A “Grand” Christmas Vacation

Hello 2014!

I have been on Christmas break for the past two weeks and it has been WONDERFUL! At first, I set out with the intention to blog at least once or twice, but once our travels started I got way too involved with our family and friend time and decided to unplug entirely. It was so nice to just soak up every minute with loved ones!

Step one of our break was to go visit my family in Ohio. Since they live about 7 hours away from us, I don’t get to see them often. This was the first time I had been home in six months! It was SO nice to be back for a few days.

When we were home, Macie was introduced to my sister’s cat, Simba. After a rather timid greeting, they both got along well for the time we were home. I was very impressed!

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.comChristmas morning, Justin and I woke up SUPER early . . . to go to the airport. Not exactly your typical Christmas but we were excited nonetheless! And at least it was a white Christmas!

simplifythechaos.comWe flew out to Phoenix, AZ for my college roommate’s wedding. The wedding wasn’t until Saturday, but we wanted to go out early to get the chance to explore the area. From the airport, we got a rental car and drove up to Flagstaff. By the time we had arrived, it was dark; however, we were able to drive around and see some beautiful Christmas lights!

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.comWe also hit up a Sonic because it was literally the only thing open. Justin had never been to one before (!!!) so he was excited. How’s that for our first married Christmas together?

simplifythechaos.comThe next morning we woke up super early and headed out to the Grand Canyon. I really wanted to catch the sunrise! It was SO worth the loss of sleep!

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.comSTUNNING! Pictures simply do not do it justice.

We traveled back to Flagstaff for lunch and hit up a place called NiMarco’s Pizza. It was recommended to us from a friend who has lived in Flagstaff and it did not disappoint! Definitely a must try if you are in Flagstaff!

simplifythechaos.comI wish we would have had more time to explore Flagstaff but we needed to head back into Phoenix for the bachelor/bachelorette party so we got on the road after lunch. The drive was so scenic — I loved every minute!

simplifythechaos.comAfter a super fun lingerie party for the bride-to-be, we headed out into Phoenix for a joint bachelor & bachelorette party. We hopped around to a few different bars and restaurants before ending up at a place called The Duce. Honestly, I had some reservations when we walked up to what seemed like a huge warehouse but inside it was like no place I’ve ever seen before! A combination bar/karaoke lounge, it has ping pong, hula hoops, a clothing store, milkshake/sweet shoppe stand, and tons of other random and fun things to do. It was absolutely amazing! We loved it.

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.com

After my friend Kelsey and I rounded out the night with a crowd-pleasing rendition of “It’s Gonna be Me” by N’Sync (crowd-pleasing in that they liked the song choice…not necessarily our singing!) we called it a night. So fun!

Justin and I were able to do a lot of sightseeing and some hiking in the days before the wedding. Our favorite was a morning hike that overlooked all of the Phoenix area. It was breathtaking!

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.comThe wedding took place at a winery about an hour outside of Phoenix. It was such a beautiful setting and the weather was perfect!

It was so good to see all of my best friends from college and celebrate my friend’s wedding! Justin and I both agreed we have to come back to Phoenix sometime. We loved everything about it and had such a great time there!

simplifythechaos.comAfter a super-early flight back, my family picked us up at the airport on Sunday for a quick lunch and reunion with Macie (she was VERY excited to see us!)

simplifythechaos.comAfter lunch, we hit the road to Virginia to celebrate Christmas with Justin’s family.We had a great time visiting with them! I especially loved playing with our little nephew, who absolutely loved playing with my phone and taking pictures of himself.

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.com

Overall, Christmas was a HUGE success and we loved every minute! Now it’s back to work and starting out a new year!

Happy 2014! May your year be blessed!

***

Today’s outfit was almost entirely composed of Christmas presents. What a fun way to start the new year!

01-02 Outfit

Sweater: Old Navy

Blouse: New York & Company

Pants: New York & Company

Pumps: Maurices

Bib Necklace: Forever 21

Advertisements

A little blogging perspective

I originally thought this post would begin with “I am a HUGE failure.”

Over the last two weeks, my blogging has been sporadic at best. The Christmas season truly is the busiest time of the year! The to-do list lengthens and the obligations/holiday gatherings/travel plans pile on.

In the midst of this, my blog has fallen to the wayside. I faithfully posted outfits each day in “Wear,” but other than that, the blog often sat idle.

The recovering perfectionist in me relapsed and I felt like a blogger dud. I started this thinking I’d post every day! Why am I not able to keep up!? What is wrong with me!? Why can’t I handle this!?

Luckily, I had a revelation. A better description is actually that I got smacked in the face with reality. But whatever.

My women’s bible study is currently reading a book by Emily Freeman called Grace for the Good Girl (find on Amazon here.) One chapter talks about when Martha, a woman in the Bible who is much like me and tried to do every. single. thing. right. all. the. time, is brought to reality by Jesus.

“You are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary.” [Luke 10:41-42 NASB]

Hmm. Talk about reality smacking me square in the face.

My blog isn’t perfect. I can’t post every day and keep my sanity, particulary at this time of year. And there are so many things happening in both work and life that it’s easy to quickly feel overwhelmed with millions of details.

But I cannot be worried and bothered about all of these things. I need to do what I can, and let go when it gets to be too much.

I started this blog as a place to show how to simplify the chaos that life can become. It’s all about finding a balance. I need to take my own advice and simplify my blogging expectations to find a reasonable balance.

Posting outfits daily is something I can handle. Posting about other topics is something I can handle…sometimes. My priority will always be my marriage, relationships, and experiences. I refuse to let those suffer for the sake of doing a million other things because I think I have to or I’m a failure. I define my own success. I define where my balance is.

I choose JOY over perfection.

So I’m not, in fact, a “huge failure” like I thought. I’m just a recovering perfectionist and I don’t expect this to be my relapse. I just keep on trying to find that place where life is as simple and joyful and I enjoy it to the max.

Happy Tuesday!!

***

Today’s outfit! Details can be found in “Wear

12-17 Outfit

Sweater: Express

Khakis: Maurices

Ballet Flats: Kohls

Bangle Set: Ruche

Necklace: Bluetique

Christmas Cookie Extravaganza!

Hello hello!

Feels like I haven’t posted in forever! We have had some mean winter weather the last two days (translation: NO SCHOOL!) so I have been taking it easy at home. No outfits to post since I just stayed inside in comfy sweats all day Monday and Tuesday and I decided to postpone blogging so I could be productive around the house and enjoy extra time with my little family. Macie and I spent hours running errands together on Monday and we even had a nice long puppy play date with my friend Lindsay’s dogs. It was so fun and we were both tuckered out afterwards!

As fun as it was to have a long weekend, I’m ready to get back into the swing of things at school now, especially since being at home all day meant I was in constant close proximity to . . . CHRISTMAS COOKIES! On Saturday my friend Tristan hosted a cookie decorating party for a bunch of our friends. She baked dozens of cut-out sugar cookies and had each of us bring icing, sprinkles, etc. to decorate them with. It was so much fun but now I have TONS of cookies sitting on my counter!

My finished products!

You may be wondering about the strange-looking one on the left. Tristan created a cookie-decorating competition for the Christmas trees. We all got one tree-shaped cookie and had to decorate it according to a theme. The theme she and her husband chose was “travel.”

At first we all thought it was a difficult theme, but people got SO creative! Here were some of the final results:

We had everything from maps to tropical islands to train cars to snow skiing angels to locations afar such as Africa and Paris. I was so impressed with everyone’s ideas! Even Tristan and her hubby couldn’t pick a winner! They had to choose two.

Justin and I kept our cookies separate, but without knowing it we had similar ideas.

We both did “methods of travel” and chose similar things! Justin drew a plane flying through the sky and I did a rocket ship blasting off. I used a green peel-apart Twizzler for my outline.

Neither of our trees won but we had such a great time decorating with our friends!

It was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit and have a fun Saturday with some awesome people.

Now just a few days left in this short school week! Whoo hoo! Gotta love this time of year!

***

Two days off in sweat pants was nice, but I was itching to wear my new Target corduroy pants! So warm and comfy — perfect for layering in this winter weather! As always, details for specific pieces can be found on my “wear” page.

12-11 Outfit

Cardigan: Target

Cami: Old Navy

Corduroy Skinny Pants: Target

Boots: Maurices

Necklace: Ten Thousand Villages (LOVE this organization!)

Redbox Movie > The Sound of Music Live

Happy happy FRIDAY!

Am I the only one who didn’t watch “The Sound of Music” last night on TV? I honestly just couldn’t bring myself to watch (even though I’m a huge Carrie Underwood fan!) In my opinion, it was set up to fail and I couldn’t bear to watch. You just can’t re-make a classic and expect it to be as good as the original, no matter how much you try. While I knew all of the actors were talented (musically, anyway),ย  I also knew I would end up disappointed. Judging by the buzz in social media today, I made the right decision. Seems like the music was pretty awesome, but the acting was not. One teacher friend said it was good “for a high school play” but not even in the same zipcode as the original.ย  I’d love to hear some opinions on it if you watched!

Instead of watching The Sound of Music, my hubster and I got a $5 Hot N Ready from Little Caesar’s and rented a Redbox. We watched Monster’s University and loved it! Such a cute movie. I loved how they really set up the first movie well and showed different sides of characters we already knew. It was entertaining and Justin and I both really enjoyed it. Solid Redbox win!

In other news, my board today reads:

Whoo hoo!!! So excited. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope you have a great Friday and a relaxing weekend!

***

Love me some Casual Friday! As always, links to available pieces can be found on my “wear” page.

20131206_070151Top: Express

Black Skinny Jeans: Maurices

Boots: Forever 21

Jewelry: Lia Sophia

Ultimate Holiday Playlist

I don’t know about you all, but lately I have been playing nothing but Christmas music! Today at work I even kept this lovely YouTube video on during my planning period so I could have some nice festive background while I worked.

I have different “categories” of Christmas music based on what I’m doing or what mood I’m in. Today I thought I’d share the songs that are definite holiday musts!

Classic Christmas Tunesย (some are the original artists, some are covers I love)

Michael Buble: “It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas”; “Holly Jolly Christmas”; “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Glee Cast: “The First Noel”; “Let It Snow”

Cynthia Basinet:ย “Santa Baby”

Bing Crosby: “Winter Wonderland”; “White Christmas”

Mediaeval Baebes: “The Holly & The Ivy”

Harry Connick, Jr.: “Sleigh Ride”

Nat King Cole: “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”

Andy Williams: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Brenda Lee: “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree”

Wham!: “Last Christmas”

Jessica Simpson: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”

Britt Nicole: “Jingle Bell Rock”

Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

Kelly Clarkson: “My Grown-up Christmas List”

David Archuleta: “Joy to the World”; “The First Noel”

Faith Hill: “Little Drummer Boy”

Martina McBride: “O Holy Night”

Carrie Underwood: “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”; “Do You Hear What I Hear?”; “What Child Is This?”

Whitney Houston: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

Mindy Smith w/Allison Krauss: “Away in a Manger”

Running/Work-out Jams

Mariah Carey: “All I want for Christmas is You”; “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

Jackson 5: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

Glee Cast: “We Need a Little Christmas”; “Deck the Rooftop”

Christina Aguilera: “Christmas Time”; “This Year”

N’Sync: “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”

Destiny’s Child: A “DC” Christmas Medley

Jessica Simpson: “Here Comes Santa Claus”; “Let it Snow”

Jose Feliciano: “Feliz Navidad”

Whitney Houston: “Deck the Halls/Silent Night”

Straight No Chaser: “The Christmas Can-Can” (They are such an entertaining group and if you haven’t checked them out before, you must!)

Instrumentals

Kenny G: “Winter Wonderland”

Tchaikovsky: “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies”; “The Nutcracker March”

Trans Siberian Orchestra: “Carol of the Bells”

Vince Guaraldi Trio: “O Tannenbaum”; “Christmas Time is Here”; “Skating” (All of these are from A Charlie Brown Christmas CD and the entire CD is fantastic! So fun!)

Norman Brown: “The Christmas Song”

Kiddie Classics for Fun

Burl Ives: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”; “Frosty the Snowman”

Thurl Ravenscroft: “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

Vince Guaraldi Trio: “Christmas Time is Here (vocal)”

How The Grinch Stole Christmas Soundtrack: “Welcome Christmas”

 

Enjoy! And let me know if I missed any good ones. ๐Ÿ™‚

***

Here’s today’s work outfit. I’m loving my new animal print infinity scarf from TJMaxx! Check out my “wear” page for links to available pieces!

“Quilted” Lace Shirt: Rue 21

Cami: Express

Grey Dress Pants: Maurices

Ballet Flats: Maurices

Infinity Scarf: TJ Maxx

Pray for the Buerkle family

I start out today with a heavy heart.

Since I didn’t have school, I was taking it easy this morning and browsing a few of my favorite blogs. I came across this postย from Julie’s blog Peanut Butter Fingersย and it broke my heart. In it, she shared that her future brother-in-law’s cousin passed away on Friday. The man, James, was only 27 years old and he died unexpectedly in his sleep. He and his wife had only been married for five months and she is pregnant and due in June.

This story hit me so close to home. James and his wife, Christina, got married only one week before Justin and I did. He was a chiropractic student (not exactly the same as a medical student like Justin but close enough to take my breath away). Their marriage seems to be very similar to ours (minus the pregnancy) and reading it, I just broke down in tears. It hit so close to home! I truly cannot imagine losing Justin, and Iย definitelyย can’t imagine losing him and then having to go through a pregnancy without him.

I ask you to keep this family in your thoughts and prayers. You can also make a monetary contribution to help support Christina and the baby throughout the pregnancy and birth by visiting the Baby Buerkle website. With the holidays upon us, they truly will need all the love and support they can get.

I also ask for thoughts and prayers for all those traveling today. If, like me, you live in the Eastern US, you know they are calling for a lot of bad weather today. My family is spread out over three different states and everyone is driving in today to celebrate Thanksgiving at our house. I know millions of other people will be traveling as well. Please keep all travelers in your thoughts and prayers; I want everyone to be safe and be able to celebrate with their families!

Praying that everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

Ornament Overload

When I walked into the kitchen this morning, my husband already had the curtains open to our back deck and I stopped dead in my tracks. The sunrise was absolutely mind blowing! Here’s an (unedited) picture I took:

How can your day not be good when you see this first thing? Such a beautiful beginning!

Christmas Ornaments

Ho ho ho! Our halls are decked! The tree is lit! And most importantly, the mistletoe is hung ๐Ÿ™‚

I spent nearly all day Saturday packing up most of my fall decorations (I left a few out for our Thanksgiving meal) and pulled out my three huge tubs full of Christmas decorations. I blasted some Christmas music and got to work!

Since Justin and I are going to be traveling during our entire Christmas break, our tree is pathetically small. We just have a 3′ fake tree that I got for $7 from a yard sale. Needless to say, we didn’t hang many ornaments before the tree was full. I get ornaments on sale after Christmas and I had a ton left that didn’t fit on the tree. I still wanted to use them so I got creative with places to hang them!

First up was the banister by our staircase. Since we have a split level, the top banister is actually a “wall” in our living room. I wrapped it in fake garland (which I got for $2 from a thrift store!) and used fishing line to hang the ornaments in between each post. I hung them at different heights and alternated different patterns/textures. It was simple and I really like the way it turned out!

ย ย 

Next up was a decorative window that I have hung over a couch. The window is plain white so I used my neon-bright ornaments to pops of color. Again, I hung them with fishing line and lightly taped the fishing line to the top of the window so it was out of sight. Took about 15 minutes and was super easy. I love the result!

Lastly, I took silver and dark bluish-grey ornaments and hung them in a “pyramid” in my bathroom using fishing line. We just have a simple paper shade covering that window so the ornaments dressed it up nicely. The ornaments matched my color scheme perfectly so it was a subtle Christmas touch. I added a strand of the $2 fake garland to complete the look.

All three ideas were very easy and extremely inexpensive. It took about an hour total and cost under $20 (I cannot stress enough the importance of planning ahead and buying Christmas stuff afterย Christmas! Saves you SO much money!) I love the simplicity of each decoration but they come together to give the house a nice festive feel. Yay!

***

Today I rolled out of bed tired and groggy but I decided to “dress for success” to wake me up and get me in the work mindset. Only one more workday until break!

Jacket: Frenchi

Tank: Express

Skirt: New York & Co.

Tights: Express

Pumps: Maurices

Bracelet set: Express

Earrings: Lia Sophia

Belt: Outlooks (came attached to a pair of capris)