Friday, December 31, 2010

"What've you been doin' lately?"

Disclaimer: Incredibly looooooong post ahead.

I'm still alive, I swear!

Merry Christmas!! Happy almost New Year! I've been a bad blogger as of late, so please forgive me, but I've been enjoying my Christmas break.

Santa was very good to us this year, and we had a very blessed Christmas day, visiting with my dad's family all day. Here are some highlights:

For Dad:
A snazzy argyle sweater
For Mom:
Flannel plaid pajama pants
her Tar Heels in a bowl game
For Big Brother:
Sperry Topsiders
For Little Brother:
A Harry Potter Lego castle... that he put together in less than twenty-four hours, let me tell you.
And for Bee:
An iTouch

a new watch.
All in all, it was a wonderful day filled with food, fun and family... Exactly what it's supposed to be! AND, we even got a few snow flurries!! We were definitely excited.

Our house in the snow!
The snow continued to fall throughout the day on the 26th, but that didn't stop me from hitting the after-Christmas deals... online, of course.

I ordered a couple of skirts and a pair of cords from J. Crew and Old Navy. Also, later in the day, Dad, LB and I ventured out to Target, where I picked up two pairs of knee socks for $2 each. I was ecstatic and can't wait to go back for more colors. I got a green argyle and a solid white pair, but I definitely need to go back and get a black pair and maybe another fun argyle? Hmm... 

Monday morning, I babysat for a little while, played with HB and WB and saw what Santa brought them (a new playhouse, oh boy!)... So cute! Then, we loaded up the car and headed to New Bern, NC for a couple of days with the whole crew on my mom's side... There were 17 of us! 

Tuesday we ate brunch at a cute little restaurant called Baker's Square, that was featured in Our State magazine for their breakfast menu. Well, we missed the breakfast menu by a couple minutes, but it was worth a visit anyway. Then we headed to Tryon Palace, the seat of the colonial North Carolina government (New Bern was the capital of NC until 1792) and it was absolutely gorgeous in the snow.

The view from outside the gates.
Some of the gang outside of the kitchen building. (Note the excessive amounts of Caroline garb... Love it!)
After touring the palace and some of the surrounding houses, we headed back to the condos for a delicious "home"cooked dinner. We had a ham, green bean casserole, biscuits, sweet potatoes, etc. True southern cooking! Yum.

Wednesday, we sort of split up and our family (just the five of us) went to visit Mom's college roommate and her family, who live in New Bern. She has three daughters who are all so sweet and a great visit was had by all! 

In 1984... (Mom's the brunette in the stripes and her roommate's the blond on the far right in the blue) 2010!
It was so neat to listen to their stories about college, and I know it meant a lot to both of them to catch up after all these years.

Nope, still not done. That night, we went out to dinner at a really yummy place called Morgan's Tavern. I got shrimp scampi and it was so delicious! Since it was our last night, there were pictures galore.

Coco (cGd), aGm and BB (aAd)
dGb, cGd and LB (cAc) being very silly
Some grown-ups (tGr, jGc, kGk and dAf)
Grandma (mGa), cGd and nGr
(Can you tell I'm loving monograms? Haha...)

Then we headed back for a viewing of Inception (anyone else incredibly perplexed?) and bed.

Thursday we woke up, packed the car and said our goodbyes. It was such a nice getaway and such a pretty place!

Sunset at the marina
I've already decided that I'm going back in May! 

On another note, however, with today being New Year's Eve, I thought I'd showcase a couple of Polyvore sets I made... Yeah, I know I have way too much time on my hands.
This would be a casual night in at a friend's house, watching Dick Clark and counting down.

But this would be a rockin' night out on the town.
However, this is what I will be wearing as the ball drops:
What can I say? I'll be home, with my family... What more is there?

Whatever you're doing or wearing tonight, please be safe!

Wishing you a blessed and wonderful 2011!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

May we all remember the true meaning of this joyous day: "It's not about what's under the tree. It's about what was in the manger."

Photo credit:
 "We get so caught up in all of it: business and relationships, hundred-mile-an-hour lives,
And it's this time of year when everybody's here, it seems the last thing on your mind
is that today holds something special, something holy, not superficial.
So here's to the birthday boy who saved our lives."
(Christmas Must Be Something More-- Taylor Swift)

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Traditions (and a little reminder)

Tuesday  morning I got to babysit for my favorite little boys in the world, H and W. H, who is 5 (will be 6 in February, he is always quick to remind me!), was telling me all about how excited he was to bake a birthday cake for Jesus. And that got me thinking about last Sunday when I taught Sunday School to the Kindergarteners and 1st graders...

This time of year, there's a lot of talk about remembering the real reason for the season ("Jesus!", the kids would exclaim), but I'm not sure if all of it actually penetrates. We get so caught up in the presents and the wreaths and the cookies that we forget exactly why we're celebrating anyway: the manger. I was definitely reminded this weekend.

On Sunday, the younger kids had a birthday party for Jesus, complete with cake, ice cream and party hats, but no presents. This threw a lot of them off, as they aren't used to parties without presents. One little girl, who is absolutely precious and reminds me a lot of who I was as a five-year-old (very much a know-it-all), said something that will stick with me forever. "It's not about what's under the tree, you guys," she said, "it's about what was in the manger." WOW. I mean, what kind of five-year-old thinks that deep? (I'm still convinced it's something she read on a Christmas card or something, but we'll give her the benefit of the doubt.)

The older kids and I made "Good Deed Trees" and talked about how important it is to follow Jesus' teachings. As we went around the table sharing the good deeds we had done that week, I was struck by the simplicity of the concept: it doesn't have to take a lot of effort to go out of your way to make someone feel good. "I was nice to my brother", some said. "I made cookies for my neighbor," shared another. Simple, everyday, almost mundane things that are all considered "good deeds" and most likely bring a smile to someone's face. And how easy are they? Really easy. It doesn't take much to make [most] people happy... Just a little something to think about.

Back to H's birthday cake, though. Listening to him talk about it and what it meant to him made me think about my family's Christmas Eve traditions and how special they are to me. 

Every Christmas Eve since I was little, my parents allowed us to open one present on the 24th, and (surprise!) it's always an ornament. It's really neat, when we decorate the tree every year, to be able to look at each ornament and remember Christmases past.

Also, each year, after the Christmas Eve service and once everyone's in their PJ's, we cuddle up as a family on the couch and read several stories. First, Mom reads the Christmas story from the Gospel according to Luke. Then, one of the kids, usually me, reads us 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Polar Express. Some years, we make reindeer food (oats and glitter) and sprinkle it in the yard with some carrots. We always put out milk and [ginger] cookies for Santa and make sure that the stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

Then it's off to bed until the morning! Santa caution-tapes the top of the stairs so that no one can sneak down before the rest of the family. Usually we set a time (i.e. 7:00) that's the earliest anyone can be woken up, and all five of us have to be up and together before anyone can descend the stairs to see what Santa left.

I'm looking forward to a special day full of love, laughter and good things to eat. May your day be filled with the ones that you love as well. Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

"It's beginning to look A LOT like Christmas!"

The question of the season is always, "What do you want for Christmas?" And while I can usually come up with a nice list for an answer, these are the things that I'm secretly hoping to find under the tree... in my dreams, of course.

1. Frye Melissa Button Boot
2. Nikon D3000 Digital SLR Camera
3. Blackberry Bold
4. Hunter Wellington Original Boots in High Gloss Black
5. Clarks Wallabee Boot in Beeswax Leather
6. L.L. Bean Rubber Mocs in Navy
(Notice how it's pretty much all shoes...)

On another note, however, with the abundance of free time that is Winter Break, I've had a lot of fun playing with Polyvore... Too much fun, almost. Here are a few Christmas outfits that I put together.

And this next one is my absolute favorite... Definitely something I would wear if I had the ingredients in real life.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gifts Worth Giving: Heifer International

Today we're going to visit my grandparents in Winchester, Va. (I'm probably there as you're reading this, actually). I love going to visit people around the holidays because not only do you get presents, but you get to watch people's faces as they open up the gifts that you've given them. And that's easily my favorite part of Christmas. 

It's so exciting when you know you've picked out the perfect present for someone. You just can't wait for them to open it! And that's exactly how I feel today, with Christmas only three short days away.

This year, as a family, we decided that we weren't going to give any of our family members (over the age of 21) anything that couldn't be eaten up or used up in one sitting... Think candy, fruit, theater tickets, etc. But then we went a step further and thought, "No one really needs any more food around the holidays... Why don't we give the money to someone who really needs it?" And that's just what we did.

Have you ever heard of an organization called Heifer International? Well, they're an international organization that provides nourishment to families all over the world through "Charity Gifts." Have you heard of the saying, "Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime"? That's essentially their mission. They "sell" farm animals that are donated to families in need around the world. 

Here's what they have to say about the gift of a Heifer:

"Heifers Equal Hope

When a family has a cow, every morning there's a glass of rich milk for the children to drink before heading off to school. Classes are paid with the income from the sale of milk, and there's even enough to share with the neighbors.
A good dairy cow can produce four gallons of milk a day - enough for a family to drink and share with neighbors. Milk protein transforms sick, malnourished children into healthy boys and girls. The sale of surplus milk earns money for school fees, medicine, clothing and home improvements.
Better still, every gift multiplies, as the animal's first offspring is passed on to another family-then they also agree to pass on an animal, and so on.
And because a healthy cow can produce a calf every year, every gift will be passed on and eventually help an entire community move from poverty to self reliance. Now that's a gift worth giving!"

We gave all of our aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends gifts from Heifer International this year, and it's going to be really neat to see their reactions.

I took the whole idea a step further and extended it to my gifts for my friends. AlPal and Na each had a flock of chicks donated in their honor; my friend Jewels, who's OBSESSED with manatees had a donation made to the Save the Manatee Foundation in her honor; and my friends August and Liz both received notification that donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation had been made in their honor.

I think it's such a neat way to help people in need, but still feel like you're giving your friends and family something memorable. Presents of material value are fun, but I think it's really important to remember the people that aren't as lucky as we are, especially this time of year.

Just a little something to think about...


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

They're the bee's knees!

Lately I've found myself with a sort of obsession for knee socks... I'm not really sure where it's stemming from, but I really want to try my hand at rocking a pair very soon.

I went a step further than dreaming about them and poked around looking for some. Gap, by far, has the best selection. Argyle out the ying yang. It's great!
These are my favorite.
But these are more my style.
However, I'd most likely start with these.
After I located some, I started thinking, "what would I wear them with?" and even took the liberty to put together a couple Polyvore sets just to illustrate.

I think wearing them on their own is cute, but they can even be worn over tights under boots. 

I can't wait to get my hands on a pair and try it out.

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, AlPal!

Today is AlPal's Sweet Sixteen!

A Polyvore of her own making...
Teehee... Her Disney alter-ego.
What a beautiful smile!
Happy birthday, lovely! Hope it's the best yet.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fit for a Princess

Last night, I went with AlPal and Na to see Disney Princesses on Ice. It was pretty much perfect timing because I had just found these ADORABLE princess bows on LilliBug's esty a couple days ago. 

Aren't they so cute?! They sort of make me wish I had a little girl to buy them all for... But not really.

I want all of them, but I settled on Belle (my favorite), Aurora (AlPal's favorite), and Snow White (Na's favorite). They're going to be part of their Christmas presents (hopefully they won't see this and ruin the surprise) and I can't wait until they come in the mail!
Have a great Sunday!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

A few more of my favorite things!

Since I couldn't narrow them all down, here are a few that I missed in yesterday's post.

Spoon Rings
Club Crackers
Baby Penguins
Old Navy Jingle Jammies
Okay, now I promise I'm done. Have a great Saturday!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

These are a few of my favorite things! Here are five of my latest favorites:

Mary Jane flats
Fair Isle
Peppermint Bark
Tervis Tumblers
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash in Pink Grapefruit (It smells so yummy!)
 Happy Friday!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Grown-Up Christmas List

Before we all get caught up in the preparations for next week (and even if you're already overwhelmed), I thought I'd just share this song to help remind us all what the holiday is really about.
Grown-Up Christmas List-- Amy Grant


Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, BB!

I'm baaaaaaaaack! 

The operation went really well, but there was a small complication that involved bone work that was originally unplanned... So, that means I'm still on heavy narcotics three days post-op and will not be attending classes today. I'm hardly complaining (:

In other news, however, today is BB's 17th birthday

Happy birthday, bud! I'll be attempting to make your pound cake on crutches... Or maybe I'll just watch Mom do it. I call the beater! (:


Friday, December 10, 2010

Top Five Favorite...


With only 15 days until Christmas, I thought it would be only appropriate to feature my top five personal favorite seasonal songs. Here we go!
5.) Christmas Must Be Something More-- Taylor Swift


 4.) Carol of the Bells-- I'm pretty sure I only like this one because I had to sing it so many times in middle school chorus. But it's so pretty!!


3.) Baby It's Cold Outside-- I love any rendition of this song, but I especially loved the Glee version this week!

2.) Merry Christmas, Darling-- again, I'll like any version, but Glee's is my new favorite!


1.) And my all-time favorite Christmas song? All I Want For Christmas Is You-- Vince Vance and the Valiants.
It's not letting me embed the video, but you can find it here.

Happy Friday!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The quintessential Summer accessory

Playing off my Summer theme from Monday, I've decided to share what I consider THE most important accessory of the summer...

As a lifeguard, I found that my royal blue Douglas Aquatics croakies made my life a heck of a lot easier this summer. Because, you see, having sunglasses on while you're on the stand is all well and good, but when you get down and have to go into the significantly less-sunny bathroom or break room, you don't really want them on. "So?" you say, "put them on top of your head." Ahh, if it was only that easy... My head is wet, because I've just jumped in the pool to cool off after sitting in the sun for forty-five minutes, and my sunglasses would get wet and smudgy... Yeah. See my point?

Okay, so anyway, translation: Croakies are a must-have on the stand. Here are some that I'm definitely going to have to invest in before May. A girl can never have too many, right? Right.

You've gotta show your team spirit somehow!

A monogram adds a personally preppy touch. (Check out Marley Lilly for all your monogrammed Croakie needs!)

Um, is that seersucker I see? Count me in! Check out these adorable TUGS.

And of course, your VV Croakies... Not completely sold on these, but thought I'd throw them in here just because. (They come in a grand total of six colors, just so you know.)
Gosh, I miss summer. Only six more months! But in other news, only 16 more days 'til Christmas. Have you finished shopping yet? I haven't even started... Oops.

Have a terrific Thursday! I probably won't post anything tomorrow, considering the whole surgery predicament, but look for a Favorite Things post on Saturday!