Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gratitude & Blogging

I'll admit I've allowed other things to consume my mind as of late. 'Tis the season, right? I've honestly been struggling with whether or not to continue blogging. I feel lately like I don't have much to share...or what I do share is uninteresting to most. I struggle with the fact that I've stayed at 300 "followers" for over a year. I tried a weekly link-up that failed. I've kind of had the wind knocked out of my sails. Blogging has sort of become less of a passion and more of a...chore? 

It sounds bad to say that. I love the blogging community. I've "met" so many awesome bloggers and love continuing to read blogs every day. But as for mine, I just feel a little...tapped out.

I just need a successful blogger to adopt me and help me grow. HAHA!

No, but really, I've just been thinking about this for awhile. I'm not making any decisions until after the holidays. The holidays are full of blog material (for me) since I love to share photos, recipes, etc. But after, I'm not sure.

This isn't a call to rally or a solicitation for praise...it's just the culmination of my thoughts over the past few weeks. I stumbled upon this quote recently and it really stuck with me:

I've always been able to identify with the first 2/3 of the quote because gratitude does make sense of the past and helps to bring peace for the present. However, I've never thought about how gratitude or a spirit of gratitude could create vision for tomorrow. 

So in the spirit of gratitude, I will post the things I'm thankful for with relation to blogging and hope for clarity and vision. 

I'm thankful for...

  • The people I've "met" and the contacts I've made through blogging. Some of these people feel like old friends and seeing their posts on Instagram, FB and/or blogs really brighten my day.
  • The opportunities I've received from blogging. I've been able to review awesome products and services and learn about new companies. 
  • The ability to easily keep my family updated on my life. For someone that's not much of a talker, it's a great way to keep my distant family informed on my life.
  • The fact that it provides me with a voice. I love writing and though I'm not the best at it, I do love having somewhere I can spill my thoughts. (so to speak)
I promise to post something a little less morose tomorrow. :)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Chicago Trip Recap

This week I was in Chicago for work. I've been to Chicago once before and it was 10 years ago so I was excited to take on the Windy City again. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get out and do all the touristy things since I was there for work, but I did get to do a few fun things. My recap is below. 

So, I got there and they bumped me up to a junior suite since the room type I'd reserved was overbooked. Okay, Chicago, you're already doing right by me. 

One evening, I took it upon myself to walk around the city. I had a suggestion on a great local eatery from a coworker and it was only about a mile away so I walked there. Apparently, I wasn't supposed to walk around downtown Chicago by myself at night. I wasn't scared and it was great exercise. :)

I spent some time at the beautiful Shedd Aquarium and took these photos of the city from the aquarium. 

The aquarium was amazing! It was huge and had so many really cool exhibits. I also got to see one my most favorite animals in the world...a sea lion. We bonded. I think. He was showing off for the picture.

Upon the recommendation of a former Chicagoan coworker, I tried both Portillo's and Lou Malnati's Pizza restaurants. At Portillo's I had the famous Italian Beef sandwich, which was amazing...but very messy. Then I had (again, upon recommendation) a slice of their World Famous Chocolate Cake. It, also, was quite delicious.

At Lou Malnati's I opted for the traditional pepperoni deep dish pizza and it was great! Deep dish pizza is definitely a religion up there. People are firmly entrenched in their own deep dish pizza camps and you pledge allegiance to one local pizza chain. 

Yes, that's two slices of chocolate cake I had. One was at the hotel. When in Rome, right? 

My trip to Chicago, though short, was definitely fun. I absolutely want to go back with M and do more touristy stuff. I think next time I may go back in the summer though. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

TBT: How to Style a Plaid Top

Buenos Thursday, friends. In honor of #tbt (that's Throwback Thursday) I'm going to, on occasion, recycle older blog posts that some of my newer readers may never have seen. Each one will be updated and edited to incorporate new info. But I used to pump out some good content back in  the day too, so why not make use of it?!?! (Originally published 12/20/13)

Two fairly recent additions to my wardrobe are plaid shirts. (exact ones here) I love how comfortable and casual they are, but I often find myself stuck into only wearing them with jeans and boat shoes or jeans and boots. I also get hung up on the cowgirl and boots with plaid shirt stereotype and feel like I'm wearing a costume sometimes. But I just KNOW there is a lot of versatility with a plaid top, I just needed some inspiration for different ways to try it.

Below are some of my favorite unique or different ways to wear a plaid top.

How about a plaid top with a sparkly mini and some studded pumps? Okay, so I realize this isn't a look lots of people can, or feel comfortable pulling off. However, translate it into something a little simpler...plaid shirt+skirt+pumps. It's a dressed up plaid!

I love this look! Plaid top with a faux fur vest, skinny jeans and flats. It's casual, but looks very put together. Now, I just need to put my hands on a faux fur vest... :)

This is another one that might scare you initially, but is totally do-able if you simplify it. Plaid shirt+worn under a tank+with a skirt. Don't worry about the pattern mixing or sequins for a minute and think about the elements together. Maybe you just wear your plaid shirt under a plain tank with a solid skirt...but the inspiration of the original look is still there.

A classic. Plaid top+cardian sweater+jeans+flats. Another love!

Love, love love this! Ran across this page when I was looking up other's stitch fix boxes. THis was not a sf but I love it! I am a vest lover. <3:

Plaid shirt + a riding vest + jeans. YES! I have all of these things! I'm just waiting on it to get cold enough to not sweat my butt off wearing.

Cute preppy outfit for cold weather.:

How about UNDER a sweater? This could work with a pullover sweater or under a buttoned-up cardi. YES!
Would you ever experiment with different ways of wearing a plaid top?

Monday, November 16, 2015

On Paris, Lebanon, Israel, et al...

As a caution to my readers, this post has strong religious overtones. If religion isn't your thing, feel free to stop reading.

In light of the events in Paris, a hashtag quickly gained popularity to be the main trending  hashtag on social media. The hashtag? #prayforparis

This got me thinking. Specifically, two major thought trains emerged.

1. The fact that  #prayforparis is trending shows us that in times of tragedy and devastation, people go to God. It wasn't #thinkingofparis or #goodvibestoparis or even #parisstrong. It's #prayforparis. Deep down, people know that when things get bad, there is One who is good. When times are tough, there is One who can take it. When tragedy strikes, we cling to the One who never fails.

2. The other train of thought is this. We can make hashtag after hashtag and light up building after building to commemorate victims of terrorism, but when will it stop? The answer, it won't. The world is inherently evil. Terrorism has existed for thousands of years (though it's taken many forms and names over the years).

Here's what I propose, in addition to praying for Paris or Lebanon or Israel, et al, how about we pray for the TERRORISTS. Why? Because there will continue to be victims that we rally behind if the terrorists continue to terrorize. So, why not pray that God changes the hearts of the terrorists? He can. He is able to turn their hearts away from evil. He can change their mindset and he absolutely is strong enough to do so.

Until we start praying for our enemies, terrorists...those who persecute us, we won't see an end to this. Because terrorism will continue to grow and foster and pollute the minds of each generation until that generation begins to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. And until that day, we will continue to struggle and fight and live in fear.

Pray for those that hate us. Pray for those that persecute us. Pray for those that want to kill us. Pray that they acknowledge the grace and love and compassion of Jesus.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Long Time, No...Blog

Well, hello there, friends. It's been awhile since I've blogged. 11 days, as a matter of fact and that is HIGHLY unusual for me. I've been traveling so much over the last 2 weeks I've barely had time to grocery shop and do laundry...let alone blog.

I have one more week of travel before things slow down a little for me. Next week, I'm headed to Chicago! Whoo hoo! I can't wait.

In the last two weeks I spent a couple of days in Charleston, WV. I've never been there before and it was so pretty! I stayed downtown and walked around on my first night there and just took in the area. I loved the mall there too! HAHA!

This was pretty shot from downtown near one of the parks (I forgot which one). It's overlooking the Kanawha river. 

Oh don't mind me. I enjoy taking airplane sky photos. #basic

During my time in WV I tried to sample a famous Tudor's Biscuit World biscuit but was thwarted! Never fear! I will probably return again in the spring so I'll try again. I will have a Tudor's biscuit in my lifetime. Mark my words.

I also spent a couple of days in Pittsburgh, PA. I'd NEVER been to Pennsylvania before so I was really excited to go. And, of course,  I had to take some #skyparty photos because...that's what I do. 

PA was very pretty and very hilly/mountainy. I wasn't expecting that. Not sure what I was expecting...but not that. 

Also, in Pittsburgh I did something else for the first time...I tried Uber. I know, I'm such a wimp but public transportation scares me so Uber scared me even more. So why not just dive in and try Uber for the first time in a strange city? :) I had two good experiences although I had a small panic attack when I couldn't find an Uber driver available to pick me up from the hotel and take me to the airport. Luckily, one was available after a while. I survived. :)

Whilst in PA, we tried a restaurant called The Juniper Grill in McMurray (or around there). It was so good! I like trying non-chain/local restaurants when I'm visiting new places. I had the Chipotle Flank Steak with mashed potatoes....um....DELICIOUS.

Then I had an amazing slice of chocolate cake for dessert and I tried Creme Brulee for the first time. It was pretty good too! But, alas, I don't think it could be my dessert of choice since it is missing a key ingredient...chocolate. 

 Navigating airports, Ubers, rental cars, new cities and lots of people has been fun, but also exhausting. I'm leaving for Chicago on Monday afternoon so until then I'm just gonna stay around the house, lay low, do some laundry and snuggle with this little guy. (Oh, and M too!) HAHA.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween Recap: Why My Friends Are Awesome

I have a set of friends that rotate hosting an annual Halloween party and costumes are mandatory. (which I love)

Normally, my friends have some amazing costumes and this year was no exception. We had Trivia Crack, a flower bouquet, a skydancer, Wal-Mart associates, Popeye & Olive Oyl, Slutty Dora the Explorer, The Duggar parents (from 19 Kids and Counting) and a bunch of others.

I dressed as an upside down ice cream cone and M was Three-Hole-Punch Jim from The Office. Here a just a few pics:

My friend that was Trivia Crack had a spinning wheel and carried around actual Trivia Crack questions for people to answer. It was awesome! The best thing about my friends and our Halloween parties are that you will see no store-bought costumes. Parts of them may be bought but the final results never just comes out of a bag. In the past we've seen homemade Minions, Emmy awards, Queen of Hearts, Raggedy Ann, Mushrooms, naked SIMs, Chiquita Banana lady, aliens, Diet Pepsi cans, etc. We go all out and it's always something amazing! 

Also, a bodysuit and animal ears do not a good costume make. At least try with good makeup. Ugh. I will judge you. 

Before I close today, I wanted to share with you a precious and totally cute picture I found over the weekend. 

This just goat real cute, right there.

The picture isn't baaaaad at all. It's cute!

It's okay if you don't like goat pictures...I do. And that's all I have for this rainy, dreary Monday.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thursday Thoughts: Halloween Edition

Yay! Happy pre-Halloween!

Question - do you pronounce Halloween like the hall in "hallway" or like the word "howl"? Just curious. For the record, I say it like the later.


My work doesn't dress up for Halloween. Actually, I've never worked at a job where people in the office dress up for Halloween. Is that weird or is it just not that common? 

But it's probably good that my office doesn't dress up...because there's always that person that wears the inappropriate costume... 

I have to finish up my Halloween costume tonight for a Halloween party tomorrow. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. I still have quite a bit left to do. Sigh.

27 Appetizers For Your Halloween Party That Are Hilariously On Theme:

I have to make an appetizer for the party I'm going to and this was very helpful for me. Also, look at those cute little batty cheese balls! 

Your turn to talk! Link up your blog post below. (remember, it can be about anything!)

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