2015: My Year by Numbers

Well it’s officially the last day of 2015!

I am seriously in awe at how quickly this year went by.  It feels like just yesterday I was saying goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015.  And if I remember correctly I was 100% ready to say goodbye to  2014.  But I find myself a little sad to be saying goodbye to 2015.  I had a fantastic 2015 y’all.  I traveled more than I have ever traveled, I got a new job and fell completely in love with it, I blogged every single month, and I learned a lot about myself.  With 2016 just hours away I want to take a minute to look back on 2015.  I never want to forget the fantastic year I had.

To do that I thought it would begun to look at 2015 by numbers.  I’ve seen a few bloggers do this and it looks so fun.

So without further ado I give you:

{7} The number of countries I visited in 2015.  Obviously my favorite things from 2015 was going to Europe!  This really was the trip of a lifetime and we had the best time imaginable.  It has opened up a love for traveling that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I cannot wait to start planning my next big trip across the pond.  Which will happen in 2017!


{15} The number of cities I visited in 2015.  

{600}  The number of Instagram pictures I posted in 2015.



{12,488} The number of total likes on those 600 Instagram posts

{2} The number of weddings I was in/attended this year. This was a big year for two of my best friends in the entire world.  I was so glad to be included in their special days!

Jordan married Brain in Cleveland, Ohio in October.

And Kelly married Matt in December.  This wedding was especially special because it was the first time since 2009 my amazing group of friends from my Disney College Program have all been together since our program.  We had an absolute blast! 🙂 


{155} The number of blog posts I wrote in 2015.  One of my goals from 2015 was to blog more.  And boy did I fulfill that goal!  I am so glad I have stuck with this wonderful little hobby of mine.  I have met some amazing fellow bloggers and have really grown as a blogger myself this year.


{1,079} The number of views my most popular blog post received.


{1} The number of new jobs I got.  Another goal of 2015 accomplished!  As you know I was completely miserable at my first school. And the first part of 2015 reflected that.  But the second part had been a complete 180.  Being in a job you love makes everything else in your life that much better.  So if you’re hating your job take my advice and do something about it!  It will make your year that much better!

{57} The number of new friends on Facebook I made.

(1,000,000} The number of times my heart swelled when my best friend had her sweet baby Lacey.  Yet another HUGE highlight of 2015.  I am totally obsessed with this little angel and have loved getting to see her grow up.


{5,145} The number of miles I drove across Texas.  There is a love hate relationship with this number.  Love living in the same state as my parents but hate having to drive 735 miles to see them.  You’d think the flight prices from Houston to El Paso would be more reasonable but they’re not!  I could drive across Texas in my sleep I know the drive so well.

{2} The number of my favorite purchases of the year.  My Canon and my iMac, hands down.  These two items are some of my prized possessions.

{7,137} The number of pictures I’ve taken on my Canon camera.  I have loved having a camera to document so many great experiences this year.  It’s really helped me step up my blog game.  It has turned into a really fun hobby and I can’t wait to use it to photograph all the new places I plan to visit in 2016.

{4} The number of dates I went on in 2015.  This is by far my biggest disappointment of 2015.   I’m really hoping this changes in 2016.  Like REALLY.

{1, again}  The number of new fur babies that joined my little family.  Brady, you have been a joy and a terror all at the same time.  You can be sweet and cuddle and adorable one minute and a trouble making little turd the next.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Now if we can just get your sister to love you more than hate you.


{40} The number of books I read.  This number is actually a guess.  It was one of my goals in 2015 to read 65, but I didn’t actually come up with a way to track how many I actually read.  in 2016 I WILL keep track so the number is accurate next year!

{3} The number of new iPhones I had to get this year because I kept dropping them.

******
2015, you were amazing.  I had a great time with you and now it’s time to say goodbye.  I’m sorry to see you go but so excited to see what 2016 has in store.  Thank you for a fantastic 365 days.  Here’s hoping the next 365 are just as amazing! 🙂

The Merriest Weekend of Them All!

Hi friends!
Welcome to the very last week of December and of 2015.  I mean what?  Where the heck has time gone.  I’m pretty sure I’ve said that statement at least 20 times in the last month or so but it’s so true!  2015 has absolutely flown by and I am so ready to say hello to 2016!
The weekend was by far the merriest of weekends!  Which is good since it was Christmas!  
Here were the highlights!
FRIDAY- CHRISTMAS DAY 
Christmas morning dawned bright and early.  We had a very laid back morning.  Mom and I sipped coffee while we watched The Family Stone until my brother and dad decided to roll out of bed.  Then we did the tradition opening of stockings and presents.  I was very spoiled this year and loved every minute of it.  My mom went above and beyond in the gift area and got me pretty much every thing on my Christmas list!  I got my Kendra Scott earrings (thanks to my loving brother), the herringbone vest, and the Citizen watch!  I cannot wait to wear the watch, sadly it’s a tad big so I want to wait to get it sized properly before I wear it.
After presents we had a yummy Christmas Day breakfast fixed by my mom.  Then later in the day my mom, brother and I went for our traditional Christmas day movie.  We saw the new Star Wars movie. Which I loved!  I’ve never seen the other movies so I was tad worried I would have no idea whats going on, but luckily that wasn’t the case.  Although now I really want to watch the first 6.

Christmas dinner consisted of gumbo and rice prepared by my dad.  We ended the night watching a Christmas classic, Bad Santa.  It was the perfect Christmas.  Just our close immediate family with lots of laughs, good food and of course presents! 🙂
SATURDAY
Mom and I got up bright and early the day after Christmas and went to the Dillards after Christmas sale, where I picked up the perfect Christmas pillows for next year!  The rest of the day was spent inside because we had a little snow storm blow across our little desert city and kept us homebound for the next 46 hours.  Mom and I spend most of Saturday glued to the TV as we watched yet another Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family (which is apparently changing its name to Freeform come January, I’m sorry what? Not a fan).
It literally snowed from about noon on Saturday until around 1:00 or so on Sunday.  It was AMAZING!! Keep reading and you can see a bunch of super cool pictures I took! 

Not only was Harry Potter on TV, but I used the time to color two full pages in my Harry Potter coloring book!


SUNDAY

We were completely snowed in.  The only time I left the house was to take these pictures.  I think we got about 6-7 inches at our house alone.  So the day was spent laying around and watching TV all day, followed by a little more coloring, some reading, and a lot of napping.  We had fire going most of the day and of course lots of hot tea was consumed.  It was the perfect little snow day.  I’m so glad I finally got some actual winter this holiday season.

Texas weather was ridiculous this past weekend.  While El Paso experienced a little snow storm the rest of the state had lots of rain and heat.  So weird.

Ok on to the pictures! Enjoy our little taste of winter wonderland! : )


Sorry for the overload on the snow pictures.  But this never happens and it needed to be documented! 

Christmas 2015 was absolutely perfect if I do say so myself.  I am so blessed to have such a loving family and count my blessings every single day for everything the lord has blessed me with.  
I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas too!

A Christmas Questionnaire

Merry Christmas Eve friends!

I hope everyone has had a fantastic few days leading up to Christmas!  I’m back in El Paso for the week and have had a fabulous week leading up to one of the best days of the year.  I just love coming home for the holidays.  I know what it’s like to not get to spend the holidays with your family (thank you Disney World) and so I know there is nothing quite like being home for the holidays!

Now I’ve seen quite a few Christmas themed Questionnaires floating around the blogsosphere and I decided that Christmas Eve is the perfect time to share some of my answers!  I settled on the 12 Questions of Christmas Tag that I saw on both Ashley from The Wandering Weekenders and Macy’s from To Travel & Beyond,  the post originated over on Meg’s blog My Borrowed Heaven.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
I think my favorite Christmas tradition is opening presents on Christmas morning.  Last year we opened them Christmas night because we had been out of town and it just wasn’t the same.  Every year we do the same thing on Christmas morning.  We get up, grab cups of coffee, open stockings, then presents, and while my Mom whips up a Christmas morning omelet I force my brother and dad to watch the Walt Disney Parks Christmas Day parade.

Where do you spend Christmas?
We always spend Christmas at my parents house.  Then we do Christmas either before or after Christmas day with some extended family.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
Yikes this is a tough one.  I will have to go with Do You Hear What I Hear pretty much any version (except Vanessa Williams version) and Silver Bells by Dean Martin.  (Honestly thought I like pretty much every Christmas song if Dean Martin is singing it.) 

Who are you most excited to see this Christmas season?
Obviously my family.  But I was also really excited to see my niece, Lacey.  She’s my best friends baby girl, she’s 8 months old and this is her first Christmas.   saw her yesterday and we had the best day!  Look at this little face! 🙂


Do you decorate before or after Thanksgiving?
The day after.  This year I decorated the week of Thanksgiving.  But that’s only because I was going home for Thanksgiving and wanted to walk into my house at the end of November and have it done!

Tinsel or garland?
Garland, hands down.

What is one Christmas food you cannot live without?
Honestly I don’t have one.  We don’t have a traditional Christmas dinner.  We’ve eaten different things pretty much every year.  Last year I’m pretty sure my mom made a pasta dish and this year my dad is making Gumbo.

Peppermint or Gingerbread?
Gingerbread!

Do you own an ugly Christmas sweater?
Yes I do!  And I love it!


Have you ever tried a fruit cake?
Nope.  And I don’t think I’m missing out on anything to be honest.  It doesn’t look that appetizing.

What is one thing you asked for this Christmas?
I asked for a Citizen watch, because I have been watch less since I got back from Europe.  And pair of Hunter rain boots.  I made a whole Christmas Wish list, that you can read here.  If you’re so inclined! 🙂

If you could be any Christmas movie character, who would you be?
Ohh!!! I think I would want to be either Natalie in Love Actually OR Esther in Meet Me in St. Louis. Natalie because hello she gets to fall in love with Hugh Grant and Esther because I was born in the wrong era and would love to be part of the Smith family and fall in love with John Truit!

I’m gonna cheat just a little bit and add 1 more question because I want to! 🙂

What is your favorite Christmas memory?


Ok so this is a very strange favorite memory but the story is just so funny that it’s my favorite.  So my favorite Christmas memory is the year I found out there was no Santa Clause.  Now first lemme just say that my parents were the bomb dot com at Santa Clause.  I once asked why they didn’t get presents from Santa and so my mom wrapped a present for herself and marked it from Santa.  So when I say that I was 12 ( YES 12) when I stopped believing in Santa that’s why.  They rocked.  And here is how it happened.

It was the year we our very first computer for Christmas and that was our big gift from Santa.  It was later in the day and we were down the street saying Merry Christmas to some of our neighbors.  My mom was taking to her friend Maryhelen, and Maryhelen was asking how she had hid the computer.  My ears perked up at that question and I started listening a little more intently to their conversation.  Mom then proceed to explain it had been so easy!  She just put it in the garage with a blanket over it and we never even noticed it.  That’s when it hit me.

There is no Santa Clause.

My expression must have been pretty stricken because Maryhelen gestured down at me with wide eyes.  My mom turns to me and says, “Wait a minute.  You don’t still believe in Santa Clause do you?”  With tears in my eyes, I very quickly said, “NO!” But really I’m thinking.  Oh my gosh.  Mom and Dad are Santa.  The Santa Clause is a big fat lie!

Mom felt horrible about ruining it for me and at the time it was devastating, just devastating.  But now 15 years later it’s a hilarious story that gets plenty of laughs when I tell it.  Thus making it one of my favorite Christmas memories! 🙂

*******

Well there ya have it.  A few of my Christmas favorites.

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas Ever and of course Christmas Day!  I’ll be back next week with a 2015 Year in Review and a look at some of goals for 2016!  Can you believe we’re already looking at a brand new year!  I sure can’t!

Merry Christmas friends! : )

Currently [December]

Feeling…. ready for the semester to be over and done with.  It has been a struggle leaving my comfy bed in the morning to get up and give finals all week. Thank goodness that is only 1 day left!

Reading….The Magicians by Lev Grossman.  So far so good.  I’m a sucker for books related to magic (thank you Harry Potter) and so far this one is pretty good.

Drinking….nothing.  I didn’t have time to make my to go coffee this morning so I’m having to wait until 1st period ends so I can go fix myself a cup in the teachers lounge. I really don’t know how I’m functioning right now.

Watching….my 4th period kiddos take their final.  Yes, I am blogging at work with students in my room. They’re all concentrating so hard its pretty hilarious watching their faces as they try to remember everything we’ve learned about the US Constitution.

Thinking about….SO MANY THINGS!  All the Christmas presents I still need to buy, where I want to go for Spring Break (I’m trying to decide between California and Atlanta  I think), the fact that I should have gotten up earlier to make my coffee, did I remember to turn off my straightener this morning……it’s endless right now.

Working on….I should be grading my students notebooks but instead I’m typing this post. And will be coloring in my Harry Potter coloring book at some point in the near future today! 🙂


Wearing…. a grey sweater (Old Navy), maroon corduroy pants (JCrew), Tory Burch Flats.

Looking….forward to next week.  I cannot wait for all the Christmas festivities to start!  I’m really excited about some of the gifts I’m getting people and I cannot wait for them to open them.  I’m also looking forward to Christmas Day.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year because we have a little tradition established within my family.  I’ll share more on it next week!

Wishing…. that it was actually cold this December.  Y’all the temperature the last few days in Texas have been in the 80s!  THE 80s!!!!  I’m sorry I’m all for the warmth, but it is Christmas. And there is just something wrong with a hot Christmas.  You’d think I would be used it seeing as I’ve only ever lived in Florida and Texas, but I’m not.  Just once in my life I want to life in a place that sees a white Christmas.  Just. once.

Loving….my new computer.  Sorry if you’re getting tired of hearing about it but I just love it.  I went and took some more Christmas card pictures for another friend/co-worker an they were so much easier to edit on my iMac than my Macbook.  The pictures were so clear and crisp.  Bah.  I’m obsessed.  Here were a few of my favorites from of little session:


Laughing at….these funnies from Pinterest:

Happy Thursday friends! 🙂

Bits of Cheer: A Christmas Link Up

Hello friends!  I haven’t done too many Christmas themed post this December so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to do just that.  I’m linking up with lovely Jess from The Newly Blog for her Bits of Cheer link up party.

For my bit of cheer, I thought it would be fun to show off some of my brand new ornaments direct from Europe.  One of my favorite things during the holidays has always been putting ornaments on the Christmas tree.  Especially my mom’s Christmas tree because she has about 600 different ornaments.  We’ve always have just one tree in our home and it is filled with a variety of ornaments.  She has some of her great-grandmother’s ornaments, ornaments given to my brother and me by family and friends, ornaments celebrating milestones….you name it, she has it.  And I love it.  Don’t get me wrong the pretty magazine Christmas trees with their coordinating colors are gorgeous but I much prefer the type of tree with all your families memories attached to them.

When I moved out on my own I was sad because I didn’t have my own ornament collection to put on my Christmas tree.  Mom was nice and gave me a few that were mine but it still isn’t quite the same.

So that brings me to the ornaments on this years tree!

When Jenny and I were planning out trip to Europe we were talking about the different souvenirs we may be buying while we were there.  She said that she already new what hers was going to be…Christmas ornaments.  Last year Jenny started a tradition that I have absolutely fallen in love with.  Any time she travels to a new place she buys a Christmas ornament.  I mean think about it! It’s genius!

1. They are easy to store.
2. You will always use them.
3. Every time you take them out you will be reminded of the city, country, or place you’ve traveled to and will be able to reminisce about your trip.

BRILLIANT!!!

I immediately asked her if she minded if I started the exact same tradition and she said of course!

So today I’m going to share all the ornaments I picked up on my European Adventure this summer.  Enjoy!

LONDON

I bought this pretty little heart in the gift shop at Kensington Palace jut before we made our way over to The Orangery to have afternoon tea.  I have one other ornament from my first ever trip to London and keep it on my mom’s tree at home.  The first time I was in London my mom and I went together.  This ornament showcases all the royal palaces you can find around London!

FRANCE

Jenny and I actually had a hard time finding ornaments in Paris.  None of the little shops we went into had any.  It wasn’t until we went into the little gift shop out at Versailles that we found a few.  I immediately was drawn to this pink fluer de lis.  I wish we had had more time to stroll in the gardens at Versailles but I love having this as a reminder of our time there.


THE NETHERLANDS

I came away with two different ornaments in Amsterdam.  We found this first one in the gift shop connected to the diamond factory we had wandered around for a few minutes.  Actually we were expecting to be given a tour of the factory, per the description online and were very surprised when said “tour” was to be escorted up some stairs and told “this is where the diamonds are” and then promptly left alone.  But we were very pleased to find the ornament we had been searching for.

The other isn’t actually an ornament, but I turned it into one.  I bought these little clogs at the clog and cheese farm we toured and added some twine to turn it into a cute little ornament.

GERMANY

The is was another ornament that technically isn’t one.  We couldn’t find any ornaments that said the words Heidelberg on them so we bought these little plates and turned attached some string and viola! An ornament is made.  They did have a tone of Christmas items (hello it’s Germany) but we wanted something that actually said the name of the city one it.  I did buy both my mom and aunt Christmas themed items while we were there though.  A cute little Santa for my mom and a Nutcracker for my aunt.

SWITZERLAND

Our main shopping day was on a Sunday in Lucerne and I don’t know if you are aware of this but most shops are closed on Sundays in Switzerland.  So we were limited to just one shop that was open for touristy type things.  Thank goodness they had two of these little babies left.  This is probably the most breakable one we bought and sadly Jenny’s broke in her bag between Switzerland and Italy.  She handled it much better than I would have, so if one was going to break it’s a good thing it was hers.  I’m 99% sure I would have cried.

ITALY

While in Lake Como, Bellagio to be exact, we found this cute little ornament in a tiny little shop filled with jewelry and other little glass pretties.  They had these cute little ones and then they also had a few larger ones but I figured since I already had lots of larger ones a smaller one would be good to balance things out a bit once they were on the tree.

Next up was Verona.  This one was found in the little gift shop right inside the area where you can see Juliet’s balcony and her famous statue.  Jenny found it first when we had a few minutes to wander the area.  I got separated from her for a few minutes so when we had a little bit of free time we zipped back to the store so I could grab one too.  It was the only place we found Christmas ornaments so thank goodness we had time to run back.  

Venice has tons of little shops lining their very narrow streets.  I can’t remember where exactly we found these but I do know it took a little bit to find them.  It was fun hunting for them though.  When we found some we’d shout…”HERE THEY ARE!”  And then spend a few minutes finding the one we wanted.  I do know that this was the same store I found some very real looking crystal “diamond” studs that I wear pretty much everyday.

Our final destination was Rome.  This pretty thing was found in a little shop just town the street from the Trevi Fountain.  It started to pour and so we ran into the shop and browsed a little.  It was funny because I remember seeing all sorts of ornaments, Disney themed in particular.  They’re city ornaments were kinda hidden under a few others but thankfully I found them!

It was so fun taking all these out of their boxes and putting them on the tree.  I was able to relive a little bit of my trip and they look amazing on my tree!  I cannot wait to add more ornaments as I continue to travel!  
I hoping to go to Washington DC this summer and I’m giddy at the thought of all the different ornaments I can get while I’m there! They are the perfect souvenir! Thanks for the great idea Jen!! 
Have a great Tuesday!
Also linking up for Travel Tuesday, since all these ornaments were collected on my travels! 🙂

Another Wedding Weekend!

Hello friends!! I’m coming to you from my brand new iMAC!!!!!!!  Yes, that’s right, I’ve traded in my little ol Macbook and upgraded.  And so far I am loving it!  Seriously all I want to do is sit in front of this little baby and stare at it all day long.  
Thus why I was absent Monday and Tuesday.  I was dying to type my next post on my new toy! And boy does it feel good.
Ok so this past weekend was an absolute blast!  I was lucky enough to be part of yet another good friends wedding party.  This time I found myself flying into Phoenix, Arizona.  Well technically we were in Tempe, which is a small suburb of Phoenix.  The bride is one of my best friends from Disney, Kelly.  And as I mentioned last Friday, this wedding was going to be extra special because it was the first time since 2009 that we 6 roommates/best friends were together again.  
Here were the highlights! 🙂
Friday
I got to Phoenix bright and early and most of the day was spent running a few errands and just spending time with a few of the other bridesmaids.  Later that afternoon the entire bridal party (minus the boys obviously) made our way to the salon and had manis/pedis together.  It was the perfect way for all the bridesmaids and the bride to bond and relax a little.  
Friday night was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  It was a a very laid back affair and so much fun. We had the best time chatting and eating and chatting some more.  Following the rehearsal dinner the whole bridal party (bridesmaids, groomsman, and even family members from both sides) all headed to a fun dueling piano bar on Mill Ave in Tempe.  

My best friend Abby (who I met on my very first Disney College Program in 2008) have been friends for about 7 years now.  We’ve spent holidays together, gone on vacations together, and individually send each others parents.  And this was the very first time our parents met!  They were so excited and basically fell in love with each other while we were there.  It was awesome.


Saturday

WEDDING DAY!!!

We woke up bright and early to run a few last minute errands with the bride.  And of course a Starbucks run was in order!

The rest of the day was an amazing day filled with: lots of hairspray, tons of makeup, a glass or two (or in some cases three) of mimosas, pretty robes, a bunch of laughter and an obscene amount of love for the bride.  
The wedding was perfect.  Everything went off without a hitch and the reception was a blast.  We danced, we cried, we laughed, we loved, we ate, and we drank.  It really was one of the best days ever.  And here are a few pictures to prove it! 🙂
Enjoy!

My mom was an absolute angel and made all the bridesmaids bouquets!  They were perfect and smelled heavenly!

Sunday
I said goodbye to all my wonderful friends and my amazing parents and spent the day getting back to Houston.  Gotta love all day travel days. 
Overall the weekend was phenomenal.  I am so blessed to have so many amazing friends and family in my life and this weekend helped remind me of that.  🙂
Happy Hump-day friends!
Linking up with Jenn and Jess for:

Your Next Favorite Book: The Storyteller

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before or not,but my all time favorite book genre is Historical Fiction.  I’m a history teacher/nerd and therefore love all things to do with the past.  I swear I was born in the wrong era.  So for me, there is nothing better than getting lost in a novel that is a mixture of real history and unreal people.  Taking real life events and mixing in a good love story or intrigue will have me devouring the book in about 48 hours.  
Which is why it was no surprise at all that I immediately bought The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult when I was at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago.  It read the inside summary and was delighted to learn that her story was about World War II. Specifically the Holocaust.  Plus there was the added bonus that the book was only $5.95 in hardback.  Thank you B&N.
So without further ado I give you my review of one of my new favorite books! 🙂

Goodreads Synopsis:  
Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses… and then he confesses his darkest secret—he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all—if Sage even considers his request—is it murder, or justice?


My Thoughts:

As I mentioned I was instantly drawn to this book when I read the description.  I’ve read a ton of books that have been based on Holocaust survivors and their stories and this one has definitely been added to my list of favorites.  The story is told from 3 points of view:  Sage, Josef, Sage’s grandmother Minka, and finally Leo an officer for the Department of Justice.  At first I thought this would make it a confusing read but it actually helped understand the over all story much better.  While I enjoyed listening to Sage and Leo’s story, I found myself most drawn to Josef and Minka’s.  I felt the parts of the book where they were the primary narrators was much more developed and detailed.  Reading their stories was a page turner.  

Jodi Picoult is a fantastic storyteller and she did an amazing job recounting what a Holocaust survivor might have gone through during World War II.  Her details make it seem like you’re actually a part of the story.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t get emotional as I read the Minka’s part of the story.  And I’m sure your will too.  I highly recommend you read this book.  It will really make you wonder what you would do if you were put in Sage’s shoes.  Oh and the end was 100% shocking!  I did not see the twist coming at all!  Yes, there is a twist! That alone should make you want to read the book! 🙂