Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lotsa Love in 2011

On top of having a wonderful first Christmas with my Hubster, love was booming for some of my nearest and dearest friends. I'm so excited for the news of a wedding in the future for three people who mean so much to me. Congratulations to them and their Christmas surprise engagements!
Emma & Andy
 A long-time running buddy from Bellarmine (although she was more of a pole vaulter I suppose...), I'm so excited for Emma! I've only met Andy a couple of times but he must be a stellar feller to keep up with the likes of Emma. She's the busiest person I know but never seems to miss out on anything from her work to organizing and managing Louisville's Girls on the Run program to simply hanging out with friends. She's an incredible person.
Russell & Krista
 A dear friend since the glory days of high school, Roose (as I like to call him) is one of the best guy friends I've ever had--always bringing a smile to my face. I think we once had a "Friends" promise to marry by age 35 (or something) if we were both single. Looks like we both "lucked" out of that one! :) I've not met Krista but no doubt she's found a guy to treat and love her like a princess.
Becky & Sam
Yes! Yes! And more YES! After nearly six years they're making it happen! Becky is one of my best friends from BU--my snuggle buddy for track meets and a roommate for 5 years. Through their undergrad to her PT doctorate and his med school, they've not wavered and now he's off to an unknown location to begin his residency and, just like the rest of his life, he doesn't want to go it alone so he asked Becky to be by his side for anything and everything!

While I'm at it... I might as well shout out to two other big engagements this year that made me oh-so-happy...
Joe & Annamarie
 #2 in The Man Clan to get hitched: Joe and Annamarie got engaged Thanksgiving weekend after over four years together...!!
Jo & MJ
And, of course, my cousin, roommate, childhood playmate and best friend Holly Jo got engaged this summer so we actually got to be engaged at the same time for a period. What special times in our lives we are getting to share!

Congratulations to all others who were blessed with wonderful love-filled events in 2011! Engagements, marriages and even just finding love! All you need is love......!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Doesn't Require Money

I'm sure it has always been this way (well, not always) but I have felt overwhelmed and very turned-off by so much of the lingo dealing with "holiday shopping," "the perfect gift." Now, as long as I have the money to do so, I love to give gifts. I'm not coming down on that. (I do think media and consumerism makes us feel like we should be shopping from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24 at midnight for every last deal and gift out there.) I just think it's important to remember all of the wonderful things to do during this time of year that don't require your checkbook and that this season has nothing to do with blowing your budget.

Here's my list of things to do to keep Christmas festive, yet simplified.

1. Decorate!
You don't have to buy extra fancy decorations, all new ones or any at all. There are plenty of ways to decorate or recycle old decorations in new ways. Just always keep your old decorations from year to year and over time you will get quite the collection!
I had extra blank stockings from a Christmas party in 2009
so I made stockings for all of our animals!
 2. Send Christmas cards!
Sure, there is some cost but send a few. It's an easy way to reach out to people and brighten their holiday. I'm still working on wedding thank yous so those are kind of my Christmas cards this year. (Luckily I did find some actual thank you cards that were holiday festive (at the Peddler's Mall of course!) but I definitely should have gotten more...

3. Enjoy FREE town events! 
Every town has Christmas events that are free. Bizaars, parades, Christmas tree lightings, plays, recitals...and so on! Even little old Liberty has a Christmas kick-off celebrations.

Windows in downtown Liberty were decorated on Dec. 1.
Tree lighting at the Court House.
Free popcorn from the Casey Bank!
4. Shop...for FUN.
Go on a shopping trip not because you NEED to, not because you're in a panic, but to just spend time with someone. I love being out in the hustle and bustle of the holidays because there is always music playing and everything is decorated so well! Often times you'll also get to enjoy wonderful smells, Christmas lights--maybe even see Santa out and about! For Jon and I, we have enjoyed time strolling about the Peddler's Malls together.
Jon and I got our angel at the Peddler's Mall for $7
this year and we plan to use it for the rest ofour lives!

5. Create and keep tradition!
It is often the little things that MAKE each individual's Christmas season special. Sure, presents are fun but we get presents for our birthday yet we don't think of our entire birth month as a celebratory time. Little traditions can make more than just Dec. 25 special during Christmas time.

Dec. 6 is St. Nicholas Day! As kids we always left out our
letters to Santa and usually had a small surprise in the
morning. Jon gave me a small surprise this year which
made the day fun!

6. Presents under the tree... :)
For me, there is just something about seeing pretty packages with bows and ribbons under the tree. We have quite a few presents under the tree for just the two of us...but that's because I find a reason to wrap up anything and everything...even if it's something Jon and I need and we bought together. I am making everything a Christmas present!

7. Listen to music & watch movies!
We all know the music and we all know the movies... And as long as you have a radio and a TV you can enjoy them all! Listen to the music in the car and let the movies play in the background during your day-to-day chores. 
8. Make Cookies!
Sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, sprinkles, icing... And maybe your thing isn't cookies. There are so many holiday sweets and treats: puppy chow, reindeer food, peanut brittle, pound cakes, pies, fudge... Homemade goodies is what it boils down to. In my house we made and decorated sugar cookies. Getting to join the Sweeneys and do it with kids makes it that much better!
 9.  Do something for someone else.
The nature of the season is doing for others. It's why we give presents really: a kind something we can do for others. However, there is something even more special about doing for others that you don't even know and that have never done anything special for you specifically. I hear great stories about wonderful things people do for those in need at this time of year. I hope one day I can be one of those people. For now, though, our family always volunteers a day to ring the Red Kettle Bells for the Salvation Army, which Jon and I did together this year. 

10. Make yourself FEEL festive 100% of the time!
I wear my hat everywhere... As long as I have a clean pair I wear my candy cane striped socks... I play Christmas music til I've made everyone sick of it... I burn Christmassy smelling candles.... I keep all of our lights plugged in... It sounds silly but it keeps me in the spirit and while people sort of shake their head at me, a part of them enjoys seeing someone my age THIS excited about Christmas!
Jon laughed at me for feeling the need to put on my socks,
hat and red sweats before beginning our tree decorating!
Enjoyed a girls' day out at Equus Run Winery in Midway, Ky and, yes, I wore
my red and white and Santa hat!
 10 more days of joyous remembrance of this blessed time of year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive...!!!!

I love coffee, but maybe even more than coffee itself, I love coffee shops!

Some people will laugh and say this springs from my true love of the movie Meet Joe Black and the beloved "coffee shop scene". And maybe it does, but that's beside the point. To me, there is something so comforting about a coffee shop, thus the reason it was important for me to acknowledge their importance in my life. And lo and behold, what do I get out of that? A cozy little coffee shop opened up the week after Thanksgiving in the one and only Casey County!
I can't tell you how excited I was when I found out. Sweet Beans 'n' Things is located in downtown, just across from City Hall. Not only do they serve coffee drinks (as well as other hot drinks), but ice cream is on the menu too. So clever, as that will help them to not have a slow season! Burke's Bakery in Danville also delivers to them each morning around 7 or 7:30, so if you are a Burke's fan (and who isn't) you have double the reason to stop in and show your local support. Their prices are excellent as their coffee is only $1 and their specialty drinks rival the prices at McD's. So, honestly, why would you want to throw your money at the golden arches when you can support someone doing something great for our little community for the same price? (Sure there is no drive, through, but I like to think that one of the pleasures of a small town is that people are in less of a rush)
Packed with people on Day 2 during the Downtown Christmas kickoff.
It's always exciting to see something new come to the little land of Liberty. I have already tried several holiday drinks. I've heard the coffee is good as well. I haven't dipped into the ice cream--too chilly for that right now, but I'd imagine kiddos are up for ice cream despite that. (Or there is always hot chocolate!) They might as well add some tea options to the menu for those non-coffee drinkers, though.
Holiday window display.
Unfortunately, most of us know that it seems these little eateries have a hard time lasting too long. This place is definitely doing everything right and I plan to get all my hot drinks there this winter and maybe even more than I would typically... support local right??

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Behind the times, as usual

I'm always behind the times.

I didn't start school until I was 6.
I didn't have my first period until I was 14. (TMI...I know, sorry!)
I didn't have my first kiss until I was 15.
I didn't shave my legs until I was 17.
I didn't get my first haircut (something more than a "trim") until I was 19.
I didn't attempt dating until I was 20.
I didn't really learn how to put on makeup until I was 21.
I didn't pierce my ears until I was almost 25.

That's not to mention that I'm always behind the fashion trends by at least a year or two and I was in seven weddings (who's to say how many I attended) before I started planning my own. However, none of this ever bothers me. I have come to each of these things in my life just at the time I decided I was ready for them. (Well... I had no choice on the period thing but I'm pretty sure we'd all put that off if given the choice.) There was a time just after my Bellarmine graduation when it seemed it was wedding after wedding after wedding. Not me, though. I still couldn't find it in myself to even get into a serious relationship.

Over three years later I'm on the married bandwagon. (The right guy can turn things around quickly!) But of course that means all those "old married" folks are on to baby-makin'. Valerie, married in 2009, popped out little man #1 this past July: Samuel Jonathan and my closest high school friends (that are married) are ALL preggo right now. Beth is due for her first in only a matter of weeks. Meagan is brewing #2 and due in May. And, while she told me shortly after the wedding, Kelli has just gone public with the news of her first bun in the oven!
Brandon & Kelli with their pup Sophie in 2009.
I think Sophie will be playing second fiddle soon.

Me with Megs at my shower in Sept with her only little one,
Bella, for NOW. Bella will be a big sis soon!

Beth & Trey are due soon and very soon!
Tell me how CUTE is their little guy gonna be??

Jon & I with Brett, Valerie and Sam-Man for his Baptism!
I'm SO excited for them all, particular Kelli whom I know has had a baby on the brain for awhile. Does this make me feel behind the times? No.

Because no matter how, "behind the times" I am, I am happy and I know I'm never truly alone. Besides Jerusha (who celebrated her 10 year anniversary this year), none of my cousins have children. (Not that it couldn't happen at any moment!) And besides Valerie, none of my college-year friends have children or babes. What I think this really means is, just like the Wave of Weddings that began in 2008, the Baby Boom in my life is well underway. There are (hopefully) plenty of weddings to come and most definitely plenty of chitlins.

And if all goes as planned, the Mingus Man and I will have some solid time [years] to ourselves to figure out this marriage-in-the-middle-of-nowhere thing and save for a cozy cottage of our own design. What this Baby Boom does help with is that if our "plan" isn't on beat with the Big Man Upstairs' plan... it won't be all bad. How can babies ever be bad, right?

I really hope this post doesn't jinx me.