Pictorial Year End Review

It's that time of year when we all get a little reflective about our lives. I think that is part of what makes this time of year so magical. Some people go through post-holiday depression, but I never have. I love the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. I love the feeling of looking both behind and ahead. I love being slighty reminiscent of the wonderful things that have made me smile throughout the year. I also love the anticipation of looking ahead toward the things that have yet to make me smile. I was blessed during 2009 with a lot of things to smile about. Here are some of my favs...

These pictures were taken about 6 months prior to our wedding.  I love how our happiness and the eager anticipation we felt toward our upcoming nuptials is so obvious in these.

Plus, I just adore the backdrop of our downtown area. 

Here's my little guy on the edge of our boat.  Our dogs are like our children (if you hadn't noticed) and, we love to spend time on the water.  So, being on the lake with them this summer brought us many days of joy.  Plus, I like this picture because he looks like he's smiling back at me.

The day of our wedding is a fairy tale moment in my life that I will always cherish.  We decided to see each other before the ceremony to take some pictures and just be together for a few moments.  Here, I am walking toward him with his back turned to me and we are about to see each other for the first time in our wedding attire.  Thanks to Elizabeth Taylor and her beautiful home, The Woodward, for making our day perfect.

This next string of photos is probably some of my all time favorite.  Two weeks after our wedding, my parents hosted a reception for us in my hometown.  What I didn't know is that my three best friends, and attendants in the wedding, spent the night after our wedding planning a surprise for me.  My two out-of-town friends, one in Kansas and one in Maryland, flew to North Carolina for the weekend to surprise me, and all this was made possible by the one that lived in NC.  The pictures you are about to see perfectly captured the immense joy and excitement I felt (plus, some jumping and screaming) when I realized they were there.  A huge thank you to my friend Amy Kelly for doing an amazing job capturing this moment, as well as the rest of the evening. 

Those are extremely candid shots that I will always love. I was and still am truly touched that they made the trip on such short notice and that my BFF in NC was gracious enough to open her home for them to have somewhere to stay.  I have some of the greatest friends and family that any one girl could ask for and I love them more than they know.

To sum up, I'll leave you with this shot.  I took this photo from the balcony of our room on our honeymoon cruise.  We would sit on the balcony every afternoon and watch the sunset as the ship pulled away from the port.  We were so relaxed and happy that week.  Here's to another year full of memories like these. 


Good Reads

I have found that the first day back to work after a long holiday weekend is particularly difficult.  My creative energy dies a little and I'm not nearly as sharp as usual. Today was no different. With the wonderful 4 day weekend I just enjoyed, I knew Monday was going to hurt. Fortunately there were not too many people in the office and being one of only two analysts in the department for the week, I had my fair share of work to keep me busy. Here and there for a little pick-me-up, however, I enjoyed some cute reads and it is slowly getting the creative juices flowing again. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be back to my own original posts, but to end the day today I'll leave you with some of the reading that I enjoyed periodically throughout my day.
  • If you don't read any of the other links, you MUST read about this little Christmas Eve miracle.  I love this post, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.
  • So excited about the new SATC sequel!  Also a long time fan of the Golden Girls.  But, never noticed the similarities between the two.  If you are a fan of either, it's a must read.
  • And, last but not least, I'll put in a plug for my newest collaboration.  Joe and I had a blast working on our new blog yesterday.  We've always said we needed our own show, we've decided to blog our way to Oprah's open spot! 


PS - The hubbie and I are hosting (what is turning into) our annual New Year's Eve dinner party for the 3rd year in a row.  Stay tuned as I work on the menu and decor for the evening.  It is sure to be a good time!


A Little End of Year Self-Reflection

I was reading Joe's blog earlier this afternoon and it got me thinking a little bit about the year I have had and what I want going forward.  Every year about this time, I sit down and write out a list of goals and timelines for the upcoming year.  However, I honestly don't think I could ask anymore from 2009 which means 2010 has a lot of work to do to live up to the same standards.  In case you weren't around for the entire year, here's the run down in as few words as possible. 

January - entered 2nd semester of the Washburn MBA program
February - my BFF successfully got his lapband and changed his life completely (which I have been so blessed to be able to be a part of)
May - completed 2nd semester of MBA program, still with 4.0
July - made a career change, which I couldn't be more happy with
August - completed 1st upper level class in MBA program, still with 4.0
September - entered 4th semester in MBA; flew home to celebrate upcoming nuptials with friends and family
October - married the BEST man in the entire world!
November - went on the BEST honeymoon ever!
December - celebrated my husband's 31st birthday, celebrated my 26th birthday, finished my 4th semester in MBA program with an A and B and overall GPA 3.7 (not too bad for getting married during the same semester)

Like I said, 2009 has been about as good a year as I could have ever imagined, which means 2010 has high standards to meet.  So, I guess instead of looking back to set goals it is best to just look forward.  For the new year, I want only to continue learning about myself and striving to be the best I can be.  I am still learning how to be a good wife.  I am still learning in my new job.  I am still learning how to be a good daughter from 1000 miles away.  I am still learning how to be a faithful servant.  I am still learning how to be a good BFF.  In short, I am still learning how to do a lot of things, so I guess 2010 will be a good year to work on a little fine tuning. 

2010, look out... I am headed your way!

White Christmas

Earlier this month I shared my fascination and long time love of snow with you.  So, it should come as no surprise that I am an extremely happy girl right now as we, in the midwest, were fortunate enough to receive 8-10 inches of snow over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Receiving this much snow has left us virtually home-ridden for the last couple of days - which I have not minded at all.  The farthest we have been in the last 72 hours is to the in-law's house, 15 minutes away.  Gasp!  No Starbucks since Wednesday!  Even with the snow shoveling (my first time), lack of Starbucks, and wearing ski apparel everywhere, I will say that Christmas felt just a wee bit more magical with the snow all around.  

I hope everyone had a very happy holidays and spent it with the ones you love.  Here's some highlights from our first Christmas. 

We loaded up all of our gifts for the fam and headed over on Christmas Eve to open presents with Cory's family.  Opening presents on Christmas Eve has been a family tradition for them for a long time.

Look at that wrap job.  What talent! 

When we got home that night, everyone at our house got to open one present, too.  That has been a long standing family tradition for my family. 

Our first  gift exchange.  We set a $50 limit on gifts for each other this year since we have received so many wedding presents in the last 3 months.  For Cory: a card game, Battle of the Sexes.  For me:  nail polish remover (there is a funny story behind that but I just don't have the time)

We even gave the dogs a present.  But, they had to open it first.

One was a bit more persistent than the other. 

But, in the end... success for both!

So with the snow still gently falling and everyone satisfied with their one gift, we decided to hit the sack so that Santa could come and leave a few more.  On Christmas morning, however, instead of opening presents right away we decided to first prepare a feast of a breakfast for everyone in the house.  And, you're right if you guessed that the dogs didn't miss out on this either.  Even our cat decided to join in on the action. 

Gourmet pet feast a la Mitchell kitchen for the dogs & cat

And bacon, egg & cheese on a baguette for us! YUM!

So, with full bellies and gifts galore...

We left the dogs to nap while we journeyed back out into the snow to the 'rents house to spread some Christmas cheer!

All in all, I'd have to give this Christmas an A+.  The perfect combination of time spent with the ones that I love, good food, and of course, the snow! 


Domestic Goddess

I've never really been what you would consider saavy when it comes to anything dealing with a kitchen.  I mean, we are talking about a person who not once, not twice, but three (or more) times has left the cardboard on the bottom of a frozen pizza when placing it in the oven.  However, since my husband and I got married almost three months ago we have come to possess A LOT of cool gadgets for the kitchen.  As a result, I find myself wanting to bake, cook and entertain more now than I did previously.  Take for example this very cool Kitchen Aid stand mixer we received as a wedding gift that I LOVE. 

With a cool gismo like this, how could I not help but want to better refine my domestic skills?  So, with Christmas being right around the corner I decided that tonight I would break out my new gadget and try my hand at a little baking.  My first stop was Food Network.com where I found a biscotti recipe that looked too good to pass up.  With a few modifications I whipped up a pretty tasty little treat.  See for yourself!

While the recipe calls only for anise extract, I incorporated a few goodies of my own. In addition to almond slices and semi-sweet chocolate chips I also used a splash of vanilla extract.

And, for my own finishing touch I decided to melt some of the extra chocolate chips and dip the edges of the biscottis into the chocolate.  YUM!

This was so much fun that I'm thinking I could do this more often!  Within no time I will become a domestic goddess for sure ;)
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