Thursday, October 31, 2013

Annie Travels

The rush starts with the plane, blood pumping through your veins fiercely as your heart - and the rest of you - moves hundreds of miles an hour off the earth into the air.

For hours, you're suspended in space, until the plane comes back down to earth and you enter a world you may never have seen before, might not have known otherwise.

I've been so blessed to travel widely; as the biracial product of a gypsy-hearted father and a counterculturally independent mother, I suppose it was almost inevitable. And today I thought I'd share a little about my most recent travels, which have also been a few of my favorites.

Honduras • 2010

Honduras isn't my homeland, but it feels like it. I'm fiercely proud of this heritage, handed down to me to my mother. 

We're not Mayan, but before the Spanish conquest, my Lenca ancestors would have had frequent contact with them. Regardless, one of my favorite places in Honduras, beside the beach, are the Mayan ruins of Copán.

Copán was one of the biggest cities at the peak of the Maya civilization, even though textbooks consistently ignore the Mayan presence in Honduras. It's filled with pyramids, stelae, and buildings, as well as a replica of one of the temples located in the adjacent museum, painted as it was originally and large enough to walk through.

Also the ball court made me want to play soccer in the midst of the ruins, although I could bypass the tradition of sacrificing the loser to the sun god.

Spain • 2012

My ancestors were on all sides of the earliest colonial conquests; my family, being Hispanic, are naturally descended from the Spanish.

What was exciting about visiting Spain was setting foot for the first time on ground my European ancestors would've walked.

Also, I love Europe, and am a tad obsessed with European royalty.

So to walk streets my ancestors might've walked and eating lunch in one of the plazas Christopher Columbus petitioned Queen Isabel to fund his voyage was an absolutely surreal experience, in addition to, as on previous trips to France and Poland, seeing cathedrals that had stood for centuries and the quaint, unique mixture of modern and ancient in the way only Europe can do.

Kenya • 2013

"Africa," I told my friend Amy when she told me she was going to Uganda, "will MESS. YOU. UP."

Because it did me, on my first trip there this past summer.

So often we see this continent shackled by poverty, when in reality, they are unfettered by materialism. It was absolutely confounding to see such joy and faith in the hearts of people who had virtually nothing, and an unspeakable blessing to receive the gifts they had for us. Although we went to serve Africa, I found it ended up the other way around.

One of The Mocha Club's favorite phrases is "I need Africa more than Africa needs me." I didn't understand this until I actually went.


What are some of your favorite places around the world?
Where would you like to visit if you could jump on a plane right now?

Annie Wiltse is a 22-year-old adventure-seeker who exercises her daring by infrequent use of capitalization on most social media. She's a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a degree in English Language and Literature and a minor in History. She blogs at What She Saw and is releasing her first ebook, The Unfurling, this Friday. You can usually find her reading, tweeting, or scheming her next opportunity overseas.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cutting ties with friends?

Hello Bailey Dailies Reader! I'm Kate and I blog over at the "florkens" with my husband Adam. Yes, Adam actually blogs with me. For proof, see herehere, and even one of our vlogs here!
I could have take this opportunity to implore you to check out our blog, check all the fun links, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Bloglovin’ – but don’t worry, I won’t do that. Instead, I wanted to take a chance to talk about something that I think many of face as we age… cutting ties with friends that no long “suit” us.

Eekk! You’re thinking – geesh! This girl is harsh! But hear me out – as we grow older, most of us grow up a bit. I’m not saying that I’m not still irresponsible at times or that I no longer enjoy rocking out to B. Spears in the car (I am and I do!) but sadly, I believe it is a cold hard fact that we can grow apart from our friends.

I’ve found myself dealing with this situation recently and it’s hard. Really hard. In real life, it isn’t always as easy as drawing Jane + Jill = BFF all over your folders! You have to deal with bills, relationships, life choices, and yes, even personal viewpoints over what a “friend” should be.

The definition of “friendship” varies between people. If you think having a “friend” means having someone that you can bitch to about your life 24/7 without ever having to return the favor, but your “friend” disagrees – well that is a relationship heading for a disaster. On the other hand, if you and your friend share similar values in friendship, chances are, you’ll have a shot at actually being BFF.

Sadly, we don’t all have those same definitions. As recently as this past summer, I really had to look at the people I was surrounding myself with and make some tough choices about our “friendships.” If I found that they were more emotionally draining than rewarding (and had been that way for quite a while) I started to consider “phasing-out” that friend. Does that sound harsh? I hope not. But maybe it does…

For example, I had a friend who always had some insane drama in her life. She seriously called often to tell me she was in the hospital, or that a family member was, or that she had just been robbed at gun point, or that she had just used CPR to save her elderly neighbor, or that a friend’s ex-husband just beat her with a pipe (not making this up.) As always, I would be very concerned and drive to the hospital, or scene of the robbery or assault but would always be told that “she had handled” the problem and would see me later. After 3 years and just as many resuscitated neighbors, I began to understand that my friend had a problem with compulsive lying. I tried my best to get her help. Really, I did. I explored every channel available to me to no avail. So after a while, I just had to kind of…well, let go. It was hard. But I know I feel better without dealing with that kind of self-created drama and I hope that without someone to listen to it all, she doesn’t feel as much of a need to create it.

I’ve also been the friend that was “let go.” Right after Adam and I moved in together, my very best friend started to ignore me. It went on for weeks until I woke up one day to find that she had blocked me on Facebook. I decided to just let it go, confident that what needed to happen, would happen. About four months later, she contacted me and wanted to go to dinner. She told me point blank that she couldn’t be friends with someone who was “so happy” in a relationship at that time because she was going through a rough patch with the men in her dating life. She said we could be friends again so long as I never spoke about Adam and never made her be around him. I politely declined because to me, to be a friend is to rejoice in the ups of others as well as hold their hand in the downs.

I guess what I’m saying is this – sometimes we have to make tough decisions in order to move forward with our own lives in the way that is most beneficial to our own health and sanity. It’s never easy or pretty, but it is sometimes completely necessary.

What’s your definition of friendship? Have you ever had to “cut one loose” so to speak?

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to survive a busy week

Take a few deep breaths, scream into a pillow, and put on your big girl panties. I'm having a seriously busy week this week and I am feeling on top of it, as it is only Monday, so I felt like I could talk about how to deal with it. (Ask me on Friday if I've changed my tune). The key to handling a busy week is to know in advance that your week is going to be crazy. I have known that our Service Guild rummage sale preparation would be this week for a year now, so as it got closer, I began to monitor my work calendar. Well lo and behold, I have court EVERY morning this week as well. That means, I needed to get my act together and make a plan! You can stand there crying and worrying about it or you can attack it. I choose attack. Here is a quick check list of how to keep your sanity when your world gets crazy:

1. Be a slave to your planner--yes they are heavy and take up all of the room in your purse but nothing helps more than a good planner. It is important during the craziest times in life to write things down as you think of them because when you're busy, you are going to get distracted and forget things. Use your planner also to get ahead of your game. If you can plan everything out you will see exactly what you need and when. Baby sitters, someone to let out the dogs, etc--you can put it all down in your planner. Something about the actual paper planners help me way more than my online calendar, but use whichever works best for you! This is probably a no brainer, but it all starts with the plan and thus, the planner.

2. Do things early--I grocery shop on Sunday and do laundry on Thursday. Since this week is out of control, I wanted to make sure that I got all of these kinds of tasks completed so I didn't fall behind, but I didn't want to let something like laundry send me over the edge. To that end, I shopped for this week last weekend and I'm doing a little laundry each day. Of course, all this is in my planner so I stay on task. A lot of people might say to just skip the laundry, and that is a good idea--no biggie if you can't get to things like this during your week. To me, however, I hate having mundane things pile up so I try to squeeze them in so they are finished too.

3. You gotta eat----or at least, the Baileys do. I hate for Forrest to have to eat out every night or have to eat a random assortment of chips and cookies, so I got on the ball last week and made about a million freezer meals. Then this weekend when I was making soup, I made a double batch. Now, he can eat all week and all I have to do is throw food in the crock pot in the mornings and we will both be able to eat easily and quickly when we get home from work. Plus, once you get started with making freezer meals it really doesn't take that long (and it's really fun if you have some wine while you are working). I have 10 bags of food and now 2 frozen bags of soup. I freeze everything in gallon freezer bags so they lay flat and take up as little room in my freezer. Although I used some of my favorite recipes, I got a lot of recipes and tips from THIS site which I found through pinterest. I will post recipes and tips as I cook these meals, but if you are curious as to what I made, I used the recipes on the site for BBQ Cranberry Chicken, Creamy Chicken Hotdish, Cilantro lime chicken, and beef tips and gravy. I'll share the other recipes soon!

4. Realize you can't do everything--With the rummage sale taking up 4 hours each night, I'm just not going to be able to do everything. Accepting this is key--otherwise, you won't ask for help. Forrest knows that I won't be home so it will be up to him to handle pet duties and to keep the house straight in case someone wants a showing (even though it will be a nightmare, PLEASE, potential buyers, come see our house this week!). I've just gone ahead and crossed running off of my list. I can't run afterwards because it will be too late and I'd really have to get up at the crack of dawn to run and shower and be "court ready", and I'm just not a morning person. That's ok--one week of not running will not kill me. Plus, I'm getting lots of exercise while lifting boxes and wandering around the rummage sale. I will need to be a little more cholesterol and calorie conscious, but that is something easy I can do since I planned out all of our dinners.

5. Actually ask for help--It's ok not to be super woman. As scheduled and organized as I can be, I know that the key to not losing my sanity when I'm on overload is to ask for help. Get your mom or a friend to do an errand or two for you during the week. Your husband or boyfriend can help out a little extra around the house. This week, I've asked for help with my blog, so you will be hearing from 2 fantastic bloggers later in the week. This way, you can meet new bloggy friends and my blog won't have to go silent for a few days. Again, this goes back to planning. If you know ahead of time what you need help with, you won't feel bad about asking someone last minute.

6. DVR--thank you, whoever invented the DVR. Yes, this is silly, but sometimes during a crazy week I think about all the fun stuff I will have waiting for me on the DVR when I get a chance to slow down. On Sunday I am officially going to be the couch commando and watching hour after hour of my favorites!

What do YOU do when life spins a little too quickly? Any tips? Do you do any of the same things I do? 
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Monday, October 28, 2013


This weekend proved to me that I'm a very very spoiled football fan. My sister wanted to go to the game and this was the only one she could attend, so she went with my parents instead of me. Did I want to go? Yes. However, we started our big rummage sale set up for the Service Guild on Sunday and since I am President I felt like it might be nice to stay home on Saturday instead of go to the game. Therefore, my complaining was minimal. Anyway, it was SO nice to be able to sleep in, not rush out, and actually get things done around the house on Saturday. I even got to take a little nap before the game started! I made my favorite tomato soup AND a loaf of beer bread, did the dishes, put away all the laundry, I mean, I was on top of my game. Then the game started. Boo. Watching games on TV just isn't the same! I did enjoy being able to record and flip channels, but I was aching to be in that stadium, watching us upend Tennessee. Oh well--the weekend was still a success. I mean, I got to watch about 6 games on tv and got all that house work done AND watched a movie.
As I mentioned before, the Service Guild (like Junior League) that I am in has started our largest service project of the year--a gigantic rummage sale. We have been collecting rummage all year long and this coming weekend, we will host a huge sale, the proceeds of which go to help the local charities that we support. We usually have 2 days to set up but this year we were able to secure the venue for an entire week! Hooray! We started to unload yesterday and we really got a lot done. We have to move all of the rummage, which we sort and box over the summer, to the venue and unload and distribute it. Luckily, we have lots of husbands that come out with trucks and strong backs to help us. We offer "double hours" if your husband or friend comes to help, and we offer THEM beer and snacks! What could be better! I'm going to be a little crazy this week because of course I have court every morning and then I have rummage til 9 every night, but after the sale it will all be worth it. We typically are able to give around $20,000 each year, and that makes the long hours and sore muscles worth it! Please send lots of good thoughts and vibes our way this week!!

We went from this.....
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Anyone out there host a similar event? What suggestions do you have for us? I'd love to hear! 

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Friday, October 25, 2013

I'm Loving It--Third Saturday in October

Except that it's the 4th Saturday, but blame that on the addition of new teams to the SEC. This weekend, TOMORROW, my team plays our arch out of state rival, Tennessee. It doesn't matter that we've beaten them like 6 years in a row--it's anyone's game. Especially since TN decided to show up to the party and get good last weekend. It's kind of sad, really, because they have had a mess with coaches over the past decade and haven't been able to sustain any kind of momentum. I always feel bad for teams with problems due to coaching--it's not the players' fault, you know? Anyway I digress. In Alabama, this week is referred to #hateweek because someone once called the rivalry "Good Old Fashioned Hate". Why do we hate Tennessee? I can't exactly say where it all stemmed from, but this guy sums it up well...

I'm really sad that I won't be at the game tomorrow. I had to be the bigger person and let my sister use my parents' other tickets. Yes, that was hard but yes, I get to go to all of the games and she only had this one weekend available (I thought about being mad but then I remember I get to go to the LSU game for free, so I zipped my lip). I'll be cheering from home, never you fear! ROLL TIDE!!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013


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Have you ever heard this? I'm a firm believer in this statement. I saw this on Pinterest today and felt the need to open up the discussion of this topic. On the one hand, I think you have to picture things in your mind, set standards, have a level of expectations. You have to be able to set goals and know what you expect for yourself and of other people. However, I think it's bad when people cling to their picture of what they think things should look like and they are unable to stray from that image. To me, this is detrimental. Won't date the guy because he is younger than you or you make more money than him? Wake up--that's crazy, and please don't whine to me about not having a boyfriend because you are throwing out perfectly acceptable ones. I don't think this is lowering your expectations, but rolling with what the world brings your way. Yes, please don't date him if he is a drug dealer, but I think we can be a little flexible.
I blame a lot of this on movies and songs. I remember reading a status of a girl I know one day on facebook as she lamented about something or another about life and love and I swear I thought she was quoting song lyrics. She wasn't. I wanted to leave a comment to the effect of "honey, life isn't a Taylor Swift song--get over it". However, movies and songs build up this idea of what our lives and what our love should look like, feel like, be like. These characters don't have to "settle" because they get what they want at the end of 2 hours (or 2 minutes in song form). They don't have to manage expectations, roll with things, figure things out. Life is messy and doesn't always behave the way we want it to, and that's ok. It's ok for us to make adjustments to that picture and to be grateful for what we actually have instead of be sad that we didn't get exactly what we want. A friend of mine told me a the story of her cousin, who prayed that the Lord would send her a good man to marry. Well, she met this wonderful gentleman at church, however, he was from Kenya and she wouldn't accept dates with him at first because she thought people might not accept them together because they were different races. The cousin was conflicted and prayed some more and finally, she felt like the Lord looked her straight in the face and said "Are you really going to toss out this man that you prayed for and I sent you because he has dark skin?" Well now they are married and have the sweetest little family. Even if you aren't spiritual, you get where you I'm going with this. Create a picture, but don't be afraid to draw outside the lines, change the boundaries, roll with it. The image you create in your head when you are 5 or 15 or 20 or 30 may not match your reality later on in life. Please don't sabotage yourself because you can't be flexible.
I know it's hard to give up what you think should happen or what you want to happen, but I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, in its own time. But, if we are patient and just keep our eyes focused on the big picture, the reality at hand, we should be fulfilled and happy. And to me, that's what it's all about.

What do YOU think about this? Did you have a picture for your life that you had to change? Do you think you should hold firm to your expectations and not relent? Let's talk it out!

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October Sponsor Giveaway

Hi there readers! Have you noticed the long list of lovely ladies on my side bar this month?? I am so lucky to have some incredible sponsors with me this month and they would like to offer you some goodies! See what I mean--total dolls!

My Flavor of the Month sponsor, Miss Sandy of Sandy a la Mode wants to give you $25 to J Crew! Whoop whoop! Can I enter my own giveaway??? She has lots of great fashion tips and trends for you!

Sandy a la Mode

Dara at The Southern Thing has become a side bar staple--thanks girl! She wants to give you a  Posh Lane Gift Card!

Katie at The Florkens would like to load you up with some ad space and make you one of the family, as an Honorary Florken!

Amanda at Cats, Cuddling, and Carrot Cake would like to give you a Starbucks gift card--perfect for those pumpkin spice fiends out there!!

Cats, Cuddling, & Carrot Cake

Alrighty--you know what to do! Happy entering and good luck!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Whirling Dervish, and tips for showing your house

Have you ever seen one of those? Well that is what I look and feel like today. I was enjoying a perfectly wonderful "sleep late day" before court this morning when my realtor calls. I always freak out when I see his name on the caller id because it could mean someone wants to see our house or better yet, BUY our house, so I'm pretty sure my crazy started right then. Well, he had someone that MIGHT want to see the house in a few minutes. A few? I'm standing here running around the house aimlessly in my PJs--but hey, I'm not one to miss an opportunity for a sale, so bring him on. So, in the midst of getting ready for court, I'm throwing cat toys under beds and hiding dirty clothes. Turns out he couldn't come this morning but hopefully will be able to come later today or during this week. I made it to Court right on time, actually wearing clothes and make up and I even had time to straighten my hair while leaving the house in acceptable showing condition. Am I super woman? Yes, duh, but actually I was able to get the house ready in record time because of a few simple rules we created when we started this whole house selling endeavor. I'm going to share some tips with you so hopefully if you find yourself in this situation, you will be ready!!

1. Make a check list
Shoved in my underwear drawer is a 2 page list entitled: "What to do when someone wants to see the house". I made this bad boy when I was going to Vegas for Miss USA and leaving my husband to tend the house and any possible showings (none, actually, but hey, I was prepared). It breaks the house down room by room and lists the main things to do when getting that room ready. I've followed this list so many times now I have it memorized. At the end, it hits the high points of the main things to take care of in every room--vacuum, spray air freshener and light candles (which is what I do very first, actually, so they burn the whole time I'm getting ready), take pets to their respective hiding locations, etc. The list is key!!

2. Divide and conquer
Forrest and I have divided up all of the tasks that need to be done for a showing and it really saves time. I handle all of the "list" things on the inside and he handles the outside ones. There is some overlap, in that I take care of the outdoor seating area and he does one final sweep of the floors. Since we each have our own tasks to handle there is no confusion over who does what. We just get it done.

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Forrest woks to make the yard look beautiful, while I'm more of an indoor girl.

3. Make a plan for pets
One of the cardinal rules of house selling is to hide all trace of pets. You never know if the people looking are pet people or if they think pets are nasty. I hide everything--bowls, beds, toys, all of it. Even though we have a fence I don't want the dogs to stay in it because I want the potential buyers to be able to go in the fence, check out the yard, etc without Sonny and Ruffles going all attack dog on there. No, they wouldn't bite them, but it could really give a negative vibe to hear them barking their heads off. We are lucky to have the Hayes across the street who don't mind if we put the dogs in their fence. As for the cats, I round them up very last, toss them in their carrier, and they spend a couple of hours hanging with me, either at the office or doing errands. They hate it, but they would hate going to a strange house even worse. I think they feel safe together in the carrier and with us, and since it's just for an hour or so, I think they can get over it. Having a set plan on what to do with your fur babies can have them

4. Posh it up all week long
I always want the house to look its best--like I'm going to have a party. I hope that doing that helps people see themselves living and entertaining in it themselves. To that end, I always have plants around, especially as centerpieces. Live plants are beautiful and add lots of depth and richness to a room, in my opinion. Although they usually end up dying, I think that plants go a long way in taking a room to the next level. I also keep the tables set all the time now. To me, it looks nice! I used to put everything out when we found out someone wanted to come but we don't always have a lot of time, so leaving these nice touches out really helps. Plus, our house always looks "fancy"!

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I used these plants that I won at the auction last week to add some color and pizzazz to the house. Now if only I can keep them alive....

5. Leave unused items hidden
I want people to open cabinets, closets and drawers when they view the house so they see that there is plenty of stuff for all of their paraphernalia. I have plenty of space for all of my stuff but I decided to streamline my storage so show actually how much space the house really has. I put all unnecessary coats in the truck if my car, along with extra dry goods (rice, pasta, etc) and alcohol (that's really so we don't look like drunks). These are things that I don't need on a daily basis and it's not hard to get them when I need them. Plus, I'm not worried about the state of my cabinets because I always know they are straight--the mess is in the car! Yes, I haven't used the trunk of my car since May but hey, that's why Forrest has a truck.

What do you think? Do you have any tips that can make my house showing even faster? What tricks of the trade did you use when you sold your house? What do you like/dislike to see when you are house hunting? 

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Ramblings

This weekend was so perfectly fall. Cool at night and warm and sunny during the days. We filled it with wine and football--what more could you ask for?

We spent Friday evening wine tasting with our Young Marrieds group from church at a local winery and enjoying the cool weather and beautiful sunset!

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On Saturday, Forrest got up dark and early (I saw dark because there was nothing bright about it--it was early!) to go on a discovery flight over the city. A friend had invited him to take advantage of a gift certificate he had and of course Forrest was game. I was a little nervous about him being up in that tiny plane but he had a blast. He even got to take over the controls for a little bit!

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I spent the day in Tuscaloosa reuniting with friends and cheering on the Tide to their 52-0 win over the Hogs. RTR my friends, RTR.

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Reliving our sorority days! I was so happy to see these sweet girls!! There is never enough time to catch up!

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My fantastic game day date Randi!

On Sunday we had an open house. We got some great feed back and had lots of visitors so maybe one of these couples will make us an offer. I'm getting so excited about the new house and I'm SO ready to pack, but it would really be nice if we could sell our house before we have to do that. I know everything is in God's hands and on HIS time and I just need to trust that.

Alabama Women Bloggers
Don't forget that I'm Miss October on Alabama Women Bloggers! Today I'm talking about phobias and passing them on. Ok, that was a pretty random assortment of ramblings, but it's all I've got for you on this busy Monday! Hope your Monday was great and that you didn't hit your head on a cabinet or poke yourself in the eye with a file like I did. Stay tuned for more fun later this week!

Sami's Shenanigans

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Friday, October 18, 2013

I'm Loving It

We are gearing up for an open house at our home on Sunday so we have been in cleaning and organizing mode all week. Luckily we have planned a few fun breaks this weekend, so more to come about that on Monday! Let's get into my loves of the week, shall we??

1. Rain, if you can believe it
I whined and complained all summer about the rain but I was actually kind of happy that it started raining this week. Who doesn't love to snuggle under the covers listening to the rain? Also it made it ok for me to pull out my boots and cute rain coat. I'm all about getting into my fall accessories right now.

 photo null_zps337613d4.jpg Sonny snoozing in the rain. He didn't want to get up!

 2. 10k giveaway
Forrest and I attended my school's annual $10,000 giveaway. They have dinner and drinks, a silent auction, and of course, the reverse drawing for the 10 G's!! Forrest and I made it into the last 40 tickets and my friend Rachel was the 12th ticket to the end. We were getting SO nervous for her! Forrest of course loves a silent auction and won some incredible prizes for us. Gift cards to restaurants, wine, flowers, and lots of other goodies! He would not, however, let me bid on the cute Siamese kittens....

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LOVE this orchid that I won!!!

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Since we are having the open house Sunday, I wanted the house to be full of flowers. Hence the orchid above and this massive mum!

3. The Light Between Oceans
This is our book club book for November and I finished it late Wednesday night. It was a little long but it was a very interesting story! It was definitely different than anything I've read lately so if you are looking for a new read, check this one out.
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4. Our new neighborhood
I went walking with Ruffles in our new neighborhood on Monday and we took Sonny for a run there last night (yes, we go over there even though we don't officially live there yet). Each time I've been, we have seen neighbors out walking dogs, pushing strollers, enjoying the evening air on their porch, etc. I LOVE that about the neighborhood which is one of the reasons we went ahead and jumped at the house. Our current street is like that but at the new house, the WHOLE neighborhood is like that. I'm really excited to get moved in after the first of the year!!

5.My newest Gadsden Style Article
My latest article for our local magazine came out online this week. It's my suggestions for what to serve at game day parties, depending on kick off time. I had a great time writing the article, finding recipes, and doing the photo shoot. You can check it out HERE and you can find my pinterest boards HERE. Hope this helps in planning your next game day soiree!!

What are you loving this week???

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

5 Ways to Celebrate Halloween All Month Long

If you read my post yesterday, you know that I'm not doing Halloween this year. I just don't have time to deal with all of that--sorry. BUT, just because I'm going AWOL this Halloween doesn't mean YOU have to! My friend Dori from Shop at Home is sharing some tips to help you celebrate Halloween all month long. Clearly, I had to get someone else to do this post because I'm a slacker this year, so take it away Dori!

Hi! I'm Dori! 
I am one of those people for whom Halloween begins on Oct. 1 and is celebrated throughout the month, culminating on the famed Oct. 31. While I'd like to narrow down my categorical list for all things Halloween into say, my fave books, or movies, I don't think I can, because my love for this season comes with way too many cool things to be a part of -- so why limit the greatness when I can share what I've spent a lifetime learning to love.

Here's a list of the best things to do in order to celebrate Halloween all month long:

1. The books: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice -- nothing brings on the night like a good vampire book, and this is the best one ever written. And depending on how voracious a reader you are, you might want to take terror into a whole other dimension and read John Saul's Blackstone Chronicles. Just get used to sleeping with the lights on. Get these books for less from Books A Million when you shop online with coupons and Cash Back from Spooky fun for less? Yes please!

2. The candy: Did you know that chocolate actually tastes better when wrapped in orange and black foil? Supermarkets stock up early for the onslaught of trick-or-treaters that we all anticipate, but the truth is -- it's for all of us. Let that sink in to your teeth and enjoy those tasty treats all month long.

3. The TV movies: If you ever wanted to go full-on couch potato and not feel like a loser -- this is your season. The Syfy channel is running a nonstop horror movie festival called, 31 Days of Halloween. If you're lucky, in one sitting you can catch The Shining, Alien and The Exorcist. Of course, that's a long sitting. You'll need snacks (see No. 2).

4. The stuff: If you have ever had the urge to drink your coffee out of a skull, this is the time of year that allows you to find that perfect monster mug -- and then some. Hit places like Home Goods and Target for bat-covered dinnerware, haunted house pillowcases and of course, skeleton accessories by the hundreds. So start shopping --the black cat candleholders await!

5. The costumes: This is your one chance to dress any way you choose and get away with it, so carpe noctem! Even if you're just going to hang around and give out candy (if there's any left after the month long festival of couch potato-ing) there is no reason you should greet your trick-or-treating guests without a costume of your own. I like to open up the door, decked out in full-out spooky costume garb. I let the little ones freak out for a second or two, and then pull out the Milky Ways while cracking a smile.

Thanks for that girl! I hope you all found Dori's tips helpful?
So, since I'm out of the Halloween game this year, I want to know from you: 
What is your favorite part of Halloween? Do you decorate? Go all out? Dress up? Are you slacking this year like me??? I KNOW I'm not the only one out there! 

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

West Elm Love

I was BEYOND stoked when I received an email inviting me to a special media tour of the new West Elm store in Birmingham. Although I haven't actually purchased anything from West Elm before, I love their website and have been checking it out much more lately now that we are moving, so I couldn't wait to get myself into that store! Several other bloggers and I were given a tour of the new store before it opened an were told all about the West Elm brand and products. I for one, loved how they paid attention to local art and flavor, and how they give amateur artists and designers a chance to design for them on a national level. Also, their design center is top notch. They have in house, on staff designers that will help you design your room, totally free of charge. You can bring in your swatches, ideas, even your pinterest, and they will work with you until you are satisfied. They will even come to your house--for free! How cool is that!! I took about 8 million quick pictures on my phone and so I hope some of these are helpful in proving to you just how awesome West Elm really is! The design, the price, the service--you just can't beat it!

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One of my favorite things about the store is that they show you how to use all of the items in the store together. Here we have dishes, napkins, vases, candles, from all over the store, but put together to help you with your own design concept. Plus, most of the furniture is on sale, as you can see!

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I really love how they have everything sorted by collections. This is the Dekalb collection, properly accessorized of course.

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Here is the Rustic collection. One thing I really liked was that the collections have pieces for all areas of your home, so you can get this Rustic coffee table for your den and the side table for the bedroom and not look too matchy matchy. They do a good job of blending collections for a deeper design appeal.

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Ok this is cool. Thousands of graphic artists submitted work to West Elm and some were chosen to be sold in stores! These are some of the cool designs! Also, the rhino head is part of their taxidermy collection. They have different white head all over the store.

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West Elm is great about using plain white dishes as a base and then jazzing them up. For example, you can purchase these adorable dapper deer plates to put on top of your basic, every day white plates. By changing your accent plates and chargers, you can give your china a whole new look and feel without breaking the bank!

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West Elm also worked with local Alabama Etsy artists and are selling many of their designs in the store! How cool!

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I really need yall to know that really is the softest throw ever. Their regular, every day throw is also pretty soft and is only $19!

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The design center, full of swatches and samples! You could spend HOURS in here mixing and matching!

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I personally need these white tables. I love this color scheme, don't you? I have got to incorporate these into my new house!

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West Elm has something for every room, including the bed room! All of their beds are layered and look so cozy. I love again how you can start with something plain and simple and "umph" it up just by adding an inexpensive throw!

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How cool is this coffee table??

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Ok, these are just funny. We actually all got a fun shopping bag for attending the event! Thanks West Elm!

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Now this is a bar that Don Draper would be proud of. I really need those glasses, like, really bad. This would look great in your dining room year round!

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I think this tablescape is lovely. I love all the candles, the white and the gold, and the different textures.

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Close up of the table above. I really need those accent plates in silver to match my formal china. And the bowls, and the rimmed glasses, and the napkins. Hmmmmmm

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Beautiful, colorful bowls, perfect for every room in the house! Eat out of them, put your jewelry in them, use it as a soap dish in your powder room. Some of these were as low as $4, so you can buy one in every color!

Ok--have I won you over to the West Elm team? I sure hope so! Check out their website or a store near you!! Thanks again, WE, for inviting me!

*West Elm did give me a gift card for attending the event but all of the opinions in this post are my own! They ROCK!

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