Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

It has almost been a week since Turkey Day, and I am still basking in the time we spent with family and the delicious food tour we took of Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, I haven't quite recovered from the two 14 hour drives through 7 states that we made in four days, but I'm getting there.

Michael's brother Sean and his wife Caroline are new to Pittsburgh, and they wanted us to come see the city for the holiday. I didn't have high expectations of Pittsburgh, but the city truly impressed! Sean and Caroline live in a lovely area known as Squirrel Hill that is walkable and filled with shopping, bars, and restaurants. I miss the days Michael and I walked everywhere in Australia, and I hope to one day live in a place that we won't have to rely on a car so much.

Thursday was devoted to Turkey of course. Sean and Michael fried 4 turkeys (one was given away). The five of us ate three turkeys and mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing and dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin cheesecake.



Our Thanksgiving puppies Scarlett and her cousin Dolly begging for turkey!


On Friday morning, we drove to the city's Strip District. Though its name sounds suspicious, the Strip District is a mix of individual markets and vendors offering anything from scarves, Steelers gear, and spices to food ranging from fresh fish to Mexican and Asian street food. This was our interpretation of Black Friday shopping, and it was fabulous! Every now and then between stores, we made several stops on what I dubbed the Pittsburgh Food Tour.



We started out in Italy with homemade Italian Pepperoni Rolls. These fresh from the oven rolls were 2 pounds each. We had the gentlemen split it in fifths, but I am certain I could have eaten the whole thing. Here is Michael waiting in line to purchase his first piece of pepperoni heaven!



The next stop was the Mexican Market where Michael ordered two of the freshest tacos I have possibly eaten. After eating from the taco man, we walked down the block to Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. Here, we experienced our first taste of Maple Glazed Donuts with Bacon!!! YUMMY! YUMMY!!!!

A few hours later, we got the bright idea to eat some more! Sean took us to a Pittsburgh institution called Primanti Brothers where the sandwiches are piled high with meat, vinegar coleslaw, and french fries. Here are our sandwiches getting ready for fries!


We packed our bags and headed back home on Saturday afternoon. We braved 14 hours straight in the car and finally arrived in Birmingham at 4 am on Sunday morning. Another Thanksgiving has come and gone already, and I have now celebrated 29 times!!! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

You Say It's Your Birthday

Yes, I say it is! Happy Birthday to me! I'm officially 29 and counting, and though I'm inching closer to 30, I guess I don't feel too differently. As a birthday gift to myself, I made sure to enjoy the weekend. I don't know if it's a sign of my age, but enjoying the weekend meant taking on some projects around the house, putting up my Christmas decorations, organizing my guest room closet for the millionth time, and baking muffins and cookies. I did fit in some fun with my girlfriends last night at dinner. Unfortunately, Michael had a busy weekend, but we get to spend 5 straight days together for Thanksgiving!

Right now, I'm enjoying our piece of Christmas. I decorated early this year, but I wanted to come home to Christmas once we get back from our Thanksgiving travels to Pittsburgh. I didn't decorate last year, and I forgot how much I love this time of year.


I fit a lot into a small space, but I love all the color and sparkle!


I love my feathers too! :)


And my huge turquoise ornaments! I LOOOOVE them!!!!


I hung ornaments and snowflakes from our dining room chandalier, and I think it's so pretty. I just refinished the old brass mirror in our dining room, and I love how the heirloom white turned out. The ornaments look so pretty reflecting from the mirror.

I have had a wonderful birthday, but I think I am more excited about Christmas!!! I hope all of you have an amazing Thankgiving holiday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Painting The Tree of Life

Hey Everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful week. Hold on a little longer...Friday is just around the corner. It has been humid and rainy for three days straight in Birmingham, and I am hoping the yucky weather clears out this weekend.

Just in case you forgot, my birthday is this Sunday, and I cannot think of a better gift than hanging out at home in peace and quiet. I want to relax and read a book, take Scarlett to the park, and watch movies. Unfortunately, Michael has a busy work weekend, so it will be just us girls.

It is my goal to have our Christmas decorations out before we leave for Pittsburgh to celebrate Thanksgiving, so I don't know how much resting I will actually be doing. I want to come back from our trip and open our front door to Christmas. I love this time of year!!!

I want to share some pictures from my Monday night out with my LIFE Group at Sips and Strokes. Our leaders booked a private party for us to paint a funky and fun tree of life to represent our LIFE Group. Aren't our leaders awesome? In two days, I got to be a part of an amazing photo shoot and paint a piece of art that will always be special. More than anything, I have grown closer to these women through these two awesome times we have shared together.

Here are some pictures from our painting party. I want to give a shout out to Mrs. Mandi for taking pictures.

Me and Mandi!


Our fearless co-leader Christy. I love this girl!!!


We all look so serious!


Our other co-leader Blair. Isn't she precious?


Our finished trees! I love how they turned out so beautifully and so different from one another. I got a kick out of how everyone's trees reflected their personalities. Unlike the whole point of the piece, mine had no funky tree vibe whatsoever. It was neat and simple and exact. Others were daring, abstract, crazy, colorful, and bold just like the painter. I loved every tree!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Picture Day!

This Saturday was picture day for me big time! Michael, Scarlett and I had our pictures taken in the morning by my friend Laura Headley, and I had another photo shoot taken with my LIFE Group at 2:00 pm. I had so much fun, but I was exhausted from all the preparation and smiling!

Michael and I have been together eight years, and with the exception of our wedding day, we have never had our pictures taken professionally. Having our pictures made was Michael's gift to me for my birthday and our 5th anniversary. The morning was perfect, and the leaves were beautiful, so I cannot wait to see how the pictures turned out. I got to see a sneek peak of what will be our Christmas card, and I loved it.

Our LIFE Group leaders gave us a professional photo shoot as a gift to all of us. How amazing are they, to be so thoughtful! 19 of us got all dolled up for a photo shoot at Ross Bridge. Everyone looked so amazing, and we had a great time taking pictures together. After our photo shoot, we headed to our friend Mandi's house for appetizers and hot apple cider. This is one of the professional pictures from our photographer Elizabeth Ann.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Week Without Facebook

It's been a week since I declared my Facebook Fast, and I thought I would let you know how it's been going.

Do I miss Facebook? YES and NO

Why do I and don't I miss Facebook? I don't feel connected and I don't feel connected

Facebook is how everyone communicates, and if I'm not communicating on Facebook, then I am not communicating much at all. A part of me feels like I may be missing out, but then I think about all of the wonderful parts of not being connected. On Sunday for instance, I didn't have to read through all of the maddening status updates from Alabama fans after their loss. I don't have to read about what you are doing every five minutes while you are just sitting at a red light on a bridge at 5:35 pm before you go through the drive thru and pick up dinner and head home to feed your kids, give them a bath, and put them to bed before telling all of us every minute detail from the moment you rolled out of bed today. I don't have to know where you've been by your check-ins nor do you need to know where I've been. I don't want to read a promotional shout out about your new business every few hours. Don't get me wrong, some people want to know every move you make, but I don't think I do anymore.

Facebook is not all bad or annoying. It is fulfilling to keep up with friends in other states and countries. I love looking at your pictures, and I especially enjoy the great articles that have been posted from other sources by my friends. I learned about a new radio station that I love through Facebook. I guess I'm realizing that I need to filter my news page when I log back on. I believe that is the only solution to not be so annoyed all the time!

So what have I been doing without Facebook? I have been exercising more. Okay, so doing my Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred two times last week isn't something to brag about, but I promise that Facebook would have made the number of times I excercised zero. I read two books, one on being childfree and the other on yoga. I had some of the best quiet times in the mornings, I made a few delicious dinners, and baked homemade cupcakes for the first time in my life. I sat in the quiet and soaked it in, and Michael and I had amazing conversations.

I believe I could do more to make this fast worth it, so I need to work on that. I know I will reconnect on Facebook when the 40 days are over. It's almost impossible to give it up forever. But I realize that I can accomplish so much more and fulfill my day with meaningful tasks if I choose to disconnect more often.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Game of the Century

Last night, everyone in the South were glued to their televisions to watch what was touted as the "Game of the Century." Never have the #1 & #2 teams gone head to head in the SEC during the regular season, so this was a big deal for Alabama and LSU fans. Heck, it was a big deal to all SEC fans I think. Unfortunately, now that the hype is 24 hours behind us, I don't think it lived up to being the game of the century. The two Alabama kickers may disagree, but for a completely different reason.

Michael and I watched the game at my friend Lindsey's house. Some other girls from work were there as well. I didn't watch the game as much as I should have, but I was too busy socializing!


Lindsey, Madeline, me and Jamie. You can tell I was apathetic to who won by my lack of team spirit. What can I say, blue is my color. ha!


I love me some Madeline!!!


Me and Lindsey. I love this girl too. She has a crazy sense of humor, and she is hilarious.


Look it's Michael! He's not working on a Saturday night!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Facebook Fast

I am still in disbelief that it is November already! This can't be true! November is a big month for us as we celebrate Michael's birthday November 4, Scarlett's Birthday November 7, and my birthday November 20. This will be my last birthday celebration of my 20's, and I don't know if I have accepted it! 29 sounds so blah.

We are also celebrating Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh with Sean and Caroline who will be hosting the festivities for the first time as husband and wife. I am excited about seeing their new home and enjoying Michael's family, but I pray that we don't get snowed in!

I hope that with all that we have going on, November will somehow be a time of quiet and reflection. 40 days from today, I will be attending a LIFE Retreat with my LIFE Group, and I pray that my life will be forever changed by this experience. I have committed to purging some areas of my life until then so that I can experience God as much as possible this month in preparation for the experience.

I am also, as we speak, giving up Facebook until the LIFE retreat ends. This is going to be so hard for me, but I believe it is necessary. I feel convicted about the time I WASTE on facebook. I in no way mean to offend anyone by saying this, but I waste precious time looking at the profiles of people that I am truly not "friends" with. I have Facebook friends who I would pass by in the grocery store if I saw them because I wouldn't have anything to say or I may not even recognize them in person! I know that I have Facebook friends who only added me to be nosy and vice versa. I'm definitely not innocent of being a Facebook stalker myself!!!

For me, Facebook is not real life, and though I do think there are great things about it, and I love keeping up with friends from places we have lived, it has replaced valuable time spent on real-life relationships. Today, I deleted any Facebook friends that I am not real friends with or would not befriend in person. It is nothing personal, but it just felt fake. I used to think that having less Facebook friends than others meant I was a loser. But today, when I purged my Facebook friends, I felt amazing. When I do log on again in December, my newsfeed won't be cluttered with junk from friends who aren't really my friends at all.

I hope the time that I have free from Facebook, the TV, and the internet (except for a few occasional blogging moments) will give me a greater sense of myself and my purpose. I want to grow closer to God, I want to discover parts of myself, and I want to grow my relationship with my amazing husband and friends who I can actually touch!