Archives for 2015

All About Christmas

Happy Thursday friends! I thought I would break things up with some fun Christmas facts about me and my family, as well as some of our traditions. I would love to hear you answer some of these!

1.) Real of fake tree? We have a fake tree, and I always had a fake one growing up due to owning cats + having allergies to lots of things. Plus, our last fake tree lasted I want to say 6 or 7 years so it ended up being way cheaper than buying real every year.

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2.) Christmas morning breakfast? It depends. for a few years I made a special danish thing, but last year I didn’t since I had a three month old, so not sure what will happen this year! Sometimes we just eat leftovers from Christmas eve. Smile

3.) Favorite Christmas Album? Definitely the Carpenters. I grew up listening to it over and over so it just means Christmas to me to hear it!

4.) Where do you spend Christmas? We spend it with my side of the family. Bobby’s family all gets together at Thanksgiving but not really at Christmas so it just makes more sense. We spend Christmas eve with my parents, and on Christmas day we all go to my cousin’s house (everyone used to come to my parent’s house.) n61700476_30279142_1481

5.) Favorite Christmas movie: This one is tough! The Santa Clause, Elf, and Christmas with the Kranks are all up there. OH! and Home Alone. Gah this is too hard!

6.) What’s on your wish list: A new lens for my camera.

7.) Any traditions? I usually make snicker cookies on Christmas eve, and we always read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas as well as the Christmas story from the Bible.

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8.) Stockings, yes or no? My parents always have a stocking for us, but last year and this year Bobby and I aren’t doing stockings because we would rather use that money to travel than on trinkets we don’t really need.

9.) Do you put up outside lights? Yes! It makes me sad that it seems less and less people do this. Growing up we would drive around on Christmas eve and look at the lights. Now we are hard pressed to find hardly any in our neighborhood.

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10.) Do you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Growing up we opened presents from my grandparents on Christmas eve, and then gifts from my parents and Santa Christmas morning. My parents also used to let us open one gift from them on Christmas eve. Now we just do everything Christmas morning.

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I can’t wait to see how our traditions evolve as Emma Kate gets old enough to understand Christmas!

QOTD: Answer one of the above questions in a comment!

Santa Fail + North Pole Down South

Over the weekend, not only did I run a 5k race, but we took Emma Kate to go see Santa. If you will remember last year, she was not a big Santa fan at 10 weeks old, so we weren’t sure what was going to happen this time.

We drove about ten minutes into the “country” to go to North Pole Down South in Livingston. Livingston is a beautiful little area that is new but made to look like an old town square. (You can read more about it here.) In the summer they hold a farmer’s market, and other events during the year, but this was out first time making it out there. There is also a residential part that hasn’t quite gotten up and running yet, but I hope it does because I love this cute area!

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We got in line for Santa, and Emma Kate did great. Bobby walked around with her and carried her on his shoulders, and she never fussed once.

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There were however some kids just being kids running around which is fine, but I was happy to see they were selling wine and mimosas while you waited in line (seriously, smartest thing ever!)

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We waited about twenty minutes, and it was finally our turn. Sadly, Emma Kate was still not a fan. However, instead of all out screaming like she did last year, she just made the saddest little face and did this pathetic whine, pointing to us. Poor girl.

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The below picture is the only one where you can’t tell she was terrified.

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Get away from me you creepy old man! (by the way, isn’t he a great looking Santa?!?)

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This picture about sums it all up.

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After we sufficiently traumatized our child, we decided to walk around a little bit. We came across one of the two restaurants, called the County Seat (I spy Bobby and EK).

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We also went into the Livingston Sweet Shoppe. I LOVED it in here. I think I belong in the era of general stores and candy shops. This was my kind of place.

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You can follow them on Instagram and see what they are up to!

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There was also a mercantile and gas station in Livingston.

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And who can forget the wine cellar?

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We ended up eating at a place called the Gathering. They have a blue plate lunch special, so Bobby had some fried chicken.

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I love the interior. So cool!

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The weather was beautiful, Livingston was great, and we got our Santa photos. All in all a good day, and EK behaved beautifully the whole time. If you are local to the Jackson MS area, I hope you will check out Livingston!

QOTD: Do you take your kids to see Santa? Did you cry as a kid taking Santa pictures?

Jingle Bell Jog 5k 2015

I ran my first race since the spring on Saturday, and it felt good to be back! Local races and very few and far between way down here in the summer, and early fall brought lots of changes and extra work so I have not been running as much. Actually, in November I am pretty sure I ran a total of 11 miles, so I was a bit nervous about the race. On the other hand, I have been going to boot camp, so I was excited to see if it was paying off.

Of course the one race I sign up for happens to be when it’s 32 degrees outside at the start! We bundled up and headed out to the local high school. This race had a 5k, 10k, and half marathon.

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I was very thankful I had only signed up for the 5k when I realized how cold it was! At the last minute however, I decided to shed my top jacket, and I am SO glad I did. I get warm very quickly when I run, and I would have been dying in that extra jacket/third layer.

The start of this race was very…interesting. They had the half marathoners start up the hill first, then had us back behind them about 35 yards, then had the 10k runners behind us about 100 yard, but we were told we would all be starting at the same time…ok?

No one was told “if you are walking start to the back” or anything like that. I got fairly close to the front when I realized there was no starting mat, only a finishers mat, so our timer would be started on the gun even if we didn’t cross the start when the gun went off. Well, the gun went off rather abruptly, and a bunch of people just casually started walking or slow jogging. You can see in the picture below, it was like “oh, let’s go for a stroll! As we stand at the FRONT of the 5k RACE!” I can’t blame the participants though, because they didn’t tell everyone where to line up.

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Anyway, I luckily didn’t have to do much weaving because we immediately were out onto a divided highway and we had both lanes to spread out in. I hugged the median because I didn’t want to run any extra distance (insert ominous music here). I warmed up fast, and actually felt really good. Then I realized why I felt really good, we were practically going straight downhill! This of course made me feel amazing, until I remembered we would have to go back UP the hill coming back to the finish! I really wanted to just let myself fly down the hill, but I reigned it in and saved some energy for the last half. Even so, I was having a good time and felt really strong. THANK YOU BOOTCAMP! I was so happy that it was working. I ran mile one in just over 9:00, and was happy with that, considering I was holding back a little. I came to a flat part where the turn around was to the other side of the highway, and tried to speed up a little bit before having to go back uphill. I also snapped a photo of the people in front of me on my side after the turn and the people still coming. There were 1000 people in all signed up between the three races.

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Apparently, while I was running, so was Emma Kate.

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I took this next one after the race but thought it might break up some of the text to insert here. Smile

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I made it to mile two in 8:59, and couldn’t believe it. I was going UPHILL and running a sub nine after running 11 miles over the last month? Yes please! I made it to 2.5, and still had not stopped to walk once and just kept pushing up the hill, but not TOO hard because I didn’t want to burn it out before I got too close to the end. When I got to 2.75, I started to get a little concerned. I know this road very well because I drive on it every week, and knew that we were way farther away than a quarter mile. Uh oh. I kept looking at my watch as it crept closer and closer to 3.1 miles, and the school still was not in sight! When I hit 3.13 I paused my garmin because I knew the course was long and wanted my true 5k distance time. I kept running, and will admit I did slow down because by then I was frustrated that I wasn’t going to get a “true” finish time.

I made the turn into the school, down the hill, and towards the finish and there was Bobby and Emma Kate cheering me on!

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My sad attempt at waving as I went by.

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I was happy that I felt so good and so strong but bummed about the length. I finished and told Bobby the course was long, that it measured 3.45 miles!

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My finish time for the 3.45 was 31:20, but my time for 3.13 was 28:30, which I am happy with! (I ended up with 6th place in the 30-39 age group out of 56 women in that age range).

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I got my medal and some water, found Bobby, and caught my breathe. I went over to the guy with the bullhorn who had been giving instructions at the start and asked if the 5k course was long. His answer was “I hope not.” Oh. good….. I asked if it was certified and he said no…then I asked if anyone else had said anything about the course being long and he said “well…it might be a little long””. Alrighty then.

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We were freezing so we decided to head on home pretty quickly. Oh, I forgot to mention, this race was to raise money for the children’s cancer hospital in Mississippi, a very worthy cause!

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Later that night I went to check the results and came across the race’s Facebook page. A lot of people (who ran all the different distances) were complaining about the race being long. Then someone pointed out that in VERY small numbers, the organizers had put the true distances in the results. Look closely next to the work “5K” and you will see it says (3.45). Ha! I was right!

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Aside from the course being long, I really did enjoy this race, and it was just what I needed to boost my running confidence. If I can run a 28:30 with no miles hardly, then I know I can do well combining the boot camp with my running if I can get on a good schedule after Christmas. I’m excited!

QOTD: Have you ever run a long or short course?

Spread Cookie Joy Giveaway

Confession: I am not much of a cook. I work a lot, and by the end of the day, I usually just throw together whatever is the easiest, quickest thing I can make. However, there is one exception to this, and that is baking around the holidays where I love to spread cookie joy! I grew up making Christmas cookies with my family, and hope to continue the tradition with Emma Kate.

Baked goods (cookies more specifically!) make great gifts as well, and I have made them many times as Christmas gifts for family and friends. spread cookie joy

Krusteaz brand cookie mixes are not something I have used before, but when I saw all the delicious flavors, I knew I had to try them! I made some of the Snickerdoodle cookies for Thanksgiving, and then decided to make the butter vanilla sugar as gifts for some sweet friends. I knew I wanted to put icing on them, so I knew the butter vanilla sugar would be my best bet for decorating with red and green icing and sprinkles. spread Christmas cookie joy

I used the recipe on the back of the box for the cookies, and for the icing I used a tried and true simple recipe:

1 cup powdered sugar

2.5 tablespoons 2% milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

5 drops of neon green food coloring

-Stir until smooth, and decorate!

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I love wrapping gifts, and knew I wanted a cute and fun way to package my cookie creations. Zazzle has some adorable options and I ended up getting some cute little boxes, stickers, and personalized name tags.

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I love how everything turned out, and I can’t wait to spread cookie joy with my very sweet and deserving friends.

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If you are looking for more baking and gifting tips and Krusteaz prizes, a #SpreadCookieJoy Twitter Party will be held on December 14th from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm ET. I hope you will come!

The kind people at Krusteaz have offered a GIVEAWAY for one THLG reader so you can #SpreadCookieJoy with your friends, family, or neighbors. Giveaway includes everything below EXCEPT for the ball jar, so you would get:  two boxes of the following mixes: Shortbread, Gingerbread, Snickerdoodle, Butter Vanilla Sugar and Oatmeal Scotchie; an apron, tote bag, cookie cutters and frosting pen.

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To enter, simply follow the Rafflecoptor instructions below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclosure: I was provided with baking supplies and my own prize pack, however all opinions are my own. 

NFL for the Holidays

Football is one of my favorite things, so it only makes sense for me to consider NFL related gifts for my wish list/gift guide. Even if your team isn’t doing as well as expected (like mine), any loyal fan would love to have some game day gear under the tree. There’s always next season, right?

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The best part about NFL gear, is that it is super easy to purchase on NFLshop.com. They have a huge variety of clothing from shirts to sweaters to pants and even dresses. The site is easy to navigate, and there are tons of great options.

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I love how there are so many different women’s styles to choose from, and I can dress my game gear up for a fun party, or even wear it as an everyday outfit. (By the way, the sweater I am wearing in the below picture is SO COMFORTABLE. Go buy it. now.)

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Personally, I got lucky that my favorite team has the great colors of black and gold. I can dress up my outfit with gold jewelry, and I can wear black pants, a skirt, or jacket to complete my outfit.

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Do you have any NFL fan gear under your Christmas tree? If you could pick something, what would it be?

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If you are looking for a gift for a football loving spouse, friend, family member, or coworker, there are tons of adorable outfits and stocking stuffers on NFLshop.com that any NFL fan would be excited to have. (Yes yes, even for a Saints fan like me. Who Dat for life!)

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It’s almost Christmas! That means it’s almost time for the PLAYOFFS! Who are you rooting for? Me? I’m still undecided.

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Be sure to follow @NFLfanstyle on social media to see what other folks are wearing for the holidays to cheer on their favorite team.

QOTD: Who are you rooting for? Is there any NFL gear under your tree?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Strength to Run

On November 2, I started working out four days a week participating in a boot camp class at my gym. It was WAY out of my comfort zone, but I knew I needed a change. Bobby had done a week long trial of the boot camp and assured me I would do great, so I hesitantly signed up and started the class. Everyone was super friendly and I ended up LOVING it. I was admittedly in a running rut, and this was just the change I was looking for.

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Was I still running? Yes! But just twice a week instead of 3-4 times, and I have been keeping very low mileage. Now that I am a month into the boot camp, I can honestly say I feel so much stronger. Before, I was so injury prone when I ran because I have weak glutes and hips. The strength work has made me stronger all over, and I love how I feel at the end of a class (I average burning around 625 calories!)

Anyway, one thing I wasn’t expecting was for it to help my running so much, since I was only running 2-3 miles twice a week. Imagine my surprise when I went for a run the other day and ran FASTER with LESS EFFORT than before I started the class when I was running 3-4 times a week and averaging 15-20 miles a week. Call me a believer! I know I still need to work on upping my mileage, but I am impressed with myself so far. Never did I think I would be running up and down a field pushing a sled, doing dozens of burpees in a row, or squatting with weights on the bar and saying it’s not heavy enough.

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I have done “strength work” on my own for years, but I never really pushed myself like this class pushes me. I just work so much better in a class environment with a coach yelling at me to go faster. Everyone is different, but this is definitely my jam. I just want to encourage anyone who is afraid of trying something like this as a supplement to your running, to just DO IT! I know with the new year coming up a lot of new classes and programs will be offered, an dI hope you will jump outside of your comfort zone like I did, you may find something that you LOVE!

QOTD: Have you ever done a boot camp class? Have you done a workout outside of your comfort zone?

Thanksgiving 2015

Has everyone come out of their turkey comas yet? On Sunday night as Bobby was eating more leftovers, I told him I just couldn’t do it, and I had waffles for dinner instead. We did have a great few days though, and three different Thanksgivings!

Thursday morning we anxiously awaited the arrival of my parents and my sister.

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Emma Kate was one happy little pigtail-ed girl when they finally got to the house!

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We cooked and played

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Emma Kate was being a serious show off with everyone paying her so much attention. She kept running for toy to toy making sure everyone was watching her.

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We of course watched the parade.

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Lunch was great, and I was pretty proud of three new recipes I used, and also of my table setting I created. Also, I fail at blogging and have no food pictures! Bobby informed me he posted one on Instagram which made me laugh because he hasn’t used Instagram in months, but apparently the food was deserving of a post.

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After lunch, we had a pretty serious game of cornhole going. I mean, just look at the concentration in my moms eyes.

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My dad was pretty good at it, much to Bobby’s dismay.

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Emma Kate loved chasing the bean bags and picking them up and running back and forth.

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Everyone napped except for me, and we watched football all afternoon and capped off the night watching a couple of FRIENDS Thanksgiving episodes, which are the best. Friday morning, my mom, dad, sister and I hit up our local outdoor mall. Dad and I ended up just wandering around and sitting on benches while my mom and sister shopped, but it was a pretty day so we didn’t mind.

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Friday at lunch we all headed to Bobby’s cousins house for another Thanksgiving lunch. More turkey was consumed.

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Unfortunately, after lunch my family packed up and headed home. Bobby and I spent the rest of Friday and Saturday just hanging out with Emma Kate, eating leftovers, and watching college football. Oh, and playing baseball with a pumpkin and a machete. What? You don’t do this? I think I got a couple of pretty good action shots.

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Saturday night we had a Friendsgiving with a bunch of friends from our lifegroup at church. More turkey was consumed, and more football was watched.

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Sunday was church and more football (I am detecting a pattern here) and sadly our holiday weekend came to an end. I hope you had a great one like I did and got to hang out with friends and family! Happy Thanksgiving!

QOTD: Favorite Thanksgiving food. Go.

Morning Commute Made Easier + Giveaway

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This post was sponsored by Contigo®, however there is a GIVEAWAY at the end, and I truly think this product is really cool and something many of my readers can relate to/find helpful in your daily lives, so read on!

My morning “commute” looks different than it may for some people, but I rush around getting everyone ready and in the car just those people that are heading to the office, except first I am usually headed to the gym, and then back home to my home office.

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I am a believer in the power of coffee, and am not coherent or of any help to anyone until I have had at least a few sips. A lot of mornings I don’t have time to finish my coffee before it’s time to go, so I have to drink it on the run. This is always a problem, because I cannot stand cold coffee, and with my other travel mugs, cold coffee is what you get.

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Not only cold coffee, but coffee that sloshes all over you and your pants as you try to get your bags and your child’s bag into the car. I started using the Contigo® Meta travel mug, and things have gotten way less stressful around my house when it comes to my morning commute.

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The first thing that drew me to this mug is the length of time it will keep your drinks hot or cold. This bad boy has double-wall vacuum insulated Thermalock™ technology, so drinks stay hot for up to five hours, and chilled for up to TWELVE hours!

My other favorite feature is the fact that it is pretty much impossible to spill my drink on myself while juggling bags plus the baby. The  AUTOSEAL® patented technology seals up the drinking spout in between sips when you press one button, so no spilling!

For those of you who commute daily on public transportation, the Meta travel mug would be perfect because you can seal your drink in between sips to keep debris, dust, people’s sneezes, and the like with the commuter-inspired CleanGuard™ spout cover that rotates to close off the drinking area when not being used.

In addition to Contigo’s AUTOSEAL® Metra Travel Mug, I was also sent the AUTOSEAL® West Loop Travel Mug. to try out, and I love it, too!

Contigo

The awesome folks at Contigo® have offered to host a GIVEAWAY so you can win one of these amazing travel mugs for yourself! Simply follow the Rafflecoptor directions below. Good luck! (Please note, the giveaway will be open from November 30th to December 8th and is sponsored by Sway Group. One winner will be selected to receive a Contigo® AUTOSEAL® Metra Travel Mug. Sway Group will select a winner on December 10th which will be highlighted in the Rafflecopter.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Oh, another fun side note: There will be a Twitter Party on Tuesday, December 1 at 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PST / 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST. I hope you will join me (@heatherslg) for the chat!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Contigo®.

5 Things I am Thankful For

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I hope you all have the opportunity to spend some time with the people that you love. I am hosting again this year and my parents and sister are coming into town. I won’t be posting tomorrow or Friday, because I want to spend time with my family (and so should you! Go talk to someone’s face tomorrow.)

In the spirit of the holiday, I thought it would be appropriate to get all sappy and tell you all what I am thankful for this year. I have a LOT to be thankful for, but just narrowed it down to 5 big ones for the purpose of this post.

1. My family: My family is awesome, and have been there through thick and then. They have taught me so much, helped me when I needed it, stood up for me, given me advice, and so many countless other things. I am so glad I get to see several family members tomorrow, and I hope to teach Emma Kate the importance of family.

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2. My health: I truly do not take this one for granted. I am so thankful that I can get out of bed every morning, pick up my daughter, go for a run, lift weights, work, and take care of the people I love. This is such a huge blessing that many would love to have but don’t, so I try very hard to appreciate it.

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3. Laughter: Laughter truly is the best medicine! I got to laugh with my family this past weekend and it was so good for my soul. I love hearing Emma Kate laugh, and always want my house to be filled with laughter.

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4. My friends: My friends are spread out all over the country (and even the world!) but they are all special to me, even the ones I don’t get to see near often enough. From having a big group of online friends I get to virtually hang out with, to having a small group girls Bible study to talk about the heavy stuff, it’s all important and I am blessed.

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5. My relationship with God: This one trumps all. As we move into the Christmas season and see that a small baby changed everything, it is so vital to remember God in the big and small daily things. Everything good I have comes from Him, and I am SO thankful He has blessed me with this life I live.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

QOTD: What are you thankful for?

My “Big Girl” Camera

Several years ago, I bought a “big girl camera”, so that I could take better vacation photos and blog photos. Sadly, with the new technology of camera phones and the use of filters, it hasn’t been as important to use an amazing camera as it used to be (or so I thought.) That and well, I was just being lazy. It’s so much easier to just upload photos form my phone straight to my blog than to shoot, edit, and work with “real” pictures.

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Exhibit A: iPhone panoramic photo plus filter = good enough, right?

I recently realized I really needed to “up my game” in the photo department, and wanted to find time (haha) to learn to use my camera in manual mode. I had tried many times before but got bogged down in lingo and details that seemed to skip over the VERY basic steps that I needed.

I still need a LOT of work, but I am beginning to see good results on better quality photos that I will be using in m blog posts (not all of them, sorry. A lot of my daily life is snapped quickly on my phone, especially with the baby!) I found a great website that really helped it click for me in my head, and I thought I would pass it along to you and maybe you will find it as helpful as I did.

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What? You have to have SKILLS to take a picture of your feet with an iPhone. I am a master at this one.

Does anyone have any great beginner photography tips or websites for me? I would love to learn more and keep on practicing my skills (or lack of skills. I’m under no illusions that I actually know what I am doing.)  I currently have a Nikon D5000 to work with. I have the lens that came with it as well as a huge “stalker” lens where I can super-zoom in on people, but that’s it. What else do I need?

QOTD: Photographers HELP! What lens to I need? Any helpful tools/website/blogs I need to follow? I have zero artistic eye!