The Last Bit of 2015 Confessions

Hi ya! It’s the last Wednesday of the year, my friends! I’m pretty focused on straightening up my house and keeping up with my work load and visiting with my baby brother while he’s home so I didn’t prep much for today… so how about some confessions??
(Linking up with Laura, Lauren, Kathy, and Nadine, of course!)

I am already planning 2016’s Halloween Party. I have the theme, date, and tentative guest list done. #WantAHint? #Let’sPartyLikeIt’s1999

I will have amazing hair when I become an old lady. First of all, my hair is already turning a metallic grey color. Secondly, when I let it air dry it gets all fluffy and old lady-like. #OldLadyFrenchTwists #GoingGreyAt25 #HairGoals

grey hair

Sometimes I catch myself sitting really weird… Like, chest out and my chin up. Or my chin down and I’m looking up with my eyes at the screen. Or my head is sideways… #WhyCan’tIAccidentallyHaveGoodPosture? #NoWonderMyBackHurts

So… on Monday I realized our electric bill was due so I very calmly logged onto the website and paid the +$2 fee to make an instant payment. I was feeling good until I remembered that I’d already sent in the payment last Wednesday. Oops. #ChristmasBrain #I’veGotNextMonthCoveredIGuess #Dammit

A few nights ago my dad, my brother, and I got into a heated political/religious debate. It’s so confusing how my dad (& mom) raise two people who have totally different beliefs from each other AND our parents… (K and my mom safely silently sat in the living room with their phone/iPad.) #AtLeastWeAllRejectTrump #ItEndedPeacefully #WhatHappenedToTheDaysWhenIWasTheControversialOne? #MyBrotherHasMeBeat

And now some Christmas confessions…

As the day progressed I got some amazing gifts and I was happy with everything, but I was especially looking for the illustrated HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone. When it didn’t show up under our tree or my parents’ tree I was a little sad… but then my mother-in-law gifted it to me! #Yaaaaaas #HappyChristmasHarry #BestMILEver

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I played Star Wars Monopoly on Christmas against my teenage cousins and my grandma… I dominate that galaxy, guys. I even held back a little and still dominated. #RealEstateMogul #JustCallMeTrump #ButActuallyDon’t

Let’s pretend like humility doesn’t exist for a hot second… I feel like the mother-loving Queen of Gifts this year. I bought my husband the cymbals he’s been wanting, I sent my niece and nephews their official Hogwarts letters, and I outfitted my brother and his fiancee with niffy, often-forgotten cooking and baking tools. #QueenOfChristmas #IKnowThat’sNotWhatIt’sAbout #ButILoveToSeeTheirFacesLightUp

Bow Down

I also got my father-in-law a Gryffindor quidditch bathroom… #BestDaughterInLawEver #ItWasTheOnlyHouseLeft #ButHe’sABraveGryffindor

Did you guys see the moon halo/rainbow/ring on Christmas?? #What’sTheOfficialName? #ItWasPrettyNeat

My Christmas tree died halfway through December… #CarpetOfNeedles #ISwearIWateredIt #IKillPlants #It’sComingDownToday #Dammit

But I will never surrender to the fake tree. #RealTrees4ever

Never

How about some of my favorite holiday photos?

Christmas_Eve_Service
The engagement gift K & I made for my brother and Christina
Christmas_morning_gift
Lylee was in heaven and my cute little husband was so happy with his cymbals!
Christmas_gift
When the excitement of my dad’s Christmas gift finally sank in… (My mom is also an A+ gift-er.)
Christmas_gifts
All but one pillow were Christmas gifts to me!
Christmas_dinner
On Sunday night we took the Pageantry Innovations team out to dinner at Bravo for Christmas!

And now we’re on the eve of NYE! Enjoy the last two days of 2015, guys!!

-Louise

Hashtaghumpdayhump

My lazy, grateful heart ❤️

I hope you had a jolly holiday! I had a 4 day weekend filled with family and friends and festivities. And now I’m exhausted (but in a good way)!

It’s the last #GratefulHeart of 2015 and all I can think to say is thank you for reading the silly ramblings I put here in this space.

There’s validation in the likes and comments and IG favs and Twitter follows and SnapChat views… and it makes me a more confident writer and thinker. So I really appreciate it. I hope you’ll stick around for 2016. I really love getting to know you all ❤️

I’m lazy today… so instead of new content I’m just going to lean on my posts from last week. (Ya know, just in case you missed ’em 😉 )

Have a wonderful Monday! Tell me about your Christmas!

-Louise

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

Merry Christmas!!

Happy Holidays! Cheers!
I hope today is a wonderful day of family and celebration and food and love.

(If you’re a Christian like me let’s give a rousing Happy Birthday to Jesus!)

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If you find yourself bored this weekend and scrolling through Facebook or Instagram maybe you will find your way to this page and I can entertain you with this super interesting winter questionnaire all about me 😉 If you’re super engaged in the holiday celebration and you don’t have time then that’s ok, too! Merry Christmas, friend!

Christmas_Card

What’s your go-to outfit in winter?
I love sweatshirts and leggings for around-the-house work. If I have to go in public I prefer skinny jeans, legwarmers, boots, and a sweater with a scarf.

 What’s winter like in your hometown?
Typically it’s chilly and rainy before the Christmas and snowy for most of Jan. & Feb. This year the weather is drunk and I’m annoyed. 55 degrees on Christmas is unacceptable.

Special winter recipes?
My mom & I make cutout cookies annually, but there are no secret Christmas recipes that come out this time of year. This year I made some dough for “Bretzeli” with my grandpa. K’s family always has a yummy spread, but we see most of those foods around Thanksgiving & Easter, too.

Christmas_Photos

Winter holiday traditions?
K and I always go pick out a tree together. Usually the dogs tag along, but this year it was just us. I’m also usually around when my parents decorate their tree. My favorite holiday tradition is the Christmas Eve service and then dinner/snacks at my grandma’s house afterward. I also always wear my penguin pants to bed on Christmas eve. And I have special white slippers for the morning.

Favorite winter activities?
Sitting by the fire, drinking cocoa, sledding, wrapping gifts.

Winter home decor?
Just in case you missed it, you can check that our right here!

Beauty regimen changes for winter?
I don’t do anything differently. I just make sure I keep moisturizer and lotion on hand for the dryness. I can already feel my face getting dry… Any advice from the experts?

Favorite holiday song?
I don’t really have a favorite on-the-radio pop tune… but I really love Angels We Have Heard on High. I’m also a big fan of anything older like Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby. Definitely nothing from the 90s and no Bieber.

Favorite holiday movie?
I love The Year Without a Santa Claus. It’s my favorite. I also enjoy The Polar Express, Love Actually, and The Family Stone.

Christmas_Photo

What changes about you in the winter?
I feel more relaxed during winter. I feel like the cold temperatures cool my blood and slow me down. Some people get depressed but I get serene.

Gift wrap or gift bags?
I prefer wrapping gifts 🙂 And I like opening wrapped gifts better, too!

Favorite warm drink for winter?
Hot cocoa with heavy/whipping cream. Or Starbuck’s Caramel Brulee latte. Or hot apple cider with caramel.

What are you excited for this season?
I’m just waiting for some snow, honestly… I’m excited to spend Christmas with my loved ones and pass out gifts to everyone. I’m also really excited for 2016- I think it’s going to be a wonderful year.

Autumn vs. Winter?
You can’t do this to me. I really, really love fall… but I’m always excited when winter arrives. (And right now I’m mad at fall because it’s stepping on winter’s toes.)

Christmas_Photo

Where do you spend Christmas?
Oh geez. Well, we go to church on Christmas Eve with my parents and then go to my grandma’s (Dad’s side) afterward for dinner/snacks. Then we usually stop by the in-laws’ house. On Christmas morning we spent a little time at our house with just the dogs. Then we give Ly a treat and pack up Enzo and head to my parents’ house and my mom’s parents join us. Then K and I head to his parents’ house for gifts. Then we take Enz back home and spend dinner at my aunt’s house (Dad’s side) for dinner and gifts. Then we usually go back to K’s parents’ house to spend time with his sister and her family (who arrive in town later in the afternoon). This year we will also be doing a dinner on the 26th with my mom’s parents. (And the PI company party is the 27th!)  WHEW.

Do you decorate after or before Thanksgiving?
I tend to put up some decor before Thanksgiving… but I leave my Thanksgiving/fall decorations up! (I just like to put up the mantel decorations.) We don’t get a tree until December, though!

Christmas_Photo
Oh, college… Our one and only snow day. (Obviously I’m the one accosting the snow pile.)

Peppermint or gingerbread?
Definitely not gingerbread… I guess peppermint, but I really only like candy canes.

What is one thing you asked for this Christmas?
A fitbit! And the new illustrated Harry Potter!

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(Thanks for the inspirations, Mattie!)

Have a wonderful, festive, cheery weekend,  my dears!

-Louise

 

My word for 2016

I’ve put a lot of thought into this post. I intentionally made it the last in my end-of-the-year trilogy. When I started this two weeks ago I didn’t have a word picked out… I hoped it would just come to me.
( Part 1 – Reflections on 2015 & Part 2 – Goals for 2016 )

I wanted to really, really love my word. I wanted it to make me a more flexible, aware, spontaneous person. I was hoping for a word that might make me sound adventurous. Maybe “brave” or “ambitious” or “discovery.”

In a way I found that word. I found a word that makes me ready to take on whatever is thrown my way… and it also makes me a little uncomfortable. For 2016 I chose the word:

Embrace

In 2016 I want to embrace where I’m at right here and now. But I also want to embrace the unavoidable changes- the highs and lows that will happen this year. I want to embrace the waiting period between now and later, and I want to embrace the craziness that happens without warning. I want all the emotions that come with embracing faith and marriage and life.

When I hear the word “embrace” I also think of hugs… which I am not fond of. But a hug is a way to bring someone closer to you and let them in without all the sarcasm and superficiality. And I want to do a little more of that in my 2016, too.

Embrace_Quotes

There’s a million different ways to embrace “embrace”, but as I said last week, I really don’t have much structure going on next year. And I guess I can start first by embrace that lackadaisical approach.

When I told K what my word was he completely understood what I meant by it and why I chose it. And that makes me even more excited to make EMBRACE my word of 2016.

So I guess we will start here and see where it takes me… embracing every step along the way ❤︎

Please, please link up below with your post about your word for 2016! I can’t wait to read what word you have chosen (or what word chose you)!

-Louise

 

A Little Christmas Grace

When K and I make plans for a big date night or vacation, or I’m planning a crazy party or preparing for the holidays, or when I just feel like I’m lagging behind as far as being a good wife/daughter/friend/dog parent goes, I put a massive amount of pressure on myself. It’s an ugly, unkind, nagging pressure.

And I’m only so big and strong, so sometimes that pressure leaks out and it morphs into a carping, badgering, stressful attitude. And I stain everyone and everything around me: the dogs, K, my family. And to add to this toxic pressure, I’m fully aware of the insanity and I bury myself in guilt for not controlling my thoughts and behaviors.

Christmas Grace

I know it’s not just me. Last week Erin touched on this kind of pressure and it’s effects. It’s absolutely maddening and poisonous and draining… but when you’re a Type-A perfectionist (or even a Type-B perfectionist), it’s an annual monthly weekly pressure.

But that night, however long ago, buried in straw and blankets, a baby was born. And that baby wasn’t born so that our cutout cookies could rival Martha Stewart’s. He wasn’t born so that I could gift the perfect toaster oven to Aunt Beth. He wasn’t born so that I could scrutinize the placement of every single ornament. He was born for me and for you and for your neighbor and the guy at the gas station and the woman from the homeless shelter. If the tree slants and the presents look frumpy and the ham is over cooked it’s ok- because regardless, He was born.

Whatever your beliefs- whether they mirror mine or not- Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Cheers to you and yours. Enjoy the imperfect, crazy, messy moments this holiday. Dismiss the pressure and make room in your heart for joy.

Whether your holiday morning is spent around a tree with your significant other or around a table with your 35 family members, make it a good one. Try to replace the nagging with gratitude, the greed with selflessness, and the pressure with joy. We’re not perfect, but that baby is. And because He is, we don’t have to be.

Enjoy the holiday, friends. You are loved.

-Louise

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

Friday Favorites & All My Love

Happy Friday, everyone!

I had a pretty good week, especially considering how it started… I woke up early on time Monday and I was all showered and ready to treat myself to some iced coffee before work. I was planning to head in early and drop little Christmas gifts on my co-workers’ desks. Five minutes before walking out the dog I noticed Lylee was limping. When I ran my hands down her leg to check for injuries I found none; however, she had a nice, sizable leaf/mud/poop mixture caked into her paw. UGH. So we went straight to the bath and I spent my extra morning minutes scrubbing dog paws and vacuuming/scrubbing the floor.

Needless to say: I welcome you, Friday. (Also, the word “sizable” looks weird…)

Christmas_office_gifts
Goodies for my fellow co-workers elves.

In other news, have you seen Google’s new Santa Village?? You can bet your sweet bottom I will be tracking Santa on Christmas Eve 😉

I’m obsessed with online shopping. Of course there’s Amazon Prime, but there are some serious treasures on Nebrowse, Amber Thomas Makes, Hey June, Good Word Candles… Yep, I’ve browsed all of them this season. If you’re in need of a unique gift you should definitely direct your attention to these artists!

As long as we’re talking about favorites… here are some of my favorite tree ornaments:

Christmas_ornaments
Four out of six have to do with dogs… I’m ok with that.

Breaking from the Christmas mold… If you are a fan of country (like me!) then you’ve probably already heard of Old Dominion. (“Break Up With Him”) If you haven’t listen to their entire CD Meat & Candy, then you should really check it out. My husband and I have been listening to it on repeat! (My favorite song for today is “Half Empty”.)

And now for some blogger love:

  • My very good friend, colleague, and honorary old roommate Dana has joined the blog world! ❤️ I’m a huge fan of this community and Dana has so much to offer with her little corner of the internet! Check her out at The Creative Beastie!!
  • Chelsea at The New Wifestyle just returned from Antarctica. Yes, you read that right. She’s made three posts about her trip that you have to check out!! Start here. Then read this. And finish with this guy.
  • Faith had her first guest post for her “After I do” series (and it was Christine from Christine Everyday!). She talked about a topic that plagues 99.9% of all newly and not-so-newly weds! Check it out!

By the way, I accomplished a few things this week: I finally finished a book, my Christmas shopping is done, and my house is finally clean (a.k.a. I’m caught up on vacuuming, dishes, putting clutter away/Christmas boxes in the attic, & bathrooms are clean).

Bring on the weekend!

-Louise

love

Goals for 2016

Honestly, I can’t believe we’re nearly two weeks away from a whole new year. I swear I just started writing “2015” on my checks and in my reports. I’m not sad about it, but I can’t believe this year is gone…

So much happened in 2015. I survived turning 25. My favorite little lady Elliot Rose was born. I took an entire week off of work and stayed home. We traveled. We partied at weddings. We grew K’s business. We celebrated 2 years of marriage.

In case you missed it, here are my Reflections on 2015. It was a wonderful year.

And now we’re on the eve of 2016. For the first time in a long time I have no idea what this year will bring. (I actually freaked out to K about this earlier this month. I dislike uncertainty.) I really don’t have any short-term plans. This year my brother will get married and we have one vacation penciled in with my parents. Those are the only things I have planned. That’s really, really weird for me.

To restore some balance and order, I’ve come up with a few resolutions (read: goals) for 2016:

Start running.
My best friend is a PTA and has given me a few tips on avoiding/treating/lessening shin splits, which are my major deterrent when it comes to jogging. This year for Christmas I’ve asked for a fitbit, some new tennis shoes, and some motivation (from the big man upstairs). Lylee has an excellent jogging pace (we tried it once) so hopefully she and I will log some miles this year.

Learn to cook more (vegetarian) meals.
One year for Lent I gave up meat (except seafood). I’d really like to take a more ethical approach to consuming meat and such. There are a few documentaries out there that I think I’m going to use to scare myself into healthier habits. Honestly, I’d really like to eat better and cook more. If I can make it taste good I know that K will eat it (meat or not), so hopefully I come up with some healthy, ethical food for us this year. I’d really like to improve our quality of food.

Find a word for 2016. (Check back next Wednesday)
Technically I need to figure this out before the new year… so once I do the actual resolution will be to stick to it and apply it as often as possible. I have a pretty good idea of what I might pick…

Read, read, read. And write.
I’ve mentioned many times how bad of a reader I’ve become. The same can almost be said about writing. I need to finish my d*mn novel. Or at least make some serious progress this year. I’m hoping these reading challenges will put my rear in gear.

*In addition to all the book challenges I have going on, I also added a new reading-related page to this space to keep me motivated all year. You can find it here (2016 Book Nook) or up at the top!

Volunteer.
I’ve been through the orientation class at my local humane society, so now I just need to get in the habit of going! I volunteered a lot in college but when I moved home I never made time. I’d like to get back in the habit this year.

It’s a year of self-improvement, but without all the crazy pressure. I’ve already asked K to hold me accountable for these things, but maybe if I check in with the blog occasionally I’ll notice some improvements…

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Have you thought about your New Year’s resolutions or goals for 2016?

-Louise