December 22, 2010

Wordle: Blog Edition

One of Joy the Baker's readers created a wordle from words most often used on her blog. I was unaware that you could do that with a blog or website, so I was interested to see what the results from my blog would be. The bigger the word, the more often the word is used.

I love that the word used most is "thankful." This past year has felt more like a fog, a year I've been wishing away. But in the midst of crazy, sometimes difficult seasons, I had much to be thankful for. Such a good reminder.

I also noticed that the name Jesus is smaller than I would have hoped. I'll definitely work on that in 2011. If I have so much to be thankful for, the credit should be going to the one who provides all good things  - my savior, Jesus Christ.

And "cookie" is the second most used word? Really? That explains why my jeans have felt tighter this year. Maybe I'll cut back after the holidays. Maybe.

I'm getting so excited for Christmas!

I'm also really excited to see Garth Brooks in concert tonight.

(Highlights from our Christmas vacation to come!)

December 17, 2010

This Afternoon

Has been filled with lots of wrapping and lots of glitter on my floors.

This year I decided to add more color under the tree. I think I like it!

Such a fun time of year.

Have a great weekend!

December 12, 2010

Cookie Exchange

Last night I attended my first cookie exchange. I've been missing out! It was a wonderful evening filled with amazing cookies and conversation with a few of my favorite coworkers.

I ended up not making cookies at all. My last few attempts at baking have been less than stellar, so instead I went with a recipe that is almost impossible to mess up - Oreo Truffles.

Oreo Truffles

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg.  (1 lb. 2 oz.) Oreo cookies, finely crushed (about 4-1/4 cups), divided
2 pkg. (8 squares each) Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Mix cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended.
Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

*I used crushed candy canes to top instead of the cookies.

My friend Jennifer hosted the event at her beautiful Nashville home. You can see her before and after photos and lots of other fun things over here.

I was supposed to attend another cookie exchange this evening, but instead Todd and I sat in traffic for nearly two hours when a snow storm decided to hit our city. Thankfully we made it home and can enjoy the snow from the inside of our home, and not the side of the road like a lot of people we saw tonight.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

December 5, 2010

Cross Country Update and Cookie Swaps

Last Thursday I left way too early in the morning for a 5am flight to Los Angeles. The next day I headed to New York. Because of some unfortunate events, I ended up in New York City alone after the band I had traveled with returned home. With several hours to kill, I decided to visit Manhattan solo. My hotel was five miles from the city and I couldn't leave without seeing "The Tree" or the storefronts on 5th Avenue. I have to admit, I was nervous. I don't know my way around Manhattan all that well. I can get myself to Anthropologie and Dean & Deluca and that's about it. I had never hailed a cab on my own. Just the thought of it made me consider hiding in my hotel room until it was time for my flight. But after a pep talk from my husband, I got over my fears, called a cab and was off to the city. I found a great little cafe for brunch. The artichoke and sun dried tomato frittata was incredible, not to mention the organic homemade breads. As I sat at my table with warm tea in hand, watching the people walk by, I felt confident and independent. I was handling myself well for a country girl from the Ozarks.

I strolled leisurely up and down 5th Avenue, taking in the unbelievable storefront windows. Such exquisite attention to detail. I stood for quite some time watching the ice skaters in Rockefeller Center, telling myself that I would be back to skate with my husband one day.

New York in December really is as magical as everyone says. I truly hope to celebrate the season there with my family someday soon.


Changing topics just a bit - this year I have been invited to two cookie swaps. I'm struggling with recipes because my last two attempts at desserts have not been successful. I'm not much of a baker. I think it's because the measurements have to be exact and the timing must be perfect. I get distracted easily. But I must bring something, so during my long hours in the airport, I found a few cookie recipes that might do the trick.

Todd would love these Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps.
Recipe here.

These Honeyed Almond-Cherry Shortbread Cookies look delicious.
Recipe here.

Recently I've had a slight obsession with Earl Grey tea. These Earl Grey Tea Cookies might be perfect as I'm sure they will be a nice compliment to the warm drinks that will be served.
Recipe here.

I'm so thankful to be home, pondering over cookie recipes and not stressing about flight connections and early call times.

I want to be very intentional with my time these next few weeks. This year has been challenging to say the least, and I want to go out strong. I don't want to spread myself so thin that I'm not able to soak in the precious time I have with family and friends.

I want to live in the moment and be, not do.

Now back to those cookies...

November 25, 2010


North Carolina will be our home for the next few days. We made the long trip to spend Thanksgiving with family. As I sit by my grandmother next to a cozy fire, I'm feeling so very thankful.

I'm thankful for an incredible husband who showed amazing strength during some tough seasons this year. No matter what came our way, he always kept me laughing. I don't know how it's possible, but I love him more every day.

I'm thankful for family who love us well.

I'm loving my sister's new haircut. I can't wait for her to work her magic on me!

I'm thankful for an incredible meal - (not so thankful for the miserable feeling I had after eating too much of said meal).

And today I'm especially thankful for my savior, Jesus Christ and the grace He so freely offers to me and those I love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 20, 2010

Digital Age

A great magazine is my favorite guilty pleasure. I don't buy things on impulse very often, but if I see a great deal for a magazine subscription, I take it. My current subscriptions include Southern Living, Better Homes & Garden, Martha Stewart Living, Good Housekeeping, Cooking Light, and US. I know, ridiculous, right? I actually recently added a couple more (I traded in frequent flyer miles). But over the last few weeks I've decided to cut back. Not because I love the magazines any less, I just don't have time to read them. There are four unread magazines sitting on my kitchen table and I'm not exactly sure when I'll get to them. It is starting to feel like my investment in magazine subscriptions isn't really worth the money I pay for them. So as the subscriptions run out, I'm going to let them go.

However, I have a great backup plan up my sleeve. Another reason I have decided to cut back is because there are so many wonderful online-only magazines. I don't feel bad if I don't get to them right as they come out because they're not piling up reminding me how I'm wasting money. They are completely free! And although you can't hold them or tear out your favorite article, the quality is as good as any mag you will find in stores.

Since I know I have friends who love magazines as much as I do, I thought I would share my finds. If you get time over the holidays, curl up with your laptop or iPad and a warm drink and check these out! (Clicking on the title will take you directly to the site.)

1. Southern Flourish
    I have mentioned this one on my blog before, it's definitely at the top of my list.
    I think of it as "Southern Living for 20-30 somethings."

2. Rue
    Home Decor at it's finest.

3. Lonny
    Another great home decor magazine.
    This mag leans a bit more high-end for my taste, but it's a great go-to for new ideas.

4. Sweet Paul
    Great recipes and craft ideas. A new favorite!

5. Nesting Newbies
    Great for all things cooking, entertaining and decorating!

Those should keep you busy for awhile!

Have a great weekend!

November 19, 2010

Bittersweet Winner

Drumroll, please....

Thanks to, the lucky winner is SugarFreeAsh. Congrats Ashley! I'll e-mail you with more details. 

Thanks to all of you for humoring me and participating in my first giveaway. Hope to see many of you tonight at Shauna's event. For more details, click here

November 15, 2010

Bittersweet Giveaway

It's giveaway time!

If this isn't your first time reading my blog, you know that I'm a big fan of Shauna Niequist and her latest book, Bittersweet. It's rare that I read a book twice in a lifetime, much less twice in less than six months. I'm currently reading Bittersweet for the second time because a.) I really love the book and b.) Shauna is coming to the Nashville area for a reading this Friday!

To celebrate her upcoming event, Shauna is providing my very first giveaway - a copy of Bittersweet for a lucky reader! For your chance to win, just leave a comment below and I will choose a winner at random Friday morning.

Already own a copy? That's okay! Win a copy for your mother, sister or friend! Wouldn't it be nice to check an item off your Christmas shopping list?

And if you're a Shauna fan like me, and live in the Nashville area, come to her reading this Friday. It will be a great event! For more info, click here.

 Come back Friday to find out if you won!

November 7, 2010

Life on the Farm

Life has been a bit busy lately. So much so that I haven't even had time to think about this blog. I'm trying to get back in the swing of things because a lot of exciting things are coming up (including my very first giveaway thanks to Shauna Niequist!).

Last weekend we made a trip to Missouri to celebrate my baby brother's birthday. He doesn't technically turn 16 until this Friday, but since I'm not able to make it home then, we celebrated early. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of him or our time together.

I did, however, get photos from our time at the farm. Last Friday Todd and I woke up early to feed the cows with Grandpa Joe. Todd's parents were at work and his grandmother was out of town, so it was just the three of us. We were up with the sun and bundled from head to toe. The temperature was a freezing 24 degrees when we stepped outside.

I had my camera in hand and when I wasn't shaking from the cold, I snapped a few photos. I felt a bit like the Pioneer Woman that morning, and one day I think I'd like to trade the corporate world for life on the farm.

I'll be back soon with new recipes and a giveaway!

October 23, 2010

Christmas Came Early

One great thing about my job is getting corporate thank you gifts during the holidays. Because I placed such a large order with Harry & David last year, they thanked me this year by sending me a "Tower of Treats." I don't know how Todd and I are going to eat all of the goodies they sent, but I've never been known to turn down chocolate. Seriously. I don't think I have ever turned it down. 

The large box on the bottom is full of pears. I've never been a fan of pears, but I'm going to try to disguise their flavor by making a pear crisp or something similar. I can't let them go to waste, right? My luck they'll be moldy before I ever get to the baking part. That's okay. Did I mention there's chocolate?

Although not pear related,  I did try a new recipe this week. Prosciutto and Gruyere Strombolis are super simple to make and perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. Tip: buy prosciutto and gruyere from the deli at the grocery store. The recipe only calls for two ounces of each, so it's much cheaper than buying the prepackaged kind. Recipe here.

This week has been really busy, but the best kind of busy. We had friends over for dinner and I had a great girls night that included dinner at Urban Flats (yum) and a movie. This morning Todd and I had an incredible brunch at Marche in East Nashville. Oh. My. Word. We loved it. We thought brunch would be a nice way to celebrate his new job. Thankfully his self-employment season didn't last too long! The problem now is that he's my direct competition. Our discussions about work could get interesting.

How did you spend your weekend?

October 17, 2010

Chili Cook Off

On Saturday Todd and I met some friends in Leiper's Fork to attend the town's annual chili cook off. With nearly 17 different kinds of chili (and a couple of versions of homemade salsa), we left very full. Throw in some live music, a Barney Fife look-a-like and a visit from one of the candidates running for governor, you have a truly Southern festival.

In other news, I tried a new recipe I found on Whole Foods' site. I typically just buy a frozen kit for stir-fry, but Todd watched Food Inc last week and since he was pretty disturbed by what he saw, I bought whole wheat pasta, and organic chicken and veggies. Not sure we'll completely transition to all organic, but it did feel good knowing our food wasn't processed or full of chemicals. 

Chicken Broccoli Stir-Fry, recipe found here.

Hope you had a great weekend!

October 15, 2010

Thoughts on Grace

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a new-to-me blog, Chatting at the Sky.  I immediately fell in love with the author’s writing style, so I was pretty excited when she decided to dedicate the entire month of October to discussions about grace (31 Days of Grace). Her posts have become a daily devotional to me and nearly every day I’m learning something new about myself and the way I view grace.

I am fully aware that grace can’t be earned and that I will never deserve it, but my actions lately would prove that I don’t always believe those truths. I have caught myself living as if I have outgrown grace or that I’m now too old for it. As I get closer to my 30s, my self-imposed pressure continues to build. I guess I felt that when I was younger, grace made more sense because I was learning and maturing. Now I feel like I should have it all figured out, I should know how to avoid mistakes and how to live in perfect community with others.

Sadly, I haven’t figured it out. I’m continually failing, and I have been feeling undeserving of grace because well, I should know better than to mess up.

The other night I had a meltdown. Actually it was more of a full blown tantrum. I said hurtful things to Todd and spent the next day profusely apologizing. I kept thinking, would I want a child to see me act that way? No. Am I way too old to be throwing fits when things don’t go my way? Yes. But what did Todd do? He lovingly forgave me, which is one of the most beautiful forms of grace. 

I still need grace. Lots of it. I need grace from God, from the people I share life with, and more than ever I need it from myself.

Check out Chatting at the Sky for more thoughts on grace.

Also, if you’re an owner of a DSLR camera, check out 31 Days to a Better Photo. One of the best tutorials I have seen!

October 11, 2010

Weekend In Pictures

Todd's family spent the weekend with us. The weather was perfect, the food was incredible and the time spent together was priceless.

*Todd's mom bought me a mini bundt pan. We made mini apple bundt cakes with a crunchy pecan topping. My new pan will come in handy for an awesome event I'm attending on November 19th (details to come).
*We introduced Todd's family to Fido. I think it might be my all-time favorite restaurant in Nashville. 
*We spent the rest of the weekend shopping, watching football and laughing at this guy (the actual news clip can be found here). So funny.

Have I mentioned how much we love having family visit?

October 5, 2010

Feels Like Fall

Fall is in the air and I couldn’t be happier. While October brought on some anxiety for me this year, it’s actually one of my favorite months. Every year I eagerly await fall and all the great things that come with it: cool weather, meals in crock pots, mums, pumpkins, high school football games, apple cider, trick or treaters, cozy TV nights with friends. The change in seasons has been good for my soul. To get into the season, we’ve been doing a few fall inspired things around the house:

We gave the house a fall face-lift. After taking the photos below, we did some major landscaping. I'll have photos soon.

We tried an awesome new recipe.

My good friend Allison gave me the recipe for Taco Soup (via AJ, a coworker of mine). I finally figured out how to link a pdf, so if you want to print the recipe and make it yourself, click here.

We baked some yummy chocolate-chip banana bread. I typically use Allison’s recipe (she’s my go-to for great recipes!), but I was out of buttermilk, so I used this recipe and added chocolate chips. 

This week is a busy one. Tomorrow I head to Dallas with this guy. He and I are BFF. Just kidding, but he really is a great guy with a huge heart. I only wish I had time to swing in to see Christine or Jen, but my time in the Big D is just too short. On Friday we’ll be catching a high school football game with good friends, and later that evening Todd’s family will arrive for a weekend visit. So yes, it will definitely be busy, but it will be lots of fun. 

I’m off to finish packing. Have a great week!

October 2, 2010


"I just turned thirty, and I'm finally willing to admit something about life, or at least about my life, and it's this: I should have written in pencil. I should have viewed the trajectory of my life as a mystery or an unknown. I should have planned lightly, hypothetically, and should have used words like "maybe" and "possibly." Instead, every chance I got, I wrote in stone and Sharpie. I stood on my future, on what I knew, on the certainty of what life would hold for me, as though it was rock. What I know now is that instead of rock, it's more like a magic carpet, a slippy-slidy-wiggly thing, full of equal parts play and terror. The ground beneath my feet is lurching and breaking, and making way for an entirely new thing every time I look down, surprised once again by a future I couldn't have predicted." - Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

Beautiful flowers from my sweet husband

First, I want to thank my amazing friends and sweet readers who left comments, called and e-mailed. I heard from friends I haven't talked to in months. Maybe I should unleash my desperation more often! 

Second, the night I wrote my last post, I read a chapter in Cold Tangerines, titled "Writing in Pencil." I realized that I have done exactly the opposite of that in my life. Like Shauna, I'm constantly writing in stone. I don't want to do that so much anymore. I don't want another crisis/breakdown when I turn 30, 35, 40 or 50! I don't want to put unhealthy timelines on my future or goals that end up defining who I am instead of giving me a general direction to follow. I want to be flexible, because honestly, life doesn't fall into place like puzzle pieces. This year I want to let go. I want to enjoy the moment (something several of you lovingly made me realize I'm not doing). I don't want to get so caught up in the "What Ifs?" that I miss the Right Now. That's not an easy thing for me to do, but I want to give it a shot. 

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with wonderful friends. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think about how loved I am. I felt especially loved last night. 

A few shots from the evening:

I'm really looking forward to everything this new, more mature age has in store.

September 24, 2010

Birthday Stress

I’m not one to stress about getting older. In fact, most of the time I welcome it. I’m one of the rare ones who looks forward to turning 30. My whole life I have looked much younger than my age, and I can’t wait to see the look on faces of people who say, “You’re 30?!” I will respond with, “Why yes, I am a capable and mature 30 year old. Now take me seriously.”

But this year, I’m dreading my birthday. When I turned 20, I put a timeline on my future. Who does that? Apparently I do. The year I turned 28 would be a defining time in my life. I would be settled down; I would be climbing the corporate ladder; I would take steps necessary to become a mom. I would be a grown-up.

I turn 28 next week. A week from today. That number is glaring me in the face. I’ve been a monster to be around. Ask Todd. I feel overwhelmed, pressured, and not at all where I thought I would be at 28. I know that Todd and I have accomplished so much before this milestone year (buying our first house, getting grown-up jobs, etc.) But lately I’ve been questioning everything. Do I love my job? Is this what I want to do for 10 more years? 5 years? 6 more months? I don’t know. Am I ready to be a mom? I think so, but I’m terrified. It may take immaculate conception at this point. This birthday really snuck up on me and it feels like it’s me against my age.

I know it’s unhealthy to put timelines on my life – I know God’s timing is not my own (thankfully!) and that everything will fall into place when it’s supposed to. I do feel a natural shift in my desires and goals and I know God will carry me through. I just wish as a teenager I would have put 29, 30 or 31 as my defining year. But in the end, the things I fear are inevitable. I am going to get older. My priorities are going to change. And I’m going to be okay.

With age comes wisdom, right?

September 14, 2010

Folly Beach

As I type, I'm sitting on a covered deck of the beach house that Todd and I are calling home until Saturday. The weather is perfect - not a cloud in the sky. At least a dozen dolphins just swam by in front of us.  I'm surrounded by the most amazing women, whom I'm blessed to call my best friends. All is quiet except for the sounds of crashing waves, Sarah Bareilles (and from inside we hear our husbands laughing as they watch Wedding Crashers). To call this a dream vacation really doesn't do it justice.

Below is a snapshot of our time so far in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina:





We're having an incredible time - and we have 3 days left!

Be back soon.