What I was Into in January

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I completely fell off the wagon with this in December – there was the whole holiday season and the parties and get togethers that come along with that – and of course, I sort of traveled abroad for Christmas and so that took me away from the blog for ten days. Whoa.

So – shall we get back on this bandwagon? I think we shall.

Books I Read
The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory – The first in a six part series about the War of the Roses; this book centers on Elizabeth Woodville, who would become Queen of England after marrying Edward IV. Her husband held the English throne tenuously as a York claimant and their lives together were overshadowed by battle after battle. While Edward fights on the battlefield, Elizabeth must fight for their family and her greatest battle will be the fight for her family and her son’s right to rule after Edward’s untimely death.

The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory – The second in the six part series about the War of the Roses; this book covers the same time span as the White Queen but follows the story of Margaret Stanley, the mother of Henry Tudor. Margaret is given a vision of her unborn son taking the throne of England and after nearly dying in childbirth, Margaret devotes her life to ensuring what she saw in her vision will come true. Her son is the Lancaster claimant to the throne and is raised to fight for the throne he believes is his by right of blood and birth, but he must first seize the throne on the field of battle from Richard III.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster – This book is exactly what it sounds like, the novelization of the most recent Star Wars film. While the book follows the plot line pretty much dead on, the book also offers a bit more insight into each of the characters. Which I love.

The Moaning of Life by Karl Pilkington – This was my blizzard book, ha-ha! Karl Pilkington is the star of the TV series An Idiot Abroad and his wry sense of humor and frankly awkward outlook on life absolutely cracks me up. I have several of his books and in this book he travels around the world to take in cultural ideas about love, marriage, children, happiness and death. And of course, in typical Karl Pilkington fashion – his ideas about all of these things are the most outlandish. It definitely cracked me up.

Books in the Queue
The Lady of the Rivers by Phillipa Gregory – the third book in the War of the Roses series; I’m on a kick here, obviously.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Phillipa Gregory – the fourth book in the War of the Roses series.

The White Princess by Phillipa Gregory – the fifth book in the War of the Roses series.

The King’s Curse by Phillipa Gregory – the sixth and final book in the War of the Roses series; perhaps I’ll have finished them all by the end of February? Ha!

Can’t Miss Television
Scandal – I managed to spend the first week of January catching up on the first nine episodes of season five; so now I’m waiting with baited breath for the fifth season to start up again on February 11th. Some thoughts I have in the interim: Oh Olivia, what have you done? What indeed? I also am still not certain if I am on #TeamFitz or #TeamJake…but that’s a mood that changes from day to day, ha-ha! I know for certain I am 100% behind Mellie – go Mellie – all the way. So…we wait till February 11th. Also…I think I’ve got my Mom hooked…hehehe.

Downton Abbey – The final season is upon us! I’ve been hooked ever since I binge watched the first three seasons back in January of 2014 in anticipation of the fourth season…and now it will all come to an end. If you’re a fan but haven’t gotten around to watching the four episodes that have aired so far, I’ll tread lightly… My thoughts though? Perhaps Anna and Bates will finally get something like a happy ending; if they don’t I may have to go (back) across the pond and hunt down Julian Fellowes. I also need Edith to find her happy ending – that poor girl has been through enough in the span of a few years then more people deal with in their lifetime – I also want Mary to get some comeuppance, mostly because I think Mary is HORRIBLE. You can disagree all you want, but she is cruel. All the points to Edith! Okay…I’m done.

Fixer Upper – Is anyone else absolutely obsessed with Chip and Joanna Gaines? I stumbled onto this show while flipping through the channels and paused on HGTV…as one does…and kind of fell in love. And then my sister pointed out to me that the entire first season was on Netflix and well, that took care of that. I was just sad there were only thirteen episodes to watch, because with that blizzard…well, we blew through those thirteen episodes over the long weekend. I love their goofy relationship, I love seeing the visions that Joanna has come to life but most especially, I love seeing absolutely dilapidated houses become the most amazing homes! Oh – and they have a book coming out in October, so you can expect to see that on my “Books I Read” list then…ha!

Movies I Watched
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Yes, I went to see this on the day it premiered in theaters. Yes, I went to see it a second time. No shame here. I have been a Star Wars fan since I was small and was taught some light saber skills courtesy of my Dad. I raised my sister to be just as big a nerd as I am and we both saw this movie twice…to be honest, I would say no to seeing it again. This movie really brings back a lot of the magic and feeling of the original trilogy – as much as I love all six films; the three prequels have just never quite had that “something” the originals had. This one though – it does. If you’re one of the five people in the world who haven’t seen this move – go see it!

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – The sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; this movie was almost as delightful as the first…almost. The same cast of characters, with the addition of Richard Gere as a hotel reviewer who is investigating the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the possibility of expansion…all while a wedding is being planned. The characters were just as wonderful, the story line was good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it didn’t have quite the charm of the first movie. But then – isn’t that usually the case with sequels?

Music I Listened To
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Soundtrack – Haven’t I mentioned, I love listening to music from films that I love…this is no different! I also absolutely love John Williams and he has composed the music for all of the other Star Wars films, so of course I love this soundtrack as well.

Besides that…I listen to a lot of kLove to and from work…and that’s about it, ha-ha!

Yummy in my Tummy
Roasted Red Pepper Soup – I am on a quest to find a wonderful recipe for Roasted Red Pepper soup and I took my first steps in that direction which my first stab earlier in January. While it was absolutely delicious, I am still on the lookout for something that taste a bit more like…what I have tasted at Coach and Horses Tea Room. In the meantime, this option is delicious and if you’d like to try if out…check it out here.

What I’m Looking Forward To
February 15th – Because I get a day off work…which means a three day weekend…and who doesn’t love that? Otherwise, there isn’t a lot going on in February. I’m sure plenty will develop as the month progresses but right now, February is a wide open space. Now…March….oh wait, that’s not until next month, ha-ha!

Five on Friday

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It’s finally Friday again – so it’s time for Five on Friday – although this week it’s really Four on Friday because honestly, my brain feels pretty shot and I cannot think of five things! Pretty rough, huh? I guess it’s a good thing the weekend is only a couple hours away….


One. Amazon Fire HD 6 – I went right ahead and got myself a new tablet last week; I’d had a Google Nexus 7 and while it worked fine, it is over three years old and technology is such a changing thing. I noticed on Amazon that they had tablets for a really reasonable price, did some research on the different tablets they offer (plus – both my Mom and sister have Amazon tablets) and decided on the Fire HD 6. It arrived before the blizzard and even though I’ve only had it about a week and I’m still figuring out bits and pieces, I have to say I’m 100% pleased with my purchase!

Two. Spring – Is it too soon to think about Spring? I hope not…I certainly am. I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in the Northern Virginia there was snow right up until almost April last year. I’m really hoping that isn’t the case this year….although I’ve heard some “people” say we are going to get hit hard with snow in February. Because this past week’s almost 4 feet of snow isn’t being “hit hard”? Eek! I sure hope that little groundhog doesn’t plan to see his shadow on Tuesday…

Three. London – Ha! I know, I only came back a month ago! I absolutely miss so many aspects of lovely London; most especially I’d absolutely kill for a bowl of Potato and Leek soup from Prince of Wales Pub and I’d definitely take another Sloe Gin Fizz from Punch’s Tavern. It seems like now that we’ve returned from our wonderful trip, I keep finding a million places we missed! Isn’t that how it always works out though? Since I won’t be returning to London anytime soon (that I’m aware of, ha-ha) I love following LONDON on Instagram. Awesome pictures that let me take a daily glimpse at lovely London.

Four. ….I’ve got nothing, ha-ha!

Five. Fitness Friday – Not much to post here this week. I am feeling like a definite failure…but I know I can overcome that feeling. I’ve made some strides in the right direction though; let me just say that 2016 hasn’t kicked off the way I’d thought it would, exercise wise…but that’s mostly due to my lack of commitment. I’ve decided to jump back into using ViSalus and I plan to start that on February 1st and I’m also planning to get back to my exercise routine. So – I promise this post will be “better” next week!

If you’d like to do Five on Friday (not Four on Friday like me….) you can join in. Just copy the Five on Friday logo and write up five things on your mind, five things you are loving…really whatever five things you’d like and share them. I hope everyone is having a happy and less brainless Friday than me!

The Flashback – January

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I started this whole idea of looking back at years past in the mid-point of 2015…and somewhere along the way (probably December, ha!) it fell off the rails a little bit. I figured I’d start 2016 off afresh and make it my goal to get through one year of flashbacks. So – without further ado, Januarys of the past.
2016 – Snowmageddon. Or Snowpocalyse. 

Oh look – also snow.
What’s this – that’s right – snow.
And snuggly baby selfies!

Frigid MS temps in 2014
MS Snow in 2014 – who’d have thunk it?
And hey – cuddly baby snuggles! 

Snow in January…for the past 4 years in a row! 
I recognize those boots….
Family in town for the weekend!

I’ve got nothing. Eek!
Ha! Snow again!?!
Or – as is more common in MS – ICE.
Meeting & loving on sweet Ryleigh girl.

Being goofy in the snow – at Dollywood.
Posing with the bride & our friend, Ashley.
A visit from this little thief – apparently she stole my sunglasses, ha!

Ringing in the New Year in Tennessee.
DiscipleNow leader – my girls & our “mascot” – ha!
I cannot remember what grade these girls were in – I know they’re all in college now though!

And…that’s all I’ve got for this go round! I’m surprised by how much snow there has been in my Januarys past – it’s kind of funny to look back and see that snow isn’t as foreign a thing as I thought it might be. Just SO much snow…that’s a foreign thing, ha-ha! So, until next month – that’s the flashback.

Watson Wednesday

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This is the snow picture(s) edition – because I’ve honestly taken about forty pictures of him (so far) frolicking in the snow and he cracks me up. I don’t know if before he was mine he lived in a place where snow was common….but I know that he loves to explore the snow. Granted, we had more than a little snow and most of the drifts were feet higher than him – but once it started to compact a bit – he was scaling the tallest piles he could find!

Where is the ground? I know it’s under here somewhere…

Maybe if I army crawl under this car, I’ll find a way to escape this “snowed in” business….

Exploring a ravine in the snow.

When the snow plow finally arrived, all the snow from our parking lot was piled up at the end of the parking lot…in what amounted to (in view of a small dog) quite a mountain of snow. Once Watson realized we could finally go past the end of my car, he was all about scaling the mountain to see what kind of views he could get from the top.

Should I climb this?

The journey begins…carefully now on this ledge…

Don’t look down – eek!

I have achieved the summit…and the end of my rope….

Watson is also thoroughly convinced that if he digs hard enough, for long enough…he will reach the grass again. So far, he hasn’t had much luck – but it hasn’t stopped him from trying every time we go outside.

Just a little more…dig…dig…dig….

Mission Cute: January

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I completely bailed on the December Mission Cute box – I’ll again blame the holiday festivities and the packing/build-up to traveling internationally. Everything I’ve got in that box has already assimilated it’s way into my day to day life, I don’t know if I could remember what I got anyway, ha!

My January Mission Cute box arrived on Friday – right as the snow was starting to fall (I’ll assume) and so I was pretty tickled to have something to “distract” me on what I knew would be a long weekend of being trapped by the snow. Granted; nothing in the box was necessarily anything that I could use a distraction, but it was still fun to have a package to open while the snow swirled around the windows….especially knowing it would be swirling around the windows for a while…

A little bitty box of joy – delivered monthly! 

I think I shared in my first post about Mission Cute – this company not only sends you a box of goodies each month, 50% of the proceeds from every box go towards a charity each month. If you are subscribed to Mission Cute, you can go online and help vote to choose what charity will receive the month’s proceeds – the month of January supported Urban Light. A bit about them from their website:

Urban Light is a For-Purpose organization based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, dedicated to rebuilding, restoring and empowering the lives of boys who are victims of sex-trafficking, child prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation. Through our youth center we are able to provide necessary social services and supports needed to obtain opportunities outside the exploitative grasp of sex-tourists and absent social services. Our formula for empowerment includes Resources + Community = Progress.

There are so many of these type boxes that can be subscribed to; I’m glad to know that I’m not just supporting my desire to get fun mail each month. As much as I love to get the neat things that they send, I also like to read about the charity that is being supported; there are so many people in the world that need help, by supporting the mission of Mission Cute I can support multiple charities and get fun mail.

Great Thought a Day notepad – so cute!

The largest item in the box was a fat note pad in pale pink with gold lettering that said “A Great Thought a Day” and that’s exactly what this little note pad provides. There are 365 sheets and each sheet has a different quote on the bottom of the page – so, you can write your great thoughts above the great thought for the day. I’ve sat this on my bedside table for now; I’m not sure what I’ll do with it just yet, but I think everyone can always use a note pad – and it’s just that much cooler if it’s cute!

Karam Foundation – Scents of Syria soap

One of the smaller items tucked into my January box was a soap from the Karam Foundation’s Scents of Syria collection. The Karam Foundation works to help people in Syria by providing education, entrepreneurial development and community aid – one of the ways they do this is by making bath and home products; the soap that I received smells wonderful and also has the most intricate pattern on it. If you’re interested in checking out the Karam Foundation, you can do so here. And then you too can have some wonderful smelling soap that helps support the Karam Foundations mission. Oh yeah – the word Karam means generosity in Arabic.

How cool are these? And they arrived just in time!

Fingerless gloves – talk about coming at the exact right moment! I initially thought these were just gloves, but as I pulled them open I saw that they were fingerless…which I kind of love! Wearing gloves sometimes drives me crazy because I feel like my hands are so clumsy in gloves; I know – get over it, right? These though – they’re great! They go well up my forearm so that they don’t slide out from under the sleeves of my coat and they extend down my fingers to provide a good bit of warmth. Granted, they weren’t what I reached for when shoveling snow, but they are a cute and warm alternative for when I don’t feel like pulling gloves on!

This tastes delicious – yum.

I am an absolute lip balm, lip gloss, lip anything addict, so this vanilla honey lip balm was a happy surprise! This lip balm is made with all natural ingredients; one of the main ones being coconut oil, so it feels wonderful going on and smells heavenly. I’m not sure what else there is to say about this one – except that I love it and I’ll probably use it up in no time!

I absolutely love this!

Of course – as I’ve mentioned before – Mission Cute loves an art print and this one; well I love it too! I don’t really have anywhere to place all these little art prints that I’m getting; I’d like to have a nice frame to put them in and be able to change them out. However, I first need more of my own space! I am a big fan of C.S. Lewis and his books and this quote is so perfect, reminding me that I don’t need to dwell on things in the past – look forward to the good things coming my way! 

And there you have it – my Mission Cute box for January! I so look forward to getting these each month and as soon as I’ve opened it, pored over the goodies and started using them, I’m looking forward to the next month! 
If you’d like to start a Mission Cute subscription – go here: http://www.missioncute.com/ and get started!

….In Which All the Pictures are (mostly) of Snow

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This post should technically be titled “A Snow Post” since literally two pictures have nothing to do with snow. Ha- sorry! I guess if I’m being honest, the week in recap was a lot of build up to the snow…and then lots of snow building up! So, there you have it – pretty much this post is about nothing but snow, ha-ha!

En route to work on Tuesday – it was COLD – I think in the mid-teens.

This week was a “short” week as it was, so the work week started on Tuesday. The post-work evenings were a little bit more hectic since my Mom got herself a shockingly bright lime green cast put on Tuesday and I have had to step up my game. I try to help out and I usually cook a couple nights a week and help with things around the house…but with my Mom under strict orders to not put weight on her broken foot, I had to really jump in! I definitely don’t mind at all; it’s just a snap shot of how much my Mom does and always has done over the years,she’s amazing and so if I need to do my best imitation of her for the next six weeks (a poor one, I’m sure) then I’m glad to do it!

Thursday morning sunrise….

All week leading up to Friday, every news outlet was reporting that we were going to get massive, insane…potentially record-breaking amounts of snow over the weekend. So, during the week…long before Thursday when people were going nuts over bread, milk and water….I went to the store and got some milk and bread, ha-ha…and at some point my Dad got water. I was pretty amazed on Thursday when I went to Target on my lunch break to grab food for supper and no one was acting like the end of the world was nigh. There was still milk on the shelves…still bread too! And people were just walking around perfectly calming – who knew? Apparently in DC people were losing their minds, ha-ha!

And so it begins….

Just two hours in & he’s already like “is it done yet???”

I went to work on Friday morning – pre-snow – and I was a nervous wreck. I’ll go ahead and admit I don’t like driving in the snow. It’s something I’ll have to continue to get better at; I mostly think it stresses me out because some people could care less, I don’t want to be that person that gets smashed because some idiot hits a patch of ice and then slams into me, creeping like a turtle. The snow finally started around noon and while it started ever so slowly, it was only minutes before it began thickening up and falling faster and heavier…so I bounced out the door, into my car and made my way home to settle in…to be snowed in. I realized pretty quickly that this might be pretty intense, within the 45 minutes that the snow started and I was able to make it home, the roads were already covered and it was sticking to everything in sight!

A couple hours in…and already the ground has been blanketed….

Snow dog in the midst of exploration…

Friday night…before the blizzard portion of the storm arrived.

We had a big pot of soup on Friday night, watched a movie and alternately watched the snow falling outside…and piling up..and up…and up. The “blizzard” portion of the storm was set to arrive from midnight to 6 AM and forecasters said not to go to sleep; be sure to watch, as it would be epic! Well, I went to sleep…because I like my sleep just well and good. I did wake up at 5:30 to go to the bathroom and peered out my window – the snow was falling fast and thick – it almost looked like a haze. I just shrugged to myself and crawled back into bed. Watching it certainly wasn’t going to do any good for me. When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was absolutely blown away….

8 AM – still 12 hours to go in this storm….

It just keeps piling up & Watson doesn’t seem to realize that he’ll disappear into it….

Walls & walls of snow.

Sinking in to my knees – whoa! 

I mean – there really are no words.

Watson was probably the most interesting to watch – he must have looked out the window every thirty minutes. I can’t decide if he was bewildered or intrigued or frustrated because he had no clue where the grass had gone. As the afternoon wore on, we watched a plow truck try to come and make some kind of headway…and get stuck. It took hours for the man to dig his plow truck out once he was freed, he got out of dodge! Later in the afternoon, my Dad and I braved shoveling the deck because my Dad was slightly worried that the deck wouldn’t hold the weight of all that snow – with it being a flat surface and all….

Are you kidding me??

The first reading around noon – almost 27 inches!

Snow dog trying to sniff out a creature hiding behind the storage shed….

A snow drift creeping up the front door – eek!

There’s a car under there somewhere…

The afternoon reading…in one spot, almost 39 inches & in the other, almost 44 inches! 

After almost 45 minutes outside shoveling the deck clear, we came in and had supper. And I was absolutely shocked at how quickly the deck ended up getting covered in snow…again! While I was out helping shovel the deck, I managed to shovel off the freshest snow and give it to my Mom to save to make snow cream. I have to say – I’m thirty-one years old and I can’t say I’ve ever had snow cream until Saturday night. It was delicious – and even Watson thought so too!

Wait – didn’t I just clear this deck off?

Sampling some snow cream! 

Sunday morning arrived bright and sunny – the light off the snow was blinding – and boy, there was plenty of snow for the sun to glint off of! I knew that a huge chunk of the day would be spent doing one of my “favorite” things: shoveling snow. I mean, my car wasn’t going to free itself from that snow drift, right? If you’ve never shoveled snow, let me go ahead and tell you it’s not easy work. This snow wasn’t heavy but lifting shovel after shovel after shovel…it starts to wear on your arms and back pretty quickly. I was pretty impressed with myself though – my Dad and I managed to get two cars dug out and a pathway cleared all before the Broncos/Patriots game started at 3:05! Go Broncos!

My car is there somewhere…

When the snow is taller than you are…..

The before & after – a car “magically” appeared! 
Watson searching for any possible way to get past the wall of snow keeping him in….

So – I’m not sure how you spent your weekend – I managed to read through a book, color (in both a book and on my tablet), watch numerous episodes of Fixer Upper, clean my bathroom, watch snow fall, shovel snow, eat soup and stew and all the like…yea, I did a whole lot of nothing basically. The snow plow never arrived on Sunday…so we were trapped for a bit longer.

Winter Storm Jonas – the final totals for this area were around 28-30 inches, so about two and half feet of snow. When I first heard those amounts as a prediction, it didn’t seem like that should be much of a big deal…granted, I know very little about snow. Let me assure you – it’s A TON of snow. So, with that said – the forecast for the upcoming weekend is all in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s. Praise Jesus! That will be a veritable heat wave after the past few weeks – plus, snow doesn’t exactly thrive in those temps!

Five on Friday

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Friday has arrived again – as I am typing this, I’m watching the windows with a wary eye. Snow is supposed to start any time now and well…I’m getting ahead of myself. Five on Friday, here we go!

One. Archer Farms Peanut Butter Monster Trail Mix – I know…I know…probably not the most healthy choice ever, but I am in love! My little sister introduced me to the A Handful of Everything while we were in London and it was delicious…so when I went to pick up a bag of that, I saw Peanut Butter Monster and grabbed it. Well. one bite of this and I was absolutely hooked. If you are a fan of chocolate and peanut butter – you should go get yourself some of this. It’s divine!

Go get you some of this.

Two. 40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole – Confession; I haven’t actually started this book yet. It seems to center on the idea of finishing up the 40 days by Easter…and Easter is still about 60 days away, so I’m holding off. I guess this made the list this week because – how ironic that the word I choose for 2016 is “reduce” and a week later my church decides to use these books as a congregation in preparation for Easter…and they hand out a free copy to every family! Yea…that’s not irony though; that’s totally a God thing.

This should be an interesting read.

Three. Coastal Home & Body – I found this business almost a month ago at the Downtown DC Holiday Market and while one of their big sellers are their hand-woven Turkish towels, I fell in love with their handmade vegan soaps! They smell absolutely amazing, look almost like works of art and after buying a peppermint scented soap and using it at home, I can say that it also has a really nice lather. I checked their website earlier this week and went ahead and bought myself the 4 soaps for $35. Another awesome thing about this company? All orders over $35 ship for free! Go check them out – http://coastalhomeandbody.com/ – I promise you won’t regret it!

My soaps clockwise: Coconut Lime, Pomegranate Raspberry, Honeysuckle & Lemongrass Mint.

Four. Snow – Remember last week when snow was on my list and I said I didn’t care if it snowed again? Ha! Nature heard that and is about to laugh in my face…so that’s fun. The whole area is now waiting with baited breath (some more than others – I have anxiety issues y’all) for the arrival of Winter Storm Jonas, which is going to dump something like 2 feet (maybe more) of snow on us. I guess the good thing is at least it’s going to take place over a weekend? I know one thing – this will be the most snow I’ve ever seen…

I live in the purple section. Joy.

Five. Fitness Friday – well, I have nothing to report. I’ll get back with it, I promise I will. This week just wasn’t it…between the cold and other random things…that I know are just excuses. Oh well, until next week, when I promise to do better.

Too true.
And that’s all I’ve got for this Friday! I hope everyone has a happy weekend…if you live in the blizzard zone, I hope you have a safe and happy weekend too! Ha-ha!