Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Utah {not California} Dreaming

Move over California.

The Mamas & The Papas may have sang a song about California dreamin, but not everyone dreams about you. The 2012 HGTV Dream Home has got this girl dreaming about the beautiful state of Utah. Yeah. You heard me. Utah!

Earlier this year my husband and I drove across a large chunk of Utah.
{you can read about our little road trip here}

The Utah landscapes were so beautiful it sometimes had me speechless. It seemed like every turn of the road revealed to us a new breathtaking scenery. Needless to say, we think Utah is gorgeous. The beautiful state is also home to one of my father's very favorite places, Arches National Park. For a few years he made yearly trips to Moab, Utah for mountain biking. Utah's natural beauty alone is enough to draw you into it's realm.

If you haven't been to Utah before, I hope you get to see it!

Anyhow. Utah is beautiful, and I would probably survive if we won the 2012 HGTV Dream Home in Midway, Utah. It wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen to us. I mean moving is sort of a pain in the you know what, but we could most likely manage a move to Utah. The move from Colorado to Florida didn't kill us. With that being said I'm pretty sure I may die of shock if we won the 2012 Dream Home. I entered every day to win the house from last year. Maybe God had better plans in store for us though... aka the 2012 Dream Home in Utah! Of course.

Tomorrow HGTV should be revealing more photos of the 2012 Dream Home.
You'll know where to find me tomorrow. Right here in front of this computer screen.

{ mine, not yours. that would be weird if tomorrow you found me
on your computer looking at interior images of the dream home. no? }

Tonight I'll be Utah dreaming!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Holidays are Coming!

my dad | husband | me | my cousin
{ this picture is from Thanksgiving 2 years ago }

This picture was taken outside of St. Nicks, my favorite holiday store in Denver.
My dad came to visit for Thanksgiving that year,
so we made the annual trip while he was in town.

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We are now less than one week away
from the biggest holiday shopping day of the year.
Wasn't it just Halloween yesterday?! Gosh.

Just yesterday I saw this holiday survey over at Ashley's blog { Sloanbook }.
Go check out her answers too! Since Christmas is getting closer with each passing day, I might as well start thinking about what the holiday brings....

I hope my answers aren't too long and that you'll read all the way through.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
That's a tough one. I'd say egg nog in November and December, and hot chocolate every other month of the year. Egg nog gets its time to shine too. Although I really do enjoy a mug of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows. Yum!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
My best guess is that the elves probably wrap the presents and Santa just takes credit for it. All I know is that whoever wraps our presents does a pretty nice job and puts a lot of time into it. They must really love wrapping presents ;)

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I love both. I think it would be fun to have two trees some day, one with colored lights and another with white lights. They both have their place in Christmas decorations. (:

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
We don't have one now, but there was always a mistletoe hanging at my Grandmas's house. I'd have to say that's something we'll add to our decorations in the future. It's fun to have in the house!
5. When do you put your decorations up?
The day after Thanksgiving! Since I'll be working on Black Friday this year, we'll probably have to wait. I'm sure the very first chance we get after Thanksgiving our place will be filled with lights and decorations though. I am really a big proponent of not decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
I always loved my Grandma's homemade macaroni and cheese when I was younger. It's still a favorite, and it's tough choosing just one. I'd have to go with all of the baked goods and sweets that we always had around my Grandma's house!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
I come from a very musical family on my dad's side, and Christmas eve was always my favorite time. My Grandma hosted a Christmas party every year on Christmas eve, and the entire house would be filled with my uncle Ray playing piano and everyone singing along to Christmas carols! It was sort of magical.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I remember one year asking my parents why they had the same wrapping paper as Santa. It was around that age when most kids find out, but boy was it disappointing knowing that guy in the red suit wasn't the one dropping them off the night before Christmas.... oh well.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
With enough pestering, my parents usually let me open one gift the night before. (:

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
I have a small fake tree that my aunt gave me as a birthday gift when I was in college. We decorate it with lights and tons of ornaments that have accumulated over the years. It's an interesting collection. You'll find everything from wood to glass and vegetables to animals. It's always fun recalling memories with each ornament that we place on the tree. It's a great tradition!

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
If you had asked me this while growing up in northern Michigan, I would have said I hated it. After moving to Denver, I learned to love the snow. Mostly because it didn't stick around for a solid 3-4 months straight. I love the snow now! My husband and I are both going to miss it now that we live in Florida.

12. Can you ice skate?
Yes! Again... I grew up in northern Michigan, which could be confused with Canada at times. I used to get out a shovel and attempt to shovel the snow off the ice on the lake outside my house. I'd usually shovel off a little rectangle big enough to skate on, but it would always be very bumpy and difficult to skate on.... it was good enough to skate around on though!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Oh boy. One comes to mind. I loved everything Barbie, and one year Santa gave me a Barbie mansion complete with working elevator. It was a few feet tall and had multiple rooms. That mansion was a source of many hours of entertainment and imagination.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Even though Christmas can get expensive and stressful at times, I think the most important thing to remember is what the holiday is really about. Any pettiness, hate, or judgements should be checked at the door. 

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Homemade cookies are number one. Not sure if this counts as a dessert, but we always had homemade Chex Mix at my Grandma's. The spices were always so yummy!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Besides getting together with family to decorate the Christmas tree, I'm not sure what my favorite holiday tradition is. I really look forward to making new holiday traditions with my husband though. We used to make an annual trip to a Christmas store in Denver to buy a new ornament, so we'll have to try and find a store like that in Florida to carry on that tradition.

17. What tops your tree?
A gold star.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?

19. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?
Yum, yum, yum.... and yum yum!

20. Favorite Christmas show? Show or movie?
I have a ba-jillion favorite Christmas movies! National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is probably my favorite. I also love A Christmas Story! "You'll shoot your eye out, kid."

21. Saddest Christmas Song?
The saddest would probably be I'll Be Home For Christmas. Listen to it { here }
I always get a little teary-eyed when singing that one.

22. What is your favorite Christmas song?
Oh my goodness. It's too hard to choose just one.
I'm going to pick my favorite Christmas album instead.
I absolutely love the Vince Guaraldi Trio's: A Charlie Brown Christmas very much!
Again, the piano reminds me of Christmas Eve at my Grandma's
with my uncle playing piano to all of these songs. (:

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Let me know if you fill this out too!
Again, go see Ashley's answers over at { Sloanbook } also.
Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting Snail Mail Makes Me Happy

I love getting things via snail mail!
Not to be confused with getting snails in the mail.
That might get smelly.

Yesterday I mentioned that one of my favorite blog friends
did something very thoughtful for me.

It was incredibly touching
to know that someone who I've not even met yet, outside of blogging,
took some time out of their busy day to think of me.

Let me explain.

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A couple of days ago, there was a parcel notice in our mailbox.

We drove over to the apartment complex office,
and my husband went inside to claim the mystery parcel.

My husband told me that the package was for him,
until I could pry it from his fingers.
That trickster!

Imagine my excitement when I saw my name on the box
and a familiar name in the return address label!

My very sweet blog friend, Alisha, had put together a
package of goodies assembled just for me.

Inside the mystery package, Alisha included a hand-written note
explaining her thought process behind each item.

She had read in one of my previous blog posts how much I love collecting shells,
so she collected a few from a beach in Texas and sent them my way.
I absolutely love them!

She also included a Christmas ornament for our first Florida Christmas.
It very appropriately reads "Merry Christmas Y'all" seeing how she's from Texas.
The even more perfect part is how Alisha remembered reading in a blog comment
that I love the word "y'all". I really wish it sounded natural when I said that word.

Apparently I had a pretty sweet Texan accent when I was three. Ask my parents.
We only lived in Texas until I was three years old, but I still want to use the word y'all.

She also included some other items.... including Sour Patch Kids.
Those were opened immediately after opening the included letter.

At times I really can't stand the Internet and social media.
I even recently deleted my Facebook account.

Obviously social media and blogging isn't all bad.
Especially when you get more snail mail because of it.

Thank you Alisha for your thoughtfulness and gifts!
If you haven't met this sweet girl yet, go visit her blog and get to know her.

Go on now:
{ Alisha and Brandon }

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Not All Bloggers Are Mean

The title of this blog post could also read "Most Bloggers Are Nice".

Recently I've read a few things on Twitter and blogs
that have made me very disappointed in social media.

Social media makes it very easy for people to spew hate and spread negativity. These things often spread like wildfire. Fortunately the positive side of social media is having the ability to build friendships, connections, and spread positive messages. With the ability to reach so many people with the use of our fingertips on a keyboard, we must think twice (or even three times) about what we write. What we choose to share with others, via the Internet, is a reflection of our lives outside of cyberspace. It's our choice how we use social media. Do you want to cause heartache and stress, or do you want to be a light in another person's life?

It's your choice.

Even though social media does have its downsides, there is much to love. There are so many great things about blogging that I am only beginning to learn about and understand. I've had the opportunity to 'meet' some really sweet people who blog and share their lives and passions with others. I've even met three bloggers in real life. My favorite bloggers are very real, loving and caring towards others, and never afraid to share their perfectly imperfect lives. They're quite like the people I prefer spending time with in real life. Funny how that works. It's almost like looking in a mirror. If you learn about yourself and the things you love, there's this gravitation towards more of the same.

This leaves me to remind you that not all bloggers are mean;
just like not all real people are mean.

There's a lot of kindness out there.
Sometimes you just need to wade through hate and seek out the love.

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Speaking of kindness, tomorrow I'm going to share with you
something very thoughtful that my blog friend Alisha did for me!

If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting my sweet friend Alisha,
go visit her blog { Alisha and Brandon } now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is It Too Soon?

Halloween has come and gone, the leaves have fallen from our trees, and the shelves are already stocked with gifts and holiday merchandise in preparation for "Black Friday". Before we know it, we'll be ringing in the year 2012. Where has the time gone?

Wait a minute, let's slow things down for a second here!
Why the rush?

Is it just me, or does this time of year always seem to rush by in a hurry?

I know one thing.
Seeing how eggnog is only available for a short stretch of time each year,
we're enjoying a glass (or two... don't tell anyone) tonight.

We always enjoyed some eggnog during Thanksgiving when I was growing up,
and over the years that's something that will not change.

Good thing my husband loves eggnog too,
because I'd sure hate to drink a whole quart all by myself. *wink, wink*

There's also no shortage of holiday candles around our place either.

{ candles both from anthropologie Aloha Orchid tin and Balsam & Cedar }

In our household we do have a pretty steadfast rule
of not putting up our Christmas tree or listening
to any Christmas music until after Thanksgiving though.

You have to draw the line somewhere.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Randomness & Nail Polish

Oh hey there.
This is a random post, because I've been busy
and have had such little time to think & write lately.

Did you know that I love creamsicles? Well. I do.

You know what else I love?
Painting my nails. Love.

nail polish { metallic gold by Revlon and OPI Mimosas for Mr. & Mrs. }

I wrote a blog post a while back about how much I love the half-moon manicure,
and after all this time I still love it.

Here it is again.

If you're interested in doing this yourself,
check out the link to Pretty Shiny Sparkly in my last half-moon blog post.

Happy Tuesday!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It Was Painful, But I Did It

Just like kicking any addiction, habit, or vice in life, it was tough making the decision to finally delete my Facebook account. I had new complaints about it with each passing day, and the negatives of having a profile really seemed to outweigh the positives anymore. These are a few of the reasons why I finally bit the bullet and deleted my Facebook account. Call me a traditionalist, but I'm hoping that maybe some day my life will consist of more quality phone calls, emails, and maybe even the elusive snail mail item or two.

It may have been a television program I watched late last week that really kicked my butt into 'Facebook deletion mode', but it was something that had been in the back of my mind ever since my husband deleted his account months ago. It was time for me to draw up enough strength and 'unplug' myself from all of the pseudo connectedness that Facebook made me feel.

Facebook seems to do a wonderful job at making us feel that we have tons of friends (around 400 in my case), but in all reality Facebook was only making it convenient for keeping hundreds of acquaintances at my fingertips. What good was that doing for my quality of life? I don't know about you, but I find that keeping up with relationships can be tiring. Friendships take work, and I feel that Facebook is degrading the definition of 'friends'. Growing up, I was always the kid who wanted a few close friends more than I ever wanted tons of meaningless friendships. I guess I haven't changed much in that department over the years. I will forever be the girl who wants to do things all the way or not do them at all. If you don't really want to be my friend, and you only want to keep me at your fingertips when it suits you, then I would rather be without you as my real life and Facebook friend.

After finally deciding to delete my account, I posted a status update letting my friends know that I would be deleting my account and to email me if they wanted to keep in touch. I received only a couple of comments from friends who let me know they wanted to stay in touch, and I received a couple of emails in my inbox as well. Out of almost 400 Facebook friends, I would say that was right along the lines of failure. Either that or their news feeds were too cluttered with more very important things, like Farmville invites or Spotify song suggestions, to notice that one of their friends would be leaving the world of Facebook. In that case, it solidified my decision. Being part of a human advertising experiment was never all that fun.

There are a lot of people who I miss, and would love to stay in contact with, but I prefer more meaningful methods of communication where you actually hear the other person's voice on the other end. Skype me! It's like an old-fashioned phone call but with video included. I'm not saying goodbye to all technology, just the ones that don't make me a better person. And yes, I do everything I can to not answer my cell phone during dinner. Like I said, call me old fashioned.

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Below you can see the video of me actually going through the process
of deleting my Facebook account.

Yes this is actually me.... I rarely wear my glasses.
Try not to laugh.

* I really struggled with the captchas, they don't make those easy do they? *

Did you know that deactivating your Facebook and
permanently deleting it are two completely different things?

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I hope to use my new found 'free' time post-Facebook for learning, reading, writing, and
maybe even sending the occasional letter and thank you note via snail mail.

In the words of my high school art teacher,
who was always one of my very favorites,
"Quality over quantity!"
{ Thank you Mrs. Fuller! }

* oh and if you're wondering.... I haven't missed Facebook at all.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Smells Good

I know it's already November and winter will be here before we know it,
but it's not too late to share some of my favorite scents for fall, right?

{  mulled wine candle: anthropologie  |  nail polish: essie  }

Anthropologie's website describes the mulled wine candle as
"red wine stewed with oakwood, cinnamon, and citrus."
I think it's the cinnamon that has me hooked.

The smell from this candle easily fills your whole room....
and maybe even your whole house*.
* { Depending on the size of your house. We live in a small two bedroom apartment. It works for us. }

I love the smell of food
cooking on Thanksgiving day too!

What are some of your favorite fall scents?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Our Encounter with a (Very) Curious Squirrel

Remember how we visited the Sawgrass Lake Park last week? Well, I forgot to mention that we also saw some millions of squirrels during our walk around the park. They probably outnumbered everything else at the park, including people and trees. They were everywhere, and they were not scared.

Signs around the park read "do not feed the squirrels", but some had obviously been modified to tell us otherwise. Every squirrel we encountered was rather curious and not afraid of us silly camera-toting humans. We were able to get up close and personal with one incredibly curious squirrel. I almost had to intervene and save my husband. I thought for sure he was a goner for sure. This particular squirrel looked rather hungry.

See for yourself:

As you can see we had a tough time stifling our laughter.
We wanted to see how close it would get before we scared it away with our noise.

P. S.
Did you notice the squirrel takes a crap in our video at about the 0:40 second mark?
We didn't notice the poop until re-playing the video on our computer at home.
We felt sorry for scaring the crap out of the poor little squirrel.
Then we laughed about it.