and the winner is...

First of all, THANK YOU! So much! To everyone who participated in my giveaway. I was absolutely blown away by the incredible support. With your help, I raised almost $1,000 of the $4,000 I need for the trip.

Do you know how amazing that is? You're all AMAZING.  And that is still an understatement.

So thank you. THANK YOU! For your support.

And now, what you all want to hear. Our winner! As chosen by the random number generator: Ashley!

Of all of the non-family members who entered, indeed, my own sister won. I swear I didn't hand pick her :)

Congratulations and happy cooking, dearest Ashira. I just might have to personally deliver it to Denver! 

And THANK YOU again to everyone who helped along the way! I love you! :)

{so very thankful}

For an amazing beach weekend with new and old friends.

For a new rat-free, not-for-sale, year-long-lease house. And for being totally settled in it. Closet color coordinated, dishes washed, floors mopped, settled. 

For Duke and Sam coming for Cheers for Children this weekend.

For this sweet Africa image from my coworker. And for amazing friends who have donated. (Thank you, thank you!)

For a long weekend and a short week.

For life finally, blessedly slowing down so I can take deep breaths, enjoy things longer and reinstate my sleep challenge. Because I'm not exactly even kind if succeeding.

Happy day to you!

31 Day Challenge: A Thankful Sandwich

Work has been chaotic in the strongest sense of the word lately and it's led to the kind of personal life disorganization that drives me wild - unreturned phone calls, gmail inbox scrolling...

It has also led to me having less of a positive attitude than I'd like, but then on Friday, I stumbled upon this verse:
"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances..." (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

And I was sure convicted. Remember back when I graduated in a recession and all I wanted was a job? And now I have one I love - and here I was getting down about being busy.

I think sometimes the holiday season is like that, though. There is so much excitement and buzz and busyness, that we call it a burden instead of a blessing. Too many gifts to wrap, dishes to make, parties to attend...

How fortunate we are!

I decided for the month of December, I am going to start and end each day by writing down two things I'm grateful for. I'm so excited to see how it makes me feel after 31 days (or 124 pieces!) of gratitude. After such an amazing 2012, it feels like a great way to wrap up the year. I'm hoping it will help me feel passionate in the morning and peaceful at night - which seems like a pretty great way to sandwich the day.

What are you grateful for? Feel free to join me in the 31 day challenge!


home again home again

Oh how I love going home. The smells - the people - the love. It's such a wonderful feeling.

This break was no different. It was so happy, with so much to be thankful for.

The trip to Indiana was full of the same traditions we're accustomed to, as well as an announcement from my cousin, Chris, that he and his wife are expecting a baby just a few days after Court (!) is. Yaay! Those babies are going to be great friends.

My dad, Duke and I helped my mama in her classroom Wednesday after I got in town, then went out to lunch.

Wednesday afternoon my parents bought a last minute ticket for Sam to come home on the redeye, which was amazing news!
Wednesday night, I convinced Duke and my mom to go to yoga with me. Then Thursday, we picked Sam up bright an early, just in time for Thanksgiving.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my cousins, lots of happy time with my family, got to see Katie Z. :) and all in all, just had a great break.
the cousins who were able to come to thanksgiving :)
happy entrance to our neighborhood decorated for Christmas - whoop!
muff and dave cracking up so hard she almost spit out her wine
getting my mom's classroom all decorated for the season!
I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a happy, happy Thanksgiving, too!