Friday, December 30, 2011

What's the Word, Hummingbird?

Alright folks, it's that time of year again...the end of one and the beginning of another!  That means time for resolutions, right?  Eh...not for me.  Last year, I did my first "word of the year" and I like this approach better.  Before I share the 2012 word, let's take a look back at 2011, shall we?  My 2011 word was "renew".  I set out to renew with 3 goals in mind:

- I will renew and strengthen my relationship with God through the Bible in 90 Days Challenge.  ( I alllllmost completed the Bible in 90 Days Challenge (I stopped at Revelation...pathetic, I know!!).  But I did find the Good Morning Girls study of 1 John this Fall to be AWESOME.  I also did Beth Moore's Breaking Free this summer, and that study is outstanding.  Goal #1?  Accomplished.)

- I will renew my physical health by eating something other than the 4 holiday food groups of fudge, candy, cookies, and coffee. (I really kicked this goal off in June, and then hit it outta the park this Fall.  So far, I'm down 25 pounds and I feel better than ever!  Goal #2?  Accomplished.)

- I will renew my home by tackling the disastrous mess that is currently my craft room.  I want a place where I can do my crafty stuff without having to mess up other rooms in the house. (DONE!  It feels so good to have this room completed.  Check it out!  Goal #3?  Accomplished.)

Not bad, huh?  So - what's in store for 2012?  This year's word is:
This was the very first word that popped into my head when I started thinking about the 2012 word. I recently read the book "Working It Out" by former Biggest Loser contestant Abby Rike.  She lost her husband and 2 small children in a car accident a few years ago.  There is a quote in her book that has really stuck in my mind.  In reference to her experience with grief and loss, she says "I'd been better the first year than the second.  The second year was when I really started thinking, This is your life.  Is this it?  This is not enough.  This is not cutting it.  I can't live like this.  I didn't ever give up; I kept trying, but the longer time went on the more I realized that was just surviving - not living."

Boy is she right.  I heard it from a lot of people - "the 2nd year is harder" - and in some ways it was, but not in the ways I expected.  Abby hit the nail on the head with that quote.  That's what makes it harder - the reality of life continuing on really set in during the 2nd year.

But, I've also found myself feeling stronger.  Spiritually, physically, mentally - I am getting stronger.
Here are the STRONGER goals for 2012:

-Spiritually Stronger Goal:  Get back into Youth Ministry.  I haven't done youth ministry since the Fall of 2009.  Isaac and I met as youth leaders, and since he died I just haven't been able to jump back into that ministry.  But, I made a church change this fall and I'm excited to get back to youth ministry!
-Physically Stronger Goal:  Keep hitting the gym.  In 3.5 months of regular strength training, I am already so much stronger and it gives me the incentive to keep at it!
-Mentally Stronger Goal:  Get more sleep.  I think this is a goal a lot of us have, right?  I am a 9 hour a night girl when given the time, but during school I consistently get 6-7...and I feel it.  So the goal now?  7-8 hours.  

"I know my heart will never be the same,
But I'm telling myself I'll be okay.
Even on my weakest days,
I get a little bit stronger."
{Sara Evans}

Need more strong?  Check out my 2012 = Stronger Board on Pinterest!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Home Tour

Here's a little glimpse into my Christmas-y house!  I'm busy this week spending time with friends every night, then jetting off to Florida on Friday night!  Merry Christmas!!

{Can you find a Christmas kitty?}

{can you find another Christmas cat?}

{spray painted branches with mini-ornaments}

{snowmen on the top of the piano}

{hanging ornaments}
{spray painted dowel rod + hanging ornaments} 

{lights on the banister}

{mini stockings}

{a 1-footed snowman and a little cactus JOY}

{gingerbread pillows and some snowflake coffee table decor}

{Christmas fireplace}

{the mirror at night}

{fake presents by the fireplace}

{top of the Christmas mantle}

Merry Christmas to you all!  
I'm taking a 2 week blog break...
See you in 2012!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Complete the Christmas Sentences

My favorite part of December is....Christmas vacation.  I'm a teacher, what can I say??
The Christmas song I can listen to over and over is....Ahhh so many!!!  See this post from last year.  I LOVE the Chris Tomlin Christmas songs of worship CD, and this year I'm loving Francesca Battistelli's Be Born in Me (not technically a Christmas song, but SO SO SO beautiful and about Mary)  And also I LOVE Feliz Navidad.  Don't judge me.
My favorite Christmas gift when I was a child was....CLOTHES!  I used to spend all day changing from outfit to outfit to outfit.  So fun!!
If traveling anywhere in the world were an option I would spend Christmas....Somewhere warm - hey lucky, I'm going to Florida for Christmas! ;-)
Christmas movies are....fantastic.  Especially on Lifetime.  The cheesier the better!!!
My must have Christmas treats include...Gingerbread lattes from Starbucks.  Specifically: grande, nonfat, 2 pump, no whip, no foam Gingerbread Lattes.  :)
Decorating for the season looks like....lights.  I just love Christmas lights!  I didn't do a tree this year, but I do have to post my little house tour so someone besides me and the cats can see my decorations!
When it comes to Christmas gifts I prefer to...not buy them.  For anyone.  That is, unless I see something and think "that would be perfect for ____" or come up with a cute idea without much thinking.  I refuse to stress myself out thinking up gift ideas.
The Christmas season makes me feel....hmmm - this is an interesting one, and something I've been meaning to write about.  I'll just leave it at that and you'll have to check back later this week for more!
To me Christmas means....I'm going with a "hmmm" on this one too.  This year Christmas is feeling different, and I can't explain that without a whole separate post.  I guess the obvious answer is Christmas is Jesus.  I just feel like there's more - Christmas should be a time that we stop all the busy craziness of life and just enjoy our family and friends.  Be thankful for what we have, show our appreciation for those we love, just enjoy!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

NYC Weekend

I spent this weekend in New York City with my college pal, Kathy, who lives in Brooklyn with her dog Oliver. (he posed for this picture - so cute!)

I took the train up to NYC from Lancaster (this is THE way to go - so easy!) and we spent Friday night catching up over some wine.  Then Saturday, we were up early and off for a fun day in Manhattan!  

After visiting the Rockefeller Center tree, we headed for lunch at L'Express near Grammercy Park.  Then we hit up Crumbs Bake Shop near Union Square.  Check out these cupcakes!   

 Here's my Raspberry Swirl cupcake - yummy!!

After a little shopping, we stopped for manicures!

 We spent Saturday evening visiting some shops in Park Slope (the Brooklyn neighborhood where Kathy lives) and ate some delicious Thai food!  Then Sunday morning it was time to pack my bags and head back to Penn Station for the ride home!  What a fun weekend! 


Friday, December 2, 2011

Wreaths on the Cheap - Part 3

Here's my last and easiest wreath!  Check out my first 2 wreaths here and here.  This one was under $5 and took me about 5 minutes to make.  It is big, sparkly, and gaudy - perfect for holiday decor!

Wreath form (made from pipe insulation - more on this here)
Tinsel (I used 3 sets from the Dollar Tree)
Big, gaudy, glittery star (or other Dollar Tree ornament if big, gaudy, glittery stars are not your thing)

I don't have step-by-step pics for this one.  All I did was wrap the form in tinsel and glue on the silver star!  Easy peasy!


Wreaths on the Cheap - Part 2

I have been eyeing up these beautiful ornament wreaths every year for awhile now.  Last year I made one, but I didn't love it.  So this year I tried again - and I'm in love!  This was SO EASY, too.

I used these ornaments found in the $1 section at Target.  I think I used 5-6 of these.  I can't remember exactly!

The materials for this are simple:
1.  ornaments
2.  pliers
3.  wire hanger
4.  hot glue (optional)

If I was doing this again, I would hot glue the tops onto all of my ornaments before beginning.

All you really have to do for this is string the ornaments onto the wire hanger. 

Round out your hanger into a circle.

Voila!  There is a space at the top, and I remedied that with a nice big bow! (From the Dollar Tree!)
Here's one you can buy at Target for $20. 

Here's mine - total cost was $7!  ($6 for ornaments, $1 for the bow, hanger was free!)


Wreaths on the Cheap - Part 1

During Thanksgiving vacation, I whipped up a few super cheap wreaths for Christmas!  I saw someone on Pinterest post about using pipe insulation for wreath forms, so I headed into Home Depot and picked up 2 pieces of pipe insulation.  At $1.50 a pop, they make about 2 wreaths each - $0.75 a wreath form!  SCORE! 

Here's my first beauty:

And the breakdown:
1.  Make a circle with the pipe insulation, and tape together. 

2.  I wrapped mine in white duct tape because I was using white yarn and didn't want the gray to show through.

3.  Wrap sections in yarn.  I counted my rows (32 each section) to keep it even.

4.  I then went back and double wrapped each section with yarn.  The top half of these sections are doubled, the bottom are just the single.  I like the top better.

5.  Add some embellishments.  I chose 2 green feather picks, some silver glittery berries, and the red glittery swirls.  All were purchased at JoAnn's 50% off!

Price Breakdown:
Wreath form: $0.75
Yarn:  $1/each ($2.00 total)
Picks: $0.79 each - 50% off - ($0.40 each - total of $1.60)
Total Cost: $4.35