And So We Begin

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Late in 2013 a friend directed me to this post on a favorite blog.  We talked about wanting to make 2014 the year of living deliberately.  I was inspired to be more discerning in where I focused my energy and choosing to plan over my usual flighty approach to things.  Shortly after the new year my world tilted on its axis and while there were some good memories made in 2014, I carried with me some things that weighed heavily on my spirit during the year.  My eyes were opened wide with wonder for the new experiences I embraced, which was a much-needed counterbalance to my heart’s ache over the empty spaces.

It was only in the last weeks of December that I was able to pause and be still and sit with it all.  What I learned in those solitary moments bathed in white twinkle lights was that it is truly time to slow down, to take care of myself, and to be deliberate in my actions.  So much of my life is internal.  I get caught in my thoughts and my dreams and my plans, but to really and truly live deliberately I have to put actions behind those intangible thoughts.  I have learned that I am resilient.  That even when it seems as if everything that was a constant in my world is stripped away, and even when it feels like God has hit me over the head with a 2×4 to get my attention, I’m still standing.

So now the challenge is what to do with what I now know?  What do I want to create in 2015 for my life?

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I want to focus on good stuff.  I know that sounds overly simplistic, but that’s what I want to do.  I want to be happy.  I want to be my authentic self and all that that brings with it.  I want to be excited about life and not just going through the paces.  I want to open myself up to all that life has to offer – even though that means being vulnerable.  I don’t want to look back on 2015 and say “I wish I could have…”  And the critical thing for me lies in the act of doing, not just thinking about and planning, but the actual doing.

So here is what I’m doing –

★ I want to nurture my relationships.  The past few years have been so full of protecting myself from hurt and anger and all those messy emotions that are just part of life.  I shut down and insulated myself against anything that might find the smallest chink in my armor and unravel me.  I want to allow myself to love and be loved, to reach out and connect and be open to giving and receiving. I’ve already started working on a clean slate and letting the past go and have reached out to a couple of people in the hopes of starting a fresh conversation between us.

★ I want to read more this year, and read more involved books and a little less of the potato chip variety.  I set the same goal of reading 25 books that I had last year on Goodreads.  I’ve started reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  After seeing the mini series, it was a perfect choice to pull off the shelf.

★ I want to spend more time on my spirituality.  One of the things I thought about last year was reading the Bible. This weekend I downloaded the She Reads Truth app and started the Bible in a Year plan.  It’s feeding my soul.

★ I want to be more active.  I’ve spent so much time thinking about and goal-setting about losing weight and getting healthy, etc. but it’s time to focus on the doing.  The 2,015 miles in 2015 challenge on Instagram immediately struck a chord with me.  What better way to encourage myself to get moving?  One step at a time!

★ I want to learn new things.  In the past I have allowed myself to become paralyzed by not doing new things for fear of failing.  But if I never try, I never practice, I never take that first step – I will never grow.  I’m learning to knit and I’m practicing because it’s not perfect and I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing, but I’m learning.  And I’m learning because it makes me happy.

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I think 2015 is going to be challenging, but I hope also it will be rewarding.  I like to think that January is an empty bowl, full of promise and possibility of what’s to come.

And so it begins…

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February in Photos

February 2014 in Photos

How can I possibly sum up my February in 16 photos?! I’m still in the midst of keywording and editing my photos, so I’ll have to make due with just some snapshots for now.  I flew to Germany on the first and from there Sylvia and I traveled by train to Paris.  We rented a little apartment and spent an amazing six days there.  We traveled back to Germany and then had a couple of days in Bavaria.  So different from Paris, but beautiful as well.  I flew home the day before Valentine’s Day and Eric met me at the airport with a bouquet of flowers.  I finished two books on my trip – one on the plane there and then I started/finished the second on the plane home.

These photos bring such a smile to my face.

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December in Photos

December in Photos

 

December was a very emotional month, full of equal parts joy and sadness.  There was a lot of stuff going on that resulted in a lot of stress, upset, etc. in my world.  So I felt a bit like I was balanced on a razor’s edge throughout the holidays.  But, there was definitely a lot of good stuff in December.

Over the months leading up to the holidays, Eric and I spent some time doing some home improvement and a little bit of decorating.  We really wanted to have some things “done” before we had guests over for our holiday party.  One of the big things we did was buy two rugs.  We bought one for the living room back in October, you may remember, and you can see it in the photo of our dessert table.  At the beginning of December, our second rug arrived for the kitchen.  It took us a long time to finally find something we loved, and as you can see Thutmose loves it too!

We also got snow near the beginning of the month, and ice with it, so we were cozied up in the house for several days waiting for it to thaw out so that the roads were passable.  The ice storm put us a little behind in getting our tree, so we were rushing a bit to decorate this year.  Once all the decorating was done though, I always realize how happy the site of a decorated tree lit up makes me.  It’s amazing the transformation everything goes through at this time of year.  Magical!

I worked on some Christmas projects – one was a mystery stitching piece that a part was released each Sunday from Thanksgiving through December 10th or so.  It’s the little nativity scene you can see.  I loved working on it, and most especially I loved that each Sunday I was able to focus on a related Bible verse and really think about the season.  And I also bought the backing fabric for my Christmas quilt so that I could get it finished up.  Those hot cocoa cups just did me in.  So cute!  One of the things I do love about my time off around the holidays is getting to work on some of my crafty projects while I’m home.

We had our dessert party as usual, which was lots of fun.  Of course, I always love picking out recipes for treats I’m going to make so that each year it’s a little bit different.  I loved the vintage look of our Christmas cards too (Target!).  And Thut’s favorite napping spot was on the table with my Dickens Village.  He was so happy there, and every time we would see him, we’d comment that he was scaring the villagers.  So funny!

We took my niece to see the Trains at Northpark at the end of the month, our other annual tradition.  It included lunch at Pie Five and that chicken pesto pizza is to die for!

I also started and finished the last book in the Beautiful series on one decadent Saturday morning, had my very first macaron, and treated myself to a facial.  Such fun!  So, as I said, there were definitely some great moments of joy and peace during the last month of 2013.

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November in Photos

Nov in Photos

November started off with a bang!  The first Saturday I attended a book signing for Christina Lauren for their latest book in the Beautiful series – Beautiful Player.  I’ll have a post up soon on the series and the book signing too, but I finished Beautiful Player shortly after getting it at the signing!  And speaking of books, I also got to go see Catching Fire the night it came out in the theatre – loved it!

I spent some time during the month looking at my in progress craft projects, working on some, and planning for some new things.  One of my big projects towards the end of the month was working on finishing some Christmas ornaments I’d stitched.

Of course, one of the things I was excited about was visiting a local camera store and checking out a variety of camera bags in preparation for my trip to Germany/Paris.  I loved the bright yellow of the one in the photo, but I ended up going with something slightly different.  Post to come on that as well and why I chose what I did.

As the holidays approached, I celebrated with a super blingy manicure – I used my new polish, When Monkeys Fly, over a gold I already had on hand and wowza!!  Eric and I made apple pancakes for breakfast, which is our tradition for Thanksgiving morning, and then watched the parade.  We went to my mom’s for our cozy Thanksgiving dinner and it was really a nice, relaxing day.  So much to be thankful for!

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September in Photos

September in Photos

How in the world is it November?  October is always a crazy busy month for us, but damn!  And today it actually feels like Fall outside.  Back in September, we had a few Fallish days, but mostly it was still pretty warm.  It was still in the 90s and I was seeing tons of Instagram posts of the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte…but I just couldn’t embrace it wearing shorts.

I went down a bit of a rabbit hole in books during the month.  After finishing City of Fallen Angels, I picked up Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren.  I’ll probably do a post on this series after I read the latest one, but suffice it to say that I read Beautiful Bastard in three days, and then read Beautiful Stranger in three days.  I literally could not stop reading these!  You can see that toward the end of the month I attempted to start something completely different, The Girl in Hyacinth Blue.  That barely caught my interest and held it.  It’s a little bit sad though that I read two books in six days and then mostly didn’t read the rest of the month.

Of course September also brings with it Fashion Week, and I had a ton of fun watching streaming videos of the shows and of course I’ve already posted on some of my favorites here and here.  And it made me long for New York in the fall and spicing up my wardrobe a bit, evidenced by my OOTD photos with some statement necklaces, fall colors, and some fun polish colors.  In fact, speaking of polish, that pink I’m wearing in several photos was in honor of NYFW – OPI’s Passion for NY Fashion.

I made my very first lemon meringue pie (with Eric’s help).  Lemon meringue pie is my absolute favorite, so having one for my birthday back in August just wasn’t enough.  I decided it would be a perfect time to learn how to make it myself, since my mom won’t be around forever (and she took over from my grandma who used to make them for me).  This one turned out beautifully and tasted even better.

Even my fabric shopping took on a fall color scheme…love all the browns, oranges, and reds that I found.  That’s all from Juliana Horner’s line, Rosette.   I just need to find some time to actually work on my crafty projects!

Now, off to look at October’s photos!!

 

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August in Photos

August in Photos

I always feel that my birthday and then Labor Day signal the end of summer – marking the change from longer days and saturated color to cooler weather and wardrobe layering.  Even though I’m sure we’ll have many more 100 degree days in front of us, my thoughts immediately turn to the new season.  And judging by the number of Pumpkin Spice Latte pics I’m seeing on Instagram, I’m not alone in this.

August is, of course, my birthday month and it brought with it a much-needed vacation from work and time to get together with friends.  I’m still enjoying breaking out some statement jewelry pieces, which has been great fun.  I was also treated to some new nail polish, new (much needed) perfume, and a blow out.  I even made it to the gym again.

I finished reading City of Glass and moved right into City of Fallen Angels – both so good.  I’ll have a review of this series up soon.  One of my birthday outings was getting together with a friend to see the Mortal Instruments movie on opening night.  So good.  So much love for Jace.  Go see it if you haven’t yet.  I’m looking forward to reading the fifth book.

I also spent an afternoon with another friend and we met for lunch at Bluebonnet Bakery, which was absolutely delicious.  I had their famous chicken salad sandwich and then we both topped off our lunch with a slice of Italian Cream Cake.  To. Die. For.  I haven’t had Italian Cream Cake that good since last April!

For my birthday, Eric bought me new perfume.  As I’d mentioned on this post, I was in dire need of some new perfume.  I ended up with D&G Light Blue for a lighter, summery scent and Thierry Mugler’s Alien Essence Absolue for my deeper fall/winter scent.  I love them both!  He also took me out to dinner at Ziziki’s, which I just can’t stay away from for my birthday dinner.  Everything there is absolutely delicious.  I had the first glass of wine I’ve had in awhile, I can’t go wrong with a Riesling and this one was fabulous!

We also hit a milestone with Ramses and Thutmose.  We decided that they were finally old enough that our Moroccan pouf would be safe to put out again.  It has been locked away almost since we bought it, so it’s nice to actually have it out in the living room again.  If we can get to a place where the other kitty-proof measures can be done away with I’ll finally be able to share our living room redo.

August was a good month, and I had a wonderful vacation and birthday.  Exciting things are on the horizon for my new year!

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July in Photos

July in Photos

This summer is just zooming by like nobody’s business.  Frankly, July was a rough month.  Started out fine but then it took a nosedive.  My crazy work schedule took over again and a lot of late nights left me feeling overwhelmed and stressed.  Near the end of the month I made some adjustments in my attitude and did my best to start looking at things from a place of gratitude and abundance.  Amazing what a difference that makes.  Two things that have really helped me are the IG posts from @tarotandtea, particularly her daily tarot advice, and Katie O’Keefe’s blog and IG.  I’m loving watching her moving through #intentionalaugust and #mth (making things happen).  Both are two roads to the same destination, a destination of re-engaging with myself and what means most to me.  All a work in progress, but I’m feeling a lot better equipped to deal with the “stuff” that’s going on in my life right now.

So, what adventures did I get up to in July?  It was so nice to have a long weekend for 4th of July, and you can see I celebrated with a fun mani.  I spent a day with some girlfriends over that weekend too – I even baked cookies!  Eric and I opted to not go out to see fireworks, but instead we enjoyed the evening at home and watched some of the specials on tv.

We had lots of rain in July and it actually made for a much cooler summer than we’re used to in Texas.  I love it when it rains, so it’s always a little bonus.

As part of my attitude adjustment, I spent some extra time on myself – nails (of course), some new makeup (eyeliner and powder), dug out my favorite summertime heels (don’t those cherries kill you?), and some summery statement necklaces like my starfish that jingle!  I even went through all the lipstick I have hoarded in my purse.  Amazing what you find in there.

I had a little bit of relaxation time that I spent working on a gift for my Goddaughter (a summery yellow quilt) and catching up on my DVR’d shows, namely the red carpet from the Oscars.  Yes, it was in February.

Eric and I also did something for ourselves, we finally ordered our frame for the photo we printed from our honeymoon so we could hang it over our bed.  The frame is perfect and goes beautifully with the warm tones of the sunset from the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome.  Apologies for the reflection/glare in the photo…but trust me it looks wonderful.  And it allowed us to mark our bedroom as complete on our home improvement list.

So that was July, and we’re already halfway through August so I’d better start thinking about my August in Photos post!

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Things I Love Thursday: Birthday Crushes

gilded_arrow_bangleMy birthday is coming up next week, so I thought it would be fun to use this week’s TILT post to show you some things I’m crushing on right now.  Plus, what’s more fun than putting together a dream wish list?

Right now I seem to be all about bracelets.  There’s such a fun selection of bangles available right now, probably due largely to the “arm party” trend.  And I’m so happy to see gold making a comeback.  I absolutely adore the arrow bracelet from Stella & Dot.  There’s just something so simple about it.  Makes me think of Katniss, Cupid, and my imagined alter ego who excels at archery.

My wishlists always seem to have something of the practical side to them too.  Lately, I’ve been keeping a running tally of things I need rather than want – shorts, sandals, bras…basic stuff.  So many things that are falling apart or don’t fit.  One of the things that’s become a bit dire of late is that I’ve completely run out of perfume.  I know – #firstworldproblems – but, I’ve even gone rummaging through my bathroom cabinets in the hopes of finding some of those little freebie tester perfumes.  No dice.  So, a bottle of perfume falls more into a necessity than a pure want, but I had to include it anyway. At the top of my list of perfume wants is Lady Gaga’s Fame.  It’s black, which tickles my little Goth heart so much, and it smells delicious.  It’s described as “Enriched with tears of belladonna, a black veil of incense, and pulverized apricot, this fragrance may cause illicit fits of extravagance, unrivaled rushes of adoration, and prolonged moments of ecstasy and rapture.”  How could I not want this?

Fame

You may recall last year, when I decided that my birthday really needed to be an extravagant, Marie Antoinette-inspired, and fun?  I’m absolutely going to continue that tradition this year.  So, I’m thinking macarons are a must.  Because, why not?  It appears that there are a few bakeries in Dallas that are now offering macarons, so you know I will be scoping them out.

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I have been seriously wanting a maxi dress for- I don’t know -ever.  I’ve yet to own one and lately my interest has been rekindled by some IG photos of some lovely ladies who purchased this maxi from Target.  It’s a steal at $29.99 and I love it.  The kimono-style sleeves, the chevron print.  Gimme.

Maxi dress

And back to the bracelets.  I’ve been really wanting a mint link bracelet, but since Fall seems to be quickly approaching, this tortoiseshell link bracelet from T+J Designs is killing me.  Gorgeous!Tortoise Chain Bracelet

And you know my continued love affair with all things Kate Spade.  This KSNY Twist and Shout bracelet brings a smile to my face.  It reminds me of my sweet German friend, and of course sharing a pretzel with my darling husband.

Twist and Shout Bangle

I’m also thinking forward to my springtime travel and realizing that I still don’t have a good camera bag.  I’ve been looking at these Kelly Moore bags for a while now, and I really like the look of them.  The B-Hobo bag looks roomy enough to carry what I need plus it has both a zipper and the flap to keep everything inside safe.  I’d like to be able to try one out and see what I think in person, just have to see if someone in town carries them.  But I really adore this mustard color.

Kelly Moore B-Hobo Mustard

The best gift I’m giving myself for my birthday this year – a week of vacation.  I have been working so much this year and such crazy hours that I know I need some time to relax and regroup, plus time with my family.  I intend to do some fun things like going to see the first Mortal Instruments movie with a friend, a fabric shopping day with a friend and maybe catching up on some of my reading or DVR’d shows.

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May in Photos

Hello June
I’m looking forward to June and the start of summer.  May was rather a rough month for me.  It started off well, and then took a bit of a nosedive.

May 2013 Mosaic

At the beginning of the month our guild had our first workshop of the year, and I got the chance to finally meet a friend in person for the first time when she came to teach. She designed a beautiful piece for us and it was lovely just to get to give her a big hug and visit while I whisked her from place to place. We had a lovely dinner that evening at Via Real, with margaritas, of course!

Our guild meeting on the first Tuesday of the month also brought another visitor from out of town, a woman who collects and lectures on Mexican Samplers.  What a treat that was to hear her speak and get to see some of the antique samplers she brought.

Work got crazy busy around the 7th of the month – I was working 10-12 hour days plus three nights a week I was on conference bridges from 10pm to 1 or 2am and working weekends too with no end in sight.  Despite being so tired I could hardly see straight, I tried my best to focus on little bits of gratitude in the every day, whether it be the first BLT I’ve had in years or an amazingly beautiful holo polish.

Eric and I were able to attend my niece’s choir concert.  It was a great show, and what a throwback to be in the cafeteria of the same elementary school my sister and I went to.  Nothing much has changed!

I finished reading the Jenny Lawson book that I started on our flight back from New York in April and I decided to pick up the last Dan Brown book.  Figured it was time I read it, since the new one was being released.  I have made little to no progress in it, not so much due to the book, more to do with my limited reading time.  But Fridays at the allergists office always offered me a thirty minute respite from my day and time to read.

As you can probably imagine though, I made it through the month with LOTS of coffee and sometimes just sheer willpower.  I am so looking forward to June and summer and re-engaging with life.

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Memorial Day

Last year for Memorial Day, we went out to the cemetery and saw my dad’s headstone for the first time since it was placed.  I was amazed at the amount of people there for the ceremony.  I’m glad to have experienced it, but this year we decided that a quiet remembrance of the day was more in line with how I’m feeling these days.  But, I thought it would be nice to share some of the photos I took last year.

I love that they place a flag at each of the graves.  And the ceremony was very nice and so moving.

You can sort of get a feel from the photos how many people were actually there.  We had to park offsite and take a bus into the cemetery.

Such a site to see.

I brought some red and white carnations to put on my dad’s grave.  Nothing to compare to the wreath below, but I’m glad I brought them.

The weather was hot hot hot last year, and boy did I get sunburned after standing outside for hours.  But it was worth it.

I think this year, instead of going at Memorial Day, I’ll go for his birthday, which is coming up in June.  It will be a small and quiet memorial for just us.  But, it will be just as important.

Thank you to all the men and women who have served our country.  And thanks as well to those who remember and honor them.

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