Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear Holiday Song Whistling Husband, I really do love hearing you whistle Christmas tunes while you you even know you do that? It's really cute. Dear Christmas Decorations,
Are you ready to be dusted off and brought out of storage?! You better be because we are coming for you tonight! It's time to deck the halls! Dear Bekah, I'm pumped for our annual gift exchange, craft night and Bravo's dinner this weekend. It is one of my favorite traditions of ours. Dear December, I can't believe you are almost here! I love you so much I'm going to have a giveaway on the blog to celebrate you tomorrow! Dear Christmas card pictures, I'm so excited for you. You are happening on Saturday afternoon! My outfit is ready, the location is scoped out, now if only my hair will cooperate! Dear Arrington Vineyard, I haven't had a chance to blog about you yet, but you were amazing. Hanging out with a gorgeous view next to the fireplace eating cheeses and drinking wine with family...what could be better? Kix Brook's knows his wine!
Dear Husband (again), Should we dress up our cats and bring them to our Christmas card photo shoot like this guy did? I'm down if you are.

Love, Allison
P.S. Thank goodness the weekend is here. I hope you have a fantastic weekend friends!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday Part 4...and a way to help a family in need

This week our sweet little book club is reflecting on Chapter 4 of Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts. Even though the Thanksgiving holiday is over I still have so much to learn about being thankful and this book along with the girls reading it with me continue to be such a blessing. This week's chapter really spoke to me. It was about how we use the time that we are given. "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings anyone?)

So many times I catch myself rushing around from one thing to the next...always in a hurry...always looking ahead, but ultimately missing out on so many moments right in front of me. "Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of rushing..." (page 65) It makes me sad to think of all the things I've missed out on because I was in such a hurry and for what? When you are rushing around from thing to thing your not living fully as God intended. "I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment." (page 68)

I never feel like there are enough hours in the day for me to do everything I need to do...grade papers, lesson plan, cook dinner, do laundry, spend time with my husband, catch up with friends and family, blog, workout, etc. but I need to be thankful in each moment that I am in because thanksgiving creates abundance. When there wasn't enough food for a crowd, instead of rushing around, worrying that there wasn't enough or giving up and moving on, Jesus simply gave thanks for what he was given and provided more than enough for the crowd. (John 6:11) We need to do the same thing: give thanks for what we are given and trust that God will take care of the rest.

I was scanning through my blog list last night and I came to Erin's blog and read about Issac. My heart aches for this young boy who is battling brain cancer for the second time. I can't imagine all his parents are facing right now, but I do know they are living out each moment they have left with their son. I know they are thinking about all the happy times they have shared and that they are cherishing every second they are still together on this Earth. Erin is wanting to blow this family away with cards, prayers, donations, etc. so take a minute to check out her blog or donate below.

Whether we are given a few short years to live or 100, the way we spend our time makes all the difference. Soak in all the moments instead of letting them pass you by in a hurry. Stop and give thanks randomly throughout the day for things you might normally take for granted. Every day, every minute, every second is a gift.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jack Daniel's Distillery Tour

While we were in Tennessee we ventured out to Lynchburg to visit the Jack Daniel's Distillery. Whether you like Jack Daniels or not or whether you enjoy a cold beverage or not this is a place worth visiting! The town is quaint and the scenery is gorgeous. I really enjoyed the tour (especially since our tour guide wore overalls) and I learned a lot about the whiskey making process as well. It really is an interesting process and I do have more of an appreciation for it than I did before having gone on the tour. We decided to do the tasting tour, which was about 2 hours and ended with a little taste test of a few different whiskeys.
My husband and his pal Jack.
The whole crew and our "free shot" of Jack.
Downtown Lynchburg is within walking distance of the distillery so we wandered around and found the BBQ Caboose and some Jack Daniel's memorabilia (Jack Daniel's fudge anyone?) to wrap up our day. If you are in the area I would highly recommend visiting the Distillery!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The most delicious Thanksgiving food eveeerrrr!

Are you sick of Thanksgiving posts yet? Because I'm just getting started with mine! Our Thanksgiving in Nashville was amazing. Amazing company, amazing weather and amazing food. Since all of the family was traveling from out of town my sister in law came up with a fantastic menu and did all the shopping before hand and then we all pitched in and cooked our little hearts out Wednesday evening and all day Thursday. I have never been in the kitchen so long or cooked so much for one meal in my life, but it was all worth it and the girls secretly had fun slaving away in the kitchen.
Here was our very fancy and very delicious menu: (I'm getting the cookbook my sister in law got most of the recipes from for Christmas...more on that later)

  • cheese and crackers
  • cranberry salsa & brie
  • pancetta & pears 
  • mushroom patte
  • bacon wrapped dates
  • spinach sour cream dip
  • samosas
Main Course
  • Oven Roasted Turkey
  • Herb Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato casserole
  • Balsamic Glazed Carrots
  • Lemon Green Beans and Mushrooms
  • Brussell Sprouts with Proscuttio
  • Rolls
  • Cranberry Relish
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Apple Pie
  • Bread Pudding
  • Carrot Cake
  • Gulab Jamin
Are you hungry yet? If not just take a gander at some of my favorites...they were all so pretty I had to snap some pictures. Magazine worthy? I think so.
Our amazing hosts and turkey experts!
After we ate and ate and ate some more we built a fire in the firepit out back. Then we ate desserts, (somehow there is always room for dessert) and put our stretchy pants on. We had a fantastic Thanksgiving and even had a few days to do touristy things (like go on an accidental night hike.) I also mentioned the Jack Daniel's Distillery...that's coming up tomorrow (for real this time)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My first (accidental) night hike...

Howdy Ya'll! Oh wait I mean Hi. I must have picked the ya'll up in Nashville. We just got back from a few days away at my sister and brother-in laws for Thanksgiving and now we are back and ready to put up the Christmas tree!

We had a great time and I took a TON of pictures starting with the first day...our hike that accidentally turned into a night hike. Has that ever happened to you? You start out on a trail and then the trail loops around and you accidentally take the wrong section of the loop and end up walking over an hour in the dark? Well that happened to us and it was actually pretty funny once we got back safe and sound. Here are some pictures of our adventures at Long Hunter State park in Tennessee.
Two of my sister in laws and my "nephew" Rocky.
Gorgeous view of J. Percy Priest Lake on our hike
Stopping for a picture at sunset...little did we know we had another 2 miles to hike! Oops.
Our "OMG we still have so far to go in the dark" faces!
Thankfully the moonlight was our friend and we used the lights of our cell phones and our tracker dog Rocky to help guide the way. All in all it was an adventure and another memory made. We were all ready to stay the night in the fort above too! Have you ever gone on a night hike (on purpose or on accident?)
Coming up tomorrow...Jack Daniel's Distillery tour! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursdays Part 3

                                                                       Source: via Sharon on Pinterest

Happy Thanksgiving!!! I hope your day is full of delicious food, loving family, memorable traditions and most importantly thankfulness. I'm in Nashville with family, but in keeping up with my latest Thursday tradition I'm posting today about the next Chapter in Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts. Thankfully it ties right into the very essence of this day...a day to focus on giving thanks.  Last night when we were all bustling around prepping food, practicing how to fold a fancy napkin and talking about our Thanksgiving meal, my brother in law jokingly told us to get ready because at the dinner table we were going to have to name what we are most thankful for...and it had to be unique. For many of us naming what we are most thankful for is a tradition around the dinner table on Thanksgiving, but what if we made it a daily practice?

Ann Voskamp made a daily habit of listing out even the smallest things she was thankful for. When she remembered to say thank you for the small things she felt God swell up in her life. "God is not in need of magnifying by us so small, but the reverse. It's our lives that are little and we have falsely inflated self, and in thanks we decrease and the world returns right..." (page 59) God gives us gifts each day and we can choose to unwrap them or not. Today when you are working in the kitchen, give thanks for the little things...the food processor that works, the oven that keeps food warm, the refrigerator with double doors, the many hands wanting to help. When you are gathered around the table give thanks for the little things...the smile of the person you love, the warm food being passed around, the freshly whipped cream on the pumpkin pies, the hand of the person you are holding during the prayer. And when today is over...continue to give thanks for the little things because each little thing is a gift from God...a little piece of joy waiting to be unwrapped.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pinterest inspired DIY Quote on Canvas

The other night my girlfriend and I just had an itch to be crafty. I scoured Pinterest for something I had been wanting to try and came across this DIY quote on a canvas. I'd been looking for something to make to put in my craft room and my friend Stephanie is preparing her nursery for her baby boy (coming February 2013) so the project was perfect for both of us.

We gathered all our supplies at Michael's, grabbed ourselves some Peppermint Chocolate Chip shakes from Chick-fil-a and headed home to start crafting.
Overall the project is an easy one, but it does take quite a bit of time.
Step 1: Gather your supplies. Here is what you'll need-
-Paint (I always go for Martha Stewart paints)
-Mod Podge
-Vinyl letters
-Scrap paper
-Paint brush
Step 2: Arrange your paper to fill up your canvas. Think about the pieces you want to show up under your letters and place those strategically. I chose to cut up small pieces and keep them in square and rectangular shapes. Stephanie tore her pieces up for a different look.
Step 3: Use a hot glue gun to attach your papers to your canvas
Step 4: Pick your quote and add your Vinyl letters on top of your papers
Step 5: This is the scary part, but I promise it will turn out okay. Take your paint and squeeze in circles over the top of your letters.
Step 6: Use your paint brush to spread the paint over top of your entire canvas. (Too much paint will make the letters harder to peel off) Let your paint dry then peel up your letters and uncover the beauty underneath!
I love how this project turned out and can't wait to hang it up in my craft room!
Original tutorial found here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

We hosted a holiday!

Please tell me you noticed the turkey made out of vegetables. I couldn't resist!
After my bout with food poisoning I wasn't sure how hosting a holiday was going to work out...but with the help of my sweet husband and wonderful sister I somehow pulled it off. I originally never would have offered up our house for a family holiday because it's pretty small, but since this was our first holiday without my grandpa I wanted to bless my family and change it up since we are usually at my grandparents house. We fit almost 20 people into our tiny little house thanks to our recent kitchen renovations. Everyone had a seat, the food (the little I got to taste) was amazing and it was gorgeous outside so we even got to take a walk and "play" outside. Here are a few pictures from our day...
I am so thankful for my wonderful family, for our shared faith, for our house that seemed to magically "grow" for a day, for our tradition of playing Sequence after our meal, for delicious food including my husband's chocolate pie and for the unusually warm November temperatures. I secretly love playing hostess because I enjoy all the planning and little details, but I only succeed at it because my husband is my right hand man and makes my job easy! First time hosting a holiday...check!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The time I got food poisoning and then had to host Thanksgiving...

Friday night we got together with some of our good friends. We went to dinner then the guys went out to shoot guns and my girlfriend Stephanie and I put a Pinterest project to practice. I'll feature the project later this week! So the middle of the night Friday I started feeling awful...sweating, stomach in knots, cramping, back pain and because I had had food poisoning before I knew exactly what was coming. I spent all day Saturday hugging the toilet and worrying because my to-do list for our Thanksgiving debut Sunday was longer than a roll of toilet paper.
The picture I sent to my husband around noon. Thankfully my cat served as a heating pad.
Let me just say this. My husband is my hero. He came home from being gone since 7 in the morning at a robotics competition with his students to a pale, sickly, emotional me and immediately got to work on my to do list. He brought me sprite and crackers, went to the grocery store and cleaned our house from top to bottom without a complaint. I just love that man.

Then my amazing sister came over and started working on the food. I did what little I could, which wasn't much and she graciously allowed me to curl up on the couch and let her do all the work.

I'm so thankful for my amazing family. Now it's 8 am, I'm feeling 100 times better and I'm ready to host my first Thanksgiving! I never ever want to experience food poisoning again!

Have you gotten to experience the joys of food poisoning?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursdays Part 2

Africa Trip 2007
If you missed Part 1 of Thankful Thursdays you can check it out here. On to Chapter 2...this chapter was about the relationship between true joy and gratitude. The two are inseparable. You can not live a full life of joy without gratitude. "The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live..." (page 33) Jesus knows more than anyone about pain and suffering. He had to anticipate it, then go through it for us who don't deserve it and with less than 12 hours to go before his crucifixion he chose to give thanks. This blows my mind, but it also makes so much sense. Why waste all our worries and become bitter about something when God always sees the bigger picture and has our best interest in mind? Shouldn't we thank Him in advance for what he is going turn our suffering into? We need to be thankful for the good along with the bad.

"Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to his grace." (page 39) I have to be honest...I had to re-read this chapter a few times to let the power of it sink in. I started thinking about the concept of being thankful in ALL circumstances as it tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and you guys this is a hard, hard concept! I can think of so many circumstances where people might wonder where God was or why God didn't stop something from happening, but giving thanks in everything prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ. "These things prepare the way for God to show us his fullest salvation from bitter, angry, resentful lives and from all sin that estranges us from Him." God loves each one of his children so much and we have to trust His plan for us!

When I think about the times in my life that have been the toughest I can look back on most of them and say I'm thankful that I went through them because I learned something or I grew closer to God because of it. When I graduated and couldn't find a teaching job to save my life I grew closer to God than I ever had. I spent hours in the hammock in my parent's backyard pleading with God and asking Him what He had planned for me. Months went by and instead of a job I got the opportunity to go to Africa on a mission trip with Drew. If I had gotten a job when I thought I needed one, I never would have been able to take 2 weeks off to go on a trip like that! And now I have a job that I love and I wouldn't trade that year without one for anything! Speaking of joy...if the picture below isn't true joy I don't know what is. And that head in the bottom right corner...that's mine. One of my favorite memories of Africa was an African dance party where this woman chose me to be her dancing partner! These people had almost nothing and they taught me more about being thankful than anyone.
So if you skimmed down here's what I wrote above in a nutshell: Joy and gratitude are strongly tied together, you can't live a full life without being thankful in all circumstances! Don't forget to check out these wonderful gals thoughts on chapter 2 as well!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A few things I'm loving today...

I'm linking up with Jamie and Michelle to share a few things I'm loving today.
I'm loving all the amazing people I've met through blogging including my sweet friend Tara. Today is her birthday so hop on over to her blog and say Happy Birthday!!
I'm loving that my husband is home safe and sound from his camping adventures. There was an earthquake this weekend in Kentucky and my husband felt it! Crazy! He's even cute after not showering for three days.
I'm loving that my friend Betsy came in town to keep me company while Drew was out playing Bear Grylls. We had a relaxing weekend filled with girly movies, shopping and baking.
I'm loving that the holiday craft shows are in full swing!
I'm loving that we are hosting our first family Thanksgiving this weekend at our house. I'm a planner at heart so I've been busy making lists and buying crafty supplies to make it special.

I'm loving Pioneer Woman's Rigatoni and Meatballs from her new cookbook. YUM!
And now that cold weather has taken over Ohio...I'm loving these pins.
Found here

Found here
Found here

Found here
Found here

What are you loving today?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If you need a good laugh...

Just read this:
                                                                                    Source: via Allison on Pinterest

I honestly can't re-read this (even if it is for the 20th time) and not bust out laughing. Speaking of want to hear about the first time we gave our cats catnip? It's a pretty awesome story.

The night we adopted Sawyer and Bear we brought them home and thinking we were being smart pet parents we rubbed cat nip on the things that we wanted them to know were theirs...their bed, their scratching post, etc. Fast forward to midnight and as my husband and I were lying in bed we heard our new kitties running around like they were high on life. Me being the sensitive person I am decide they probably feel out of sorts in their new home (which is not a tiny cage) so I tell my husband I'm going to go out and sleep on the couch in the off chance that one of them wants to cuddle with me. I stumble out of bed in the pitch black and feel my way out to the family room. I grab a blanket and then feel out the edge of the couch. I plop down...and sit in something squishy. Well my friends it was cat poop and that cat poop was now all over my sweatpants. So much for trying to help a cat out...
But I will say since then our cats have not once pooped outside the litter box or had catnip. Just say no to catnip!
At least they are cute right? I forgave them quickly and just blamed the catnip.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Show and Tell Monday

1. Tell us what you like to do when it's cold outside.
When it's cold outside I love starting a fire in our fire place, sipping on something hot and playing a game of Boccer ball with my husband in our basement. If you haven't heard of Boccer ball, look it up. It is amazing! I also love to bake while jamming to Christmas music. And if we are feeling adventurous my husband and I might hit up the sledding hills or go tubing at Perfect North with friends.

 2. Tell us some of your favorite "winter" recipes.
Don't be shocked when I tell you this favorite winter recipe is from Pioneer Woman. Are you surprised? I love Pioneer Woman's Meatloaf and let me just give a little disclaimer here: Before I made her meatloaf I despised meatloaf. The only reason I gave hers a try is because my husband wanted Meatloaf as his birthday dinner so I couldn't refuse. Let me just say I love this meatloaf! The fact that it is wrapped in bacon might help. Click here for the recipe. 

Here are two other quick and easy holiday dinners I posted about last year.


3. Show a picture of something that makes you think of the cold.

4. Tell us /show us some of your favorite accessories/outfits for the winter
 I love any big, cozy sweater I can get my hands on. If I feel like I'm wrapped up in a blanket then I'm happy. And so I don't look like a giant tent, a skinny belt is also essential. I'm also "warming" up to leggings. For my feet, I can't go without my cozy slippers for inside and my tall boots for outside.

5. Tell us if you had the option of snow or no snow, what would you pick?
 If it's going to be cold out, and I don't have to drive in it I say it might as well snow! But I'm not quite ready for that yet!