Tuesday, November 30, 2010

top 5 tuesday: basic party circuit staples

And so begins the Christmas/New Year party circuit. I've discovered that there are a few basic staple items that will come in handy as you make your way from gala to gala. :)

1. LBD (or top). A Little Black Dress will do wonders. It can be dressed up or dressed down. Or, for the more casual party, a black v-neck shirt can be worn with a skirt, jeans or dress pants. Dress it up or down with shoes and accessories. You can wear the same thing at every party and still look different!

2. Wine. As you float from party to party, it's essential to have a host/hostess gift for most events. And, if you don't want to slave over the oven to make 6 dozen sausage balls, this is the next best thing. Keep a few bottles of wine and a couple of cute wine gift bags and you have an instant, portable hostess gift.

3. Appropriate accessories. This is what can make an outfit...the right accessories. Beg or borrow stuff from friends/family so you don't have to buy new. Among essentials are a bright handbag, sparkly earrings or large cocktail ring, red beaded necklace (for more casual functions) or a beautiful cashmere scarf. Please though, don't allow anything that resembles Christmas lightbulb earrings, reindeer headbands or light-up necklaces make their way into your ensemble.

4. The day's headlines. Okay, so maybe it's not necessary to be up-to-date on that EXACT day's headlines, but you should have a pretty good grasp on what is going on in the world or locally so you can make the obligatory small talk. :)

5. Your conscience. A necessary yet sometimes forgotten staple. The holidays are times when people "let loose", so to speak. Make sure you're keeping in line with your own conscience and not doing anything you'll regret once January 2nd rolls around. That includes anything from trash talking your boss, mother-in-law, or friends, over-eating or over-drinking. Moderation is key. In just about everything...except for chocolate. But, I digress.

the most wonderful thing about giving

Often, people will say, "Oh, I don't really care about getting gifts...I just enjoy giving them." Usually, when I would hear that, I would think that those people are lying and they're really just mad that they didn't get any good gifts, so they decided to remain pretentious about giving them over getting them. Bah. Because, everyone loves getting gifts, right? I've begun to realize that there really is so much more emotion, effort and energy tied into giving gifts. Well, at least for me, anyway. You see, I spend a long time planning out what I want to get someone, searching out the best place to get it, purchasing it and finally wrapping it. So, the actual gift opening is the culmination of a long thought process and research into the recipient and their needs/wants. It's so much more than wrapping up a pair of socks and putting them under a tree. Every second of the wrapping and unwrapping process builds anticipation to when the person actually sees what you gave them...and hopefully...loves it.
As I've been lovingly wrapping Christmas gifts that I've been purchasing since October, I realized that I no longer think the way I used to about those people who say, "I don't really care about getting gifts, I just enjoy giving them". I am sincerely becoming one of those people.

Friday, November 26, 2010

inspiration vs. actuality

These days I've been getting lots of inspiration for my Christmas decorating from websites and magazines. While orange is not normally a color that I gravitate to, it's a color that is warm and matches my current decor. Plus, matching what color scheme I already have in place is essential...at least to my roommate-sister.

So, inspiration:

And here's reality. This is what my tree looks like this year...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

top 5 tuesday: thanksgiving stuff

Thanksgiving used to not be one of my favorite holidays because I just thought of it as Christmas' less flashy and uglier cousin. Today, I really enjoy it because it's very much about food, family and thankfulness instead of worrying about gift-giving and lots of traveling like on Christmas. Because today is Thanksgiving Adam (Adam comes before Eve), I'm posting my top 5 Thanksgiving memories/foods/activities.

1. Football. This is an annual family tradition to watch the football games that are on tv. And this year, my Saints are playing the love-or-hate Dallas Cowboys, so it'll be even better!

2. Christmas Decorating. Usually, we help my parents put up their Christmas tree and decorations on this day.

3. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We usually always watch this in the morning while the food is cooking. It's fun to see some of the floats and bands that I remember watching from my childhood.

4. Christmas music. This is the day that most people agree it's acceptable to start playing Christmas music. AND, it's usually on lots of radio stations, so it stays on most of the day!!

5. Leftover Turkey Sandwiches. White bread, turkey & ketchup. Amazing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

I'm totally in love with this idea. This year, I want to reuse old Christmas cards and paper by cutting up and turning them into wreaths and ornaments. Also, I can display the new cards I get this year on a different wreath where they'll stay intact (like the first pic below). I got the idea from a Shutterfly mailer, and found a bunch of these beauties on an internet search...

Friday, November 19, 2010

with liberty and justice for all

I love the last line of our Pledge of Allegiance, "...with liberty and justice for all". This excerpt has special significance for me right now for a number of reasons. Because this is a blog of thoughts, I'll share...

Liberty...for all. A friend of mine recently became a US citizen. What a joy it is to celebrate this with her! I never had the privilege of doing that (taking an oath to be a US citizen...because I was born here) so to be able to live the moment vicariously through my friend is exhilarating! It's also something that could seem trivial or unimportant for so many people who live, work and thrive in America...but never actually take the time (or even have an interest) in becoming an American citizen. But what is available to those who so desire? Freedom. Democracy. Equality. Liberty. Interestingly enough, my friend is from Liberia, which was started as a colony in Africa where freed American slaves could go and live out their "liberty" in their homeland.

Justice for all. Lately, this organization has been on my mind. To be quite honest, it's a part of the Christmas celebration at my church, so I sort of have to know a little about it. But, as I read the stories of these modern-day slaves and prisoners who were freed because of the right application of justice, I'm overwhelmed. How is it possible that we continue to allow sex-trafficking, modern slavery and the forced prostitution of many men, women and children in other areas of the world? In America, we say that "justice is served" a lot. Especially when a perpetrator gets punished for their crimes. But who will speak up for these innocents? Who will be their advocate? Who will help see that justice is served for those who harm them? That's what this organization is all about. I'm excited to see how this series plays out at Christmas...a time where we traditional look inwardly and sing happy carols and decorate and bake and eat and....well you get the idea. I like that we are replicating the awkwardness, filthiness, humility and uncertainty of the very first Christmas by turning our attention to this injustice in our world today.

PS: I know this post is a little deep for this blog. But, it's honest.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

to do: christmas ornaments sort

Admittedly, I'm a Christmas FREAK. I've been known to start decorating REALLY early and go all out with trees, ornaments, lights, etc.

But, as I moved into my new place this summer, I realized that I have a LOT of Christmas stuff. I mean, A LOT. Like, my attic is full of only Christmas stuff. (I know) So, this weekend, I think I'm going to drag it all down and go through it, piece by piece, and only keep the stuff I know I'll use or that's sentimental.

Everything else, I'll pass along to my friends or family who would like them. It's really a win-win-win, if you think about it. I win because I purge some of the depths of my Saint Nick nightmare attic, my friends/family wins because they get free Christmas decorations, and the earth wins because it's re-using stuff instead of buying new. It's green! And red! And, actually lots of other colors too!

Interested in becoming a new owner of some of my dearly departed decor? Let me know!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

reader's review: how to be lost

Hello my name is April and I'm a read-aholic. I admit that it's an understatement to call myself an avid reader, however, despite the enormous quantities of books I devour, rarely do I come across a book that *moves* me.

Amanda Eyre Ward's How to Be Lost was purchased at a secondhand store on a whim and turned out to be a keeper instead of one that I pass on to someone else like normal. This book cleverly and brilliantly tells the story of a woman who works as a cocktail waitress in New Orleans. She is slowly coming undone as her future seems directionless. So she sets our in search of her younger sister who disappeared as a child. Scattered throughout her journey are the stories of her family, their past, and her parents' past that are intertwined with letters and stories of other people. Both light-hearted and dramatic elements of this book help to keep the reader engaged throughout.

Reading this book might cause you to rexamine your familial relationships as it did for me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

top 5 tuesday: places I want to visit

I will be making my inaugural trip to Washington D.C. (pun intended!) the week after Christmas. Planning for that brought me to my post today, the top 5 places (in the US) that I want to visit. I've never been to any of these places, so any advice is welcome!! Here they are, in random order:

1. Wyoming. Ever seen Brokeback Mountain? Did you pay attention to the scenery in that movie? That's why I want to go.

2. Washington D.C. I've never seen our nation's capital, nor have I done all the fun, touristy stuff.

3. New York City. Is it really how it is portrayed in the movies? Bustling, thriving and always moving?? Plus, I want to buy something from a street vendor.

4. Grand Canyon/Arizona. I'll bet the scenery is beautiful and there's probably no humidity!!

5. New Orleans. So I can visit the French Quarter, eat some gumbo and stalk Drew Brees.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010


In planning the worship songs for next Sunday's service, I've decided to use 2 of my most favorite hymns. One of them I intentionally wanted to use, the other, was a suggestion from the pastor. Over the last week or so, I've been researching the history and backstory of both of these hymns. One, was written in 1757 by a man who was only 22. What great words came from his pen at such a young age. This is a snippet of what he wrote in Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wand'ring heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The other hymn is slightly older with the words being penned as an Irish poem in the 6th century. It was later translated into English (Mary Byrne) and versified (Eleanor Hull) in 1912. It's set to the music of the Irish folk song, Slane. Here is a portion of Be Thou My Vision.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

I can't wait to sing these songs in a few weeks! It's so amazing to think that the congregation and I will be singing words that are older than me, my church, and even most of the people I know! It's a song that's been sung by many generations of Christians and another one will sing it on Sunday, November 14th.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

top 5 tuesday: surprise likes

There are lots of things that I haven't tried or done in my 25 years of life. Many of these things I've simply not been exposed to while others I've chosen to not try. For example, I'm a pretty picky eater. There are lots of foods that I don't eat and when I see a dish that contains ingredients I don't really like, more than likely I won't eat it.

However, I'm becoming more exposed to things that I either thought I wouldn't like, or have never tried and let me tell you...more often than not I LOVE what I try. Here are the top 5 surprise likes that I never-in-a-million-years would have tried...

1. Last Night's Dinner. Okay, so it was pork chops stuffed with stuffing, apples and dried cranberries and a broccoli/onion and cheddar casserole thing. Out of that whole meal, I'll eat pork chops, apples and cheddar cheese. Imagine my surprise when I LOVED the entire thing. Every bit of it. Even the vegetables. It turned out to be one of my top 5 favorite meals...and perhaps another Tuesday post in a few weeks.

2. Nintendo Wii. As a child who never had any sort of gaming system, I repulsed any idea of owning one. They are, after all, rotting the minds of children. BUT, as I've begun to play games with my friends' Wiis, I've realized that not only is it fun and entertaining, but also challenging. I was surprised at how much I liked it. Maybe not enough to buy one...but I'm okay with letting my mind rot once in awhile.

3. Pumpkin. I've never carved one nor eaten any product of one before. Lately, I've not only carved a pumpkin, but also made and enjoyed some delicious pumpkin cookies. Never in a million years would I have tried these things on my own...especially the cookies...because pumpkins smell weird...but I digress. I was pleasantly surprised at both.

4. Scrubs. Having glanced at the show in the past I wrote it off considering it to be a comical version of E.R. However, when it was on tv at my boyfriend's house, I watched it...and enjoyed it. It's actually pretty witty and satirical. Just my style.

5. Pilates. If it ain't cardio, it ain't a workout. That used to be my mentality. That was, until I tried Pilates. I did it on a whim, and I was so sore the next day, I knew it was working. I've been doing it for a few months now, and while I still add the occasional cardio and/or weights, I definitely see way more of a difference when I do Pilates, not only with flexibility and muscle tone, but with posture as well.