New Gift Ideas!

With spring in the air {or me wishing it was - It's still a chilly 40 in Lex today} and many birthdays on the horizon, I've been doing a lot of digging for fun, new, creative gifts for everyone. I have found a few really fun ideas that I wanted to share. Some are do-it-yourself and require a bit of sewing or craftiness, but others you can simply purchase with the click of a button.

A fun set of Cloth Napkins {do it yourself}

A box of dates to remind you what you did on that day many years from now.
How cool is this? I want to make one for myself! 

From a blog post last week - I couldn't leave it off the list.

My husband stole this idea when I was ordering for a friend and bought me one for Valentine's Day ~ It was such a sweet surprise... and I love it SO much! 

Monogrammed Cocktail Plates  {do it yourself}

This is hands-down one of my favorites... 
Recipe Tea Towels {also do-it-yourself, but need a little more work}

Also another favorite...

Just writing this post makes we want to run home and get to crafting... I have so many fun ideas I want to try!  Maybe March will be the month of crafts, I seem to have a lot more free weekends ahead of me.

What's your favorite? Do you have any fun gift ideas for spring?


Remember to Dance!

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... 
It's about learning to dance in the rain"

Well, we are 7 days into lent and things seem to be going well so far. My focus this lent has been patience... but also clearing the days {and my head}, eating better, reaching out to others and just enjoying being happy.  I do have to admit my job brings on my greatest stress each and every day - possibly even my only stress in life, which really isn't so bad in the grand picture, right? I wouldn't even say that it's my actual job that causes me the stress, I really like what I do - I love writing and designing and planning events - it's just dealing with the outside world that stresses me out. I may not be a perfectionists, but I really do like when people appreciate what I do...for them, their company, their organization, anything really. I would have to say that my number one frustration is dealing with people that just aren't happy - about anything. How do you deal with these people?  

Well, this spring we are hosting ten regionally-located Drive-In meetings for work and within these meetings one of the sessions is a StrengthsQuest Finder initiative. We actually got to take our test early in January, but after hearing the presentation again last weekend, I was more motivated to dig deeper. Let me tell you, if you haven't taken any sort of strengths finder assessment - you should. You would be so intrigued with your results, why you do what you do, how you react and why to certain things, etc.  It's so interesting! Here were my top 5 strengths:


Pretty dead on, if you ask me.

What I learned... well, let's see:

I find it easy to put my thoughts into words. I am a good conversationalist and presenter. I can organize, but have flexibility that complements this ability. I like to figure out how all the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity. I want to be important in the eyes of others. I am independent, but want to be recognized. I am strategic in creating alternative ways to proceed. Given any problem, I can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues. I love meeting new people and winning them over. I get satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.

What is also taught me...

Focus on your strengths, not on things that come hard to you. Who likes being unsuccessful? No one.
The perfect team is one who balances out each other. I don't work with others that are just like me, so I need to recognize the strengths that I don't have in my top 5 and find others to do them for me. I also learned that this is OK. It's OK to not be able to do it all - just do what you love.

So, today I'm organizing and dishing out... it's been fun already to have others helping, but if I could just keep in mind that patience thing. I know it's going to make life so much more enjoyable. It already has!  Even when times are tough and stressful, it's not just surviving them. It's making the most of each and every day... and learning how to dance in the rain!


Eat your Peas

Wednesday, a co-worker brought in a gift her mother had given her for Valentine's day this year. It was a small little book - let's say 4 x 4 in size - and she handed it to me and said. You should read this, it's great.  I took it and set it aside... to continue checking my email and responding to requests. We had a small project to get out this morning, so she came back in to work on it... mid-way through, she could tell I was just frustrated {remember the no good, very bad, terrible day}. So she said, take 3 minutes and read the book - I just want to see you smile. :)  So, I caved... stopped working and read it. . . . . . .

And it was the best 3 minute book I've ever read. It put a HUGE smile on my face and made we want to read it again.  It just makes you feel happy, special and needed.  It kinda makes you forget what you're doing and remember that at the end of the day - things will be ok - YOU are what is most important. O, and don't forget to eat your peas. 

The books are written by Cheryl {& Mom} Karpen - and they are a series... I read Eat your Peas for Young Adults, but they have more....ones for moms, sisters, moms-to-be, daughters, sons, girlfriends, you name it. If you're looking for a little happy for someone you love, it's the perfect gift.  I have a few special people in mind that should expect one soon. :)

I promise... "It only takes 3 minutes to read, but you'll hold onto it forever."

Happy Hearts!

Wishing you all a very Happy St. Valentine's Day!! Sending lots of love to my sweetie today... we slept in and grabbed bagels for a morning treat {love me some cinnamon raisin walnut cream cheese from Hillel... I'm thinking that may be a how-to blog post soon}. We have a very low-key day planned, with some sweet treats involved too! 

Today's post is dedicated to Valentines... you know the cheesy paper kind!  Well, last night while scrolling through Facebook, I enjoyed seeing all my momma friends late-night posts with their kids Valentines {that they spent all night on... or just finished... or had friends over to help finish}. I must say, even the crafty do-it-yourself girl here was impressed. These mommas go all out!  When I reminisce Valentines Day in grade school, I remember Care-Bear & Star Wars fold it cards - strategically picked from the mile-long aisle at Wal-Mart - bought weeks in advance, so you got the good ones... and then spending hours filling out each one by hand and writing fun notes to all my class mates {Saving that super special one for your BBFFL- haha}. I don't suppose this happens anymore?  Maybe so, but I can't decide if this Pinterest-lovin, crafty do it all women wishes they were still cool... or secretly wishes I had a child so I could make these adorable Valentines for their friends?  haha 

Either way, I wanted to share some of my favorites from Facebook:

Mustaches seem to be hot this year!  Why are babies just so darn cute in a mustache??

These two were some of my favorites... love the S'more play on words {and the heart Peeps} and who doesn't love a cute cuddly bear? 

Saw lots of goldfish this year... guess they are a hot commodity around 2-5 year olds. The choo-choo quote is so flash back to high school and the Simpsons. Love it, Abby

This was one of the most creative I saw... what a great {and economical idea}. Next year stock up on those .50 boxes of candy canes on the clearance aisle after Christmas and get to work making some hearts - precious idea, Nancy!  

Hope all these lucky kiddos enjoy their special Valentines.  Have a wonderful heart day with your sweeties!  




Today has been one of those days... when you just can't get out of bed, because you tossed and turned all night wide-awake... the weather is "eigh" at best... I wake with a stuffy head... and it seemed like it was going to be an "Alexander the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day" kinda days.

Thankful to make it out the door dressed and early {for once} to work... and even have my keys to the office {which doesn't usually happen, but was a bonus, because I was the only one here}. Things were still gloomy... then everyone finally arrives and the complaining begins... and it comes in full-force... website updates, manuals, emails, blogs, picture requests... no one else seems to be able to get anything done without my help. Usually, I like to be needed... but not today. I just want to sit at my desk and actually get some items checked off MY list {not yours}.  In the midst of the hectic morning, I realize it's Ash Wednesday {...after an email from the hubs asking what I was giving up this year? Still searching... }

So, the beginning of lent it is... a promise of a fresh start and new beginnings.  It got me thinking... so I  took a longer lunch break, grabbed a fish Sammy from McD's {more on that one later} and went to mass to get my ashes. I was hoping things would start looking up. :)  Walking in, it was sleeting {and very cold}, we walk in to a packed house... immediately I have to pee and the bathroom is impossible to get to, so I sit tight... the choir director is practically yelling at folks to sing {louder, louder, sing people}. I'm suddenly feeling nauseated from the fillet o' fish, super sleepy {did I mention it's that time of the month} and it's just a mess. Needless to say, not the peace and certainty I was looking for in an Ash Wednesday mass.  So I'm back at work... taking a break from my long to-do list to read some blogs. I came across a blog I frequent often and it was talking about paying it forward... It kind made me smile inside just thinking about it.

It made me realize what I'm missing these days... and that's the ability to be able to constantly do for others {without being asked or told or demanded or even suckered into anything} just doing something because I think it's nice. It seem hard to do these days... especially in the profession I am in. Everyone is trying to get ahead and think first and put their name on it... it makes me also realize how stressful life can be if you let it consume you.  Which brings me to my thought on what I'm going to "give-up" for 40 days.

This year, I'm going to try my best to stop and listen.... to empathize before judging... and take a deep breath before I blow. {ha!} Patience. That is the word of the season... patience with others, patience with myself, my job, my hubs {which isn't too hard - he teaches me patience each and every day}, my friends, my family, my volunteer work and every day in general. When you are a busy-bee like me - patience is hard. All you steady bloggers know what I'm talking about. Who really has time for a blog? Not me. Not you. Then why do we blog? It's fun. It's a release. It's a way to put into words how we feel without being judged. It's easy. It doesn't talk back. And usually you feel pretty good about what you have to say. Am I right?  So, patience it is... I feel better thinking about it already.

Wish me luck... I'm off to practice my patience in a Board Meeting.



Throw me a Moon Pie, Mister!

Happy Fat Tuesday Y'all!! 

Last night we had Jambalaya to celebrate Mardi Gras {since tonight J has a staff dinner}, but that also means leftovers for lunch, so I'm ok with it. I wanted to share this easy Jambalaya recipe that taste just like grandma's.  

Big Easy Jambalaya
This classic dish is perfect for a Mardi Gras party! 

Makes 6 (1-cup) servings. Easy to double too!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
each medium green and yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) regular diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
1 package ZATARAIN'S® Jambalaya Mix, Reduced Sodium
1 pound large gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 package (12 ounces) andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 


1. Heat oil in large deep skillet or 5-quart Dutch oven on medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers; cook and stir 7 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.
2. Stir in tomatoes, water and Jambalaya Mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Stir continuously!
3. Stir in shrimp and sausage. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer or just until shrimp turn pink and rice and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

Original Recipe Here.

I also wanted to share a few pics from our fun on the coast last weekend for my Dad's Mardi Gras parade and Ball.  

Catching parades on Friday night with the fam.

We had do much fun hanging out with high-school buddies... felt like the good ole days!

Saturday getting ready for Dad's parade!

Then it was Time for the Mobile Mystics Ball... 

Happy Fat Tuesday! 


Spring means Lilly!

We've been busy lil bees this past week... I apologize for my lack of blogging. Too long staring at the computer screen during the day... not getting a workout in before work... and work/volunteer meetings at night made for a very long week and zero blogging time, but I'm back!  And I am super excited for the week ahead.  I'm almost overwhelmed with two holidays in one week though... I kinda wish we could spread it out a lil more. Valentines most def gets pushed to the side when it's Mardi Gras season!

We have a fun Mardi Gras meal planned for tonight that I will share tomorrow... along with more pics from last week.  I also have some fun Valentine treats in store for Feb. 14... but I will say after getting a taste of warm weather while we were on the coast for Mardi Gras made me craving spring! Thanks to Mr. Groundhog, it should be heading our way early... so I thought for tonight what better way to highlight the season than with all things LILLY!  I was really spoiled this holiday season and racked up in the Lilly department. Here are some of my favorites that I use each and every day:

They make every day a little bit brighter!

This was probably my favorite Lilly gift I received this year from the hubs: The Virginia State Print Murphy Scarf. Not only is it beautiful, but it was so thoughtful... and will be such a fun scarf to wear for many years to come and always remember this special time we have shared in Virginia.

They have 6 different states... and every one of them is unique. 
{no Alabama though... I already tried to purchase for a gift twice with no luck} 
They would make the perfect gift for any lady who loves Lilly and the South! 

I have since added a few more Lilly items to the closet for spring, including a pair of white casual resort jeans... and new pair of navy Callahan shorts {the only shorts that I wear}... some cute swim bottoms {thank you early-spring sale) and a pink casual ruffle dress. What's on your Lilly wish list for this year? I know I have quite a few more I could add... I was never a Lilly fan, I'm not sure what had happened to me?

The spring magazine even made the coffee table because I loved the cover so much.

Cheers to a bright, bold & beautiful spring! 


Find Your Happy Place

Happy Hump Day! It's been another long week at work... I just can't seem to catch up. Anyone else?  The stacks just keep getting higher... and my back tighter.  I'm heading to yoga tonight... to "find my happy place". :)

Short post today, stole this from Facebook... thought we would start the trend on blogger...

At age: 25 (Assigned by Mallory Clayton)
Marital Status: Dating my wonderful husband.
I worked: Alpha Omicron Pi, Membership Recruitment Consultant
I lived: Ferguson Ave, Nashville TN
I drove: 2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport 
Coolest thing I did that year: Moved to Lexington, VA to be in the same town as my beau. :)

I am now: 29
Marital Status: Married
I work: Omicron Delta Kappa, Director of Communication & Programs
I live: Downtown Lex in a cute lil Yellow House
I drive: ....the same 2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport (now with Virginia plates)
Coolest thing I did this year: Since we're only one month in... I would have to say visiting Alexandria with the hubs and seeing the George Washing Masonic Memorial was pretty darn cool. 

I thought "Finding your Happy Place" would be an appropriate title for this post today, seeing how it just makes me happy thinking about the past 4 years and how fun-filled & full of love they have been!!  I've watched so many of my good friends get engaged and marry, then have babies, gotten engaged myself, planned a wedding - without killing my groom or my mother - welcomed 4 new nieces and nephews into the world, said goodbye to my beautiful grandmother {who I know is still with me each and every day}, started a new job a- stuck with it for almost 3 years... traveled the country, been able to give back to so many organizations I love, checked quite a few things off my bucket list and have enjoyed being married to the love of my life for almost 2 years now!  Makes me feel pretty happy, how about you?

“Comment and I'll give you an age.”


Thirsty Tuesday!

In the words of Lilly, let's celebrate Tuesday with a cockatoo cocktail! Off to the Jacyee's meeting at our local Brewery, Blue Lab Brewing Co. 
Excited to see everyone and relax after a busy few days back to reality.