I was inspired to reflect on 2009, and to highlight the 'best-of's' parts. As most of your know, 2009 was the most challenging, heartbreaking, emotional year that I have ever had. But even through the hardships I faced this year, I am ending 2009 on a positive note! Even though I walked through some very difficult things this year, I have grown more as a person, as a Believer, and have truly come to know what it is to lean FULLY on Christ. He has been my Sustainer throughout every single intricate part of this year.
He orchestrated my move to Southern California, He directed my steps to find my new home church. He knew the specific friends I needed to lean on, confide it, and find healing within. He wanted to show me another side of the country, that He made just for me. He knew I loved the Great Outdoors; so He moved me to where I could experience yet another vast part of His creation.
He is wonderful.
He is faithful.
He is good.
Without further adieu, here is my list of my BEST OF 2009!! (I will not be numerically numbering these, how could I rank events in my life?!)
*Switching to an iPhone. I found cellular freedom!!
*Seeing the ocean on a regular basis.
*Getting my backbone back.
*Meeting new and precious friends.
*The pleasure in serving Him, to truly serve Him.
*Discovering a hidden talent for cake-creating/decorating.
*Seeing a dear friend find musical success. (Check out seabird.com!!!!)
*The joy of assisting in raising the two precious munchkins I nanny for.
*Seeing my youngest brother graduate from Army Basic Training.
*Seeing my oldest brother at the best point in his life.
*Moving to California.
*My 25th Birthday at Arrington Vineyard.
*Seeing dear, precious friends move around the world, pursuing His purpose in their lives.
*Dave Matthews Band en concerto!
*Attending the CMT awards right before I moved.
*Seeing my first West Coast sunset.
*Hiking up to the Hollywood sign with my dad.
That's all for now.... a part two will follow soon!
Well, it's Christmastime. I wouldn't know, as I live in a climate that stays relatively warm year round. It's taken some getting used to; but being able to go outdoors in shorts on December 16th is pretty fabulous!
My dad came for a visit shortly after Thanksgiving-and we had SUCH a blast! We went everywhere. Hollywood and the Hollywood sign, San Diego, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, etc. He was quite culture shocked (as was I when I moved here), but had a wonderful time. I made him a fall-inspired birthday cake, complete with fondant leaves. He was so surprised!
I'm gearing up for my trip back to the South, and I am SO ready! I'm taking a two week vacation and hitting all the places I love. Nashville, Gatlinburg, Elizabethtown and Louisville. I'm super excited to spend some fun time with my family, and super, super excited to spend New Years in Nashville with my girls Katie and Jenni!
The list of places to go? I'll start with Nashville:
Ivey Cakes-BEST cupcakes-EVER.
BlueCoast Burrito-the best Naked Salad ever.
9Fruits-Fabulous smoothies, owned by two of my friends.
Opryland Hotel-what's Christmas without seeing the lights at Opryland?!
I've been baking up a storm lately, and have an exciting cake to share with you hopefully, this weekend. It's for a contest that I'm entering, and for my Christmas Party that I'm sharing it at! I can't wait, and I'm hoping it turns out as well as it is in my head!
Here's my list of things I want...in my dreams.
The new MacBook. My little iBook G4 has been chugging along the past few years; but I'm ready for an update.
These beaut's are Lucchese 1883's. I love Lucchese, because they are the same quality and hand-crafted as the Old Gringo's; but these are made in America.Do I REALLY need to explain this one?! I love MAC cosmetics. But, they are a little pricey! So, I make myself ration my purchases....
I've been so busy the past few weeks, I've totally neglected my blog!! Sorry. :)
Where to start...the Yankees won the World Series! WOO HOO!! I know in my previous post I was wearing an Angels hat, but I've since burned it and changed my loyalty to the Yankees. There may or may not have been conflict within my household that influenced me. Haha.
I've had a few different friends in and out of the LA area recently, and one whom I haven't seen in almost a YEAR! My dear friend Adam was in town rehearsing for his upcoming cruise. Yep, he's a cruise ship singer, and a very talented one at that! You can check out his music on myspace.com/adambastien.
Mel and I
The cake I made Sam
I've taken a few trips into LA over the past weeks, and my confidence is growing. Yes, I admit it. I'm terrified of the city. I didn't grow up around any large city; so living in one is intimidating to me. I avoid it at all costs. Ashley and I spent the day in LA with Preston, who was in town with his band Seabird, playing a show. Check out myspace.com/seabird to hear their awesome music! We took the Metro and went everywhere we possibly could! It was a busy, busy, busy day, but totally worth it. We ate at a sketchy Taco Truck in Compton (hey, we had real deal Latinos with us, we trusted them!), got lost in Compton, ate breakfast in Compton...best part? We didn't even know we were IN Compton. Woops!Irvine Park and had a blast! Rode the train, fed the ducks (J was drawn to the peacocks...), and had an overall GREAT time.
Sunday was a day for relaxing...so that's what we did. After church, we went to Duke's on the Beach to watch the Titans take on (and DEFEAT) the 49'ers. What a great game! I was glad that a Titan game was airing on Pacific Time, was watching on the beach with my best friend. Who could ask for more?!
We were up and at em' early early EARLY on Monday for Katie to catch her 6a flight. Shew! Rough getting up that early. But, all the fun adventures we had the days before more than made up for it. I can't wait for the next time she visits!!
WOW! I can't believe this weather as of late! So beautiful! There have been hot spells well into the 90's-100's temps; but I still love it. No more Southern Humidity here in Southern California!
A few weeks ago I went with some friends from my new church to "Feed the Troops" at Camp Pendelton, near San Diego. We had a great time setting everything up, serving the guys, and seeing them DEVOUR the food. We served tri-tip steak, potatoes, corn, salad, bread, dessert, I mean the list goes on. The best part was that they had just returned (literally!) from a five day mission out in the fields. They were dirt-encrusted, smelly, faces painted, and shaking from eating nothing but MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat). It was so great to see them so excited for a home cooked meal!
Serving the Troops
I'm really into Fondant, but am learning the basics. I need and want to know everything I can!
Days like today, I like to take a moment and reflect on what I'm thankful for.
I'm thankful for:
my military who protects and DEFENDS me
my military family
my beloved friends
I will never forget.
Ok, sad times over. Onto what else I've been up to these past weeks!
The past few weeks have been so fun! I've finally landed on a church home; Southlands at the Gallery. It's a super cool, fun, upbeat church. I'm really loving the worship and teaching. Meeting new friends has been SO refreshing! Hard to believe I've been out here almost three months! I was SO ready for people to hang out with.
The last few Saturdays I've been checking out the different beaches in the area with my friend Manny. We've been to Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach so far. Last week, we rented bikes and cruised the boardwalk along Huntington Beach. It was so fun! On Labor Day I was invited to join my new small group out at a fabulous Lake House on Canyon Lake. We spent the day on the boat wake boarding (or attempting to!), relaxing by the pool, playing crazy games off of the dock on the lake, warming up in the jacuzzi, and getting to know new friends.
I'm looking forward to going into Hollywood this weekend. Yes, doing the cheesy tourist things like the Walk of Stars, Hollywood sign, etc. What can I say...I'm a tourist until I've seen it. :)
Hope you have a wonderful weekend, whatever you are doing!
With this recent move, I now am enjoying DirecTV. Not only do I have cable, (gasp, shock!) I even have a fancy schmancy DVR!!! And boy, am I putting it to use! I've gotten addicted to watching any and all shows pertaining to cake baking. In particular, "Cake Boss" on TLC. I love the interaction, love the New Jersey accents, and loooove their work. If you haven't seen it, you can preview the show and Buddy's work here.
I have been thinking and thinking of a new hobby. A project, if you will. Something to challenge myself creatively. After watching these cake shows, it has piqued my interest into Fondant Cake Decorating. Fondant is a "creamed confection". Basically, it's sugar and water, in a certain consistency. Gelatin and Glycerin are added to get that dough-like texture. While I by NO means am aspiring to be a lavish cake decorator as these, I think I can hold my own! So, I'm starting with the basics: a Fondant Cake Decorating class at my local Michael's Arts & Crafts. I could be horrible, I could do just fine. Either way, I'm excited about starting something new!
This is a cake Buddy and his team did for Rachel Ray's 500th Episode. All is edible, impressive, right?
I've missed home a lot this week, craving some familiarity. Luckily, a friend from Tennessee was in town playing a concert at The Troubador with his band Seabird. It was so good to see a familiar face, and a good friend at that! I'm so excited for him, he's engaged to be married in May! I just love weddings, now I just need a date....
BUT-I've been LOVING getting to know the California outdoors! I've been doing my workouts outdoors, since the weather is so fabulous; I'm drinking in the constant sunshine, smell of exotic flowers, and the never-ending cloudless blue skies. I have been dreaming of rain the past few nights! Weird and random, I know, but I think it's because I'm used to seeing rain once or twice a week, and I've been here since the beginning of July-and no rain! Weird.
I'm missing my family so much! 2009 has been such a big year for our family. Sam was engaged, married and enlisted in the Army, Scott is away for a while, and Steph is working on entering the workforce. Mom and Alvin are still recovering from the damaging ice storm in March; having to purchase new farmland. Dad is still working at the same location, not much has changed there.
All of my transitions this year have had my head swimming. Leaving my church, pursuing fresh, true and new beliefs in Christ, deciding to leave Nashville after six years, embarking on a journey across the country.
Fall couldn't be here soon enough. I can't wait to go home and see my little brother graduate from Basic Training!
Video from Christmas Day a few years back. Good times with my sister, my mom's new camera, and the Farm's "Mule".
This past weekend my friend Katie came out to visit me while here on a conference for her work. We had an AMAZING time, as always; and it was SO good to see a familiar face!
The conference was in Long Beach, so Friday evening we ate at Gladstones and had a great time. We ran down to the Irvine Spectrum for some late night shopping. That place is beautiful at dusk! Ferris Wheels, tinkling lights along the sidewalks...it was great. Saturday we spent the evening in Newport Beach, along the boardwalk. We ate at a place beside the ferry to Balboa Island, so good!
Sunday we spent the day at Manhattan Beach in LA. There was a surfing and sand volleyball competition going on....SO perfect!! After enjoying the sun, we headed back to the house to chill and watch a movie. Monday, the day Katie left (so sad!), we ran down to Laguna Beach for some last minute beach time. It was a slow and relaxing morning, Mimosas and Bloody Mary's on the beach. Perfection!
I had a great time exploring the area around me, and it was so nice to have someone to do the adventuring with! I can't wait to meet more people and go explore some more!
My journey to the west was one in the making for months. I had kept it on the down low for many reasons; and I’m glad I did. I toyed with the idea of moving to California, then found many reasons to stay in Nashville, TN. Back and forth I went, until I finally realized that yes, this is what I wanted, needed to do.
I work for a fabulous family as a nanny to their two small children. In March, they announced that they were moving to Orange County, CA. In that announcement, they asked me to move with them. As stated above, it took a long time for me to come to a decision!
In part, I didn't want to leave Nashville because CA was so foreign, so different to me. It took me realizing that I moved to Nashville knowing no one at 19, and surviving and thriving. Surely I could make this move at 25. So after putting away the weights to weigh my decision, I made with confidence the choice to move to California.
I was born and raised in the South, something I have taken for granted until now. It truly is a way of life that only exists in the South. I can’t wait to return one day. I didn’t want to leave the green, the rolling hills, the farms, the smell, the Fall season, I could go on. Instead, I’ve traded it for weeks and weeks of blue untainted skies, perfect 80-90 degree weather, and winds from the beach. It’s so odd trying to get used to it not raining here!
So, my Journey began on July 9th, 2009. We flew out on a Thursday, and traveled to Palm Desert for a week of relaxing while the new house was being painted and kid-proofed. We’ve been in our new house for over a few weeks now, and I love it. It sits in the hills, we’re on a culdesac and it’s very lush (with the aids of sprinklers, of course!) in the hills around us. We have a pool in the back (which is AWESOME!), and plenty of space for the kiddos to run and play.
I’m getting used to the area, being able to drive myself around and not get lost (ok, ok. I may have to turn around a few times…). As I said before, we live in the Hills, so it’s beautiful to look out and see the cities below us. We are close to Disneyland, so at 9:30 every night you can hear the fireworks. I’m sure if you were in the right spot, you could see them from our neighborhood.
What do I miss? I miss the ever present smiles on strangers faces, not hesitating to smile and say hello. I miss the Southern Hospitality somehow innately ingrained in almost everyone. I miss seeing muddied up trucks, and I even miss that Deer head sticker from Bass Pro that is on the back of tons of trucks! I miss Sweet Tea, Mello Yello, and no, I haven’t seen a Moon Pie. I doubt I will.
But I know I’m here for a reason. When a new chapter of life begins, new characters are added, and old ones exist no more. A good friend recently gave me this analogy: she said that she was scuba diving for the first time, and after about ten minutes underwater; she had a thought to go to the top and take a breath of air. It was then that she realized that she had everything she needed to function, live and thrive in that moment; just with completely different surroundings.
So that’s what I’m doing, I’m learning to breathe.
I've followed Mat Kearney since the beginning of his career, finding success in indie venues in Nashville, to hearing his music on Grey's Anatomy. I love following artists through the years, see how they morph, change, grow.
Mat is one of those artists. While I miss his hip-hop influences, I really love his latest album. It dropped a few weeks ago, and took me a few spins of the disc before I endorsed it fully. But, it's fully of acoustic and piano flavor; enjoy it!
This video I found on his tour blog, and thought it interesting enough to share. It's an impromptu acoustic version of "Closer to Love", with his drummer on basketball percussion. Take a look!
I am a lover of all seasons. In the winter, I love winter the most. In the fall, I love fall the most. In the...can you see a pattern?! I guess it's a good thing; to love where you are when you are there the most. Hmm. Deep thought for the day, eh?
Today, I love summer. I have had some wonderful summertime evenings recently, and I wish I could bottle them up and save them forever. A few weeks back I went with a group of friends to the drive-in. We sat in the back of the truck, loaded down with blankets and friends. Perfection.
Curtis, a friend of mine was house-sitting a fabulous home in Green Hills for a couple weeks; so I spent plenty of time over there relaxing by the pool, grilling out, chilling out, and enjoying friends. I'm tellin' ya, bliss. BLISS. There's just something about a warm, balmy evening, a refreshing and fun pool, grilled food, cold beer and good friends. The perfect combination!
A few weekends ago we (Jenni, Katie, and Katie R.) went canoeing; which was SO much fun! I even brought a disposable waterproof camera. How awesome is that?! My computer unfortunately isn't reading the disc that has the photos right now, or I would have some pics to share. We found this great sandbar to stop and have lunch, and the current was rushing pretty strong; so we took the cue from the other boaters and donned out life jackets and floated down the river. Me and my waterproof camera were having such a great time snapping pics that I didn't even see the large rock coming up. Yep, my little knee smacked right into it! OUCH! I think I said a curse word. Or two.
Father's Day weekend I was supposed to go to Kentucky, and I did, but under different circumstances. I won a local radio contest to see Jamey Johnson and Justin Moore at 4th Street Live in Louisville, KY. The bonus? Going to see it in a tour bus. Yep, that's right. Katie went with me, and we joined a few other winners and radio personalities and headed on up to Louisville for the night. We had a BLAST! Great people, fun times on the bus, met and hung out with Jamey and Justin; saw the show from perfect seats (thanks Andie!!), and had the perfect weather. It was a late, late night, but well worth it. We returned to Nashville about 2:30 in the morning, and I went home to sleep for a few hours before getting up and driving BACK to be with my dad for Father's Day. Crazy, I know, but it was worth it.
My sister and I went with my dad to the Shelby County Flea Market for a morning of browsing endless rows of junk. It's a place we used to go to all the time growing up; so we thought it would be fun to return. I bought $20 worth of classic 80's records! Michael Jacksons' Thriller, Styx, The Carpenters, Def Leppard, The Sound of Music Soundtrack, and countless others. I'm looking forward to playing them!
Saturday afternoon my sister, Grandmother and I drove out to Leitchfield for my brothers' wedding shower. It was so cute, and they got tons o' stuff for their new home! What I love about the shower the most was that it was a fire station! How cute! The back side of the fire station has a general room, kind of like a reception hall. It worked perfectly for us! Sam (my brother) took us back to his new apartment to show it off, and it looked awesome! I'm so proud of my baby brother.
Sunday we took dad to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch; he had never been! My older brother joined us, and we were so glad to all be together at one time; it's rare these days! We ended the night by joining my mom and her husband for a late evening Father's Day dinner with him. I loved seeing the sun set over the south...so pretty.
I'll miss this...
I would have posted photos for each event, but I dropped my NEW iPhone last week and I took it to the doctor today to have it's face replaced. I'll post photos later...
...for new iPhone's! Yesterday I walked into an AT&T store...and walked out with an iPhone. Having been a dedicated Sprint subscriber for the past 10 years, I felt a sense of cellular freedom come over me. No more unnecessary fees, no more Sprint calls late at night, no more nonsense!! As soon as I got home I synced, installed, downloaded and uploaded for hours on end.
You see, my iPod was stolen (my fault, really. Left my car unlocked.) about a month ago. I had been toying with the idea of an iPhone, but couldn't gather myself to switch carriers and get all fancy-schmancy. But, when my monthly cell plan was becoming astronomical in price; I decided it was time. And why not combine both phone and iPod? Cheaper in the long run...since all of my family and close friends are on AT&T (free chat time!).
So far, I'm loving it. All the bells and whistles, all the time consuming yet addicted apps (Paper Toss, anyone?!), it was a good and fun investment.
Here's to you Apple, thanks for creating the iPhone. :)
Take a look at this amazing light show; made using dorm lights in a building!
Whew! I've been gone the past four weekends in a row; talk about EXHAUSTING! As tired as I was, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I enjoyed every second of it!
Mother's Day weekend I went to Kentucky to visit my family, and had a great time. I spent Friday night with my dad in Louisville, caught a quick breakfast with my grandmother, then saw Star trek with my dad before heading down to Elizabethtown for the remainder of my time in Ky. Went fishing, Mother's Day picnic...it was wonderful.
The following weekend I flew to Washington, D.C. to visit my dad and family. We didn't have an agenda (which was nice!), just attended all the kids softball practices, games, etc. We played so much catch that my arm hurt for a week! Weak, I know. :) We toured a civil war era plantation: The Chatham House. Being a history nerd, I loved every second of it. I took tons of photos, and deemed it my new favorite place to get married. Wait, I think I need to find a man first! We had a great time looking back into the civil wartime, and exploring all the grounds had to offer. I flew back late Sunday night..and was back at work early the next morning.
Tiffany, Sam, Stephanie and I
I hope you are enjoying this fabulous weather as of late, and are experiencing everything life has to offer!
This morning I decided to venture out and create a healthy alternative to the ever-so-delightful- sugary frozen treats. It was incredibly simple, actually!
I used two containers of low fat, organic blueberry yogurt, and mixed it in a bowl. Then I gently blended the organic mixed berries (Raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) with a hand blender. I didn't want to puree them; I wanted to have some texture in the yogurt once frozen. I mixed the two together , and WOW! what great color the fruit brought. Very rich...I wanted to eat it right then!
I used 2oz Dixie cups for the freezing, and I was out of popsicle sticks...so I used toddler spoons for the handles. Just popped those in the center of the cups, and in to the freezer they went!
This past weekend I traveled to my hometown of Louisville (and surrounding areas), KY for Mother's Day weekend. Whenever I'm in the area, I try to visit as many people as I can, and it gets a little crazy. This weekend I decided to not see any friends, but give all my time to my family. How rewarding it was!
I drove in late Friday night, and spent the late evening with my dad. Saturday morning my sister and I took my Grandmother out to breakfast for Mother's Day. I had not seen the new development of Westport Village; usually when I'm home visiting I don't have time to see all the changes to the city! It was so quaint, full of unique boutiques and restaurants. We ate at this fabulous place called "Wild Eggs", which was so different, but completely delicious!
I caught a matinee of the new Star Trek with my dad-and I LOVED it! Being a child of a sci-fi fan dad, I grew up watching all the old ST's with him. I give it a two thumbs up! After the movie, I drove down to Elizabethtown, where my mom and her husband now live. They are in a beautiful farm house temporarily (major damage to their home in the winter ice storm), but we had a fabulous time. Fished, cooked, laughed, cried, sang...we had a wonderful time.
Sunday I was walking back and forth setting the picnic table outside, and it struck me. I miss Kentucky. I looked down at myself and thought how I would never dress this way in Nashville....boots thrown on, jeans haphazardly halfway tucked in or halfway down my leg. Old faded jeans (ok those are a must no matter where you live!), white button down shirt, my hair was all windblown from driving home in the truck. I looked down at myself and I realized how incredibly comfortable and at home I felt. I was in my element.
So WHY am I moving? Well, I know that it's what I'm supposed to do next. I can't describe it, but I just know. I am secretly hoping that my next destiny is to move to a county home in the south....haha.
All in all, I had a wonderful weekend celebrating my mom and grandma. All of my siblings and I bought my mom a beautiful silver diamond necklace, mom loved it. :) Hopefully I'll have some photos up tomorrow.
In the past month I've celebrated my 25th birthday, had family visit from out of town, stayed in a hotel, purchased my first pair of bon-a-fide cowboy boots, went to a new restaraunt, saw three concerts, packed my apartment up to move...and the list goes on. Can you see why I haven't posted?? :)
My 25th birthday party was held at Arrington Vineyards, and what a bash it was! Every Spring and Summer, on the weekends; AV hosts "Music in the Vines", a free live music venue. And WHAT a venue!! A spectacular view, amazing music, and the fabulous wine....oh the wine...
The Tasting Room (aka The Lodge) sits atop a grand hill that overlooks the countryside of Williamson County. So beautiful. The vines were not "leafy" just yet; that's what you get when you have a vineyard in Tennessee! My family came down from Kentucky, and my friends all came with yummy food....I couldn't have asked for a better birthday celebration.
Everyone brought cameras, the scenery was too beautiful not to capture! Enjoy these snapshots from various friends..
My one and only request: IveyCake.
Sweet little Emerson!
The whole crew...minus a few who had already left.
What a fun and fabulous night!!