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December 30, 2015

Hands Down The Best of 2015

Wow, what a year! Am I right?
I can't offer a more heartfelt thank you to each one of you this past year for sticking it out with me while I was went through one of the hardest years! It was really hard to keep up with this little blog on a regular basis, but I am so thankful to be better and back to blogging like I love to do!

Looking forward to a great New Year, and a fresh start in all categories of life. But before we ring in 2016, I wanted to look back at my favorite parts that 2015 offered! Cheers!

Easy Last-Minute DIY New Year’s Eve Party Ideas:

This Year's Highlights:
1. Starting my dream job and making some killer work friends
2. Opening a $5.1 Ronald McDonald House
3. Making homemade pizza on Love Day
4. Going to my first blog conference with my KC blog buds
5. Getting my first blow out (champagne in tow) 
6. Dancing the night away at a fancy family wedding in Houston
7. Celebrating our 2nd anniversary with a little staycation & a love letter
8. Learning how to fine tune my inner green thumb
9. Eating our way through Nashvegas while searching for T. Swift
10. Daytripping to Lawrence for strawberry picking with my mom + dad
11. Adventuring at the dog park & post Beast bath pics
12. Sampling beignets at the Saturday morning farmers market
13. Visiting my best friends in Wichita and laughing so hard I cried
14. Attempting to conquer red lipstick
15. Having the courage to go through counseling & growing so much
16. Visiting Portland and eating the world's best donut... twice
17. Hiking Multnomah Falls
18. Roadtripping to Canon Beach with the hubster
19. Experiencing and being in awe of Seattle's Chihuly museum 
20. Playing board games in Director's Park while in Portland
21. Walking through Pike's Market
22. Singling along to every word at the Taylor Swift concert w/ mom + sis
23. Cheering on our KC Royals winning the World Series with 800,000 of my closest friends
24. Traveling to Disney World as a pre-Christmas present with my boo
25. Witnessing the magic of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
26. Going to Florida over Thanksgiving with my awesome in-laws
27. Taking a sister trip to NYC and getting on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
28. Celebrating my brother's engagement on Christmas morning and gaining a soon-to-be new sister

Favorite Movies:

1. The Intern
2. Bridge of Spies
3. Cinderella
4. Divergent: Insurgent
5. The Age of Adeline
6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
7. Inside Out
8. Minions
9. Joy
10. Hotel Transylvania 2
11. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
12. Sisters
13. Concussion

Favorite Songs:
1. Hello - Adele
2. Spirit Cold - Tall Heights
3. Downtown - Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis
4. See You Again - Wiz Khalifa
5. Cheerleader - Omi
6. Fight Song - Rachel Platten
7. Hold My Hand - Jess Glynn
8. Shut Up and Dance - Walk the Moon
9. Thinking Out Loud - Ed Sheeran
10. Four Five Seconds - Rihanna and Kanye
11. Stay With Me - Sam Smith
12. Watch Me - Silento
13. Budapest - George Ezra
14. Renegades - X Ambassadors
15. New Americana - Halsey

Best Albums:
1. 25 - Adele
2. Beneath the Skin - Of Monsters and Men
3. 1989 - Ryan Adams
4. A Heart Full of Dreams - Coldplay
5. Purpose - Biebs

Favorite Live Events:
1. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (New York, NY)
2. Matilda (New York City, NY)
3. 1989 Taylor Swift (Kansas City, MO)
4. Wishes at Magic Kingdom (Orlando, FL)
5. Musicians Corner (Nashville, TN)
6. The Book of Mormon Musical (Kansas City, MO)
7. Adele Live at Madison Square Garden (via TV - New York, NY)

Favorite Books: 
1. Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps - Kelly Williams 
2. The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown
3. It Was Me All Along: A Memoir - Andie Mitchell

Favorite Eats:
1. Ibis Bakery - Gourmet Toast with Almond Butter, Local Honey, & Sea Salt (Lenexa, KS)
2. Barista Parlor - Whiskey Caramel Latte (Nashville, TN)
3. The Pancake Pantry - Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Glaze (Nashville, TN)
4. The Pharmacy - Pharmacy Burger & Hand-cut Sweet Potato Fried (Nashville, TN)
5. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams - Brown Butter Almond Brittle Ice Cream (Nashville, TN)
6. Parkville Coffee - Blended Mocha Coffee (Parkville, MO)
7. The Upper Crust - Coconut Cream Pie (Kansas City, MO)
8. Happy Gillis - Biscuits & Sausage Gravy (Kansas City, MO)
9. Blue Star Donuts - Blueberry Bourbon Basil Donut (Portland, OR)
10. Voodoo Donuts - Maple Bacon Longjohn (Portland, OR)
11. Pine State Biscuits - The Reggie Biscuit Sandwich (Portland, OR)
12. Deschutes Brewery - Fresh Squeezed IPA (Portland OR)
12. Marination Ma Kai - Aloha Pork Sliders & Pickled Ginger Slaw (Seattle, WA)
13. Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant - Pulled Pork (Franklin, TN)
14. Brooklyn Diner - Chicken Pot Pie (New York, NY)
15. Molly's Cupcakes - Blueberry Cheesecake Cupcake (New York, NY)
16. Dolce Bakery - Sweet Potato Scone (Prairie Village, KS)

Looking forward to 2016 because...
1. A fresh start after a tough year
2. Hopefully going to Michigan for a family friend wedding
3. Lots of cabin road trips
4. More brunching with my girlfriends
5. Trying to become a 'regular' at a coffee shop
6. Renewed health after lots of health issues
7. Hoping to plan some great adventures with the hubster
8. Spending more time with our families
9. Sister graduating from college

// What were your favorites of 2015? //

Alright, 2016, I am ready for you!
Bring on the new epic adventures!

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December 28, 2015

Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up

Better late than never, right? I got extra lazy last night and went to bed so I could get up extra early to fight the impending winter storm during my commute. Hence why it's my lunch break and I'm just now posting Mingle Monday!

A very special thank you to all who left me encouraging notes after I shared a vulnerable insight to where I have been for the last 6 months. Thankful to have such loyal blog friends through the times of struggle - I can't thank you enough from the bottom of my heart!!



 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **

1) Link-up your blog below.

2) Share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or give a social media shout out.
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below:
** Any fun New Years Eve plans? **


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December 23, 2015

This Will Be Me Before Our Company Arrives...

The struggle is real, my friends...

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December 21, 2015

Real Talk: Where I've Been the Last 6 Months

I have written this blog post a thousand times in my head.
I've had so much to say, but it seemed so daunting to actually start. And more so? So scary and draining to actually be vulnerable.

Many of you have so kindly emailed me to check and see if I'm okay, noticing my number of blog posts dwindling down to once a week. Nothing original or inspired to grace the wall of this humble little blog, and for a very good reason.

This past year has been one of the hardest years in my life.
My heart has been heavy and my mind distant, full of some many other things.

Important things.
Heavy things.

In this past year, I was given my dream job at Ronald McDonald House Charities, which both incredibly inspires and excites me, as well as sometimes making my heart hurt at times. Broken kiddos going through cancer and awful diseases, and their burdened families who all simply need so much love and kindness, but as you can imagine... sometimes it's hard not to take work home with me, but I'm working on it.

I've also had lots of health issues beginning in the late spring - bone spur and feet problems (read: walking boot of death - ha!), herniated disk in my back, and skin cancer removal surgery. As a result, I haven't been able to workout and de-stress after work like I so badly need. I never knew how much I would miss those sweaty grueling [read: awful!] workout sessions until I gained 20+ pounds, and my self-esteem flew out the window.

On top of that, I have felt extra tired and achey, as exercise is the main way I manage the side effects of my fibromyalgia pain - a chronic auto-immune disease where the nerves tell your body you're in pain constantly - and it leaves many feeling like they have the achey flu most days. Exercising was my life line to stay healthy, feel good about myself, and mentally decompress. I so badly wanted to feel like me again.

Aside from my personal struggle, many of my closest family members and friends have been suffering with so much this year: depression, job loss, health issues, infertility, death of a loved one, overwhelming anxiety, miscarriage, eating disorders, heartbreak, work worries, waiting to receive a transplant, divorce... and the list goes on.

Now that's heavy. And real.
Just heartbreaking.

From the end of the earth will I cry to you. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. - Psalm 61:2:

Finally, without knowing how to cope with my own stress (disordered eating, self-acceptance, personal development), as well as being a caregiver for my hurting family and friends, I finally began counseling this summer. It took me forever to get past the stigma of counseling and be able to go, but once I did I've never known such freedom. Finally a healthy outlet where I could vent, cry, share victories, get help, and simply breathe. And breathing is so very important, especially when you feel like you are drowning. So thankful I had such a kind and loving counselor confidant full of wisdom and help (thanks for being you, Lindsey!).

During that time I really struggled with posting on my blog, especially light and fluffy things - like fashion, recipes, and cool gift ideas for the holiday. I've also missed reading other friends' blogs too. In my world, all time and space slowed down with every moment feeling fragile and occupied... no room for extras. Being a prisoner of worry and sometimes hurt while feeling overwhelmed quite simply left me empty and uninspired.

I was angry, sad, mad at God, felt alone, confused, overwhelmed, and lost all at once.
That's when I realized it's okay to pull back. It's okay to not post on my blog, or question what was happening, or not cook a gourmet meal each night, or have a perfectly clean house, or say no to meeting up with friends. And the truth is, it's okay to simply be present and take care of yourself (and not feel obligated to apologize for it)... and that took a long time for me to realize.  It also taught me to identify who my "safe" friends/family are - those who have unwavering trust and will walk with me every step of the way, navigating uncharted waters.

So thankful for the unconditional love and perseverance of my incredible husband, the care and gentleness of my best friends, the support of my family, a great counselor and nutritionist, and for each and every one of you who sent what may have felt like a very little note my way. On countless occasions, just the simple "checking in!" brought tears to my eyes and meant more than I can truly express. Thank you for caring.

After months of repair and healing, I feel brand new! Back feeling like myself again and I cannot wait to jump back into what I've missed so much. I've so missed connecting with each of you, reading your wonderful blogs, and feeling inspired to share as well. Although I may have lost some readers over the past 6 months or so, I am so thankful that you are here reading this post and letting me share this journey with you.

I know in some weird way God will use my story and struggles in a special way to someone who maybe needs to hear they are not alone. That someone else has been there too and I can possibly understand a small piece of what you may be struggling with.

And maybe that someone is you?
If so, you should know...

You are stronger than you know, and so deeply loved.
It's okay to not be okay.
You will get through this... so take heart, my friend!
It is not the end of your story.
This is your new beginning.
Everyday, God is still good, in heartache and triumph.

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December 14, 2015

Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up... I'm Back!

Anyone notice that this humble little blog was a wee bit abandoned for a few weeks? I promise... I am alive and have a very heartfelt blog post coming your way on where I've been, and why stepping back is good and necessary sometimes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the many emails checking on me. I felt very much showered in love and support, and made it easier to get back in the groove. Anyway, glad you're here, glad you're you... let's mingle!



 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **

1) Link-up your blog below.

2) Share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or give a social media shout out.
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below:
** Favorite holiday tradition or food? **


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