Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Recap

When 2010 was drawing to a close, I thought that 2011 would be a thousand times better than the year we were leaving. 2010 was a tough one for my family, and losing my father. 2011 was supposed to be the year that I got beyond that tragedy and started to move on. I guess I can say that I did do that, to an extent. I know that my heart will always ache a little bit when I think of my dad, and that’s ok.

I’ve seen a bunch of other bloggers review the past year with various pictures and links to their previous posts and I thought that would be a nice thing to leave you all with before I head to Disney World tomorrow with the family for a New Year’s celebration trip.


A. Summer palace (47)

We rang in the New Year in a hotel room in Spain, before heading back to the states for the year ahead.


I hung out with the law school kids a lot, watching the Super Bowl and cheering on the law school intramural teams with my favorite number 42 leading the pack!


I gave up soda for Lent. Little did I know that in a few months, I wouldn’t be drinking regular soda due to the Weight Watchers program and wouldn’t miss it a bit.


The highlight of this month? Faith Hill in concert. Oh my goodness, I was in love! I want to attend more concerts this year but the budget may not allow me to. Why are concert tickets so expensive?

Another highlight? Just another reason why I don’t like to answer the phone. Mom was ok but we had a bit of a scare.


B's Wedding 02

May was the month of weddings – number one that I coordinated, number two that we attended, and number three that I coordinated. Add a few graduations in there and it was a month of traveling!


I showed my OCD about organized and redid my closet on a random weeknight. I wouldn’t recommend it.

We also marked the one year mark since my father’s death. That was a toughie.


This was a month of adventures to Branson and the ER, adventures in finding (or not finding) a safe deposit box key, adventures in Cardinals baseball games, and of course, adventures with a quesadilla maker.



I came clean about my high school obsession with mums, along with the rest of Texas high schools. If you’re not from the South, please go read about this one and tell me I’m not crazy!



We spent my 28th birthday in the most magical place on Earth and I was pretty much obsessed with the towel animals we were graced with each day in our hotel room at the Polynesian.

At the end of the month, I had to travel to KC to say goodbye to the sweetest grandmother a girl could have. It was another tough one.


Husband and I got to watch our beloved Cardinals WIN a World Series game, IN PERSON!


Given the recent intersections our lives have taken with death and dying, I spent a few days getting our affairs in order, because you never know.


First picture of us together

I’m up to installment six of Our Love Story and I’m loving the fact that I can relive our courtship here! We’re up to the “shopping for rings” part!

So 2011 was a pretty crazy one – I wonder what 2012 has in store for us?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fighting Weight

In my goals for 2012 posted last week, I mentioned that I’ve already lost 15 pounds on this thing called Weight Watchers. You may have heard of it?

When I went on the September Disney trip, I knew that I was coming back to a diet. More than that, it was a lifestyle change. I was going to start working out on a regular basis and I was signing up for Weight Watchers online. There was a discount code from our health insurance at work that saved me $10 on a three month subscription and I love me a coupon!

Katie at Loves of Life has been through an amazing transformation over the past year. Every time she would post a new blog with pictures of her skinny little self and talk about how she had done it with Weight Watchers, I was amazed. She has come so far and really has inspired lots of us in the blog world to get off our butts and work out.

After all, she has done all those 5Ks! I am not quite there yet, as running and I don’t really get along. At all. But I have high hopes! I am thinking about possibly maybe trying to consider running the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. Because let’s be honest, people. Running in Disney both onstage and offstage is the ONLY thing that would get me going for that kind of training. 13 miles?! Dear God, save me now. I don’t know if I could make it, but I know that running in Disney is supposed to be more fun because of the entertainment along the race course.

But because I’m going to be accountable for my actions and because Katie posted pictures of herself along the way, and because I want to give myself motivation to lose those last 10 pounds because I have met my first weight loss goal of 15 pounds lost, here I am on September 6….

2011.09.07 Before (2)2011.09.07 Before (4)

And here I am today (er, yesterday)…

2011.12.28 Progress (3)2011.12.28 Progress (6)

16 pounds down as of December 28.

I am starting to hear compliments from friends and co-workers who are noticing the weight I’ve lost and I have to admit, it feels good! I had to hit up Goodwill a few weeks ago to get a pair of grey and black pants so I could attend work without clothing falling off my hips. And um, that was pretty awesome. I’m trying to lose a few more pounds before going all out and buying a whole new wardrobe, but with Husband leaving for France in a few weeks, I can’t promise I won’t try to drown my sorrows in shopping. I’ll try to restrain myself.

It’s silly but I’m starting to internalize that saying “That doesn’t taste as good as skinny feels.” Now, I’m not sure that that applies to EVERYTHING, but it sure does help when we’re at Christmas dinner and I want another piece of the pumpkin gingerbread trifle. I say no because I don’t need it!

So yeah, we’re getting there. We’ve got a ways to go but it’s neat to see the transformation and know that it was ME who did it. I know it’s possible and it CAN be done.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Project Life 2012

Ok, enough stuff that brings you down. On to more fun things!

I have made the commitment, pulled the trigger, and taken the plunge. I’m going to take at least one picture each day during 2012 and will be combining those prints into Project Life. For those that don’t know, this is a way to capture those little moments in life that wouldn’t make it onto a big scrapbooking page in the grand scheme of things. I bought the Clementine edition for this daily experiment.

A few days after my Project Life arrived in the mail, I opened the Amber edition from my mother-in-law for Christmas! It looks like I’ll be catching up on all the old photos with that kit as well!

2011 Christmas (134)

So there’s a million different ways to use the kit, as they describe on the website. But I’m going to focus the Clementine edition on the daily picture and the Amber edition for the pictures from after our honeymoon up to present day. I hope they can all fit! I may have to break it down into multiple albums, but we shall see.

I’m really excited about breaking down my life into these snapshots of daily life. Since I decided to start scrapbooking after my wedding (as a way to expend my creative energies without a big party to plan and consume my life), I have struggled with the work that capturing the little things in life presented. Scrapbooking a vacation was way easier. I started out with a Disney scrapbook for my mother-in-law for her birthday and that was fun. And then I moved on to recording our honeymoon, which was really neat to relive that and remember what we did each day. But when I looked at my pictures from a random party or what have you, it felt weird doing an entire page for that. I left my crafting table full of scraps and my Cricut unused, much to my Husband’s annoyance. But I just couldn’t bring myself to work for hours on something that was just a page for a random day in my life, for some reason.

But Project Life? I think it’s a perfect fit. I can see the daily life, the ebbs and flows of what is going on right now, and that will give my kids and grandkids (hopefully) a look into what life was like in 2012. I would have LOVED to have something like this for my mom or my grandma. I’m hoping my future kids will think it’s neat! So. Project Life for the daily life and traditional scrapbooking for vacations. I have a plan and I’m going to execute it!

Has anyone else failed in scrapbooking, only to find something that helps them find their way again?

<I was not compensated for this post in any way. I just like the products!>

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Little Things That One Has to Deal With

What do you do when someone passes away?

You can give away his suits to Goodwill if no one else in the family can fit in them; you can refit his wedding ring into a necklace for his widow to wear; you can pass along his prized possessions to his nieces, nephews and children so they have something to remember him by.

But what about all those ties he wore to the bank every day for his working career? What do you do with all those things that meant something to him during his work day and holidays and other occasions that necessitated a tie? These are the types of things his daughter remembers him wearing to church, to taking his wife to Bass Hall to see the orchestra play, to see his kids graduate high school. It’s his uniform, of sorts. Giving them to Goodwill just seems odd, for some reason. It’s giving away all those memories that we would want to keep.

In our case, one tie went to my brother, along with the matching pocket square. He has a perfect suit that will the tie will set off nicely, and every time he wears it, he will think of his father and it will put a smile on his face. Another tie is going to my husband. It’s something classic and paisley, and something he wouldn’t buy for himself, but he needs in his wardrobe. I hope that when my husband is getting dressed one day in the future and needs a simple, not flashy but classy tie, he’ll pull this one out of his closet and smile as well, thinking of his father-in-law, who purchased it all those years ago. Oh the banks that this tie has visited, oh how many Sunday masses it has worshipped at, oh how many memories lie within a tie. If only those paisley swirls could speak…


Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in 2011

I’m still a little groggy from all the measuring, compiling, cooking, baking, assembling, transporting, heating, eating, wrapping, unwrapping, hugging and laughing that went on in the past few days. I haven’t enjoyed a Christmas this much in a while. It was definitely well deserved, I think, after the year that we had.

Mom brought her stockings from home so we could hang them all up on the, um, staircase.


Our tree was topped with Disney, of course. Thanks to Hubs for the idea!


And there wasn’t an inch to be found under the tree, either.


I got creative with the camera. I’m trying to learn all the different features and how this fancy DSLR thing works.


Then we got to the baking. We made pretzel hugs – please don’t make these if you are not ready to eat ALL of them. I didn’t get a picture after they finished with the pretzel and topped and smushed together but oh goodness, they are addicting. Be warned!


There were green beans to snap, party ryes to assemble and trifles to make!


Christmas Eve came together like a dream at Grandma’s house!


Midnight Mass at 10:30 pm was next and it was lovely as always. There’s something about to mass in the middle of the night to celebrate something so important to our faith that has always meant a lot to me.


The next morning, we opened presents by fireside!


Needless to say, everyone had fun opening gifts and there were lots of Ooos and ahhs and oh my goodness-es thrown around! But really, I was just happy sitting on my floor in the craft room, under the glow of the Christmas tree, surrounded by my immediate family – mom, brother and husband. It was a pretty awesome morning.

But once that was done, we had another appointment at the in-laws! Mom and brother came with and we trucked out to the other suburb where we spent the rest of the day with Husband’s family.

More present opening and confusion by the adults on how the children’s toys go together!


In this family, even the grandpuppy gets presents on Christmas! Although I’m not sure if this was a present for Bandit the dog or Scrappy, our cousin!


Good. Moose got it figured out. Well, his dad did at least!


Got to start off the digital addiction young, right? My brother and my godson, with the exact same expression as they start into their devices.


As much fun as everyone else was having, I wasn’t feeling very well on Christmas. I picked up a cold along the way and was just kind of feeling gross. Husband was thoughtful enough to document my feelings.


But what made me feel a little bit better was the sweatshirts the family got for the trip down to Disney this upcoming week. Everyone has one with a number and their nickname on the back! They’re happy flight hoodies!


Do you have the Green Pickle tradition in your family? We do. And it is more often better to watch the craziness looking for the pickle on the tree than it is to participate! I watch from a safe distance, preferably on the couch with a glass of wine.


We never did find the silly thing, my MIL had to show us where it was! No one got the extra gift this year, anyway. But then it was just in time for more food! Traditional fare this time, but the best was my pumpkin gingerbread trifle. YUM.


Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year’s to you and yours! I hope 2012 brings you love and prosperity the whole year long.


Monday, December 19, 2011

What 2012 Has in Store For Us

I’m going to be a single woman for the first four months of January – and I’m kind of excited about it! Sort of.

In Husband’s journey to his JD/MBA, the opportunity to study European Law in France during one of his law semesters popped up. He mentioned it to me two years ago, I think, in the middle of 1L. The program would set him apart from his fellow law students nicely, and he would be able to take the classes in French, thereby increasing his knowledge of the language and the law in another country that might help him get a job after graduation, possibly in Europe! These are wins, people.

Cut to today, when we are actually preparing for him to leave for three months in France. Paris, to be exact. He’s studying a local university for that time, with hopes for an internship after the classes end. I’m trying to figure out how to get over there and visit him, believe you me.

I know many families deal with long separations, as some of my cousins in the military have had to deal with for much longer than three months. But to be fair, he could be gone for as long as seven months with only two weeks’ break in the middle of that, should he get the internship. That’s a long time!

So yes, I’m excited about being on my own for a bit of 2012. It’s going to be hard to be away from him. When he studied in Hong Kong last year for his MBA and that was only for two weeks. By the end of that time, it was starting to get tough. I was so happy when I picked him up from the airport, even though he was crazy exhausted. I can only imagine how happy I’ll be when he comes home from this long trip.

Please remind me of this excited to be on my own bit when I’m complaining in the middle of March that there’s no one to snuggle with as I fall asleep, no one to take out the trash except for me, no one to go on an impromptu date with all those coupons I have for a night out, no one to come home to. Come to think of it, Husband may come home and find a cat in his place!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bringing This Year to a Close

I mentioned a few days ago about my proposed break in the smart phone addiction. Here’s hoping the mindless checking of my email will be able to subside soon, if I just concentrate on not obsessively hitting that refresh button. Given that we only have 19 days left in 2011 (19 days?! Where the heck did 2011 go?! Wasn’t I just ringing in the New Year in Europe?), I figured I’d look forward to 2012 and lay out some New Year’s resolutions.

  1. Project Life – thanks to Sonya at A Day in the Life, I’m SO excited to scrapbook my daily life. Because scrapbooking the traditional way was just NOT working for me. So I’m going to take a picture a day in 2012 which will be a great way to show my dear husband how I spent my time while he was studying international law in Paris. More to come on that later.
  2. To curb my digital obsession and to live more in the immediate moment.
  3. Scrapbooking – seriously, I’m going to start my Disney trip scrapbooks. I printed all 1,000 pictures from five different trips and I need to start laying them out. I may have to buy some additional paper before doing so, but the goal is to start laying them out so I can get going on this silly project!

I’m NOT putting on this list the traditional “lose some weight” because guess what? I’ve already lost 15 pounds since early September. Seriously. Yay for Weight Watchers! It really does work. Thanks to Katie at Loves of Life for her amazing inspiration because it was watching her weight loss journey that forced me to get off my butt and MAKE TIME FOR ME. I’ve forced myself to work out every other day and have been doing that pretty consistently for the past few weeks. And it’s actually working! 10 more pounds to go for the goal weight, so I guess a continuation of the weight loss should be on the list too. I’ll post pictures soon when I can actually take a minute to find my camera and take some!

So that’s how I plan to make my way through 2012. It’ll be a great one!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Double Take

Today at Mass, the priest mentioned something in passing that really stuck with me.

He said that in the past ten years or so, he has seen more and more of a switch in the front of Christmas cards – they went from pictures of the Holy Family to pictures of ourselves.

We talk about putting the “Christ” back in Christmas – and how to keep that central in these holiday times. At work, when I am supposed to say Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas, it irks me. I specifically give the later greeting whenever I can because I think it’s important.

So what the priest said about our Christmas cards stuck with me. Because guess what has always been on the front of the cards I send out each December? A picture of me and husband. I always make it a point to have a card that says Merry Christmas rather than Happy Holidays or Wishing You a something or another because that seems to be important. But putting myself on the card has always made sense.

And it just made me think. Why do I feel the need to have myself on the cards? Or kids on the cards when children make their way into our lives? It definitely makes one think, doesn’t it?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hold the Phone! Literally.


“Be with the friends who are here!”

I’m a bit addicted to my iPhone. If you’ve ever met me, or interacted with me on Twitter or Facebook, you know how quickly I respond to those things. I think it’s because the phone is ALWAYS in my hand. Just ask my husband.

I used to think he was just overreacting, that he just HAPPENED to look at me when I was checking my email, but that EVERY OTHER MOMENT I wasn’t looking at its fascinatingly bright little screen.

Recently, I’m starting to believe he’s right. I am addicted. I’m on the thing ALL THE TIME. If there’s that little red bubble on one of the icons, I gotta check it so it can be cleared. I don’t have push notifications on my email to save battery, so I’m obsessively refreshing the email client to see if anyone else had responded to me. Again, I have a problem!

I think for the new year, I need to divorce myself from this crazy addition. Now I’m not doing anything extreme like giving it up, but I am going to start thinking twice before I randomly pick up my phone. I’ll check Twitter and Facebook when I’m in the bathroom rather than when I’m sitting next to my husband. I am going to be truly present in every situation, rather than completely absorbed by my electronic device.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Remembered to Put Out My Shoe!

Did you remember to put out your shoe this morning?

I did!

And this is what was in my shoe when I came home today…

St Nick 1

Ever since I can remember, December 6 was always a fun day. We would leave out our shoe for St. Nicklaus to come by and fill it with goodies. As you can see from the picture above, I should have picked a bigger shoe! I would have gotten more stuff!

St Nick 2,JPG

St. Nick brought me adorable slippers with PENGUINS on them! Plus my favorite Wonka scrumdiddlyumptious bar and hazelnut coffee. YUM. The food is not on my Weight Watchers diet, but I can probably sneak a few bites here and there.

Sidenote: when I say that St. Nick filled my shoe with goodies, I really mean my awesome husband. He surprised me with the fun stuff when I got home from a long day at work. Ain’t he a sweetie?

Monday, December 5, 2011

And God Blessed the Broken Road, Part 6

To catch up, you can read Our Love Story here.

So we had the typical first date at the on-campus Mexican restaurant. And it was awesome. That was in early October, 2005. What happened next was simply a whirlwind.

We hung out almost every night of the week, studying together over lattes, going to campus activities, doing the typical senior in college while dating thing. He met my friends.

First picture of us together

This is our first picture together! Weren’t we babies?!

October passed, and then into November, we had to begin to deal with holidays. He stayed in St. Louis with his family for Thanksgiving, when I went home to Texas to tell my parents about this amazing new guy I met. They were happy and eager to meet him. November also had a lot of rehearsals for me, as I was cast in a studio show that would open in December. It would be the first time that future-husband would see me act, which was kind of cool [I say that, but he remembers seeing me act way back in our freshman year, I think! So not technically the first, but the first that I would remember].

My mom flew in to see my show, and so he got to meet one of the parental units. She loved him, and I checked off that one from the checklist of good things to have in a guy – the parents like him! At some point this month, future-husband suggested I go with him to Disney World for the New Year’s holiday. Unfortunately, I had foot surgery scheduled for that same time period back home and the idea of being pushed around the World in a wheelchair with a broken foot didn’t really sound like my idea of a vacation. This was before I was such a Disney fan as I am now. In fact, if I had agreed and went with him on that vacation, we may have even had our wedding/honeymoon there in the World, because the minute I got there I fell in love!

December was also the time we started to shop for rings. Only two months in, we knew it was right. We had “the talk” and said I love you a few weeks before and the idea that spending the rest of our lives together just made perfect sense to both of us. So a-ring shopping we went!

To be continued…

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A December Weekend in iPhone Pictures

It seems like I’ve had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. But after seeing a Christmas review on Thursday night and then all this wonderful holiday activities this weekend, I am fully in Christmas-mode!


Saturday morning was the annual cookie walk in historic Kimmswick! It’s a fun little town with adorable shops and a great restaurant! We paid $15 to get a cookbook and a cookie at each one of 30 shops around the town, like the one below. Who doesn’t want a cookie from the Cozy Cottage? Smile

December 2

When we got to town and picked up our cookie bag, we put in our name at the Blue Owl – and two hours later, we were able to be seated for lunch and of course, pie!!! We liked their pie even before Oprah picked it for her magazine.

December 3

December 10

“What if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?” This question keeps me up at night.

December 11

I love this way of displaying a street number on the front porch! I think I posted this same design last year but I really like it. So cute!


Sunday afternoon was our tree shopping date! Hubs and I headed to Ted Drewes for some frozen custard and awesome tree pickings.

December 5

This was the one! Just the right height for the apartment ceiling and bushy but not too poofy. Perfect!

December 6

We also bought a real wreath for the front door, to which I added the pinecones and bow from the real wreath we bought a few years ago. It saved us about $15 to buy an undecorated one this time around!

December 7

Finally, the tree! Hubs had the great idea of adding our lit Mickey head that usually goes in our front window to the top of the tree this year. It brings our Disney fandom to the forefront, most definitely!

You may notice the multi-colored lights this year. They’re new LED strands that we bought at Target today. Hubs requested the new colored ones because that’s what he remembers as tradition from his childhood. In my usual Jessica-ness and barreling through without asking questions, we had been using a fake tree with white lights for years because that’s what my family’s tradition was. I never really asked Husband which kind of tree/lights he would like to have. So we’re incorporating his family’s traditions this year. I really should have asked sooner!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Something’s Wrong with This Photo



Can you tell what it is?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s a photo book based on the trip to Spain last Christmas.

Do you see the date clearly printed on the front of the book?

That would be this year. Not last year. When the trip happened.

UGH. Anyone have a good Shutterfly code so I can get it reprinted? (Sorry, Mom. Looks like I wasted the free code you gave me!)

And that just goes to show you that THREE proofreaders are sometimes not enough.