Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review

2013 what a year this has been.  365 days ago I could never have told you what this year would hold.

In 2013 I:
  • Accepted a new job (technically 2)
  • learned how to swim against the stream
  • pushed myself through what I know now was some serious depression
  • lost 40 lbs (and found a few of them to return)
  • took a legit photography class
  • celebrated my 5 year cancerversary
  • climbed Hawksbill Peak
  • discovered the Boxley Valley
  • toured the nation's capital
  • watched fireworks over the Washington Monument on July 4th
  • watched my sister get engaged
  • ate dinner to the tune of 2 San Diego sunsets
  • developed a new item for my etsy store
  • rediscovered my love to write
  • was reminded what community feels like
  • showed at a craft fair
  • experienced heartbreak
  • found my tribe
  • survived a serious wreck
  • bought a new car (see above)
  • invested in a company
  • poured my life experience into another
  • nurtured old friendships
  • developed new ones
  • became a card carrying Starbucks Gold card member
  • carried the same purse for 1 full year
  • found my place of ministry and put down roots
  • discovered and wondered at the beauty of a Northwest Arkansas Fall
  • learned how feeling like a "has been" is different from a "newbie"
  • cried a lot, prayed more and found restoration
  • experienced grace
  • learned that living in obedience and surrender is the only place I want to be
Guess its been a pretty good year after all.  Yes, I've learned a lot.  No I would not want to relive the last 365, but I'm glad I did and my commitment in 2014 is to stay true to discovering the road in front of me, holding my head high for what I've become and using those gifts to pour into others.  Here's to 2014 and all that it will hold!  Some days surviving is all I can do, but I'm ready to THRIVE!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

dip dip horray - blog hop

I'm so excited to be participating in the Snack Attack Blog Hop today!  (yes, the one I mentioned yesterday!).  I'm hanging out over at A Reasonable Adventurer with my friend Dana's peeps.  But, you must hang here for a few minutes before you chex out my post! (teaser - hee hee). 

Ashley has become a great friend in Northwest Arkansas.  She is the co-chair of our Relay For Life event in Carroll County (Eureka Springs area for you out of towners) and I've come to just love the chats we share.  Ashley is super committed to the fight against cancer, shares my love to organize and plan ahead and is just super fun.  She started a blog earlier this year to transparently share her journey of life and the lessons that God is teaching her every day.  Love this chick....and I'm even more excited about these recipes she is sharing.  You know I love me some chip and dips.  Seriously invite me over for dip and chips and you have my heart any day!

I love Dips, I think they are the perfect snack food, and what better to bring to your holiday party than a dip! Two favorites of mine are called “Loaded Ranch Dip” and “Cholesterol Dip” (I don’t know where this one got its name). Let me just say they are BOTH so good! Now I’m sure you don’t want to eat a lot of either of these in one sitting, that’s why I usually take them to a party. I also like the fact that they are easy-pesy!
Loaded Ranch Dip

You’ll need:
1 16 oz container of sour cream
1 package ranch dip mix
1 package real bacon bits (this is usually next to the ranch dip mixes at Wal-Mart)
½ -1 cup of finely grated cheddar cheese (I say ½ -1 because it’s your preference, more or less, you choose)

Mix everything together and serve with chips, crackers, on top of soup, or even as a baked potato topping!

TIP: This recipe is so easy to double if you’re going to have a larger crowd!

Cholesterol Dip

You’ll need:
2 8 oz Packages of Cream cheese (softened works the best)
1 package breakfast sausage
2 cans Rotel 

Cook the Sausage until done and drain off the excess grease.

Add the Rotel and cream cheese to the skillet and heat until the cream cheese is completely melted.

Mix well and serve warm with tortilla or corn chips.

TIPS: I usually puree the Rotel so that it’s not chunky (I don’t like chunks).  If you like a spicier version of this dip use Hot Breakfast Sausage and Hot Rotel. **Warning it makes it really spicy** 

Just a couple of dips that I love and get compliments on EVERYTIME I make them! Enjoy!!

Ashley - normally hanging out over at My Crazy Life

Make sure you stop by the other gals participating with us and if you have a snack you are making, feel free to link it up to our blog hop listing!

Oh and Chex out my post over at A Reasonable Adventurer!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Snack Attack Blog Hop

Tomorrow, I will be hosting a blog hop.  That's right some of my favorite blogs all right here in one place.  But, we are all suffering from a SNACK ATTACK!

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What a fun time we will have.  Everyone is posting their snack ideas for their New Year's parties next week.  Since everyone will be getting their grocery list together tomorrow, we thought it would be a perfect day to throw out some new ideas.

Guess who is participating.  Ok, just read the list below instead!
I know right!

Such a fun group of chicks and who knows what kind of party we will all have!  Whatever you do, come back tomorrow and see all the posts linked up!  And, if you didn't participate but have something to add, you are welcome to link up a snack recipe below.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Best gift giver

Now that Christmas is over I can make it official. My sister gave the best gifts this year!  The last couple year's we've found it hard and hard to buy for each other.  What we get we didn't really "need" we put it on a list because we knew someone would ask.  And, as time would have it, I really didn't have a list of any anything real.  Mom would ask and I'd say I wanted money to give my blog a facelift or some perfume, but really I didn't want anything.  I know that's not helpful to those who are trying to buy a gift, but its where I was.  So, my sister in the midst of all he wedding planning still found time to be creative and most importantly...thoughtful.
She wrote me a poem (which is her ultimate way to show she loves you); her own written words.  But, not just any words. Words written just for me.  And, tied to it.  She constructed for me a gift card wallet tied to the following 4 words -
  • Peace - Sonic GC - its the simple things that make us happy
  • Wish - $25 debit card for after Christmas shopping "so a part of me will be with you" since she will be on her honeymoon
  • Joy - McDonalds Arch Card - Snack time...sweet tea, sweet treat
  • Merry - Dollar Tree - there's something for everyone. 
From a "dollar" perspective its probably one of the bigger gifts she's given me.  From a creative perspective, I'll treasure it!  From a thoughtful perspective, its 2nd only to the gift below!
#1 gift of the year was this little gem.  She handed me a big gift bag.  You know the kind that can hide a lamp a sleeping bag and for sure a toddler.  It had all this tissue paper in the top.  When I pulled it out there was a STOP sign that told me to turn the paper over and read first.  I was sitting there quietly reading what it said when everyone said "read it outloud".  since I was already tearing up, it did the best I could to read it aloud. 
A bigpittstop poem?  Well, I've never!  But, she did...
Inside the bag was a big roll of bubble wrap.  When I pulled out the bubble wrap she had taped $50 to a string and made a "web" out of it.  Seriously, she took the time to tape a string to 50 $1 bills.  It was exactly what I wanted done just her way.  Love how her mind works and that rather than being her co-conspirator, I got to be the recipient!   
Then to top I all off, she gave us our stocking in this:
And, the "from" tab at the top had their school pictures taped to it.  Love this girl. 
Lesson learned this year - "be thoughtful" and "don't give more stuff" 
So, now I need to pieces of feedback.  Who should I look at to do my blog facelift?  What was the best gift your received this year?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

wedding recap

Well, I know its not a surprise, but my baby sister got married this weekend.  It was a perfect weekend.  I'll admit that many lists went into the making of this perfect day (you know like the lists of lists kind).  And, like them or not, it really went off without a hitch.  Only 3 minor things.  There was more candy hiding under the cake table when we thought it was all out, half of the plates didn't come in the mail until Sunday morning and she sprinted down the wrong aisle after the wedding.  If that's all we can note, then it was a perfect day!  One thing is for sure, she LOVES that boy. 

My mom, dad and sis have worked so hard (with all my bossing from a distance) and had everything together.  So much so that we had nothing to do on Wednesday so everyone got to do their own thing - mom cooked more sweets, I played with my friends, Maresa surprised Zak at his school and dad did whatever he wanted to.

We had many amazing friends who made everything happen and helped us with every detail.  It was such a worship experience and everything my totally, completely in-love, little love bird sister could have wanted.  Enjoy some special pictures. of our great weekend!  Not to worry, we are washing table cloths and unpacking centerpieces and the little love birds are celebrating Christmas on a big boat!  Feliz Navidad...

 (no, we didn't make the food, but I did do the floral arrangements.  Just wouldn't be a party without the personal touch!  And, my dad did the ceremony.  Our pastor from our home church shared some precious personal words before my dad gave her away.  It was the perfect touch.)

A day we have dreamed of for 28 years.  Talked about in our sheet forts and late night slumber parties.  Man how I love being a big sister!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent 2013 - link up

One of the things I love most about this time of year is the reminder of the "Why"?  Christmas brings the hope, the reminder of life and the reconnection to who we really are at the core of our being.  One of the ways that I get back to that place is Advent. 

Since I don't have kiddos at my house that process looks very much more "grown-up" than the way many celebrate, but that time will come.  So, for now I gather close.  I light a few candles to illuminate and I read, reflect and remember. 

This year to help me stay on track I ordered a couple books -
One I added to my wish list and now I wish I had was
Some apps I found helpful -
  • Advent Daily Devotions - produced by Saddleback Church Retreat Ministry it is designed to "prepare your heart for Christmas".  Each day includes a passage, scripture reflection and prayer. 
  • The Expected One - this is put out by LifeWay Press and is designed as a family activity, it even has suggested songs and links up to your iTunes account to purchase them if you don't already have them.  Its designed to facilitate family conversation and ties into the Gospel Project curriculum the children are doing in Sunday School, including color pages, concentration and jigsaw puzzles.  Great way to move the family together through the modern conveniences of our electronic devices!
  • The You Version Bible App had several reading plans.  Several of my friends did the "She Reads" plan focusing on Emmanuel.  Its great because you just see one day at a time.  So its not overwhelming if you miss a day along the way.  Mandisa also had a plan and there are some focused on singing through the holidays, the stories behind many popular carols and the traditions we celebrate.  Some stretch the full 29 day season and some are only 5 days.  You can find the plan that fits your time and your area of reflection this holiday.
One reason I love celebrating Advent is I love dreaming and thinking about the characters standing around the manger.  What did that moment really look like from their perspective?  My mom has several nativity sets up this year and each one is different.  Some are hand painted and very realistic.  Some are plastic and some are ceramic and require lots of carful attention.  Some come with wooden stables and some sit on a pallet of snow.  But each one has the same characters. 

 A couple years ago, I painted a new nativity for my mom. I really overstepped my bounds on this one, but as I painted each little character, I was caught with the way they cast their eyes.  "Wonder" and "reverence" is the only word that can come to mind when I think about the wide-eyed look that each on held.  And while I cant imagine casting a mold for a ceramic nativity set, I would like to believe that "wonder" and "awe" is what I would want to capture. I heard someone giving a lecture recently talk about her nativity set where all the character "lean" in towards the manger.  LOVE THAT!!!

Oh and I'm looking for a "stable" to give my dad for his snow village.  If a church is a must, a barn/stable is a must as well....a little white one to match all his other figures.  Its such a mental picture I have that I want to capture.  Even now, in the business of the "census" taking place in our city.  Do we have room for Him?  If he showed up here would we offer him the 21C museum hotel, the number 1 hotel in the world, or would we offer him the kataluma, the first floor of our home where field animals gather to keep warm? 

Link up your Advent post.  One you already did this season.  Show us how your family celebrates advent.  Do you do activities, have a wall calendar, evening readings, church celebrations? Anything goes, love to see how everyone handles the message and activity of this season!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

today is {her} day

Hard to believe that we've waited for this day for 28 years.  We've prayed for the man God would put into her life and today we get to see it all unfold.  So blessed to stand beside my baby sister as she marries Zak.  A man who loves Jesus as much as she does! 

We are so blessed!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Disney on ice

While I was home for Thanksgiving, we decided to try something new.  We have all hit the stage where we don't really need ANYTHING.  We are blessed more than we can express and what we what we usually just get as we go along.  I mean collectively our gift list included commentaries, ice cream scoop, trivet, fan, and perfume.  Seriously...those are not big needs.
Inspired by a new friend we decided to make memories and not messes!
With the help of Zak (my sister's fiancee and as of Saturday night, he'll be my new little brother) we got tickets to Disney on Ice.  Then once we arrived, because we were with Zak, we got full VIP treatment.  They upgraded our seats to rink side!  Literally, we were front and center and the show did not disappoint.  Brought back a lot of memories when we went as kids. 

Following dinner, we joined half of the metroplex at Stonebriar Mall and had a fantastic dinner together at Cheesecake Factory.  Hopefully we've started a new tradition for Martinez Christmas!
(yep, given away his baby this week - dad is performing the ceremony. 
It will be a special night for sure!)
(so lucky I get to make memories with this crew!)