About Me

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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Flight Failures...

Y'all - it happened again! I think someone should change my middle name from Shea to Flight Travel Troubles - at least then all this business with airplanes and always having issues would make sense. I'll keep this short(ish) and sweet because I've got things to do, delicious foods to bake and time to spend with my family - plus, at 5 tonight I finally get to see Catching Fire! Yes!

I was booked out of Meridian; which we thought was taking a chance anyway but we went ahead with it because it meant I didn't have to drive home from Jackson later at night...because, let me be frank...the old Silver Bullet is on it's last shot and I try not to do too much with it besides work/home/church. I got up at 4 AM (which, side note: who knew 4 came twice in one day...I thought it was only that hour before I got off from work in the afternoons...) dragged all my stuff to the car in the freezing cold and drove to the airport...to discover that my flight had been cancelled - and not because of any type of weather, oh no...it had been cancelled for maintenance. Better yet? The next flight didn't leave till 12:36. I got booked on that flight and a different connecting flight out of Atlanta: my new arrival time in DC was now 6 as opposed to when I was supposed to arrive: 11. FAIL.

It gets better though...it certainly does. I went home and went to sleep for a couple hours and then talked to my Dad at 10; my flight had been delayed now until 2:36 - so if I stayed in Meridian, now I would have to be on yet another flight out of Atlanta and I'd arrive in DC around 7:30. I should mention that at this point I'd cried about 4 times. Earlier in the week one of my "kind" co-workers had mentioned how funny it would be if I ended up stranded alone on Thanksgiving and here it was Wednesday and it seemed like it was about to come true.

Finally on a plane.

I headed toward town around 10:30 to just sit at the Meridian airport and hope that plane leaving at 12:30 (which was now supposed to be 2:30) might arrive early. I got a call from my family right about the time I got to the four way stop in Collinsville: I was to go into the fitness center, tell Hope I was ready to go, get in the car with her and she would drop me at the Jackson airport in time to catch the flight leaving at 1:09 for Atlanta, arriving at 3:30, giving me 50 minutes to race through the airport and catch the flight leaving for DC at 4:20. I can't say if Hope was speeding or not but I do know we left Collinsville at 10:45 and I was stepping out of the car and onto the curb of the airport at 12:02. Amazing. It also makes you amazingly thankful for friends who are in the right place at the right time and don't mind having a tag-along on the journey to Jackson.

Blessedly - from that point on, everything went so smoothly it was like a miracle. The flight from Jackson left a few minutes late but managed to get into Atlanta 10 minutes early. The flight from Atlanta to DC should have left late but everyone did such a great job boarding the plane (so said the pilot) that we still left on time and arrived in DC almost 15 minutes early. I won't lie - when the plane landed, I had a moment up against the window of the plane where I cried. And when I finally rounded the corner at the airport and saw my family all clustered together smiling so hard it had to make their faces hurt...I almost cried again, but instead I just got lots of hugs and took it all in. I made it - even if it took all day.

Some pictures from the window of the plane - flight one.

In the boarding tunnel - the computer countdown to take-off. I thought it was funny; I've never seen one of these before. 

Hello engine - I was sitting right in front of it, so every once in a while I'd open my window (I had two windows) and watch it spinning....

The sunset on the second flight - so beautiful.

Plane two was HUGE - and I was on the third row from the very back. I thought I'd never get off.

Reagan International Airport - I made it, I finally made it!

NOW - let me off this plane!!!
So - there you have it. As always, I can't just have an easy travel day. Hopefully that won't be an issue on the way home...but you know, I'm not hoping for much. Like I said - my middle name should be Flight Travel Troubles. I'm not going to worry about that for now though; I've got turkey to eat and things to do with my family. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Counting Down the Days

It's Monday - which...this week, while my Monday is actually Monday...my Tuesday will be my Friday. I love interesting weeks like this. I love them mostly because it means only two days of work and five days of freedom. I don't love knowing that the next day and a half will probably pass slower than molasses. Trust me on this - when you're anticipating something, the time ahead of that ticks down to slower than slow...I'm experiencing it now. Having shared that thought...a look back at the week I've just finished. Mostly pictures, maybe a story of two.

Monday evening skies...absolutely beautiful!

My college jump drive. I found it Monday night....still haven't put it in the computer to see what might be on it...

Using my cooking skills to make a cake for an office mate's birthday - I dedicated a whole post to it!

I went to Ross on Monday with the big idea that I'd get some dresses. A co-worker went late last week and found four dresses for just $57, so I had big plans to do the same thing. Well...I guess everyone and their Mother had come to Ross to do the same thing because I found nothing. Nada. Not a single dress. I mean, I found dresses but they were NOT cute and looked like something a great-grandma would wear. Since dresses were a bust, I went for the old stand-by: shoes and purses. I didn't find any shoes, which is a miracle in and of itself because I love me some shoes and can go nuts...but I did find the awesome purse pictured below. I wasn't sure at first...so I walked around a little longer, but it was calling my name. And was only $25. I also rationalized that if people got in my way in the airport, I could poke them with it. Ha-ha! So there you have it. 

My new purse - I call it Spike...because well, I think that's obvious.

I need some of these trees in my yard....so much color!

Watson loves to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Cooking fail - supposed to be a quesadilla....just looks like burnt, smashed crap. 

Oh cooking fails - we all have them. Wednesday night I thought I'd really be crafty and use the leftover Mexican rice and black beans that I had to make a really delicious quesadilla; it seemed like an excellent idea and so I set out to accomplish it. Well...it didn't really translate quite as well as I'd planned. I had 4 tortillas left and I ended up trashing the first go. You see, the tortilla was in shreds, half stuck to my pan and the other half mangled beyond recognition and all the filling flung out in the pan and scorched. Attempt two went just a little bit better but the end result was far from pretty...and I may have set the smoke alarm off in my attempt with number two. Granted, my smoke alarm goes off when you look at it funny...but all in all, not exactly a success in the kitchen. I told my Dad the next day that I really just need one of those quesadilla makers and all my problems would be solved!

More colorful trees! There's a reason why Autumn is my favorite.

Tis the season...for all things awesome. And these certainly fit that description 100%

Wednesday - the day I arrive in VA. Let me proceed to pack every scarf I own...good grief!

Update: There is now a 100% chance of snow/rain in DC. Also, it might snow here - in Mississippi! So, if you'd like to please pray for safe traveling weather this week, I greatly appreciate it. I'm headed out early Wednesday morning from Meridian, through Atlanta and into DC. I'd love to not have any issues - flying alone stresses me out; flying with delays and difficulties makes me come unglued. Blegh.

This would be nice - can I have this for Christmas?

Such delicious food for supper on Friday night, with the company of a wonderful friend!

I have been having a major Olive Garden craving for weeks now. It is probably in large part because I had a $25 gift card that a sweet friend sent me for my birthday and it was just hanging out in my wallet, begging me to use it to buy some delicious pasta. I finally wrangled a friend into going to eat supper on Friday night and I'm so glad I did. This girl loves some Italian food and Friday night did not disappoint! I got the Mozzarella Smoked Chicken (I think that is what it was called....) and it was divine: cream sauce, bites of chicken and red peppers. So yummy! Since my friend was celebrating her birthday a day early, she got some pumpkin cheesecake for dessert and shared a few bites - and let me tell you, that didn't disappoint either. It was moist with a delicious flavor and the crunchy crumbles on the top sealed it's perfection! It was a great night out and the best part? Since Olive Garden was running their buy one/take one promotion, I got to have Olive Garden for lunch on Saturday, curled up in my chair with my pup begging for a bite of penne pasta. Delicious!

Watson's less than thrilled reaction when he realized that he was hearing raindrops on the roof....

Ready to get out and about...even in the wet drizzle, as the temperature dropped rapidly...

My friend's tree just had a carpet of leaves under it...so I had to take a million (okay....four) pictures...

I love it. Just love it.

Ready to go outside and play on Sunday - coat and all.

Some of my sweethearts from Sunday morning - I love each sweet little one that I get to spend time with. 

My rhino ornament that I got from our church's Ornaments for Orphans tree - so cute and for a good cause as well.

Rocking with my sweet Sadie on a chilly Sunday night!

Thanksgiving feast - take one. Supper at church on Sunday night; which was delicious!

As mentioned above, I spent Friday night with a friend. We decided on Friday night to meet up again on Saturday and explore a couple shops in Collinsville (Moonbeams Vintage and Embellish) to see what they had for their Christmas open houses. Moonbeams was a huge hit, as always and I found a perfect gift for a friend for Christmas - as well as a little something for me. Sadly, Embellish was closed so we just stood and pressed our faces against the (cold) glass door to see if we could see anything. It looked neat...I guess I'll have to check back another day. I've posted my finds below...except for the Christmas gift, of course. Check them out!

Okay - this actually came from Ross on Friday night, but it was $8.99, matched my living room perfectly & is just the kind of teeny table I needed. Too great to pass up!

My Moonbeams find. I've needed a larger, better looking version of one of these and I found it on Saturday. I told my friend that I now I just need more earrings!
And - that's all for now. It is chilly outside, rain is supposed to be moving into the area and all I want to do is get through the rest of this workday, get home and bundle up with my pup! Hope you're having a good Monday and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I know - Thanksgiving is still a week away - but guess what? I really am not concerned about all that. You see, Thanksgiving is SUPER late this year. Super late. And I'll be in Virginia until late on December 1st and I consider it absolute sacrilege to let December 1st come and not have Christmas decorations up. So, last Saturday I was feeling a little blue and unproductive and decided I'd turn that mood around and throw up all my Christmas decorations.

Throw up - maybe that's not the best way to phrase it? Gross. Just kidding, I decided to fling Christmas cheer from one end of the house to the other. That sounds a little bit better. I've got to make the place look good since my family is coming to the land of Mississippi this year for Christmas. So - the cheer has been spread and I've decided to share just a few pictures with you. Trust me - this really is just a few. If I took a picture of everything Christmas in my house, you'd just stop reading. Ha-ha!

THE Christmas tree. 

Okay - this was only going to be pictures but maybe I'll share some stories too. My "big" Christmas tree has such good memories attached to it. My Junior year at the University of Southern Mississippi, I was living with one of my closest friends (then and now) Kristen. About a week before Thanksgiving break, we decided to make one of our late Sunday afternoon Target runs (I miss living near a Target SO much. Just oh so much.) and we were swept into the magical Christmas section of the store. One person who is crazy about Christmas is bad enough, but we both absolutely love the holiday and so we were overwhelmed with excitement. All the Christmas trees were on sale - like, hugely on sale - and so then and there, I picked out a tree, Kristen picked some ornaments and well...honestly we both went a little nuts on the Christmas aisles. We went home and spent the rest of the night listening to Christmas music, decorating our apartment for Christmas and I do think we even watched Elf. Once I graduated from college, my tree became the centerpiece for my own Christmas decor in my own house. I love my first tree and I love the memories attached to it. That being said, I think next year it might be time for a new one - this tree is starting to get to looking a bit sparse; not to mention I have so many ornaments that this tall, skinny tree almost can't hold them all!

The guest room tree!

Done in US Air Force colors - because this tree was given to me for safekeeping by Lindsey. Go Falcons!

Watson's tree - and oh gosh, maybe ignore that dust. Yikes!

My Peanuts Christmas band...and my stocking. Ready to be filled!

My Christmas village and snowmen...

One of many Nativity that I own.

A hat and antlers hung by the door...

My Peanuts Christmas village!

Some holiday decor in the kitchen - all they do is hang there; they are WAY too pretty to actually use.

A little holiday cheer on the kitchen counter!

My Willow Tree Nativity - which took several years to put together and is something I absolutely love. So beautiful.

Christmas dishes - a gift from my sweet Nanny!

Just a little centerpiece...

The Christmas tree in my bedroom - as well as my Smokey Mountain Nativity.

A wreath on the front door.

Instead of a flag - there are some Christmas ornaments hanging on my shepherd's hook...

A reindeer waiting for Santa to arrive.
Well - maybe it was just one little story. I don't know about you, but I love Christmas and I love coming home to a house all decorated. There is something a little bit more special about this time of year; twinkling lights and a sense that maybe we can all be just a little bit kinder. It's a feeling we always wish we could have year-round but there is a part of me that thinks if the warmth of Christmas was with us 24/7, the Christmas season wouldn't be quite as special. The season is almost here - have you gotten ready yet?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Strawberry Cream Cake

I made a cake! I made a cake! Okay - maybe I'm a little too excited about my cake, but I get pretty thrilled when I have to make something new and it turns out well. How do I know this turned out well? You see - I had a whole office full of people confirm to me that it was delicious, so - cheers to me!

My Nanny (who is my Mom's Mom) makes a cake that is very similar to this one and I'll probably make it her one someday soon as well, but instead of pineapples...I threw in strawberries and the result was something delicious and strikingly similar to strawberry shortcake. So - check it out!

This is easy folks - there are very few ingredients!

Sugaring up my berries...nothing wrong with a little extra sweet!

Mixing things up!

Making this cake look delicious...in one, two, three, four...

Strawberry Cream Cake

-one box white/vanilla cake mix of your choice & the ingredients needed to make it
-one tub Cool Whip
-one can sweetened condensed milk
-one carton (or more) of strawberries, sliced & mixed with sugar
-1-2 tsp. sugar

Wash and slice your strawberries. Put them in a bowl and cover with 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar, mixing well. Refrigerate.

Mix and bake your cake according to the directions on the box. Let cool.

Once the cake has cooled, poke holes in the cake using a fork. Pour the sweetened condensed milk onto the cake and let it settle into the holes. Top with sliced strawberries. "Ice" the cake with your tub of Cool Whip and then refrigerate (if you don't eat it immediately).

This was supposed to be a really nice shot of all the layers of delicious...but it's kind of blurry. Oh well, you get the idea.
You could mix this up really any way you want - like I said, my Nanny uses pineapples and it tastes divine. I think it would be absolutely delicious to use a whole mixture of fresh berries - that would be especially delicious during the summer since this cake is light and fluffy! Whip up one for yourself and enjoy!