My Idol, My Aunt

30 November 2011





I think my aunt is one of the kindest, most compassionate women to grace this Earth and I am so lucky to have her in my family. As I go through life, getting my own place, have kids, and work with Noah's and my own family I want to imitate my aunt's ability to be a great hostess and always lend a listening ear.  

Whenever you walk into her house she is offering you some southern sweet tea, lemonade, water, soda, or any drink you can think of (and any attempts to help prepare food or drinks is firmly denied in her household). There is an ever abundant supply of food and the house is truly a home. I've come to realize that having a home seems to be an impressive feat any more. Now she has grandkids and is a kind grandmother yet stern enough to teach lessons when it's needed. 

Who is your idol?



Christmas Traditions: Lights

29 November 2011


Thanksgiving is over and while we're all working off our tummies from that holiday we're baking cookies, putting up trees, and shopping for gifts in preparation for the next one: Christmas. I have always been a lover of Christmas, secretly harboring a smile in my mind as I pass Christmas Trees in the stores, even if it is November 10th. There are lots of fond memories of my family related to Christmas and many traditions that I hope to carry on with my own children. There are several songs, smells, and foods that will always make me think of Christmas, but strangest of all may be the orange reels that you can find in a home improvement store.

People often underestimate the severity of our Christmas decorating when I try to describe it to them. We live out in the woods and as a consequence my father always held the belief that just outlining the house with lights would never be seen from the road so he needed to take some extreme action. Things got serious years and years ago with the purchase of the orange reels. We have roughly 20 or 25 of them that have lights stored on them. We unreel the lights and they go up around the front half of our five acres, are strung about the house, and put up on a series of six arches. Yes, arches. Homemade arches, as in pvc pipe, screw hooks, wire, and black spray paint. Didn't I say things get real?

After going from this meticulous system (not to mention the chicken wire/pvc pipe frames that we created and wove Christmas lights across to create patterns like candy canes, stockings, angels, snowflakes, and even Santa with his team of reindeer) it was a challenge to come to see Noah's family who wrapped lights around a piece of cardboard and spent fifteen minutes undoing knots!

Do you decorate with lights? Candles? Wreaths? What are some of your decorating traditions?

Full of Reasons to Smile

28 November 2011


I'm full to overflowing with love and thankfulness still. I think it's wonderful that we have a day to focus on the things we have and the people we share our lives with along the way. Before sitting down to eat our Thanksgiving dinner Noah and I made a list of things we are thankful for and I think it was a good exercise to practice. 

My reasons to be thankful:

  • I have a kind and considerate fiance
  • School has been a given and never a burden financially
  • Over the holidays I could see my beautiful sister
  • My friends are amazing
  • I have the kindest uncle and aunt a girl could ask for
  • There are so many opportunities afoot 

Aspirations 101

27 November 2011

{Thanksgiving Day}

1. Take one photo every day for a month. Hmm... I've been coming pretty close to this one for a while now without even meaning too. I have two ideas in mind here. Either I'll try to make December my goal month or I may try to take up Project 365.

9. Read two books a month. I have fallen drastically behind on this goal but with Thanksgiving Break I am slowly working my way back to catching up. Hopefully over winter break I'll be getting ahead once again.

15. Be awesome at making at least one baked goodie. Perhaps for the first time ever I decided to make chocolate chip cookies without any plans and without going to the store picking out each ingredient. I can't tell you why exactly but I was excited beyond belief to realize I had every ingredient I needed here to bake some cookies from scratch.

17. Learn how to use photoshop. This goals was hampered when my copy of photoshop was lost a year ago but I have a Mac now anyways and am on a trial download of Photoshop Elements 10. ALSO, for those of you interested in Elements, if you go to the Adobe website you'll see that it's only $50 from now until November 29!

69. Cook at least two meals a week. Check!

85. See my sister at least once a month. Well, while there were some interim months I did see my sister twice this past week and in two different cities at that!

We're almost to December which means people will begin to think about New Years Resolutions soon. I have been very happy with how well 101 has been working out for me. Lots of goals (some small and some rather large) have allowed me to think about things that I really want to accomplish and I can go back and view this list every day. Since it's not one continuous goal for the year I never have felt like a failure but rather that I am taking steps towards bettering myself and making some accomplishments I'm proud of! 

Sisters

26 November 2011


Now that my sister is gone, I really miss my time with her. I said yesterday that I was able to go wedding dress shopping with her while I was in Williamsburg. If you want to see a dress that is a similar style to mine you can go check out her blog post about picking out the dress (but no peeking Noah!!). Yes, my sister is blogging now too! I LOVE IT. As a blogger, I can connect to so many people and now that my sister has one it's a great way to keep up with her life as she trains to be a school psychologist.

Guess what makes this week even better though? Not only did I see her when I visited Williamsburg but I will be seeing her again today when she travels up to Winchester to see our family! Lets hear it for some good, old-fashioned sister time!


Wedding Dress Shopping

25 November 2011


I went out in Richmond with two of my bridesmaids and we shopped around for a wedding dress. I really had a great time looking around with my sister and one of my friends, Meredith. Luckily, as a native gal from Richmond, Meredith could take us around in her car.

Lets be honest about the whole experience here.

Shopping for a wedding dress is unnerving. Until you are engaged you don't ever go shopping for a wedding dress so no matter what that first time is going to be a little strange. It felt like I wasn't supposed to be wearing one and I was worried that they wouldn't take me seriously. Luckily, once I started trying them on that feeling went away.

My gals and I picked out about six or so to try and then waited for a bit to have a consult go with us to the dressing rooms. On another side note, as the first of my friends to be getting married, I did not know that you often do appointments for these deals. Luckily, we went on a Monday and it wasn't an issue but the lesson was learned! Hah.

Anyways, I tried on two that I liked a lot but there were one or two little things that I would like to change or combine between them and about three that I wasn't sold on. One was so heavy that I was literally feeling it weighing me down. I swear it added my entire body weight again on top of me! Heck no for an outdoor wedding in July! Things like this make me wish for a fall wedding but the teacher in me says "no! take advantage of summer break!".

As we worked through the dresses Kelsey and Meredith had the appropriate responses and then as we were talking through the pros and cons of each dress the consultant told us to wait because she had a dress for me to try on.

I was worried.

I hate when someone thinks they have me pegged and then don't and I end up letting them down. Never fear though, this woman went to the racks and picked out this dress like she knew me. I would describe it but I don't want Noah to ever visit this page and see it so you can see a similar image here. (Thanks to Kelsey & no peeking Noah!).

I loved this dress. It was the right material, the right cut/style, and it felt great.

How did you find your wedding dress? Did you know when you first tried it on?

Happy Thanksgiving!

24 November 2011


Happy Thanksgiving! 

I have a lot to be thankful for.


W&M Campus










As a Duke, I love our limestone buildings and think they are perhaps the epitome of a beautiful stone to build a college campus with. That being said, William and Mary was a beautiful campus to drive through. As a disclaimer, all of the photos except for the last one were exclusively taken at the college of education where my sister is working towards her school psychology degree. They have raised bridges connecting the building to the main campus.

Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if I had gone to a different university for either undergrad or grad school. It's impossible to know really! I love exploring new cities and new universities and this week I've gotten to do quite a bit of that. It's looking like Winter Break will be shaping up the same way. Hope you are enjoying a wonderful day today!

Colonial Williamsburg

23 November 2011












On Sunday evening and Monday morning I took walks through Colonial Williamsburg. On Sunday evening the lighting was gorgeous at sunset, there were lots of people milling about, dogs abounding, and plenty of shops were open and catering to the wanderers. Monday morning there were a few runners but it was a bit more overcast. However, while there were less pedestrians there were more time-accurate actors. I passed by a few tours and even a smiths shop where a man was hammering at a piece of red-hot iron. Colonial Williamsburg, along with the William and Mary campus, would definitely be a great place to go jogging. 

Have you ever visited Williamsburg? Did you enjoy your time there?

Downtown Williamsburg, Virginia

22 November 2011











Williamsburg is a beautiful city. I went there for my 21st birthday a year and a half ago and enjoyed my time as I did this time around. My sister is now at William and Mary for graduate school which was my main incentive for traveling down south.

What I love about Williamsburg is how the city is laid out, the beautiful downtown mall, the colonial section (along with dressed up actors), eclectic shops, and all the easily accessible history in the area (Jamestown is a sure stop on the next visit). This trip consisted of beautiful fall foliage and walks through the historic sectors while my sister was in class.

I am definitely leaving the city open as a possibility for Noah and me when we graduate in May.

Roanoke, Virginia

20 November 2011


I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning in Roanoke, Virginia for a conference on professional development as a science teacher. I loved the conference and the different sessions but I can say that I'm glad to be home for a short period of time as well. JMU also had a group of science gals (including me!) that presented at the conference on the 5E method of inquiry-based classroom instruction.

We didn't have a lot of time to explore Roanoke but what I saw intrigued me. The architecture is different than any other city in Virginia I've been to and reminded me a little bit of Pittsburgh. The town looks industrial. I loved the brick buildings, mountains, and train trellises throughout the city. Hopefully Noah and I can go back on our own one day and explore a bit more.


What I'm Loving

16 November 2011

Here are some things I hope to try over Thanksgiving break. I'd love to start on them this week but tomorrow I'm leaving for a science teacher conference in Roanoke which I'm pretty excited about. It's the same conference as last year (you know, the one before this happened?).

Anyways, I wanted to share some recipes here and a few things that are on my Christmas List. Yes, I've already started one. You haven't? 

I initially saw these on a Cup of Jo

I was inspired to look up recipes because Erin posted a hot cocoa photo on tumblr that looked too good to be true. 


No, I don't own one yet which still blows my mind almost daily!


First saw it on Kate's blog Chronicles of a Country Girl

Those are just a few! Hmm.... I seem to have a food theme going on right now. Guess my tummy is trying to tell me something. What are your favorite kinds of foods? Is there something you've been itching to make lately?

The Gift of Time

15 November 2011


We've had a lovely couple of days here in Virginia in which we could enjoy the last fleeting moments of fall weather. My free time has increased dramatically in a matter of days which leaves me a bit lost. Fortunately my professors are still piling the workloads up so I have something to do. Hah! Plus, I have more time to clean around the apartment, plan trips over my breaks, and prepare some healthy meals. It's been nice so far because I'm relaxed yet able to get lots of mundane "to dos" marked off my list.

As an extra perk, I'm around for the mornings long enough now that I can see Noah before going to work or classes. In fact, this morning Noah made me chai tea and brought it to me while I was reading a book. He also had pasta ready for me last night when I came home from my evening class. Coming up on Thanksgiving, I know exactly what, or rather who, I'm thankful for!

What things would you like to find time for in your daily life? Read a book? Blog more? Go on a date or hike a mountain?

Baked Feta Potatoes with Oregano

13 November 2011


I used this recipe to make baked feta potatoes. Noah and I love feta cheese so when I came across this dish on Pinterest I decided we had to try it. In the end I didn't use rosemary the way the recipe calls for because we had none on hand but I substituted oregano. The recipe was very simple using some red potatoes, feta cheese, oregano, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Plus, as a bonus, while I worked on the potatoes Noah made green beans and his famous cooked carrots (with honey).

Aspirations 101

{sunset one evening this week}

I'm ever so slowly working on my 101 in 1001 list. While doing practicum I fell of the blog wagon a little bit and I wasn't focusing on completing these goals because my immediate school experience took the top priority (as it should). However, now I've got some more of my free time back and I'm looking forward to catching up with the blogosphere and my intrapersonal self.

9. Read 2 books a month. I've fallen way behind on this one. I need to read a lot of books before student teaching to make up for lost time here. I have One Day, Inheritance, the next book in the Game of Thrones series, Letters from Motherless Daughters, and Roar of the Heavens. There are plenty that are waiting to be read!

42. Lose 10 pounds (get to goal weight). This goal is working it's way to the top of my priorities list. Plus.... it may be more than 10 pounds now to get to my goal weight. While doing my practicum these past couple of months I didn't want to take my free time and put it towards exercise and I failed at planning meals far enough in advance to eat healthily. Since I have more free time now I want to exercise every day and plan out meals that will be workable during student teaching next semester (such as healthy meals for a crockpot). If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them.

71. Only use a reusable mug when getting coffee. I've been doing incredibly well at this goal! First, I've been making nearly all my coffee at home which means I'm certainly not using plastic cups but when I do manage to go out for coffee (about once a week) I've been pretty good overall about remembering my mug! The hardest part is remembering to clean it in the evening so that it's ready to go the next day.

My last goal, which isn't officially on the list, is to focus a bit more on these goals I created in January. I want to pick at least one goal this upcoming week to focus on. I'd like to get one more marked off the list!

Reasons to Smile

09 November 2011


I'm very happy! I finished my last lesson for my practicum experience today which means my stress levels have gone way down. Plus, after Friday my free time is going way up! I am a bit sad to be leaving my kids and my class but I know I'll be back in to visit a few times plus I'll have to see my host teacher after this!  Without further ado, these are my reasons to smile this week:

  • Noah took me on a true date last night! Appetizer, dinner, and dessert. We don't get that too often around here.
  • Noah got his hair cut today (just after the above photo actually)
  • My lessons are done!
  • Tonight I was able to spend three hours with some of my best friends. Some of my fears and embarrassments from the past were assuaged as I realized that I'm not the only one who's had these experiences.
  • The extra hour this week has been so noticeable! I've been going to bed at 10pm and getting up at 5:50am or 6am with no issue! Lovely.
  • My sweetie's senior recital is this Friday which is his big, culminating event as a music major (so proud!)
  • 11/11/11 means an extra big wish this Friday as well!
  • One and a half weeks until I see my sister again and I'll be going dress shopping with two of my bridesmaids! Wait.... you mean this wedding is actually a part of my reality? Who knew!

To the Future

07 November 2011

{Noah was dog-sitting this little cutie last summer}

Yesterday I got to catch up with a friend (and one of my bridesmaids) yesterday afternoon. It was so nice for me to see her again. After growing up together we've lost a little of our communication over college but I'm hoping to see her more often once I'm driving north for student teaching.

Well, she is in her first year of teaching at an elementary school in our hometown and I got to see her townhouse for the first time as well as her little chihuahua. He was very cute!

The entire time I was wishing I had a time machine that could transport me about eight months into the future. There are a lot of good things ahead for me: marriage, a house to share with Noah, a dog, a job, and a whole new stage of life. I have enjoyed college (and graduate school) and I like my life but sometimes having little glimpses of the future give me just as many reasons to smile as the present.

Do you have something that you are looking forward to? What has been your favorite 'time of your life' so far?
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