Friday, April 27, 2012

Pink, Blue & Polka Dot Bookmarks

Since I'm at home recovering from my wisdom teeth removal surgery, I had some time on my hands, but had to keep my productivity at a low, easy-going level. So, I made some super simple, super cute bookmarks for myself and some of my family members.

Scrapbook paper scraps
Glue stick
White paper
Laminating machine (or simply some clear masking tape if you're not as fancy as me to have a machine...)

Cut up some little shapes (mine are all basically triangles, squares or weird rectangle things), and then glue them on in a mosaic-fashion to a bookmark sized piece of white paper. Flip it over and do the reverse side. I'm lucky enough to have been given a tiny little laminating machine a while back, so I then stuck the bookmarks into the little plastic pockets, and fed it through the machine. (I also made two bookmarks per plastic pocket, then cute them apart, and fed them through again separate to reseal that open edge.)

Done and Done! So fast. So easy. So cute. And free since I didn't have to buy any new materials!

L to R: mine, mine, Jeff's, Papa's, Megan's & Mama's. (I already gave my Grandparents' to them before the pic.)

I made eight bookmarks total - one for each of my Grandparents, one for each of my parents, one for Megan, one for Jeff, and two for me. :) And this is one of my spring cleaning to-do items, so that's another thing I get to check off! Real cute, and it took about half an hour for this cute and simple project! My kind of craft :)

This week was crazy busy and rough with the oral surgery, and so I've missed blogging regularly. But I plan on coming back full-force next week once I'm better! Because I really like writing, and from what I can tell, some of yall like reading what I write :)

Oh, and based on the amount of page views that my weight loss and diet posts get, I'm planning on sharing a lot more of that journey, and being completely open and honest about my weight and my journey and everything that comes along with that! So, get ready for more of those kinds of posts in the future.

Love to everyone! :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Polka Dot Nails

Remember my list of goals for April I posted at the end of March? Well I'm just truckin' along on those, and making good progress so far. (Yes there are officially only seven of them, but one of those includes my giant spring cleaning to-do list, so it's quite a lot of stuff/goals for just one month...)

Yesterday I tried some "nail art" for the first time on my very own. And I really liked the way it turned out! I painted one clear base coat and then one coat of my chosen color. Then after watching some YouTube videos (not really very helpful) and Googling a few how-to articles (only slightly more helpful), I thought about it on my own and figured out the best method for making my own polka dots.

Best (and FREE!) option - just cut the cotton off the end of a q-tip! So simple and it works perfectly. Then I used an old bottle cap to drip some of the white polish into. To make the polka dots, just dip the cut end of the q-tip into the polish, and dot your nails as much or as little as you want.

I let the dots dry COMPLETELY. I mean, for an hour or so at home, and also a couple of hours while I went and played Ultimate Frisbee with my youth. Then much later that night, I put a coat of clear top coat to seal the dots. (And then because I love them so much and am paranoid to chip them too quickly, I put another clear coat on this morning again.)

And VIOLA! Super cute fingernails :)

They're not completely perfect, but I don't think it matters really. And plus, I know that the more I try it, the better I will get! (Jeff actually had to help with the dots on my right hand, as I didn't feel steady enough with my left to dot an entire hand. So sweet of him to help me.) I also put some polka dots on both of my big toes as well. I skipped dotting the other toes because I figured they'd be too tiny to dot, and end up looking silly. But I think the big toes look real cute still on their own. 

I love the way the polka dots turned out, but my parents were making fun of me a little bit, asking me how old I was to have polka dot nails. I mean, I work with teenagers, so their trends tend to appeal to me a lot still! :) I don't mind though, because I like them a lot, and I've already gotten quite a few compliments on them. I can't wait to try more color combinations in the future! I'm thinking some bright summer-y colors should happen next. Maybe some orange, yellow or pink combo? But I also want to try stripes of some sort, so we'll just see what happens in a few weeks!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pants Are Fitting Looser

Alright, well it seems that I may have had my lack-of-weight-loss-breakdown on Monday and Tuesday unnecessarily. Everyone kept mentioning stuff about the scale I used and the time of day I weighed, and blah blah blah. I knew those things mattered - but I just didn't realize that apparently it mattered that much.

Yesterday on my lunch break, I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy myself my very own scale. (Why I never bothered to buy one before I have no idea...? Previously, I would just weigh whenever I found a scale somewhere - Jeff's house, Kaley's farm house, Publix, wherever and whenever. Apparently this is a major no-no.) Well before I bought it, I stepped on the tester scale to check. I was 2 pounds lighter yesterday at lunch than I was on Monday...I was relieved to see at least a slightly smaller number. So I bought the scale and went about my day.

Right after zumba, I went home to shower and so I busted out my new scale right before stepping in the shower. I was 7 pounds lighter than Monday!! At first I was worried that I had a funky scale, so I made my mom come in to weigh herself to test the accuracy. She said it was right on, but I still wasn't completely convinced. So when Cally got here last night (she stayed with me while passing through on her way to Biloxi!), I made her weigh to test it too. And she said it was her correct weight as well!

Since I know you're supposed to weigh in the morning, I tried not to get too prematurely excited last night about the 7 pounds, since I was coming straight from zumba where I had just sweated out a ton of water. I figured my "actual" weight would be a little different, and planned to weigh when I woke up this morning. And you know what, I was still 6 pounds lighter than Monday! So I'm going with my total weight loss during the no-carb phase was actually 6 pounds. I'm assuming the following things could have been issues with Monday's weigh-in: time of day I weighed, amount of salty meals eaten that were causing my body to retain too much water, the 4 or 5 glasses of water I drank during the day, etc...

All of this to say, I may have freaked out unnecessarily on Monday. Apparently I did lose weight, and just chose to weigh myself at the wrong time. I can assure you I won't be doing that again. And also, my jeans really are fitting looser. I noticed this last Friday as well, and so that's one of the reason's I was so confused by Monday's weigh-in. Today at work, my jeans are still pretty baggy, and I can look at myself in the mirror and notice that I'm getting thinner. And that makes me ecstatic. Again - I'm not trying to wither myself away to a tiny twig (mainly because I know that will never ever happen), but I am trying to slim down a little bit, and more importantly make my body healthier.

Not the best pic, but it's just to show progress from before, and to compare later.

My journey is nowhere close to complete yet, but I'm still super excited that it has in fact begun again, rather than remaining stagnant despite my efforts. Now that I've gotten the weight-loss ball rolling again, I have more motivation to make healthier choices with my diet and exercise. I've already exercised 3 times this week, and am planning #4 for the weekend. (And that's a LOT for this girl.)

Thank you again to everyone who has encouraged and supported me this week while I was so down and discouraged. But also thank you to those who have been a part of this for the last two years! To recap - as of today, I'm 27 pounds lighter than the day I graduated college April 2010. It's not the lowest I've even been, nor the lowest I will be. But I'm proud to say I'm at least making progress!!

Love to everyone :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Preowned Novels

Last Saturday, my Mama and I went on a nice little shopping trip and lunch date. At the very end of our time together, I decided on a whim I felt like doing some book shopping. There is a Goodwill bookstore about a mile from our house, so we stopped there before going home. And I was quite glad we did!

The store itself is not very big, but it's very clean, neat, tidy and organized. All books are alphabetized by the author's last name, and split into the appropriate categories. It makes book browsing sooo much nicer this way, as opposed to other thrift book stores I've been to where they just shove all the books randomly on the shelves and call it good. Well my friends at the other bookstores, that is not good, and I don't approve of that "method."

THIS is what I approve of...

Wonderfully organized shelves, books all in order and where they're supposed to be - just beckoning me to spend a couple of bucks on them. It's an OCD bookworm's dream. And I was definitely pleased.

Whenever possible, I tend to only buy hardback covers from thrift stores, since it usually ends up being the best bargain. Brand new hardback books in regular stores can cost upwards of $20 or $25 sometimes depending on popularity, newness and size of the book. But here at Goodwill, the most expensive one of mine was $5.99. BARGAIN.

Mama ended up buying two new books for herself, and two new books for my Papa - all of which were hardback. She spent about $20 total. I also bought four new hardback books. Two of which I've already read (Black and The Lovely Bones), but borrowed before and therefore needed to add to my own personal collection. The third book (Edgar Sawtelle) was recommended to me by my best friend Jenni a while back, and the fourth one (Day of the Bees) was a random find that I started reading today at lunch. (It involves WWII a little bit, so for those that know me well, you know I'm already super intrigued.)

I think I spent just over $20 for all four books. Such a steal. I can't wait to go back and keep searching for more treasures! What I'm really hoping to find actually is the entire Harry Potter series in hardback. However, I currently have none of them, so I have a lot more to collect before that goal is accomplished :) There are a couple other Goodwill bookstores around town that I haven't been to before, so I'm looking forward to exploring those soon as well. I just hope they're as nice and lovely as this little one is! Also - feel free to leave book suggestions/recommendations below, as I'm constantly looking for new things to read. I love having a stack of unread books to turn to once I finish one.

Love you all, and happy reading!

P.S. - Thank you to everyone who showed support and encouragement after my last post about my weight loss struggle. I very much appreciated all of the kind words and the outpouring of love, both digitally and in real life! Also, I loved realizing how many people actually read my blog. I only have 13 "official followers" through Blogger, but that post has been read over 100 times! Crazy, and makes me feel so special and loved and I liked it. Also, I've lost 2 pounds since then already :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Painful Weigh-In

So I accomplished one of my goals for April - I went for two whole weeks on a no-carb diet. Decent accomplishment. I didn't cheat the whole time I was on it, and I was proud of that. Yesterday I was feeling pretty good about the diet and the past two weeks (April 16 was day 14 of the diet), that is until I stepped on the scale.

I did not lose one. single. pound. WHAT?! Two entire weeks of no bread, no pasta, no sweets, no milk/cream/sugar in my coffee, no starches of any kind (including carrots and corn) - I was expecting at least a few pounds to be shed. But instead, I had a very painful weigh-in, rather than one that included a tiny celebration, and a plan to move on to "phase two" of the diet.

At first, I was disappointed, but OK. Jeff and I were so busy loading our bikes on the car and gathering up the rest of our biking gear, that I didn't think about it much. But after a 20 minute car ride down to Wakulla, full of my thoughts running wild, I started to get very upset about it. In fact, by the time we parked at the St. Mark's Trail, I was right on the verge of a big ole' meltdown.

It's so depressing, discouraging, frustrating and confusing not seeing any results whatsoever after working on it for two full weeks. It made me lose motivation to keep trying so hard. What's the point of not indulging in some pasta or cake every now and then, if resisting these things returns zero results? It just made me feel crappy. It made me feel like a failure. It made me break down and cry. And unfortunately for me, I'm not talking about a cute, girly cry that comes and goes quickly. I'm talking about a snotty, heaving cry that turns my face splotchy and then I have to blow my nose about 10 times before I can breathe normally's not a pretty sight.

The whole rest of the night I was just in an icky mood. Nothing really made me feel better or lifted my spirits. I threw the last meal of my no-carb diet out the window last night when we indulged in pizza, and I proceeded to eat three pieces. Probably not the best idea when I'm complaining about not being able to lose weight, but I didn't care. And today hasn't proven itself to be any better. I'm still in a crappy mood (despite my brightly colored new dress and pretty earrings), and I shed a few tears again today during lunch.

After work today, I'm going to go to zumba like usual, and I'm hoping that maybe some exercise endorphins will boost my mood a bit. For now though, I'm trying to make it through the next three hours of work (without crying again), and then after zumba I probably just need some rest and a night to relax and pull myself back together.

I know I'll never be a tiny little girl that weighs anywhere near 130, or maybe even 140. But I would like to at least be able to shed some weight and be more comfortable with my body. Somehow, I'll find a way to accomplish this. But for now, I just need to have a little pity party, probably eat a piece of cake tonight, and then start myself on this journey again with a new plan. (Prayers will be much appreciated.)

Love to you all, and thanks for letting me vent and whine a little bit.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Purposefully Busy

Mondays are not fun. Pretty much ever. But you know what's almost always fun? Weekends. And this past weekend certainly delivered in the fun department. I didn't take nearly enough pictures to document the greatness, and that makes me sad, so I hope you will at least enjoy the few I have from Wild Adventures later in the post. So, moving on to the details and descriptions and a slightly lengthy recap post...

Friday right after work, Jeff and I were treated to a nice little dinner at Logan's with his mom. We ate yummy food and had good conversation, and it was a nice time. Then after that, we met up with some friends at the Downtown Get Down. (Block-party style event the night before each FSU home football game. This past Saturday was the spring game, hence the Get Down.) Great weather, good friends and fun wearing our Garnet and Gold :)

Saturday morning, I was able to sleep in a little bit (9 am), then got a quick shower and got ready for some shopping with my Mama. We both needed a few "girly" items, so we searched high and low for the right ones. We went to Burlington and ended up with some random home goods, and some pretty beach mats we plan to use in our pool chairs. At Ross, we each got a new dress - and we plan on sharing them with each other. This instantly adds items to both of our wardrobes, which is awesome. Then we went to Sonny's for lunch, and got the dieter's chicken plate, which is salad bar and smoked chicken. Yummy. During lunch, we told lots of funny stories and laughed a TON. We had so much fun together :) Then we went to Beall's, where I got another dress and 2 pairs of earrings, and she got some of those "girly" items we were looking for. We made another stop at the pool store for a water sample test, and to get our chlorine jugs filled. Then on a whim we went to the Goodwill bookstore, and both lucked out with some good finds. (A post on that later this week...) We had a ton of fun shopping together and laughed so much. I'm glad I got to spend some good quality time with my lovely Mama!

After our shopping trip, I went to meet Jeff at his house. The two of us drove out to Midway for one of my oldest friends' going away party, even though we couldn't stay long. We got to spend a few minutes chatting with her, and catching up with her parents after I hadn't seen them for a couple of years. When we left, Jeff and I both said we wish we would have had more time to stay longer, because that would have been fun, and we missed a lot of the festivities! But we were still very glad we were able to go for a little bit!

Gonna miss her. We've been friends for 14 years - since 4th grade!!

After we left the party, we drove out to Robert and Jacob's house to go to Wild Adventures for the first concert of the summer! Their parents went too, and drove us in their brand new, super fancy awesome Chrysler mini-van. So sweet. We all have yearly passes, and we really enjoy the concert series that happens every summer. Last Saturday was the first one this year, and it featured the Newsboys, and about three opening bands before them that we skipped listening to. Instead we chose to ride one or two rides, and Robert, Jacob and I got to drive the go-carts. Unfortunately Jeff could only watch, because he wasn't wearing closed-toe shoes like they require. :( The three of us still had a ton of fun, but we'll definitely make sure Jeff wears the right shoes next time so he can join us too!

We matched because of the FSU Spring Game :)

The Newsboys were pretty decent in concert. However I didn't know most of their newer songs, and so they ended up all sounding pretty much the same to me. I did know about four of their older songs though, so I sang along to those when I could. Oh, but I killed the verses/rap part of "Jesus Freak" from old school DC Talk. I think I did a better job than Michael Tait did Saturday night... :) Then the last few songs they did were worship songs, and I definitely knew those, so I thought those were the bestest.

He didn't sleep enough Friday, worked all day Sat., then napped during the concert!

When we left the concert, Jacob let Jeff play with his iPad. He found a sketch-book-style app, and so he ended up playing around with it a little bit. Once he got used to it and how it worked, he was hooked. He then spent the next hour and 15 minutes completely engrossed in his sketching, and made a pretty little picture of me! I think he would be amazing at this if he had his own to play with all the time! He of course wants one, but that's not exactly in the budget for him for now, he'll have to stick to the old pen-and-paper method of sketching, and just hope to borrow other people's iPad's when he can!

I really like his drawing, and think he did a great job. He might be a little confused about how long my hair actually is, but it looks pretty anyways :) My favorite part is definitely the eye. The color is right on, and he even drew pretty eye shadow! I love the sketch, but it's even better since it was drawn by my wonderful boyfriend! (I put the sketch below through Instagram, but it looks almost exactly the same.)

Sunday morning was spent at church with my youth, and friends and family. We had a guest preacher, who was amazing. He was there to kind of test out the waters to potentially be our interim preacher while we're doing the Senior Pastor search. He was a good speaker, with a very engaging personality, and a relevant message. My family all enjoyed him, and we're really hoping that it will work out for him to be our interim preacher for a while! After church, Jeff joined my 4-Fam for  lunch with my aunt and uncle, as well as my dad's best friend, his wife and their two boys at El Jalisco = 11 total. A lot of talking, jokes, and some good times, and I was able to stay carb-free!

Jeff and I were planning on a bike ride in the afternoon, but the Mexican lunch made my tummy hurt, and he had a headache, so we opted for movie rest time instead and watched HP2. (We're working through the whole series.) It was definitely a good decision, and we enjoyed the much needed rest after a busy weekend. We then went back out to my church for Sunday night youth. We only had a few kids, so we just hung out and chatted for a while, then headed out. My Mama had made a very carb-filled dinner for everyone, so we stopped by Publix before we went home, so I could get a no-carb meal of turkey meatloaf and asparagus from their prepared food counter. So yummy!

Then Jeff and I did some hard labor brushing the pool and getting ready for the beautification process of the water. My aunt and uncle came over, and we all watched "The Amazing Race" together - which Jeff now likes even though he claims to not like any reality TV :) I then spent about two hours making a cute little headband tin for Megan (the same way I made mine a couple weeks ago), and it came out pretty cute. She wanted a lot more magazine pictures on hers than I had, so Mama helped me pick out the best stuff, and figure out the placement of pictures while I ModPodge-d it all together! I'll be honest though - I definitely like mine the best, but Megan likes hers a lot, so that's what's important!

I was busy pretty much all weekend, but I was Purposefully Busy with things I wanted to do. I was blessed with enjoyable things that filled my time - friends, shopping trips with my Mama, a concert, craft time, big family meals, church time and more... I'm thankful that I'm healthy and loved and can have fun doing things that make me so happy, with some pretty amazing people! Thank the Lord for lovely times in our lives like these.

Sending love to all my friends and family, both here and there and everywhere!

P.S. - If you're ever looking for quick, summarized stories, apparently you're looking in the wrong place. Not only am I chatty "in real life" when I talk, but I'm also chatty when I write "in blog life." The nickname I was given when I was about 4 or 5 years old, "Little Miss Chatterbox," will be forever stuck with this girl, and I'm totally OK with that :) Hope y'all are too!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Portraits Circa 2007

Yesterday's post was all about things from many, many years ago from my childhood. Today, we're still taking a walk down memory lane, but I thought I'd fast forward to the college years. So instead of memories from when I was 5 years old, here are some from just 5 years ago...

5 years ago I...

:: turned 19 a few months ago (and goodness that sounds so young now!) ::

Emily and I at my 19th birthday dinner, at Mango Mango's! Jan 2007.

:: was approximately one week away from the end of my first semester at Flagler ::

Picture borrowed from Google Images.

:: had lived away from home, in a dorm for 4 months, and loved it! ::

My bunk, the very day I first moved in! :) January 2007.

:: drove my dad's car back after Easter, since mine was having serious problems ::

This is the day we traded this car, for my Jeep Liberty. Summer 2007.

:: made it through my first experience with roomies (some good times, some not...) ::

Me, Linnea and Emily - first ever roommates. February 2007.

:: was making friendships that would last a lifetime! ::
(sorry to those in these pics - I know they're not the best ones of us ever, 
but they're at least the best from that time period...)

Mine and Nicole's first weekend at Flagler. January 2007.

Emily and I the last weekend of the semester. April 2007.

Nicole and I on game night! Feb 2007.

College was a fun time, and sometimes I miss it terribly and really wish I could go back. But then I remember all the homework and group projects and reading endless pages of text books and paper writing, and then I remember I have a lovely degree from that beautiful school. So I've decided to keep the degree, rather than doing it all over again... :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Peachy Memories

The following things hold many of my Childhood Memories...

1. LITTLE GOLDEN BOOKS. I have literally NO IDEA how many of these my sister and I have, but I know it's gotta be close to a gajillion. I could have included these in my collections post, because we definitely have enough to be considered a whole collection. They're just so cute and easy to read, and I really do love the vintage feel of so many of the ones we own.

2. THE LITTLE RIVER BAND. I remember listening to this album in the car over and over again with my Mama and Megan. I'm not sure why this one sticks out over the other ones (such as Elton John's Greatest Hits Live - which is still one of my favorites), but it does for some reason. I probably still know all of the words, and occasionally I listen to it on my iPod or something.... (And I know that's a scandalous photo down there, but that's just the album cover to the one we listened to all the time.)

3. "VACATIONS" AT MY GRANDPARENTS'. When we were little and in elementary school, me, my sister Megan, and our cousin Aaron would spend our school "vacations" at our Grandparents house. We would wake up just in time to climb in the car, still in our PJ's, meet up with them before Mama headed off to work, and spend the day with them at their house out in the country. Sometimes we would stay the night, and have sleepovers. I remember watching this movie, and baking muffins. Again, I'm not sure why this specific memory is the one that sticks out the most, but it's certainly one that's stuck in there forever, and I like it right where it is. :)

4. THE BABYSITTER'S CLUB.  My sister and I used to absolutely love this movie. I couldn't tell you how many times we watched it, but I'm pretty sure we wore out that old VHS tape. When we weren't watching the movie, we were pretending to run our own babysitter's club. It was pretty awesome. Also, this movie is where my love for peanut butter and banana sandwiches comes from. (One of the girls makes some for herself and her dad with a Snapple, and I just thought that looked like the greatest meal. So of course I copy-catted her. And I was right - it was a great idea.)

5. SESAME STREET. I started this Sesame Street search looking for an old little kids' tent I had when I was about 5 or 6 years old. It was the most simple little tent - a couple of lightweight PVC pipes and some plastic that looked like a brick house. But it was my favorite thing. But I couldn't find a picture of one anywhere - however what we did find was wayyyyy more fun. My Mama and I spent a little while watching YouTube clips from old "Sing Yourself Silly" Sesame Street tapes. And we had so much fun laughing and reminiscing while we looked them all up. Some of them I didn't remember at all, but some of them not only sounded familiar, but I knew all the words as well. Here are a few links for your enjoyment... :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Past Favorites (Blog Post #100!!)


And I'm super pumped about it! I don't think it takes most bloggers a little over a year and a half to reach this point, but I took a long hiatus for about 5 months, and before then I just wasn't very consistent. Whatever - doesn't really matter. Because what does matter is I've finally made it! 100 posts seems like a lot. And I guess it really is! And so to celebrate, I'll be posting links to some of my favorite posts out of the past 99. (Starting with the earliest, and moving to the most recent.)

1. Princess & The Passenger - Rascal Flatts concert date with my best friend Jenni!
2. Pizza Scarves - weekend with friends in Pensacola for Nicole's wedding!
3. Pounds Are GONE! - after I reached my goal weight last March
4. Procrastination Trumps Productivity - fun and relaxing summer weekend
5. Packed Schedule - crazy busy summer week - youth events, beach days, family nights & more...
6. (months of) Preparation Pays Off - DNow 2012! (youth retreat)
7. Produced by Jeff Pullen - cute little trailer Jeff made of our Jacksonville day trip :)
8. Picture Every Hour - just what it says, from our Jacksonville day trip
9. Pet Peeves, and more - an about me list done using the ABC's
10. Puppy Love - gushing about the cutest puppy I know...
11. President Snow Would Not Approve - I wore my Mockingjay pin every day for about two weeks!
12. Play Time Needs to Hurry - not-so-patiently awaiting our girls' weekend at the farm!
13. Pool Season - I'm glad spring summer is here in Florida, and it's almost time for swimming!
14. Project: Easter Garden - craft time with my family, making an empty tomb project for Easter
15. Perpect Weekend - the most awesomest weekend with my bestest girlfriends!

Princess & The Passenger. Me and Jenni at the Rascal Flatts concert in Tampa. September 2010.

Pizza Scarves. Our group of friend's at Nicole's wedding. December 2010.

Procrastination Trumps Productivity. Me and Jeff - St. George Island. August 2011.

Pool Season. Megan and I playing in the pool, with my awesome underwater camera! Summer 2011.

Perpect Weekend. Some of my bestest friends in the world, during girls' weekend. April 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Parthenon Inspired

So for those that aren't aware, we have Family Dinner Night every Monday night at my house. My Mama always makes delicious food, and a lot of times she works in a very creative theme. Some of our past themes have been: Cuban, Dr. Seuss, Spring Has Sprung, Build-Your-Own Burger Bar, Mexican, Spooktacular, WHOP (Walker's House of Pancakes - get it, like IHOP?!), Gratefulness, and a couple birthday nights thrown in there too. It's always so much fun and everyone loves it.

The whole theme is always kept secret until you get to the house. But yesterday, I was allowed to be a big part of the behind-the-scenes action! My friend Kaley had told me about a carb-free dish she made recently, and it sounded super yummy, so I suggested we make it for our main dish. Then the rest of the theme and meal just kind of fell into place!

We had a Greek themed night! It was so delicious, and all the pictures of Greece were beautiful!

I was able to create a cute little table that matched our theme well enough, just with things that I already had around the house. I felt crafty and I liked what I was able to come up with. I used a couple of mason jars, some pebbles we had left over from our Easter Garden, plain white candles, and sea shells from my collection. And for being thrown together so last minute, it looked good enough to me!

After the table was ready, I helped Mama cook all the food. We made Bacon and Feta stuffed baked chicken, that was drizzled with Greek dressing. The "recipe" is super simple: stir together cooked bacon, feta and Greek dressing in a bowl; cut a slit down the center of each breast, and stuff mixture in; drizzle Greek dressing generously over entire dish; bake at 350 for 30 minutes, add more dressing, and put under the broiler for a couple more minutes.

 We also made Greek Roasted Veggies (squash, zucchini and onion tossed in Greek dressing with a pinch of S&P, and baked along with the chicken) as well as Greek salad and plain orzo. I skipped the orzo and stuck with my carb-free diet. But everything else was super delicious! And also super easy to make! (That's my carb-free plate down below this...)

We all agreed that the meal was delicious, and would definitely like to repeat everything again in the future. And it's so simple to do, we don't have to follow a recipe when making this meal. Family dinner night is always the best. But I definitely like to be a part of the planning and executing phase of the evening as well! Maybe I can convince Mama to let me help with the planning more often! :)

Love to everyone! And here's a picture of the Parthenon, just in case you'd like to see something pretty.

Oh, and this is my 99th post! Which means I'm one away from 100!!! Whoa!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Peaceful Easter

Yesterday was quite a lovely Easter Sunday. My family and I all got coffee from Dunkin Donuts on our way to church, then spent a couple lovely hours in Sunday school and then "big church." Every Easter, our church family always brings fresh flowers to decorate the cross on our front lawn, and it always looks so beautiful!

And with the pretty flowers, everyone always takes beautiful family photos.
The church service was really nice, with good music and songs, and good preaching. I'm just always amazed (and marvel at God's awesomeness) that the weather is always incredibly beautiful on Easter Sunday. I'm quite sure He does that on purpose, and I think it's a great idea. It's hard to deny how amazing He is when you look around at the gorgeous earth He's created for us to live on. I mean really - it's quite stunning.

After church we headed to my Aunt and Uncle's house for a big Easter feast. There was ham, brown rice, white acre peas, green beans, potato salad, a relish plate, strawberry jello salad and rolls. And then of course lemon bars and vanilla ice cream for dessert. I was a good girl though, and stuck to my carb-free diet eating mostly ham and veggies, along with some pickles and okra. Although the other things looked absolutely delicious!

And you know what happened after lunch time? An Easter egg hunt - even though the youngest "child" is 20 years old. And we loved it. Then the "kids" hid the eggs and made our parents find them. And they had a good time doing it as well! And one more round of hunting for the kids finished everything up this year. I think we'll probably continue doing this until we have children of our own, and then traditions will probably change. Until then though, these 20-something grandchildren will continue to hunt eggs each year. :)

We came inside to cool down, and then Meg and I had a silly self-photo-shoot. We did the same thing last Easter, and those are some of my favorite pictures of us ever. So we repeated the fun times again this year, and again we had some outstanding results. :)

After all was done at their house, my little "4-Fam" headed back home for an afternoon of editing pictures, movie rest time, cooking dinner, cleaning the kitchen a little bit and relaxing. Jeff and Bo were both able to come over for a while at night to eat and hang out with us too. We all watched "Amazing Race" together, then Jeff and I curled up together to read our books. (By the way, he's almost completely done wit the entire Hunger Games series, and he's loved it so far! I'm so proud.)

Also, the Easter Bunny visited my house and left prizes for Meg and I. I however will be waiting until next week to eat them, once I complete the 2 weeks of my carb-free diet. Then I will have some yummy chocolates and candies!

Holidays spent with my family are always lovely and fun and relaxing, wonderful and peaceful. I love spending time with them, and we always have a good time. So thankful I've been blessed with such great people in my life! I hope everyone else enjoyed their Easter Sunday just as much as we did! :)

Me and Megan and Mama! :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Perfume & Other Collections

I have little collections of the following happy things:

PENGUINS. Duh. They are just the cutest little things! For a long time I couldn't figure out where my obsession came from with these furry little waddlers, but recently I've been able to pin-point it. I believe it started from that old chipmunk movie when they go on a balloon race competing against the Chipettes - "The Chipmunk Adventure." Well, the girls end up finding a baby penguin somehow and take care of it for a while. I loved this movie when I was real little, and I think this is what started my penguin obsession. I haven't watched it in forever, and I've really been wanting to watch it for the past year or so. However, I can't find it anywhere, and not even Netflix has it on DVD or streaming. So instead, I'm thinking it's time to order it on Amazon real soon. :)

EARRINGS. Oh man do I love me some earrings. I have this tree in my bathroom, I have another big earring holder in my bedroom, and then a ribbon nailed across the top of my bookshelf where I can dangle even more. I'm just recently getting into other accessories (rings & bracelets), but I've got the earring department covered. And I'm sure I will never have "too many." In fact, I haven't gotten new ones in a while, so that might be happening this weekend. I mean - I'll need new earrings to match my new Easter dress, right?!

COFFEE MUGS. This isn't a collection that I've really been working on very much, but it's one I want to grow a lot more. When I grow up, I don't want a set of typical, matchy-matchy coffee mugs. Instead, I want a ton of them that I've found and collected and been given over the years. I much prefer that over having 20 mugs that all look the same. I think that would be so much cuter, and I like that eclectic look.

RESTAURANT MENUS. I have been collecting these since about my sophomore year in high school. One of my friends started it, and then I joined her for a while. Then, I just kept on doing it on my own, and now I must have over a hundred or so of these! Sometimes I ask the restaurant for them, sometimes we just sneak them out. :) It's fun and exciting, and I like having little memories from random times of my life. I have menus from Colorado, New York, Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, all over Florida and everywhere in between. And I have accomplices as well - sometimes my parents do it for my when they go on trips too! Unfortunately I wasn't able to pull out my entire collection for the photo. I was taking the photos around 11 pm, and I didn't feel like digging the giant box out of my closet. So these are the ones that haven't made it to the box yet. (Maybe when I clean out my closet, I'll take a few more pics of the whole collection.)

PERFUME. It just smells so lovely, and I can never pick just one that I like the best. I know a lot of guys and girls that can pick one smell and stick with it forever. I am just NOT one of those people. There are too many yummy smelling perfumes out there to use only one. :) Right now I have about 23 perfumes, and 4 or 5 body sprays. And I usually wear a different one every day. I definitely do have my favorites though - like Versace "Bright Crystal" and Dolce & Gababban "Light Blue." Luckily, both of those were Christmas gifts from my Grandparents, otherwise I probably couldn't afford to buy those for myself! Another favorite is "NYC" by SJP. (Sarah Jessica Parker) It smells absolutely amazing - so of course I like it for that reason - and the bottle is real cute. (It's the one in the back left of the top photo with the different panels.) But I also like it because of the memory that comes with it. Megan and I bought it together in the giant Macy's on our NYC trip, and smelling it always reminds me of buying it with her, and of our trip together!