Thursday, December 29, 2011

The New Year’s Eve Reveal

I’ve been mentioning New Year’s Eve every so often for the past month or so. I knew this year I wanted NYE to be memorable. {Okay, so I always want NYE to be memorable – this girl LOVES holidays!} But, given the way my 2011 went, I knew I wanted to ring in the New Year in some special way. So, this year…

I’m going to BOSTON!

I’ve never been and have always decided to go. Here’s how I reached the decision that Massachusetts would be the destination this year:

Whitney: So, I’m thinking I might go to Boston for New Year’s. Want to come?
Me: Hmmm… OKAY!

Easy as pie. But, if you’re like me and want to travel the world, deciding to go to a new place when someone suggests it, is quite simple. So, Whitney, her sister, and I are flying up to Boston tomorrow morning! I’m hoping to return next week with pictures similar to these:

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I also plan on indulging in all types of Bostonian things:

Boston Cream Pie

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A delicious bowl or two… or three of Clam “Chowdah”

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And perhaps I’ll run into one of my favorite basketball players {minus the entire Utah Jazz lineup}, Rajon Rondo!

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Other than pictures, I’ll probably pick up a few things during my stay to bring home as a memory, such as:

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A Boston Terrier

I’m thinking a Mark Wahlberg-esque Boston accent could be a nice thing to bring back too. Eh?

So, Boston bloggers – what places should we absolutely plan to visit? Food, fun, attractions. You name it. We already have a few things up our sleeves!

I’m super excited to visit this new city. In case you missed my little “Welcome” blurb on the top right, I LIVE for the
way it feels to travel to a new place! The newness, adventure, and intrigue of a new city just makes me feel alive :) I have a good feeling about Boston. Maybe I won’t come back to DC?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

‘Twas A Merry Christmas

While it’s hard to believe that Christmas is over, it was certainly a very merry one. I woke up Christmas morning, snuggled next to the cat below and, sure enough, Santa had been here!!

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Stella does not like to be held but I had to get the family photo!

Next, we opened presents! Santa was surely good to me this year :)

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I opened some lovely presents such as clothes, gold jewelryyy, a new pair of boots, MAC/iTunes gift cards, and these pretty goodies above {Haute as Hello by Essie and the Naked Eye Palette by Urban Decay plus a few other items!} from the sweet and beautiful Shalyn!

My favorite, most-prized gift this year:


Michael Kors Tortoise & Gold Runway Chronograph Watch. I’m in love!

The house was full of so much joy, ready for all the family that would be on their way!

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Yep, I made place cards :)

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My niece, Miss Aubrey all dressed up for Christmas :)

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Me and my brother, Justin.

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My nephew and other brother wearing his vintage Orioles helmet that Justin found in the basement :)

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My parents with my nephew, Jeremy :)

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Auntie and Niecey
16-month-olds are about as hard to get pictures with as cats.

The night ended with Rock Band – annual Christmas tradition. Sadly, I won’t be posting any video footage, haha.

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It was wonderful to be home for Christmas this year; to be surrounded by close family, delicious food, and the laughter {whenever I’m around my nephew and my two brothers, I’m bound to be laughing hysterically. That definitely happened this year. My nephew dropped to the ground cracking up and I could hardly breathe. Typical!}

There is so much to be thankful for. I made sure to squeeze everyone a little tighter and to say “Merry Christmas” more times than was probably necessary.
I love Christmastime and this year was no exception.
As we say goodbye to this season of joy, may we never lose sight of all the things we’re grateful for and the things that make this season so magical :)

How was your Christmas? :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

I love to look back on past Christmases. Whether I was four years old and getting the greatest Christmas gift ever – my pink Hot Wheels Barbie Corvette - or all the fun Christmas Eve nights we’d spend laughing hysterically with family in Maryland. Christmastime is full of memories. Aside from one Christmas in San Diego and last year in Salt Lake, I’ve always been home for the holidays.

Last year was definitely difficult for me. It was my first Christmas without my family. The idea of waking up in a house all by myself and not being able to bounce down the stairs to shout, “MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAS SANTA BEEN HERE YET?!?!” was a bit sad. Luckily, I had some extended family to spend the holiday with. My then-fiancĂ© and I volunteered to feed homeless families that morning and then spent the rest of the day with his family. I remember calling home that night, putting everyone on speaker and getting to talk to each family member as they opened presents. Sure, it was tough being the only one not there…

But, it made this year even more special. Is this year going to be perfect? No, of course not. This Christmas is hard for other reasons and there might be a burnt cookie or mis-labeled present. However, that’s just part of Christmas, right? It’s about birth, being alive, family, giving, and joy. So, no matter where you are this Christmas or what this year has brought you, just take a moment {or two} to be grateful.

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I’d be fine with just one.

Okay, but in all seriousness…

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This year I’ll be taking the time to enjoy the little moments of Christmas -- The excitement of waking up on Christmas morning, the carols playing softly in the background, the sound of my cat Stella’s paws crunching on all the Christmas paper for the first time, the glow of the lights on the tree, the laughter of family members, and the magical feeling of Christmas no matter your age.

Tis the season, my friends.

Wishing you all a beautiful and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

DC Kind of Friendship

It’s been a fun-filled week of getting together with friends! That makes me really happy and this post might get a little sentimental. But, you know what? I don’t mind it because this time of year is about giving and being thankful for what we have. Out of the many, many things I’m thankful for this holiday season, friends are definitely at the top of my list.

Last Friday night, I had a little dinner date. In case you don’t know, when I started this blog, I was living in Salt Lake City. Life was quite different for me then. Being from the DC area, there were many places in Utah that we didn’t have back at home. Cafe Rio was one of those places.

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It was a fun, little Mexican food chain {people compared it to Chipotle, but, c’mon… they’re nothing alike} and everyone in Utah was obsessed with it. I thought it was good but Chipotle still had my vote. Let’s be honest – nothing can beat their rice.

So, anyway… I move back to the DC area and find out Cafe Rio is opening up. Nowhere else on the East Coast but here. Obviously I had to go. So, I did. And it was tasty. The service was much, much slower because the employees figured everyone was a novice and actually had to explain what “everything” entailed when they asked if I wanted “everything” on my salad. Clearly, I didn’t want cilantro or chips.

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We devoured our food. And talked about how freakishly weird it was to be in a place in Falls Church, VA that felt like Utah. Thanks, but no thanks.

Earlier this week, I met up in DC with the ever-so-lovely Ashley. We picked a place in Chinatown called La Tasca which we ended up falling in love with! First of all, the place was decorated for Christmas SO beautifully! There were garland, lights, and Christmas trees perfectly placed throughout the restaurant. La Tasca has an amazing happy hour including a wide array of tapas – so whether you drink or not, there’s no excuse not to go to this place! $3.00 for any tapas dish!

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Ashley and I talked for hours and realized we both shared a love for two of the same men – Ryan Gosling {obviously you should know he and I are dating by now} and Nick Markakis {Orioles all the way!} We also talked about our love for the DC area and reality television, more specifically The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Also, our birthdays are coming up and they’re only two days apart. Go January birthdays!

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Ashley is SUCH an amazing girl! She’s super close to becoming a teacher and her passion and love for kids is so heart-warming. She is the kind of person you could see from the other side of the room and want to be friends with. Ashley is such a genuinely sweet person who knows what she wants out of life and isn’t afraid to go after it. Pretty inspiring if you ask me!

Then, last night was girls’ night with Whitney and Erica. To say that we had a blast would be an understatement. First, we have Whitney who is the exact opposite of me. She made this clear after I made the most random comment about how I would eat SpaghettiOs after cheer practice growing up. I was probably wearing my slap bracelet at the time as well. Don’t get me wrong, Whit ate SpaghettiOs too. She just didn’t cheer. Perhaps she wore a slap bracelet. Here’s where I get all serious again:

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Whitney has been an amazing friend to me since day night one. Because we are complete opposites, she balances me out. I can go to her for advice on anything {and you better believe I do} because I know her logic will even out my emotion. She’s been a constant support during this period of change for me. She makes it a point to keep up with everything going on in my life and update me with everything going on with hers – pretty much on a daily basis. It might not seem like a big deal but, to me, that’s HUGE! With all that’s going on in everyone’s lives today, most people find excuses not to talk or catch up. Not the case with her and it means the world. She’s awesome.

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So, Erica and I discovered pretty early on that we were both on the more introverted side of things. Hard to believe, I know. Especially when you get me, her, and Whitney talking together. We are also both IN LOVE with San Francisco and plan to move there someday {hopefully sooner rather than later!} Erica has fun and amazing stories about traveling and living abroad and hearing her enthusiasm for beautiful European countries definitely re-ignited my desire to travel the world! Is it not amazing to have someone who gets you excited about all that life has to offer? I think it is!

So, Erica and I went over to Whitney’s where they got me to watch some of Inglourious Basterds, I taught them a few words in Polish, Whitney told love stories, and Erica made us want to go to Germany in Oktober. She’s been there, done that.

I literally could not believe it when I saw the clock after getting in my car to drive home. It was nearly midnight. That’s when you know you had a good time on a Wednesday night!

But, you know what I truly learned from this week? Friends are such a blessing. Whether you’ve known them all your life or met them yesterday – having someone you can laugh with, joke with, dream with, and plan with makes any bad day better. The even better part? Each person that you meet brings out something different in you. Maybe they bring out your odd sense of humor, or your love for music, or just help you see things in a new light.

I’m grateful for these three ladies that have brought lots of smiles and laughs into my life this past week.
I’m grateful for my other friends in the area and for my friends {new and old} around the globe!
Here’s to more laughter and memories!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wedding Wednesday | White Winter Wonderland

Tomorrow is officially the first day of Winter which means, it’s Winter Wedding season! While I know many people aim for the warmer months of the year, I believe Winter is still a beautiful time to get married! When planning my wedding for a Winter month, I noticed many advantages due to that time of year being considered off-season in most locations. {Okay, so San Diego is obviously the prime location to get married year-round due to the perfect weather}

I tend to LOVE color. Love it! I whole-heartedly believe that incorporating your wedding colors into as much of your wedding as possible is so much fun! However, I have always loved the look of a White Winter Wonderland. Whether it snows where your wedding will take place or not, beautiful, clean whites are a fabulous way to really bring out the magical Winter season!

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Although that last wedding isn’t all white, I love her mink {I’d need it to be faux fur though} and the use of pinecones on the cake!

Obviously, tablescapes are the easiest way to fill your venue with festive Winter Wonderland decor. I just love that table full of vases with baby’s breath – so delicate! Oh, and Christmas lights strung along pretty much anywhere are the perfect added touch! I’ve even seen some rather elaborate ceremony set-ups using lots of faux white trees and even fake snow! So, depending on your budget, the sky just might be the limit!

What do you think of a wedding white-out for Winter?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Throw Some Glitter

…make it rain. I don’t know about you all, but I was practically Ke$ha this weekend, rolling around in glitter. How, you ask? Trying on outfits for New Year’s Eve, that’s how!

Of course I didn’t mind. In fact, I LOVED it!

Sequins and sparkles are so in this holiday season and I just knew, whatever I’d be wearing for NYE, it’d have to be full of glitter! So, naturally, after hopping from store to store, trying on dresses and skirts, I started to look like this…

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and this…

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then this…

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At the end of the day, as I mentioned, I just looked like Ke$ha:

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P.S. did you know how much I love Ke$ha?
My future wedding invitations will look a little something like thiiiiis:

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Now, back to NYE outfit shopping. I’m pretty sure that by the end of my shopping sesh, people thought I had either a) just finished crafting or b) just finished trying on NYE dresses. I guess it was in my favor that sparkles are in this season! Well, knowing little miss indecisive me, I tried on about 15 different dresses/outfits, took pictures in each, and then left the mall.
You didn’t think I could just decide that quickly, did you?

So, I thought about it. Pondered. Referred back to my pictures. Slept on it. Consulted with Whit. Then, I went back to the mall.
It was time to buy.
I get back to the store two days later thinking, oh sure, they’ll still have my size.

I march on over to the outfit. Gone.
”Uhhhhhhhhhhhh… Santa?”
Naturally, I start digging like every girl would. Bam! Buried beneath all the holiday mess, I find one more, sitting there ever-so-patiently waiting for me.

So, it didn’t have a tag on it. Or a size. As I approached the fitting rooms, I started to get nervous. This could pretty much make or break my entire New Year’s Eve.
It must be my lucky week because {not only have I won an amazing giveaway or two} but it fit me perfectly.

I can now be even more excited about my NYE plans! :)
And that, my friends, is how it’s done.

Are you doing the whole glitter, sequin, sparkle thing this year?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Through Our Own Eyes

If you know me, you know I’m a firm-believer in everything happening for a reason. I believe that God/a Higher Power/The Universe have created our story and it’s up to us to write it through our own eyes. I also believe that nothing is just a coincidence.

On Saturday, I was at the gym running. Now, when I go to the gym on a weekday, I always go around the same time and see all the “regulars.” However, I had never been before at this time on a Saturday. It was just me and a bunch of strangers {oh, and some people I went to high school with.}

There I was, on the treadmill, looking around, glancing up every so often at the TV’s and then doing a little people watching. I saw a man walk in front of me. He was probably in his early thirties.

The first thing I noticed: his eye was watering to the point where he took his finger and discreetly wiped the area underneath his eye.

The next thing I noticed: something seemed wrong with his eye. I’m not an expert on eye conditions, but it seemed as though he might be {at least partially} blind in that eye.

I watched as he left the gym. My heart was heavy. I wanted to cry.

I had no idea why but I was just overcome with emotion.

I know in the Spring when my allergies get bad, it’s common for my eyes to just start watering like crazy when I’m out in public. I tend to feel kind of silly. But, that was just because of allergies. Chances are, this man had a condition that was much worse. I put myself in his shoes for a moment. I tried to imagine what his work-out had been like - what it’s like to be him each day - if it’s common for his eyes to water up - if it hurts. As I watched him leave, that was when it hit me – while I’m thankful for SO many of the little things, I’m so truly grateful for the BIG things as well.

My vision. My eyes.

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Health. Shelter. Food. Family and friends. Being alive.

I don’t know when my time here will be up; when my last page will be turned, and that scares me. But, I want to make my time here count. I want to make a difference. In a world of so much terror and evil, I want to find the beauty.

Maybe I’ll see that man again. Maybe he’ll become a “regular.” Or, perhaps, he was like that of an angel. Maybe our paths were meant to cross just that one instance. Either way, I’m grateful for the people who help me see the beauty in this world… especially through tragedy.

 

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Pay attention to the things you see today, even if it is through someone else’s eyes…

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blogger Blitz DC

It’s finally time to do a re-cap of the fabulous blogger meet-up I went to this past weekend! Blogger Blitz DC was organized by the fabulous Alison over at Long Distance Loving! She made snazzy name tags and even a directory with everyone’s pictures, Twitter handles, and blog addresses!

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Here was my OOTN, in case you didn’t already see it on Twitter!
I bought those boots months ago and finally took a picture in them. LOVE them!

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We all met up that evening at a posh little spot in DC called Urbana. Whitney, Erica, and I met up and drove over together. Good thing we did because parking in DC was scarce, Metro was apparently horrendous, oh and also because I just adore the two of those girls :) Anyway, once we got to Urbana everyone mixed, mingled, and talked about all sorts of fun things like our blogs {duh}, where we grew up, and our NYE plans. {So excited to finally spill the news on what I’ll be doing… but you’ll have to keep waiting! Although some of you already know…}

I got to be reunited with some of my in-real-life friends, finally met some bloggers I’ve been wanting to meet for a long time now {shout out to Ashley!}, and met many new bloggers whose blogs I now adore!

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Ashlyn. Raquel. Whitney. Me. Ashley.

Oh, and while we were at the meet-up, Alison gave away TWO beautiful Spike the Punch necklaces. Whit and Ashley were the lucky winners :) Maybe they passed a little of their luck onto me for the future?

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Shannon. Me. Whitney.

The two hours flew by! I wish I had the chance to chat with every single blogger that was there, but sadly, I didn’t. Which means we’ll all just have to get together again soon, right? :)

The blogging community is truly such an amazing thing and it is a huge blessing in my life. At first it started out as a place for me to write, grew into me having conversations via email with other bloggers, then chatting through Twitter, and now I even get to meet bloggers in real life! I’ve met ladies who I KNOW are going to be life-long friends and there are still many of you who I still want to {and better!} meet one day :) Another great thing is meeting bloggers all over the country {and world} so if you’re ever in their city, you can plan something together {right, Jenna?}

So, DC bloggers – let’s start going on some blates! Seriously.
You never know… we could become new best friends :)

Again, I’m so glad to have met so many of you! It’s amazing to see how many bloggers are in the area. Thank you, Alison for putting this all together! Your creativity and extra, little touches never go unnoticed!

By the way, it’s the last weekend before Christmas! I should probably start shopping, huh?

p.s. last two pictures c/o Raquel. Can you imagine every one of us trying to take pictures? I decided I’d borrow :)