Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Cheer

Please feel free to check out last year's post if you still need a little extra Christmas cheer:-). 

Merry Christmas,

*I apologize for not giving credit to the original sources... most were found at a secondary location.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Gifts 2013- (Mostly) Local Edition

I have been eyeing these shirts for quite a while now.  The designer of these shirts attended my high school and graduated a few years before me.  Her shirts are often adorned by children and adults alike in my hometown.

This shop was recommended to me by another blogger. I was so impressed after visiting the website that I ordered several sets as Christmas gifts this year.  The designer has many styles and colors to choose from and she offers a pretty quick turnaround too.  I am very pleased with the quality of these products and will probably be ordering more in the near future.

I met this vendor at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, New York this past summer.  I purchased one of her wooden chevron necklaces and love it!

I have had this book for several years now, but it wasn't until recently that I decided to dust it off and actually read it.  Boy, am I glad I did! The author's stories are wittingly funny and a must-read if you live below the Mason-Dixon line.  Not only does she talk about faith, love, and Southern heritage, she also shares recipes and fun little quotes from Southern Mamas such as, "When cooking cabbage cook it just long enough to get the squeak out." 

Although I am not a big fan of honey, I would have to say this is by far my favorite.  The honey from Williams Honey Farm does not contain any chemicals or antibiotics and they are located right outside of Nashville:-).  Warning:: insert shameless plug here:: The beekeepers are members of my old Sunday School class and are actually Brad Paisley's in-laws. How cool is that?!

This was another vendor I met at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, New York.  I absolutely adored her products and would have probably spent a fortune if I had a bebe. You should check her out!

I met the owner of this shop earlier this year at a barn sale in Franklin, Tennessee. I actually own a pair of her earrings and would highly recommend them for that hard-to-buy-for girl in your life.  I typically do not recommend other people's earrings since I make my own; however, her style and prices are hard to beat.  

Last, but not least here is another vendor I met at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, New York. She creates custom digital prints of homes, people, and pets based off the photo(s) customers send her. I think it would be a fun idea for married couples to have a digital print of their first home together and/or the homes they grew up in.  

I wish I could tell you to let these people know I sent you for a discount, but the truth is most of these people have no idea who I am:-).  Feel free to check out last year's post for more ideas!

Tis the Season,

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Value of One

When I was in graduate school, Dr. Jimmie Dans was the head of the speech-language pathology program and the professor of several of my classes. She (yes, Jimmie was a girl, but don't worry we called her Clarice for short... well, actually we called her Dr. Dans, but only after building up the courage to approach her) was known for two things: (1) teaching the hard courses and (2) weeding out students during their first year of graduate school.

Let's just say, Dr. Dans did not disappoint our class the first year of our graduate program.  She nearly cut us in half and sent the rest of us shaking in our sneakers to the next assignment(s). It still causes me a little anxiety just writing about it.  Unfortunately, at the end of our first year of graduate school, Dr. Dans decided to retire.  I say "unfortunately" because we were a little bummed the class after us wasn't going to get the full appreciation of what we had just survived endured. Either way, it was time to pay our respects and present her with a well-deserved card and gift from all of us (aka "her last class").

While signing her card, I decided to end my words of encouragement and signature with a bible verse. That sounds pretty appropriate and thoughtful, right?  There was only one small problem... I accidentally left off the one of my sixteen and wrote Proverbs 6:9 instead of Proverbs 16:9. I knew as soon as I handed the card to the next person I had made a mistake; however, I didn't think too much about it because I thought I could pretty much close my eyes and pick a verse in the bible and it still be okay- maybe not applicable to the situation at hand, but 'okay' nonetheless.  I'll let you be the judge.

Here's the verse I meant to reference:
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Here's the verse I accidentally referenced:
"How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?" Proverbs 6:9

Yep, I did that. I wrote that in somebody's retirement card.  

Here's my class (minus Christina??!!) on our last day as graduate students!

All I can say is thank goodness it was her retirement party and not a celebration of her deciding to break the longest record for teaching.  If that were the case, I may not have made it out of her next class alive!

Lesson learned.

Please Note: This post was written purely for entertainment purposes. I mean, everything is pretty much true that I wrote; however, I have nothing but respect for this amazing woman.  She did great things for our program and served my alma mater well. Thank you for giving me shingles all of your hard work, Dr. Dans! We love you!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

10 Things I Learned at 30

I used to be nervous and not very excited about leaving my 20s.  I used to think there were certain milestones I HAD to achieve before I turned the big 3-0. And if those things didn't happen, it meant I wasn't reaching my highest potential... or dare I say it meant I had failed.  A few months before my 30th birthday I shared a sugarcoated version of my feelings about turning thirty with a sweet lady. What she said wasn't profound, but it was just enough to help me keep things in perspective.  She said she used to dread birthdays until she turned fifty.  On her 50th birthday she looked at herself in the mirror and said, "God must think I'm pretty special to have kept me around for this long.  Not everybody gets a chance to say that."  With that being said, here is a very condensed version of what I have learned over the past 29 years.
  1. Cherish the ones you love by spending time with them.
  2. This life on earth owes you nothing... Jesus already paid the highest price he could for you on the cross.
  3. Do what you love- use your gifts.
  4. Ask for forgiveness.
  5. Make friendships that last a lifetime.
  6. Learn to see people through the eyes of Jesus- you never know what battle they are fighting.
  7. Be thankful.
  8. Accept yourself. You will never be perfect... you are becoming who God created you to be.
  9. Your family will be your greatest cheerleader(s).
  10. Pray. And then pray some more.
I wish I could tell you my 30th birthday was a day filled with flowers, rainbows, and unicorns... but it wasn't.  I also wish I could tell you I hit every single milestone (you know, things like 2.5 kids frolicking in the front yard surrounded by a white picket fence) that I used to measure my worth and success by, but I didn't.  But I can tell you I am thankful for turning thirty. I am excited about what is in store for this next chapter of my life. I'm learning that God is a way better author and storyteller than I ever dreamed of being.

Thank you, Jesus, for another birthday.

Signature Pose

The original version...

The snowy version...

The Abbey Road version...

And the "I'm at Red Velvet!!!" version...

Easily amused,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Well, after much contemplation to delete this blog and start fresh and/or delete this blog and take a break forever… I decided to keep this blog and plunge forward.  I would be lying if I didn’t say life has been HARD these past few months.  If you would have told me that’s how it all would have ended a few years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you- in fact, I probably would have boycotted you. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where hurt and pain are alive and well.  The Bible is very clear "the thief comes to kill and steal and destroy" (John 10:10) and that’s about all I am going to say about these past few months. If that doesn’t make sense to you… it’s probably best for now. Thankfully, that’s not where the story ends.  The Bible also tells us:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91:14-16

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5.

And since I believe there is HOPE in the healing process, I am going to choose to focus on some of the happy times I had during my time in Franklin, Tennessee over the past five years.
  • I was able to see more celebrity homes than I ever imagined. You can read about some of them here.
  • I went to the Grand Ole Opry 4-5 times and saw Rascal Flatts get invited to be members of the Grand Ole Opry; heard John Connolly sing “Rose Colored Glasses”; listened to Little Jimmy Dickens tell his funny jokes; had the privilege of seeing Charlie Daniels play the fiddle while singing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”; and watched Carrie Underwood perform live!
  • I saw the Rockettes at the Grand Ole Opry.
  • I toured the Jack Daniels Distillery- it was a neat experience even though I don’t drink alcoholic beverages.
  • I landed my first real job (and stayed 5 years)!
  • I went to an amazing church. I will forever be grateful for the people I met there.
  • I met some amazing people who would be on my dream team if I were into that sort of thing.
  • I saw Norah Jones perform live at the Ryman Auditorium.
  • I listened to songwriters sing their own songs at the Bluebird CafĂ©.
  • I created my own jewelry line.
  • I grew more emotionally, spiritually, and physically than I ever imagined (especially in the last few months).
  • I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal- twice!
  • I had a doctor’s appointment with Reese Witherspoon’s father.
  • I cheered on the Predators several times a year.  
  • I went to a Titans game.
  • I made my own pancakes at the Pfunky Griddle with some fun friends.
  • I went to a few of Gen’s awesome thrift sales (thanks to my friend, Lindsey).
  • I fell in love with Barre Amped (but was too cheap to keep going).
  • I received the phone call that one of my favorite graduate school friends accepted Christ into her heart.
  • I had the privilege of helping start a program for middle school students with special needs at our church.
  • I traveled to new places such as Holiday World, Austin, Charleston, Savannah, Hilton Head, Asheville, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Deer Valley, Breckenridge, Fall Creek Falls, Yellowstone National Park, and Snowshoe.
  • I tried (and cooked) asparagus, pomegranate, and brussels sprouts for the first time.
  • I attended an art retreat with my mom.
  • I grew closer to my family (that absence makes the heart grow fonder is true, folks).
  • I attended the 44th Annual CMA Awards.
  • I had a few celebrity sitings (don't worry I only approached one of them):
    • Faith Hill- She held the door open for me at Rebecca’s in downtown Franklin.
    • Naomi Judd- I saw her in downtown Franklin.
    • Kelli Pickler- I spotted her with my mom in downtown Franklin.
    • David Neil- I recognized him and his wife at Sweet CeCe’s in downtown Franklin.
    •  Mike from American Pickers- I saw him at the grand opening of his store and at Merridee’s Breadbasket.
    • Josh Turner- I saw him a few times at my church!
    • Nicole Kidman- I spotted her from the Super Slide at the Williamson County Fair.
    • Jason Aldean- I saw him leaving the CMAs when we sneaked onto the red carpet.
    • Dierks Bentley- I saw him right outside of the Whole Foods in Nashville.
    • Carrie Underwood- My dad and I saw her walking her dogs while we were cruising through her neighborhood.
      Thank you for letting me take a walk down memory lane.  I think Elizabeth Smart put it best when she said, "I do have scars, but not all scars are ugly, especially if they mean something."


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Reasons I Love My Grandmother

My grandmother has her family over for dinner every Sunday after church. 

I love that about her.

My grandmother claims she has never been a good hostess (see above).

I love that about her.
My grandmother loved my grandfather and still talks about him with such admiration.

I love that about her.

 My grandmother claims she doesn't recognize herself in the mirror anymore.  
This may sound sad to some, but to me it tells me she is still young at heart.  

I love that about her.

 My grandmother loves church hymns.  She says there's no other place besides a church building where you can hear such beautiful music.  One of her favorites is "One Day at a Time Sweet Jesus".  

I love that about her.
My grandmother says this picture makes her look like an old Indian woman. 

I love that about her.

My grandmother thinks everybody is hungry and should always 
eat when they visit her house.

I love that about her.

My grandmother talks with a faded French accent, 
loves cajun music, and can shuffle her feet with the best of them. 

All these things, I love about her.

My grandmother says she never was a businesswoman.  

I resemble that about her.

My grandmother genuinely loves her eight children (and their spouses); nineteen grandchildren (and their spouses); and nine great-grandchildren- we are all her favorites.  

I love that about her.

My grandmother is the sweetest, toughest lady I know.
I, along with many others, love that about her!

I love you, Grandma!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Friends Weekend

Oh my, where to start?!  A few weekends ago, my favorite friend Lindsey asked if her and a few girls from college could come to Tennessee and visit us for a weekend.  I immediately responded with a big YES, WE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE Y'ALL!!!  I'm going to do my best to introduce this group before I reflect on the weekend we spent together.  

Lindsey, Carey, and Kristen were all roommates during college.  I was pretty much the girl that just tagged along and showed up on their doorstep since I was friends with Lindsey and I lived down the street from them.  Ha! That last sentence is only partly true:). These girls also served as my accountability group in college.  Although I was probably the worst accountability partner ever since I never liked praying out loud and I was too insecure to share what was really going on in my life during that time, I always treasured the time I spent with them. 

And without further ado, here's a recap of our weekend in Tennessee together!  

Since Carey and Kristen live in Louisiana, they met Thursday morning and carpooled to Lindsey's house in Madison, Mississippi.  Lindsey then drove them the rest of the way and they made it to Franklin, Tennessee just in time for dinner (and for our second snow of the season!).  We spent Thursday night down in the clubhouse drinking coffee and catching up on the last several years.  We talked about marriage, babies, friends from college, and everything else in between. 

The next morning we got dressed and headed to downtown Franklin to eat lunch and do a little shopping. Here we are eating lunch and some delicious pie at Merridee's Breadbasket.

Somewhere along the way, we decided to get coffee at one of our favorite college hangouts, the Frothy Monkey!!!  The Frothy Monkey originated in our college town and recently opened up a store in Franklin, Tennessee.  How exciting is that?!  When Lindsey and I were in college, we went through a phase where we would meet at the Frothy Monkey and play Chess once a week.  Did I mention that we were cool in college?

After shopping in downtown Franklin for a few hours, we decided to go back home and meet Carey's sister who had just driven in from East Tennessee.  In addition, it was also time to freshen up and eat dinner before heading to the Grand Ole Opry!!!!

The lineup at the Opry was pretty good that night, but our favorites were Gloriana and the amazing CARRIE UNDERWOOD!!!!!

I think Carrie Underwood was even more beautiful in person than she is on tv!

Ha! You know it's going to be a good day when this many girls CHOOSE to get ready in the same bathroom just to make the most of every single minute together.  Just for the record, I'm pretty sure I counted three straighteners in this picture:).

Yay!  It snowed again while they were here!!  

Saturday we spent the day eating brunch at the Puffy Muffin, touring celebrity homes, and treating ourselves to Sweet CeCe's.

I love this candid photo of these two sisters!  Such a sweet moment.

We also managed to squeeze in some antique shopping at Scarlett Scales Antiques and the Franklin Antique Mall.  

I have tried to think of the best way to describe our time together and the only thing I can say is it felt like I was at a Beth Moore Conference the entire weekend.  These girls are some of the most godly girls I know and their conversation was so refreshing.  I love these girls soo much and am so thankful they decided to make the drive to Nashville, Tennessee for the weekend.  I also appreciate the sacrifice(s) their children and husbands made in order to make this weekend happen.   Thank you.


p.s You can read Kristen's blog post here about our weekend together.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Liebster Award: Part III

The Rules, Should You Be Nominated:
1. If you were nominated, post 11 things about yourself.
2. Then answer the 11 questions that the person who nominated you created.
3. Create 11 more questions to ask the bloggers you decided to nominate.
4. Choose 11 bloggers to nominate with less than 200 followers.
5. Make sure and let these people know you nominated them! 
*No tag backs, so don't nominate someone who nominated you.

My 9 Blogger Nominees (since I don't follow 11 blogs that match the criteria):
1. Carey Tomlinson- I met Carey in college through our friend, Lindsey.  Carey has a beautiful heart and her faith in Jesus is so pure.  She has two beautiful daughters that love to help her cook and dance around the house.  

2. Kristen Thomas- I met Kristen at college orientation.  We were members of the BCM and Temple Baptist Church together.  She is in several of my favorite college memories including being in NYC for NYE, driving to TN with the intention of rafting and having to turn around due to bad weather, many Temple Tech Hoe Downs, and the list goes on and on.  She is such a sweet person and I have a feeling she's a pretty good mom too!

3. Layla Judkins- Layla and I went to high school together and sat right beside each other in Advanced Math class.  In addition, her dad worked with my mom at the Highway Department.  She is a cool girl who now lives in Seattle!

4. Amber Dixon- I met Amber in Sunday School at Clearview Baptist Church.  She currently resides in Chattanooga, but I secretly think she is cool for having lived in NYC once upon a time.  She writes pretty funny stories about her life with two boys and a husband on her blog.  

5. Bethany King- Bethany was in my high school graduation class.  Although we didn't have many classes together, I always thought she was quirky (in a good way) and super smart!  She is currently experiencing her first pregnancy, which she writes about on her blog.  I didn't realize how much we had in common until we became friends on Facebook a few years ago.

6. Andrea Metcalf- Andrea is a super sweet person who went to school to be a teacher, but decided after a few years of teaching she wanted to stay at home with her beautiful baby girl.  We currently attend the same church and have known each other for approximately five years.

7. Angie Newby- Angie and I met at Louisiana Tech University.  Her husband (then boyfriend) was roommates with Fosh during college.  She is from South Louisiana, but currently resides in Texas.  Although I don't get to see her often, I thoroughly enjoy my time with her. She loves all things crafty and has a pretty big heart for Jesus!

8. Alex Adams- Alex and I met this past fall after our husbands started working together.  She is a true southern girl who loves her family.  We had a craft night a few months ago where she taught me how to make bracelets and I taught her how to make earrings.  She's a fun girl that enjoys writing about her sweet family of three.

9. Faith Murphy- Oh, Faith Murphy, where do I begin. Her and her husband taught our Sunday school class when we first moved to Tennessee.  She has led us in bible studies, had us over for Sunday dinners, and even gone skiing with us.  Faith and her family will always hold a special place in my heart. Check out her blog- she may be famous one day in the world of women’s bible studies!  I love you, Faith!

Now for the Questions:
1. What is your favorite bible verse?
2. How did you meet your spouse?
3. What is something cool about your job?
4. What is your favorite dessert? Please share the recipe.
5. What is the best advice you would give to a couple just getting married?
6. Where is your favorite place to travel?
7. What made you decide to live in your current city?
8. Describe your personal style in one word.
9. What is your favorite childhood memory?
10. What is a past-time that you love?
11. If you could meet one person, who would it be?

I can't wait to read your responses!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Liebster Award: Parts I & II

A few days ago I was nominated by Katie McCormick for the Liebster Award.  There are three parts to this award... the first part asks for me to share eleven facts about myself; the second part asks me to answer questions provided by Katie that are listed below; and for the third part I am supposed to nominate eleven people who have blogs that match a certain criteria.  

Part I
I am not sure if this is cheating or not, but since I wrote this blog post a few years ago and it fulfills the rules for Part I, I decided to just link it here instead of writing eleven more random facts about myself. 

Part II is listed below!

How do you know me? Share a fun memory, the story of how we met, or a favorite post from my blog.
Katie and I went to preschool together at Ridge Avenue, Elementary School together at George Welch, and Junior High and High School together at West Monroe.  I have always thought she was a super sweet person who had a contagious love for life!

      Name 3 things you love about yourself.
      Is this kosher?! Umm… my faith, humor, and friends!

We all have that one topic that sends us straight to our soapbox... what's yours?
Parents not disciplining their children:/.

What is the best gift you have ever received?
This is a hard question.  When I was little, I never wanted to hurt my parents feelings by making them feel like I was choosing one over the other so if they both gave me a doll… I would play with both dolls at the same time.  Weird, I know.  With that being said maybe I should list my favorite gifts from both of my parents. Is that allowed?

My favorite gift from my Mom: Trampoline (then) and pink Mariana bracelet (now);
My favorite gift from my Dad: Blue Topaz Jewelry (then) and kitchen table (now); and

What is your favorite tv show/movie and why?
My favorite tv show is hands-down still Friends!  I could watch the re-runs over and over.  I’m not really a huge movie person, but I love anything with Hugh Grant and/or Julia Roberts.  I would also have to add Hope Floats to the list!

What is your favorite/signature dish? Share the recipe!!
Chicken Divan Casserole
3-4 Chicken Breasts; 2 Bundles Steamed Broccoli; 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup; 2/3 Cup Mayonnaise; 1/3 Cup Evaporated Milk; 1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice; Dash of Cayenne Pepper; Grated Cheddar Cheese
Preparation Instructions:
Cook chicken (I salt and pepper and cook in the oven). I use fresh broccoli cut in large pieces and steam for only 5 to 7 minutes. In large casserole dish, evenly place steamed broccoli. Cut chicken breasts to bite size piece and set aside. In mixing bowl mix soup, mayonnaise, evaporated milk, lemon juice, and dash of cayenne pepper. Mix well and add chicken. Pour the chicken mixture over the broccoli and top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake @ 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
By: Unknown 

If you had to punch a company/business in the face, who would you punch?
Yikes!  This is getting serious. 

What is your guilty pleasure music/artist/song? You know, the one you listen to when you are all alone.
I guess I would have to say Taylor Swift and the Judds... I would probably never play any of their music if I had a passenger in the car.  

Best party you have ever been to...whether it was impeccable execution of a theme or fun times with fun friends, share a memory.
The Ranch House dance parties in college! A few of the guys from the BCM lived in a huge, old white house that was approximately 10 miles outside of Ruston, Louisiana. One night out of the year they would move all of the furniture out of the downstairs area and hook up some huge speakers in the living room. So.much.fun.  Thanks, Ranch House!
If you could have your own tv show, what would it be about?
If I could have my own tv show, I guess it would have to be about traveling.  I’m really not that interesting to watch. 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Twenty Goals in Twenty-Thirteen

... and ONE to grow on!
  1. Turn 30 (and be happy about it)!
  2. Learn to hand-stamp jewelry.
  3. Continue studying the bible with a great group of friends.
  4. Design a line of necklaces for Hootknows.
  5. Read 2 books (unlike last year).
  6. Make 5 new smoothie recipes.
  7. Sew a t-shirt quilt.
  8. Upcycle an old sweater.
  9. Complete a puzzle… always a favorite around Christmas time.
  10. Go to the beach!
  11. Celebrate Thanksgiving with my family this year.
  12. Take MORE pictures!
  13. Buy old costume jewelry at an Estate Sale (and use it to create new jewelry).
  14. See Carrie Underwood in concert.
  15. Try a new restaurant in East Nashville- Bethany, I may need your help on this one.
  16. Buy and/or build a house (again!).
  17. Learn a new hairstyle.
  18. Run a 5k while my legs still work.
  19. Go snow skiing with my family and friends- we missed it this year!
  20. Invite a new couple over for supper- expanding my bubble.
  21. Celebrate my brother’s wedding!!
Have I convinced you yet??  I would love to hear some of your goals:)  

Happy 2013!

"Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21