

Noa and her crazy Aunt B. ; ]

I flew in just in time to witness a Colts win (those were few and far between this year).

(this is my sweet baby sister Ruthie)

Me & my sweet Momma.

Got to see my best friend!

And have breakfast with my college roomie (well one of them).

I read 4 books, did a little shopping, ate too much, only worked out once...and came home excited for all the Lord has in store for me and my precious family in 2012.


Monday, January 2, 2012

12 Goals for 2012.

1. Read 50 books. (I'm baaack)

2. Leave the US for the first time (hello, Haiti)

Photo Cred.

3. Take Washington DC by storm (May 2012)

4. Skydive - even if it's only indoors.

5. Lose another 20 pounds

6. Finally see my cousin play college (base)ball

7. Shower my niece with love letters

8. I'm sorry to do this - but #8 is going to have to be an unspoken. Due to...well, just take my word for it: I can't tell you yet but if I make this goal a reality I will blow up blog world with it.

9. Finish at least 100 pages of my book (writing).

10. Visit one new state (on my way to 50)

11. Get back into photography - for pleasure.

12. Write. Write often, write honestly, and write here.

Well 2012, lets do this with excellence.