26 For My 26th

Hey y'all,

It's my birthday! So instead of the typical Sunday Sayings post I thought I would share 26 facts about me in honor of turning 26. Thanks Ashley for the idea!
one. I'm one of four kids. I have an older brother, older sister, and then my baby sister. I'm the only one who currently lives in NC.

two. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in English and minors in Art History & Women's Studies.

three. My pattern obsessions are polka dots, florals, and damask.

four. I cry in movies and books all the time. I still cry in Beauty and the Beast.

five. I teach Pre-K Sunday School and those kids are the best! Seriously, 4 year olds are pretty great.
six. I'm a great-great-great-great-grandbig. I love my sorority fam and still regularly see one of my littles and both my grandlittles.

seven. LaCoix water is always in my fridge. The best flavors are the Grapefruit and the Cran-Raspberry flavors.

eight. I danced ballet up until 5th grade when we moved to Europe.

nine.I'm not a very competitive person, except over games with my family. Think Disney Scene It, Phase10 or Jeopardy on PS2. It's intense.

ten.I'm a pen snob. Sharpie Pens for my planner and Bic Ultimate pens for everything else.

eleven. My favorite animals are: giraffes, sloths, and whales.

twelve. I'm an INFJ,

thirteen. I've never had a boyfriend.

fourteen. I wore head gear one summer. I had a lot of orthodontics work including a lip bumper but it all worked out!

fifteen. I drive a blue Toyota Corolla named Cora. She turns 3 on March 22nd.

sixteen. I'm a picky eater. Cooked veggies are one of my main aversions.

seventeen. I motivate myself to workout by putting cute stickers in my planner when I complete a workout.

eighteen. I lived in Germany for three years while my Dad was stationed over there.

nineteen. I have completed two half marathons.

twenty. I wear a black dress almost every week. Seriously, I own five black dresses but they are so easy for work. Just add a fun scarf or necklace and you are good to go.
twenty-one. I had my first kiss at 21.

twenty-two. I love musicals. My favorites I've seen are Wicked, Kinky Boots and A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder.

twenty-three. Kraft Mac and Cheese Shapes with dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets is my comfort meal of choice.

twenty-four.I love watching the stars. Really! Not just on nights of meteor showers, I have always loved sitting on my parent's driveway looking up at the universe in awe.

twenty-five. Even though I went to a college known for their basketball, football has always been my favorite sporting event to attend.

twenty-six. I'm allergic to cats, but that doesn't stop me from loving up on my parent's two kittens Max and Lily. I'm also allergic to benzoyl peroxide (acne medicine).

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday and feel free to introduce yourself in the comment section with a few fun facts.

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Five on Friday {January 29}

Hey y'all,

It's Friday! You are only a few hours away from the weekend so it's time to link up and share some things I am loving on this Friday.

one. US Figure Skating National Championships. This past weekend, the US Figure Skating National Championships occurred for the senior level skaters. Last year, the event was hosted in Greensboro and I even volunteered at the rink a few days. It was a weekend with a lot of surprises and helped determine the World's team for USA. Worlds will occur in Boston in April. Here are a few of my favorite free-skates:
 Nathan Chen: Men's Free Skate
Max Aaron: Men's Free Skate

Shibutani Siblings Ice Dance-Free Dance  
Kayne/O'Shea:Pairs Free Skate
two. Outlander. I started watching Outlander with my Mom this past weekend and I keep wanting to drive home to finish up season 1 with her. I guess that means I need to plan another weekend at my parent's house ASAP! The series is based off of the book by Diana Gabaldon and takes place in the gorgeous Scottish Highlands.

three. Lysa TerKeurst's post on Southern Weddings. I love Lysa Terkeurst's book The Best Yes and I am almost done reading Made to Crave by her as well. If you are planning a wedding or just have expectations about any event, read this post. Imperfections happen and we need to stop chasing after perfect.

four. This week on Buzzfeed I read the 23 Gifts for the Clean Freak in Your Life and fell in love with the Zamboni Desk Vacuum. How cute and practical!

five. Birthday Celebrations.My birthday is Sunday so the birthday celebrations are in full swing. Last night I made my favorite dinner, my Mom's beef stroganoff, and today my co-workers celebrated with sweet flowers and lots of chocolate. I'm excited for a relaxing weekend ending with a dinner with friends on Sunday night.
Link up with Darci, April, Natasha and Christina

What are you loving this week?
Any fun plans for the weekend?

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What the Heck Wednesday{Born of Betrayal}

Hey y'all,

I had to share that I just finished The League series' newest book, Born of Betrayal. If you have never heard of this series it is a sci-fi/fantasy romance series with other worlds/species/languages by Sherrilyn Kenyon and focuses around the policing organization called the League that has become corrupt and uses it's assassins a little too frequently.  This is book 10 in the series so if you are interested at all, close this out and go grab Born of Night the first book in the series.
Years ago, family loyalty caused Fain Hauk to give up everything he loved: His military career. His planet. His fiancée. Even his name.
Now decades later, everything has changed. He’s built a new life out of the ashes of his old, and he’s vowed to never let anything threaten his loved ones again.
But when old enemies align themselves with new ones, he’s caught in the middle of a brutal war. And when fate throws his former fiancée back into his world and she has her own agenda that includes taking his head for what he did to her years ago, more than just his life is at stake. The fate of the Ichidian universe and that of his brothers-in-arms hangs in the balance. Winner take all.
It’s killed or be killed, and never has the battle been more fierce…
Or more fun.

I had been waiting for this book ever since Born of Fury had hinted about Fain's story coming up and we all had to wait to hear about Talyn. I think it was so influenced by the other books that I loved finally reading about Fain's history and his family. This book also had some shocking moments towards the end and I can't wait to see who's story line is up next since I think there are a couple different characters I want to see more of after Born of Legend comes out in June.

What are you currently reading?
Favorite author?

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Miscellany Monday {Birthday Wishlist}

Hey y'all,

It is officially Birthday week! I just spent three days with my parents and they treated me with lots of great food, a manicure/pedicure, Hallmark Channel movies, the US Figure Skating Championship and some gifts. I think as you get older it is a lot harder to think of fun presents especially since my birthday is just 37 days after Christmas. Here are a few items I put on my wishlist for this girl's 26th.

Birthday Wishlist

dogeared necklaces/alex and ani bangles/rayne necklace/pioneer woman bowls
workout tanks/tervis tumblers/ hat/mittens

What is on your current wishlist?
Do you tend to ask for practical gifts or fun gifts? A mix?

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Sunday Sayings {January 24}

Hey y'all,

I found this quote on Pinterest and I had to share. After really long talks with one of my close friends about finding your passion and remembering to not get distracted by the shiny offers I thought this was fantastic. I have a few things I am passionate about and I hope to spend this year really focusing on them and remembering not to sweat the small things.
What have you been learning this past week?

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Five on Friday {January 22}

Hey y'all,

As usual, I am linking up for Five on Friday. I hope that this crazy snow/ice storm has not ruined your plans and that you have been able to spend some time relaxing if you are stuck inside. Here are five things I have been loving this week:

one. PJ Sets. I know, it is a strange love but I recently got into pajama sets as winter pjs. I will always keep wearing my favorite Old Navy pj pants with these tanks in the spring and summer. However, for Christmas a few years ago I got a set of flannel pjs with sheep and I have loved them ever since. I got this Parisian set and this sheep set. During after Christmas sales, I did pick up the Mayfair pj and the Satin PJ set and now I am looking at all the adorable Valentine's theme ones and trying to resist purchasing more.
two. Maybooks. My church is going through the entire bible this year as a sermon series so I ordered a new Maybook to write down notes and I love the result! I also ordered a second one from the Emily Ley collection and I have yet to decide what I will use it for but for now, I just think it it gorgeous.
three. Yoga Mala. Last Friday night I went to an event at my gym called a Yoga Mala. A mala is comprised of 108 Sun Salutations typically in 9 sets of 12. My yoga mala was organized in 4 sets of 27 and it was a great way to focus, stretch and just breath. I love yoga since you have to primarily focus on your breath and clear out everything else in your brain.

four. Emily Ley's Simplicity Challenge. Emily Ley has been hosting a 30 day simplicity challenge with small simple things to help simplify your life. I love all the different ideas from the basic, take a trash-bag and walk around the house to writing down three simple dinners from ingredients you already have. It is the perfect start to my year considering simple is one of my words.
five. Birthday Celebrations. My birthday is coming up and I am at home visiting my parent's this weekend to celebrate a little early. Getting my nails done, shopping, a steak dinner, and getting my cavity filled at the dentist on Monday are all on the agenda. However, this crazy icestorm might change things up. Today we just hung out and watched movies, TV and a few episodes of Outlander.

What are you loving this week?
Link up here.

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What the Heck Wednesday {The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society}

Hey y'all, 

I have to share the book I selected for my "Birthday Book Club" meeting this month. I chose The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Here are some notable quotes from this book that I loved:
I love this book. I was recommended the book and while it deals with some very heavy issues with the Occupation of Guernsey during WWII it includes so much joy and connections to literature. As a lover of books, it has so many great quotes about the connection and worlds books create. Everyone in my book club enjoyed it and while it can be hard to keep all the characters straight (there are a lot of them and some who only last a few pages).

What are you currently reading?
My friend Traci is starting a book club through her blog Choosing Better so if you want to join, check out her post here!

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Miscellany Monday {Goals for 2016}

Hey y'all,

I know that I talked about revealing my goals for 2016 and I never sat down to just write them for you.

My words for this year are intentional and simple. I am someone that can say yes to everyone without realizing she has overbooked her life into a color-coded mess. I want to have a year that is filled with lots of encouraging friends, personal development and the Word. This means, not holding myself to the standard of the world but remembering enough is enough and focusing on what brings me joy.

Along with my words of the year I have a few goals in the categories of faith, fitness, and personal.

Read the entire Bible
This has been on my heart for some time and my church is actually walking through the bible this whole year. I have also been using the First 5 app every morning to start my morning in the Word.
Work on daily prayer
Faith is a conversation and a relationship and I know I need to work on the communication end of my relationship with the Lord. I have been listening to only Christian radio in my car and it has been great and meant I have been praying a lot whenever I am driving.

Go to the Gym 4 times a week
I love taking classes at my gym or even just going on the elliptical for 30-45 minutes but over the past few months I haven't been going and placing other commitments above my health. It has show in my fitness/weight loss journey and I want to get back to a routine.
Write down all foods eaten in my food journal
I bought a food journal since I know that when you are truthful to yourself and write everything down you can see where trends are happening and if emotional eating is playing a big role. This was actually a recommendation from my nutritionist.
Go dairy free for a month.
I am pretty sure that I have a mild dairy allergy. I tend to have a lot of pain when I eat dairy as well as having more congestion. I need to spend a month eliminating it from my diet to make sure.
Drink 100oz of water a day.
I know that 100oz of water seems scary but I actually have been pretty consistent this week in hitting this goal. Realistic goal for water is a minimum of 75oz of water a day with 100 being the main goal. Water has so many benefits and helps me feel so much better.
A 5K a month.
I do not run without something to motivate me so I have decided to run a 5K every month I already ran January's 5K and have signed up for February and April's.
Pay off two of my student loans.
I began paying my student loans in December 2012 and as of this summer my goal is to payoff two of my four loans. This is a huge accomplishment and will go towards my goal of paying all of my loans (student loans and car loan totaling about $50,000) off by the time I turn 28! 
We live in such a consumer culture and I am going to take this year and really focus on what I need not what I want. I went through my entire closet and purged. I also finally got a working file system. Small steps make a difference at the end of the year.
Serve More. 
I love to volunteer and currently serve as a Pre-K teacher at my church for the Saturday night services. I love watching children grow in their faith and this year I want to be consistent in serving at my church as well as finding other service opportunities in the Triangle.
Connect More.
I want to plan at least twice a month where I connect with friends, whether over coffee, dinner, or just going to a walk but growing community with others. It makes my heart happy to just sit and connect with others and listen about each others lives--the mess and the joys.

What are some of your goals for the year?
Do you settle on a word for the year?

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Sunday Sayings{January 17}

Hey y'all,

I hope that you are enjoying your long weekend if you have Monday off from work. My book club just left and I am about to crack open my Bible and the Write the Word journal and just spend some time in His presence. I hope that no matter your struggle, or your wait, you know that this time of waiting has a purpose. We are strengthened by our trials.
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Thyme For Thursday {Crockpot Hot Chocolate}

Hey y'all,

In December I had some friends over for an Ornament Exchange. It was a lot of fun and a nice break between all the holiday parties to have people over, enjoy some food and hang out. I ended up using a poem that included directions to pass the ornament either left or right. One of the hits of the gathering was the crock-pot hot chocolate I made. I found the recipe online and it was so simple so I had to share it with y'all! Beware it is super rich!
CROCK-POT HOT CHOCOLATE from The Crock-Pot Ladies

2 cups heavy whipping cream
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 cups of milk (I used 2%)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large Crock-Pot (I used my 4.5qt) combine all ingredients and stir.
Cover with lid and cook on low for 2 hours, whisking every now and then to combine the melted chocolate chips with the milk.
Ladle into mugs and serve.
We served ours with candy canes, mini chocolate chips and marshmallows as options.

I am planning on having this again this weekend for my book club since it is supposed to snow Sunday!

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Miscellany Monday {Meal Plan Monday}

Hey y'all,

I personally love looking at people's meal plans and gathering ideas and recipes to add into my rotation so I thought I would share what's on my menu for the week.

Smoothie (my go-to recipe can be found here.)

Leftover Quinoa & Brown Rice Pasta with Homemade Marinara

Blackened Chicken Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing (I will probably make a dairy free Ranch from the Whole30 book or Against All Grain)
Salmon. Spinach. Quinoa.
Turkey Burger with Sweet Potato

Ants on a Log
Unsweetened Applesauce with Cinnamon
Chips and Salsa
Rice Cakes with PB

What's on your menu?
Do you plan for the week or the month?

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Sunday Sayings {January 10}

Hey y'all,

As we all prepare for another busy week, I thought this quote from Kid President was appropriate. I love to encourage others and spend time just listening to others since I have often times felt unnecessary or part of the crowd but we are all unique people with different perspectives and gifts.

So I hope that you remember that you are someone and I see you. Spend this week reaching out to others and encouraging them, whether just a text, a post-it on a co-workers office door, or spending that extra 15 minutes asking someone how they truly are, and not accepting the automatic response of fine but making sure they are heard.

Where do you turn to for inspiration?

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Five on Friday {January 8th}

Hey y'all,

It is the second Friday of the year and I hope you are all doing well! It has already been a busy start of the year but I am sure that everything will settle down over the next few weeks and in the meantime I need to set aside time to be grateful and recognize things that make me smile.

Here are five things I have been loving this week:

one. Dinners with Friends. This week I have been able to get together with two close friends for dinner to catch up on life and then tomorrow night I have a dinner planned with the other members of the Saturday night kids ministry at my church! One of my goals this year is to be intentional with my time including taking opportunities to encourage others and grow in my friendships.

two. Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale. If you ever participate in Lilly Pulitzer sales you know that they used to be chaos but now the virtual line has made that a thing of the past. You have to be patient but I think it all works out in the end. I ended up grabbing two Riley infinity scarves (Pooling Around and Neck in Neck) and the Largo dress in navy that I plan on wearing to a rehearsal dinner in June.

three. Accountability stickers. I like to plan out my workouts in my Erin Condren Life Planner and recently I have been into ordering stickers to help decorate. I do not go all out but I have a couple of fun stickers like this monthly bills set but I just started to use stickers as accountability. I use these gym bag ones for when I actually make it to the gym and then the dumbbell ones for when I workout at home.

four. Trader Joe's flowers.I bought some flowers from Trader Joes on Sunday and they are still going strong. Sometimes you just need to buy the flowers to remind you of the beauty of the Earth and bring a smile everyday.

five. Computer Mouse. Yep, I am that person. While I was home with my family, my baby sister Kate had a logitech mouse for her laptop and while I was at Staples this past weekend I grabbed one. I constantly use a wireless mouse at work but had never thought about grabbing one for my home laptop but it has been so great in navigating/researching a lot of things this week.

What are you loving this weekend? 

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Thyme for Thursday {Favorite Cookbooks}

Hey y'all,

I hope that everyone is have a great first full week of the new year. I have been super busy at work and have not been getting the most rest at night so I'm sorry if my posting is a bit sporadic over the next few weeks.

I recently bought two new cookbooks, Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well and Feel Great & Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple and I am so excited to try new recipes and mix up my meal plans. I feel that in the generation of pinterest and so many recipes on blogs I often forget about good old fashioned cookbooks. At lunch today, my co-workers and I were even talking about the fundraiser cookbook from the nursery school my siblings attended that has some of the family favorites in it.

Here are some of my favorite cookbooks and I would love to hear all about yours!

On my cookbook wishlist:
The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook Season 8
The Fresh 20: 20-Ingredient Meal Plans for Health and Happiness 5 Nights a Week

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Sunday Sayings {January 3}

Hey y'all,

I hope that you are all enjoying the last few hours before the weekend ends and the first workweek of 2016 begins. One thing I want to keep reflecting on this year is progress not perfection and that comparison is something I plan on saying no to this year.

What are you saying no to this year?

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Five on Friday {January 1st}

Hey y'all,

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating and are getting ready to start the new year fresh. Here are a few things I have been loving this week.

one. Lara Casey's periscopes & Powersheets. If you have not watched Lara Casey's periscopes, click here. I am working on my powersheets and watching her work through them as well has been so joyful for my heart. There might have been some tears but God has really been working on my heart over the past week and reminding him that the only goal I need for my life is to pursue a relationship with him.

two. Simplifying. Going off the Powersheets and the No Brainer Wardrobe Workshop, I am working on simplifying and purging. I went through my closet on New Year's Eve and I am in the process of donating some things and posting others on Periscope.
Out with the old
Clean and refreshed.

three. Target socks. Y'all, it might be a little thing but Target has some adorable socks right now and I had to pick up a few pairs.

four. Medal holder. One of my goals for 2016 is to run a 5K every month and my sweet parent's gave me this medal holder for Christmas along with number five. my Blogilates Fit Planner so that I can keep up with all my nutritional goals.

What are you loving this week?

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