Family, Oregon

Home for the Holidays 2017

Originally, I had every intention of spending my holiday vacation time getting ahead on some blogging for the new year. But I ended up sort of naturally taking somewhat of a break from all things technology-related, and I am not one bit mad about it. Obviously my subconscious knew I needed it. But I am back to the regular grind, and now that I spent my first week in the new year getting myself organized for 2018, I want to jump back into a few posts to wrap up 2017.

This year I was able to go home to Oregon for Christmas for 9 days (plus 2 travel days) and overall I’d say it was a great, relaxing time with my family and friends. I saw the new Star Wars movie with my Uncle Josh (our yearly holiday tradition), as well as The Greatest Showman with my mom, sister and Grammy. Both were great movies and, as expected, I loved Hugh Jackman! Its just fun when you can tell that an actor put so much into a role. So yes, if you were to check my Spotify lately, the movie’s soundtrack is what is playing. I caught up with a few old friends, including Richole, who had just welcomed her new daughter Callie, earlier in the month on December 13. As usual, I spent some time at my family’s flower shop, helping out a little bit here and there, but mostly just distracting everyone from doing their work. I also traveled to Portland for a long day trip with my Grampy to watch my Uncle Jay coach his high school girl’s basketball team in a tournament and then over to the Moda Center to watch the Blazers beat the 76ers. I also spent time with dad feeding cows (a separate post on that later this week!) and shopping with my mom and sister. But most of our evenings were spent just the four of us by the fireplace watching a movie.

Of course, the main highlight was spending as much time as I could with my cousin Sawyer. She is just such a fun, sweet baby and definitely has the spotlight in my family right now.

Here’s just a few snapshots of my break.

On this particular day, I had Sawyer ALL DAY while her parents spent a day in Portland. All things considered we had a pretty good day together, except that I contributed to the demise of her napping schedule and she wouldn’t let me put her down for one second to put on my makeup. #parentingcrashcourse

It’s amazing what an adorable 5 month old baby will convince you to do.

Ego cousins!

Christmas morning with this babe.



Our Grampy is crazy, I’ve tried to warn her 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Life Notes

The Country Christmas Connection: Gift Reveal

Though I don’t blog much about specific agriculture topics, I still label myself as an ag blogger to some degree, because it is the industry that I work in and am passionate about. Last year, I joined a Secret Santa exchange for ag bloggers and really enjoyed it, so I decided that it was something I wanted to participate in again. It is a great way to get to know more people in the industry, and obviously it’s fun!

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I was given Gracie Weinzierl who blogs at A Farm Kid’s Guide to Agriculture. Gracie is also in ag communications, working at an agency in St. Louis, where she works with a variety of clients in agriculture. She is originally from Central Illinois where she grew up on a small corn and soybean farm. Right away I saw that Gracie had some things in common, like our love for coffee and DIY. She wrote all about the gifts I sent her over on her own blog post, which you can read here. I did have to laugh though. Gracie is a HUGE cat lover, something that I don’t understand AT ALL.  I mean don’t hate them, but I’m not really a fan. My sister is the complete opposite though, so I am used to buying gifts for “those kinds of people,” and buy the sound of it, the quirky little cat pen that I gave Gracie was a hit.

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A snapshot of the things I sent Gracie.

My secret blogger was Hannah Neuenschwander who blogs over at Texan Meets Midwest. Hannah is a Texan who relocated to Illinois for her job as a entry-level manager at a Monsanto soybean production facility. My first thought when I was looking through her blog was how much I appreciate that there are other young professionals in agriculture that make big moves like I did for my career, and those like Hannah are willing to share about it on a blog.

I was a bit late to open my gift (not Hannah’s fault) because I wasn’t able to get it from my apartment office before I went home on a long holiday vacation. Which is quite all right because who doesn’t like opening gift on a random day! When I picked it up from the office, the manager was very enthusiastic and said, “Oh Amanda, it looks like your new TV came in, you must be really excited.” Instead of trying to explain to her that I was positive that it definitely was not a TV, I just went along with it. But it definitely made me really curious and excited to get back to my apartment to open it!

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Now I wish I could have had someone taking a video of me when I opened my gift from Hannah, because I literally shrieked out loud. Hannah did a great job “stalking” my social media and blog to learn that I love decorating my home in styles that I love and personal touches that reflect who I am, and also that I LOVE a good quote. So she had a local friend and small business woman (Tina Gonnerman at TMG Designs in Ashton, IL) make this sign specially for me. I have a few of my favorite quotes and verses on the left sidebar of my blog, but Exodus 14:14 is my FAVORITE VERSE. Up until now I have kept it written on the white board in my kitchen. Plus, the colors and style go perfectly with my decor in my living room! Really Hannah, you could not have sent me a more PERFECT gift than this. Right now I have it propped up on a book shelf in my living room, until I decide whether or not I am going to hang somewhere else or just leave it there.

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Isn’t it great!?

Thank you to Darleen and Jenny for being this year’s hosts for the blogger exchange. I really enjoyed participating again!

Be sure to check out the linkup, where all of the other participants are sharing their posts.

Cheers!

Washington D.C.

{2016} Holiday Partying

This year I attended a lot of holiday parties, so I thought I would do a quick round up here on the blog.

The first party was organized by a group from my church, and proceeds went toward the DC Dream Center. 

I decided for this party I would try out “Rent the Runway” for a fun holiday party dress, and after struggling a bit to lock one that I wanted (note for the future, you have to order earlier during the holiday!) Once I actually got the dress I was even more excited about it than when I first reserved it. It was perfect! And Rent the Runway is SO EASY to use. I would definitely recommend it!

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The party was fun and I just loved seeing everyone dressed up!

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I didn’t include any full pictures of the dress, but it was the “Blue Botany Dress” by Badgely Mischka. It was pretty heavy and had a large keyhole opening in the back. It was also little longer on me than on the model in the picture because I’m really short.

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I loved how my hair turned out! Like usual I started with one idea and it just transformed into something different by the time I was done.

My next party was my holiday party at work.
I don’t have any pictures from the actual party, so I included a few of the cinnamon rolls I made for the office for breakfast.

I love my office’s party though. We all go to lunch and then head back to the office gift exchanges, drinks and dessert. Our office stays pretty busy year-round, and someone is always traveling, so it’s just nice to enjoy the time with my co-workers.

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The next party was with my small group (through church). I joined this group just this fall, and am so thankful for the people and conversations its brought into my life. Our party was full of ugly sweaters, yummy food, white elephant gifts and some intense rounds of Catchphrase and Heads Up.

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My last party was hosted by my friends Kim and Sarah and their roommates.

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Lucky for me, they live only two blocks away from my apartment, so I didn’t have to spend money on a cab. But I did have to trek over in my snow boots, because I’m pretty sure my heels wouldn’t have fared well on the ice.

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Kylie and I have an unique friendship in that we actually met through blogging! It had been a while since we caught up, so I was so excited she was at the party! She’s also one of the first people who told me about National Community Church (NCC), which is how I met the girls who were hosting the party.

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I think I actually like this picture better than the first. We have a similar sense of humor… so this fits us.

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New, newish and older friends all at once.

(Also I love that my bridesmaid dress from Kyla’s wedding two years ago doubles as a great holiday dress!)

And since we are talking about holiday parties, I thought I would share that the entire Spoo family is getting festive.

My parents and sister attended the school district staff party (my dad is the high school principal) and my Dad ROCKED the ugly sweater.

This might be my new phone screensaver…

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And that’s it!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family!

Cheers!

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 19

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}

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Once again it has been almost two months since my last So There’s That post.

And this time I can’t even say that I was “out of my mind” busy. Oops.

Well settle in, it will be a long one…

1. Celebrated My Birthday

One of my friends from college is in DC for a year-long fellowship and offered to throw me a birthday party this year. It was a great little get together, and though somewhat unplanned it ended up being all Kansas people.

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With Logan and Emily. Happy to have so many K-Staters here with me.

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We all share Brandi as one of our closest friends, so we decided she needed some Snapchat spam.

2. Beware of Jalapeno’s

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I am pretty sure I will immediately regret including this picture, but I always say this blog is about my life, so some funny/embarrassing stories and pictures just are not allowed to be omitted.

So… I love spicy food and I love jalapenos, so when I decided to make queso dip for my birthday party it was natural for me to grab a few (4) jalapenos to add in. Now I have cut up jalapenos a dozen times before and never had any problems but this time was pretty different. A few minutes after I was done chopping, my nose and upper lip started to BURN REALLY BAD. So I immediately washed my hands with dish soap and then washed that part of my face with my normal face cleanser. And then it started to burn EVEN WORSE. So I did what every other brand new 26 year old would do… I called my mom. She proceeded to start Googling what you are supposed to do and I tried a baking soda and water paste, then lemon juice and then coconut oil, all of which helped for a few minutes and then would stop. At one point I went back to the paste, which was a REALLY bad idea because it made things worse after the lemon juice.

Eventually I just held ice packs to my face for a few hours. We eventually read that soaps actually do not help (OBVIOUSLY) and realized that every time I used my hands to apply the different mixtures it was just eventually tainting them and spreading the heat to more of my face.

So with the picture to prove it, I really can not make this stuff up, and it REALLY was that dramatic. Just ask my mom about the phone call, I am pretty sure she is still laughing about it.

3. Crop Quality Report

This project took up most of my work life in September and October. It is a report that my organization puts about every year and this year we decided to do a complete redesign with the help of an agency. The challenge is there is a LOT of data that goes into, a LOT of people that contribute to it and it gets translated into five languages.

I was pretty proud of the final product and especially of Steph, my co-worker who put in way more hours than I did. If you are at all interested at actually looking through it, you can find it HERE.

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4. The Best is Yet to Come

In October, my church, NCC, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a service that included all eight of its campus at one location, held in Constitution Hall at the DAR. It was such a fun, inspiring evening!

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One of my small groups met up for dinner at Old Ebbitt beforehand.

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These wristbands lit up in different colors, based on our motions or by the tech guys. They were so fun!

5. “Coloring Book for Me” App

Friends, prepare for your life to be changed.
I can not remember how I stumbled across this app (probably because I was so excited about it) but YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE. It is pretty straight forward… every day there are new blank designs to choose from, you have a variety of color wheels to choose from and then at the end you can add treatments. Honestly, I have done one almost everyday for the past month, but decided that sharing ALL of them might be a bit much for those who do not share my enthusiasm.

And dear creators of the app? Hit me up if you would like to sign an official endorsement deal…

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6. Kansas City

In November, I was in Kansas City for a conference that I still plan to separately blog about. But that also meant that I got to squeeze some time in with one of my favorite little families. Baby Robin has become a regular in these posts, but I was also excited to catch up with Leah and Ryan. She was my roommate my freshman year  and still one of my dearest friends.

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She is 7 months old now!

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Her parents are going to regret letting her call me Aunt Amanda someday…

7. Hiking

In addition to the big hike I already blogged about... I also joined my friend Kim for an afternoon on the Maryland side of Great Falls.  She recently got a new DSLR camera so she wanted me to teach her a few tips.

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8. Sunday Funday

In November, another one of my small groups from church went out on a Sunday to a small winery, lunch and then stopped by one girl’s family farm. It was one of the first colder weekends in the area, but we had a great afternoon! Northern Virginia is absolutely beautiful in the fall!

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9. Friendsgiving

This year I went to two Thanksgivings!

On Thursday, I joined my co-worker and his wife, who are also K-State alums, along with many others who have some connection to Kansas.

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And then on Saturday, I was invited by one of the girls from one of my church small groups to join a Friendsgiving hosted for another small group that she is in.

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In the last eight years I have only been home for Thanksgiving once, but I am always reminded how big my support circle is and the kindness of others.

10. Run DC

Since my plantar fasciitis developed this summer I have not been out on a long run or walk in DC. My foot still hurts, but I have contained it quite a bit so I decided to take advantage of the last semi-warm weekends and ventured out for a run/walk that accidentally turned into an unplanned seven miles. Apparently DC infrastructure is still hard to navigate after living here two years.

Anyway, as expected, it was a beautiful day.

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11. The People’s Tree

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So I learned this year that you have to get tickets way in advance for the Christmas tree lighting at the White House… but that the lighting at the Capitol is free. This was toward the top of the things I really wanted to do this year so I dragged my friend Logan out in the pouring rain to see it. They had a short but cute little ceremony led by Speaker Paul Ryan. The tree was from Idaho this year!

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I love Union Station this time of year!

12. Christmas Crafts

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My apartment is really small, but it had been too long since I had a fun project to do and my little windowsill was perfect to add a few things too. I blogged about making the tree and the sign last week. Read it HERE.

13. Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

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Views from my parents’ new property.

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Enjoyed my first “Paint Nite” with Allyson!

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I LOVE this picture and this view! Photo credit to my friend Casey Droddy.

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Took this out of my plane window on the way home from Guam.

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Good morning Union Station.

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Snapchats of Jack from my sister are my FAVORITE.

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My new tennis shoes are full of inspiration

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Enjoyed catching Reckless Kelly with my Kansas guys. We do not get nearly enough red dirt bands live in DC. And I LOVE my new dress, so I had to share.

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Miss Robin was the cutest little penguin. Even if she did not think so herself.

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True friends send you pictures from Kansas to make you miss it more.

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Sunday brunch to celebrate Sherin’s birthday!

13. Chris Stapleton

Three people sent me a link to an article about this song below in a matter of a week. Obviously my obsession with Chris Stapleton has been well advertised.

HE NEEDS TO RECORD THIS!

14. My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.

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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

Creativity and Organization

Christmas Crafting

I have never done much for Christmas decorations in my own home so far, and since moving into my new (and very small) apartment this year, finally getting a tree was still out of the question.

I do have a nice windowsill abobe my air unit where I normally display a few picture frames, and it has been way too long since I have had a creative project to work on, so I decided that I would utilize the space for a little decor.

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When I first moved in, I built a entertainment center/shelving unit out of 2×12’s (I think?) and cinder blocks, and had a few extra pieces left after the boards were cut for length

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I put two coats of regular acrylic paint on the board and let it dry.

Note to self: Do not try to FaceTime with your sister and work on a painting project, when you do not have the proper space to do the project in the first place. It is a miracle I did not get paint anywhere it was not supposed to be besides my arm.

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When I went to Michael’s for paint, I saw this flat wooden tree and broke my rule of only going in to get paint… luckily it was not too spendy. While the board dried, I painted this and alternated each row with red and bronze.

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This was the after photo for step one. I took the smaller brush that I used on the tree and did not clean it out so that there would still be some of the drying, clumpy red paint in it, which seemed to help with the uneven brush strokes. I used a dark grey that I already had and the same bronze paint. After I had made some of the bigger strokes I wiped the brush off and continued to dry brush back and forth over the color that I had just applied,

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While the board dried again I switched back over to the tree, which was now dry (after two coats) and applied these rhinestone stickers along the seam of each layer. The nice part was that the rhinestones were grouped together in strips, which is great because there is no way that I have the patience to apply each of those individually. I got them in the sticker section at Michael’s.

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Moving back over to the board, my next step was to take sandpaper to it. I varied the types of strokes I made and the pressure to get the look that I wanted.

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The final step for the tree was to wrap this garland from Michael’s around it. I tacked it with glue in about four spots to that I could get everything to hang just right. As you can see I could technically hang it on the wall somewhere but it is doing just fine propped up on the windowsill.

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The final part of the other project was to glue the ornaments to the board. I saw these ornaments at Target a few weeks ago and fell in love, which essentially inspired me to go ahead and do a little decorating. I just took all of their hangers off and used tacky glue to secure them on.

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And here is the final look! The two little ferns are from Trader Joe’s and Frosty came from my family’s store in Oregon a few years ago.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Amanda

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Link up.

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Family, Oregon

A Christmas Rewind.

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Over the holidays I decided to step away from sharing on my blog and enjoy the vacation time I had at home in Oregon with my family. But before we got to far into the New Year I wanted to make sure that I documented and shared a bit about my trip home. This post will probably be pretty dull if you don’t know me or really care, just FYI 🙂

This year, I learned that cross country flights during the holidays need to be bought REALLY EARLY. Fortunately, my family was able to make it work for me to fly into Portland instead of Pasco, which helped cut down the costs. I flew into Portland the Friday before Christmas and was picked up by my Grammy. My Grampy is the interim head basketball coach at Hermiston High and they just happened to have a tournament in Portland that weekend. So my Grammy and I spent the afternoon together, getting lunch downtown with my Uncle Jay and walking around Powell’s book store. Powell’s has multiple floors, covering an entire city block and is an iconic part of  Portland. My Grammy is a big reader like me — we are always sharing suggestions back and forth — so it was really fun to spend that time with her discussing books, authors and exploring Powell’s. That evening we went to the basketball game, where I freaked out just a little when I realized I had babysat a few of the players — it’s guess its easy to forget that little kids can grow up quite a bit in 6 to 7 years. After the game we made the late night 2.5 hour trip home to Hermiston.

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As always my time at home was really busy and packed full of my favorite people. My Dad had his knee replaced at the beginning of December and was still limited in what he could and how much he could be out and about, so I spent a lot of time at home with him, taking him to PT and on a few outings, which always was a bit entertaining. It also meant that his truck was all mine for the week 🙂 I hung out at the flower shop and tried to stay out of the way (mostly), spent a few evenings catching up with my girlfriends and spent an afternoon shopping and catching up just with my sister. Josh and Sonia, my uncle and his fiance, just built a house and were just given the keys at the beginning of the week, so the rest of my week was spent helping them get everything moved in (or visiting while they worked) so that we could celebrate Christmas in their place. We did take a break though to watch the new Star Wars movie. Growing up, Josh babysat my sister and I in the summers and to say that we watched a lot of Star Wars is putting it lightly. I had texted Josh weeks before telling him that he better wait for me to go it, and I think we all but embarrassed Sonia by how excited we were.

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This is also where I should probably add the only really bad part about my vacation. To go into details about HOW, its easier to describe using my hands, but the story is that I burned the outside of my right hand pretty bad with the curling iron wand. The area is about the size of a half dollar coin and well friends, IT REALLY FREAKING HURT. The first day it took me about 5 hours before I could stand to take it off the ice pack and I cried again the first time we put Neosporin on it, which is a bit out of character for me. It’s healing pretty well now, (evident by the insane itch) and going to leave me with a pretty good scar, which just aren’t nearly as cool as they were when I was a kid.

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Christmas was laid back and wonderful. It was fun to celebrate in a new place, and their home is really beautiful! We ate my Dad, Grammy and sister’s delicious food, played a few hysterical rounds of the game HeadBanz and watched the movie Inside Out. The next day I traveled back to Portland with my Uncle Jay and Aunt Michelle, so that I could catch a red eye out of Portland Saturday night. It worked out perfectly though because the Trailblazers were playing the Cavs and my Uncle and I were able sit in my Grampy’s seats and watch the game before I had to go to the airport. I don’t really like Lebron James, but I still wanted to see him play in person. The Blazers had a HUGE game though, and James underwhelmed.

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This was the first red eye that I ever took, and if you asked me how it was just based on the first flight I would have said it was great! I got a row to myself and was actually able to sleep the whole time. My connection in Minneapolis went fine and I thought from there it would be smooth sailing and I would be home and crawling into my bed for a long nap before noon eastern time. Long story short, that didn’t happen. Morning fog in D.C. didn’t allow us to land and after an extra hour in the air they diverted us to Baltimore and after MANY setbacks I was finally on a shuttle bus to D.C. and home before 5 pm.

My Christmas vacation was filled with fun and love, and I am always so thankful that I continue to get to be home with my family and that we can spend it all together.

Cheers!

Creativity and Organization

Office Winter Décor

When I first moved into my own office and decorated for fall (see that post here), I really only did so because fall is my favorite season and I thought the decorations would go well with the burlap wreath I had just made. But then my co-workers asked if I planned on switching it out for each holiday or season, and I suddenly realized I had somewhat unintentionally committed .

I don’t mind though, I mean decorated and doing things like this are kind of in my blood. Plus, when people come off the elevator into our lobby they can see straight into my office so I like that they have something nice to see.

I decided though that planning to change things out for each holiday just wasn’t practical, so for the most part, I have settled on the seasons.

I STILL haven’t finished organizing my shelf or hanging up some of my regular stuff, but winter has officially arrived in my office!

To make my decorations last through February I tried to focus on the winter season instead of just the holidays. For being 25 years old I have a bit of an obsession with the character Olaf from Frozen. I would like to clarify though, that I did not buy him for myself. Last year before Christmas, I kept sending pictures to my Mom of all of the giant stuffed Olaf’s I saw in the store or mentioned on Facebook, and joked that it was too bad that I was WAY too old to have one. So, of course this more practical sized Olaf found his way to my stocking. Anyway, after brainstorming what kind of theme I wanted to go with for my decorations, snowmen, blues and golds just seemed like the perfect fit.

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This display sits on one corner of my U-shaped desk. The table top tree and the couple of snowmen ornaments are actually mine from when I was a kid. (Thanks for sending them Mom!) The ball ornaments that you see here, as well as in the picture below in the terrarium and the wreath are all from Target. The tree skirt is actually a  small table runner from, also from Target. I originally bought the gold sticks as ornaments, but they overwhelmed the little tree so I stole the mason jar that I stash my makeup brushes in at home, and problem solved!

I realize the tree is still more of a Christmas decoration so I’ll have to eventually decide if it is going to come down much sooner than everything else.

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This display sits on top of my bookshelf. The little evergreen “tree” is from Trader Joes (only $4!) and the sign is from Target (only $3!) The glass terrarium is from Michael’s, along with the smaller fillers. After growing up in a flower shop I should have known better than to buy so many things covered in glitter. I guess for some reason I didn’t think these silks would shed as much. But no, they did. MY OFFICE WAS COVERED. It’s a good thing I’m a pro at cleaning it up and that’s not something you typically get fired for.

Cheers.