Friday, November 26, 2010

5k on Turkey Day

This Thanksgiving was WONDERFUL!

First thing in the morning my dad, my sister and I got up and drove out to Mt. Juliet for a 5k.
(It was my dad's first 5k!)
Us before the race
The race was to benefit a local program for pets called "A New Leash On Life."
Well socialized dogs were welcome and Dachshunds and Great Danes alike participated in the race.

 
Oliver, on the other hand, was not invited. He's a bit *ahem* anti-social around other dogs... and people.
But never fear. We got him a doggie bandanna to make sure he felt included!


Interesting/Inspiring note:
There were a several people there who were very overweight and after talking to a few of them I found out that they were inspired to be there by The Biggest Loser. Check it out if you haven't. We love that show. (I cry quite literally every episode.)

 By the end, we were all very happy with our times, but more than ready to get home and start making dinner!

~**~

As the main cook in  family, I quickly changed out of my racing clothes and put on my Martha Stewart pants (ONLY metaphorically, people.) After setting the oh-so-pretty table, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and recounted the blessings our family has been given and discussed ways to improve the lives of others with our gifts. After having a rough holiday season the past few years, we were so grateful to have been able to enjoy this one together.


I hope you had a blessed and family-filled Thanksgiving as well! :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm so looking forward to tomorrow! :) I love Thanksgiving! After getting off of work today I came home and started unpacking Christmas decorations (stay tuned for pictures) and started baking for tomorrow! Yum!

Tomorrow my family is participating a 5k FIRST THING! THEN we're getting our dinner on!

I'm so thankful for such a wonderful family, amazing friends, such a loving boyfriend, great opportunities and the fact that I'm excited about the future! 

However, maybe today the one thing 
I am especially thankful for is the fact that I am NOT a turkey. :)

What are you thankful for this year??

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fantasy Shopping Trip: Baby Edition

My roommate from my freshman year of college is having not one, but TWO babies! Cohen Justice and Ephraim Sojourner will be making their appearance very soon!

Jenny now lives in Georgia, while I remain in Nashville, and although she had a few baby showers, I wasn't able to make them. I'm sending my gift soon, but after finding so many cute things on Etsy, I had to do a post about it. So, in Fantasy Land, here's what I would buy Jenny's twins:


Newborn BEAR EARS?! Is there anything cuter? I think not.
These oatmeal colored shoes are for 6-9 months, but they can grow into them.

Look at this! A Custom Infant Car Seat Cover. Two please!

I love this bear!
I forget how she is decorating their nursery (Noah's Ark?), but I liked this and the other decals at this store.


I imagine they will wear these in honor of their auntie Nicole. :)


I wish I had the money to get her all of these, but I got her some cute stuff instead (WHICH I PROMISE I WILL SEND SOON.) More than anything though, I'm so grateful to have Jenny in my life, even at a distance, and I'm so excited for her as she embarks on this exciting journey.  I know she will be a wonderful mommy. 

To Jenny! :)

Always,
Nicole Jeannette

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Coolest Christmas Gifts

Beloved boyfriend gave me my first Christmas present last night (ridiculously early, I know, but he enjoys giving me presents and I don't hate receiving them!) It was just a cute small, little thing, but it got us talking about what we really want for Christmas and I think it's pretty cool so I wanted to share in hopes that you may adopt a similar idea.

Last year was probably the best Christmas I've ever had because I asked that friends and family members give me a certain type of gift and MAN did I hit the mother load. Through the wonderful World Vision Gifts program and the gifts of wonderful people around me, I was able to give shelter to sexually exploited girls in Asia, education for a whole year for an orphan, a flock of ducks to a family in India and food and HIV/AIDS medications to starving and sick children in Africa.

If you ask me, that's a lot better than a Kate Spade bag. As much as I wanted one (among other more practical things), it would never make me cry tears of joy the way my World Vision gifts did last year.


So this year, J. L. and I have been interacting with the local homeless community a lot and we LOVE it.  If you ever want to look at the face of Jesus, just go downtown. He's there. He's dirty and smelly and stuggling to keep warm, but He's there--He's everywhere.






This year has been particularly difficult on our local homeless community after the flood destroyed Tent City (a local community of tent-dwelling homeless who gathered there for fellowship and protection) and the incredibly unpredictable weather has made finding shelter a little harder than usual. So we wanted to figure out what we could do to love on them other than cash handouts and/or beefing up our volunteer efforts.

So here's what we've decided:

We're going to make "kits" and hand them out to homeless. We thought we'd include the following items to try to help little that we can:


  • "Hotties" -- you know those little hand/pocket warmers? They're really inexpensive when you buy them in bulk and they last for about 8 hours. I realize that this isn't a huge source of heat, but it's something.
  • Space Blanket -- If you've ever been hiking or camping you're familiar with these. 
  • Socks -- I never thought about this until I started actually talking to a lot of homeless people, but can you imagine wearing the same socks everyday for weeks/months on end? You have no idea how excited they get about clean socks. 
  • Crackers or some other snack
  • An encouraging card
We're hoping to make about 20 or so of these and take the money we would have used on nicer Christmas presents on this.

I once spent the night out on the concrete for a homlessness awareness activity. It is miserable.
My experience with the homeless community has been completely positive and I have really learned that often the largest difference between them and us is just one paycheck. They're good, beautiful people who just need a little bit of help getting back on their feet. When you talk to them SMILE at them, shake their hands, introduce yourself and ask them their names. They're literally treated like garbage and you have no idea what your kindness means.

For those of us who follow Christ, I want to encourage you to not be afraid to actively show others that you're not celebrating the season for the commercial part (not that you're not allowed to, I love Christmas), but to celebrate the birth and love of a Savior who died so that you may have eternal life and eternal love. We need to SHOW that love. Not that you should brag or do it for recognition, but maybe give your friends a card that says "In Lieu of a Christmas Gift: I helped build a well in Africa/fed a homeless family/etc. God bless you this Christmas and may the Spirit of love and giving warm your heart." Very few people are selfish enough to throw a fit about you "sacrificing" their gift for someone who really needs it

Remember, in the end you get what you give--no matter how big or how little.

Is there anything you've done that you're hoping will catch on as a Christmas gift for those who need it? I'd love to hear about them!

"The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" - Matthew 25:40

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Serious(ly Ridiculous) Question about Teacup Pigs...

Yes, you read that right. Teacup pigs.
They're bitsy.
Precious, right? (I know!)
Here's the question:
Would you really ever get one?
I have several friends who say they would if they weren't so expensive.
I'm not so sure.
I can't decide if the thought of having one running around my home is endearing or kind of creepy.

Are they like dogs? Do they play with you and curl up with you? Do they walk around? Or are they in a cage?
I'm not sure what to think, but one thing is for sure,
I love pictures of them all dressed up :)



Aww. 

Welcome to the random spillings of my mind.
The End.

Friday, November 12, 2010

TV on DVD

I have oh-so-many happy memories of watching Gilmore Girls,  Arrested Development, Gossip Girl and a few other TV shows on DVD with friends, but here's a questions:

What about Even Steven??

The Wonder Years!?!

Boy Meets World?
Am I right? Or am I right??
Am I missing any?
I want these on DVD!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fighting for What Is Right

Hello readers! First of all, Happy Veterans Day. I was thinking on the way to work about our great country, not without flaws, and how much we owe not only to our forefathers, but to the men and women who were and are willing to sacrifice their LIVES to let us enjoy SO many freedoms that most in this world will never know. I want to take this time to remind you to reach out the the vets in your life (and on the streets) and let them know that they are loved and that we appreciate their service.

That being said, I want to share with you a victory of another kind...

Recently Amazon.com posted a book for the Kindle entitled The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure. It is exactly what it sounds like it would be. However, I'm thankful to tell you that I can no longer provide you with the link because after a grassroots effort, the page has been removed.

I wrote a LONG email and called Amazon and Kindle last night. I made sure to tell the representatives with whom I spoke that I was not upset with them personally, but that I was outraged and I wanted my comments to be passed along. The representatives were all very kind-- even though they threw a lot of corporate approved language at me to make it seem like the company cared--and each of them passed me on to her supervisor. I take pride in being able to control my emotions in difficult situations, but after being passed on and passed on and having to share why I was so upset about the book, I began to cry because all I could think about where the precious faces of the children in my life and my deep burning desire to keep them safe.

Why do I share this with you? I'll tell you why:

Because we live in a country where we are free to stand up and fight for what is right, I believe it is our obligation and duty. I want to encourage you, lovely reader, to never be afraid, for whatever reason, to stand up and speak out against things you know are wrong!

When you see something wrong in this world YOU HAVE A VOICE!

Use your twitter, email your friends, blog about it, facebook about it. Social media is changing the world and you can be a part of it. Furthermore, call your government representatives (not as scary as it sounds. I've done it several times for human trafficking and child protection related legislature), call a company causing a problem (like Amazon), etc.

The world won't get any better if we just let it be. 

Be BOLD.
Be KIND. 
Be BRAVE.


Go out and love on someone today and never be afraid to use your voice. Yours could be the one that changes the world!

Love always,
Nicole Jeannette

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving at My House

 I learned very early on in my life that my mother hates few things, but cooking is one of them. (Let's just say that I ate a lot of Happy Meals as a child.) While I don't judge her (I couldn't keep my apartment clean for more than a few days to save my life), I do have to say I don't really understand because

I LOVE TO COOK 
(and bake)
(You may call me Martha.)

This year at the White House (my White house, it's my last name) Thanksgiving will consist of my immediate family (four) and one dog. Said dog is insatiably hungry and manages to make his way on top of the table at one point during any given holiday meal, just in case you were wondering. 

This year I'm the "head chef" and I'm assigning my family to help me prep and manage different meals. Since my dad was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, (he's lost a TON of weight and is completely off of insulin due to his ROCKSTAR diet management) I'm all about healthy recipes that are chock-full of taste, but low on unnecessary carbohydrates, calories and saturated fats. 

I'll post some of the recipes at a later date, but as of right now, this is how I have planned our meal:
  • Turkey (obviously), lightly brushed with EVOO (butter burns too easily) and spices, unstuffed
  • Dressing (not stuffing). I buy the stuff out of the box, but increase veggie count by adding 1 cup onions, 1 cup celery, 1 cup carrots and a 1/4 raisins. The veggies are chopped into 1/2" pieces and sauteed until all are soft and onions are translucent. Add the raisins to warm mixture. Add low sodium chicken/vegetable broth to keep moist!
  • My FAMOUS Garlic, Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes. May sound weird, but using low fat cream cheese, roasted garlic and low sodium veggie broth instead of cream and butter cuts a mass amount of calories without sacrificing texture/taste. Plus they're best whipped (Kitchen Aid mixers are the best for this.)
  • Steamed Collard Greens with turkey bacon bits on the side. Without the grease of the pork that most people put in this dish, it's nutritious and surprisingly satisfying. A little feta is delicious too!
  • Tossed Salad -- I just use romaine lettuce and chop up veggies/fruits and let people choose whatever dressing they want. I usually skip cheese and put out a few croutons though.
  • Green bean casserole -- We use fiber enforced corn flakes and light mushroom soup and FROZEN green beans (NEVER USE CANNED FOOD.)
  • Roasted root vegetables -- Super easy, super nutritious, super yummy. Coursely chopped red onions, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beets, garlic and parsnips and toss in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and we're in business.
  • Cranberry fruit conserve -- but with half splenda, half sugar.
Things I cheat on (aka don't make from scratch)
  • Cresent rolls --What can I say. Pillsbury knows their stuff and the reduced fat ones are delicious with butter.
  • Gravy -- I know. I know. It's not hard to make from scratch, but I prefer to just buy the low fat turkey gravy from the store. That way I know exactly what's in it and it's one less pot to clean. 
  • Carrots -- I love steamed carrots, but I prefer not to chop them up, so I just use the baby ones to avoid cutting and peeling.
Dessert is still TBA. I've been debating between a few more traditional (homemade, reduced sugar homemade pie) desserts and a few new ones... I will keep you posted.


What's your favorite (at least semi-healthy) Thanksgiving meal? I would LOVE ideas and/or suggestions. I realize this meal is pretty traditional, but I'm open to anything!


Bisous,


Nicole Jeannette

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Since You Been Gone

Okay, so you weren't really gone, I was... but the title was catchier that way.


Anywho, I've been on a very long blog break and recently watching the movie "Julie & Julia" and my love for my blog was renewed. I've missed my old readers and I'm so excited to "meet" new ones and read all of y'all's blogs! (I live in Tennessee. Don't judge.)

So, here are a few (of the bazillion) fun things I've done since my little break:

I graduated from Belmont University. It's super nice to be out of school, but I miss it. I'm seeing a graduate degree in the future...

I went to my very first football game. I know, I know. FIRST? At 23? Yes, very first. I realize that is weird. Mooooving on... it was an NFL game! Titans v.Broncos--I rooted for the Broncos, even though I like the Titans, but hey, I'm from Colorado! Because I understood the rules I was able to understand the game and appropriately root for my team (the Titans' fans did not enjoy me, but whatevs, I was polite!)

I saw/heard LORETTA LYNN sing at the Ryman. Yes, THAT Loretta Lynn... and Garth Brooks, Reba, Jack White, Gretchen Wilson, Martina McBride, Kid Rock and LeanneWomack. Wonderful Boyfriend surprised me with tickets to the Country Music Salute to Country Honoring Loretta Lynn. I'll do a post on this. It. Was. So. Cool.

I bought myself my very own, very first car... with cash.  More on this later. *Insert "Emperor's New Grove" hand action* BOOM BABY!

I continued working on my book. I'll tell you about it when it's done. (Patience is a virtue, remember that, because I know you're dying to hear. Right? Ha!)

One of my very best friend's got married. Post to follow on this TOO.


So, those were a few of the big ones, but I'm super excited to blog about them and share my adventures with you!! I've got some fun new ideas planned so LOOK OUT!

Be blessed!

Til next time,

Nicole

Thursday, November 4, 2010

If I could write a letter to me (at 16)

Dear Me-at-16,

Hi. I know this is rather fortune-cookie-esque, but I have good news from the future--all is well. I'm not going to ruin any surprises for you, but life post grad is really great. You are loved and surrounded by God's blessings left and right. You have the most loving friends and family a girl could ask for.  Life over the next five years won't be easy, sometimes it will be tragic, but it will always be beautiful.

Somethings have changed, some haven't. Jennifer is still your best friend. Mom and Dad are still Mom and Dad. Mandy is in heaven, which is tragic, but she was the best dog in the whole world. Now you have a little dachshund--yes, Jennifer gets her wish. You're still friends with Liberty, but you (barely)  keep in touch with everyone else except through Facebook. Don't ask, you'll see.

All that said, if I could, in addition to the fun stuff, I would like to impart a little bit of wisdom that I feel will save you a lot of trouble. Ready? Here goes:
  • First of all, I know how cool those sparkley, low rider jeans look now, but trust me, burn them.
  • Stay AWAY from tree nuts. You'll develop an allergy if you eat too many and it's a REAL pain.
  • Buy a better straightener and cut your hair. Again, trust me.
  • Eyeliner is your friend. Don't fear it. 
  • You have a job now and you're working on making something of yourself. In general, life is totally wonderful.  It was fun discovering the career path/college major, so I'm going to be vague, but I want to encourage you to read as much as you possibly can, starting now. It will help.  
  • You never do manage to like coffee, don't bother. 
  •  Give up all hopes of having a car for quite a while. It's not as rough as it sounds.
  •  Don't be afraid to be yourself and speak your mind ever again. You have great things to say, just embrace it. You're a people pleaser--trust me, the sooner you drop this the better. Never change who you are or what you want in life so that someone will like you better. 
  • When people say mean things to you, seriously, let it roll. You'll learn who I'm talking about and you wind up WAY better off than both of them. 
  • As far as boys go, after you break up with your first boyfriend, just be friends with him. He's a great guy, but you aren't right for each other.  Don't sweat that one so much. There will be a boy your freshman year of college who tells you he will love you forever and ask you to marry him. He is not what he pretends to be. Punch him in the face. For real. Also, you will be relentlessly hit on at the library in college--just ignore them, don't even be nice. You'll meet and date several a great guys, but don't feel obligated to say yes to a date if you don't see a future.  Furthermore, don't date your friends or boys named Jeff. Not even once. (Don't worry, you meet a WONDERFUL guy in the most unlikely place and are very much in love and very happy. He loves you for who you are. Things look good at this point ;).)
  • Just say no to full bangs
  • College will be a blast. You'll do a good job at this anyway, but try to balance your friends and your studies as best as possible. It's okay to say no to your friends when you have work to do--they'll still love you
  • Someday you will study abroad and will have a layover in Iceland. AVOID the salmon
  • Keep up a dairy! It's so fun to look back and see what you did on any given day! 
  • Finally, no matter HOW curious you get. NEVER dye your hair blonde. Got it? NEVER.
Apart from that, just know that God holds so much joy for you, both now and in the future and never forget that you are always and deeply loved.

I feel that you and I are so very different. I've changed so much since I was you, but I'm happier and stronger than you ever thought you'd be.

I'm interested to see what the future holds for us now, but just know that the next few years are worth every moment. :)

To the future us,

Nicole

P.S. Unfortunately you're not a famous singer like Britney Spears, but trust me, you want it that way.