Monday, January 12, 2015

The Cliffs of Dover, Stonehenge and White Horses

Last summer during my trip to England my family and I flew into London Heathrow and from there we loaded up and headed to The Cliffs of Dover and to Dover Castle.  We ate lunch there and spent the afternoon exploring the castle, the grounds and the underground tunnels.  It was a lot of fun to explore and the best part of it was that after a long flight we were able to walk around and stretch our legs.  This was our first introduction into the beauty of England and my first insight into the history of World War 1 from the British side.









After our visit at the castle we went in search of the cliffs and found this beautiful area with a wonderful view of the ocean, cliffs and this light house.  This lighthouse was quite quaint and fun to come across.  It was a great place to explore and we were so happy to have another beautiful day in England.  We had braced ourselves for cold, rainy days and thankfully did not get one until we had been there almost a week.

One of the things that I was most looking forward to in our early days in England was to visit Stonehenge.  I had studied it in school, heard so much about it and had many people tell me to visit it while there.  We made sure to get there first thing in the morning to try and beat the crowds and we were successful in that so we quickly got our tickets and caught a ride out to the henge.



 We got the listening guides and as dorky as they are I was so glad we had them.  They were very useful and informative as we made our way around.  We were so lucky to have another beautiful day and it was absolutely gorgeous.  The beautiful skies were highlighted by the green grass and it was such a wonderful backdrop for Stonehenge.

My parents and I enjoyed walking around and Stonehenge was everything I thought it would be.  Once we finished our tour and exploring we headed back to the visitor center which I was also quite excited to explore because it was fairly new and I had read a lot about it on several design websites (The Arch Daily)and a few architectural magazines.  After all of that hype I must admit I was a bit underwhelmed.  Don't get me wrong, it was a handsome building, but just not quite what I expected.




When we left Stonehenge we went in search of the White Horses and it was so much fun to find them.  The first one we found was quite small is the Cherhill White Horse.  The second we found was the Uffington White Horse and is believe to have been created in 800 BC - AD 100.  It was on this hill while enjoying the beauty and wonderful weather that I had my moment where I searched for Mr. Darcy.  As I was walking with my hair and the grass blowing in the wind I looked for him and looked, but after all that searching he never showed up.




These three outings were from our first three days in England and they were such a great way to start our trip.  We stayed in a different hotel each night, so we were constantly on the move but it was all very worth it as we saw so very much.

See my other posts from England:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Vegas, Baby!

My friend, Anna, and I are heading to Las Vegas at the end of the month and we would love any travel recommendations you may have for our time there.  We are staying at the Bellagio but need your help on any other plans.

If you have followed my other trips that I have shared with you all here before then you know this is not my typical trip, so I really need your help.  Then again, as I say that I am reminded that I have been to one of the most famous casinos in the world but that was some time ago now.  Hopefully this time the cars won't be going by quite as fast. zoom zoom

Casino Monte-Carlo
So there it is, not quite Monaco, but I think it will be a great trip.  So please, share with me your tips, tricks and packing lists!!  I have a feeling that Toms and shorts won't fly, which is my typical travel uniform.

television.

Anyone that knows me or who has been reading this blog for any amount of time at all knows that I love television.  I enjoy watching it in the evenings winding down from a day at the office and truly enjoy the shows and movies that I watch.

Television, specifically Dish satellite tv, is a luxury that I choose to spend my money on.  Yes, I acknowledge that I could Netflix or Apple TV or Roku or Hulu or many other things that I am not even aware of instead of satellite, but I enjoy live tv and having my shows on my DVR.  Some of my favorite shows are:

Hawaii 5-0
NCIS
NCIS: Los Angeles
The Pioneer Woman
Covert Affairs
The Big Bang Theory
Hart of Dixie
Castle
When Calls the Heart
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
Dallas
Fixer Upper

The list literally could go on and on, but those are just the current ones scheduled to record on my DVR.  Truthfully though, I keep that list fine tuned because at the end of the day there is a lot of stuff on tv that we need to guard our hearts from and that is something that has been on my heart a lot lately.

At the beginning of each season I look forward to all of the new shows that are being premiered and inevitably over the past few years there are a few that even though I like them I have to stop watching.  This past fall season there were two in particular that I can think of and I stopped watching them for very different reasons.  The first show I stopped watching was because of all of the lying and deception that was going on.  It quickly turned into a tangled web and was something that I thought about all the time.  The other show I quit watching was basically sex every five minutes.  And let's just get real, that ain't healthy for no one's heart, especially one whose heart is healing from a relationship ending.

These shows went with me through out the day, were in my thoughts and unfortunately effected me more than I realized.  It was then that I realized that I needed to wisely filter what I put on my tv screen and what sat in my DVR waiting for me on the weekends.  Another thing to get honest about is all of those R rated movies out there that look oh soooo good.  They may be, but with that same realization that I needed to filter my tv I realized that I needed to filter my movie watching.  At the end of the day they are rated R for a reason, and no matter how good it looks I have had to learn to say no.

So what got us to the point of where we need to filter what we watch and fine tune our DVRs so much?  Have we become desensitized and forgotten what is right or wrong?  Most importantly though, where have all of the Leave It To Beavers, Andy Griffith Shows, and Brady Bunches gone?

I think that our culture has some how become desensitized to what is our screens be it tv, phone or computer.  Somehow what is rated R now would have never been on the tv when we were growing up and most importantly when was the last time you saw a movie rated G or PG?  Yes, they do still exist.  I checked.

How does television effect your heart?  Are there any shows that you have had to put down recently?  Or any that you recommend? 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

twenty fifteen. goals.

Normally I don't make resolutions and really I always have goals that I am striving for, so the beginning of a year does not restart any of these things.  The new year is great for reflecting though, and for that I am grateful.  This became very evident to me when I spent quite a bit of time writing my two year end reviews.  One and Two helped remind me how very full of love and blessing the past year has been.

But how ever full that year was when I saw this print, I knew that it was speaking to my heart.  I like my comfort zone, actually I would say I Love my comfort zone and I am making one of my goals for 2015 to let down my comfort zone a little bit more. 
via
Last year I came to the conclusion that guarding one's heart is overrated.  I believe in taking care of one's self and not being stupid, but if one guards their heart too tightly they are in danger of not allowing love to get in.  I believe the same thing for comfort zones.  There is a time and place for them, but at the end of the day they can hold us back and where does that get us?

For the new year my goals are to be a better me and to be happy with my life.  Open my home up more to friends and family and to have a healthier lifestyle.  And most importantly to love, be loved and to let down my comfort zone a little bit more.

Today I am linking up with Andrea at Momfessionals for Show and Tell Tuesday!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Finish This - 2014 Year End Review

It is hard to believe that this year is coming to a close. Looking back on the past three hundred sixty-five days I can say that it was one of the best years I have ever had. There has been laughter and there have been tears.  My abs got some serious workouts from many girls nights and I learned to let some walls down.  It was a year of firsts, of beginnings, of lasts, and of endings.  

Without further adieu, I bring you my year end review.  

What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
-Took a two and a half week European vacation.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions? Will you make more in 2015?
-No, not really.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
-No

Did anyone close to you die?
-No

What countries did you visit?
- England and Scotland

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
-More friends and family in my home to celebrate life and love.  Be it for dinner, movie nights, or parties.

What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory?

-June 21st.  I boarded the plane to head to England for the next two and a half weeks.  Not only was I heading out on vacation, but I was off from work for the next two and a half weeks.  That time off and away from home way eye opening, relaxing, and just what I needed to have some time away from the office and to shut off for a while.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
-For the first time in what felt like a long time I opened my heart up for new relationships and experiences.  I put my guard down and let the Lord's love guide my life.

What was your biggest failure?
-Waiting on my life to start, but thankfully I learned from that and didn't let it stop me for the entire year.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
-Not really.  My allergies presented new problems and were frustrating because they are out of my control, but happy to say I was healthy all year.

What was the best thing you bought?
-This one is still crazy to me! I purchased a 2014 FJ Cruiser just two years after I purchased a 2013 FJ Cruiser in 2012.  This was hands down one of the craziest things I have ever done and easily the most 'single' thing I have ever done.


Whose behavior merited celebration?
-Umm... for a single lady with no pets or roommates this is a funny question.

Where did most of your money go?
-Traveling, my house, and car payments.
Museum of Modern Art in Oklahoma City visiting the Chihuly exhibit on the left and a shot of a beautiful day in Bricktown in Oklahoma City while visiting with my sweet friend Katie.

What did you get really excited about?
-My vacation with my family, my new FJ Cruiser, my new KitchenAid mixer and coffee.  because well, coffee is good for the soul and my spirit animal!

What song will always remind you of 2014?
-Where Did Your Love Go by Kellie Pickler

Compared to this time last year, are you:

     Happier or sadder?
     -Happier.

     Thinner or fatter?
     -Same.

     Richer or poorer?
     -Richer since I am done renovating my house.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
-Traveled, but that is pretty much the story of my life.  I took the trip of a lifetime to England this summer but wish I would have taken more weekend trips.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
-Think about and waste my time on things that I don't have or no longer have.  I wish I would have lived in the moment a bit more and found better contentment in my singleness.

How will you be spending Christmas?
-With family.  My dad's family on Christmas Eve and just my mom, dad and I at the ranch on Christmas day.

Did you fall in love in 2014?
-I fell in love with the wonderful life I have been blessed with over the past few years and learned to truly enjoy it.

How many one-night stands?
-No.

Who were your best friends?
-Rebekah, Keeley, Katie, Jessica

What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?
-Open my home up for girl's nights and host my favorite ladies.

What were your favorite TV shows?
-NCIS(all three of them), Hawaii 5-0, Forever, The Tonight Show, Hart of Dixie, The Pioneer Woman

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
-I would hardly say hate, but my patience has worn thin with a few people at work.  The way that we work and our attitudes towards our work are very different and that has shaped the way I interact with them.

What was the best book you read in 2014?
-Robin Jones Gunn's 'The Glenbrooke Series' and Nora Robert's 'The Bride Quartet' series

What was your greatest musical discovery?
-There have been some really great country and Texas country albums released this year and two of my favorites are Kelli Pickler's the Woman I Am and Wade Bowen's self titled album.  Two non country discoveries were Gwen Stefani(I know, late to the party) from watching her on The Voice and Sam Smith.

What did you want and get?
-A KitchenAid mixer.  My parents got it for me for Christmas and it was exactly what I wanted.  My happy place is in the kitchen, and with that mixer I don't know how it could get any better!

What did you want but did not get?
-I have been very blessed this year by my family and my job and cannot think of anything off the top of my head. Although, a Goldendoodle would be nice!

What were your favorite films this year?
-Blended with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore and The Other Woman with Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
- twenty-five.  On the big day I went out to dinner with the family and then that weekend I went shopping with the girls and had dinner with them at The Cheesecake Factory.  yum.
Birthday Flowers and Cookies 

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
-Happily I cannot think of anything.  I found love with family and friends and in unlikely relationships and am thankful for that.

What kept you sane?
-My amazing parents and our little life here on the ranch.  The three of us are a really great team and I am thankful for them everyday.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
-Probably Jimmy Fallon.  The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon is pure genius and I enjoy watching it each evening.  I talk about it with friends and family all the time and it is such great entertainment.  I love everything about him and am obsessed with his growing family.

What political issue stirred you the most?
-The Michael Brown riots in Furgeson, Missouri.  This was the first time in my lifetime that I remember anything like that happening.  It over took the news and cities around the world.  My parents can recall things like this happening in the past, but it is a first for my generation.

Who do you miss?
-I miss my grandparents. They were all such a huge part of my childhood and I wish I was able to share the blessings I have now with them.

Who are the best new persons you met this year?
-Hands down my home group at church. I joined the group just after my birthday in January and those amazing women have been such a huge part of my year. We have laughed, cried, and laughed some more together. It is hard to image the past year without them and their amazing friendship. I feel as if I have known them a lifetime already.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
-That guarding one's heart is overrated.  I believe in taking care of one's self and not being stupid, but if one guards their heart to tightly or at all they are in danger of not allowing love to get in.

Quote that sums up the year:
-"Give love away like your life depends on it."

Many thanks to Nicole, Becky, Jen and Lisa for the many wonderful link ups this year.  I have had a great time and look forward to more in the upcoming year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014

Twenty-five has treated me really well this year and as sad as I am to see the year come to an end part of me is also happy.  If I had to describe this year in a few words they would be blessed and love.  
In keeping with the past few years(2013, 2012, 2011) I wanted to do a countdown of the best fourteen events of 2014, in no particular order.  

Best of '14

1. Spent Valentine's Day in Oklahoma City with one of my closest friends, Katie, and had an amazing long weekend of relaxing, eating way too much and enjoying a new city.  

2. Got to see Miss Fine twice this year, once for my birthday in January and once in Kansas City in September.  She fills my heart with so much joy and laughter every time I see her.  

3. Celebrated my two year anniversary at my job and found a love for what I do again.  During the past year construction ended on a job that I had been overseeing construction administration on for the past 14 months and it was such a joy to see the ribbon cut and the owner move in.  It was days like that which remind me why I love what I do and what makes the long hours worth it!

4. Took the trip of a life time and jetted off to Europe for two and a half weeks.  We toured England and headed up to Edinburgh, Scotland for a long weekend.  Here is the first of many England posts at Ely Cathedral.
Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

5. Hosted a Christmas Scarf Gift Exchange with my girlfriends over dinner, way too many sweets and coffee.  It filled my heart with with joy and love and reminded me how much I love having them in my house.

6. Janis came home with us from England and we had a great Welcome Home Party with our family and friends.

7. Found love in a relationship that has now ended.  It was beautiful and wonderful and even though we did not fall in love I found love through it.  I wouldn't trade the world for that time and the lessons I learned in it and after it.  It may be funny that a break up made the list, but the Lord had a hand in that relationship from the very beginning and knew what he was doing.

8. Took two of my very favorite people to the Pumpkin Patch in October.  They may not be my niece and nephew, but I sure do enjoy spoiling them like they are.
Rebekah and I just sitting on some pumpkins 

9. Mom and I spent a girl's day at NorthPark mall in Dallas and had one of the best days.  Just the two of us, walking through the mall with way too many bags.

10. I painted my screen doors and shutters teal.  This was something I talked about for months, and when it finally happened I LOVED the way that they turned out.  

11. Coffee.  Bought a French Press, coffee grinder, tea kettle, and way too many coffee beans.  Even though I didn't admit it at the time, this was my post break- up purchase.  Not only have these pieces brought joy and warmth to my heart, but they have also brought that to my friends and family that have gotten to enjoy the purchases too.  Leave it up to me to make my break-up purchase a (semi) practical purchase.

12. Headed to Houston with my mom, dad, and Janis for a fun weekend of baseball watching the Rangers and Astros play.  It was a great get away weekend.

13. Planted a new flower bed in my backyard which was a labor of love.  It was hard work because I expanded the existing flower bed and had to remove grass.  The best part was getting to pick out the native plants for it.

Happy New Years, sweet friends!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy Life.

Do you ever find yourself looking around and all of a sudden you realize that you are living such a happy life?  I don't mean just that moment, but the time surrounding that moment and that chapter of life.  I am a pretty optimistic person so I normally take note of the happy moments, but even I need to stop sometimes to realize that those moments have turned into days, weeks, months, and chapters of life.

Pioneer Woman Pie Crust
Mix and Match Mama Peanut Butter Pie

On Thanksgiving Day I had a particular moment where I was not only thankful and blessed but happy.  That morning I had woken up and the first thing on my agenda was to make some French Press coffee and turn on the Macy's Day Parade.  It was about ten till so that gave me plenty of time to do those few tasks and get settled in time to start the parade.  

About half way through the parade I got up and started my pie that you see above.  I love trying new things and was anxious to get in the kitchen and get this started.  After trying my hand at making pie crust from scratch I made the pie filling and loved every minute of it.  Anytime that I get to spend time in my kitchen with no real agenda or schedule I am one happy girl.  It is my happy place!

After my pie was finished it was time to head to Thanksgiving lunch at my parents.  So I put on my jacket hoped, in my golf cart and as I was backing out of my garage pie in hand to drive across the field to my parents house I smiled to myself and stopped to realize how blessed and happy I am.  And not just in that moment, but in life.  I am happy with my home, work, life, faith, family, and friends.  What more can one ask for? 

Thanksgiving day was simple and easy and I loved every minute of it.  No fancy dinners, no driving into the city in traffic and no fuss.  I loved every minute of the day and the entire weekend and am so thankful for the reminder of how happy I am with my small town ranch life.  It is funny sometimes how we need reminders of even the good things.

What makes you happy?  What is your happy place?