My 2014 In Review

This was quite a year. It was filled with a lot of firsts. We had vacations, guests come and visit, concerts, parties, and more. I’d say 2014 was one for the books. I’m grateful for being able to blog through most of it and sharing it with you. But I must say I’m looking forward to making 2015 even better! Here is a glance at the incredible year David and I have had! FotorCreated13 January: The year started with plenty of snow storms. At the time, we were at our old apartment and I believe there were  several days that we ended up snowed in. Although I’m not complaining because there is something very cozy (and a bit apocolyptic) about being snowed in! Other January adventures? David crashed his car :/ On that snow that I just stated that we “love”… FotorCreated February: Friends came and visited and we started to really feel at home in our new-ish home. It was a great feeling. We also picked up a new hobby of finding open houses on weekends and going to pretend we were in the market for a new home. There is never a dull moment with David. Plus our first Valentines Day together! David surprised me with dinner, chocolate, flowers, balloons, I’m talkin’ the works! Now the pressure is on for next year ;)FotorCreated2 March: In March my whole family went to see Flogging Molly, courtesy of my sister and brother-in-law for Christmas! We are Irish through and through so you can imagine we got very into this concert. Looking back at these pictures is making me miss my long hair!FotorCreated3 April: This year I had a big reunion with my household from college. #Stella. It was pure bliss seeing all my best friends and girls I haven’t seen since graduation. I wish I could have a reunion every year. We also spent Easter at the hospital this year to be with my aunt who had been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. As of now?!? She’s cancer free! God is good. FotorCreated4 May: My sister, mom and I ran in our first (official) 5k. And let me just say… it felt good. It was an Ovarian Cancer run for my aunt and I have to say it was much more emotional than I thought it’d be. Even injuring my foot was well worth it. I also got to start up on my very first garden this year on our little balcony. It was simple and small but it did the job. We had fresh basil for pesto and tomatos for sauces in no time. I may or may not have killed off some peppers by accident…FotorCreated5 June: What happens in June?!? We celebrate my birthday of course! And I was really gettin’ into this whole getting healthy thing. Weights became my game. Let’s just say it was a love/hate relationship.FotorCreated6 July:  This was definitly one of our busier months of the year! To celebrate David’s birthday and the 4th of July, we went up to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Northern Michigan. Apparently climbing the dunes was a much bigger feat than we had expected. But we did it and were proud of it… Although that may be the only time we climb them… We ALSO made another annual trip up to Mackinac Island with the fam! This year was a weirder year for us and had a hint of the drama but it was still well worth the vacation time.FotorCreated7 August: My mom taught me how to make jam! Good ole’ fashion strawberry jam. AND I went to camp for the first time in my life! Well… I went as a counselor but who can complain when your horseback riding, swimming and crafting for a whole week in beautiful northern Michigan? Not this girl.FotorCreated8 September: Fall is here. And ya know what that means?!? Cider Mills. We went to a fair amount and sampled plenty of doughnuts and cider. Oh… and we made a big decision. To move or not to move when the lease is up. Well you probably already know. We started looking for a new place to call Home Pt. 2!FotorCreated9 October: This is almost always one of my favorite months. But for different reasons then when I was a kid. This year we celebrated our One Year Anniversary! Plus we made the BIG (and hectic) MOVE! We left our first home as a couple and headed into our current town home. I’d rather wait a while before we move again. Not exactly a fun experience. Oh, and I got promoted at work! And of course we did some Halloween-y type things…FotorCreated10 November: Another busy month for us! We visited friends, ran in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, just started to get settled into our new home, AND I got my wisdom teeth out. This month I was thankful for General Anesthetics. FotorCreated11 December: This December was a little crazy, a little hectic, but a lot enjoyable. I even finished my 25th book of the year! Getting closer to my 50 books in a year goal! Also this month David and I went to see Wicked at the Detroit Opera House, we visited an NFL exhibit and got to see a REAL Lombardi trophy (see our reflection below, we just don’t take normal pictures), went to see a Houston Texans game in Indianaplois (the Texans lost though, still a sore subject with David;) and we spent some quality time together.  It has been the perfect way to end 2014.   FotorCreated12   There is a lot I will miss about 2014. But I really don’t like living in the past which is why I’m hoping 2015 will be it’s own kind of wonderful. I made goals this year and I crushed goals this year. I made meories and I captured memories. 2015 has a lot to live up to, although it’s at an unfair advantage because 2014 was a lot of David and my firsts. BUT all the more reason to make 2015 just as good, if not better than the last. Here we go! Happy New Year, friends! See you next year!

A “Silent” Sort of Christmas

Rasie your hand if you are shocked and scandaled that Christmas has come and gone so quickly.

Yes, I for one am. I’ll be perfectly honest. It was more of a stressful Christmas-prep compared to last years “breezing on by”. I planned too late, I shopped too late, I baked too late… Basically I was running late on a lot of things this year. But it seems whenever I’m feeling “rundown and listless” (2 points for you if you can name that TV show), God finds a way to make me feel like He’s got my back through it all.

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I was at the end of my patience come December 20. I had been praying and praying all Advent to feel prepared and joyously awaiting the coming of Christ, but I was anything but joyous. I was moody and irritated. Everything that could possibly irritate me, seemed was coming my way, full speed with no end in sight. The idea of feeling “Christmas-y” was a sad joke. I was a Scrooge and there awas no getting around it. My Christmas decorations seemed to be staring at me…mocking me for not being as excited as everyone else out there.

Then one day. A prayer of mine was answered. It was a little one. But nonetheless it was important to me. After that I started relaxing a bit more. The more I relaxed the more I realized how silly I had been. I was equating Christmas with getting all these things done, and experiencing the feeling of Christmas. Well anyone looking from the outside in could have told me that’s a sure way to fail.

I finally put into motion the idea of “let go and let God”. I started looking more at the Holy Family and their journey, and ya know what I realized?! St. Joseph is a silent man. I mean literally silent in the gospels. In the entirety of the Bible, we never “hear” him speak. He’s reflective of everything going on around him and I couldn’t help but wonder why the heck we can’t be like that?! He has Advent down like no one I’ve ever seen.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was spot on when he said silence “is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God…In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives.

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So no, I didn’t get all of my Christmas baking done and my house was a mess up until two days after Christmas. But at that point I didn’t really care. I got done what I needed to get done, physically and spiritually.

And while my life is hardly ever quiet when it comes to noise, I was finally able to experience some spiritual silence. And because of that, I was able to enjoy my Christmas much more. And ya know what? The Scrooge in me seemed to disipate more and more. I finally got that Christmas-y feeling, but this year it meant a lot more.

The 12 Days of Gift Guides: For the Fashionista

I’d like to meet the person who is able to get their Christmas shopping done without buying a little somethin’-somethin’ for themselves. They are true heros this season and deserve all of their magical Christmas wishes to come true.

For the rest of us, there is the list below.

Fashionista

1. Black Pumps  |  2. Tweed Draped Jacket  |  3. Nickle & Suede Earrings  |  4. Exposed Rock Necklace

5. Aztec Cuff  |  6. Shooting Stars Necklace  |  7. Red Wrap Dress  |  8. Aztec Leggings

9. Orange Clutch  |  10. Pink Infinity Scarf

Although it may be last minute for Christmas, these items can last you far into the winter. There is always a close friend that we don’t see until a few weeks after Christmas so these are great go-tos.

The Nickle & Suede earrings are perfect for moms or women who are on the run a lot. They are light weight and come in all these great leather patterns. And let’s be honest… you can never have too many scarves or bags.

Happy shopping :)

The 12 Days of Gift Guides: For Him

I love gift giving. I love being able to carefully pick out just the right item for the people on my list and then watching them open it. But I’ll be honest. As much as I love the gift giving, I have not always been very good (or had the patience) at mall shopping and the hours upon hours of lines that are required to get that oh-so-special tie that your hubby may or may not even like. I’ve always needed a little help.

I’m an online shopper through and through. On Cyber Monday, yes, I was taking advantage of 50% off deals while lounging in my jammies and my coffee propped just feet from my pillow. Now that’s shopping.

So because I’m an online shopper and because I hate lines, last year I started the 12 Days of Gift Guides and I’m happy to bring it back for round two! I’ve tried to stay within a budget that seemed affordable, and only products I knew I would buy myself.

So today we shop for the man in your life. The Husband. The Boyfriend. The Dad. The Grandpa. The Brother. The Friend. The Mailman. Really, any guy you can think of. So hopefully even if you don’t find the most perfect item for that man, then hopefully you at least get an idea for something…

So here you are!

For Him

1. Kansas City Steak Gift Set  |  2. J.Crew Laptop Bag  |  3. Abbey Plaid Tie  |  4. Desktop Skee Ball

 5. Air Hog Helicopter  |  6. 101 Whiskeys to Try Before You Die  |  7. Slippers

 8. Shaving Soap  |  9. Komono Black Wood Watch  |  10. Knit Sweater

It was hard when I was trying to figure out my favorite of all of these. For instance, the Tie Bar has a great deal for the tie lover that allows you to sign someone up to get one tie a month. Granted that costs about $200, but when you think about it, that is about $17 per tie! That is nothing.

And Komono is a great company for watches. There are a lot of unique ones that won’t break the bank. My kind of purchase.

So let me know what you think. I hope you got some ideas and check out last year’s Gift Guide For Him for more ideas!

Be sure to come back for the next 11  weekdays! I’m SURE you’ll find something you like. Happy shopping, friends!

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time…

of the year!!!!!

That song is my anthem come December 1…

Isn’t it funny how fast Christmas comes and goes? Despite what the rest of the world thinks, however, DON’T throw out the Christmas tree just yet. We’ve still got some holidays to go around (New Years, Epiphany,…MLK Jr. Day?)…

With it being my first married Christmas, it was spectacular getting to spend Christmas a little differently. I mean, it took some getting used to, but David and I made some traditions, learned that getting to Christmas Eve mass early just isn’t early enough, ate junk food, wrapped presents with duct tape (him not me), and lit the final candle on the advent wreath. To be honest, I never really took Advent that seriously before. I mean, I know the jist of it… but I couldn’t stop thinking about pregnant Mary this Advent. I’m just always wondering what her experience may have been.

Christmas Eve I had off from work so got to spend a good chunk of the day wrapping, cooking, baking, and watching some Christmas movies as I did it all. One of the best parts, however, was David watching White Christmas for the first time (WHATTTT?) and thankfully he loved it. Christmas Eve mass was always a tradition in my family growing up so we continued it with a big salmon feast prior to.

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photo 3^^ My nice, normal, awkward, somewhat-dysfunctional family :) (As you can see my parents are still learning how to take iPhone photos WITHOUT being blurry)

Christmas Day, we slept in, opened some presents then headed over to my mom and dad’s for brunch/gifts. And I must say I am very excited about the Flogging Molly tickets my sister and brother-in-law got for the whole family. We ended the day at my aunt and uncles. Christmas was a lot smaller this year. Just my parents, siblings sibling-in-law, us and my aunt and uncle. But it couldn’t have been more perfect. We laughed, ate, drank. (Weird to think Christmas Day last year was David proposing to me…reference instagram photo :)Holidays are so perfect in my opinion because throughout the year we all have different crap in our lives that seems to take precedence over the more importnant things, but yet, come Christmas (or Easter, Thanksgiving, even St. Patrick’s Day) none of the crap matters and we are all together just enjoying each other’s company. A nice way to spend a day.

And I don’t know about everyone else, but I LOVE New Years Eve. Did anyone realize it’s the LAST Friday of 2013? Whoa. What a great year! A lot has happened this year. I think 2013 may go down as one of my favorite years. If I had a list… but I don’t…

What is everyone doing for New Years this year? Any fun traditions? Brave enough to face NYC’s time square? Maybe one of these years I will…

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^^ Mom and Dad’s house is always a little too much fun. Especially after 2 cups of coffee…

12 Days of Gift Guides: For the Workaholic

TNB

For-the-Workaholic

I wouldn’t consider myself a Workaholic but there is something about buying office supplies that makes me want to pay a bill or file something away. When a new year comes, I can’t wait to go and pick up a new planner or calendar. This is why I love this gift guide. The donkey adds a nice touch I thought too. Who said barn animals can’t be in the work place?!

Workaholic

1. Mini Three Ring Binder  //  2. Bicycle Clock  //  3. Personalized Stamp  //  4. Michael Kors Laptop Sleeve

5. 2014 Chalkboard Calendar  //  6. 2014 Parisian Weekly Planner  //  7. Donkey Memo Holder

8. My “Serious Notebook”  //  9. File Boxes  //  10. Desk Caddy