Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What a Year.

Like most all of us, I'm looking back over the past year and wondering where all the time went.  I'm also profoundly grateful that I started this blog way back when so I can actually look back and SEE where it all went!

2013 was a great year for me.  It was our first full year of marriage, and it's been wonderful.  People say that your first year is your hardest year, but I can't say it was all that difficult for us.  There were a few miscommunications here and there, which we grew and learned through.  But all in all, it's been fantastic.

We traveled to Texas, Chapel Hill/Durham for baseball, Washington, DC and Baltimore, Blowing Rock, Myrtle Beach, and then to Asheville for our one year anniversary.
We got our wedding video and watched it MANY times.

I started to become more comfortable in the kitchen and actually started to enjoy cooking and creating new things.
I lost two of my best friends this year though-- one to some hurt feelings that I still don't fully understand and the other to a career change and move across the country.  They both hurt me deeply, but Donny and I both have made some new wonderful friends through our church and Bible Fellowship class.

I fell in love with The Office, Downton Abbey, and Burn Notice.

I turned 30.  I was anxious about it for a while, but then I got over it and realized it was just the beginning of a grand adventure.
I read 67 books this year, which is more than I've ever read in a year.  I give most of this credit to Michael Connelly, since I read 21 of his books alone this year.
I made some major changes at work that I'm very excited about and conquered new arenas, creating new opportunities for myself.

As wonderful as 2013 has been, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Weekend of 2013.

It feels weird to do a weekend recap when my "weekend" was six days long.  And I hate to admit it, but I'm kind of glad to be back at the office today.  I need the structure that a workday brings, and after six days off, I'm ready.

Last Friday, Donny's sister Kristi came to visit.  He had to work, so I went to pick her up in Charlotte.  But I made a day of it by taking my friend Katie with me for a shopping trip to the Southpark Mall.  You know, since I was already going to be down there...  We had a great time, and I got a few things on crazy clearance.  Then we went to Cowfish for lunch, and I had an awesome burger.
After lunch, we made our way to the airport to get Kristi, where I was yelled at by the drop-off/pickup Nazis (as usual).  Charlotte Douglas Airport has these people whose job is probably to keep traffic moving so that it's not just one big mess.  But, they are CRAZY.  I pull over to pick up whoever I'm there to get, and if they're not at my car immediately, I'm getting yelled at to move it.  Kristi was literally walking down the sidewalk where I could see her when I pulled into the loading lane, and this lady told me I had to move.  When I told her that my passenger was coming down the sidewalk, she says, "I'll give you thirty seconds."  Seriously??  Every time I've gone there recently, it's been the same way.  Ridiculous.

But we all survived the chaos of the airport and made it back home.  Kristi even came bearing presents-- including these hand-crocheted slippers from my mother-in-law!  They're so comfy!
We had a nice homemade meal and spent the evening playing cards and watching the Big Bang Theory before calling it an early night.
Saturday, Donny and Kristi had a little quality sibling time while I stayed home and relaxed and read some in my new books.  Then we went to dinner at our favorite burger place before heading to the Tanglewood Festival of Lights.  Donny and I went before Christmas last year, but we decided to wait for Kristi to go this year.  I really thought it wouldn't be that busy since it was after Christmas, but boy was I wrong.  It took us almost two hours to get through!  The lights are really cool though and worth going to see. 
Sunday started off like our usual-- church then lunch at grandma's house.  But we left pretty early to run by the mall and then to see Saving Mr. Banks.  I liked the movie a lot, but Donny didn't.  He hated the character of P.L. Travers.  I loved seeing the behind-the-scenes look at one of my favorite movies ever.
This morning, I was up before 5am to take Kristi back to the airport and get to work, so I'm kind of dragging today.  I really should've stopped at Starbucks at some point this morning...

How was your weekend??
Mingle 240

Friday, December 27, 2013

Favorite 2013 Reads.

This year, my goal was to read 50 books, but I ended up reading 67!  (For a full list and links to my reviews, click here.)

2013 was definitely the year of Michael Connelly.  In 2012, I read four of his books and fell in love.  This year, I read all of the rest of them (and re-read two of the Lincoln Lawyer books).  I'm a little sad that there's only one more of his books left unread, but I'm looking forward to discovering another new author to love this year.  I've considered Laura Lippmann, Jo Nesbo, and Harlan Coben.  Any other recommendations for me?

I also read 47 non-Michael Connelly books. Some of my favorite books this year were memoirs:

I also discovered some great authors that I had never read before:

Read some great Chick Lit:

And some of the best stories in a long time from favorite authors:

What were some of your favorite books of 2013??

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Wonderful Christmastime.

This Christmas was absolutely wonderful! It was a great time of family and celebrating the birth of Christ (and my own...)
I love love love our mantle with so many Christmas (and birthday) cards!!
Christmas Eve was a nice relaxing day.  I didn't work all day, and Donny got off at noon.  I finished my first Debbie Macomber book-- 16 Lighthouse Road-- and really, really enjoyed it.
We spent the evening watching Christmas movies and Downton Abbey.  My favorite is A Charlie Brown Christmas, which I ALWAYS watch on Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning, Donny and I got up super early to have our own Christmas before heading to my parents' house.  I got Donny a table router for his woodworking and a book that he's been dying for.  He gave me a cast iron skillet and a bicycle.  We've been talking about going bike riding together forever, but I haven't had a bike-- and now I do!
But he really hit a home run with my birthday gift-- a KitchenAid stand mixer!!  I've been DYING for a mixer for years, and Donny got me one this year!  I love it so much... 
He managed to tear me away from the mixer in time to get over to my parents' house.  I made a french toast casserole with cranberry sauce, and my dad made country ham biscuits, and my mom provided the mimosas.
After breakfast, it was time for presents!  My mom always has the most gorgeous tree...
Stockings for the five of us plus two dogs...
The guys all got new fancy flashlights in their stockings, and proceeded to drive Maggie crazy with them.
The very first thing I opened was my new f/1.8 prime lens!  Which is probably why I've taken almost 300 pictures since Wednesday morning...  It takes some super-clear shots-- see the food photos above and these:
My parents got Donny a new tool chest, but he had to find it first...
Donny and I had gotten this plate at our Bible Fellowship gag-gift exchange, so we decided my brother and his fiancee could give it a good home.  Drew was less than thrillled...  Hahaha
After the festivities wrapped up at my parents' house, we went over to my grandma's.  The only gift exchange we do there is a secret santa, so unwrapping presents doesn't take too long.    
Aren't my grandma and her husband adorable??
My grandma gave me a new study Bible, which it gorgeous.  The leather is so soft and supple; it has the words of Christ in red and is thumb-indexed.  Love.

Then it was time for birthday cake!  We had it made by Regi, who made our wedding cake.  All I said was that I wanted it to be Christmas themed, and she came up with this beautiful design!
Donny wasn't feeling very well after dealing with a cold for a few days.  So, we skipped the movie we had planned to go see in favor of coming home to watch The Little Mermaid (which he gave me) and to play some games.  A great way to wrap up the first day of my thirties.
This morning, I got up and immediately put my new mixer to good use by making some chocolate chip cookies!  It's so amazing-- I love it already. 

How was your Christmas??