"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places." Roald Dahl

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hometown Proud

There is something very calming and happy about going back to my hometown.  I'm not sure what it is - probably all of the memories - but it sure is nice.

The historic hotel.

The ice cream hang out.


Sarah and I outside of the Starbucks on Main Street.


I love that the Christmas decorations are already up!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rough Life

The past week I was in the midwest spending time with my family.  This means that my sister's dog, Chief, was also around.  He is one spoiled little pup.

He did a lot of this...

Except for when we were eating...and during meals, he did a lot of this...


Until he got smart, that is...



Problem solving at its finest...


Once he had that figured out he got back to doing what Chief does best...


Rough life, huh?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I saw this quote yesterday and I think there is a lot of truth in it, so I'm going to go ahead and remind myself of what I am thankful for today.

"It's not happy people who are thankful, it's thankful people who are happy."

source


 I'm thankful for...

  • ...parents who always tell me they love me and that they are proud of me.  That goes a long way and gives me the courage to try new things.
  • ...the close bond I have with my sisters -  I can tell them anything.
  • ...Derek, who is able to make me laugh every day and helps me rationalize life.
  • ...amazing friends that I can lean on and turn to whenever I need advice or a smile.
  • ...my health and the health of my family and friends.  I'm fortunate, and I recognize that.
  • ...a job that I love that pays the bills.
  • ...the gorgeous weather here in North Carolina.  I love being able to run outside year round!
  • ...chocolate.  It's soooo good.
  • ...cameras.  I love looking back at pictures and reminiscing.
  • ...the troops who are serving and fighting for our country.  It's easy to forget that they are there, while we are so removed from it, but I'm thankful that they allow me to live my life the way I do.
  • ...my cozy little house.  After four years, it's starting to feel more and more like home.
  • ...Christmas decorations!  I get to put them up when I get back after Thanksgiving.  I'm excited just thinking about it!  (I might have cheated and put on thing out today.  Whoops.)
Last, but not least, and I am channeling my sister when I say this...

"I'm thankful I'm not the turkey."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Funny Story

This post is more detail about our drive up to Chicago...

On Thursday I met Sarah and we dropped off a car.  After jumping up and down hugging in the Walmart parking lot where we met (hey, I hadn't seen her in a while), we piled into my car and headed north.  We left at 5pm and arrived into my hometown of St. Charles, IL at approximately 4:30am central time.  The funny thing...we didn't even turn on the car radio until 11pm.  We talked almost non-stop for the first 6 hours.  It was amazing.

Around midnight we stopped at a 24 hour McDonalds for some coffee and it was smooth sailing from there.  Side note**  We were pretty giggly when we got to the MickyD's and the drive-thru guy probably thought we were on something, because he asked where we were headed.  When we told him where we were headed his response was hilarious; "Chicago, awe man, that's what's up!".  For some reason we laughed at that for a while.  Once we had the caffiene in us, we were wide awake and chatting again and the rest of the trip flew by.  Until we arrived into St. Charles, that is...

Sarah's parents no longer live in town, so she does not have the luxury, that I do, of seeing our hometown and our old high school friends over the holidays.  She hadn't been back in town in a few years, so as we were driving through downtown we were pointing things out, reminiscing.  New restaurants here... the same old hang-outs there...you get the point.

All of a sudden, approximately 2 miles from our final destination (my parents' house) we had some flashing lights show up right behind us...


Sarah:  I cannot believe this is happening...

Officer:  Ladies, where are you headed?

Us:  Home.  (giggling, because we had to.)

Officer:  You were speeding up and slowing down.  I'm not sure what to think.

Clearly, he thought we were on something (Oh dear, this seems like a theme.) and we couldn't stop laughing.  We had driven 950 miles only to get stopped 2 miles from my parents house.  Crazy.

After calming down and explaining the situation to him, he laughed as well and told us to be careful.  We got away with a warning.  Thank goodness - gotta love that northern hospitality.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hidden Blessings

This past weekend I road tripped north, up to Chicago for a funeral.  The funeral service was beautiful.  I am so glad I was there to experience it, support my friend, and be a part of the celebration of his life.

Immediately, when I heard the news last week, I wanted and needed to be there to support my friend and to remember this great man.  I think the event in general brought about a bunch of mixed emotions for me.  I can't imagine what it is like to lose a parent. It made me want to see my own parents, in person, immediately.  I wanted to hug them and I wanted to spend time with them because events like this make everyone realize how uncertain the future is.

Luckily, I have those two friends in South Carolina; Sarah and Andrea.  Remember them?  They were just as adamant as I was about making it back up there, so we decided to drive up together.  This is where the hidden blessings come in...

How often, as an adult, do you get 16 uninterrupted hours to hang out and chat with two of your closest friends?  If you're us, not a whole lot.  We have tried for the past few months to coordinate schedules and have another girls weekend, but it just hasn't happened.  This past weekend, we got to be together.  Not only were we together, but we were together at a time when there were lots of deep thoughts going through our minds, when we were questioning how best to support our friend, and when we were all counting our blessings.  It was the "silver lining" of the weekend, if that is even possible.






We got a bit silly because that's what we do.





We talked about our parents, we talked about our families, our careers, our future hopes and dreams, and we reminisced...a lot.  We were all reminded of what really mattered and we got to enjoy some very quality time together.

Take a minute today to think of the people who have influenced your life.  Make sure to thank them.  Go ahead and call your loved ones and tell them you love them.  It's important!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Perspective

    This week my normal everyday life has had quite the reality check.  One of my friends is going through a trying time.  I can't imagine how she feels and I'm still trying to figure out how best to support her.  Please keep the prayers coming.



This week has given me a little (ok, a lot of) perspective.  I should focus more of my energy on important things (even if they are small) - like making sure I call my parents and sisters often, making sure I am thankful for the wonderful people in my life that love and support me, and making sure that I stop every once in a while to stop and "smell the roses".

  I suggest you take a minute today, take a nice, deep, cleansing breathe, and count your blessings - I know I will.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prayers

I know a wonderful family that could really use a lot of prayers right now.  Please send some their way.

source


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas Came Early!

A few years ago as we were talking about our Christmas lists, my sister Paula mentioned that she wanted a Crock-Pot.  I had just graduated college at the time and didn't think much of it, but my little sister Catherine had a lot to say about it.  I do believe her words were something like this... "You're so old!  If I ever ask for anything like a crock-pot, please, just put me out of my misery."  (Ok, I might be exaggerating), but in general, she was making fun of Paula, who was maybe 26 at the time, for being "old."

Fast forward a few years later and we now love her crock-pot - even Catherine.  Last Thanksgiving we made pulled pork in her condo in the city and it was AMAZING!  My mom has also cooked many meals using her crock-pots and in the cold Chicago winter months, they were perfect, warm, and delicious.
This is Paula, Crock-Pot Chef Extraordinaire & Matt
 This year, I did it...I put the crock-pot on my Christmas list.  Call me old, I will fully embrace it, but I really want one.  (And I am still confident that I can be a 5 year old when necessary.)

My mom and I had talked about it a bunch this past weekend because she wanted to make sure that if she got me one, it would be what I wanted, etc.  We also debated about me getting it in Chicago at Christmas and shipping it back or her just having it shipped to me... So much for surprises... (jk!)

Imagine my surprise when, as I was leaving my house yesterday, I literally walked right into a huge UPS box on my front stoop.  I almost tripped over it!

CHECK IT OUT!!! - What a Beaut?!


YAY!!! 

Now, I have already gotten approval from my mother and she says that I am allowed to use it even though it's not really Christmas yet, at all.  Yippeeeee!  Let's flashback to my birthday, when she sent the gifts early and then made me wait until the actual day to open them.  It was torture, but lucky for me, Derek helped her enforce it.  Boo.

Thankfully, I will be able to enjoy this treat soon...as soon as I find a recipe!

What are you favorite crock-pot recipes?  Please send one my way so I can try it out.

 Thank you Mom and Dad!! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Motivational Monday

Just a little motivation for your Monday...And a nice reminder to myself.



Who am I kidding?  This is for me..some inspiration to get out of the office and out into the fresh air to get a run in.  The weather is gorgeous and I'm off. 

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Apple of My Pie

My mom sent me a Halloween care package last week and it made me smile all weekend long.  Actually, I'm still smiling :).


Isn't she the best?!  I got an "Apple of my pie" hand towel, homemade ginger snap cookies (a fall favorite of mine!), a cinnamon candle, and raspberry candies (I love those and they are already gone).  She also sent me some Southern-Style Sweet Potato Soup mix that I will be trying soon.  And not to forget, she found Derek some really tasty chocolate peanut butter goodies.  Yummy!

Thanks, Mom!  I love you.


 As the sun was setting the other day, I couldn't help but think of how pretty the leaves were in the sun.
...it's the little things in life...



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Pinned It, I Did It: Ruffled Tree Skirt

I was so excited when I saw this ruffled tree skirt on Pinterest.  I don't have a tree skirt and I love how simple and fun this one is!  ( I cannot for the life of me figure out how to embed the actual pinterest link into by blog post, so a picture and links will have to do.)


Ruffle Tree Skirt - No Sew
source


This past Sunday I went to work and tackled it all in about 5 hours.  I headed to the store at 10am for the materials:



  • Painters canvas drop cloth (4 1/2 x 4 1/2) ... I couldn't find one this size, so I went with a 4 x 5 and made mine 4 ft in diameter. 
  • 4 yards of linen fabric ... I actually used a cotton fabric that I found for cheap and only used 3 yards of it. 
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • fabric scissors
  • grosgrain ribbon
I followed the directions that Pinterest took me to, from this website: HGTV No Sew Tree Skirt.  I had to start out by making sure my canvas was a square.

I then folded the fabric into quarters and then a triangle to make the circle.





After that, tedious stuff started...  I cut the white cotton fabric into 2-3 inch strips and then hot glued it to the canvas while pinching it to look ruffled.  





The finished product...

When the ruffles are done, take the ribbon and hot glue it to the slit in the canvas so that once it's around the tree, you can tie the skirt shut.  Make sure you leave enough room to tie it into pretty bows! 

I left the ribbon at the store, but hopefully I will have a finished product picture for you soon!
What do you think?  I can't wait to see what it looks like around my Christmas tree!


I linked up to the Pinterest Challenge.  See how the pro's do it at bowerpowerblog.com and younghouselove.com.  These are two of my favorite blogs...take a look!