Monday, December 31, 2012

Mistletoe and Match.Com

As we know, thanks to the abundance of diamond commercials that have been splashed on my television screen, and- hello! Have you checked your Facebook newsfeed lately?- we are in engagement season!

Which is why, I, Libby Morris, have an announcement to make....!!

...I am NOT engaged. But thanks for asking... again. Really, I never get tired of telling people, "no, not yet"... (sarcasm. dripping sarcasm.)

I called my best friend today, and instead of answering the phone like someone normally would, ("Hello?") she answered it, "are you engaged yet??"

Funny. But not funny. Har har.

Winter sets a romantic stage, I get it. The lights, the snow, the mistletoe. Romance is in the air and the holiday sales at Zales and Jared are helpful in setting that stage, too, I'm sure. I'd be lying if it didn't cross my mind as my Significant Other and I walked through the decorated Boston Public Garden and stole a kiss under George Washington's statue. (Okay, that part's not very romantic, but hey- it's us.) But just because the season is right, the person is right,  and I'm  sure he can catch the ESP's of my ring size I'm sending to his brain, doesn't necessarily mean the timing is right.

Since I found my one-and-only, I can say pretty confidently that some people fall in love with the idea of love before they actually fall into the real thing. I can understand how easily this can happen to, with movies, mistletoe, and

I heard a song recently that said, "if you don't have two kids by twenty-one, you're probably gonna die alone." As ridiculous as it might sound, I think this fear is very real for people. So they search. And they jump. And they fall...hard.

Internet dating can be very helpful for some people who are confident, secure in who they are and where their life is, and know exactly what they are looking for. I've seen it work. I think though, for the most part, it creates more problems than it solves. It makes so many people accessible to momentarily fulfill your romantic needs, it takes the fright and kahounas out of communication, and gives people the opportunity to paint an unrealistic picture of themselves. The problem you then face is having a handful of interests at your fingertips, no commitment, no assurance in what is real and what isn't, and no accountability to make a decision and pick someone! You are constantly being "winked" at by so many people, banter ensues, phone numbers are exchanged, and next thing you know, you have 17 dates lined up in the span of 3 days and you can't keep them all straight. Suddenly, it becomes so easy to forget the reason you signed up for the site in the first place- to find your ONE and ONLY.

Mistletoe and matchmaking go hand-in-hand. This season awakens the hopeless romantic in all of us, but it also reminds me of a verse in Songs of Solomon: "do not arise or awaken love before it so desires." 

Don't go searching for something you may not be ready to find yet. Take your time. Let love find you. It sounds like a cliche, but I promise you it's true- when I met Shane, I had just done a lot of soul-searching, a lot of work and exploration of who I am and where I wanted to be, and the last thing on my mind was meeting the man of my dreams. Of course, as life so often works, that was exactly when he found me. When I wasn't looking and was least expecting it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Say, "Uncle!"

I think I should perhaps rename my blog "The Long List of Libby's Quirks." I feel like I present new ones to you every other entry. It's not that I focus on the negative, but rather, am embracing all aspects of my personality and really getting to know myself more everyday. It's a process and a journey... if you haven't really begun a journey similar, I challenge you to.

I have known for quite sometime that I am a planner. I plan ahead for everything... which explains my overloaded purse (I'm sure one of these days that floss, deodorant, and letter opener will come in handy!), my inability to throw away boxes, Christmas cards sent prior to December 1, and my oh-so extensive Pinterest boards. I love to plan. Sue me.

This quirk comes in handy at times like preparing for a trip, taking my good friend's baby to his first Christmas parade, and when birthday's roll around (happens every year, you know.) Other times, however, I know my ultra-planning gets in the way.

I'd like to say I am a flexible person. I would love to tell you I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants type gal who "goes with the flow" and says things like, "Whatever happens, happens. No big deal." I would love to lie and tell you all of those things but frankly, I'm much too neurotically type-A.

You all know I love a good glass of wine or girly cocktail from time to time. I would never get drunk though, for one simple reason: I hate to feel out of control. I hate being out of control of my emotions, of my body, of my plans, of my laundry, of the traffic that doesn't realize I have somewhere to be. Being out of control is not ever something I enjoy experiencing (unless of course, I'm on a ride at Busch Gardens. Completely different can of worms.)

With life being what it is, I have to let myself be out of control from time to time. It just comes with this crazy territory. I would like my hand to be in everything relating to Libby, but it just is so often not the case. And that is such a hard pill to swallow.

In life, jobs, family, relationships, restaurants, and traffic- you don't always get to sit in the driver's seat. You don't always get to be chef. You don't always get to be the one calling the shots, making the plays, and creating the itenerary. Sometimes, you just have to say, "Uncle."


Friday, December 7, 2012

Attracting Bees with Honey Comes Full Circle

Boy, do I love it when things come full circle, or I hear that someone actually listened to what I had to say! (It doesn't happen very often. Trust me.)

You may remember my post about my life saying: "you attract more bees with honey than vinegar." (If not, you can read it here.) My mother is the most graceful, poised woman who ALWAYS (I repeat: ALWAYS) gets what she wants. Being her spawn, it has proven to be annoying from time to time, but that is neither here nor there.

I can only take lessons from the master of attracting bees with honey, so take lessons I have! But I'll go one step further, I have decided to share these lessons.

A few weeks ago, a co-worker friend of mine was discussing the woes and frustrations of moving into a new house that was previously inhabited by extreme messy bessies. She wasn't getting very far with the property management and was about at the end of her rope. I shared with her a story of my mother, just one example of her amazing ways that leaves you with the tunnel eyes you see in cartoons..."yes ma'am...I want to do whatever will make you happy...your wish is my command..."

My mother was attempting to use a flight voucher for an upcoming trip. The woman on the phone told her she needed to drive to the airport and complete the transaction there. She drove the 45 minutes to the airport and when there, the American Airlines ticket counter was vacant. Walking around to another counter, she found two American Airline workers who looked like they were about at the end of their shift.

"Can you two help me, please?"
"Our computers aren't on."
"I drove all this way and the woman on the phone said this transaction needs to be completed here. Why don't we put our heads together and come up with a solution?" (Oh, those magic words.)
After a moment of silence, "Oh, okay, I can go log into the computer. Come on."

The trick here was that she didn't raise her voice, she didn't demand anything, but rather, she formulated her request as an act of teamwork. Genius. Of course they were going to help her then!If she had talked down to them, got irritated, or started barking demands, those airline workers would have shut down and not helped her- and she would have left angry and ticket-less. By working together and keeping her cool (and always a splash of charm), she was able to drive home a happy woman.

Today, I got an email from that co-worker whom I shared this story with.

"I just had to tell you, your mom's 'get what she wants' technique is working out beautifully for me. Using the phrase 'why don't we come up with a solution together' is making my life sooo much easier!"

How great is that?! So you see, class, honey really does attract more bees than vinegar.

I, too, have recently used this technique when I picked up a pizza order only to get it home and find it cold. Apparently, they baked the pizza 4 hours earlier when my online order came through, ignoring the time i specified on my ticket.

When I called the manager, I politely asked him what kind of solution could we come up with to fix our predicament.

"I'm so sorry ma'am. I'll give you a nice credit for the next time you order pizza." (Little did he know my significant other is a Papa John's maniac.) I would say that was a score. Reheated the cold pizza, and have free pizza waiting on us this weekend. Bon Appetit.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Libby's List of Inexucusable Grammar Goofs

I have, as some would say, a few quirks. They're not necessarily bad (hey, I've lived with them this long!) but some people don't get why certain things irk me, or why I do things in my own special way (i.e: food on a plate. It isn't made for touching. My green beans would appreciate not being groped by my chicken, thankyouverymuch.)

I have compiled a list of some of the biggest contenders grating on my grammar quirk. If you do these things, we can no longer be friends. Okay, that's a bit harsh, but just know I WILL correct you and you WILL fix it and like it. That's what friends are for, after all.

And, before I give you said list, just know for all you parents out there: your kid using incorrect grammar is not cute. As much as you would like to label it as such, teach them proper English! You want your kid to earn high preschool honors, don't you?

Libby's List of Inexcusable Grammar Goofs

1. Asking a question such as, "Where's the party at?" cringe.
 Correction: "Where is the party?" or, "At whose house will the party be held?" There is no place named At, and if there was, no parties would be held behind it.

2. "Me and her are going to the mall."
  You hit 2 whammies with this one! Not only should you introduce others before yourself, but "her" goes nowhere. "She" does.
  Correction: "She and I are going to the mall."

3.  Couldn't Of/ Wouldn't of/ Shouldn't of
  Correction: Couldn't Have- or, could not have. As in, "I could not have a piece of candy. I wasn't allowed."
 I'm shaking my head as I type this because I never would have thought I would have to explain that... but my Facebook feed tells me otherwise.

4. Unnecessary Ellipses (AKA: ...)
  An ellipsis... isn't meant to just fill space... or introduce a thought... or transition into something else...
 (See also: "hyphen," which people also misuse in similar contexts.)
 Correction: An ellipsis is primarily used to show omitted words. As in: they were there, and now they are not. Yes, it may be used to show a pause or break in thought and context, but please... use... sparingly... and...only...when... absolutely...necessary (...)

5. To/Too
 Correction: If you have too much fun, you might forget to use the correct word. To me, that would just be too preposterous for words.

What are some of your grammar (or unrelated) pet peeves and quirks??

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Military Affair (The Dancing Kind)

Shane works in sports medicine and athletic training for the Marine Corps. He is great at his job and the people he works with really appreciate him.

This weekend, I was able to experience one of the job's perks- attending a military ball!

I love getting dolled up and fancy for a night out. Shane, well, he just loves appeasing me and my thrill of the frills!  Like I said, the man works in athletics. He is used to wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Tuxes just aren't really his thing... but boy, does he look great in one!

We danced, we ate, we met some really cool people. The world of the military is really fascinating to me. They have so much structure, uniformity, pride, and camaraderie. Somethings you just don't see everyday. And of course, they love to have a good time! Yep, count this girl in!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reading Is Sexy.

There's a feeling I really can't describe after finishing a newly-beloved book. I find myself reading the last line over and over again, as to prolong the inevitable divorce I feel of these characters and story lines I have grown so familiar of.

My earliest memories of this draw to books were in the American Girls book series. I began reading when I very young, but these books were the first I couldn't put down. Each birthday and holiday, I had to get the next books or a new girl's series. I read each and every one... multiple times.

My mom and I spent hours and hours of my childhood nestled between the shelves of the Lakeland Public Library. I loved the smells, the categories, the big circular desk, the dewy decimal system that I have adapted on my own bookshelves. Stacks of books piled around me, hearing my mom say, "you can only pick one," and feeling as if that would be the hardest task I would ever tackle. How could a person pick just one when there are so many wonderful stories to get involved with, characters to fall in love with, fictional places you wish you could visit outside just your mind?

There are emotions attached to your favorite books, characters you relate to, enemies you despise, families you grow to love, hate, and be annoyed by. Cities and restuarants that make you feel as if you are sitting in their red patent leather seats, with the smell of fresh coffee and scrambled eggs wafting underneath your nostrils.

The ending of a great book is the most bittersweet of moments. You can't wait to find out how it ends, if your questions will be answered, but you also just wish the story would linger a few pages longer.

The most recent book I felt this type of connection with is Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. If you're looking for a good book to delve into, this is the one.

What book have you read recently that affected your emotions? I am always looking for new books to purchase!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Celebratory Train's Last Stop (For Now)

Choo Choo! After two weeks, the celebration train has been tuckered out with all the fun stops it has made. This past weekend, the stop was for Shane's 27th birthday, and what a fun day it was! The first stop of the day was breakfast. I made homemade crepes (my mom/Betty Crocker's recipe) and filled them with fresh strawberries and cream cheese, and topped with powdered sugar.

I got a real crepe pan for my birthday (as apposed to a normal cooking pan you would use for eggs, vegetables, grilled cheese...), and it truely does make a difference. These things were to-die-for, the recipe was simple enough, and the birthday boy ate about 6 or 7! I would say that means breakfast was a success.

Throughout the day, Shane was presented with gifts at random times, without warning. This was really fun for me- especially when he started going over all the projects he wanted to do with the house but needed to choose one to do at a time.

"How much do new blinds cost?" I asked.
"For the two windows I want to do right now, about $75," he replied.

I  sure do wish my poker face was better. All I could do was giggle as I walked to get his next gift from its hiding spot. At the bottom of a sea of tissue paper in a big box, Shane found a Lowe's gift card. And oh yes, for the amount of $75.

After his many random gifts, I surprised the Birthday Boy with dinner at Rodizio Grill in Pensacola. Shane has been to a few Brazilian steakhouses like it, and when this one opened not too long ago, I knew it was where we had to eat! The food was amazing, there was so much to choose from and it all came right to your table to be carved and served. Some options were a little crazy- rattlesnake sausage and chicken hearts- but overall, it was a fabulous dinner!

Question: What birthday would be complete without a cake? Answer: None!

I must say, this cake was absolutely delicious. I used a cake-mix-on-steroids recipe I found on Pinterest, and baked in an awesome three-tier cake pan that takes away the hassle of dental floss, slicing, having enough counterspace, and making sure your layers are just right. Shane loved it. (And ate it for breakfast the next day!)
I am so grateful to have such a wonderful man in my life that I get to celebrate all of life's joys with. On this day, it was great having him let me dote on him and have all the attention on him (even though it is so not his thing!).

Happy 27th birthday, Shane! I love you, and I hope this year knocks all its predeccesors out of the water! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Few Stops on the Celebration Train

The life of Libby has been a wee bit exciting as of late! Between my 2-week long birthday celebrations, events at work, and other general fun times that needed to be had, October is shaping up to end on a pretty good note.

My birthday was October 20, and Shane's is exactly 2 weeks after on November 3. This year, our birthdays fell on Saturdays which make celebrating a cinch! Last Saturday (the in-betweenie) our good friends took us out to celebrate, double-duty style.

Here we are blowing out our candles and masking the overwhelming feelings of suddenly feeling old. (Yes, it happened. The day I turned 24 felt like I jumped off a cliff without a harness...even though either way would have hurt my toosh!) I love this picture of us- it is so accurate to our relationship. Shane calm and composed, while I am just eager to celebrate!

While on the celebration train, we made a stop at our one and a half year anniversary! Choo Choo! (Hey, any excuse to celebrate our love, right??) Our children were so wonderful, they even made us a card! Aren't they thoughtful? Managing to write in cursive is no easy feat without opposable thumbs.

It is nice to feel the love coming at you from every angle. Birthdays are a great reminder of who really cares about you. Tune in next week when I reveal all the surprises I have up my sleeve for Shane's birthday! Can't share them here yet- he subscribes to my blog, you know. What a supportive Significant Other I have! I do think I will keep him around. (Thanks for supporting my dreams, honey!)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Life, Birth, Death (Whose Hands are They in, Anyway?)

This isn't exactly an easy post to write, certainly not one that will make me very popular with a lot of people, but it is a subject that I feel indescribably strong about, and therefore I am going to be blunt with my opinions, no matter the kick-back.

Life is a gift from God. Period.

If only it was that simple, right? But unfortunately, it isn't. People seem to think they can take the sanctity and blessing of life out of God's hands and into their own. And listen, I'm not excluding anyone here. I don't frankly care who you are: if you aren't God, you don't get to make those kinds of decisions.

So why is it that so many people are calling the comments of people against abortion "ridiculous" and "crazy"? Rape is a horrible, unimaginable, hellish crime, and the people who commit it should be behind bars for life, I would even make the "let the punishment fit the crime" argument here and say castration wouldn't be a far-fetched punishment.

I believe that life begins at conception. There is a living organism inside the womb with a heart beating at just days. (If you want to see a truly remarkable presentation on this, and a scientific one at that, click here. It is a fascinating mind-blower.)

I know that a pregnancy as a result of a horrible rape can be unimaginably devastating, a 9-month long reminder of the crimes committed against you and your sacred body. I do not believe though, that a crime committed against you gives you the right to commit one against another human being. Specifically one that shares your DNA.

I can not imagine how tough a decision process like this is. I do not wish it upon anyone. Who knows, though, what and who that child could grow up to become? You don't feel comfortable raising it yourself, I get it. Really, I do. If you knew the number of couples in our country alone who are unable to bear children of their own, and would give anything for the chance to raise the one someone in considering aborting... I would hope that would change your mind.

I understand that in the world of politics and news, things people say will forever be misconstrued and taken out of context. I do not believe that the comments given recently by Indiana Senate Candidate, Richard Mourdock, were meant out of malice or insensitivity to victims of rape.

It isn't the RAPE he was saying was in God's plan, but LIFE. Life! Life in general, life planned, and life unplanned. Your life, my life, future life, your children's life. Rape is, was, and will always be one of the most evil acts anyone can imagine. Life as a result of that rape is not the crime, though. I think that is what he was ultimately trying to communicate. 

Giving birth to a child as a result of rape would be one of the hardest things a woman would have to go through. But maintaining the sanctity of life is something we HAVE to do. A woman doesn't choose to go through these awful times, but she can choose to do something good with it.

And if you don't think you can find someone who will take care of that baby for you, give them to me. I'll take care of them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Home is Where Your History Begins

The place I call home is a city smack dab between Tampa and Orlando, Florida. After the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made a stop here before they flew to their next destination. A few years ago,  a group of girls beat their peer up and video taped it to put on Myspace. A while before that, a police officer and his canine counterpart, Diogi, unjustly died while serving, creating an uproar of support and encouragement from people around the world. It is a mecca for retirees, snowbirds, and those who work in the big city but do not see the appeal in living in it.

My home is Lakeland, Florida and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I have always loved Lakeland, but I knew in order to "do my thing" and really appreciate my hometown, I would have to leave. After high school graduation, that is just what I did.

Do you want to know the first thing I did when I drove home after being at college for just 2 months? I bawled. Oh, did I bawl! As soon as I pulled off of Interstate 4 onto familiar roads and started making my way down the roads to my house, there was just no stopping those good ol' female floodgates of tears.

I don't cry every time I go home now (Thank the Lord!), but I do look forward to my trips for about a month leading up to them. Last week, I was able to spend a few days at home prior to my birthday and it was a great time. Both of my brothers were there, got to see my new niece again, and of course partake in lots of celebratory things to ring in my new age [read: I am finally starting to feel old and need distractions!]

And now, enjoy an influx of photos...

I am glad to be back to my "new" home and into my daily grind again, but I always welcome a great break to my tried and true.

I am reminded of a quote from one of my apologetically favorite movies, Where the Heart Is:

"Home is where your history begins. Home is where they catch you when you fall."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Scaredy Cats Annonymous

Hello, my name is Libby and I am a scaredy cat. (hello, Libby...)

I am, perhaps by nature, but more likely by other contingencies (horror stories from my mother, the news,  books and movies of the "thriller" persuasion), a paranoid worry wart. I do hope I am not alone in this, as that is most often when it comes creeping up- when I am alone.

After a few bouts of college roommates, post-grad I decided to live alone. "No roommates until it's my husband!" I said. I perhaps should have thought through that decision a little better. I clearly was not considering the creepy noises refrigerators and walls make in the wee hours of the night.

After many visions of break-in bums danced in my head, I decided to get a guard dog. Yes, a guard dog! Not only would he be my companion for the lonely evenings spent in front of my T.V. that I'm too cheap to buy cable for, but he would be able to protect me from any harm, remove the extremities of an intruder, and sound the alarm when danger lurked.

I give you, exhibit A: The Guard Dog.

Okay, but can you blame me?? He's awfully cute, and he does sound the alarm- but mostly just to hear himself bark. And bark. And bark. Guarding the castle is just not what he was designed for.

Having my buddy, Simon around has helped though, despite his 6 pound stature. That is, until last night when an unidentified noise came from outside my dining room window at one o'clock in the morning.


Okay, Simon, this is getting us nowhere. Pace, pause, staring contest with Simon, pace, call boyfriend, pause, listen, pace, call boyfriend, pace...

Finally, I put Simon back in his bed, and willed myself to change my thinking to more rational thoughts. Between the weird dreams and waking up every thirty minutes, I'd say I was successful..well, ya know, relatively speaking. 

That is, until this morning when I turned on the Today Show. Top story: woman gets raped for 5 hours after a date with an anesthesiologist she met online. Well, isn't that just what I needed to fill my thoughts today...

So today, I double and triple checked my backseat as I got in my car, gave an extra mean look to the lingering-eyed man who told me to have a good day outside the library, and kept replaying in my head the S-I-N-G scene from Miss Congeniality. (Stomach, instep, nose, groin!)

I am bound and determined to have a peaceful night's sleep tonight. I am going to lock my doors, say my prayers, and not think about any scenes I have ever seen on Law and Order. Ever.

And if that doesn't work, I shall buy me a hot pink, bedazzled gun. Who says I can't have rhinestones while I'm kicking ass?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dear Avery, Love Mom

There are two things in this world that I have always known I wanted to be: a writer and a mother.

Some people go through elementary school with a football under their arm, a stethoscope around their neck, or a pair of ballet shoes they just can't come to terms with taking off. Me? I attended to my doll babies and constructed elaborate stories, poems, and dialogues. I had a fun childhood full of ballet, pa-sghetti, sponge curlers, and sleepovers. My mom and I held hands as we walked through Dillards and ate chicken fingers at Chili's. I wrote poems and songs that I would read aloud at the dinner table or to my most influential teachers. These traits would follow me, as I am still honing them now: I am still learning to weave writing in my everyday life, I love nothing more than being around babies, and am excited for the day I will have my own (although, I am content waiting a few years for that.)

I read the most incredible blog last week that I just could not peel my eyes away from, and yet it has haunted me just the same. A co-worker shared with me the blog of a girl she had grown up with, and now lives in Kentucky with her husband. A girl known for her charm, sweet disposition, and servant's heart, Carey is the kind of person you know is destined for great things, and "her children will call her blessed" (Proverbs 31).

When Carey discovered she was pregnant with her first child, she was ecstatic. She started her blog, Dear Avery, as a collection of letters she writes to her unborn child. Although my co-worker spoiled the ending for me, I started reading Carey's blog from the beginning. 

I have never been pregnant or brought life into the world, but I know that the love Carey expressed to the child growing inside her was something I have yet to experience... it was the most astonishingly beautiful account of love one could read. I almost felt privileged, let in on a secret I wasn't sure I should know all about.

Carey spoke to her daughter, Avery, as if she was sitting in front of her, soaking up every word that was typed. And when Carey found out about her daughters condition, I felt a twinge of the hurt Carey felt.

You will need to read about Carey and Avery's journey yourself... I read through the entire blog in one sitting, bursting with a plethora of feelings I didn't know I could feel for a family I have never met.

The love Carey felt for her unborn child, the decisions she made, and the pain she endured is something I personally know nothing about. But sometimes, you just know where you are called. I am a firm believer that God never gives you more than you can handle, and nothing that you cant go out and do good with. Carey, I believe, fits that category. It may not have been the hand she deserved, she prayed for, or could ever imagine... but something good will come out of her story.

Please read Carey's blog. It will do something to your soul I can't even explain. Or maybe it won't, but it sure did something in me.

I know bumps, bruises, and detours happen when we least expect them and usually, at the most inopportune times. Like Carey, though, I will never let that get in my way of what I feel called to become.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dr. Gary Chapman: Top 10 Marriage/Relationship Lessons Learned

Last weekend, I had the fun experience of driving 5 hours to see one of my favorite authors, Gary Chapman (the author of the Five Love Languages). If you have read anything of his, then you know what a relationship and love guru he is.  As a 17-and 18-year-old working in a bookstore, I would sit in the aisle and pour over Dr. Chapman's words, take his quiz to find out what my love language was (Words of Affirmation), and take lessons to heart that I knew I would pull out again when I found a true, lasting relationship.

So, when I saw on his Facebook page that he would be in Mississippi, I knew I just had to be there. Who cares I only had 3 days to plan the trip, who cares that it was a 10 hour round-trip drive. I had to be there. This was my chance to see the author that I recommended to everyone, and taught me all the things He Wished He'd Known Before He Got Married. I was NOT going to miss this conference!

Unfortunately, Shane could not join me on my expedition, so I called my friend, Jill, who is also a Dr. Chapman super-fan. Bought the tickets, booked a hotel for Friday night, and we were set!

The conference was based on one of his books, The Marriage You've Always Wanted. Although Shane and Jill's fiance were not with us, we were thankful to get lots of great knowledge to take home and share with our significant others. (Hey, the price of a conference to get pre-pre-marital counseling? Yes, please!)

I learned so much at this conference, I could talk for days- but to save you from having to read all that, I've summed up the top things I learned from Dr. Chapman's conference. After reading them, I'm sure you will not resist the urge to go buy one or all of his books!

1. Invest in your partner's interest. Shane loves football- It's not really my thing. I still will watch a game with him, ask questions (during commercials), and find really great tailgating recipes to whip up!

2. Read a book together. When I suggested Shane and I do this on Monday night, he said, "But Dr. Chapman said that you should invest in my interests! Monday Night Football is on!" Touche... We read on Tuesday night instead :)

3. People argue for the sake of winning. Well, if you win the argument, then your spouse loses. Who wants to be married to a loser?

4. The most important sentence for any man to learn is, "Honey, What you're saying makes a lot of sense." It will make you automatically go from enemy to friend. Every woman wants to know that her feelings are validated.

5. When you get home in the evening, ask your spouse three things that happened to them and how they felt about each one. By doing this, you will automatically talk more than 50% of married couples!

6. This is very unlikely, but let's say your spouse really is 95% of the problem in your marriage. That would still mean you take 5% of the blame... so go ahead and work on what you have power over, fix your 5% and your marriage will automatically get 5% better!

7.Wisdom always seeks help. Mature people are the ones who are always trying to learn. Dr. Chapman even went so far as to say the people at the conference weren't the ones in their peer groups who needed to be there the most. The people who need marital help the most are usually not so willing to seek it out.

8. When you are in public, BRAG ON YOUR MATE! If your wife isn't a good cook, around your friends you should be saying, "Sally is the best hot dog chef I've ever met!" Not, "Ooh, Sally, she can't even reheat leftovers! The people at McDonanald's know us by name now!" She may laugh in the moment, but what she really needs is for everyone to know how much she is adored by you.

9. If you have grown to be a particularly nagging spouse (or couple), schedule a time for criticism. Each couple gets to give 1 criticism a week, but it must be preceded with 3 compliments. For example, "Honey, I really love that you always hang up your towel after you shower, you always smell so good, and you never leave the house without kissing me and telling me you love me. However, do you think you could work on cleaning out your hairs in the sink?" An overdose of criticism will kill their motivation to change.

10. Love is a way of thinking, "I am married to you... How can I help you? How can I be a better wife? How can I enhance your life?

Do any of these stick out to you? Do you have your own favorite lessons learned from Dr. Chapman (or elsewhere)?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Down With a Case of the Hobby-Less Blues

I came to a sad realization yesterday. I have no hobbies.

I guess I should have prefaced that thought with the fact that it came to me after a very long day of doing complete nothingness on the couch in front of the television. It was me, Simon the Papillion, and Dance Moms. For hour after hour.

During commercials, I did some crunches and bicycles (yes, that was the extent of my exertion yesterday), but with the day off from work, Shane coaching football, and I already spent (cough cough more than cough cough) my shopping budget earlier in the weekend (hello, sale rack and Gap and the Limited!), I wasn't left with too many choices. I thought about riding my bike... but it was hot out and I didn't want to go solo in the event the nasty dog down the road decided to chase after me again (at notable speed, I might add). I read some of my book, cooked lunch, and cleaned up my house a bit. But there was an impressive amount of Lifetime and TLC constantly on in the background.

By the time 3 and 4 o'clock rolled around, I felt pretty crappy! I had done literally zilch all day, and although I was thankful for a relaxing day- this was not how I imagined to feel about my day off.

In the early evening, I drove to CVS with Shane to pick up a couple things. I felt drained from my day off, slightly melancholy, and didn't have much to talk about because, well- you already know how exciting the previous hours of my day were.

This was when I realized I have no hobbies.

Sure, I like to read, I have my favorite shows, I enjoy a good walk. But there are not many productive things I enjoy doing and can do often. I'm sure shopping doesn't count, I tried needlepoint one time... it didn't last long, and I like to cook and bake when a good recipe tickles my fancy that doesn't call for ridiculous items.

I told Shane I want a sewing machine (yes, he is aware he is dating someone stuck in the 50's), but I will need to figure out how to use one, first. My grandmother was a seamstress by trade, and a great one at that. My mother however, seemed to skip over those dining room lessons. Ask her if she knows how to thread her sewing machine... just ask her. Decorating, throwing parties, puffy painting my name on each and every one of my elementary school supplies... now, those are my mother's strengths. Domestic life? She is much too sassy for all that jazz! (Suffice it to say, I won't be learning these sewing lessons from her!)

Do you think a sewing machine would solve my no-hobby woes, or put me in more of a frustrated quandary? I like to hand-stitch things, I enjoy doing crafts when I know how to make them great, I would LOVE to brag about the great skirt I will wear. "Oh, this thing? It's mine... as in, I made it." 

I'm sure my grandmother would be proud. My mom always says I take after her a whole lot, especially for never having known her.

What do you enjoy doing that takes you away from the mundane?

Friday, August 24, 2012

How to Keep Your Composure (Attracting Bees with Honey)

I have a life motto.

I think everyone should have one- and most of you probably do without even really realizing it. A mantra you say to yourself, a Bible verse you strive to live by, a quote you've heard somewhere along your path. I bring mine up often, because although I can be somewhat of a pushover- Some people or experiences will want to drive a gal to drink!

My life motto:
You attract more bees with honey than vinegar. 

As it infers, people respond much better and more graciously to someone who treats them kindly and with respect, over someone who might gripe, yell, and use choice words to get what they want. It has been my experience that I ALWAYS get further being nice to the people I am working with (without becoming a doormat) than getting testy. 

Today, however- my patience was tested. I was dealing with either incompetence, laziness, power trips- or perhaps a combination of all of the above! I kept my composure- as a true lady always does- but with the completely unnecessary wrenches I was being thrown- it was taking every ounce of Southern Charm in me to keep a smile on my freckled, flushed face. (Irritating people have a way of doing that to you!)  

With that being said, here is my list of how to deal with irritating people and get what you want, all while keeping a grasp on your dignity and grace. 

1. Just keep smiling. Don't ever let someone know they've gotten to you.

2. Keep an even, but stern voice. You can smile and still let people know you mean business!

3. Stand up straight and head-on. The perfect "you don't scare me" stance.

4. Visualize your perfect outcome. What is it that you want from them? Visualize it, and don't back down until you have it. 

5. Decide if you are willing to settle for an alternative. Is what you need or want set in stone? Decide in your head what alternative you would be okay with, if any, and be gracious when it comes up. 

6. "Put your heads together." If you can construct your request to be conceived as teamwork, and even as the other person's idea- you're so close to success. 

7.  Imagine your confrontation role model. Identify someone in your life that handles confrontation gracefully and always gets what she wants. For me, it's my mother. That woman is so convincing, she could sell underwear to a nudist!  

8. Shut up. I learned this fabulously successful tip when I worked in sales for a local newspaper. You present your demand or your bottom line, and then you shut your mouth. That's it! Don't keep talking, trying to feel out your opponent- state your claim and stare. You might make them just uncomfortable enough to give you what you need. It works because people are so used to noise that silence slaps them in the face.

9. Walk away if you need to. Sometimes, the outcome you hope for just isn't going to happen. And sometimes, people think they can get more out of you because you are young/female/nice/whatever. Walking away will not only show that you mean business, but that you respect yourself too much to deal with unnecessary bologna.

10. Recap and Learn. Whether your situation was successful or not, there is a lesson in there somewhere. Play it back through your head, jot things down if you need to, and grasp what elements worked, what didn't, and how you will approach things next time.

And throughout all these steps: remain gracious. It's hard, I know (Oh, how I know!) but trust me: it really will get you far in life. Everyone likes gracious people, no one likes someone who is acting like a pill!

So go out there and attract some bees with all your new-found honey, honey!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Award and A Milestone

This has been an exciting 24 hours for me as a humble new blogger! 2 fun things have happened:

     1. I was nominated for an award by another sweet blogger, Sunni.
     2. I reached 1,000 page views!

These may not seem like much bragging rights to some, but for me- I am excited and honored! It just goes to show that when you do what you love, it always pays off. When I was trying to start this blog, I contemplated a lot of things- what would I write about, who did I want my audience to be, etc. etc. I finally just sat down at my computer and thought, "I am just going to write for me. This is what I love, and that's what is going to draw people in."

So, thank you to my readers- albeit a small group, you mean a lot to me.

 The Liebster Blog Award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning "pleasant" or "valued." The rules for this award ask me to answer 11 questions by the person who nominated me. So without further ado...

1. What is your greatest achievement so far and why? 

Ooh, that's a tough one. I am still young and have a lot more achieving to do before I die! I would say my relationships, my decision to move to a new city after college and start a life I can be proud of, and my recent promise to do things just for me: this blog included.

2. How do you spend your free time?

I have some of that!? Kidding (sort of). I love to play with our dogs, Sadie and Simon (see below!). I like to shop, read, and hang out with good friends. Lately, Shane and I have spent a lot of time at Lowe's and Home Depot for improvements to his new house- but I wouldn't exactly say that's how I wish to spend my free time. (kidding) ...I'd much rather be decorating with my finds from TJ Maxx!

3. What is your favorite season, and why? 

I'm going to be partially selfish- my birthday is in October, so naturally I love Autumn. But I think it would be my favorite regardless. Autumn or Spring- I don't like extremities.

4. If you could live anywhere besides where you do now, places today or times back in history, where would it be?

I often say that I don't belong to this era. I loved the movie Midnight in Paris because he was able to visit Paris in the 1920's. Actually, come to think of it- I think the 1920's and 1930's are my favorite! Have you ever seen Mrs. Pettigrew Lives For a Day?? Such a good movie!

5. To date, what has been your worst disappointment in life?

Not believing in myself enough to go after certain goals. On occasion, I have let certain people and certain shortcomings come between me and the things I wanted. I know I have made it to where I am for a reason, and I am so grateful for the journey and continuous destination, but I wish I had more guts sometimes.

6. How did you get interested in writing? 

I can't remember a time I didn't love to write. It has always been a great escape and sense of growth for me. I think I would have to attribute a lot of my love for writing to my 3rd and 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Stinnett, though. She really poured into me and encouraged my creativity. We would write daily in a journal to her, and in it, she always said that she knew one day I would write a book, and she hoped I would dedicate it to her. I plan to keep that promise.

7. What advice would you give to a new writer?

The best advice for anyone who wants to write is to WRITE! We all get in valleys and ruts, but pick up a pen (or a keyboard) and just keep writing. Write about something you see, a conversation you had, a funny observation you've made, but just keep writing. You can only get better if you keep at it.

8. If you could start all over in life, would you change anything? 

Absolutely not. Thankfully, (for now) I have the great advantage of being young and still being able to affect my path and my destinations. I won't always have such a luxury, so my only regret would be to not utilize that to its fullest potential.

9. What is the most exciting thing you've ever done? 

I spent an exciting season as a live-in nanny for a family with 2 sweet little boys. That was certainly exciting! (Thankfully, I'm an early riser.) My decision to pick up and move to Pensacola was liberating and exciting. I'm not too much of a daredevil, and because of this question- I am not thinking I need to do more exciting things!

10. Are you scared of anything, or do you conquer your fears and do it anyway? 

There are things that scare me- but I know that the reward of conquering those fears will usually be worth it. I'm not scared of heights, not scared of cockroaches (that doesn't mean I like them, though!), I have a tendency to be afraid of being alone or people not caring about me as much as I would hope, but I try my best to talk myself out of that one!

11. What are the 5 words that would best describe you?

Monday, August 13, 2012

I'll Have the PDA, Please, With a Side of Canoodling

Shane's wonderful parents (and new dog, Rio) have been visiting from Massachusetts, and I have loved having them here! They always have great stories to tell, and Mrs. Reilly and I can carry on 16 different conversations... at once. Somehow, we always manage to keep it going!

 (I wish I had a picture from this week, but one has yet to be taken! This slightly-cheesy [and horrible of me] picture is from Thanksgiving at the Reilly Abode in Mass.)

On Saturday night, before we watched the Blue Wahoo's baseball game in Pensacola, we stopped at Shane's parents favorite restaurant down here: McGuire's. McGuire's is a must for out-of-towners. It has been featured on the Today Show, Food Network, and more. They have truly Irish fare, a green drink called an Irish Wake (limit 3 per person- you'd know why if you had one!), and great Irish music. It is a fun experience, and we always love going there.

(Shane and me at the Blue Wahoos game on Saturday night after dinner at McGuire's)

On this particular night, in order to make it to our baseball game, we had an early dinner about 4:30. We sat down, excited about our favorite appetizers, great company, and delicious meals.

Until... a distraction was seated just a table away from us. This particular distraction demands attention; you don't want to look- but you must. It interrupts your quality family time and begs you to stare.

It is known only as: THAT couple. Ahh, yes, you know the ones (and if you don't, you may want to check yourself!). The couple that caresses, oodles, kisses, and canoodles- as if they just can't wait to get home. Well, let me tell you something- WE couldn't wait for them to get home!

They were a young couple, early- to mid- twenties. And in this dimly-lit dining room, Mr. Love insisted on taking a few dozen photos (with a bright flash, mind you) of his Mrs. Love (Ms. Love?).They ooohed and ahhed at each other, nibbled one another's ear, kissed and purred... and then, to my horror, as if we thought we had seen it all...

"The bra strap fall." This move was strategically planned, I tell you. Ms. Love played it off and if to say, "Oh, my Jergans lotion has left my skin so silky, touchably soft that this strap just can't stay in its rightful place! Oh dear, Mr. Love, would you care to brush your manly fingers across my arm and fix it for my poor, helpless self?"

We weren't fooled. Oh no, we certainly were not. In our disgust, we watched that bra strap dangle around her bicep, toying with the hormones of Mr. Love. She knew what she was doing- we just wished she was doing it in the privacy of her bedroom. Or at least in a dark corner, for crying out loud. They were in the middle of a busy dining room of a popular Pensacola restaurant, the crowds of diners rapidly filling the seats around us, servers bustling from the kitchen with trays full of a cornucopious amount of deliciousness, and here we were- about to lose our appetite.

Shane and I have lots of little games we play amongst ourselves when we're out in public. One of which is a Where's Waldo-type game, only, we set out to spot the "Same Siders." Much like this couple in McGuire's, "Same Siders" are the couple who insist on sitting on the same side of the booth so they can canoodle all evening, feed each other bites of their rabbit food, and slurp spaghetti in true Lady and the Tramp Style. I have had my fair share of jobs in the restaurant industry, and from a serving standpoint alone, "Same Siders" are just plain AWKWARD! Imagine a stranger coming into your bedroom as you and your lover are intertwined together, basking in your romantic bubble, and that stranger eh hem-ing at you to take your order, refill your water glass, or deliver your bill. That is the prediciment you put people in when you decide to become a "Same Sider." So, don't say you weren't warned.

Towards the end of the evening, as if Mr. and Ms. Love hadn't taken enough flashy self-portraits, they stopped our waiter to request he play photographer for a moment. We toyed with the idea of asking them to do the same for us, just for kicks and giggles- but refrained.

I wonder how our poses would have looked? Do you think they would have caught on, or dubbed us just as ridiculous as we did them? 

The world may never know.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Don't Know What I Am Talking About

I had someone present a very funny statement to me recently (not in the har-har sort of way), although it was quite confirming of how I often feel around certain people.

"well Libby, I remember you saying that but I just wrote it off thinking you didn't know what you were talking about!"

This specific conversation was about a certain piece of health advice I had given to a friend who scarcely felt under the weather. Now, I'm no expert, but between my very threatening 6 month bout of mono (and all the after effects of that I still deal with almost a decade later), my long list of food and environment allergies, kidney stones... I have managed to pick up a tidbit or two of knowledge.

Of course, though, as it so often plays out, nobody listened to me. And of course, as it often (not always) plays out, I ended up being right.

Now, before you dub me as a self-centered girl with an "always right" complex- let me explain.

I am knowledgable in a handful of things, expert in hardly any. But I work very hard to not speak unless I am sure I know what I am talking about.

It's difficult, and a constant battle. I'm mostly an extrovert, I enjoy a good conversation, I love to soak up the knowledge of others. But I hope I never speak just to hear myself, and I would hope, like the courtesy I strive to share with others, that people would at least consider the things other people have taken the time to say.

I am not always an expert in holding my tongue, sometimes I get such an exciting thought that is just bursting out of my lips. But what I want to say is no more important that what the other person is in the middle of saying- and I think that could be a lesson for everyone to learn and relearn. And relearn again.

I have a close friend who often finds herself in conversation with a woman who, during an hour-long conversation, somehow manages to never ask a single question, let alone take a breath for any kind of 2-way banter. In the rare occasion she does ask a question, she cuts off your answer to keep talking about herself. You know the type.

"I just don't understand how one person can have so many words!"

I have heard her say this on more than one occasion. Conversation with that certain woman are usually dreaded, and how sad is that!? I'm quite sure at least part of what she says carries meaning, interest, and importance. If all of that is muddled by the mundane, self-centered fluff, however- it goes by unheard.

I want to make my words count. I don't want to be that girl that people walk away from a conversation with and think, "I didn't get a word in edge-wise!"  or worse, "she surely doesn't know what she is talking about!"

I want my carefully- thought words be heard. I don't want to be written off, as I am sure you don't want to either.

What are some conversations you can think of that relate? Has someone written you off, or didn't hear what you had to say?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The New Addition

I could decide to write today on current events (God knows there are plenty of hot-button issues out there right now). I could write about Chik-Fil-A, the Olympics, the Russian Roulette tragedy that happened in that Pennsylvania small town I spoke so fondly about in a previous entry.

I could talk about a number of things today, but I am only going to discuss one: Caralyn Grace Morris.

That's right, this girl has a brand new niece and I couldn't be more in love!

Gracie was born yesterday morning, 7/31/12, and weighed in at 7 pounds 4 ounces, 19.5 inches long. She is perfect.

She was born to my brother, Caleb and Sister-in-Law, Kyndal in our hometown of Lakeland, Florida. Unfortunately, Aunt Libby couldn't be there for the birth, but is making the trek to Lakeland this weekend to meet this sweet little bundle of love.

As you may have seen in my Favorite Things post, I love nothing more than a new person, and it is the greatest joy to be "Aunt Libby." My niece, Kaybree came into our lives when she was four and my brother began dating the woman he now calls his wife. Although Kaybree isn't ours by blood, she is no less a Morris by love.

To now know that love MULTIPLIED is sugar, spice, everything nice, and a big ol' bag of potato chips.

I can not wait to hold that brand-new little girl in a few days, to whisper and sing to her, change her stinky diaper, and sit with my family as we marvel over this tiny miracle. I haven't met her yet, but my heart is bursting with love with her just the same.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pinterest Project: S'More Graham Treats (Aka: Balls of Love)

My ever-lovin' boyfriend returned from Bermuda over the weekend. Hooray! He had a great time with his family, and was even so sweet to bring me back great goodies! He's a keeper, that's for sure. (But I already knew that!)

Before he returned, I was in the mood to whip up something tasty. My good friend, Jill was coming over Saturday morning to go antique-ing and explore Lillian, Alabama (she had never been to the bustling city!), so I decided we needed some sugar-y fuel for our shopping extravaganza.

I recently pinned a recipe for S'More Graham Krispie Treats, and let me tell you, they looked DELICIOUS. And easy. two adjectives I am a sucker for when it comes to desert. (And breakfast, too apparently... Jill and I ate a piece before we set off on our adventure! Hey, no one ever claimed to look to me for healthy meal choices most of the time.)

All I needed was:

Golden Graham cereal
1 bag of mini marshmallows
6 tbps of butter
mini chocolate chips
8x8 pan
cooking spray

I melted the butter. I added the marshmallows. I poured in the cereal. I folded in the chocolate chips. I mushed it in my sprayed pan. I sprinkled with more chocolate chip.

(You can get the detailed recipe from the link above)

Delicious they were indeed! They satisfied the crunchy, the sweet, the gooey, the chewy, the chocolatey. What more you could ask for in a treat?


Unfortunately, this is the only picture I took.... but you get the idea. 

I shared the treat with my good friend, Mashay, who has a little Sweet Pea on the way. She (and the baby) loved them so much, they had two.

"These are so good! I honestly don't even remember much of it, I ate it so FAST!"
(Insert me laughing here) "I know. I'm not sure what to call them though. S'More Graham Krispie Treat is a bit of a mouth-full."
"I'm going to rename them Balls of Love!"

The pregnant woman has spoken, my friends. They shall be called Balls of Love!

I'd love to hear what you do with the recipe. If you add some extra pizazz, please share!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Aurora, Colorado Shooting: The Evil Among Us

You don't have to hear it from me to know that there is extreme evil in this world. This evil only seems to continue to grow, and I'm not sure there is ever an explanation to be found.

Last night, many excited movie-goers in Colorado settled in to the familiar movie theater seats, chomped on their popcorn and Raisenets, ready to see the latest installment of their favorite comic book  saga. It was late, but they were laughing, I'm sure. Many probably came in pajamas, A break from the weekly norm, a midnight debut at the local movie theater. I'm sure most of them had it penned in their calendar or had a reminder in their iPhone for months, had purchased their ticket days in advance.They were planning only on a fun, exciting time.

As the chatter hushed when the lights dimmed and the previews began to roll, no one suspected evil in the air. No one noticed the hidden firearms strategically placed near the emergency exit. None of those twelve people thought, "Today could have been the last time I saw my family, kissed my wife, ate my favorite meal." None of these things probably happened this way- evil works mysteriously like that. It lurks. It creeps. It shows up unexpectedly.

59 people wounded.
12 dead.
At least 3 weapons.
1 24-year-old man on a mission.

A very evil mission.

On the outside, James Egan Holmes seemed to have it all together. Working on his post-graduate work at University of Colorado in Neuroscience. Just moved into a new apartment. Loving parents in San Diego.

That's the scary part. Evil never takes a form that could be recognizable. If you saw him on the street yesterday morning, would you have looked twice? Got a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach? Would you have waved hello, let him go ahead of you in line, commented to him about the weather?

I have never been to Colorado. Never seen the installments of the Batman trilogy. I have seen a midnight movie premier only once in my life. Yet, my heart goes out to the people who sat in the theater, who witnessed evil in its truest, most fleshly form. My heart aches for them as if I was there, or if I knew them all personally. My heart goes out to the people who tried to escape, tried to save their friends and family. Mostly though, my heart goes out to the ones left behind, the ones who were not greeted this morning by their loved ones returning from their movie outing, but greeted instead only by grief, unanswered questions, and anger.

" The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." 

James Holmes did just that last night. He stole. He killed. He destroyed.

Evil is among us. You can not predict it, you can not always identify it, but it is among us.











Photo and details from

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

I have made some great friends and connections through the great web of bloggers. One of these talented bloggers is Kelli, who had a great post recently that I just couldn't help but put my own spin on.

Something that I am constantly trying to accomplish is getting to know myself. That may sound funny to some of you, but honestly, it really is a never-ending process. What are my instinctual thoughts and actions, and which have I acquired over time to follow etiquette or popular opinion? Sometimes I know what I gravitate towards, but other times- I surprise myself. It's kind of a fun journey.

In yet another step of my continuous journey, I wanted to compile a list of a few of my favorite things (I'm humming along with Fräulein Maria as I type this, of course.)

So here it goes!

1. Pictures- Some people don't understand, or get a smidge irritated with my incessant clicking- but I can't help it! I love capturing the fun memories I'm constantly making. My brain couldn't possible remember every detail, that's why God created the camera.

2. Purple- my favorite color. It makes me oh-so happy.

3. Road trips- the sights, the stops, the songs. Road trips are instant life-long memories. They are bound to be filled with funny stories to be told and retold for years.

                  (Our visit to the Mayflower during our Thanksgiving road trip to Massachusetts.)

4. Accents- of any kind. I love hearing them, I love recreating them (albeit poorly), I love endless conversations with my mother while using British accents, I love recreating the accents Shane and I heard on our pit stop to Wytheville, Virginia after Thanksgiving... I just love accents.

5. Cherry Coke and Double Stuf Oreos- My ultimate bad day pick-me-up.

6. Steel Magnolias- If you've read my blog at all, you have probably figured out what movie is at the top of my list. My colors are blush and bashful!
(I consider these sassy women my friends! You know I love you more than my luggage.)

7. Creativity- Writing, crafting, whipping something up in the kitchen, I love the freedom and fulfillment that creativity brings.

8. Love- I love seeing it, feeling it, sharing it, and being in it. I am a blessed gal to be surrounded by so much love in my life.

9. A good book- need I say more? And if I do, read this.

10. Curls- I admit, I always feel a twinge of jealousy when I see a girl walk by with a great head of voluminous, silky curls. I'm always finding fun new ways to curl my hair.... (Like this one I tried recently.)

11. Celebrity look-a-likes- Mine are Hilary Swank and Emma Stone. Who are yours?

12. Eating breakfast for dinner- Omelets. French toast. Biscuits and gravy. Bring. It. On.

13. Ann Margaret, Jackie O, and Molly Ringwald- Not sure which era I belong to exactly, but its certainly not this one!

14. Youngin's- I love being "Aunt Libby," love the softness and coo of a new little person, and baby showers are some of the best parties out there!

 (Kaybree Joy. No greater "joy" than being an aunt!)

15.  Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes; Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.

...These are a few of my favorite things.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Stories of a Small Town

Good morning from Starbucks! It's awfully early, but Shane is on his way to his hometown near Boston, and then leaving on a cruise to Bermuda. Tough life, huh? I just get to be the chauffeur.

I actually really do love early mornings. I never really classified myself as a morning person, but I guess in a sense I am. I think, in part, because I am such a light sleeper. So, the first inkling of noise from my alarm and I am awake, ready to jump on whatever the day has to offer. The afternoon is free game for crashing, but the mornings... count me in.

Small towns have been on my mind lately. Yes, I love the hustle and bustle (and shopping) of a city, but I have always found myself so romanced by the lure of a small town. Growing up, my mom, brothers, and I spent the summers in her hometown of Everett, Pennsylvania. It was really beautiful... rolling mountains, trees for miles, the sights and smells you just can't find amongst tall buildings and traffic jams. My aunt lived in the cute 2-story farm house that she, my uncle, and my mom grew up in, and we stayed there each summer. It sat on the end of a winding dirt road, right on a small river. Big Bend Beach Road. You don't get more sweet and more country than that.

I loved my summers there. The walls of that house were filled with so many stories, so much history. Even as a child, I could feel it and understand it. I slid down the stairs and could picture my mother doing the same thing when she was a child. I could smell the chicken and dumplin's in the kitchen that my grandmother, whom I never knew due to Alzheimer's, was preparing for her three children; see her effortlessly piecing and sewing together a dress in the living room. I could hear the engine of my mom's 1970-something Chevy Nova barreling down the road just before curfew. I could taste the salty sweetness of a hot Pennsylvania summer as my Uncle Sam played with matchbox cars on the front porch and the girls lounged around in bikinis, sipping Pepsi through a straw and eating Gobs, dreaming of the days of adulthood independence.

The 2-day drive along the east coast from central Florida to Pennsylvania each summer, was always approached with anticipation. We loaded up the mini-van, my twin brothers and I packing a bag of coloring books and cards, and off we went... stopping for Happy Meals, and a warm bed somewhere in North Carolina, when the audio book could no longer fulfill its purpose of keeping my mother awake.

We passed through Virginia, Maryland, trudging along until we saw that lovely state sign. Welcome to the Keystone State. Our month-long summer extravaganza had finally begun. Bring on the picnics, the lemonade stands, the sleepovers, and the stories.

The stories were always my favorite part. Those stories of the people your life would have been more complete by knowing, of the crazy things your favorite aunts did in earlier times that you chuckle listening to because you struggle to even imagine it, stories of families joining, 2 sisters marrying 2 brothers and the silky spiderweb of family growing. Stories of the infectious laughter of the man you never had the privilege to know, but is in your blood just the same. The man with a strong, level head atop his lanky, tanned body from the hard labor he did outside, the same build your mother saw when she looked at your brothers. The man who carried your mom on his shoulders and put his arm around hers as they drove around in the cab of his pick-up truck. Who scolded his children when they misbehaved, but ended each day with a bear hug and a kiss... until, that day, much earlier than if life was ever fair, those kisses came to a screeching halt.

These stories allowed me to have a bond with people much deeper than just if I had gotten to  know them myself. I think that is why I always loved that house on Big Bend Beach Road so much. Its walls were filled with so many stories. The funny, the far-fetched, the moving, and the untold. You do not have to experience them first hand for a story to become a part of you.

As you move through life, I challenge you, and myself, to treasure the stories you are creating. One day, you will share them, you will allow another person to experience your past with you.

As Shane and I are beginning a life in the small town of Lillian, Alabama, just as my mother began her story in Everett, Pennsylvania, the walls, roads, restaurants, and shops are filled with stories. May you find them, live them, and share them.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Weekend Pinterest Project: Wall Decor!

Let me just preface this before I give you the wrong idea: I am not an artsy person. Oh, how I would love to be, how I strive to be, how my fingers and brain pine to be those of a person with ample artistic ability!

Sadly, however, my projects are usually a flop. I have never given up on my crafty side- I just had to come to the realization that my version of that masterpiece would undoubtedly turn out... well, a little less masterful.

My boyfriend recently bought a house in the quaint, southern town of Lillian, Alabama (more on that later this week.) Being that currently, it is (technically) a bachelor pad, I don't have to describe the walls very much to you. They're bare. REALLY bare (aside from some football memorabilia). Something just had to be done... so, with my Pinterest iPhone app in hand - and permission from the boss man, of course- I set off on my mission!

First stop (translate: only stop), Wal- Mart. Now, don't be fooled, there is no Wal-Mart in the quaint, southern town of Lillian, Alabama. I had to drive a wee bit!

I picked up: 2 wrapped canvases, 3 small tubes of puffy paint (white), and 2 cans of Pistachio spray paint. (okay, okay, you caught me: I just really enjoy saying that I painted something Pistachio!)

My blank canvas/clean slate/ "oooh, I hope this turns out okay!"

My all of the above, plus my precious, just-been-the-groomer, pooch.

So it began.... Penciling out a design on the canvas, I got to work. This honestly, was a bit scary. I am a terrible drawer, and free-hand scared the monkey mess out of me!

First step completed: sketched canvas!

On to the second step, tracing my design with the puffy paint. I wanted to make sure it was really dimensional, so it would pop off the walls, while still looking understadely modern. (I do believe I just created a new art description!...?)

So, just to be sure we're on the same wavelength here: not only did I have to free-hand a design with pencil, but then I had to go back and do it all over again with puffy paint! Yikes!

Puffy paint trace.... the end was in sight, and I was growing pretty proud of myself.

This is my crafting face. I felt it just needed to be documented.

After the tracing was complete, I had to (patiently- not my best trait, mind you) wait for it to dry. I could have waited 4-5 hours, but I decided to wait overnight to be sure. How is that for patience??

With my Pistachio spray paint, I lightly swept over the canvases a few times until I achieved my desired look. Voila! I was finished.

What do you think!?

I have to say, I am pretty proud of the way the turned out, and they look really great on Shane's living room wall! They're not perfect, but they are ours. And I love that.

So all-in-all, it took $20, a couple hours, and a little bit of patience. How is that for a self-proclaimed non-artist?!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Jane Austen, Oiser Boudreaux, and a Book Club.

I have always been a lover of books. As far as my memory serves me, I have some fond memories of my nose inside a book. My favorite outings with my mother were to the public library. I read every book in the American Girls series by the time I was 10. During the summertime, my mom would give my brothers and me a reading list and book report assignments (so as not to fry our brains with t.v.!). These were my favorite summers... I remember quite a bit of grumbling from the bros, though!

As I read, I was enamored by the art of story telling, the structuring of sentences, new adjectives that entered into my vocabulary. I know I am not alone here- books are wonderful escapes!

In the last year, I moved to a Pensacola, where familiar faces are scarce. Spending lots of time at Panera Bread and Barnes and Noble, I realized what a great bond books could be. I wanted to join a book club! But how does one find one, start one, or weed out the bad ones? This is scary territory- a book club is no Southern Lit class (although, I will be eternally in love with Flannery O'Conner because of that English Minor I have in my back pocket.)

A good friend of mine was telling me recently about the great book club she belonged to in Colorado. All the members became so close, and their husbands and boyfriends even started a club of their own during book club meeting time! This sounded so lovely to me, I just had to have one of my own. We would start one! Yes! How excited I was.

That is, until I got a text from her a few weeks later. She had talked to some girls she knew. None of them were interested. Instead of a book club, they wanted to have a wine-and-dine club.

Now, as much as I love wining and dining... how could they not love the idea of a book club!? These girls didn't like to read! Preposterous! They didn't get enthralled by the vacation a good book can bring... they didn't feel the closeness to a group of characters as if they were your real friends. How could this be!?

I realize with t.v and the internet, people don't read as much as they used to. But this is a very sad epidemic. What happened to "Sexy Girls Read"??

I have found that I can describe or reference most anything in life with a quote from Steel Magnolias. (Perfect example...)

This time is no exception. When wealthy and oh-so cultured Clairee invites Ouiser to see a local play, Ousier's response is this:

I do not see plays, because I can nap at home for free. And I don't see movies 'cause they're trash, and they got nothin' but naked people in 'em! And I don't read books, 'cause if they're any good, they're gonna make 'em into a miniseries.

Oh Ouiser, how I do love your charm! But, is this how most people really feel?


I suppose, for now, I will go another day without belonging to a book club. If anyone has any ideas on how to start a great one- please let me know!

And, since my blog is in reference to Jane Austen and I have yet to even mention her- I will leave you with these wise words from good ol' Janie:

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.