Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday Snippets

Sunday was a beautiful day!  I've been thinking for a while about doing a "Sunday Snippets" series where I post snippets from the notes I took at church or thoughts on what I am reading in my Bible reading plan. It's a day late, but welcome to Sunday Snippets!

At church on Sunday we had a guest speaker- Clayton King.  I've seen him preach at our church before and I usually hate when we have guest speakers because I enjoy JD's sermons so much, but I don't mind when Clayton comes to preach because he is just as engaging and funny. 

His sermon centered around Mark 8:31-38

"Then he (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

My notes from the sermon:

So the "you are nothing" note may seem a little harsh, but it was because really think about it- He's God...He made the earth.  He made me.  He controls everything.  What am I going to say or do?  "Oh God look at what I did."  Yeah- He will always win.  There is nothing He needs from me.  (But because He loves me I still imagine He is very proud of me when I do something pleasing!)

Also the "Do you have what it takes?" came from a story Clayton told about a Marine recruiting guy basically telling a whole auditorium of students how hard the Marines were and that none of them looked like they had what it took.  You'd have to listen to the sermon HERE to really get that one.

Overall I loved this sermon because it emphasized discipleship.  Having a relationship with God isn't just intellectually believing that He sent His son to die on the cross and be raised again.  It is about admitting that you are a sinner and there is nothing you can do to save yourself or restore your relationship with God and that is why you NEED Jesus.  That is why He sent His son to die- to pay for your sins so you wouldn't have to.  But in addition to that you have to give your life over to Him. You are no longer living for yourself, you are living for Him. 

I still cling to my own hopes and dreams and habits and things I want out of life.  But slowly I loosen my grip and start to turn those things over to God and He simply amazes me with what he does with them.  It's like telling a kid they can't play in the sandbox in the backyard anymore and they throw a fit because they freaking love that sandbox.  But little do they know they are going to the beach with miles and miles of sand and a whole freaking ocean.  The parents may have even told the child this but the child has to trust and go on hope until he can see for himself.  And he has to obey his parents, get out of the sandbox and into the car to get there.  That's how it is with discipleship.  You may have to walk away from things you love to follow God and it won't always be easy.  And maybe you won't end up at the beach every time, but knowing how much He loves you how can you not trust that He will blow your mind with the things He can do with your life when you give it over to Him?

I'm not earning God's favor by giving things over to Him.  I already had it as evidenced by Him sending His son to die in my place.  Just stop and imagine that love.  He sacrificed His son- made him suffer and die in my place.  I just accepted the gift He gave me.  I admitted I am a sinner and that I couldn't do it without God's help.  I'm filled with gratitude for the gift He gave me and that pours out into doing things for HIM, not just myself.  Sacrifice.  Surrender.  And the more I let go the more I am filled with a happiness and joy and satisfaction that can only come from HIM!

I also tried to catch up on my Bible reading plan.  I am stuck in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and they are all about my least favorite topic- THE LAW.  Ugh...I hate the law because I just don't get it. Some of those laws are just crazy.  And all the laws about how to prepare the sin offering and the burnt offering, and the thanks offering, and the guilt offering, and how to build the temple, oh my...thank goodness I was not an Israelite during that time.  I would have probably failed miserably with all those rules and sacrificing all those animals.  The law is probably the biggest problem I have with understanding the Bible and it frustrates the crap out of me.  I can't wait to move on to something else.

Now to end on a happy note- I had some yummy cupcakes from GiGi's this weekend:

So yummy!  But you know what?  I still think I prefer homemade cupcakes better. There's just a little too much frosting for me on these beauties.

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!

Friday, February 25, 2011


I don't have the bikini ready body I want.

Even though I just got an unexpected raise at work (that doesn't kick in until April but still WOOHOO!) my checking account has never looked so anemic and my credit card is carrying a very high balance for the first time in years.

I have no boyfriends, dates, lovers, or even potentials in the love department.

My house is still in need of a major upgrade.

But despite everything I am happy.  I am really truly very happy.  Don't know exactly where it came from, but it's there.  I do know that it doesn't come from those outside comes from somewhere inside and oozes out into everything you do.

YAY for Happy!

Totally unrelated but I love this girl! You go little miss independent!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Details Please

In my last post I gave ya’ll a long list of things I had done in my lifetime that weren’t on The List. Here are a few that you guys wanted some more details about:

Forking a yard- This is a silly prank that we did to some frat houses in college. In addition to “rolling” or “TP-ing” their houses we took a ton of those little white plastic forks and put them all over their yards. I imagine it was a huge pain to clean up!

Front page of the newspaper- Yes I have had my picture on the front page of the newspaper twice. The first time was with Santa at the Grove Park Inn. My dad was an accountant for the Grove Park Inn which is a fancy resort in Ashville, NC. They do Christmas big there and have a huge gingerbread house exhibit/competition. I was there with my family and a reporter from the Ashville paper took a picture of me and a few other kids with Santa there and it made the front page.

The second time I was in a kite flying competition in Morganton when I was little. The local paper covered the event and there was a huge series of 3 pictures of me on the front page. In the first I am running and looking at the kite behind me. In the next I am beginning to trip and fall and the third I am on the ground with the kite laying on the ground behind me. I think my mom still has copies of both of my front page appearances in a scrapbook.

Snorkeling- I’ve been snorkeling three times- once in the Bahamas, once in St. Thomas, and once in Honduras. The Bahamas snorkeling sucked. We signed up for an excursion where we were supposed to hunt for buried treasure, but all they did was hide the conch and oyster shells before they let us off the boat. The water was murky and there wasn’t much to see down there. In St. Thomas it was a little better. The water was much clearer and I saw a sea turtle, but then someone said they spotted a jellyfish which I have a huge fear of and high-tailed it back to the boat. Honduras was the best. It was like you see in the movies with schools of blue fish, bright coral, etc.

My Sorority- I’m a Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA). I loved being in a sorority. I held several leadership positions and dealing with 65 sisters- everything from recruitment (as VP of Recruitment), new member classes, elections, managing a house of 22 (as house manager), keeping up with the finances (as treasurer), fundraisers, socials, volunteering, and dealing with Nationals- it really taught me A LOT! I’ve said it before- I think I learned more in the sorority about business and life than I did in my classes! ZTA was a great sorority and I met lifelong friends there. It was a blast and I have so many unique memories that I would have never had if I hadn’t been a Zeta. We had a fabulous house (on the plus side it was right beside 2 frat houses, but on the downside it was on the wrong side of the tracks and right on the edge of the ghetto!) It really did look like something out of a fairytale though:

Shag- The shag is a dance that apparently is only really popular in The Carolinas. It’s a beach music dance. I only know the basics- the 1-2-3, 1-2-3, rock step. No fancy turns or anything. I would love to take lessons some day. Here’s a little video that demonstrates the basics:

Ashton did a fabulous post about The Shag last week HERE.

Hope you all are having a fabulous week!

Monday, February 21, 2011

What have you done?

I only have 7 things left on my list and have started to make a list of ideas for my 40 Before 40 list.  Then I got to thinking about all the things I have ever done in my life.  I started to make a list for myself so I could have those as memories.  If you ever want to feel accomplished, just try to make a list of all the things you have ever done in your lifetime.  I thought it would be a short, quick list, but I kept thinking about more and more things!  This is more for my record, but if there is anything on this super-long list that you want to hear the story behind, just let me know!

Other Major things I’ve done not on The List:

  • Survived a layoff
  • Got a tattoo
  • Accepted Jesus as my savior AND LORD
  • Saved a cat
  • Got a dog
  • Taken a cruise
  • Hit a deer
  • Bought a house
  • Been a Maid of Honor (twice)
  • Learned to play piano
  • Learned to ride a horse
  • Learned to water-ski
  • Learned to rock climb
  • Learned to play tennis
  • Learned to swim
  • Went away to summer camp
  • Took an all-girls camping trip
  • Went sailing on a catamaran
  • Went ice skating
  • Learned (some) Spanish
  • Played in a band (granted it was high school marching and concert band)
  • Played a varsity sport (soccer and cheerleading)
  • Went white water rafting
  • Played paintball
  • Went jet skiing
  • Learned to play chess
  • Got over my fear of roller coasters
  • Went to the top of the world’s tallest building
  • Went on a cruise
  • Gambled in Vegas
  • Seen the Grand Canyon
  • Made Pottery (on the wheel!)
  • Won a poetry reading competition
  • Visited a winery
  • Learned some origami
  • Learned calligraphy
  • Lived without TV for a summer
  • Graduated high school
  • Graduated college
  • Joined a sorority
  • Inducted into an honor society
  • Been on the front page of the newspaper (twice)
  • Worked on a Habitat for Humanity house
  • Volunteered at a animal shelter
  • Been to an aquarium
  • Went to a MLB game
  • Went to an NHL game
  • Saw a major league sports team win a national championship
  • Tried Foie Gras and Escargot
  • Went snorkeling in a coral reef
  • Went repelling down a mountain
  • Watched a meteor shower
  • Went on a blind date
  • Painted a picture
  • Flew a kite
  • Tried Yoga
  • Played with a Ouija board
  • Visited an extinct volcano
  • Went to the zoo
  • Toured the largest private home in the US (Biltmore House)
  • Went to Disney World
  • Went to Sea World
  • Went to Busch Gardens
  • Went to Kings Dominion
  • Went to Carowinds
  • Went to Universal Studios
  • Went snow skiing
  • Leaned the alphabet in sign language
  • Went to Savannah for St. Pattys
  • Went to a Dave Matthew Concert
  • Went to Kenny Chesney concert
  • Saw Times Square
  • Went to the top of the Empire State Building
  • Saw a show on Broadway
  • Went to therapy
  • Broke a bone
  • Lost a loved one
  • Went to Tweetsie Railroad
  • Went to Old Salem
  • Went to Historic Williamsburg
  • Bet on greyhound racing
  • Built a sandcastle
  • Saw wild horses
  • Saw a whale in the wild
  • Learned gymnastics
  • Went to a planetarium
  • Panned for gold
  • Lost a pet (and found him!)
  • Went mud slinging
  • Toilet papered a house
  • Saw a monster truck show
  • Went to the state fair
  • Saw a pig race
  • Went four wheeling
  • Cooked a turkey
  • Had a Yard Sale
  • Kissed a stranger
  • Danced in the street
  • Took a bike ride in the dark
  • Won a ping pong tournament
  • Apologized to an Ex
  • Hosted Christmas
  • Made Snow Cream
  • Lived alone
  • Done my own taxes
  • Been fired
  • Quit a job
  • Went on a spending diet
  • Joined Weight Watchers
  • Had a root canal
  • Had my wisdom teeth taken out
  • Had a personal trainer
  • Tried wheatgrass juice
  • Took a step class
  • Got a massage
  • Been covered head-to-toe in mud
  • Had a bikini wax
  • Owned many hamsters (and accidentally killed one)
  • Fed raccoons in my backyard
  • Took my dog swimming (lake, river, and ocean!)
  • Sent out homemade Christmas CDs to all my friends
  • Made a snowman
  • Wished on a shooting star
  • Went to a comedy show
  • Bid in a silent auction
  • Saw The Lion King
  • Saw Wicked
  • Saw Rent
  • Went to the ballet
  • Went to a Beach Music festival
  • Leaned to Shag
  • Played trivia at a bar
  • Played pool
  • Went bowling
  • Played Wii
  • Registered to vote and actually voted in something other than the presidential election
  • Bought a car on my own
  • Had a snowball fight
  • Got a henna tattoo
  • Played mini-golf
  • Raced go karts
  • Played laser tag
  • Had a manicure and pedicure
  • Went speed dating
  • Tried online dating
  • Played croquet
  • Got a passport (and used it!)
  • Carpooled to work on a regular basis for a while
  • Started recycling
  • Learned some country line dances
  • Joined a church (and a bible study and a ministry team)
  • Danced in a public fountain
  • Forked a yard
  • Stood up for myself
  • Skipped class
  • Moved to a new city
  • Lived in a dorm
  • Lived in a sorority house

Friday, February 18, 2011

Take it Off

I was trying to mark #21- Go Skinny Dipping off my list on this ski trip.  I like the idea of skinny dipping.  The thing I don’t like is the idea of other people seeing me.  So I kept trying to think in my head how I could mark this one off the list.  I don’t know anyone who has their own private pool, so I was thinking about trying to go in the ocean really late at night during one of my beach trips, but I knew on this ski trip we were going to have an indoor pool, so I decided to plan to use that.

My plan was to sneak down to the pool really late at night after everyone had gone to bed and take a quick skinny dip in the pool before anyone could see me.  Problem #1- There were glass doors leading to the pool that you could see from the stairs.  Problem #2- These fools didn’t go to bed until 5 am!  Problem #3- How was I going to get down 5 flights of stairs without anyone wondering where I was going. 

So on Friday night I had a few glasses of rum punch and some of the other girls got in the hot tub out on the 3rd floor deck.  I was hanging out with some other people on the 4th floor but I kept going down there to update them on what was going on upstairs.  They kept begging me to get in with them but I kept saying I didn’t feel like going to get my suit on plus it was like 5 degrees out there!  Well towards the end of the night they convinced me to strip down right there on the balcony and get in with just my underwear on.  So I did. 

Then I remembered my skinny dipping goal.  The girls convinced me to take off my top to complete my goal.  The consensus was that would count.  One of the husbands was in there with us so we made him cover his eyes and I took off my bra for about 60 seconds.  It was freezing out and getting out of the hot tub was not fun, but it was something spontaneous and fun and helped me mark something off my list. 

I had been skinny dipping twice in high school- once in a lake and once at a friend’s house.  I think this probably won’t be the last time I skinny dip, but at least now I can mark it off my list!

Have you ever been skinny dipping?

Books on the Big Screen

I am so stinking excited because some of my all time favorite books are coming to the big screen soon.  Just watching these trailers makes me want to squeal!

Something Borrowed- loved loved the book and the movie looks even better!!

Water for Elephants- wonderful book and OMG Robert Pattison- yes please!

Other books I am looking forward to seeing on the big screen soon:
The Help
The Hunger Games
Red Riding Hood
Breaking Dawn
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Atlas Shrugged
Life of Pi

Have I missed any really good ones?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ski Trip 2011

Ski Trip 2011 was by far the best one yet.  It was epic.  

We drove up to WV Wednesday night.  We got pulled for speeding shortly after we crossed the VA border.  I prayed for the officer to be lenient and show us mercy and guess what?!  It worked!  We didn’t get a ticket.  Later it started snowing and we had had to stop to put a tarp over the stuff in the back of the truck.
Around 8:30 pm, we stopped the cutest little town- Harrisonburg, VA to eat dinner.  We ate at a yummy Greek restaurant called Dave’s Taverna.  The Duke/Carolina game started at 9, so we even got to see a little bit of that.  (Duke/Carolina games are like national holidays in this state.  BIG.  HUGE.) 

Oh and I was jealous because I saw one of my absolute favorites was going to be playing in that town on Sunday!

We listed to the rest of the game as we took one of the scariest drives ever.  First we went through what I will call Dragon Forest, then it was up and down like 3 mountains.  Hairpin turns.  Steep inclines and declines.  All while it is snowing and dark.  I was so thankful to not be the one driving because I might have had a panic attack.

We finally got to the bed and breakfast around 1 am.  It was 6 degrees and about a foot of snow and ice on the ground.  We didn’t even unpack the truck and just slept in our clothes.  The Inn was cute though and we had a yummy breakfast the next morning.

We went grocery shopping in the town’s one little grocery store in the morning- the good ol Shop n Save.  Then we made our way to the house.  We got lost a few times but finally found the house at the very top of a very steep cul-de-sac.  It was HUGE!

This was the most perfect house for our group.  It was huge, had an indoor pool/hot tub, basketball goal, pool table, outdoor hot tub, right on the slopes, 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms, amazing views, right on the slopes, almost everyone had a private bedroom and bathroom…it was perfect.  Here are a few pictures I took, but if you want to see the whole house tour go here.  (Really the pictures do not do it justice.  It was huge!)

There ended up being 28 of us there I think.  But it was not crowded at all.  We were right on the slopes, so we never had to drive anywhere.  It was like a house party with your bestest friends that lasts for 3 days. 
There were tons of funny moments including learning how to dougie, 5 guys in a tiny sauna, body shots, lots of card games, a spontaneous strip tease by the guys, and tons of funny dancing and singing.  A lot of people have video cameras so we got tons of great video and would watch it back the next night and laugh at our crazy selves.  We’re trying to figure out how to create a private channel to share all the videos among just our group.  We even watched a video from our 2009 ski trip.  One day we will have to make a whole compilation of the footage over the years.

The highlight of the weekend for me though was learning to play chess.  I am obsessed now.  Kelly’s husband taught us how to play and we played each other twice I think.  Both times it lasted over an hour because you really have to think 3 steps ahead and be very careful with your moves.  I don’t know how people play speed chess!  Every time one of the guys would play I would watch the game to learn new strategies.  I’m a little competitive.

The lowlight was crying all the way down the mountain.  We were right on the slopes and we had to figure out which trail took us back to the house.  We found a blue trail that led back and I was fine with that.  I prefer to stick with green, but have done blue in the past.  Well, this blue should have been a black.  It was straight freaking down the mountain with no end in sight!  I hate going too fast because it feels like I am going to lose control (they even nicknamed me “Slow Bunny”).  I was in tears the whole time and I was having a panic attack and I could not move my body.  I had to slowly slide down inch by inch. It was a real workout for my legs!  I fell once or twice and my ski popped off.  Let me tell ya, getting that thing back on when you are on a steep decline is super hard!  I did decline a ride down from Snow Patrol and finally made it down to the house.  Luckily we found a green slope to cut across to get back to the house after that because there was no way I was going down that thing again!

It was a great weekend.  I LOVE my friends and am so thankful to have found a group that gets along so well!  I felt very blessed the whole weekend!

(Sorry for the lack of pictures.  I realized after I got back that I barely took any!)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day guest post

I'm boycotting Valentine's Day, but I know some of you may not be, so I got a great guest blogger to bring you some Valentine's Day entertainment:

Hi, I’m Martin and I’ve been writing rhyming birthday and love poetry for a few years now. Most of these poems are very sweet (corny) and overly sentimental. However, there are a few gems that won’t bore you to death and are actually quite funny (pure bias).

Since it's Valentine’s Day, here’s two funny love poems that will hopefully make you laugh.

Some call love a grave disease,
Comes and goes, like a morning breeze.
To attain it, use your knees,
A shiny diamond and a please.
Few years later it smells like cheese,
To keep it fresh, you try to freeze.
Bills and payments, so many keys,
Love has mastered, the wallet squeeze.

Here’s an example of a more realistic date, it’s definitely not from a romance novel:

Hungry Love
A little surprise and delicious meal,
Tried my best, to conceal.
I know your very favourite taste,
At the farm, I was chased.
The scented candle, has been lit,
To hide the odour, from my pit.
But don’t you worry, it is fine,
All you need is a bit more wine.
This love of ours, is very hot,
Food in the oven, I forgot.
I am sorry, the food is burnt,
For next time, I have learnt.

Here’s one of my favourite birthday poems

Your Zoo

A birthday should always be a joyous occasion,
Family and friends; obvious invasion.
Duplicate gifts, you don’t even like,
If you complain, might get a strike.

One simple day, placed on display,
Carefully observed, for signs of decay.
Dishonest smiles, they don’t mingle in truth,
As if you were the only, losing your youth.

At such a wise age, everything seems so clear,
Excuse to celebrate, they all came for beer.
Deep down inside, you know that they care,
Your Zoo is unique, normal is rare.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shawnessy's 30 Before 30

Let me introduce you to Shawnessy!  She has an awesome 30 Before 30 list with an even more awesome bonus goal!  I just love seeing what others have on their list because it inspires me to reach for the stars and gives me ideas of fun things to try that I hadn't thought of!  I was sure impressed with some of the things on her list.  You can follow along with her list progress here on her blog.


I turned 29 last November and it really started to hit me that 30 was just right around the corner. With every other late 20-something, I was getting a little freaked out. I love my life. I have a great job in advertising, my family is pretty awesome (all 10 of us!), my friends are amazing, and I have a lot of great hobbies that keep me busy (running, reading, traveling, Yankees games). I can’t really complain. However, I did want to attempt to check off a bunch of things before I turned 30. So New Year’s rolled around and I really started to think about it and I started to make a list. I figured doing a 30 Before 30 list as my New Year’s resolution isn’t a bad idea. Now, I know most people give themselves years to accomplish their 30 things. I had less than 11 months. But I’m not a person to shy away from a challenge. I’m a pretty ambitious person and am determined to check everything off my list!

So how did I come up with my list? Well there are things I’ve always wanted to do, so I put it on the list. I googled for some ideas, and added a few more things. I asked for input from my siblings and friends, and all of a sudden I had 50+ goals! Well obviously way too much, so then my next task was to take it down to 30 (well plus a bonus). I tried to provide a good mix of things from outrageous and scary (sky diving and dating), to things I should just get done (pay my credit cards off and finish knitting my first scarf). Others, I’ve wanted to do for a really long time (go to Southeast Asia and take a photography class). By making a list and of course blogging about it, I am stuck with the list and everyone who knows me (or at least reading the blog) will hold me to it!

I’m happy to say that within a month of posting my first blog with the final list, I’m made some good progress. I’ve checked 2 things off completely; will check one more thing off this weekend, and another next weekend. And of course constantly trying to make progress on goals that will take me ALL year to do.

Without further ado, here’s my list!

My 30 Before 30 list (Plus a bonus):

1. Write a blog
2. Go to an NFL or MLS game
3. Boston Qualify
4. Sky dive
5. Go to the Baseball Hall of Fame
6. Finish knitting the scarf I started in November 2008
7. Pay off my credit card debt
8. Go on 11 dates (1/month)
9. Improve my race pace to 7 minutes/mile
10. Snowboard for the 1st time
11. Pick 10 classic novels and read them
12. Try kangaroo meat
13. Finish a whole crossword puzzle (no cheating)
14. Take a photography class
15. Move
16. Shoot a gun at a shooting range
17. Travel to a continent I’ve never been to (I’ve only been to North America and Europe)
18. Go on a hot air balloon ride
19. Create my Family Tree
20. Bake a pie from scratch
21. Write a haiku
22. Do a Polar Bear plunge
23. Take a sommelier class
24. Volunteer with kids
25. Dance in a flash mob
26. Print and frame pictures from post-college
27. Try paddle boarding or surfing
28. Get a fancy drink somewhere fancy in NYC
29. Do a mud run or obstacle course race
30. Watch the sunrise and sunset on same day from 2 different coasts of the USA
31. Kiss Justin Timberlake

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I am getting ready to leave for my trip, but before I do...

Frankie @ Cheerful Carolina gave me a Stylish Blogger Award!

So here are the rules:

1. Thank & link back to the person who awarded me this award

Thank you Frankie!! You made my day and I got to discover some great new blogs through your post!!

2. Share 7 things about myself...

1) I LOVE sushi! There is a great sushi place right near my house, Tasu, with the best sushi and it is even Buy One Get One Free. Unfortunately they don't let you do BOGO for takeout though.

2) I love playing Words with Friends on my iPhone and not to toot my own horn, but I am pretty good at it. Although I did have a random opponent beat me five times in a row before I gave up. He got at least 20 points for every word he played somehow. It was ridiculous. If you want to play, my name on there is ncsuz.

3) I'm an only child and when I was little I did almost every activity imaginable: dance, gymanastics, swimming, tennis, horseback riding, soccer, piano, cheerleading, basketball, summer camp with rock climbing and waterski lessons...I guess you could say I was very well rounded.

4) I was held several positions in my sorority in college: house manager, scholarship chair, treasurer, and vice president of recruitment. I think those positions prepared me more for corporate america than my classes did.

5) My first job was a cashier at a grocery store in high school. I think I stuck it out for a little over a month before I quit. The produce numbers killed me...I was ringing up apples as cherries and blueberries as pomegranates because I never wanted to pull out the cheat sheet book to look them up. I think they have better ways of looking those up and more fruits and veggies have barcodes and stickers on them now-a-days.

6) My favorite food is honeymustard. I could drink that stuff! And not all honey mustards are created equal...I am a honey mustard connesiour now!

7) I have lived in North Carolina my whole life and love it, but I also love to travel and have a goal of visiting all 50 US states.

3. Toss this award to 15 other bloggers

Made You Blush
Green Door Designs
Domestic Goddess
Barefoot in the Park
Simply Suzanna
The Cottage Gray
Think Classy
That's So City
Big Adventure Calling
Hang On Tomato
tryin' to throw my arms around the world
Miles to Run
Simply Sam
Tales of Our Journey
From LA to L.A.

Also, I've got some guest bloggers lined up in my absence, so be sure to check them out!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blogging Tips and Guest Bloggers Needed

I have been blogging for almost 3 years now. Not only that, I have been reading blogs for even longer. It is my favorite hobby. I love following along with all the blogs I subscribe to. Google Reader is daily part of my life now. I love when I read a post and immediately want to have a whole conversation about that topic with the blogger. I love that my friends now also say "I heard about that or found that on a blog I was reading." Blogs are just fabulous in my opinion.

However I have developed some preferences and learned some tips and tricks over the years when it comes to blogging. I'm going to try to not be offensive because I know everyone is different and every blogger probably has their own ways of doing things, but as a follower and a writer, here are some things I've learned to make managing my hobby a little easier and more enjoyable:

1. I hate word verification on comments. Please, please if you have word verification on your comments consider taking it off! I understand you don't want spam comments, but commenting should be easy. And word verification makes it hard. If I am on my phone or have a slow internet connection, it's impossible to comment with word verification. And nothing frustrates me more than when I have typed out a long comment and submit it and then the word verification comes up. It makes me want to throw my phone out a window!

Trust me, I haven't had a spam comment get through in months and even when I did have spam, I would get an email with a notification of the comment that was posted so I can go in and delete it immediately. I'm begging you if you have word verifation on your comments, please consider removing it.

Here is a great post on how to turn off that setting:

2. Please do not do partial feeds to my Reader to make me click over to your blog. If I start following someone who has partial feeds I immediately remove them. I do not have time to click through just to read a post. Why do you think I have a Reader tool? You could be the best writer in the world but I am not going to read your posts if you have a partial feed. One of my favorite authors Jen Lancaster has a partial feed so I no longer read her posts. Please make it easy for your readers. If I like your post and have time I will click through and comment, but if I can't even read your post, I just get frustrated and move on. Please, please push your complete post to my reader and not just a tiny teaser.

3. I don't get blog hops. I don't know what they are. Again I don't want to click through so when all you say is I'm participating in this blog hop, but there is no other content in your post...well I just don't get it and if you do that too many I will unfollow. If someone wants to explain this to me, please do. I think it has something to do with getting more followers to your blog. Well, I'm no expert at that, but I know I don't want unneccessary content filling up my reader. Why don't you just try posting good content people want to read...that is a good way to attract and better yet keep followers I think.

4. Bloggers- please post at least once a week not once a month. I really do want to get to know the people I follow and if you only post once a month I will not remember who you are. I love feeling like I know the people I follow and reocgnizing certain people just by the way their posts are organized. To become a good blogger, you really have to do it on a regular basis.

5. Please allow me to reply by email to your comments on my blog. When I first started blogging I was so confused as to the best way to respond to comments. I have found the best way for me as a follower and also as the blog owner has been to reply by email or get an email reply to the comment I've left. Commenting in the thread isn't good because how do you know the person will come back and read it? Commenting on their blog doesn't work because not all blog readers have a blog. Here are instructions on how to enable the email reply feature in blogger:

Edit your profile and enter your email address under the "Identity" section. Then click on the box next to "show my email address" under the Privacy section. This will provide a link on the profile page that says "Email" and a person could click on that to email you directly. Most importantly this provides a legit email address a blogger can reply to when responding to a comment left on their blog!

6. I know this is easier said than done, but please do not get upset or discouraged if you lose a follower or don't get a lot of comments on one of your posts. Some people just don't click with others. You can't please all of the people all of the time. Even if you don't get comments on a post, that doesn't mean people did not enjoy reading it. I find you just have to try not to take that stuff too personally.

These are just tips and preferences I've developed over the years.  What are some of yours when it comes to all things blogging??

P.S.  I am leaving for my ski trip tomorrow and I am looking for some guest bloggers to keep my readers entertained here on my blog.  I know this is short notice, but if you send me a post about your own life list (it can be about marking something off or just a copy of the things on your list or something you did that inspired you to make a list.)  and also the link to your blog I will post it here on my blog while I am gone.  I leave right after work tomorrow, so please get your post to me by 10 pm EST TONIGHT so I can set them up!  Can't wait to see more about YOUR lists!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pause & 30 Before 30 list checkpoint

First of all I want to ask all my readers to stop and say a prayer for Egypt.  I subscribe to the blog of a girl who lives in Egypt.  Early last week she posted something about the protest before it was in the news, before anything had grown in momentum.  She was going to protest with her brother.  She was scared, but knew it was important to take a stand.  To show support for something she believed in.  I can't even do that in everyday life, so I admire her courage.  She is a girl I relate to through her blog. She has a lot of the same thoughts, dreams,and aspirations I do.   These people in Egypt are humans just like you and me.  Yes, their culture and homeland is different, but we humans are more alike than you can imagine.

Then her internet access was cut off and she had a friend from outside the country post updates.  I wanted to know what was going on there and have been trying to follow the story but it is hard for me to even wrap my head around.  I just can't imagine what these people are going through.

And if you think just because we live far away from all the distress, don't fool yourself and think it doesn't affect us.  I just saw a reporter interviewing a group of Murbarak supporters and they told her to go away and that they hated Americans.  She tried to ask them why they hated Americans and they said "Because you are not a good person...we hate Americans."  Then they forced her and the crew to flee in their car while they beat on the car and threw rocks.  Why?  Why is there so much hate, anger, and violence?  I don't know enough about either side and I don't know why they hate Americans so much, but it scares me.  I know Americans aren't perfect but I would never look another human being in the face and tell them I hate them just because where they are from.  The violence between the protesters and police scares me.  The politics behind it all scares me.  All that is happening to the infrastructure and daily life in Egypt scares me.  Please pray for Egypt.

Now to something less heavy.  I wanted to pause and look back at the list that started this whole blog.  I have 8 things left on my list and I still plan to mark them off in the next couple months:

1. Get in the best shape of my life- I think I am almost there.  Not weight or body wise yet, but I am running more than I ever have and doing weights regularly.  I am going to run another 5K in April and want to come in under 31:00.  I want to do an 8K, 10K, and half marathon eventually. 

9. kayak- hopefully in the spring I will be able to convince some friends to help me mark this one off my list.

10. Catch a fish
- maybe in the spring my favorite 4 year old can show me how to catch a fish!

18. Upgrade one room in my house- I attempted this one with my bathroom.  But I think I made it worse.  I SUCK at painting.  I will never do it again.  It I can fix the trim maybe I will consider this one done, but there are so many other things I want to do to my house.  Here is a sneak peek at the bathroom:

Old bathroom- not bad, but needs improvement

New bathroom

Turquoise stripe on one wall

Obviously I can't stay inside the lines- and yes I did use tape
21. Go skinny dipping- I have plans to mark this one off my list.  I've been skinny dipping before, but it is time to go again.  I'm just not going to tell anyone when or where until it is done.

26. Kiss in the rain-  I don't know about this one.  I am very cynical about love right now.

27. Read the Bible all the way through
-  I have been trying.  This one is so hard because the Old Testament is sooo hard to read.  It has crazy stories that make your jaw drop and then very long passages about lineage or long detailed instructions for building the Temple or what to bring for their offerings.  But I do have at least 7 books marked off.  Tons more to go though.

29. Attempt Surfing- I hope to do this one just before my birthday on my annual beach trip.

Any advice for any of the things left on my list?