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Monthly Reading – January

one of my 2012 goals was to read 2 books a month: 1 for personal growth and 1 for fun. i usually read alot anyways, but i feel like i didn’t read enough personal growth books last year so this goal was a way to remind me to do that!

in january i had the honor of reading an advanced copy of my dad’s new book! (so exciting!) and i read a dangerous summer by hemingway in honor of our upcoming trip to spain.

 

 

live the dream comes out in april, and you should definitely go pre-order it now. it is full of success principles and little nuggets of wisdom on every page. i loved it, and i loved that i was able to read it before anyone else πŸ™‚ this was a great way to start of my year of reading!

hemingway is so essential to spanish culture that i knew i had to read one of his books before my trip. a dangerous summer was the Β perfect choice. it is about two of the best bullfighters in spain and it follows them through an entire summer of matches. i didnt know much about bullfighting before reading this but now i feel like if i saw a match (i wouldnt) i would know what was going on. i loved reading about the food they ate and their travels through spain.

 

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january yummies!

on my 2012 goals i said i wanted to try 2 new recipes a month. here are some that i tried in january:

(i have changed my eating habits big time this year, so im not eating alot of simple carbs, gluten or meat anymore. most of the recipes i post will reflect those changes)

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roasted garlic-parmesan cauliflowerΒ – my new favorite veggie. seriously, i have made this about 3 times now and i cant get enough! its such a quick and easy side dish to go with anything(like my GF tenders up there). i love roasted vegetables in general and then adding fragrant garlic and melty parmesan cheese. oh my word. the best parts of this dish are the little crispy bits of cheese and crumbs that stick to the pan.

eggplant parmesan made with almond flour – i loved this. it had a bunch of steps, but it came together really fast. i wasnt sure what to expect using almond flour instead of wheat, but it was delicious and crispy. i made the portion a little smaller and ate it for dinner by myself and then lunch the next day.

sweet potato hash with greens– yum! i am a huge fan of greens so this was right up my alley. i swapped sweet potatoes for white, and roasted them earlier in the day, instead of steaming them. the only thing i would do different next time is cook the onions and then place them to the side while cooking the potatoes.or maybe not chop them so small. or something.Β  by the time i got the potatoes fried the onions had burnt to a crisp. i ate this alone as a veggie meal, but it would be so good along with eggs!

i also made a really great chicken and mexican rice dish from the “organic transformation diet” cookbook. i will post the recipe on another post, since its not online.

this month i will remember to take more photos of the food before i devour it! πŸ™‚ but there are photos on all the websites.

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i want to help. i see needs and i want to meet them. there are so many hurting these days and i know i cant help everyone but i want to. i feel so blessed, and i want to share what i have but i realize its unrealistic to be able to do something for everyone who needs a hand. i cant adopt every dog or starving baby, and i cant keep all the homeless warm enough on cold nights and i cant stop every girl from feeling unloved.

i feel like we as americans get called greedy, selfish, and arrogant. but then when we attempt to go and help the poor people of the world we get blasted for being patronizing. so which is it? how do we truly help? we have so many resources, and there are so many with so little, surely we can do something, anything? but what is the most needed and whats the best way to go about it?

there are all these conflicting messages for christians. the bible says to go ye into all the world and preach the gospel. it also says to care for widows and orphans. so i assume thats what we should be doing. but then there are christians who say that we dont really need to go ourselves, we can just send money. and then there are christians who say going on short term missions trips dont help anything, they are a farce. sometimes i dont know what to think. are we supposed to help? are we supposed to go? are we supposed to sit in our comfy homes and write checks without ever needing to touch the hurting ourselves? are we supposed to sell all our possessions and give everything we own to the poor?

do i really think short term volunteer work ever truly helps with the big picture (ie helping at the soup kitchen on thanksgiving day)? no, i dont. i think that people that just come in to help once a year arent really helping much at all. maybe they aleviate some workload stress for the day, but i think alot of times they cause more trouble than they’re worth. i think to truly help on a volunteer basis you have to do it consistently and actually get involved for long haul.

BUT do i think that you can help someone you have only met with for a few minutes, hours or days? yes. because i believe that a smile and a friendly conversation really can make someones day better. i truly think words can heal or hurt and i think that loving on people is NEVER a worthless investment. do i think that loving on people in haiti is any more important than loving on people in raleigh? no. do i think its worth going all the way to mexico just to love on people? yes. i truly believe every life is precious and people should be told that as much as possible. especially hurting people. and as far as i can tell, most everyone on the planet is hurting. so if i get a chance to go to another country and make new friends and let them know someone cares about them, then i am going to. just like i care for the girls at Mercy or the homeless on my street in NYC. i may not know them. i may not be able to do a single thing to help make their life better. they might not think their life needs to be better. but i care about them. i know that their life has worth and value. and i want them to know it, too. just like i want my friends to know it and the kids i teach dance to and the lady who checks me out at the grocery store.

i dont have any answers for most of life’s big questions. and i dont pretend to. my mind works logically but i also tend to be easily swayed by my emotions, so sometimes my logic is flawed. all i know is that i have to do what i can do. and if thats sending money, great. if thats going and getting my hands dirty, great. if i have an opportunity to help, i am going to. if i see a homeless guy begging and i have an extra dollar or bottle of water or a granola bar, i will give it to him. if i see a lost animal i will love it and pet it and help it find a home. and if i see a hurting human i will look them in the eye and offer a kind word and let them know that they are seen and that their life matters. they matter. you matter. even i matter…as much as i dont want to believe that sometimes.

i am choosing to make this year the year of showing people they are valued. and i am choosing to say yes to new opportunities to make that happen. if its letting the pregnant lady with kids cut me in line, or organizing events to raise money, or going to faraway lands to hand out whatever needs to be handed out, i say yes. because honestly, thats the only thing i can do. i know it wont help many people, my saying yes. but if it just helps one person, its worth it. it’s always worth it.

 

any thoughts on this subject, dear readers?

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happy february!

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february goals:

  1. explore madrid (ie see a picasso, eat churros & hot chocolate, see the oldest restaurant in the world, etc) with my favorites
  2. work on getting my house more organized. clean out some clutter
  3. find art or photos to hang on my dining room walls*
  4. hang new art for master bedroom* (i decided to wait and see if i got any in madrid to use)
  5. work on the downstairs powder room
  6. have the locks changed on our house
  7. finalize plans for stacies bachelorette trip!
  8. read two books for my yearly goal list

january goals:

  1. make a list of goals for 2012
  2. celebrate our newest niece entering the world!Β we havent met her yet, but we love getting her pictures on our phones!!
  3. get our house back organized and in order after the holidays its mostly there πŸ™‚
  4. START TAKING DANCE CLASSES! ( i am now taking caitlyns jazz class…and loving it!)
  5. get everything ready for our trip to spain next month!
  6. find art or photos to hang on my dining room walls
  7. hang new art for master bedroom
  8. read two books for my yearly goal list (hemingways “dangerous summer” and a sneak peek of “live the dream!” my dads new book coming out in april! )

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the wednesday before christmas we flew down to alabama to spend time with matts family.

fairhope always looks so pretty dressed up for christmas…

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we ate lots of good food at lots of good restaurants…

mancis antique club:

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wentzells oyster house for grandads birthday…

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christmas breakfast at the grand hotel…

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brunch on panini petes lovely new outdoor patio…

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we visited loads of cute stores and saw tons of cool antiques…

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we had a lovely christmas eve: dinner, a walk on the pier, opening presents and christmas mass at susans church…

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after the aformentioned breakfast at the grand hotel, the tennis lovers in the family headed to courts to enjoy the beautiful weather…

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and then we packed up and drove to birmingham to see jill and mitch…

we had a yummy fried turkey christmas dinner …

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wishbone!

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we spent hours at the sprint store getting chief and susan new iphones…

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we toured the vulcan museum and city overlook in the worst weather possible…

vulcan…

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we ate dinner that night at the delicious flip burger, and for desert: liquid nitrogen milkshakes and PINKBERRY!!!…

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we loved getting so much quality time with matts family! cant wait to see them again soon when little Cambini is born!

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happy january!

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january goals:

  1. make a list of goals for 2012
  2. celebrate our newest niece entering the world!
  3. get our house back organized and in order after the holidays
  4. START TAKING DANCE CLASSES! (why havent i done this yet!?)
  5. get everything ready for our trip to spain next month!
  6. find art or photos to hang on my dining room walls
  7. hang new art for master bedroom

december goals:

  1. get all presents going to faraway friends mailed out on time
  2. take homemade goodies to friends and neighbors
  3. host my annual christmas party
  4. go on the christmas tour of historic homes
  5. eat peppermint ice cream
  6. watch a muppet christmas carol… preferably with my brothers, like old times.
  7. watch/be involved in the nutcracker
  8. celebrate the birth of the King of Kings

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2011 was a pretty wonderful year, full of so many changes. we moved back to my hometown, bought a house, got another dog, i started working in the theatre again…the list goes on and on! i feel like this year was the changing and the next year will be for settling in and growing. here is a short list of things i want to work on in 2012…

  1. get my nutrition under control and start feeling and living healthier
  2. love on as many people as possible as much as possible
  3. say YES to new opportunities
  4. lose weight in a healthy and stable manner
  5. explore my surroundings
  6. read 2 books a month: 1 for growth and 1 for fun
  7. try 2 new recipes a month
  8. stop procrastinating. now.

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happy december!

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december goals:

  1. get all presents going to faraway friends mailed out on time
  2. take homemade goodies to friends and neighbors
  3. host my annual christmas party
  4. go on the christmas tour of historic homes
  5. eat peppermint ice cream
  6. watch a muppet christmas carol… preferably with my brothers, like old times.
  7. watch/be involved in the nutcracker
  8. celebrate the birth of the King of Kings

november goals:

  1. cheer mom, ricky, bonnie and matt lee on in the NYC marathon!
  2. have a date in NYC with my husby and visit some of our fave places
  3. have a yard sale with mama day
  4. declutter one room/week
  5. finish handmade christmas gifts– 99% done! almost there!
  6. finish up christmas shopping– 99% done! almost there!
  7. paddleboard in virgin gorda
  8. start decorating for christmas!!!
  9. address christmas cards

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Virgin Gorda! Day 8

today was a really fun day! ricky, caitlyn, matt lee, and husby went diving at the “wreck of the rhone”, and i snorkeled (thats a funny word) πŸ™‚ …

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the crew showing us a map of the wreck. such a sad story, but also very fun to explore!

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ready to hit the water!

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Ricky

Cait and Matt

the divers heading to the bottom…

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caitlyn and maja(the instructor)…

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ricky and matt…

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the wreck was really cool, you could see the “lucky porthole” where one survivor escaped from cabin 26, the tile floor that came from the dance hall or kitchen, the engine box, and all sorts of neat things! its hard to see them in the photos, but it was crystal clear in the water!

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we worked up quite an appetite with all that excitement so we headed straight to dinner with the rest of the family. the restaurant overlooked all of the surrounding islands, and it was really beautiful…

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the funniest thing was happening in the tree next to the deck where we were sitting. there are roosters and chickens ALL over the island. well about sunset this rooster started cock-a-doodle-dooing all crazy and all the little lady chickens came up to this tree and nested down for the night! it was really cute. then it looked like chickens were growing on this tree so we started calling it the chicken tree. the photo is dark but you can kind of see all the chickens…

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after dinner, there was a cat just walking around the dining room, just chillin. we asked the waitress what his name was and she said ” da kitty”. well, da kitty loved da matt! πŸ™‚ he has a new little furry friend…

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another great day! i am so sad matt and i are leaving tomorrow 😦

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Virgin Gorda! Day 7

yesterday the whole family plus the ayers went back to the baths to explore…

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snorkeling in the baths…

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i LOVED this big ball of coral on the ocean floor. the texture was amazing!…

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matt is such a little explorer, he loves to climb up things and jump off things and swim through things. he fits in very well with my brothers! πŸ™‚

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its so cool being in the water and looking up and seeing beautiful rock sculptures like this…

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we had so much fun having the ayers kids there, they were so excited and so adventurous! they were climbing the rocks like little monkeys and swimming like little fish πŸ™‚

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we worked up quite and appetite playing so hard, so we went to the “top of the baths” for brunch. the view was just wonderful…

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virgin painkillers, an island specialty and our favorite! (its just orange juice, pineapple juice and coconut syrup- yum!)

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after refueling with a great breakfast, we went back to the house to play on the private beach…

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there was another beautiful sunset last night…

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husby and i went swimming in the bay right after i took this photo. the light was just amazing and we love floating in the water, watching the sun go down. its so peaceful…

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for dinner husby and i went to a little restaurant called mermaids. it was right on the water, with a dock for people to bring their boats and they had a little rooftop deck. no one else was there so we had the rooftop deck all to ourselves. it was pretty much a perfect island date night :)…

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…actually it was pretty much a perfect island day!

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