November 28, 2013

Be Thankful: For a Farmer.

Today, is a day of rest... a day of Thanksgiving for most people. It's a day to eat, sleep, and watch football and a day to spend with extended family.  It's a day to go out and play, scour shopping ads for Black Friday sales, and rave about the best dessert Aunt Betty made.  It's a beautiful day.
So, as you enjoy your dinner, think about each item you put on your plate.  

+Think about the turkey grower that spent hours feeding and taking care of his birds..making sure that there would be plenty of turkey to go around this holiday...254 millions turkeys were raised last year. Did you eat one?

+Think about the farmer growing thousands of acres of corn to feed the animals and to put corn on our plates.  

+Think about the cranberry sauce and the amount of energy it took to make the perfect berry...
768 million pounds of cranberries were harvested to make that delicious side dish.

+Think about the pumpkin pie and the 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins grown to fill the millions of cans of pumpkin used this Thanksgiving.

+Think about the dairy farmers that woke up at 4:30 each morning to milk, and those that stayed up late one night to help a calf be born...just so we could have sticks of butter and the richest whipped cream.

+Think about the number of hands it took to plant and harvest the 1.9 billion pounds of green beans...that's a lot of veggies.

+Think about the apple pie and how many years the farmer has nurtured his/her trees to get their first crop of fruit.

Think about it.  Where would you be without agriculture? Often, I like to tell people that you would be naked and hungry...and when you really take the time to think about it, it's true. Without a farmer, you would not be able to enjoy what you have today.

So, today, volunteer to say grace before the meal and thank the farmer that grew it and the hands that prepared it.  

He would appreciate it.

November 26, 2013

Twin Pines Nursery: a Christmas Tradition

During my sophomore year at North Carolina State University, I had the opportunity to meet one of my best friends...Olivia.  Olivia and her family own and operate a choose and cut Christmas tree farm named Twin Pines Nursery.  The farm has been in her family for 30+ years and to this day, growing Christmas trees is a priority year round. So, when the rest of us are sun-bathing in our swimsuits, Olivia and her family are making sure that their Christmas trees are in tip-top shape. 
Starting my senior year of college, I began the tradition of traveling 4 hours to Twin Pine Nursery to help her family out on the Christmas tree farm.  When we were in school, we would have a blast riding up and down the mountain sharing stories and laughing about the latest news.  We would eat bags of gummy worms and drink way too much coffee.  It was fun then and is now a tradition that I hope to never give up. It's been a lot of fun for the both of us (at least I think). 

Olivia's family grows only the best trees in the nation, a North Carolina Fraser Fir.  The Fraser Fir is a small evergreen tree that is perfect for Christmas tree use.  It is has a wonderful fragrance, has a beautiful shape, and strong limbs to hold up the heaviest of ornaments.  One of the best parts of a Fraser Fir is how soft the needles are. The needles stay on and soft through January. That's unheard of with most other trees! The Fraser Fir has also been used more times as the official Christmas tree of the White House than any others.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to help on the tree farm for the third year in a row. It was super cold (28 degrees) and is definitely shown by all of the clothing I had layered on.  Despite the cold, Olivia's family Christmas tree farm holds special memories in my heart, but also in the hearts of those that visit each year.  I love listening to people that come back year after year and tell their stories. Some people were engaged in the tree field while others have been taking pictures in front of their tree every year.  

Are you looking for a place in North Carolina to get a REAL Christmas tree?  Are you looking for a fun weekend trip to the mountains? Olivia's family will cut your tree for you, bale it, and tie it on top of your car! 

Here is their information if you are interested:
87 Twin Pines Ln
Pineola, NC 28662

Check them out on Facebook too! 

Here are my pictures from the past 3 years (left; 2011) (right-top; 2012) (right-bottom; 2013)

November 24, 2013

it's that time of year!

I know it isn't Thanksgiving yet, but I have started getting all of my Christmas cards ready!  This will be my first year sending out Christmas cards to friends and family and I am really excited about it. Growing up, everyone in my family would fight over who would get the mail because of all the wonderful letters and cards we would find in the mailbox.  It was always fun seeing new pictures and reading about all that is happening in people's lives.  I feel like getting a handwritten Christmas card is almost non-existent with my generation, so I thought it would be fun to keep it going!

Many of you spend time reading my blog and don't know how much I appreciate it.  I continue to write because I love it and this blogging community has provided me with so many fun opportunities to make new friends.  That's right...many of you have become people that I communicate with weekly and I would love to send you a Christmas card this year!

If you click on the link below and fill out the form, I will send you a Christmas card. 


and on a more serious note....


*P.S. I promise not to share your information with anyone!!

November 23, 2013

the big smile.

Lately, life has been a whirlwind...but you know what...I am having fun and sometimes that's all that matters. I have been spending time with friends, going to basketball games, drinking late night coffees, and laughing until I cry.  

Earlier this week, I was pulling out Christmas decorations from my closet when I stumbled across a picture of me as a little girl.  I immediately started giggling at myself because there are so many pictures of myself as "grown-up" that have this same exact face...the big smile

.I often wonder where this smile came from...because still to this day it is my go-to camera ready goofy face.  I'm good at it...and in these moments I was truly a happy girl. The holidays always bring good memories and I am sure that this smile will appear again and again in a couple of photos. Maybe I will even pull it off in a serious family photo to make my mom upset...'s just good to know that I am still a kid at heart. 

November 21, 2013

cara box reveal: fall 2013

These past few months I have had the opportunity to get to know two wonderful bloggers through the cara box match up... Justine from Sleepy Single Girl and Kate at Crazy Lovely Me.  I always have such a wonderful time getting to know new girls that love to blog just as much as I do.

I sent Justine her cara box and you can check it out HERE. I had so much fun putting her box together since the theme was "Fall" into the Season.  Justine has such an interesting background and is one of the strongest, most upbeat girls I know.  I connected with her on many topics, but what made the connection really cool is that her boyfriend used to play for the Michigan State Spartans.  It's always fun to meet girls that love football, but can also be girly at the same time!

Kate sent me my cara box and I absolutely fell in love with it.  Earlier this week, two weeks ago, my roommate was telling me that it was way too early to decorate for Christmas because we hadn't had Thanksgiving yet.  Thanks to Kate, only the Christmas window candles came out and I got to decorate with all of this wonderful fall decor!

There are so many things that I loved about this cara box.  The mulled cider candle is almost gone since I have burned it so much...the cute paper banner is hanging up in our living room, and the magnets are on the fridge.  She also included some caramel apple Jones soda...its was pretty good!  
I love this cara box exchange and cannot wait until December to get paired up with two new girls and continue the friendships with those I was able to meet this fall!

Cara Box

November 12, 2013

happy anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to me!

On November 11, 2010, I became a member of the Be The Match(R) Registry and took the first step to help save someone's life.  Until I got an email this past week asking me to renew my pledge to give bone marrow, I had forgotten how long I had actually been on the registry.

Growing up, my mother always encouraged my siblings and I to do anything to help those in need.  She encouraged us to be organ donors, to donate blood every six weeks, and to be a marrow donor.  She always led by example and we kids have definitely followed in her footsteps.  

Anyways...back to the Be the Match(R) registry. I can remember exactly where I signed up.  I was in college, walking out of the gym, when a young lady approached me and shared her survival story.  A couple of cheek swabs later and some paperwork, I was signed up!

Since that day, I have never been called to donate bone marrow, but everyday I hope I get the call...a call that could possibly save someone's life.

What is  Be The Match (R)? "For people with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, or other diseases, a cure exists.  Over the past 25 years, Be The Match(R), operated by the National Marrow Donor Program(R) has managed the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world."

How are you serving this Thanksgiving and Christmas season?  

If you are interested in joining the registry, you can join online.  Find out more information HERE.

November 10, 2013

appalachian outreach.

This past weekend I found God working in my heart in more ways than I could ever imagine.  I have had the pleasure of attending First Baptist Church of Cary regularly since July and was looking for a way to meet people and get more involved with the church members. A couple of weeks ago, my Sunday School leaders kept mentioning that the Appalachian mission group was needing a couple of female chaperones that could drive 15 passenger vans.  After hearing this for several weeks...I finally felt that the Lord was trying to provide me with a sign, so I signed up and volunteered to chaperone about 65 youth.

On Friday morning, we packed up 4 vans, 2 trailers, and a church bus and headed to Jefferson City, Tennessee to minister to the people living in the surrounding area. Not knowing many people on the trip, the ride was slightly awkward for the first hour or so...but, considering we had a little over 6 hours to travel with 11 girls in my van, there was plenty to talk about.  
When we arrived to Jefferson City, we prepared for the next day by singing some songs, listening to a short devotion, and signing up for our projects.  We had several places to choose from, but in my heart, I felt that volunteering at the "Coats for the Cold" event would best fit my interest.  Several other youth and adults volunteered here, but we also had youth building wheelchair ramps, working at the Samaritan's House, and splitting wood. Each one of these activities was important and needed in the surrounding community.

Appalachian Outreach began as a home repair ministry for poverty stricken people, but since then, has expanded their ministries to include the "Samaritan's House", food distribution, used clothing and furniture, Hispanic outreach, and recycling...all while sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  This is what was so beautiful about Appalachian Outreach...Jesus Christ is rooted at the heart of it all, bringing people to the love of Christ through simple acts of kindness.
I had the opportunity to work at the "Coats for the Cold" event where families were able to pick out coats for their family members, obtain a small space heater, and even pick out some blankets.  Before people were able to receive these items, two of our church members spent about 15 minutes speaking to the groups about Jesus Christ.  Some of the students even ministered to the children by giving out bracelets.  It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever been part of. 

I spent most of my time handing out heaters to families and while I was doing that, I met three people that really made me think about God's purpose for this event.
The first lady that I met was a little bit older and was wearing a purple jacket.  I told her it was a beautiful color on her and was one of my favorite colors.  She thanked me and mentioned that she wears it in remembrance of her granddaughter.  Her granddaughter passed away a couple of years ago and it too was her favorite color.  I happened to be wearing purple that day and promised the sweet lady that I would think of her and pray for her every time I found myself wearing it.  People are touched by compliments.

The second person I met was a little girl.  As the families would come by to receive a heater, I would give the little kids a high five and ask them to hold onto it very tightly while they carried it for their parents.  Before giving this little girl a heater, she ran up to me and put her arms around me.  She told me that she doesn't give high fives...only hugs.  Talk about your heart melting with the arms of a little child around you.  

The third little girl I met came up to me excited about a book she had received by some of our youth.  The book was about Jesus dying on the cross and this little girl could not have been more excited to have it in her life.  She told me that she was going to keep and cherish it forever.  After talking about one of my books this past week, I hope she does and remembers the love of Christ that was shared to her that day.
After worshiping with a local church, sharing my testimony with the congregation, and spending time ministering to those in the community of Jefferson City, I realized that it is really the littlest things in life that really do mean the most.

A simple compliment, a used coat, or a hug are some of the little things that mean most to those who are hungry for the love of Christ.  Most of the people I witnessed to were struggling in life and needed to know that someone simply cared for them. At the end of the day, we helped over 543 people prepare for the winter, built a wheelchair ramp for a beautiful couple, landscaped the Samaritan house, and chopped wood to help people through the winter. The Lord prepares those He wants to serve and will always provide a way.

“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

November 9, 2013

30- new tires for my car

I have completed another 101 in 1001 goal!

30. new tires for my car- DONE! (10/17/13)

I have been needing new tires on my lil' red for quite a while now.  But for those of you that own a vehicle know just how expensive they, in other words, it's not a purchase that isn't taken very lightly.  

I have been saving up a little while because I knew that I was going to need them before winter. Not that we get a lot of snow here in North Carolina...but we do gets lots of rain and some freezing temps.  My car would have been in the ditch without new tires.  

This whole being a grown-up and having to pay for expensive stuff is exhausting but rewarding. I kinda like knowing that I worked hard to pay for something so important!

November 8, 2013

NC blogger buzz & airport adventures.

Last Friday I had the awesome opportunity to attend a North Carolina Blogger Buzz event put on by Ashley and Angela!  I had been wanting to attend one of these events for quite some time now, but had been unable to make it work with my schedule.  

It decided to pour rain the whole afternoon and evening of the event, but despite the rain, all of these ladies looked wonderful and beautiful as always! It was so nice to finally meet some of the writers behind the blogs...but, I also got to meet some new bloggers! Chelsea spoke about blogging and life balance...which was a perfect topic to discuss.  In the midst of her discussing balancing her family time and blogging, I dashed out to the airport to pick up my sister Katherine (the reason why I am not pictured below).

I didn't want to leave early, but I have also wanted to pick someone up from the airport while holding a sign.  It is one of my 101 in 1001 goals and I thought it would be super special since I told my sister I couldn't pick her up due to the blogger event (sneaky sneaky...insert giggles here). It was also my sister's very first flight by herself.  She was in Louisville, KY for the National FFA Convention and had to fly back early for an event at school.

I thought it would be fun...and it was!  While I was there, I met the first airport beggar (kind was a sociology student looking for miles to Mexico), Fred Shropshire- an ABC 11 news anchor, and my parents.  

I was so proud of my sister this past has been a lot of fun seeing her enjoy the FFA as much as I did. She met lots of new people and reconnected with people that she met at Washington Leadership Conference in DC.  She's growing up too fast; I remember when she was born! Do you ever feel like your siblings are growing up too fast? Have you ever picked someone up from the airport with a sign?  

November 5, 2013

the littlest things.

Lately I feel like the Lord has been encouraging me to serve others in this time of waiting.  It is one of the first times in my life that I am not moving, trying to find a career, or worrying about getting dean's list worthy grades.  For once in my life (at least in a while), I have been focusing on what my heart and mind are telling me. 

It's not easy to schedule "quiet time" every day,but I figured if I could find time to watch TV, I could find time with the Lord.  Not only did I want to find that time, but I also began yearning for that time with Him. I felt him speaking to me, I felt him calling me to be a servant of him.  I wasn't being called to travel the world and preach the message of him, but rather, something a bit more simple.  I kept hearing that sometimes it is the littlest things in life that truly mean the most...and as I reflected on that, I thought of one little thing that has impacted me for over 16+ years.

When I was 7 years old and in the first grade, my mom was expecting my little sister.  I remember how excited I was and how excited my first grade teacher Mrs. Precht was for my family.  Mrs. Precht was expecting her first grandchild just a few days after my sister was to be born, so she was constantly asking how my mom was doing.  

The day my little sister was born, she provided me with this book to read to her.  I was just learning how to read, so this little cardboard book encouraged me to read even more. Most of the books I have received in my lifetime have ended up on a shelf, never to be opened again...but this book, is one of my most treasured possessions.  Whenever I move, it gets put into a special box that stays in my car because I would hate for it to go missing. 

Ruth Precht wrote a handwritten note in the book....  every once in a while I will pull this book out, read it, and remember all of the things that this wonderful teacher taught me.  It's hard to believe that I still have it after 16 years...and it is still one of the the most important items in my life.

Just proves to you that sometimes it is the littlest things in life that matter most. 

I think it's time to start serving him through the little things. What do you think?

November 3, 2013

the toilet bowl.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what to blog about...and today I just didn't have anything, so I decided not to prepare a post for Monday...until my toilet started overflowing.  I like to keep it real on this blog, so I knew that I had to share this story of a single girl solving the problems of her overflowing/running/leaky toilet.
See, this new apartment I live in has challenged me in my home maintenance abilities.  The first day we moved in, we had a leaky sprinkler head that left 2 inches of water in our doorway. My toilet likes to constantly run, so I have a screwdriver sitting on top of my toilet for a quick fix when it really starts to drive me crazy. This past week it wasn't wanting to flush correctly. This toilet has made me believe that an outhouse can't be worse than this toilet overflowing on a daily basis.  

Well, tonight, I couldn't soak the water up fast enough, so I quickly turned off the water to the toilet, grabbed my rainboots and headed to the closest open Target.  A $13.00 plunger and a can of scrubbing bubbles later...I have a clean bathroom and a working toilet.  Hallelujah.


I definitely showed that toilet who was boss.

November 1, 2013

high five for friday.

Happy belated Halloween and happy Friday!

This week has been a week of ups and downs...but it began on a high note and will continue on a high note if my Wolfpack decides to pull out a win this weekend!  

Anyways, here are the top five!

+My sister and I spent all day on Saturday together and it was wonderful!  We don't get to spend much time together anymore because she works a lot and well, so do I.  We got up really early to go watch the dairy cattle and horse shows and stuffed our faces full of funnel cake, ice cream, and cotton candy before 11:00 am. Afterwards, we got a free sub from Harris Teeter and went to a corn maze!

+I got to hang out with these two boys the entire weekend.  I just think its absolutely hilarious that they have a leash that hooks them together.  Free and easy entertainment for me!

+The church I have been attending had something called Festival 31 on Halloween evening. Families in the church and surrounding community came to play, trunk or treat, and participate in the many games that were offered. My Sunday school class was in charge of the cake walk that happened to bring many smiles to children's faces. Thanks to the wonderful church members, we gave away 31 beautiful homemade cakes! It was super busy, which made it even more fun (this picture was taken after everything was about done).

+My friends in college used to joke around about me being an old lady/grandma.  Well folks, it's official.  I got my first cane advertisement in the mail!

+My sister has been at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY the entire week.  Most schools will sight see along the way.  She lucked out and got to see Churchill Downs and the Louisville Slugger Museum.  Thought I would do a late #ThrowbackThursday to my first FFA convention in Indianapolis.  We stopped at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway...this picture happens to be in October 2007 with one of my friends named Wesley.

Another fun picture for good measure...can you spot my sister and I at each of our respective FFA conventions?

Hope you have a great Friday!