Saturday, December 31, 2011

Books!

Some blog friends have been sharing what they've read this year & I thought I'd join in!
Favorites are in bold. (Anyone want to tell me why I have ~ where it should be an apostrophe? And a tiny 6 where there should be an f? (in the Sacrifice?). Weird! It looks right in the html, too!)

{Books Read in 2011}

The Kindness of Strangers, Katrina Kittle
*Favorite

Two for the Dough, Janet Evanovich
#2 in Stephanie Plum series

An Offer You Can't Refuse, Jill Mansell

Straight Talking, Jane Green

Unlocked: A Love Story, Karen Kingsbury
*Favorite

Marta's Legacy Series, Francine Rivers
Her Mother's Hope
Her Daughter's Dream
*Favorite


Made to Crave, Lysa Terkeurst
*Favorite

Heart of the Matter, Emily Giffin

The Rescue, Nicholas Sparks

Eat This, Not That: Supermarket Survival Guide, David Zinczenko
*Favorite

She Always Wore Red, Angela Hunt

Magdalene, Angela Hunt
*All-Time Favorite

Growing Up Amish, Ira Wagler (a memoir)
*Favorite

The Guardian, Nicholas Sparks

Good Grief, Lolly Winston

The Help, Kathryn Stockett
*All-time Favorite

The Choice, Nicholas Sparks
*Favorite

The Postcard, Beverly Lewis

Abram's Daughter's Series, Beverly Lewis
The Covenant
The Betrayal
The Sacrifice
The Revelation
The Prodigal
*Favorite

The Bible Cure for Diabetes, Don Colbert
*Favorite

Currently Reading:
Nurture, Lisa Bevere 
Embracing your Freedom, Susie Larson
Twenties Girl, Sophie Kinsella

To Read: 
Captivating, John Eldridge
Learning to see Creatively, Bryan Peterson
Also have been thinking of starting The Hunger Games


What did you read in 2011?
What should I add to my 2012 list?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh, 2011.

I took this from my friend Angela's blog, Tomorrow is Another Day. (If you are looking for another good blog to read, you should definitely check hers out. You will love her!) 

{Looking Back on TwoThousandEleven}

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
I hopped on a plane to meet a blog friend I'd never met before (well, three of them!). Best thing EVER.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
 I did very well on some & not so well on others. Will write more about those in a later post. And yes. I always make new year resolutions. I love them.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My good friend, Tonya, had a sweet baby boy in March. Our worship leader at church had a beautiful baby girl in September. Four good blog friends had sweet babies too! Not to mention all the ones coming in 2012! Geez!


4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yeah... my Uncle Ruby passed away just before his 91st birthday in February. And Brad's Granny died on the evening of our anniversary (November 14th).

5. What countries did you visit?
None. We're so not the world travelers, unfortunately!

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you didn’t have in 2011?
This may come as a surprise to some, since I have never openly talked about it in my blog, but... a baby. Also, a house in Central. If you want to pray for me, this is what you can pray for!

7. What dates from 2011 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
Getting laid off. Learning I have Insulin Resistance. Michelle's wedding day. Talking to Brad's Granny on her deathbed, just days before she went to be with Jesus. Meeting Laura, Kim & Rainey!

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
I got very active. For months in a row, 3 days a week, I did bootcamp. Even on Saturday mornings. And i did cardio the other two days. Started Zumba in June. For the first time in my life, i was able to call myself  "active". Not to mention eating well. I won The Biggest Loser contest at work!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Going back to eating too many carbs & not exercising enough from October - December.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was diagnosed with Insulin Resistance, which helped me understand why i wasn't losing weight despite all my efforts. After that I started dropping some weight finally!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new iPhone.  Oh my gosh. Worth every cent & then some!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The first thing that comes to mind is two friends dealing with infertility and my friend's sister-in-law, Molly, who was on bed rest in the hospital for TEN weeks because her water broke at 24 weeks. She made it to 34 weeks, which was yesterday, & finally got to have that baby. I don't know her that well, but I stalk her facebook, and the girl never complained. She deserves a medal. I know it's all worth it, but 10 weeks in the hospital through the holidays?! UGH! I guess any day now she gets to be back in her own bed with that sweet baby boy!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The people responsible for laying us off at my former job. OBVIOUSLY, I'm thrilled it happened now (as i love my new job), but the way they handled things was just... crap.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Gas money! Geez!

15. What did you get really excited about?
Vacationing a week in Florida = a week off = always exciting. Spending a week in Pennsylvania with Laura, my long-time blog friend! Super exciting! When I finally lost weight. When I had some serious lightbulb moments, learning how to shoot manually. :) Getting a job at Aveda!

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? I'm terrible with questions like these. I don't know!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
I'm in a good place right now... HAPPY. But if you had asked me this question 2 months ago, my answer would have been different. I was going through a rough time, but things are better now!
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner. But not for long if i don't get my booty back in gear.
c) richer or poorer? Well, starting next week I will be richer, thanks to my new job.
 
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I had done more exercising & eating right from October - December! And being a better Christian example.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Carb-eating.

20. How will you spend Christmas?
Tomorrow I will spend it with my side of the family at my  mom & dad's. We spent Christmas Eve with Brad's mom's side of the family & Christmas day with his dad's side.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? Again & again. Love that man.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Grey's Anatomy. This fall i started with the first episode & am now on Season 7.

23. What was the best book you read?
Magdalene, by Angela Hunt. Amazing book. I also loved The Help.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I finally started listening to Adele! Love!

25. What did you want and get?
 A new iPhone. A trip to Pennsylvania! A job at Aveda!

26. What did you want and not get? 
I wanted Brad to be at Michelle's wedding. But we were losing his granny at the same time so it didn't work out.


27. What was your favorite film of 2011?
The Help. And Bridesmaids. (Those were this year, right?!)

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 33. I took off work & Brad did the same just for me! He took me to lunch at (that new mexican place that is off Acadian...the name of it just escaped me!) & bought me new workout shoes. That weekend we had lunch with our families at The Chimes.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Part of me wants to say a baby & a house. But my stress level in October & November was pretty high & i can't imagine dealing with pregnancy hormones on top of all that... I'm praying that 2012 is the year for both.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2011?
Um... I was seriously lacking in this department in 2011. Trying to get better at it, though, now that i work at a beauty school where people are cute everyday. Ha!

31. What kept you sane?
My relationship with God. A good hubby & good friends.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
I pretty much ignored politics this year. Sorry.


33. Who did you miss?
I have way too many long distance friends. Seriously! I missed my Cali friend Amanda & my New York friends Rebecca & Brittany. I missed several friends here who I didn't get to meet up with! And I miss Laura, Kim & Rainey right now! As far as losing loved ones, I still miss Mrs. Helen & of course, Granny.

34. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
See the quote at the top of my weightloss blog. And read Made to Crave.

35. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I'm bad at song lyric questions... I can never think of a good one on the spot!

So that's it. And here's to 2012. 2011 was tough, especially the latter part of it. Not just for me but for lots of friends of mine. But I have a feeling 2012 is gonna be pretty fantastic! I'm so ready!

{HAPPY NEW YEAR!}


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Wish List

Yes, I know, Christmas is over. I shouldn't be posting my wish list. 

The truth is, I got some great gifts for Christmas. I love everything I got. But one thing I got? MONEY. And I'll get more when I celebrate Christmas with my immediate family on the 1st. We wanted to wait until my sister & her husband got back from their honeymoon. But mom has already said we're getting money. 

My mind is swirling with thoughts of what I want to buy with that money. 

I suppose I could be smart & put it in savings. All of it. I'm sure I could do that. But it's Christmas. It's a gift. And let's just suppose that I'm NOT going to be smart about it. Let's just suppose i decide to spend it all frivolously. Okay?

Last year I wanted a camera. That's ALL i wanted. So every cent that I got went towards that camera. In the end, I got enough money from family for Christmas to get my Canon Rebel. And i LOVE IT. :) 

This year, there is no one major thing I have to have. There are lots of smaller things. What to get?!

So here is my Wish List.

First, I thought I would consult my "wish list" board on Pinterest. Um, wow. Maybe I should have looked at the prices before I pinned these items. Custom return address stamp? $65. Really? Cute Toms? Well, they're not cheap. This umbrella? $75! And sold out! Geez.

Well, I do need a 2012 calendar. I love buying a calendar each year. It goes on the side of our fridge. 

I also NEED earrings. NEED. Badly. I seem to have a problem with coming home with one earring, instead of two. It sucks. Here are some that I love.




I also have been thinking of getting one of those iPhone dock thingies. But I don't know if you can dock the phone with the case on it. And i'm not taking the case off... thoughts?

Another option! This is a very new wish for me. I have never wanted a Wii. I have never even used one. Well, years ago at a friends we played Tennis on hers & it was a blast. That was YEARS ago. This Christmas at my husband's aunt's house, we did Just Dance 3 using his cousin's wii. And, OH MY GOSH. SUCH a fun workout! So now i'm thinking of getting a wii. If you have a wii, do you like it? Thoughts?


Wanting a wii gets me remembering a lot of talk about the Wii Fit, which might be a good thing for me. But apparently Just Dance goes with the wii & not the wii fit. Confused yet? So am i.
Speaking of fitness, how about getting those things that I have used at bootcamp so i can do them myself at home? Because right now it does not look like I'll be able to return to bootcamp for awhile. 

 And I really really like this coffee mug. :)
And this clutch. Except i just found it on Etsy & omg. Let's just say, I wouldn't spend that on a huge purse, much less a clutch!!! It's adorable, though. I love it!

I would not mind this either. I have been seeing it & loving it.
 There are also some kitchen things I'd love to have. Like a GOOD blender. Or some cute serving platters.

Hmm, I think I've gone on about this long enough... it was fun, though!

P.S. You can check out my pinterest to see any of these items.And if you are not on Pinterest & need an invite, send me your email address. Because Pinterest is wonderfulness!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Made to Crave.



 I am joining my friends Laura & Amy in an online Bible study of Made to Crave, by Lysa Terkeurst. I think a few others that I know are doing it, too, but I'm not positive. 

We read this book last year, and it is a powerful book. I really need to read it again. Anyone want to join us? You can ready more about it & sign up here & be sure to like the facebook page to participate more in the study. You can buy the book here. It's worth every cent. Let me know if you are joining in!

I am sure I'll be posting about it regularly on my other blog, but wanted to mention it here, too. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day!

Christmas morning, we woke up & exchanged gifts, just the two of us. Now, some of you amaze me with your posts of all the cool things you got for your husband... & vice versa. But Brad only wants one thing for Christmas: MONEY. He also likes gift cards to electronic or book or music stores. That's it. To get him anything else is just not going to be what he WANTS. So yes. It is boring that all I got him was a $50 gift card to Amazon. Boring for ME, the gift giver (& i have always LOVED finding an actual gift for somebody...that perfect gift I know they'll just love!). Not boring for him. He loves his gift cards. Of course, I had to actually wrap it & fill the bag with peanut butter snickers & Recees Christmas Trees....that is about all i can do to make his presents more exciting (again, exciting for me. He really wouldn't care if i didn't wrap it at all!). We don't do stockings either. Tried that our first Christmas, and let's just say... our ideas of how you fill a stocking? They're not the same. ;)

I will have fun buying gifts & filling stockings when we have children!

ANYWAY, he got me the photo editing program I have been wanting. Yay!


I was pretty excited. And will be more & more as I figure out how to do everything.

Later, we headed to Brad's Aunt Paula's house to celebrate with his dad's side of the family. We had a wonderful time, as usual! Picture overload!
 
 Megan & Clay. They are expecting a baby in June! 

 Jaimie & Kiersten

 Jessica & Rylee

 Sisters Leah & Shelly

 Daddy & daughter - Scott & Maddie


Baby Cayde with his Aunt Whitney!

 Whitney's friend got her sock monkey footed pajamas! Ha! So cute! She kinda matched with Cayde!

 See? Cute!

 Whitney & Cayde

 Cousins Hollyn & Colton

 She's so cute!

 Me & my love!

Aunt Paula & Baby Cayde (her grandbaby)

I got a turn with baby Cayde too! He's such a sweet easygoing little boy!

Somebody got Just Dance 3 for their Wii & we played that. EVERYONE did it, two at a time! Including the 60-something crowd! The guys didn't join in, though... though we begged! It would have been hysterical! We had SO MUCH FUN! And now I kind of wouldn't mind having a wii. It was a workout!

 Whitney & Jaimie

 Kiersten & Rylee (with Hayden watching)

 Aunt Paula & Aunt KK

 Aunt Bridget & Mrs Cheryl (my mother-in-law)

Me & Meg!

This was all MUCH funnier in person... we were cracking up the whole time. Ahhhh...good times!


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Christmas Eve Eve & Christmas Eve Day!


 It's been a great Christmas so far! I say "so far" because it's not actually over yet. We will have Christmas with my side of the family on New Year's Day, once my parents are back from Mississippi & my sister & brother-in-law are back from their honeymoon.

 Mom & Dad's Christmas Tree.

We're actually dog-sitting for my sister's dog at my parent's house. Got all that? Okay, so my parents are watching Bali while Michelle & Mike are in Italy for their honeymoon. But this week they wanted to go to Mississippi for Christmas, but they can't take Bali - he's just too big! So I came here to watch Bali. Molly, mom & dad's dog, went with them. The dogs (Fievel joined us here!) have been ANGELS. They're so cute, too!

This is Bali. He's a Cocker Spaniel. He's so sweet...and he obeys!

 My baby.

Bali is actually on the ottoman of the chair I'm sitting on here. And there's Fievel. This is how we spent most of our time here at my parents. ;)

Friday night, we went to Brad's parents to exchange gifts with just his immediate family. We had a good time & got lots of goodies!

My in-laws. They're so cute!

From Brad's sister, we got a giftcard to Plucker's (a new restaurant here in Baton Rouge) & she also got me the Mary Kay facewash & mascara... something I was super excited about because I'm in need of more but didn't have the money! Woohoo! ;)

Brad's parents got us lots of goodies & attached to each thing was a $20 bill, adding up to $100. YES! I got a soft pink blanket that i LOVE, a set of mixing bowls (all sizes), a Taste of Home cookbook, a cool magnetic kitchen cheat sheet (it has all those equivalencies, plus the amounts for doubling or halving a recipe), and a $5 gift card to Baskin Robbins. I think that's it... we got some good stuff!

For Christmas Eve Day, we went back to Brad's parents to celebrate with his mom's side of the family. She made Chicken & Sausage Gumbo & it was DELICIOUS! YUM! I think we had about 20 people over there! Good times. I only took one picture. In fact, all pictures in this post are from my iPhone. Boo. I don't know what my deal was! Oh-well.

The one & only pic from Christmas Eve. Brad's mom made Wassail, a holiday drink. It's kind of like apple cider, I guess? Full of cinnamon & other spices. It was DELISH!

Stay tuned for Christmas Day...

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas!



Friday, December 23, 2011

How it's going ... & Christmas!

Well, it has been an EXCELLENT first two weeks of my new job. 

I LOVE IT! 

The days fly by, it's nothing but sweet & fun coworkers, and though the work is a LOT, it's still nothing that seems impossible! And did I mention that I have an appointment for an eyebrow wax & haircut today? Something so needed & right here on campus! And though I am working today while everyone else seems to be off, well. I'm just not that concerned because we have ALL NEXT WEEK OFF! What?! 

Oh yes. I love this place.

I am still getting the hang of my job. I had Gwen, the lady who does what i do at the Lafayette location, here to train me on Wednesday. And then yesterday, Alissa from the corporate office, came to train me as well. She went over the calendar with me since there is a deadline for a lot of stuff & just helped me for January by telling me when to work on what throughout the month. Having that, I feel much more prepared & like I will be able to do this job come January. I was feeling overwhelmed for a bit, but even then I knew that it would be totally possible once i get the hang of things. :)

I'm excited! And FULL of joy that I get to work in this kind of work environment. Even before I was laid off, I had been wishing & praying that one day I could work in a more creative environment or for a company that I was passionate about. I didn't know I was passionate about cosmentology... I mean, I don't even know how to do my own hair (although I am sure I will learn some tricks!). But I think God knew what He was doing in bringing me here. I have a post in the works called "how stage management is like cosmetology school". Only God could have known that. Only He knew what a perfect fit this place would be for me! And my boss, Laura, who I know from theater... she said she thought of me & was like, "Melissa would be perfect!" I don't think she knew I would compare the actual job to stage management, but it's because of my stage managing skills that she felt i'd be good at this job. And she was right.

For the FIRST TIME in my life, I feel like i am in a job that is a CAREER. I loved babysitting & nannying, but it was never the kind of job you can get benefits or a good salary. The gift shop where I worked? No...they don't offer benefits either & pay is not very good. BRLT is my favorite place, but it's volunteer! Manship Theatre is great, too. The pay isn't bad but it's only part-time. VERY part-time. CAAA was my first "real" job, and though I grew in my position, loved most of my coworkers, and started to really feel comfortable & even smart (haha), it still wasn't something I felt passionate about. Hate to say it, but it's true. I longed for a full-time with benefits job in the theater, but it wasn't to be & I assumed I'd get another job similar to my last one, simply because of my resume. But no. God knew THIS was the place for me. It feels like a real career. It feels like I belong & serve a purpose. I feel like it's going to make me a better stage manager, and that my stage management experience will make me a better employee here. 

So yeah. It's good. And i am almost SAD that it'll be a week before I can come back here! Okay, not really. I LOVE Christmas & family time. But I don't dread coming back in January, that's for sure!

So Christmas. :) We're going to be dog-sitting at my parents so they can go to Grenada for Christmas. Tonight we have just a little Christmas with Brad's immediate family. We'll just exchange gifts, the 5 of us. 

Tomorrow, we'll go back to his parent's to celebrate with his mom's side of the family for Christmas Eve. 

Christmas Day, we'll wake up & exchange gifts between the two of us. Then we'll be going to Brad's aunt's house to celebrate with his dad's side of the family. 

We won't be able to celebrate with my family until my sister & her husband are back from their honeymoon in Italy (actually they're done with that - they're now in England visiting my sister's best friend for Christmas).  So we'll actually be celebrating Christmas on New Year's Day with my side of the family. 

So exciting. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Church Ladies Christmas Party

I was so excited to go to the ladies Christmas party at church this past Tuesday. I was absolutely exhausted, but made myself go anyway, because I have yet to do anything with the ladies of the church & really have wanted to! There are so many around my age who have started going there since I stopped going there 5+ years ago & I want to get to know them. :) 

These pics are not the best, as I was attempting manual & couldn't get my settings right. Oh-well!

I had a great time! They started off with a little praise & worship. Then this lady that i ADORE, Mrs. Kathy, talked for a few minutes & she was hilarious! We half-joke about her going on tour, because seriously - she is hysterical! After that, Jennifer, who pastors our youth group with her husband, spoke about the organization she started with her husband Kirby & her brother Ben. It's called Operation 2020 & it is SUCH a fantastic cause! I am so proud of them! Here is an article about it if you want to know more.

After that, we ate cake, drank hot chocolate & made Christmas cards for some nursing home residents nearby. We had a great time!

 Katelyn, Rachel, Jennifer & Madilyn

 The yummy cake Melissa made for the party - it turned out so cute & it was DELICIOUS!

 Melanie & Melissa (the girl who made the cake!) - serving it up!

 Crafty ladies!

 One lady donated lots of her scrapbooking stuff!

 Making Christmas cards!

 Mrs. Carolyn, Mrs. Dory & Dr. Karen. Love these ladies!

TOTAL sweethearts!

We had a great time! At the end, Jennifer (a different one) spoke about Jesus & she made me cry! She talked like she was having coffee with each of us, one on one, and it was awesome. 

Had a great time! Looking forward to January 10th - going to join them for a Ladies Night Out! :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mama's Christmas Tree, & why I'm loving manual!)

Last night I planned to go to a Ladies Christmas Party at church. It was set to begin at 6:30. I get off work at 5, so there wasn't any time for me to go all the way home first. So I went to my parent's to hang out for a bit, until it was time for the party.

I was sad, because I had left what was supposed to be my supper in the fridge at work. (They were only going to serve cake & hot chocolate at the party.) Well, guess what? My mama had leftover gumbo sitting on the stove. YUM! 

She asked me to take some pictures of her tree, which I thought was beautiful. 

And THIS, my friends, is why I am getting addicted to shooting in manual. 

Both of these pictures are straight from the camera! (I know there is lingo for this, but i fail to remember. SOOC? Or SOC?) For you non-photography people, that means I did not edit these!

{{AUTO MODE}}
 I mean... it's not TERRIBLE or anything, but isn't it a little too dark to you?!

{{MANUAL MODE}}
Yes! And ALL i did was switch it to Manual & adjust shutter speed!

Played around with it a little more & got this!
Oh, wait. That one's a little blurry. Oh-well. It's still brighter, I think! Still, no editing. 

Obviously, editing gives it an even BETTER look. I am just trying to show off why I am loving manual already! I know about as much about editing as I do about shooting in manual. :) 

More shots from last night! These do have a little editing, but again... i don't know much about that yet. One thing at a time!

The tree topper

Pretty ornaments




I see my reflection! Haha!


And a little bit of bokeh! 

Manual is SO MUCH FUN! 
And I still have so much more to learn!