Monday, November 26, 2012

It's the Holiday Season!!

The holidays are upon us; goodness! I get so giddy during this time of year--I swear I wonder if I'm normal or if everyone else gets the same ultra happy, excited feeling I do?! I have LOVED the holidays since I was a wee child. 

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents in Birmingham. We had dinner with my daddy on Wednesday night and dinner with my mom on Thursday night. It was actually nice to not do Thanksgiving "lunch" on Thursday because Britt and I got to relax all day. We woke up and enjoyed coffee, then I started my cooking for the day while I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We went to see Breaking Dawn Part 2--it was so good! Then we relaxed some more before we went to Mom's. I made three pies for dessert {pecan pie, cream cheese pie, and a black bottom pumpkin pie}. Britt and Daddy wanted a pecan pie and I am allergic to pecans so I made the cream cheese pie for myself {and anyone else who might want it}!  I made the black bottom pumpkin pie for Mom's. I also made my Aunt Nee's sweet potato casserole for Mom's. It was nice to see my Aunt Nee, Uncle Kenny, and cousin Hunter; I had not seen them in forever. My Nanny joined us too! We missed seeing Britt's parents and family in Atlanta, though!
At Daddy's
I just love this little bundle of joy whom I call my seester:)
At Momma's...Ashton decided to get ready for this celebration.
 Us with Nanny...boy she has shrunk!
 It was so great to see Hunter...we were best of buds growing up! 
 Must have been some pretty intense dinner conversation.
 All the girls.
Pecan Pie
 Black Bottom Pumpkin Pie {Southern Living}
Cream Cheese Pie with Cherry Filling...this one was seriously "easy as pie"!

Back to my love of the holidays---When I was a child I remember sneaking in the attic at the start of November and getting the Christmas decorations down{my parents swear they didn't realize I climbed in the attic; I guess I am lucky I didn't fall off the cross bars and through the ceiling!}. I would be as quiet as I could so no one would know. I was afraid mom and dad would say it was too early for decorating! But hey, once I got it all down what would they say, "put those back up"--nah! Mom would just let me help her start the decorating process. The rest is history. Starting in college I began collecting my own Christmas ornaments and decorations. I would go to Swoozies and other places of the like the day after Christmas and buy Christmas items 50% off to put away for when I had a place of my own own day. And now our little house is all decked out! 

As I stated in my last post, Britt does not like to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Last year he got his way. This year I got mine. Decorations were up the week before Thanksgiving {minus the tree}! Here are a few pictures! 
 Love this sweet hand of my students last year gave it to me and it goes perfectly in the "bar" area:)
 The cute Santa wine cork hanging out with the other corks!
 Vintage Santa mom found them at the thrift store!
 Our cozy little living room!
 When you don't have a chimney you have to have a Santa key...even when you are 25 years old! 
I made a new bow for our door swag!
 Love my jewelry bowl and retro snowman!

Friday night we went to a new beer place in Five Points {World of Beer} then had dinner at Rogue Tavern. We planned on getting our tree after dinner, but the tree lot was closed before we were finished. 
World of Beer in Five Points
Enjoying a brew by the "fire"!
 I liked Britt's beer glass.
 I had to ask for my second drink in a smaller glass...I really like the "tulip glass" as our waiter called it!
 Love date nights with my man!
So we went Saturday morning before the Iron Bowl and picked out our tree. I am so thankful that my parents started the tradition of picking out the Christmas tree and made it a big deal! I have the best memories of loading up the day after Thanksgiving and going to the Boy Scout tree lot to pick out our tree. Now Britt and I are making our own tradition! Like last year, we got our tree from Howell Christmas Trees. The family that runs the stand grows their own trees on a farm in North Carolina AND they are Auburn fans! 
 We found a winner! 
 Christmas Trees!!! 
 I love seeing a Christmas tree tied to the roof of a car:)
The worst part of getting a real Christmas tree is that you have to let it "fall out" before you can decorate it. Thankfully we had our friends and their sweet baby over for dinner Saturday night and it kept my mind off not being able to decorate the tree yet! 
 Letting our pretty tree fall out so we can decorate it!
Sunday afternoon Britt strung the lights on the tree {not sure why it's usually deemed the man's job, ha!} and then I got to work decorating.  
 Britt stringing the lights while I was giving instructions!
I love all of the colorful ornaments:)
 Hanging our MANY ornaments on the tree!
The Howell's give their customers a precious ornament each year--it's kind of hard to see, but it's a family of four all pointing to a different tree and it says "Decisions, decisions!"
Britt topped it off with our gold star and now it's all finished...I just love staring at the pretty thing! 

Besides our house being all decorated for Christmas I am getting in the Christmas spirit at school too. Since we don't have any babies to do Elf on the Shelf with I decided to do it with my kids at school! 
Meet Pickle, the elf...I did not buy a real Elf on the Shelf; I had this little buddy at my house!
The letter Pickle left for the kids to read. He also put the magic bow on the back of the chair of kid's who make good choices. If the bow is on their chair when they get to school in the morning they get to wear the magic jingle bell necklace, too:)
Oooo, I just love small town livin'. This tree lot is in the parking lot of our school. It's so fun to hear my kids talk about picking out their Christmas tree here! 
And if you're ever in the Birmingham area at night you should drive through Mountain Brook Village...It is lit up with a beautiful tree in front of Bromberg's, pretty white lights in the trees, and the village stores' roofs are lined perfectly with lights too--another small town {or community} perk! 
Now I shall sit back and enjoy all of the Christmastime stuff since the holidays are such a busy time and I know we will have a lot to do soon.  I challenge you {and myself} to slow down a little this holiday season and "take in" all that the season really is about! 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Thirteen Point One

That's how many miles I ran Sunday, folks! It was such an accomplishment for myself. Ever since last February when I ran the 10K portion of the Mercedes Relay Marathon I knew I wanted to try for a half marathon. I had planned on running in the Talladega Half Marathon back in September, but I never registered for it. So I registered for the Magic City Half Marathon in mid-September. It may sound crazy, but I knew if I did not register for it way ahead of time I would never start training for it. The weekend after I registered I began my training. The first time I went for a "long run" I set out to do 6 miles....I surprised myself and was able to go 7! After that I tried to go a mile further each weekend. There were some weekends when we were out of town and I did not get to go on a long run, but I picked up where I had left off the next weekend. Each long run I went on I shocked myself; the runs felt good--not too hard! The last weekend before the race I went on my last long run {12 miles}. I felt nice and prepared when I finished that run; I knew adrenaline would get me through the last mile to 13! I set a goal for myself--2:05:00...

The Saturday night before the race Britt helped me make a new playlist to run to, and I made a pasta dish for dinner so I would have plenty of energy for my long run. I went to bed at a decent time to make sure I was well rested. Sunday morning I had Gatorade with my breakfast to get me nice and hydrated. Britt drove me to Linn Park and waited with me for the race to start. It was supposed to start at 8:00, but about 5 minutes before 8:00 they announced that there was going to be a delay because the Coke and Powerade truck were running late to get water and Powerade out on the course. Britt waited with me the extra 25 minutes it took for the race to start.
Waiting on the race to start! 

At 8:25 they called all participants to the starting line! I was excited and nervous all at the same time!

When the race began I got in my groove and felt like I could go on forever....and I did until mile 8. That's when it got hard. But I saw Britt, my dad, and Brooks cheering me on at mile 10 and it gave me the encouragement I needed to get through the last 3 miles. The last three miles was also when the hills started...who thought it would be nice to put hills at the end of the course?? I pushed through and made the final turn onto Reverend AbrahamWoods Jr. Blvd. and knew I was on the last stretch...when I finally spotted the finish line I ran as fast as I could to get there! I saw my sweet teacher friends and Britt, my dad, and Brooks cheering me on! When I saw the timer at the finish line I knew I was going to beat my goal!! It said 2:02:35!!! It was one of the greatest feelings of accomplishments that I have ever felt :) {Photos courtesy of Britt}
This was when Britt, Dad, and Brooks were cheering me on!! 
Coming to the finish face looks horrid, but that's most likely how I felt after 13 miles! 
Whoo hoo!! Look at that time! Not bragging{it's probably not even that great}, but I am proud of myself:)
I was a wee bit excited that I finished my first half marathon!
After the race we went to Rojo for a bloody mary and was good as always!

I intend to run my next half in February--the Mercedes Half Marathon. I'm already excited! Check back soon to see how the Smiths celebrated Thanksgiving. -Jessica