Friday, December 11, 2009

Upcoming Blogger Meet Up, Follow Friday, & Traditions

Then Heather Said, "Let's Meet Up!"

Do any of you lovely friends in this fabulous blogging community live in the North Dallas/Denton area? Or will any of you be visiting for Christmas Vacation?

The fabulous Nicci and Kelsey and I are going to be having a Blogger Meet Up and we would absolutely LOVE if you wanted to come meet with us, too!

We plan on getting together at Sweet Basil Thai Bistro. I personally have yet to visit, but I am STOKED to get the opertunity, because I have been hearing GREAT REVIEWS! And seriously, the above photo I grabbed from the yelp site is already making my tummy rumble ;) We are shooting for getting together on December 26th - and once we get some feedback on other people wanting to come we will narrow down a time that works well for us.

If you are interested in joining us (and we REALLY hope you are), please drop me an email at!

Then Heather Said, "Happy Hanukkah"

Hanukkah officially begins at sundown today.
A very happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends out there- especially my dear dear friend, Corrine.

Corrine and I were great friends in college and I always loved hearing about her families traditions for Jewish holidays and celebrations. I remember "lighting" her electric menora in the dorm (of course, no open flames were had) and in the spring, when the easter bunny came to visit our friends Bridget and Brenda, the Passover Kitten would drop off a Passover basket at Corrine's Door. I miss weaving our holidays together and celebrating EVERY DAY we could. hugs and kisses to you and your family, Corrine.

If you want to learn more about blending holidays between friends and families of different religions, can I please point you to Sara's blog? Sara is a VERY TALENTED artist/graphic designer/creater/writer/former wedding-bee-blogger.

I've been reading her Stinkerpants Blog for awhile now, and she is a wonderful canidate for FOLLOW FRIDAY. Add her to your reader, people!

I remember reading Sara's blog last holiday season as she admitted she didn't like the holidays but moved past her feelings of hate to make her and her husbands first december together something special with some holiday decorations. The post she shared this past Tuesday, however, is a-whole-nother story of wonderfulness. Please head over and see what I mean. Her post itself is fabulous and I have thought about it many times this past week- but the conversation going on in the comments section is very interesting.

Then Heather Said, "Site your Sources!"

These are a few resources I've used to help make celebrating holidays, special days, and even smelly old Tuesdays memorable. I am all about celebrating the small and the big, showing the people I love how wonderful they are in unique ways, and decorating with sparkles and sprinkles ;)

Every book SARK has ever published; but most famously
Fabulous Friendship Festival


What are your favorite ways to make the Holidays memorable with the people you love?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gift Guide; BSS & more

I just need to say, quickly, before we get too deep in post: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CARRIE :)

I wanted to put together a post of cool gift ideas I've found over the past few weeks for those of you who still haven't gotten your Bloggie Secret Santa a gift. But these gifts are not just for your favorite blogger friend- they would work for a multitude of people in your life (i just KNOW it!)

For my Bloggie Secret Santa gift, I have been trying to keep to a few “gift giving rules” I’ve set.

First off, because I don’t know the person I’m purchasing for very well, I made sure to spend a bit of time on her blog the last few weeks. As I’ve caught myself up on what my Bloggie friend is interested in, I’ve taken a few mental notes. Does your giftee participate in a certain activity or hobby? (reading, crafting, yoga, running, etc?) If your giftee posts photos of herself, does she gravitate towards a certain color palette? Does your giftee eat a certain specific diet? (GF, vegan, vegetarian, etc.)

The second thing I have been trying very hard to remember is that a Secret Santa gift is a great opportunity to give something IMPRACTICAL but still PRETTY DARN COOL. I think that Secret Santa gifting (and Christmas as a whole, really) is an opportunity to give the giftee something spectacular that they wouldn’t ever purchase for themselves. Some of my most favorite gifts I’ve gotten over the years have been things I NEVER would have spent the money on myself but truly cherished receiving. I tend to be a bit thrifty, and a self-proclaimed bargain hunter so it’s not very often I pay full price for something for my own personal use, let alone spend an extra few dollars on something extravagant. For example, it would take a lot for me to ever purchase a “gourmet” hot chocolate mix for over ten dollars for myself. But when I received one as a gift last Christmas, I treasured every sip of the warm, rich, frothy love in a mug. I want to look outside the “practical” and into the “fabulous” when purchasing a gift for my giftee.

The last rule I've set for myself is HAVE FUN! Christmas shopping can sometimes be a bit stressful- especially when you are trying to find the most perfect gift for everyone on your list. Add to it that you've probably never met your Secret Santa and you may very well just want to throw in your elf hat and call it a day! But I'm not letting that happen- I am trying very hard to enjoy every minute of shopping for my Secret Santa giftee.

Here are a few ideas I've come up with a few different people on my list; bloggie friends and others.

You Love Julie & Julia, Baking, and Pretty Things:

This apron classes up any and every kitchen. I can imagine a few people I know wearing this classy little number and holding a tray of cupcakes, offering one to each guest.

Let's face it, Antropologie is THE place to find pretty little things- and this trivet does not disappoint. I keep hearing that orange is the new pink- this darling little piece sure adds to that argument.

This plate is just one of the several design options in the Paint by Number Dessert Plate set. I would LOVE to hand these out to a trio of friends as they approach the dessert bar in my kitchen.

I Can't Stop Reading Your Blog, even when Most of Your Posts are Photos of Food:

Postcard Set by Emcee on Etsy - $12
I am a little bit obsessed with this post card set. You choose five designs from Emcee's postcards for your custom set- I'm loving the above along with one that reads "Reawaken Your Sense of Wonder; Let Curiosity Lead Your Life." 2010 Motto, much?

Photographers Necklace by JustJaynes on Etsy - $21
It seems like a bunch of my favorite bloggers have been getting new cameras to share wonderful photos on their blogs. And I know a few photographer friends who would love to add this to their key ring, charm bracelet, or jar of trinkets, too.

Blogs & Tea print by Jennifer Ramos on Etsy - $9.50
I know that Tina has a print which reads "i love you blogs and coffee" and I have been dreaming of the day I have a computer, desk space, and a designated "blogging scheduled" to order one myself to decorate my tiny office area. Isn't this just DARLING.

Your Personality makes me Smile and It should be Celebrated:

Me 2 a T plate by Em Tanner Designs - $28

Two of my very best friends are pregnant, and I CAN'T HARDLY WAIT to spend some time with their little ones and start to discover their individual and unique personalities - because you bet your bippy they will be getting some cute personalize plates by Em Tanner Designs one day. How cute would a personalize character plate be for your favorite blogger, but instead of adding their name, adding their blog abbreviation. KERF, HTP, CNC, etc?

Personalized Note Cards by Every Day Grace on Etsy - $12
OK- I just need to spend a minute telling you about Andrea from Every Day Grace. SHE IS AMAZING. I have worked with Andrea on several occasions in the past- for gifts for some of the people I love the most in this world- and can I just tell you that her customer service and quality of product are unparalleled to anything else I've experienced in the last several years. This girl is talented and beyond kind. She will go above and beyond to make sure your order is EXACTLY what you want it to be - and she is simply the most darling, sweet southern girl you will ever meet. Her products are all adorable and she never fails to surprise me with what she's working on next. GO CHECK OUT EVERY DAY GRACE.

Who doesn't want something this adorable, really? There are no other words.

You are the Very Definition of Foodie:

Foodie Fight from Spoon Sisters - $18.95
Every time I look at this game on the Spoon Sisters website (and let me tell you, I have looked at it many, many times) I can't seem to wonder if this should have been a Foodbuzz Festival Freebie. I'm just saying.

The Chef Set page Flags from Spoon Sisters - $5.95
These cute little sticky notes are perfect for the person who has a billion different cook books, likes to plan elaborate meals for a large group, or is type A down to the bone desiring beautiful organization. Perfection. Perfection. Perfection. (and inexpensive!)

Tina recently posted a giveaway from Organica Deluxe, and when I was searching through their website this Popcorn caught my eye immediately - salty, sweet and spicy? YES PLEASE!
You're One Part Scientist One Part Kitchen Dweller:

Built Oven Mitt and Pot Holders from Wrapables - $11.95-$14.95
Look Cool when the Oven is Hot. Had to go there.
Cuisipro Ice Cream Scoop & Stack from Wrapables - $14.95
This is probably my favorite gadget I've ever come across while online shopping. The scoop & stack makes little cylinder's of ice cream. Little perfect cylinders. You can build TOWERS of ice cream cylinders. Who doesn't want to do that? (for some cool photos see the Lovely Room's post from July)

Self Leveling Measuring Spoons from Spoon Sisters - $13.75

I'm quite certain that these measuring spoons could quickly become a bakers best friend. I'm determined to find the measuring cup version, as well. I am so sick of dirtying a butter knife every single night as I move forward in the Cookie Challenge.
Now that I've shared some of my favorite gifts for this season- tell me; what's on YOUR wish list?

vibrant snow

I live a mile and a half away from my office.
This means in the summer, I walked to and from work a lot of the days.
This also means that when we get several inches of snow and the road are horrible and traffic on the highways is at a standstill, I am the first, and in today’s case, only person in the office.

The snow will not stop falling. It is determined to give the city a fresh, washed out, completely blank canvas and I really can’t complain. Because sometimes, I want a blank canvas, too.

Sometimes I want to take a big giant pink eraser and scrub away the last few years of my life. Erasing the pain. Erasing the heartache. Erasing the loneliness.
Sometimes I want to throw a bucket of white paint against the wall of my emotions- not taking the time to tape the trim of “good parts”, use a brush or roll over the details- but just cover the whole thing. Sometimes I want to spray it all away, the way the garden hose washes away the chalk markings of a four year old. Sometimes I just want it all to go away.

When I have a bad dream, that doesn’t make much sense to me, causing me to wake at 3:15 AM and not stop thinking about the past. Where I went wrong. How I should have never of said yes. How I could be living a different life, in a different town, with a different agenda. Because the current agenda of “survive. Run faster.” Just isn’t really working with my heart at 3:15 in the morning. I want to sleep. I want to rest. I want to embody peace. But instead my heart hurts, and my eyes cloud, and my brain twirls in circles.

I keep looking out the window to my office and watching more and more snow fall. I swear I cleaned off my car before I drove to the office an hour ago, yet it is completely covered again. This snow is determined.

And so am I.
I am determined not to let the bad dreams win. Or the sad days. Or the heart ache.

I am determined to move forward. A little more each day.
I am determined to enjoy my life, and count the things I am thankful for more than just on Thanksgiving. I am determined not to let a broken engagement, and a lonely few months take over my otherwise fabulous year. I am determined not to sit in the wanting differently, not to long for what I don’t have.

I am determined not to be CONTENT with my life, but to be CELEBRATING it. I don’t need a blank slate because my life is full of color- deep, rich, vibrant color at that. I don’t want to wash away the past, because I know it’s building my character- developing my perseverance. And making me an all around better person. And I know that even though there are bad days, bad nights, and occasionally bad weeks- that I love my life. Even when it’s snowing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lists: Love or Lust?

Is it just me, or do Monday’s always feel like a fresh start of the week?
I know that on the calendar Sunday is the first day of the week, but I can’t help but consider Sunday the last day of the weekend (soaking up every last bit of relaxation, productivity or both!) and Monday the “kick start” kind of day.

I’ve been journaling a lot lately about my need to make goals. I’ve been wondering what the purpose is, to all the lists I make each year. It’s something that lives deep down under my bones- lining my soul, really. I have this addiction to “to-do” type lists; Not just tasks to complete- although those lists definitely exist in many facets of my life- but other to-do lists. Things to avoid for the week, Goals to accomplish for the month, Progress to be made in a plethora of areas. When I become self-aware of an extreme in my life, I either battle or support it with a list.

For example- when I notice I haven’t been doing much cardio lately- I create a list of 10 cardio work outs to complete in the next two weeks. When I realize my last three meals have involved a veggie burger patty- I make a list of other protein-filled meals to eat for lunch and dinner this week. Each morning I make a list at the office of what I hope to accomplish and what REALLY needs to be accomplished. Most Friday evenings I sit cross-legged in front of the TV with my giant whiteboard and make a “Weekend Fun-do” list; things that I should consider doing and things I really should celebrate doing- ranging from “fold the laundry while watching The West Wing” and “Drink wine”. And you’ve seen my become a better runner list, my fitness bucket list, my 101 in 1001 list, and a new list of sorts every Tuesday. And this weekend, when I took notice I’ve been slacking on my running since Thanksgiving and that the times for my first three 5K increased by over a minute each- I wanted to make a list of what I need to do to stop being so silly and get my butt outside to run in the cold.

Clearly, I love lists.

But I wonder about the list making. Is it good for me? I mean, of course, it's healthy and good to line out your goals and determine where progress should be made- but maybe I need to take a step back and remember that everything in moderation is the key to a healthy life.

It sounds a bit silly, doesn't it? Evaluating my list making because it may not be "good for me." But look at it this way- a lot of the time, at least in the last few months, I have made lists for the sake of making lists- I'm not making much progress on the lists I have been writing out.

For example- that Ten Steps to a Becoming a Better Runner list I wrote a month or so ago- I discussed my need to do ten things:

1. take the time to track my nutrition
2. get more sleep
3. cross train
4. evaluate/journal about my workouts
5. add yoga training 3 times a week
6. implement core work
7. run out doors
8. stay hydrated
9. properly warm up & cool down with each run
10. stay motivated to run

If I take the time to review the last month, I realized that I'm only doing a few of these things. I am definitely not tracking my food or spending more time sleeping. And I haven't been doing much working out at all- let alone specific cross training and yoga that I had planned on. I must say, I've done much better putting the core work in- thanks to Ange, staying hydrated, and the few times I have run in the past month I have made sure to warm up and cool down properly and do the running outside- but I haven't been running much at all lately.

This isn't the only list I've made this season that gets overlooked and a majority of items gets ignored. The lack of determination in sticking with a plan, following goals, and completing a to do list seems to have become a bit of a habit lately- and I don't like that. I don't like that I keep making the lists, but not making any progress. I don't like that I'm falling backwards- starting to resemble the girl with the good intentions that never moves forward. It seems that my love for lists, has become more of a lust for lists. I'm interested with the list making, with the beginning- but I haven't cared too much for a long-term relationship with the lists. I just write the lists, turn the page, and carry on with my life, until the idea for another list waltzes into my life and the cycle starts again.

I'm not trying to be hard on myself. I know that I am doing a lot more now that I would have been doing last year at this time- I have definitely made progress and am living a much healthier lifestyle than I was, even six months ago- and that is a wonderful, rewarding thing I should take pride in. But I also know I need to get a grip and realize that I am happiest with myself when I am making the healthiest of choices.

I am happiest with myself when I feel strong after finishing a run in the brisk air, rather than making 27 excuses of why I can't go outside today to get some speed work in . I am happiest with myself when I take the 10 minutes to do core work in the evenings, rather than just sit in my v. comfy recliner. I am happiest with myself when I feel full off of fresh veggies and whole foods, rather than stuffing my face with food that does not sit well in my stomach. Of course, as I continue on a weight loss journey- I am happiest when the numbers on the scale move downward, and not just sit still for three weeks. I am happiest when I can wake up after a full nights of rest and be ready to face my day, rather than hit snooze three times and stop for a sugar free red bull on my way into the office.

It's not that I don't enjoy occasional treats and indulgences, days of rest, and days of curling up under a cozy blanket and drinking wine while NOT DOING A THING. These times of "spoiling of myself" are special times I continue to enjoy- but I want to make them the exception, not the rule.

Of course, being Heather, I want to make a list of how to do these things- a plan of how to accomplish feeling the happiest. But this time, I refuse.

Instead I am going to face each day, one at a time- choice by choice- determined to make the healthy choices, because they truly make me the happiest.

Lots of follow up questions for you to answer today, my friends! I want to hear your experiences and opinions.
What is your relationship with lists? Do you find that they are a motivational tool for you and what you want to accomplish? Have you ever found yourself listing out of habit? How do you suggest I go about making healthy choices? What have you used to help yourself get back into good habits that make you happy?

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