Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

How in the world is it the last day of 2013? 

They say time flies when you're having fun, and they say life goes by faster the older you get.

So I guess the combination of having fun and getting older is the ultimate combination for a fast year.
Since it seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, I put together a few pictures to remind myself how blessed I've been this year. 

Without further ado, here's my year in review!

Highlights ||  - John turned 21!
- Started classes at Clemson and grumbled about the confusing bus schedule as I walked to class in the rain for the first week and a half
Visited the Biltmore House with my family, John, and Morgan
- Experienced my first cold “spring” break in Charleston with John and his parents
Celebrated one year with John
- Created this blog! {that first post... woof!}

Highlights ||  - Ran my first 10K {Cooper River Bridge Run}
-  Visited Savannah with John
- Realized I was thankful I never learned the bus schedule and enjoyed my walks to class
- Attended the Blockhouse Steeplechase with John and our parents
- Sang my heart out at an Avett Brothers concert
- Made the President's List at Clemson {so did John!}
- Turned 21!

Highlights ||  - Corey graduated from high school!
- Charlotte took her first trip to South Carolina!
- Lots of family visited for Corey’s graduation party
Nannied the sweetest girls for world’s best summer job
- Actually trained for my second race and fell in love with running
-Visited Beaufort, Tybee Beach, and Savannah (again!) with John to celebrate the 4th of July
Spent quality time with my grandparents in Elk Rapids, Michigan
Rode bikes around Mackinac Island with my family, Morgan, and John
Stayed at Brian’s parents lake home with Jana, Brian, Charlotte, John, Morgan, and my family
- Learned to wake surf
- Realized my love for fitness while taking classes at the Y after work

 Highlights ||  - Welcomed my freshman brother, Corey, to Clemson
- Cheered on the Tigers during the football season
- Experienced College GameDay at Clemson, not once, but twice
- Tackled 21 hours of classes
Met fantastic girls in my major
- Became friends with said fantastic girls and felt like I’d found my niche at Clemson
Lost a dear Wofford friend
- Ventured up the mountains to Highlands with John
- Blogged every day in October
- Received my class ring
- Rolled my eyes while strangers admired John’s inflatable sumo wrestler Halloween costume
- Lost my Uncle Mike
- Decided to run a half marathon in his honor
- Reveled with friends during Clemson’s annual Fall Crawl
- Rescued a dog
- Made the President's List {so did John!}
- Decked the halls for Christmas
- Donned tacky sweaters 
Reunited with friends from home
- Cut out cookies for my parents’ annual cookie baking party

Although I was unable to see my uncle this year to say goodbye, I found peace with the realization he’s no longer in pain from leukemia. In 2014, I’m determined to surpass my fundraising goals to raise money for other people fighting blood cancer.

Here’s to the new year! I don’t have any resolutions, per say, but I definitely want to continue improving my health. Over the course of 2013, I finally shed the pesky freshman fifteen or twenty I gained... More on that in another post, though! For now, I’m just going to enjoy some yummy food at my “baby” (9, 6, and 3 year old) cousins’ annual Rockin’ New Year’s Eve party and some champagne tonight with friends in Columbia! Auld Lang Syne, y’all!

Monday, December 30, 2013

In Response to "23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before Youre 23"

Guys. Generally speaking, I'm not a Facebook-poster.


This article came along...

And then I had to be "that girl" that put my two cents on social media, like anyone cared.

Thankfully, people did care, and here are my thoughts:

Ooh... Y'all. Everybody's lovin' this "23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23" article but I'll be honest: it's kind of, sort of, utterly pretentious. The idea that one cannot travel, achieve higher education, and explore if one is in a committed relationship is insane. I give kudos to self-aware people who realize they need more time alone or haven't met the right person yet. Marriage isn't just for funsies, and I respect people who respect the sanctity of the whole thing. However, I have just as much respect for the people who've traded in their (more self-centered) individual lives for a lifetime of adventures with their best friend. When done right, marriage isn't a death sentence, or a guarantee for a divorce. Ultimately, each situation, each individual, and each couple is unique, and I think we need to remember that before passing too much judgment as single folks. 

Of course, I added a smiley face to the end, because I didn't want to seem too sassy :)

Because I don't think Vanessa, the original post's author, meant to offend anyone, or belittle anyone's decisions (at least that's what I'm choosing to believe). I think she was just missing a few pieces of a big, intricate puzzle. And I had to add those pieces.

Because lately, I've seen a lot of my fellow single people (defining single as neither engaged nor married) acting all hostile and "Ugh, if I see one more stupid engagement ring picture I'm going to kill someone...." and it's not cute. Or nice, for that matter. And seeing so many people repost this article was the straw that broke the camel's back for me.

Let's just be happy for everyone, single and traveling the world, single and sitting on the couch watching Netflix, or married and doing the same thing. Because when it comes down to it, if we're all happy, aren't we all winners?

Just my two cents, and I figured my blog would be the ideal spot to post that loose change.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas was SICK!

No, seriously… I was sick on Christmas. Boo, right?* I had a stomach virus earlier that week, and (continuing with my surfer lingo used in the post-title) it was gnarly, dude. On Christmas Eve, I felt good enough to dart into the Christmas Eve service (no worries, I didn’t give anyone hugs, just in case), but on Christmas morning I felt blegh (yes, it’s an adjective) again. Instead of feasting with the extended fam at my grandparents' house, I isolated myself all day. Woohoo! Thankfully, my family, John, and Santa were super good to me, and I got some goodies to cheer me up!

Thanks, Christina, Darci, April, and Natasha!

                         For this Five on Friday, here are just a few of my favoritest goodies!

Christmas goodies
1. Arm candy

I’d heard of Lily and Laura bracelets before from my brother’s girlfriend, but once Ryann blogged about them and I realized they were fair-trade, I fell in love. I was super pumped when John got me some for part of my Christmas present!

One of my favorite presents came from my brother, Corey. He bought my mom and me Alex and Ani bracelets, which are awesome because they are stackable, personal (ours each have our first initials on them), and they’re made in the USA!

2. Shoulder candy

Is that a thing? Because it should be, especially when it perfectly describes the new Kate Spade bag my parents gave me!  I hate carrying big purses, and this cross body is slim and stylin’. It fits my Hobo wallet perfectly, and while it may sound silly, that was a requirement for me. It also fits my phone and keys, but not much else… I’ll have to get creative with my EOS and Bath & Bodyworks hand sanitizer!

3. Wardrobe staples

There's not much to say about these Sam Edelman riding boots, other than I love 'em! I've needed new brown boots for a while, and these fit all my needs. Not too dark, not too light, not too many zippers or buckles. As for the j. crew utility jacket, I’ve already worn it a couple times, and this baby is versatile. It made an adorable peter pan collared peplum a bit more casual, and helped some coral cords seem a bit less girly-girl. Maybe it’ll make me look cooler than I actually am ;)

4. Fantasy perfume set

You know how some people have signature scents? Mine would have to be Fantasy by Britney Spears. Weird, I know, but this perfume I got in middle school (!!!) is still my absolute favorite. Through the years, I’ve tried (and loved) some Juicy Couture, Daisy by Marc Jacobs, and Wonderstruck by Taylor Swift, but ultimately, not even Taylor could compete with Britney… Weird, right? Not so weird if you smell it though. It’s like heaven. Or maybe what I think a sassy angel would smell like. Okay, now it’s definitely weird. 

5.  Leatherology jewelry case

With this gift, John really went for thoughtful yet practical: a combination of what we both love (you can guess who likes thoughtful and who likes practical heehee)! He noticed I spent so much time untangling  necklaces when we went places because I kept all my jewelry in a cute (but not super functional) Lilly pouch. This pretty leather organizer will make jewelry much less of a doozy to store and unpack! It’s gorgeous and came wrapped so elegantly. Just to make it extra special, John put a cross necklace he saw on my Pinterest board (if there are points, he gets all of them) inside. Such a keeper. 

*I do not want to sound like, "Ugh, I basically missed Christmas. My life sucks!" I realize the fact that: a. I have great health 99% of the time, and b. I had family and food to miss out on, puts me in the minority of the world, and for that, I am truly grateful. I hope everyone else had a blessings-filled Christmas this year, too!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

when God speaks...

He says "Jesus." 

The Candlelit Christmas Eve service has always been special to me, as I'm sure it is to many people. A wise man (cough, Buddy the Elf, cough) once said, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!" and that's exactly what I did tonight during some of my favorites, like,  "O Come Let Us Adore Him," "O Holy Night," and "Joy to the World." 

These classic songs, filled with such meaning, sung by a sanctuary full of people (some I've known for years and others complete strangers) with goodwill in their hearts and candles in their hands... It gets me every year.     

Our pastor said something simple that stuck with me tonight, right after he said the first twelve verses of Hebrews, chapter one.  Now, those are some great verses, but the last few in particular are incredibly poignant. God says to His Son,     

"But you remain the same, and your years will never end."

Pastor Kevin managed to sum up a powerful passage, which I think would be pretty tough, with just a few words. When God speaks, He says, "Jesus."  Now, he went into more detail after this initial thought, but it's what I wanted to leave here tonight. As we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, the God with us, I am thankful for this knowledge. 

Bad things happen to good people sometimes, and life is not perfect, but through it all, I choose to believe one thing remains: God and His Son's constant, unfailing love for the world. For you. For me.

With that being said, I hope everyone has the merriest of Christmases spent with loved ones! Yay for TBS's 24 hour "A Christmas Story" marathon, yay for twinkly lights and cozy fires, yay for family, and yay God's love.... giving us the best Christmas present of all. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

five on friday: crazy for christmas

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope y'all have been enjoying this Christmas season as much as I have! I have had something going on every day/evening for the past couple days, which I love! Know what else I love? Five on Friday! So thanks for that, Darci, April, Christina, and Natasha!

1. Bowling.

I know what you're thinking.... Bowling? What the heck? Yes, somehow I've gone bowling twice in the past week... And I had a blast both times! My brother, Corey, got a bowling ball as part of his birthday present (fun fact: they drill special holes that fit your fingers perfectly if you buy a bowling ball!), so we went to the always-classy Strikers bowling alley in Rock Hill, SC...  

Looks like a strike in the making!

I had such a good time bonding with my family, I jumped at the opportunity to go bowling again with my friends! Okay... You caught me. It wasn't so much the "bowling" I jumped at as much as the whole "socializing with friends" thing. Regardless, we went to Ten Park Lanes on Montford in Charlotte, and we had a ball (no pun intended hehe)! Maybe I'm just lame, but I was still surprised to see how bumpin' it was late on a weeknight! 

 If you can't tell, I really liked that trophy... A lot. 


2. Tacky Sweater Party

John's sister and her two sweet roomies threw their second annual Tacky Christmas Sweater shindig last night! I met some fun new people, ate some delicious food, and got excited about the real world, where I can decorate an entire home (I'm ignoring the fact that I'll also have to pay for said home...)! It helps that their place is in Dilworth- a location to die for, in my opinion. A short drive from so many yummy restaurants, cool bars, and great shopping. My kind of scene! 

So glad I can be mysELF around him... (Come on, guys, you should have expected that by now...)

3. Cookie Party

This morning, my mom and dad hosted their fifth annual Christmas cookie baking party. More details and pictures to follow in a separate post, but it's a tradition a lot of little ones look forward to (and the kids' moms appreciate it, too!). 

My mom and dad put their little baker-elves to hard work! 

4. Babysitting

As crazy as it sounds, I've loved babysitting over break! I've had a lot of fun with my family and friends, but that doesn't mean I haven't made time for, well, making money! Since I kind of haven't done that since the summer, with Christmas and John's birthday coming up, I am in serious need of some extra cash! Babysitting is a fabulous way to make said needed-cash, because it also reminds me why I want to become a teacher! I truly cherish time spent with kids. 

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to watch my girls I nannied over the summer. Next year they start middle school, and it's adorable to hear them talk about their worries for the future ("I don't want to have to change in the locker room before gym class!"). It reminded me how much we all worry about trivial things and forget to see the big picture, myself included.

Today, not only did I hang out with fourteen kids at a cookie baking party... I babysat twice! I had the pleasure of watching this sassy little diva and her incredibly sweet and funny older brother:

Werk, girl. Werk. She obviously liked my dance costume from when I was in first grade myself!

I had time to unwind and go on a walk with my parents before heading to my next babysitting adventure with three boys! Whew! I'll be honest: I was a little bit terrified, because three boys under the age of eight can seem intimidating. However, these boys were precious. Seriously. Sure, they were 100% "boy" and played rough and acted silly together, but I truly enjoyed my time with them. So much so that I'm going over in a week to watch them again! 

5. "They said yes?!"

If you go to Clemson, you've probably seen this video. If you're friends with a lot of Clemson students/alumni on Facebook, you've probably heard of this video. If you haven't watched Rion, a young man with down syndrome, receive his acceptance letter to Clemson Life, you should do it. Your heart will probably grow even more than the Grinch's did that one time. 
I'm so proud to go to a school with a program like Clemson Life, which helps people with intellectual disabilities pursue their dreams. I was also ecstatic to hear that Rion currently participates in Wofford's Buddy program.... Both of "my schools" are doing special things, and I'm so thankful I can associate with them! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A few of my favorite (christmas) things

Favorite things so far, that is. I've been having lots of fun getting into the holiday spirit! I decided to rank my favorite holiday activities yet.

Favorite activity with friends: Christmas Cookie Exchange

I may have bent the rules a bit when I brought popcorn instead of cookies, but I think it was worth it! Cooking Classy's recipe for Christmas Crunch hit the spot! So simple, so pretty, and so tasty! 

Favorite activity with family: Popcorn and Cranberry Stringing

This tradition is a special one, especially since my Uncle Mike started it. These strands give our tree a homey look! 

Favorite activity solo: Decorating My Tree

This tree always makes me smile, because it's just so.... me! I'm a very pink girl (notice the pink walls? Yeah, those were painted in high school. Not elementary school. No shame.), so this mini tree fits me to a tee! Although our big tree downstairs has most of my sentimental ornaments, I kept a few of my favorites upstairs to decorate this baby. 

Speaking of babies... See that Baby's First Christmas stocking? It's from my little sisters in Theta at Wofford. They gave it to me as a Christmas gift a couple months after I became their big. I thought it was so cute and clever- just like those fabulous girls! 

My brother and I both have this Harry Potter ornament, so it was a no-brainer to put mine in my room! I don't care how nerdy it is; I will love Harry Potter forever and ever.

Madeline was my favorite character growing up, so this darling ornament has always been a favorite. A fancier Madeline my grandparents got me in Paris (Madeline's home!) resides on our tree downstairs. 

I was given this Wofford ornament as a Christmas gift for being on the college's Judicial Commission. I was honored to be a member of such a prestigious group, so I'll always treasure this ornament.

I am beyond excited for all the festivities to come in the next week! I cannot believe Christmas Eve is just seven days away... Time, slow down, please! 

Today I'm linking up with A Girl And Her Sparkles

Since Ive Been Gone...

I can breathe for the first time....
{because exams are over!}

I haven't blogged since exams, so it's high time for an update, don't cha think?! 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll try to let some snapshots do most of the talking!

Cookie exchange with some of my favorite Clemson friends!

 Emily, Rita, Darby, and Sally had a bunch of girls over for a cookie exchange! I love any excuse to don my tacky Christmas vest and drink wine with friends! John was kind enough to pick me up from the shindig, so of course we had to get a picture too! PS: how adorable is the girls' festive living room?! 

Yummy in my tummy!

Rich Rudolph cake balls, gingerbread oreo bark (one of my faves!), festive sugar cookies, melt-in-your-mouth peppermint cookies, classic Christmas cutouts, and Rudolph salted caramel cupcakes made for a yummy cookie exchange! 

 Thankfully my Christmas Crunch looked better in person than it does in this phone picture! 

The best part about this mix of white popcorn, broken pretzels, and M&Ms was how dang easy it was to make! I got the recipe here, and I'd highly recommend it because it was a huge hit!

The Christmas Cookie Exchange made exam week much sweeter (literally!), but I was still beyond excited to go home! On my first night back, my mom and I hit up the Scholastic Warehouse Sale: any future teacher's dream come true! 

My favorite finds. Score!

Pinkies up, John! 

Ugh, doesn't he know the rules of fine dining in the mall food court?! On Saturday, John and I attended our first "grownup" cocktail party together! An engagement party was thrown for bride-to-be Juleah, my good friend. It was so nice to meet her fiance and some of the bridal party! Since the shindig was in Greenville, John and I stopped at the mall in Spartanburg, SC. I needed to find a card (in my defense, I'd looked at other places but just couldn't find the proper engagement card!), and we needed to eat a quick dinner (Chickfila, I love you forever). Oh boy, were we a sight... Me click-clacking across the mall in my heels and John in his coat and bow-tie. I'm a lucky girl to be with someone I can laugh with in silly situations like this. (I'm also pretty lucky he happens to be so handsome!)

Saturday also happened to be a certain someone's birthday.... 
Corey turned 19! 

Can you tell how excited I was to celebrate my baby brother's birthday back in the day?!

Thankfully, I've been able to muster up a bit more excitement since 1995. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A "Ruff" Week

I try not to buy into the finals week hype. Let's face it: if you stay on top of things throughout the semester and learn things when you're supposed to learn them, you really don't need to pull an all-nighter in the library. However, I realize that is all easier said than done when you have a lot going on. 

I'm pretty lucky, because I only have three exams, plus a paper and a "take-home" exam (but one portion of the take-home exam is an essay with outside sources needed.... uncool.), and in 24 hours, I'll already have two of my three finals knocked out! 

Even though I normally stay pretty chill about finals, I still wound up feeling like this earlier: 

Isn't this just the cutest little puppy you ever did see?!

Now, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm more of a "people-person" than an "animal-person," but for some reason, procrastinating studying (my least favorite school-related activity) brings out the dog-lova in me. 

BuzzFeed had an article about the cutest dogs of the year, and these puppies pretty much melted my heart. If you have a few minutes (and a soul), I would watch these precious videos.

Ever since Darci started posting pictures of her new French bulldog, I've been a wee bit obsessed.... This video of a Frenchie, Olive, climbing up the stairs is just too much.

I've decided that baby Huskies have the cutest little howls in the world! 

Not sure I would want a new doggy right after putting down an older one, but this man obviously knows her girlfriend very well when he surprises and cheers her up with my favorite: a wittle pug! Her sweet reaction is priceless! 

If you're worried that I haven't been doing a single thing to prepare for finals, fear not. My final paper is turned in for one class, I've completed most of my take-home exam (still haven't started the lame-o paper portion of it... ugh.), and I've made a study guide for one of my finals tomorrow... As for the other one, let's just say I'm thankful I have some time in between my two exams tomorrow! 

Only three more days, and I'll get to cuddle with my favorite doggy: Bess! 

Bessie Lou is the cutest in the land! Love my family's "Wonderdog."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

decking the halls...

I would ask if I could go back to Thanksgiving break, but Christmas break is only eight days away, and everyone knows Christmas break is 800 billion times better!

Why? For starters, more free time with family, then there's the whole no homework or projects or pesky finals looming over your head, and the very best part: everyone is in the Christmas spirit!

By Christmas break I'll be D-O-N-E with all of my portfolios I worked on over Thanksgiving break!

As soon as I walked in the door this past week, I noticed how jolly and festive my mom had the house looking already. Usually, she waits until after Thanksgiving to put up the Christmas decor, but she said she wanted as much time with us as possible when we were actually home so she did it ahead of time! She's the sweetest!

One thing she obviously couldn't decorate without us was the Christmas tree! Nothing makes me more jolly than Christmas music blaring while I'm stringing popcorn and cranberries with my family, which has been a family tradition for a while now.

Surprisingly enough, Corey has never been a huge fan of stringing popcorn and cranberries... (Thankfully a Redwings game made it a little more bearable!)

Candles, popcorn, cranberries... It doesn't get much cozier than this! 

My Uncle Mike (whom I'm running a half marathon in memory of) actually started this tradition with us; he encouraged and helped my mom to do it one year, and I'll always think of him when I look at the beautiful, homemade garland on our tree.

Ta-da! Isn't it marvelous?! 

Yeah, I know, it's a little lot cramped. My mom and I were remarking that it is definitely past time for a new, bigger tree! We (cough, my mom and I, cough) all just have so many ornaments we want to display, and the back of the tree doesn't get any love, so the front just ends up looking crazy cramped! 

As much as I love all the matching, gorgeous trees I see, our whimsical tree filled with meaningful ornaments has such a special place in my heart. I mean, come on. What other Christmas tree has Cartman from South Park sandwiched between a pair of stain-glass ballet slippers and a homemade ornament (I was so proud of that in the third grade!)?! 

I can barely contain my excitement that I get to go back to all that yule-tide joy in just one short week! Good luck to all my fellow college students out there during finals week! Don't let the hype of it get you down (it's completely overrated)! We can do it!