Archive | February, 2016

Leap into a good book!

29 Feb

Happy Leap Day, readers! With February gone in the traditional sense, what are you going to do with your extra 24 hours this year?! I’ve got a fantastic idea, LEAP into Julie Garwood’s book Shadow Music for an adventure of a lifetime in the Scottish Highlands!

Requirement: A book you’ve read at least once.Shadow Music, a novel by Julie Garwood

Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland, daughter of an influential english baron, is beautiful, kind, brave and stubborn. She is also a valuable asset to King John. When the king arranges for her to marry a gentle Highland laird to secure peace between England and the Highland, her life will forever be changed.

While Gabrielle and her guards travel to the abbey where her wedding will take place, they come upon a murder in progress. With one arrow, she takes a life and spares another, unknowingly setting a war in motion amongst the Highland clans.

Through a series of events outside of her control, Gabrielle and her guards find themselves accepting the protection of Laird Colm MacHugh and his glansmen. Meanwhile, an english baron hatches a plan to draw her out of hiding in the hopes of forcing her to tell him the location of an elusive treasure of St. Biel, a secret he believes was passed on to her by her late mother.

This story features a strong female lead, who feels it is her duty to protect others, be that her father, a helpless stranger, her guards or the warriors of her new clan. When everything she’s known in life is taken from her in the blink of an eye, she does not cower, she thrives in this new challenge.

If you are looking for a page-turner, action packed story sprinkled with murder, lies, romance and treasure that takes place in the Scottish Highlands, Shadow Music won’t disappoint. This is the third time I have read this story and I discover something new each time!

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A Season of Love, Laughter and snow

23 Feb

It’s funny how words can have so many different meanings. Season for example, could mean “what’s the weather like” or “what phase of life are you in?”

For this week’s photo challenge, we were asked to share a photo that exemplifies season. I found a photo that captures both the weather and my life, I’m just that good!

Right now where I live in mid-west USA we are experiencing winter. I really can’t complain that much though, Old Man Winter just found us last week and the 8 inches of snow he dumped on us melted three days later. We had one or two days of flurries in November, 50 degrees and green grass on Christmas day and in January there were days I left work and didn’t bother to put my coat on. I hope we are almost done with winter though, I’m ready for shorts and sandals.

On the flip side of the season’s coin, my life has entered a new season. Scott and I are no longer in a long distance relationship, THANK GOODNESS! For the first time, we are living in the same place! It has been exciting coming home after work and finding him there! And learning new things about each other. It’s so wonderful to have him here every single day! I have never felt so happy and full of possibilities. We are also excited because we’ll soon be looking for our own place and traveling to see his family in Chicago in the coming months for his sister’s wedding! So many exciting things in store – I have a feeling it’s only going to get better from here!

A couple laughing in the snow

Photo credit: Photography By Constance

“Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life…”

19 Feb

When I was growing up, I had big dreams about the kind of career I wanted – I was going to be an astronaut doctor who ran down the halls fixing computers.

My creativity knew no limits even as a child. Don’t ask me how this particular occupation was born because I honestly don’t know. I have a feeling I took all the things that interested me at the time and mixed them together and came up with something awesome!  

Sadly, I did not grow up to do any of those things – I don’t love science or math enough to have survived all the education required to become an astronaut, the human body makes me squirm so doctoring was out (fun fact though, I did work at a hospital for three years in a communications role!) and finally, I’ll leave all the computer fixing to my dad, my favorite go-to IT guy!

So where did my career path lead me in life – I have a degree in advertising and have spent 4 years in various public relations and media specialist roles. My typical job responsibilities have included writing press releases, graphic design for ads/billboards/marketing materials, helping with event planning and serving as the contact person where the media is concerned. No two days are ever the same which is nice, but I am beginning to feel burned out. For four years I have worked in one kind of medical setting or another and it’s just not something that interests me or that I am passionate about. I don’t wake up excited to go to work and it’s recently got me thinking about what I really want to do – what my dream job today would be….

There’s a popular quote that goes by ancient Chinese sage Confucius that goes “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Sounds simple enough.

I love to read and write. I enjoy editing and thinking about word placement and arrangements. My idea of a good time is getting lost in a book, really lost to the point I don’t know what’s happening in the world around me.

According to Wikipedia, there’s such a thing as a beta reader, “a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption.” After some research though, it turns out most beta readers don’t get paid, they just read for the love of reading. I’d be okay with that, I’m always on the hunt for new books to sink my teeth into.

So back to my dream job, maybe its an editor. I love reading as I’ve already pointed out, and I enjoy writing, hence my blog, and I’ve been editing my sisters’ papers since they were  high school freshmen. It would be pretty cool to be paid to rearrange sentences and replace words with stronger ones. Not to mention, it would be nice holding the always feared red pen for once – so much power in that little tool. But there would also be that satisfaction that I helped improve someone’s writing, and that has always brought me joy. I love being able to help people better express their thoughts and ideas in writing. Over the years many people have told me I have a way with words, may it’s time to embrace this unique talent! The only problem I can foresee is there aren’t many editors in my little neck of the woods in mid-west USA, and I’m not sure I want to move far, far away from my family to be an editor. I’ll have to look into this some more, wouldn’t it be great if there was an online company or a little publication I don’t know about close-by?! That would be amazing – where can I apply, I have my resume ready to go!

On the flip side, there’s another career path I wouldn’t mind having, that of a Cosmetologist. WIthin the last few years, I have become so interested in learning new hairstyles and mostly trying them out on myself! It’s amazing how many ways there are to braid, pin, curl, twist and part hair! The creativity is literally endless and I love that! I began posting my creations on Facebook and my friends and family were amazed with what I could do after watching a tutorial. My little sisters have even let me style their hair on occasion – which I absolutely love doing!

As you can see, I love trying different things with my hair, from heatless curls to braids and updos! (Wish I had more of a variety to show you, but these were the best ones I could find on my phone!) How much fun would it be to do other’s hair all the time?! Of course I know I’d need to learn to cut, style, color and shave, but hey, that sounds exciting! Learning to do manicures and pedicures sounds fun, too! Every time I go to have my hair refreshed, those ladies just seem to be having so much fun catching up on news from the community and building relationships with their regulars. What’s not to love?!

What career path do you wish you’d taken?! Or are you already living your dream job?

Wordless Wednesday – 2/17/16

17 Feb

Old Man winter finally found us….  

  

A Lover’s Holiday

16 Feb

Congratulations reader! You’ve made it through another February 14th. That day has so many names – Valentine’s Day, Singles Awareness Day, Chocolate-Lovers Day, this year it was Sunday (lol).

I will be the first to admit that in that past, I have dreaded this particular holiday…but when you find someone one special, and I mean REALLY SPECIAL, that all changes!

For our last few Valentine’s Days, Scott and I have celebrated long-distance style with texts, packages and video chats. But not this year because TWO WEEKS AGO SCOTT MOVED TO MY STATE!!

  

For the FIRST time in our entire relationship, we live in the same state, town, and house! That in and of itself was enough to make this the absolute best Valentine’s Day! Just getting to see him everyday is what I have wanted for so long now, and sometimes I find myself still fearing I’ll wake from this fantastic dream to be rudely awaken by reality. BUT IT’S NOT A DREAM!

The Valentine celebrations actually started a few days early at this house this year. On Thursday evening, mom was preparing to leave for a long scrapbooking weekend and was making heart-shaped sugar cookies for the scrapbooking ladies with their names in icing. With the extras, she made cookie valentines for all of us at home and let us decorate a few as well!

Last week was a stressful one for me, but knowing I was coming home to Scott helped a lot. He was there to listen and provide suggestions and just give me a hug, kiss and encouraging word that he believed in me. When Friday finally rolled around and I arrived home, this sight was waiting for me in my room!

A dozen red roses, an emoji pillow and a two pound box of chocolates!

A dozen red roses, an emoji pillow and a two-pound box of chocolates!


Beautiful red roses

Beautiful roses!


I was totally shocked. I had only been home for a short while when he said “let’s go upstairs, there’s something we need to talk about.” My heart stared racing – thinking something was wrong or upsetting him. Turns out he wanted to “talk” about his early timing of Valentine’s Day! Isn’t he the sweetest!?

Fast forward to Saturday, Scott had to work later in the evening so we couldn’t spend the day together, but we did go out and enjoy a Mexican Valentine’s dinner when he returned home. It was fun getting dressed up a little for a date night – something we hadn’t really been able to do before! I even tried a dutch braided updo using the banana clip tip I learned from the Twist Me Pretty YouTube channel I follow. Worked perfectly – I love how soft and romantic this style was, and it was extremely easy to put in!

Feeling fancy before our Valentine's Date

Feeling fancy before our Valentine’s Date


Dutch braided updo

Dutch braided updo


Mexican Valentine's Day dinner date

Mexican Valentine’s Day dinner date


What Scott didn’t realize before we went to dinner is that I had “hid” his Valentine’s surprise over with his video games. He found it right before we went to bed Saturday night and decided to wait until after work on Sunday to open it. This year I went the practical route and got him things he’s talked about needing. I think he really liked what I picked.

Scott's Valentine surprise

Scott’s Valentine surprise


And as per tradition in our family, mom and dad had these waiting for us Sunday morning – well mom was away scrapbooking, but dad remembered to put them out with mom’s handwritten notes! I love how they even included the boyfriends! I don’t know how many of my friends ever received Valentine’s from their parents, but it makes me feel loved and special and important and it’s a tradition I can’t wait to pass on to my own children one day!

Mini boxes of chocolate

Mini boxes of chocolate


So, for the first time in forever, not only did I enjoy Valentine’s Day to the fullest, I celebrated for four straight days! There was and is lots of love to be felt and shared. So blessed to have Scott and my family who love me unconditionally not only on Valentine’s Day, but the other 364 days of the year, too!!

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. – Charles M. Schulz

chocolate in heart box

Two pounds of chocolate surprise!

The journey of a snowflake

8 Feb

Have you ever wondered about the amazing journey water drops go on? I am today as I eat lunch in my new favorite spot (I was booted from my office picture window a few weeks ago, then migrated to the faculty/staff lounge where I didn’t fit in, then I resorted to eating in the backseat of my car, and last week I discovered this common stace inside one of the dorms on campus. So here were are!) 

Just think about it, there was a water drop that started in a lake in England and get evaporated into a giant storm cloud that blew out to sea. The storm deposited the the little drop in the middle of the ocean where it floated around and played with the sea creatures for a while and got splashed back and forth by a cruise ship. That little drop eventually found it’s way to the north American continent where it was evapporated once again. On it’s journy back to the ground, it froze into a unique snowflake and landed here on campus. 

Maybe that’s giving water too much credit, but why couldn’t it happen? There are wind and water currents. And besides, it’s fun to think this could be an international snow storm!  

Just another small way we are all connected. We share the water. The snow. The clouds. The air. The sky. 

That’s my random Monday lunchtime thought. What’s yours?! 

 

Guys I want a castle

5 Feb

Flynn Rider was on to something when he said “I could get used to a view like this. Yep, I’m used to it. Guys I want a castle” (Tangled, 2010). He of course, was referring to Rapunzel’s parents’ castle. The castle I’m referring to is Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

Lately, I have been missing all things Disney. The attractions. The food. The cast members. The smells. The characters. The fireworks. The castle. Mainly, the castle. Do you have one thing that when you experience it at Disney, even for the hundredth time, it still causes tears to pool in your eyes and a lump to lodge in your throat?

The castle does for me, always has. I guess you could say that the little girl who wanted to be a princess and live in a castle still lives within me to a certain degree. But, I think I just associate hopes, dreams, magic and love with that castle.

The first time I saw it I was 12 years old during my family’s first ever trip to Walt Disney World. Sadly, I don’t remember much, but when I entered Magic Kingdom for the first time during my Disney College Program, I DID remember the castle – perfectly. Every spier, the colors, the grandness, the beauty. Time had not faded that memory, only etched it permanently on my heart. For an entire year, I saw that castle almost every single day, and my love for it grew and grew because I was now a part of its magic – I was a cast member. I worked at The Happiest Place on Earth. I felt like I had stepped into this magical story where characters are real and dreams come true. The world seemed brighter, happier, kinder. The castle remained my source inspiration on the days when work was challenging.

Now, the castle has a different meaning. This August will mark five whole years since my last shift as a cast member, and while I have returned to the parks many times over the years, it’s not the same. There are new people working the attractions, there are places I can’t go now, costumes I can’t wear. The castle, for the most part, has remained unchanged and it is a magnet that draws me in – when I see it there at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., I know I’m “home.”

As many former cast members tend to do, I’m always looking for ways to bring a little Disney magic into my everyday life. So when Shutterfly sent me a code for a free mousepad, I knew EXACTLY what I was going to use for the photo! This view of the castle is one of my favorites because it’s not the typical straight on shot everyone takes, and I think it really shows off the grandness and beauty of the structure.

This little gem has brought me so much pixie dust at work already. Everytime I see it my heart smiles and my mood lightens! And for a breif moment, I’m at Magic Kingdom feeling the breeze and hot Florida sun, eating a dole whip and taking in the wonder that is Cinderella’s Castle for the millionth time!

So tell me Disney friends, what ways have you found to bring Disney magic into your everyday world?!