Monday, May 28, 2012

Things I'm Loving Now

I very much enjoyed blogging about the "Things I'm Loving Now" last month, so I thought I'd make it a thing! You know, like Oprah's Favorite Things....except monthly not yearly....and without all the free gifts....sorry folks. But a little positivity and some shameless plugs for the things I love seems quite a lovely plan to me! So here's this month's edition:

1. Jimmy John's

I mean look at that sandwich and tell me your taste buds are not just going crazy with delicious anticipation. YUMMO, my friends, YUMMO! Their fresh-baked bread is unsurpassable by any other wannabe sub shop. Everything just tastes so fresh and scrumptious and you simply must try it! My favorites are the Club Lulu, Beach Club, or the Totally Tuna - all with extra lettuce and cucumbers, e-z tomato, and avocado spread. And the best part!? You can order online AND they deliver. Seriously...why are you still reading? You should be ordering!

2. My New Erin Condren Planner

AHHHHH!!!!!!! "Loving it" is a drastic understatement. so would be calling me a "nerd" but this is the life I lead My wonderful cousins Michelle and Lindsey, along with Aunt Ruth, got me this amazing Erin Condren Kappa Delta-themed life planner which they must have known I had been coveting my reading this post and matching notepads for graduation!! I was so excited, I instagramed and tweeted pictures, and the Erin Condren Twitter tweeted back to tell me they posted it on their "From Our Fab Fans" board on Pinterest!! why yes, I do feel like a celebrity, thank you so much for asking. I mean...just LOOK at the inside - this a Type-A personality's DREAM:

It has been just absolutely invaluable and I've only had it a week! I cannot even imagine how helpful it is going to be while I'm traveling this year! Thanks again, Michelle, Linds, and Aunt Ruth! I love it so much!! If you're interested in an Erin Condren planner (or any of her other incredible products) check out her website by scrolling over her name at the top of this post - it's a link...because I'm clever aka OCD like that! ;-)


If you like musicals, you will adore this show. I watched the first episode way back when it premiered, but with the hustle and bustle of school ending and graduation, I kind of forgot about it! But while bored out of my gourd here at home without a job, I rediscovered it while browsing my On Demand options, and I watched the entire first season in two days. It is phenomenal! For those of you thinking, "Oh, great. Another Glee-esque show," I urge you to reserve judgement. Though there are many moments where characters burst into spontaneous song, this series' plot line is much more evolved than Glee. First, it follows adult lives and includes real-life drama of New York hopefuls and their rise to the top. Second, just watch it, dangit! It's good! Here's just a little sneak peek into the incredible vocals of Katherine McPhee who plays Karen Cartwright - a actress hopeful in New York working her way toward conquering the Broadway stage. Here she is singing a beautiful song from the perspective of Marilynn Monroe. 

4. Cooking at Home

I love cooking in general 99.9% of the time, but cooking at home is the BEST because our kitchen is fully stocked with anything I could possibly need, and Mommy and Daddy pay for the groceries! =) Since Lauren was leaving Sunday evening for the lake with some friends for Memorial Day, we decided to do a big Sunday lunch for our holiday feast! I have been craving steak and potatoes when am I not craving steak and potatoes is the real question here so I decided we should do steak kabobs with grilled veggies and pineapple along with some twice-baked potatoes, and of course a juicy summer watermelon. Note that Mommy advised that I add: when making kabobs, if using wooden skewers, it is important to soak them ahead of time so that they don't burst into flames. Some of you out there my lack this bit of sense - wood + open flame = fire. Not a good combo. Even when soaked, they will burn, but they won't disintegrate, which is preferable.  Here are some pictures of our tasty feast!

5. Live It, Love It, Earn It

Now, because I'm a college graduate - aka "big girl" - and will soon be making a real, big-girl salary emphasis on big girl NOT big salary I thought it would be wise to read up on gaining "Financial Freedom." I am an incredibly lucky lady in the way that my parents paid for my car and college education Yes, I am spoiled, rotten to the core it is true, but pride myself on not being a spoiled BRAT so I am debt-free going into the "real world." I try as often as possible to keep that in mind and thank them for it whenever I can, and I feel that being aware of how money works, and how to save/spend/invest it properly is a way to thank my parents for this gift (as opposed to spending it frivolously). I picked up Marianna Olsewski's Live It, Love It, Earn It, and I have been enjoying it tremendously! I am learning so much not only about establishing basic saving habits, but IRAs, 401Ks, how best to budget, and more! I'm not quite finished yet, but it really has been informative and enjoyable! I also picked up Shoo, Jimmy Choo! by Catey Hill and I'm looking forward to reading that as well!


THAT'S IT!! ONLY 6 DAYS!!! I cannot believe it! I'm getting so excited about reuniting with my LDC sisters (and meeting some for the first time!) in Memphis on Sunday! I will be driving there with Erin - a fellow LDC who also calls gorgeous Middle Tennessee her home - and will then be living in Kappa Delta National Headquarters for two and a half weeks! Yes, that's right ladies and gents, I will be living IN Headquarters! I can't wait!! Meanwhile, we've been given lots of "homework" to do, and I've been trying my best to overcome my excitement and crack down on my assignments it has not been going well. I've also been doing some shopping!! My boss, Leslie, advised that we wait until after training to do a major shopping spree, but a new business wardrobe was my graduation gift from my family, so I've been picking up some wonderful pieces here and there.

From Left to Right:
1. All my homework spread across my booth during my "Panera Lockdown" aka self-imposed crunch time specifically for conquering the reading of manuals and planning of KD presentations
2. The most perfect green dress for any Kappa Delta woman - particularly an LDC! just found out Erin bought the same one - great KD minds think alike it seems!
3. My Luggage! I got it at Costco of all places, and on sale! It's a Samsonite 2-piece set super lightweight with spinner wheels, as per prior consultants' recommendations with an awesome warranty and it cost just over $100! Thanks, Costco! I'm taking both pieces to Sew What? tomorrow to be monogrammed! eek!! =) 
4. My newest purchase - wedges that I copy-catted from Michella because they are just plain fabulous! Thanks for letting me copy you, sweet cousin!
More Shopping to Come!

7. Downton Abbey

Thanks to Katie and my mother, I am completely and utterly hooked on the wonderful turn-of-the-century soap opera that is PBS Masterpiece Classic, Downton Abbey. I knew I would love it because I love everything from this time period (the first episode begins the morning after the Titanic sinks), but it took me forever to give in and actually watch it! Now I only have ONE episode left in the second season and I cannot wait to see what happens! I would be done by now, but my precious mother will not let me watch episodes without her, and she goes to bed at like 9:30 every night, so I have a very limited window of viewing time. Last night, however, I was able to sucker her into staying up "past her bedtime" to watch a fourth episode with me due to having today (Memorial Day) off! Just like SMASH, I would recommend this show to anyone! Even my wonderful - and very manly - father loves Downton! There is something for everyone - war, love, drama, humor. For any Harry Potter fans out there - the same actress who played Professor McGonagall plays Lady Grantham and is an absolute hoot! I must warn you however, like many films/TV shows of this genre, you have to actually pay attention when you're watching or you will miss some seemingly subtle things that turn into huge plot-altering moments. You should check it out!

That's all for now, except to say:

Please thank a soldier today! Remember that even though you probably have today off, our troops across the world are still tirelessly fighting for the rights and privileges you enjoy as an American! Be sure to show your appreciation to those who have served, are serving, and especially those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms! Please remember to say a prayer for our troops and their families today! 

And after that...let me know what things YOU are loving now! Comment below to let me know! And until next time...
pictured in the above photo are my two brothers - Kevin (Left - Air Force ABM) and Justin (Right - Army Medevac Pilot - currently stationed in S. Korea)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"

This weekend was SO MUCH FUN! I worked toward my goal of visiting all 50 States during my 1001 days by heading to Atlanta, GA for a Girls' Trip! It was my Aunt Ruth's 60th Birthday last Sunday (Mother's Day) and we drove down to Buckhead to surprise her and help her celebrate this big milestone birthday! My cousins Michelle and Lindsey gave her a trip to the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead, as well as a massage at the hotel, as her birthday gift, but she had no idea that me and the ladies would be showing up as an extra surprise! So after Sees got done nannying on Friday afternoon, we packed up the Cadi-trap aka my mom's hand-me-down Cadillac that is a HUGE piece of CRAP and hit the road for Hotlanta!

The Beautiful Mountainy Drive on 75-S
Georgia On My Mind!

The whole drive we were texting Michelle and Lindsey trying to figure out the best way to surprise Aunt Ruth based on when we would arrive in ATL. We have been so careful for over a month of keeping our lips sealed about this surprise, and we certainly didn't want to ruin it the day of, so we were doing our best to be extra stealthy! About half an hour outside of Atlanta, we got the text that the ladies (and Baby Ethan!) were at Perimeter Mall, so we decided to rendezvous there! Once we got to the mall, we made a mad dash to Gap where the Singer/Thomas/Grant clan was hanging out. We spotted them from down the hall and waved like a bunch of freaks, but Aunt Ruth just completely ignored our advances until we were basically right in front of her! The picture below was a candid that Michelle snapped once we jumped on Aunt Ruth! Such a precious moment! It was so fun to surprise her!

The weekend events were totally relaxing, which was totally fine by us! After doing some shopping at Perimeter, we headed to Chuy's for some Mexican dinner and margaritas which I loved since Mex and Margs are my absolute fave! then it was off to the Ritz for "In Room Dining" dessert! Now, this obviously goes without saying, but the Ritz is nothing short of luxurious. It was such a pampering experience just to stay there!

The Chandeliers a la Ritz
The "Sunset" Display of Roses in the Lobby

With "Ritzy" dessert if you will in our tummies, we hit the hay and by "hay" I mean the most comfortable fluffy hotel bed I have ever had the pleasure of sleeping on and agreed to enjoy sleeping in the next morning. We all woke up on our own (except sleepy Sees), got pulled together, and me and Michelle grabbed some delicious Panera bagels for everyone before we headed to the AMAZING Georgia Aquarium! Below are some pictures from all the exhibits at the aquarium, and despite my love for my iPhone 4S's camera, these pictures cannot do the wonder of the fishies much justice!

I was just so fascinated by the variety and beauty of all the fish in one place, and the fact that this was just a teeny tiny sampling of all the fish in the sea - literally! I was awestruck by all of it and just couldn't help but feel so small. Isn't God's creation outstanding!! All this to say, if you have never been to the Georgia Aquarium, it is certainly worth a visit!!

After the aquarium, we did a bit more shopping, then headed to dinner at Davio's, a fancy-shmancy Italian restaurant within walking distance of our hotel. I had the most delicious meal of a wedge salad and Lobster Risotto with chopped asparagus and an extraordinary glass which turned into me and mom sharing half a bottle due to our waiter's incompetence of Talbott's yes, just like the clothing store chardonnay! It was just so lovely - we sat on the outdoor patio enjoying the beautiful weather and each other! Then we all headed back to the hotel where we surprised Aunt Ruth with Gigi's Cupcakes and a champagne toast! 

Then it was off to bed again! And after another Panera Breakfast the next morning, we said our goodbyes and parted ways. AH! It was such an incredible weekend!! We just had the greatest time catching up and enjoying our Girls' Weekend! I absolutely just love all of these women and it was such a pleasure to spend a couple days with all of them! =) Michelle, Lindsey, Sees, Momma, and Aunt Ruth - Thanks so much for a great weekend! I love you all and can't wait to see you all again in July for our Michigan trip!! Everyone else - Thanks for reading!! Until next time...


Thanks to Michelle for letting me high jack some of her Instagram pictures from the weekend!
Blog title is an inside joke among us ladies...I couldn't explain it to you even if I tried, Tess.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

#24 - A Work in Progress

I have the most incredible family. I am so blessed to a part of a large, loving family - both immediate and extended. My parents are nothing short of extraordinary: married over thirty years and still very much in love today (which is just plain unheard of these days).  They have filled my almost twenty-two years of life with so much love and support, and I have them to thank for everything that I have accomplished. For that reason, #24 on my 101 in 1001 list is "Find a way to thank my mom and dad for being AMAZING parents." Clearly, this is no easy task...aka it's basically impossible, but I have made a pledge to be intentional about taking advantage of every opportunity possible to say "thank you" - like graduation!

I decorated my graduation cap with "Thanks Mom & Dad" as a surprise, and thanks to the lovely idea of one of Katie's friends from high school, we painted a sign (aka I painted while Katie acted as supervisor) to hang from our house during graduation week to say "thank you" as well. It was the absolute least we could do to thank our wonderful parents for financing our education!

I think they both turned out pretty well, and Momma and Daddy seemed to enjoy them! 

And in the spirit of Mother's Day, today I made my mommy dinner! Like I said, this by no means covers all the thanks they deserve for all the meals, money, laundry, education, life lessons, ets. that they have given me, but it's better than nothing!! 

Until next time....

Saturday, May 12, 2012

#4. Graduate - Accomplished!

Luckily for me, some of the things on my 101 in 1001 List are more easily accomplished than others. While a true blessing that many cannot afford, my college education is on the "easily accomplished" side. By that, I mean it was pretty much a guarantee, not that it was easy. I certainly had my fair share of difficult semesters, but I am happy to say - I DID IT!

Four years, 132 completed course credit hours, and many countless memories later, I have finally graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Can you believe it!?

College would not have been as outstanding as it was without the help of some amazing friends. Through Kappa Delta, UT Ambassadors, Student Orientation, and many more wonderful organizations, I have met the most fantastic people that I am fully confident will be some life-long friends.

Thank you to the most amazing women I have ever known - Katie, Anna, Julia, and Ashton - for making the past four years truly the best of my life thus far. I am so excited to see where the coming years take us and the endless memories to come. I love you all, and I cannot imagine my life without you!

Me and the Girls on the University's Seal - after four years of avoiding stepping on it for fear on not graduating,
I sat right on top of it to celebrate with the best friends I have ever know. 

Another item checked off my list! Thank you to everyone who made it such a worthwhile "task!"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Photo-A-Day: April Photos

As you likely know, "Complete a 365 Day Photo Challenge" is on my 101 in 1001 list, and I'm moving along quite nicely! I did the last couple of days in March [after I finally got my iPhone and Instagram] and I just finished the full month of April! =) So exciting! So nerdy! So awesome!!! Here are the pictures: apologies for the strange compilation....I still HATE how blogger does photos, so I had to get creative....

Hope you liked them! Check out May's Photo-A-Day Challenge here and snap away!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Last Tour!

While I am so excited to graduate, having my "last" everything is certainly sad. I have truly had the most amazing experiences here at UT, and I just cannot imagine what my life would be like - or what I would be like - without this university and the outstanding friends I have collected over the years. 

One of my first "lasts" was my Last Tour. I have been a UT Ambassador since Spring Semester my Freshman year. I was initiated, went through a full week of training and team bonding stuff, and started giving tours the following August, and I have loved every stinking second of it. I had the pleasure of being one of the Captains of our amazing team, sit through three years of interviews, assist in selecting our past three "pledge classes" if you will, give tours with countless partners, meet tons of parents and alumni (some wonderful, some overly obnoxious), and talk to literally thousands of students. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE being a UT Ambassador, and I am just tickled pink that my little Sees gets to have the same opportunity!

My precious tour partner, Ben Collins, has seen me through my entire Senior Year, and he has been the most incredible partner to-date. He is constantly making me laugh, has impeccable comedic timing, gives wonderful tours, and, above all else, is a fabulous friend. I couldn't have asked for a better last parter =) All that being said, we decided to paint the rock with our tour group as a fun way to end our year together (and my three years in the program). For those of you who don't know bless your precious little hearts here is my schpeel about The Rock: get ready for tour guide mode...

"The Rock is basically a student billboard. It is the only place on campus where graffiti is not only legal, but encouraged. It is sort of a right-of-passage that you have to paint The Rock at lease once before you graduate, but be sure to take a picture, because it is very likely that someone will be right behind you waiting to paint over it as soon as you move. Students paint all sorts of things on The Rock: Happy Birthday Wishes, Congratulatory Messages, Student Organizations post about application deadlines, and we've even had some phone numbers on The Rock. Tim Tebow, Steve Spurrier, Lane and Lala Kiffin have all had their numbers on The Rock Needless to say, all of those people have had to change their numbers due to too many charming messages from UT students. One very clever student painted a sheet of loose-leaf notebook paper on The Rock and wrote "Paper Covers Rock." haha! And there have even been three marriage proposals on The Rock - yes, yes, a little UT Tradition when getting down on one knee, but this is not something that we recommend to you gentlemen. Apparently, all of those proposals were turned down. I guess "The Rock" just wasn't big enough!" *ba-duh-CH* yes, I know, I am HILARIOUS 

Now that we're all on the same page, I will continue....Ben and I went to paint the base of The Rock - which is quite a task - before our tour. Our fellow tour guide and friend, Lauren Kinnard, previously mentioned here as our resident wanna-be Mexican came after class to help us out. We knew we wouldn't have this kind of time during the tour, so we wanted to go ahead and get it done. Here it is! UTAS stands for University of Tennessee Ambassador Scholar...which we haven't been called since my first's a sentimental thing...don't hate me non-Scholars....

For fear that someone really would paint over it before our tour got around to The Rock about half an hour later, we asked Sammy and Kaylyn (my fellow KDs and Ambassadors - they make me so proud!) to guard The Rock while we did the bus portion of the tour. Ben and I headed to the Visitor's Center where our tours begin, loaded all of tour friends up on the Tennessee Taxi, and my last tour was underway! One of the best parts of my last tour is the Jess and Kelly (old family friends) were there with their kids which made me feel incredibly old and I had no idea that they were coming! Kelly saw me as they were loading the bus and immediately gave me this HUGE hug before I even recognized who she was! When I finally caught my bearings, I started getting emotional - so much for making it through the tour without any tears!! Not likely anyways. 
But I had to pull myself together, and get that taxi on the move! We were heading through campus giving our usual script of awesome information and hilarious on-liners, and before we knew it The Rock was in view! Precious Roger, our bus driver, stopped at The Rock, our group got out and painted their names on The Rock, and we got a great picture which cannot be posted for liability reasons...sorry. Will Logan previously mentioned here even stopped by on his way back from class and graciously took umpteen pictures on my phone for me without a single complaint and then he highjacked a ride to the fraternity house on the TN Taxi. Kelly took a picture of Jess and I in front of The Rock on Jess' phone, which he promptly emailed to my Daddy with the subject, "You Must be Very Proud of Her." I mean it doesn't get much sweeter than that! I'm tearing up just thinking about it! I was just so thrilled to have them be a part of my last tour, and the rest of the group seemed very excited to take part in one of my favorite UT traditions!

After the Rock painting extravaganza, we continued along with our usual walking portion of the tour, and I miraculously held it all together and didn't shed a single tear the whole time! When we were heading back to the bus, one of the dads in the group asked if we could go into Neyland Stadium. Now, on a regular tour, we tell them that this is just not how things are done, that they will have to "come back to campus and find their own way," but this was no average tour, my friends. So, I said "WHY NOT?!" We gave Roger a heads-up, and Tennessee-waltzed not really, but that sure would have been fun on into the Stadium like we owned the place! Everyone "oohed" and "aahed" the appropriate amount over the 3rd largest and most beautiful collegiate stadium in the nation, we snapped some pictures (See Ben and I to your left), and we were back in the Tennessee Taxi before you knew it. Needless to say, this was the tour to top all tours. Quite extraordinary if I do say so myself.

On the way back to the Visitor's Center, I always give a heart warming speech about why I came to UT and why I stuck around. Clearly, this is where the waterfall of tears just erupted. I was doing just fine until I started to make eye-contact with some of our new members (who were shadowing our tour as a part of their training) and, of course, with Ben and Taylor (one of my closest tour guide friends, who joined at the same time as me, was a captain with me, and had hitched a ride on the TN Taxi so he didn't have to walk home...seems to be a trend on our tours). In my closing speech, I always tell people, "This was the only place I applied, I knew this is where I belonged, but UT has far exceeded my expectations. I can show you every building on this campus and give you every stat I know, but I can't show all of the people, and they're the reason I've stuck around." Now please, you try and say that line to a group of prospective students and their parents while two of your best friends, who you are leaving behind in two weeks, are staring you right in the face. It is absolutely impossible to finish that sentence with dry eyes! One of our shadowers, Morgan, also a sorority sister of mine, sneakily shot this video of my final words...apologies for the iPhone quality...she was truly trying to be sneaky!

Needless to say, Ambassadors has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had at this University, and it was a very sad thing to give my last tour even though technically I gave a walking tour the following Saturday and think that I will never step foot on the Tennessee Taxi or tell "The Rock just wasn't big enough" joke ever least not in a professional, $7.25/hour type of atmosphere. To all the Ambassadors (Scholars or otherwise), past and present - Thank you. You have truly made me a better public speaker, a better tour guide, and a better friend. And to all future Ambassadors, I hope you realize what an incredible opportunity you have to impact the lives of students and parents, and to have your own life impacted by your fellow tour guides. There is just nothing like it...