The Adventures of Stinky Sweet:

Sometimes stinky. Sometimes sweet. But it's our life - and it is always good.

Monday, December 9, 2013

I love my neighbors.

I ordered my mom a fairly valuable Christmas gift online - something that Sis, Dad, and I are all getting her and I am very excited about it - but I worried a lot about it being delivered at the normal mid-afternoon FedEx time. We have a great street of neighbors but lots of neighborhood wanderers that make me nervous to leave valuables on the front porch for hours. As it turns out, my suspicions were partially justified. The gift was delivered today and our awesome neighbors spotted someone prowling about looking to see if it was worth taking. They never actually made it into the yard - just walked past scoping things out multiple times - so the neighbors scooted over and grabbed it off the front porch. They literally stopped me when I pulled in the driveway to tell me they had it so...thanks neighbors for saving Christmas. More confirmation that we are where we are supposed to be.

Coincidentally, they also said to look for a regular USPS box because the mailman had gone up on the porch to leave something. It must have come early enough for Chad to bring it in because it was a Mom's Majik Mox full of the ingredients for a chicken and pasta casserole, minus fresh chicken. I have gotten a kick out of wishing they HAD stolen the box full of casserole ingredients because it would have taught them a hilarious lesson - or maybe they needed it? Either way, the Christmas gift is safe and so is the casserole. And a word to the wise (or maybe not-so-wise?) - the two paranoid, awesome, retired dudes that live across the street? They are watching out for us.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Change + Technology

I am change resistant. By nature. Completely reluctant to do things that create major change. I know. Hard to imagine for the girl who moved to India for 3 months after college or married a guy from a different state or settled on one house to purchase. I guess I don't entirely DISlike change - I just don't like it sneaking up on me. And little changes I can take - just the big stuff that gets to me. Changes that effect my daily work or life and make me alter my plans - those are the worst.

So, come about oh....18 months ago-ish, our office went to an entirely Google based system for everything. Email, saving documents, calendars, etc. - all based on Google. We use Google hangouts for meetings, share documents and work collaboratively on Google Drive, and chat on Google+ - we went in hook, line, and sinker.

Except this girl (and a few other brave hold outs).

I refused to switch over to an entirely Google based world so I stuck with Outlook for email and I use a paper calendar (I know - mind blowing.). I copied everything in both the paper version and the electronic Google version so people could use that to see where I was and schedule meetings with me but I always rely on the paper version the most. I save documents on my personal hard drive which is saved to our internal server and backed up daily in two places. I create documents in Microsoft and then upload them to Google so I have the originals.

Yesterday - our Google crashed. I mean completely bit the dust. I am not sure how everything works in the technology world but apparently all that stuff we had saved - documents, calendars, email contacts, email history, etc. - its all gone. Apparently to never return.

And this girl - not freaking out. Lots of folks are and I understand because MANY MONTHS worth of work - important, time consuming, valuable work - has been lost. There are a few documents that I had been working on that were saved on Google so that my entire team or project team could work on them that I have lost and are irreplaceable. One huge spreadsheet of research for my project team - which can't really be replicated because the info came from emails which are also now lost - is gone and that is probably what I am the most bummed out about.

But, my paper calendar and Outlook are still around. And still fine. So, here's my lesson to myself: be you and know you. If something doesn't make you happy or help you work more efficiently, don't use it. If it doesn't appeal to the way you know your brain works best, use something else - something that works for you. Don't change because everyone else is doing something - whether it is using Gmail or jumping off bridges as the old adage says or trying to keep up with the Joneses. Just be you. Paper calendars and all.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Over a year ago, my first Fitbit went through the washing machine and met an untimely demise. (FYI: a Fitbit is a fitness tracker that measures steps taken like a pedometer, calories burned, flights of stairs climbed, etc.) Fitbits apparently don't like swimming so I was just out until I could buy another one. It has been on my wish list for a while - I was busy doing other things with my moola - so I hadn't had one in a while. My sweet friend K got me the newest version for my birthday back in October - one that you wear on your wrist instead of your pocket.

I was super excited about it - this one was water resistant! - until the very next day (literally) when I got an email that the even NEWER version was coming out soon. This one also had a watch function (the other did not so I was wearing it in addition to my usual watch and my wrist was getting a little crowded). So, K and I chatted about it and I ended up taking it back and waiting on the newer one to come out. It finally did this past week and I picked up the Fitbit Force at Target.

I've really been enjoying it...on the small screen you can tell time, see how many steps you have taken and what that equates to in mileage, see how many calories you've burned, how many flights of stairs you have gone up (you get one for every 10feet in altitude you gain so you can climb a mountain or a skyscraper), and how many minutes you were "very active" during the day. It sort of helps you challenge yourself to park a little farther from the door, make an extra lap around the building during your lunch hour, etc. One of my favorite parts about this version is that it also vibrates to let you know when you have reached one of your daily goals...a fun reminder that you go there! You can also set multiple alarms on it and it will vibrate on your arm to wake you in the morning so your alarm doesn't wake your sleeping buddy. For this first shift wife with a second shift husband, this is extra nice!

Fun gift and helping me try to be a little more healthy!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Been elfing...

I know it has been a few weeks since I've posted and there really isn't any one excuse for that. I've been busy with work, etc. but also been busy just trying to love on the people that matter. Spent some good time with family on Thanksgiving, Chad and I got out all the Christmas decorations on Friday, and my mom made an appearance this weekend to attend the annual Vince Gill concert. I've been busy working on craft projects for Christmas presents and making my house look festive for the season. I'm not sorry that I've been missing around these parts. But I still love all 7 of you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November Birchbox!

It is Birchbox time again! I'm a little late getting it posted this month but it came right on time last week. This month's theme is "More Good" - sort of focused on the holidays.

This is a sample of Sampar's Equalizing Foam Peel. I am a little nervous about using a peel but it claims to be gentle so it is worth trying! The full size is $75 and honestly I don't think there is anything that could make me purchase the full size - there isn't enough here in the sample to make me fall in love with it - but I am excited to try it!

This is a Joie sample of their Folle de Joie perfume. I haven't gotten a perfume sample in a while since I updated my profile that I would like to receive fewer of them (I was getting one in every box!) but I REALLY like this one. It is a little less floral than others I have received - almost more "grown up" smelling, if that can define a perfume. I've worn it twice now and I like it a lot...

This is a Tiossan body cream sample. It is a nice thick cream that rubs in pretty well. Nice size to toss in the travel bag and it has lots of antioxidants in it - supposedly great for skin so that's a win in my book!

Another Color Club nail polish. The color is quite a bit darker in person - this picture makes it look bright blue but it is closer to a dark royal in real life. I think I will start with it on my toes and go from there. I usually avoid blue and green on my hands - personal preference - but this one is dark enough that it might fly!

Finally, this is - I believe - a full size product! It is a Chella brand highlighter pencil. Regular price is $18 and if the full size is bigger then that is awesome. I have already used it multiple times and I really like it. Perfect shade to brighten up brows bones, inside of the eye, etc. Goes on thick like a concealer but smooths easily. Really like this one.
All in all, this was a really good month! Great nail polish color, lovely perfume sample, and the highlighter pencil topped it off.
I actually used some of my Birchbox points to purchase full size items of things I received in previous boxes (the Benefit Fakeup concealer - AWESOME - and a dry shampoo) and only paid $4! Yay Birchbox points!!

Good times.

I spent Friday night and all day Saturday at our GS camp in Knoxville teaching girls about the Gold Award. It is always gratifying to be able to answer their questions, challenge them to dream a little bigger, and encourage them to achieve the highest award possible in our organization. This group was a little challenging - not very talkative and looking intimidated by the process - but I think we made some progress. And, they know how to find us when they are ready to ask questions - they can put a name with an email address or phone number so maybe WE will be less intimidating!

Chad is working today so we just had lunch with J and he headed to the hospital for work. It is raining and nasty outside so my plans include lit candles for a good smelling house, working a little more on cleaning out the craft/spare room, starting some Christmas craft projects, cleaning up the kitchen, and maybe a little movie watching. It is going to be a good afternoon.

Then, I have tomorrow off work too! We will do a little bathroom tiling - its coming along slowly but surely - and then a trip to the animal shelter to look at dogs. Someone we know (NOT THIS HOUSE) might be getting a dog for Christmas! I'm excited! Of course, it takes everything in my power to not come home with another cat - I just remind myself how much food costs and how much the annual vet bills are and then I remember why we have cats and dogs instead of kids and I think, why not one more? :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Never slow.

I thought that my job might slow down during some time during the year - and while I haven't actually been in this particular position for a full year - it doesn't seem like it will ever be slow.

So, that being said - I've been busy...again...more? yeah.
I took one day off this week, trying to burn some vacation time before I lose it at the end of the year but I feel like I have been playing catch up all week. Busy day of meetings on Monday, day off on Tuesday (which was vegging out perfection with my sick-with-a-cold guy), spent the entire day yesterday touring venues for a spring event, meetings all day today. I don't want to make myself sound too exciting with all the meetings - more like we are just in this season of trying to plan, make decisions for the future, and get ahead of the ball (which isn't the norm!). We are looking at events for next spring and summer - living in the land of 2014 and 2015 because we need that long to get it right!

Today was a big day...if you recall, this summer I attended the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in DC and has the privilege of presenting a session at that conference. Well, I'm applying to present two different sessions this coming year in Atlanta. The proposals are due tomorrow and I've been working on mine for a couple of weeks now. I started getting so nervous about sending it in that I just forced myself to do a final review and send it in today before I left work. I didn't want it hanging over my head tomorrow too and I don't think I could improve it any more. So, fingers crossed that they will accept it and want me (and a team mate) to present next summer!

I have another surprise project hanging over my head for tomorrow - our CEO asked me to come spend the day with the Board on Monday and chat with them about my team. They want to take a more hands on approach with our older girls programming and I'd be glad to have the input so bring it on. I'm a little nervous that I need to pull the info together by Monday but most of it is in my head so I just have to get it on paper! That'll be my project for, goodnight!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Beautiful day.

I had some vacation time that I needed to use before the end of the year so I gave myself a 3 day work week this week!

I took today off to hang out with my mom and my sister. I drove about 2 hours southeast to Ball Ground, GA. to a family owned gardens that my mom found a few months ago. Gibbs Gardens. She meant to go in the spring when their 1,000's of daffodils are blooming but missed it so she bought an annual membership to go back. I enjoyed our stroll through their Japanese style garden because the maples were turning beautiful fall colors. I mainly just enjoyed spending the day with 2 of my favorite ladies...

I came home to work on my costume for work. We are allowed to wear costumes (nothing questionable, obviously!) to work tomorrow which is just another reason that I love my job.
Nothing like procrastinating...waiting until the last minute to make my costume. I believe I did this to myself last year too during the Mrs. Potato Head fame.
I am going to be a peacock for Halloween...
And I had some extra supplies so I made Gwendolen a costume too.
And now I am staying up until Chad gets home because I can't wait to show it to him. I think it is hysterical. He probably won't.
Pics from work after tomorrow....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Living it up.

As I have mentioned multiple times before, fall is my favorite season. It cooler temperatures, the leaves changing colors, the windows open in the house - I just enjoy so many different pieces of it and I am so thankful for another beautiful fall season arriving on our door step.

We have been busy the past few weeks...travelling to Columbus last weekend and trying to fit in as many things as possible into our days. Chad is working this weekend so I spent Saturday morning with his mom and uncle at a local fair - bought a couple of Christmas presents - and then was the official nephew babysitter Saturday afternoon/evening. I knew he had been struggling with behavior at school but I did not have any issues with him. We had a good time together in my opinion. He ran a couple of errands with me, we had dinner at Chick-fil-a, played on the playground here in St. Elmo, baked cookies, and played Monopoly. Chad claims that I didn't have any trouble with him because I kept him busy doing things that were all "fun" so he didn't have a chance to want something different. I disagree...I think he knows that his behavior needs to remain good in order to do those fun things, that I won't hesitate to discipline him, and that I will follow through on the things I tell him (both positive and negative). I think consistency is key for kids (obviously, coming from a non-parent so no judgment here!) but when he behaves well, I really enjoy hanging out with him. He is smart, funny, and full of questions - eager to learn.

Chad is gone to work now after a lazy Sunday morning together so I am going to clean up in the house a little. Something nice about the birds singing outside, windows open, and tooling around the house. (p.s. we will probably close the windows was 64 inside the house when we got up this morning!)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October Birchbox!

Its October Birchbox time!!
This month was actually a really good one and I'll tell you why in a minute.

This is a small sample of the benefit brand Fake Up. It is supposed to be a hydrating, crease control concealer. I have not tried it yet but I probably will tomorrow because I am always on the lookout for an awesome concealer for genetically dark circles under my eyes. Plus - hydration is always a good thing for those too. It is in a little twist up stick so easy to smear on...

This is an interesting item that I will definitely try. It is the Lix Earle brand Cleanse and Polish hot cloth cleanser (a UK brand). It comes with a muslin cloth to wipe off the exfoliator which is interesting and unusual. You are supposed to run it under hot water first and then use it on your face. I love that it came in its own little blue fancy!

This is the item that makes me feel like this month's box is awesome.
It is a Chapstick brand hydration lock chapstick.
1. a product that everyday folks can afford and will actually use.
2. a full size item. awesome.
3. it came in this awesome little printed Ziploc baggy - this month's "Birchbox Find"...just a little extra.
Apparently the Chapstick is so self-explanatory that they didn't even feel the need to list is on my enclosure card that explains each item. Simple and awesome. Get in my purse NOW.

Sorry for the crazy blurry picture on this one (all this month's pictures were taken on the cell phone because literally my camera was in the car and I was too excited to go out and get it before I opened my box).
This is a Pop Beauty brand Aqua Lacquer. It is a sheer gloss with a little bit of pink color. I have actually already used this one and it has some sort of tingly agent in it to "plump" your lips. Love the colors lots - super sheer, could be great over anything. Don't love that it is a little on the sticky side. BUT...I think this might be a full size item too. Which means two full size lippies in one month.
It was an excellent month.
So, that is all the goodies for this month. A surprisingly good month. Maybe they knew it was my birthday week. :)
Great snail mail surprises.
I lurve Birchbox.
 Want one of your own? Get it here: Birchbox

One more.

Last birthday post I promise...but this one is a little different.

Chad and I looked for our house for a long time. We lived in a family owned townhouse for about the first 2 years of our marriage, at times sharing it with his grandmother and for nearly a year, his sister. I have no complaints about those years. It allowed us to save up money to buy a house, taught us a lot about family and love, and showed us that God's provision sometimes doesn't look like we expect it to.

We looked at a lot of houses.
Let me rephrase that. PAULA looked at a lot of houses. Chad's work schedule at the time (mainly, his lack of time off or a flexible schedule) did not really allow him to look at many houses with me. We would find ones we wanted to see and I would go with the real estate agent to look. If it passes the first test (me!), then we would make a second appointment to go back and look at it together. It really worked best for us because we were able to rule out a lot of stuff that would have just frustrated Chad and I really enjoyed the process. (If I ever have a major career change, I'll become an interior designer.) We kept coming back to the St. Elmo neighborhood for a long list of reasons, some we were sure about and some that I am sure was God leading us in the right direction.

We bought this house over 3 years ago and have been gaining some lovely relationships ever since. I am absolutely 100% convinced that we could have ended up somewhere else - there were a few other houses that I really liked - but 10000% convinced that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

We have some of the most amazing neighbors. A sweet couple across the street that have 2 year old twins and share Chad's love of running. The awesome couple in the purple house that know exactly what is going on in the neighborhood - and who trade books about Jesus back and forth with us and sent me chocolate and a sweet card for my birthday. The family up the hill that has sons that have bonded with Chad and all of whom I truly consider family...that that bestowed the sweetest birthday present on me today. An awesome bag full of goodies - homemade soaps (oh Lordy - they smell delicious and make me want to be more dedicated to my Pinterest crafts), a sweet Origami book with gorgeous paper, a hysterical Pez dispenser, and an absolutely fantastic candle from a little boutique in town- which they know I wanted because they saw me post it on Facebook.

It isn't that my affection can be purchased. Gifts isn't even my love language! It IS the fact that these people that make our house more a HOME every day are a small piece of the puzzle of why I deeply believe God put us exactly where we are supposed to be.

This week has been so eye opening. I have been trying to hard to be mentally more aware of my blessings (I picked a good week to start, right??), be more intentional with my time, more thoughtful and more thankful. And truly, tears are pricking my eyes because I can see it! God is everywhere and involved in everything.

The sweet purple house neighbors included this verse in my birthday card and here it is from the Message "Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go..." Proverbs 3: 5-6a

More blessings.

I had to go to Knoxville on Tuesday where my sweet team surprised me with homemade pumpkin cake and homemade vanilla icing. Then yesterday at work, we had planned a lunch of baked potato and salad bar (no birthday connection) but there were two kinds of chocolate cake. My K gave me a new Fitbit (pedometer) bracelet and my sweet guy gave me a 12-pack of diet Dr. Pepper (along with the sharpies? He knows the way to my heart) and a massage gift certificate.
I feel so blessed. So loved. So thankful. So aware of my days and their numbers and living life fully today and every day. My heart overflows.

Monday, October 7, 2013

So blessed.

We always joke that we take a 12pm lunch very seriously at our office. At 12:01, you can expect someone to stroll by your doorway and tap their watches if you haven't shown up in the kitchen or room we eat in by then. I was at my desk at noon today when I looked up to see my sister and my mom standing in the doorway of my office. Surprise!! After last year's jumping out of a gift wrapped box for my birthday, I didn't even think to expect them until Wednesday so I was very surprised.

We gathered up my best amiga and as we were wondering to the front of the office to head to lunch I even stumbled upon my Chad. All my favorite people in one place! The best gift ever. Seriously. Ever.

Mexican food again - like last year - and an attempt to place a germy sombrero on my head but thankfully no singing. I snuck out for a couple of hours to hang out with my sister and mom - even though my mom just left Chattanooga not 24 hours earlier and sneakily spent the night in Atlanta. It was nice to not have much on the schedule for this afternoon and plenty of flex time to use.

Chad said he has been buying me little presents and hiding them where I won't find them in the house (maybe near the Halloween chocolate??). Today, he gave me one of them because he thought I could use them at a big meeting tomorrow that I am running for a new project team. A new pack of multi-colored Sharpies. I know, not romantic and a little weird. But, if you know me, you'd know that the way to my heart is colored pens and markers. What a sweet guy.

My sweet florist momma also gave me these beauties that I will enjoy on my desk for DAYS:

I am so blessed by people who love me and think of me and want to spend time with me. My little heart is overflowing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The worlds.

This is probably one of the more controversial blog posts that I've written or that I will write. I don't meant controversial in the way that I am discussing a topic that is taboo or that might be questionable. I just mean that I don't want anyone to misinterpret my words. I tend to avoid touchy topics for a long list of reasons: people won't read my heart and will assume something about my words, people will think it is directed at them (when more than likely, it is not), people will be offended (and while offense is never my intent - conversation is). But, I've been mulling this one over for some time now and I think I am ready to put it in writing. Either way, it is a long doozy of a post so if you are easily offended or easily bored, you might should just skip this one.

Being willing to write about this stemmed from a simple experience yesterday when I feel like I have a decent example. I slept in a little because I had to work late last night and about the time I got up and dressed, I heard the city workers drilling on the road in front of our house. They had been coming by and measuring things and writing nonsense (to the layman) in a beautiful variety of spray paint colors so I knew work of some kind was going to be done. I left for work and didn't think twice about it until I got home around 4:30, in time to run in a grab some things I forgot for the event I was headed to. I turned on the kitchen faucet and this is what came out:
This is after it having run for a while...air in the line first causing me to take a giant step back, then milky looking water, then VERY brown water (confession: I smelled it thinking it might be sewage in the line!), and then this just dirty looking water. Long story to explain: I took a picture and "tweeted" it to the city and to my city council man (who - hello - follows me on Twitter. I'm hot stuff....not.). And then I thought - wow. Why did you do that? Can they fix it? Are they going to call the workers back out and make them figure out why my water is brown? No. And bottom line: I'm telling myself Paula, be thankful. You have clean water. Dirty water one night (that eventually cleared itself up with a long run of the faucet) is so exponentially better than a majority of the world - even places you have visited and lived! - that you have no right to complain."
Here's where it gets tricky. Here is where I want you to hear my heart and not my faulty words and how this story applies. My next thought after complaining about my water quality was to think about posting it on Instagram with the friendly "#firstworldproblems" hashtag. I have seen many people post pictures of broken smart phones, lost keys, names misspelled on coffee cups, or temper tantrums and give it the "#firstworldproblems" tag and I've affirmed it with a with a smile and a nod.  Yes. Yes!
Oh friends, I feel so convicted about this. If these are our problems, let's change our world. Let's go somewhere where clean water is not a guarantee. Let's meet someone who would do anything to have a child, much less one with temper tantrums. Let's go a day (an hour!!) without our smart phones and truly connect with the people you see face-to-face. Let's take that $5 we would have spent on a name-misspelled, wrong ingredient deluxe coffee and give it to our local church, shelter, food bank, or favorite non-profit. And when we find our lost keys, let's open the door to our homes - rented or owned - and invite someone else in...because its our home and we can.
What are "first world problems" really? The things we complain about are, in reality, small miracles of eye opening greatness.
Please hear me: you have every right to feel the way you feel. I am probably butchering my bff's mom's saying but she used to say something like "Feelings are real though they may not be accurate". You are allowed to be frustrated when things don't go how you planned. You are allowed to be annoyed when your cell phone breaks or your car won't start or the barista makes your coffee wrong or that kid you birthed and love is screaming in the backseat while you are just trying to get to home. We are emotional human beings with a lot to process every day.  I just want to encourage you to consider how your respond when life's frustrations enter your day. I am the worst example of how to respond with love, patience, and positivity. I am NOT saying to be like me because I've got it right. I AM saying that we can consider the lives of others - those we know personally and those we wish we knew before judging our "problems" against theirs.
I told you. It was a doozy. Again, this is NOT directed at anyone. If it was, it would be all 10 fingers pointing back at me. This conviction, rooted partially in a "their perfect lives on Instagram are so much better than mine" and pushing against the "you are so blessed. you love your life exactly how it is." is something I have been struggling with for a while. So, friends, go out and love someone today. Remember that your first world is a blessing.

Feel free to comment. I think this could be a good conversation.

Friday, September 27, 2013


The calendar says it is officially fall and the windows open in the house these last 2 or 3 weeks agree. Some days it has been a little warm for comfort but the nights cool off to lovely perfection and an extra blanket on the bed. The electricity bill for the last month came and it is happily lower than usual and I am thinking sweaters and warm drinks. Ah. Fall. You finally came and brought with you - happy.

This season at work is busy. I think I say that every season but fall is really the busiest. Recruitment season is in full swing and even though that isn't my department anymore, it is all hands on deck. So, I get to do my work and then help a little a few days a week with other teams. It all feels good to know I'm helping but I'm a busy bee with my own goodies. I've been writing trainings, organizing some future events, learning how to supervise and be a better leader...all in all a wonderful and challenging time.

A big event at camp next weekend brings families together for a little fall crafty get together and I am excited. I hope the weather holds or maybe just puts itself on repeat because this coming weekend is supposed to be fall perfection. My guy is off work and we have a lot of nothing planned. Maybe we'll get in a little hike and  maybe we'll finally purchase the tile for the bathroom and consider starting on that project. Or maybe we'll just sit around the fire pit and drink adult beverages. Either way, I'm breathing this weekend in deep. The next 2 weeks are jam packed and I want to savor every minute of my favorite season.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September Birchbox!

It's September Birchbox time!
As always, it is so exciting to see this pink surprise in my mailbox.
This month's theme was heritage...

Upon first opening, this is what I saw. I have heard other things about this "Yes to..." brand...

This is a pack of 8 travel towelettes which I am really excited about trying. It is their "Yes to Blueberries" and they smell lovely. It'll be something nice to toss in the gym bag for the post workout face wipe down!
This is a pack of 8 but the full size is a pack of 30 and only costs $7.99. I was excited to see something that was much more reasonably priced in my box this month...lots of things that I receive samples for are more high end.

I've never heard of this manicure hand mask but I am really excited about it. They are basically gloves that you put on during a manicure to moisturize then you can tear the fingertips off to paint your nails and leave the glove on to continue moisturizing.
The most interesting part is that they are UV blocking so if you decided to go get one of the gel/shellac manicures, you could wear these and protect your skin from the UV rays that the lamps put off! Cool!

This is another sample from the "Yes to..." company...their grapefruit CC cream. I am excited that it came in two different shades so I could get a little closer to an accurate sample. Sometimes with the makeup samples it is hard to tell if I will love it because it isn't the right color...can't wait to try this stuff!

And finally, these two goodies were in my little blue box.
A nail polish sample from the Ruffian brand - in Birchbox exclusive color of "hedge fund" - a green-ish fall color with a little bit of reflectiveness in it. I think I will bravely try it on the fingers soon!
The eyeshadows are in the Moroccan Sunset shades and are from the Coastal Scents brand. I haven't ever heard of them so it'll be interesting to try it!
Oh Birchbox, you pick up my week!

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Here is your cryptic blog of the week (month? year? You can pick.)

I've never really been good at compromise. Call it what you will but I tend towards stubborn and an affinity towards getting my way (we all do, right?). There are a lot of things in my life right now that are stretching me, growing me, challenging me. A lot of places where I could think harder, work harder, focus more, be more present...and even more places where I could learn from other people who are doing better at getting it "right", learn to compromise - not giving up or giving in but meeting in the middle, not having my way but seeing it from someone else's shoes. And I think that middle place is called Grace.

It's a funny thing that Grace. Grace. It asks us to forgive others. It asks us to not judge. It asks us to just love and learn and be there and be fully present and just be. Grace.

"There's only grace,
There's only love,
There's only mercy and believe me, its enough" - Matthew West

Monday, September 2, 2013

Another semi-productive weekend.

Another long weekend presented itself and I enjoyed every moment of it. First, my momma made her visit for the month this weekend so I got to enjoy her company to its fullest. We didn't do much - ran a few little errands and just generally hung out around the house. Honestly, while it doesn't sound all that exciting, I can't really think of anything I would rather do on a weekend off than just hang out around the house with the people I love the most. To top it off, Chad had the weekend off to so we just got to be HOME for a couple of days together. Lovely weekend it was.

Today was LABOR day and I sure did labor - but I saved it for the second half of the day - as to not get too carried away. Chad and I are catching up on old TV shows (specifically Alias - Jennifer Garner's finest work in my opinion...I love that show!) and just jumping into season 3. We caught up on a couple episodes before Chad had to go to work and I got cracking on my to do list from my last long weekend. I went to Lowe's and bought the wall paint for the bathroom since it was on sale this weekend and then came home and painted! I got the ceiling painted with two coats of white and the walls painted with one coat. I bought grey for the walls and I am pretty excited about getting it all on there in the next couple of days. I did more laundry (how does it never end??), cleaned dishes, vacuumed floors, and changed sheets. All in all, a pretty darn productive day. Long week of work ahead but thankfully, it is only 4 days long. New staff member starting tomorrow that I am very excited about - super positive, upbeat, and coming from another Girl Scout council so we don't have to train her as much. It's gonna be a good week!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A productive day.

One of the things that I wanted to do for Chad for our anniversary was to deep clean the house. I know, it sounds really 1950's housewife and not at all the independent woman that I believe I am. But, in my defense, since I work so much, sometimes my share of our house duties falls by the way side. We share most things evenly - or just take turns doing them - but admittedly, it had been a while since I had done THIS much cleaning. (Don't think we live in messy house - unless you count Gwendolen hair - we do clean!). Bottom line, I knew that a deep clean would probably bless him more than anything I could purchase him so it is one of the reason I took 2 days off this week.

So, here was my TO DO list for yesterday - updated with what I actually got done:
- sand mud on walls in bathroom
- wipe down walls and dump drop cloth
- paint ceiling and walls in bathroom
- paint bathroom cabinet
- vacuum all floors
- do all laundry and put it away (this ended up being 5 dryer was exhausted)
- clean up hiking stuff in guest room from Leconte trip
- clean up kitchen and put away dishes
- clean up craft stuff in spare room
- clean out/wash/wax car (this one is totally for me!)
- clean up dining room table
- clean up the other guest room that has been holding bathroom renovation stuff
- hang Chad's 3D map that he got for Christmas (this is almost embarrassing)
- deep clean hall bathroom
- clean off front porch (the number of spider webs is unreal!)

Obviously, I didn't get everything done in the bathroom that I wanted to get done but my arms were tired from nearly 2 hours of sanding! I need a little help/advice from Chad on the next step (ceiling) anyway so I was sort of in a holding pattern until today anyway.

My house is so clean that I feel like we should leave so we don't mess it up! p.s. he also noticed, which only slightly surprised me. I was still awake when he came home last night and he was like, whoa, thanks for cleaning! and THAT rocked my world.

Today's plans include catching up on our favorite TV shows, hopefully lunch with his parents to celebrate his mom's birthday (which, by the way, is the same day as our anniversary. Another story for another day), a trip to Lowe's (because what romantic day doesn't include a trip to Lowe's?) then a matinee movie and dinner down by the river. Le sigh. I love days like this.

 (Edited to add: I DID actually buy him things but they aren't here yet. I'll show them off when they arrive.)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

5 years.

Today marks being married 5 years to one of the most patient, generous, dedicated, hard-working, funny - in his own way, thoughtful, weird (I had to say it!), and loving man. It has been an honor to be his wife - through good times and bad times - he is my cool, calm, collected, always making me think about life differently guy.

A lot has happened these last 5 years - we've marked a thousand memories down but surely we have millions more to go. I know people always say this but sometimes I feel like it was just last week that we were standing there in that park by the water making our lifelong promises to each other. And sometimes, I can't believe that we've made it this far.

Chad is surely my gift from God. He is calm when I am anxious, offers thoughtful responses that make me see the other side of every situation, challenges me spiritually, leads our family, makes hard decisions and easy ones when I can't, and continues to love me when I might feel unlovable.

I took today off work to spend some time with my guy. It's been too long coming! Granted, he has to work today so we are only going to get the morning together BUT...I also took tomorrow off work to hang out with him the entire day. So, we'll truly celebrate tomorrow and today we will just hang out at the house together. I love this guy...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mt. Leconte - Picture Overload!

Total proof that Chad hiked miles carrying a smooshed box of Dunkin Dount Munchkins. This guys loves doughnuts.

Alum Cave Bluffs. About halfway to the top.
If you have a chance, read about how the mining of the bluffs has created an atmospheric phenomenon - incredibly dry, dusty ground in the middle of lush, humid forest. Its strange and beautiful!

One of the cabins at the lodge. Admittedly, this is a great time to hike to the top because the wildflowers are in full bloom at that elevation!

Proof that we made it and what day it happened!
I love that they do this on the front of the lodge...

Our group - minus Sandy (who was resting? photo taking?) plus J's friend who got us the tickets.

Dinner served family style, delivered by llama.
Potato soup, peach half, roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, cornbread, and a cookie!
It is exactly what you will have if you go!

View from cliff tops. Further proof that I survived. :)

My pink socks and hiking boots. Of course.

My guy - that puts up with a lot.

We went to Cliff Tops to watch the sunset and it was a little cloudy so this is about as much as we got.

Last glimpses of the sun...

This is Rainbow Falls - about halfway back down. Admittedly, if I had hiked 2.7 miles to get to this point - uphill - I would have probably been disappointed.
All in all, not as bad as last year. But I don't plan on doing it again. I think I'll pick some easier day hikes and find a place to shower at night. :)

August Birchbox!

Hurrah! August Birchbox time!
Almost as good as a Sister Box and a step below a Mom Box - but none the less, easier on everyone I'm sure. :)
This month's theme was "Finishing School" - not your grandma's type though - more like thinking about the details type of thing.

Upon first opening, this is what you see. I guess the little monthly inside boxes are here to stay. At least this month's is a beautiful teal!
First sample (as always, apologies for the terrible pictures. I am WAY to excited about all of this to stop and take great photographs of my haul!) is a Jasmine Seven brand Fresh Feet Wipes. These are two little towelettes to cleanse and soften feet...interesting. I don't usually go barefoot in public but I do love to wear my Chacos so it might be nice to be able to cleanse the footsies every once in a while. These will go in my purse! 

This is a uniqONE hair treatment - a leave in conditioner basically. I have superbly thick and dry hair so I'm always up for a try on one of these. It actually smells awesome - kinda like dryer sheets? Very clean. It'll be nice!
 This is the Jouer brand Eye Definer in the color "gris" (which I believe is grey?). Either way, it is a smudge-resistant eye liner which after testing on my hand - I'll attest to the fact that it isn't moving! I actually really like the color - I tend towards a more smokey liner instead of solid black so this will be great! It is not the twist up variety so I'll need to locate my sharpener soon....because I'll definitely use this!

 These were the two items in my inner box. The Coola brand sunscreen  - the perfect amount for a face application in sport, meaning sweat proof and water proof, in SPF 45. Awesome! Another purse addition for surprise trips to the park, etc. I used to think I looked better tan but now I'm realizing I look better skin cancer free and I'm pretty serious about the sunscreen! I don't want to open it to smell it since it is a once time use thing but I can't wait to smell the mango!
Second, there was a stila brand "stay all day liquid lipstick" in the color Beso. might look pink in the picture but it is RED. Like candy engine red. I'm gonna try it but I think I will look silly. This one might get passed on to my more adventuresome sister. :) Either way, I really want to like it because I tested it on my hand too and it isn't moving! I would love to have a different color and have it stay all day for real!
Finally, Birchbox also partnered with Anne Taylor this month sot here were some styling tips and coupons in the bottom of the box. Fun! I don't love the way their clothes fit on me but they have some GORGEOUS statement jewelry pieces so I will definitely slip in there to use my coupon.

All in all, a pretty great month! Some things that I am super excited about trying - sunscreen! hair conditioner! - and at least one thing I am a little intimidated by but want to give a chance - RED LIPSTICK!

Birchbox rocks!

Friday, August 16, 2013


I've been on another vegetarian kick (apparently one happened back here in 2009 - obviously didn't stick) for the past few weeks and trying out new recipes to try to get protein with less meat. It is semi about health - fewer burgers?? more veggies?? yes, please! - but really more about hearing about how our animals-for-meat are treated. And that gives me an icky feeling in my insides.

I'm not strict my any means. I still love a good burger - not giving those up anytime soon! - but trying to be more conscious about where my meat comes from and getting good quality meat. And p.s., if you didn't know, good meat is expensive and we are far from rich so less meat it is! One of the only upsides to Chad and I being on a different schedule is that I can try out weird recipes and he doesn't have to suffer through them at dinner if they are weird/bad/meatless. I enjoy eating them for lunch the next week and he is none the wiser.

Tonight's dinner was: sweet potato burritos from a recipe I found on this blog and they turned out surprisingly delicious. Sweet potatoes, black beans, and caramelized onions made up the filling in wheat burrito shells with a little cheese melted on top under the broiler.

I also made them with a recipe we had first at our neighbor's house the other night. Food Network's Fried Corn - which, if you haven't ever made it, STOP NOW and do it. Seriously. You will pay me for my advice.

So, all in all, a super successful dinner with no meat! Let's see if Chad likes them as much when we have them for dinner tomorrow. :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mt. Leconte

Sorry it has been a while again. It is just a busy, busy life.

Update on last weekend's trip to Mt. Leconte in the Great Smoky Mtns. National Park. Admittedly, it wasn't as bad as last year - that pretty much sums it up. I don't think I was in any better shape this year because I had not been able to train as much as I would have liked. Last year's hike in was about 8 miles and gained about 300-ish feet per mile. This year's hike in was "only" about 5 miles but gained about 500-ish feet per mile. So, yes, it was steeper but I think the second half was way worse than the first (which lulled you into a false sense of "oh, this isn't so bad"). Either way, we arrived at Alum Cave Bluffs about halfway in and I would totally hike that trail again - it winds along a creek for the first mile plus and it was cool, scenic, and lovely. The second hike was a little closer to torture so we won't get into that. The last .2 mile is level - rocky and slippery - but level and it is the most welcome blessing.

The hike out was a different story. Closer to 7 miles and downhill all the way. I know, you'd think that would be easy but downhill for that many miles is pretty hard on your body. Knees, hips, and toes can start hurting pretty fast. I did pretty good following along with the rest of our mixed-aged group but about 2.5 miles form the bottom I was really ready to be done. I sort of booked it and left the rest of them to fend for themselves (figuring they would catch up with me if something happened!) We - Meg and I - finished about an hour before the rest of our group but that hour was a take off your shoes and air out your feet miracle.

I had decided that I was going to make the best of a long uphill trip before we ever got started on Friday so I spent a lot of time trying to be intentionally thankful for things. I thanked God for my breath, my healthy body that could hike, the scenery, the family and friends I was with, the view...and for waterproof hiking boots. :) It was a nice test in determination and thankfulness. Sadly, I might do it again.

If you have never hiked to Leconte, I suggest you do it just once. It is a pretty cool experience. Super rustic, no electricity - just the folks you love and a nice view when there isn't lots of fog. Dinner and breakfast are included as part of your ticket along with beds in some pretty sweet cabins. Tickets sell out over a year in advance and they are closed during the winter because it isn't really accessible so get tickets now for the year after next. It's worth it...even the climb. 
In other good news, I sent in my Chacos to the "Re-Chaco" folks. The soles were coming off - like separating  from the footbed, which they should not do. I hoped it was a warranty thing and I wouldn't have to pay to get them fixed. Thankfully, it was. Their customer service is top notch. I was only without my shoes about 2 weeks from sending them off to getting them back. And they were repaired free of cost - I even got to pick which sole design they fixed them with. This is my "so happy to have my Chacos back the day we left for our hiking trip" face. :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

August Sister Box

Omg, omg, omg. Now my sister has sent me a box that rocks my world. I have - by far - the best family out there. Sorry - no argument from any of you folks. :)
(And blogging from the phone so excuse the crazy formatting).
I got an awesome stamp set that any teacher would be super jealous of.
I got pink grapefruit chewy candy - pretty much one of my favorite candies and something my sister and I used to always eat together.
Super cute washi tape - and I am already trying to decide where to out it! Omg - tape all the things!
And the most awesome - a benefit brand kit that has pore perfector, highlighter, lip gloss, and mascara in it. Can not wait to try everything out!
Birchbox, eat your heart out!
Sis - you rock.

Friday, August 2, 2013

August Mom Box!!

My mom sees that I get so much joy from my monthly Birchbox subscription - and that it makes me write a blog post - that she decided that she needed to send me a MOM BOX to get a giggle and a blog post. Now, this is not your everyday beauty subscription - this is the real deal, comfort food and all! What does that mean, you ask? Well, she sent me all the ingredients for a chicken casserole (minus the onion and carrot, thanks to the P.O.'s hesitancy to ship perishable goods) along with a giant bag of Peanut M&M's - because that is my guy's very favorite thing. She even sent the recipe card written in her own sweet handwriting which I will treasure in my recipe card box (along with others from my grandmother and great-grandmother...nothing like a passed down recipe!).

I can't wait to try this casserole and I think my always hungry dude is gonna love it. Thanks Mom! You are awesome!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Sorry it has been so quiet around here. After my last trip to Knoxville, I have been barely treading water with work - super long days and the responsibility to write a budget for a department that has never existed before (by a girl who has never written a work budget before!) I know it isn't supposed to be that hard but since I am NOT very good with math and I have a deep desire to "get it right" and do a good job, this work has been particularly stressful and overwhelming. I think I am slowly learning how to swim and I should be able to submit my budget this Friday - a full week before it is due. My goal is to NOT have it breathing down my neck this weekend when Chad is off work and we can spent lots of time together.

I DID however, make giant leaps on the master bathroom project this past weekend. I sanded the drywall mud that we put on there last week and then - I tell no lies - scraped all the popcorn texture off the ceiling. I promise it isn't as bad as it sounds. It is very easy - just time consuming and super messy. I had popcorn in places I don't care to mention (Ok, I will - just for funsies - my bra!). I'm excited to literally have a blank slate for our bathroom to create something beautiful and simple! Chad did more mudding today so I can sand again tomorrow night and we can start the process of potentially getting things ready to tile this weekend!! Everything is picked out - just not purchased. Saving up a storm and we are about ready to bite the bullet!

I'll try to be better about updates (fingers are NOT crossed behind my back). :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Oh traveling...

Well, I thought I was done traveling for the summer but apparently I was wrong. I knew I had to be in Knoxville this coming Wednesday for our monthly staff meeting but it was just going to be a day trip - back before Chad even really knew I was gone (leave before he gets up and back before he comes home from work!). Then, my bosses boss came in on Friday and asked me if I could go to Knoxville Monday and Tuesday of next week to participate in our big strategy meetings. I had not been asked to participate before now, which was really fine with me, because large percentage of our staff WAS going to be in there and I could get tons of stuff done in their absence. I had big plans to work on my departmental budget and plans all day on Monday and Tuesday but as it turns out, the decisions made in this 2-day meeting will affect those plans a lot. So, it doesn't make sense for me to a)work on my budget before that meeting or b)be absent from those meetings if they will be making decisions about the work my team will be doing.

Oh well. I am a little sad that I will be gone for another 3 days when I was convinced that I was gone traveling - and had promised my guy that I was. I really do love my job but I think I need to be super conscious of spending some quality time with my guy in the next few weeks.

p.s. our 5 year anniversary is next month! Where did those 5 years go?? And what am I going to get him for a gift (traditional: wood, modern: silverware)??

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Final Camp trip #3

Looking back, I am thankful that I get paid mileage when I drive to camp near Knoxville since yesterday completed my third trip of the summer. I am always a little sad when resident camp is over because I know what a great experience it can be for our girls - it is a memory making machine, which is exactly what we hope for!

This week was a great week. I got to work with some girls that were working on an environmental/food based Journey book (set of badges, basically) and took them on a field trip to the farmer's market in Knoxville. These girls are the oldest girls we have had at camp for the summer - they are Counselor-in-Training aged - so it was good to get to hang out with them. I had a captive audience while we drove into town and back and I got some really good feedback about what events they would like to see us do in the next year. I told them about our tentative plans for travel and events and they seemed really excited about it! That makes me feel like we are on the right track and that is great news!

I rolled in from camp around 5pm yesterday and went straight to the yacht club where Chad's parents are members. (Yacht club uses loosely...more like sailing club...which is more like, a bunch of retired guys getting together and fiddling around with their boats.) We were filling in for Chad's dad on the race committee, meaning we were to help set up the Wednesday night fun races, run flags, timers, etc. but of course, we've never done it before. Thankfully, the woman in charge gave us lots of instructions and was super sweet and knowledgeable - in a "I want to share with you what I love to do so maybe you'll love it too" kind way. Sadly, some storm clouds blew over and took all the wind with them so sail races were not to be had.

I will be living in budget land for the next 2 weeks or so as I write my team's first budget so I am pretty nervous about it. I want to do well so that we will have plenty of funds for an entire year of programming but I also am not so great with numbers so yeah...knowing that I am choosing budget amounts for events that are over a year away and not planned yet is a little stressful. I wish I could just write up my entire plan - since I am a words girl! - and give it to someone and have them put numbers with it. But alas, that is not how it works.

July Birchbox!

My sweet sister reminded me that I had not blogged about my July Birchbox yet and by golly...she was right!! All the pictures were taken on my cell phone because I was too lazy/excited to wait the day it came to go get my camera out of the car. :)

The theme this month was "Power Play" and was somehow connected to the TV show "Suits". It is probably good that I delayed/forgot to write this blog post because I have actually been able to use some of these products now and I can give an accurate opinion on them!

This is the ModelCo. Party Proof Lipstick in the Peony color. It is actually a matte lipstick which is a little different than what I am used to but I just put a touch of gloss over it and I have been really happy with it. The color actually does last most of the morning for me so "party proof" might actually be accurate. It is pretty bright on me so I use sparingly. It says that the full size is priced at $19 but I can't imagine that this isn't the full size - it seems like the same size as my other lipsticks (product goes all the way to the bottom of the tube, etc.) so this in itself pays for 2 months of boxes!
(See! Way more opinion!!)

This is Dr. Jart's Ceramidin Cream. Supposed to be a great moisturizer but I like my moisturizer/have break-out prone skin that I don't want to put strange things on so I used this on my hands. I really liked it there - great light scent - but I am never excited about the sample size of any of the Dr. Jart stuff...sorta skimpy? It would be hard to try it enough days in a row to decide if it was worth purchasing at a $48 full size!

This is the Caudalie brand Divine Legs, the only item that I have not tried yet. I sort of got a little tiny sunburn on my legs last week so I was waiting for that to go away and for me to stop going to camp so much so it was worth having lovely shaded legs. Excited to try it...

This is the second bottle of this Color Club Birchbox exclusive color. Truth - I traded the off-white that I got last month for a super fun bright orange/color that a co-worker got (perks!) so I was excited that I didn't get that color this month! This shade is called London Calling and is one in a set of 4 if you purchase in the Birchbox shop. They call them "neon pastels" - an oxymoron in my opinion - but it is ok because I am really liking the shades (on toes!).

I think this beauty extra of patterned giant bobby pins is my favorite thing I got this month. Great for my thick hair and adds a little funky color to a hair do! I feel like I have to wear them with things that match - cause I am weird like that - but I have really enjoyed them! A LOT...never had cute bobby pins before so they are pretty neat.

So, here's the month's box! I love that they have started doing a little chevron on the inside of the boxes. Cute and so "in" right now.

Thanks sweet sister!