Radiating Sunshine: December 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014's Year in Review

It is hard to believe that 2014 has come and gone! This has been an incredible year for me... I turned 21, I traveled the world, I fell in love,  and I did some pretty amazing things. When I look back at 2013's Year in Review, that was one of the best years I can remember... but, this year certainly topped it! As I was scanning through old photos that I took throughout the year, I had such a hard time choosing which ones to use... so, below is my 2014 ( & photo dump ) year in review!

My youngest sister, Brooke got accepted into Auburn University and graduated from High School. Now my baby sis is a 12 hour car drive away, but we still are close and we FaceTime often!

 I completed two of my senior capstone projects and got asked to present one of them at a conference in NYC in 2015! So, excited to see my research take off and hopefully open up some doors in the world of Higher Education. 
 Some of our greatest friends left the Mount to pursue their medical careers, but Alex and I are still close, even though we both are so busy and she is practically saving the world one math computation at a time. She is truly a wonderful friend and inspires me endlessly. 
 I also met a guy, formally known to you all as J... but, now I openly call him Josh on the blog! We started dating in February and I couldn't have found a more loving, kind person, who knows almost everything about the history of football, and always fixes my comma errors (and let's be serious that is a lot of work) 
 My High School friends and I went to the beach like we usually do... except this time we were all 21 so, we went out to bars and we always made it to the beach the next morning!
I went on one of the best trips of my life. Salzburg captivated me in ways I never thought it would. I traveled to Iceland, Vienna, and Bolzano, Italy... But, although all of those places are beautiful, Salzburg is the only one I would definitely go back and visit. 
 While abroad, I drank German beer (Stiegl Grapefruit Radler), I ate a lot of german food (schnitzel), my sweet tooth only got bigger (gelato, gelato, gelato), my memory card on my camera got smaller (3,450 pictures later), I learned how to speak German ("I'm sorry", "excuse me", and "bathroom?"), I became the tourist I swore I never would become (Sound of Music central), and I had the greatest summer to date. I also had a really cute pen pal, who wrote me the nicest emails and gave me something to look forward to while I ate breakfast every morning (Thanks Josh!)
 And because an Austrian study abroad trip was not enough... The day after I got home I flew out to Seattle, Washington with my family for an Alaskan cruise. I held puppy sled dogs, went zip lining, saw a few Alaskan cities. We ate delicious food (beef carpaccio) and dined on the best creme brûlée I have ever had!
 On the crabbing trip in Ketchikan, I helped pull up one of the cages (the only working out I did all summer) and we discovered that there is another type of crab that is equivalent to the Maryland Blue Crab and that is the Alaskan Dungeness Crab! 

And before I got home and finally was reunited with Josh and friends, I made a quick pit stop in Texas, where I worked for Duke TIP again at Rice University. It was a short few weeks, but I loved every second of it like I did the year before. 

 And after two months away, I decided I would stay home for awhile. I promised Josh that for the remainder of 2014 I wouldn't even go near an airplane, haha! Anyways, Josh and I had a busy and exciting Fall semester. We went hot air ballooning and went to baseball games. We ate Chinese food and celebrated Halloween!
 We also went camping with two great friends for a weekend. It rained every night but, we still made the best of it. I taught Josh how to play rummy and now we have a new card game to play. And being out doorsy didn't stop with the camping trip... Josh and I ran a 5k together, went on an endless amount of walks, and hiked up to Indian Lookout. I guess it pays to live on a mountain!

 In 2014, I found someone who loves holiday traditions just as much as I do... I also found someone who can rock a sweater from the 80s! I found someone who I can be silly with. Someone who will take as many photos as needed to get the perfect one. Someone who will try any weird food or wipe the drool off of my chin during my weekly Sunday Football nap time. I found someone who I can pray with every night whether we are together or apart. Josh is smart, funny, and is incredibly hard working and I am beyond thankful for him and everything he does.
So, 2014 was a pretty incredible year. I accomplished all of my New Years Resolutions which, I'll be blogging about tomorrow. 2015 holds a lot of unknowns. I have no idea where I'm going to be as far as jobs or graduate school. Although all of the unknowns are a little nerve wracking, I know that I have the greatest support system and that whatever happens I will strive to live positively and make 2015 a pretty spectacular year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Weekend Recap 12/15/14

This truly was the perfect holiday weekend! Whether it was time spent studying in my snowflake jammies with Mr. Snowman or it was writing my Christmas cards... this weekend just officially put me in the holiday spirit. 
A few months ago I discovered my addiction to Walmart's Lofthouse sugar cookies. If you have never had them and are a "homemade only" cookie snob, I would strongly recommend you try these delightful cookies. They melt in your mouth and suddenly you've eaten five of them and you don't know how that happened.

Wednesday night, I went to Otts to celebrate the holiday season and last week of classes with a bunch of friends. Alex and I were completely decked out for the holidays. It was a great last college night of the semester and I can't wait to go back in the New Year. 
After a wonderful last day of classes, Josh and I went caroling with Campus Ministry. We sang all of the best Christmas carols and walked around a little neighborhood spreading Christmas cheer (by "singing loud for all to hear"). One of my favorite Christmas carols is "O Come All Ye Faithful" and we really just enjoyed a fun date night out. After caroling and our feet were officially numb, we headed over to a local school where we had some hot chocolate and sweets. There I consumed several of the cookies pictured above and we got to talk to a bunch of different people.

I wrote Christmas cards all afternoon to friends and family and then I met Josh at church and we went back to his house for pizza and Christmas tree activities. His dad had me try this famous Christmas drink! Squirt + cranberry cherry juice = the perfect refreshing holiday drink! Squirt is only sold during this time of year so, I would strongly recommend you purchase it immediately and make this holiday concoction.

 Josh and his family get a Christmas tree every year and I haven't smelled a fresh one like that in years. We had an absolutely blast setting up the tree "its straight now" and then decorating it. I helped Josh put the lights on the tree so, naturally we had to take a cheesy Christmas lights photo.
I had to leave half way through Christmas tree decorating to attend a Secret Santa party that I was participating in. My secret santa gave me two mugs and two different types of hot chocolate. After the party, I went back to Josh's and made some of the  hot chocolate. It was literally picture perfect. Sitting in front of a decorated tree, smelling the fresh pine, listening to Christmas music, and sipping on some warm hot chocolate. I wouldn't have traded those moments for the world.
Was spent sleeping in and snuggling with their dog, Mandy! Mandy is the cutest little pup and is also a little heat pad. So, we were making each other happy by providing warmth and love. Once, I finally decided to get up and be productive with my day I showered, blogged, did professor evaluations, and watched football with my man.
I have loved all of the holiday activities that Josh and I have done! It is so much fun talking about the traditions they do and the traditions my family does. I'm so thankful to be surrounded by so much family, even when I'm not home. I can't wait for finals to be over and when I can officially get in that Christmas mode.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Weekend Recap 12/9/14

Happy Tuesday friends! As I write this post, I'm sitting in my room breathing in my new Holiday Scent Glade Plug In and observing the light dusting of snow we just got. Today has been a wonderful day. I submitted my Psychology Senior Capstone project and am preparing for my presentation which is tomorrow. It's crazy how time flies... like I genuinely can't believe I'm done with this project. 

Anyways, here is a little weekend recap which, mostly consists of photos because well we all know how much I like documenting events. 


Josh and I did some much needed Christmas shopping! After we both finished working, we made some hot chocolate, and drove down to Frederick. It was a rainy night but, we did very well as far as Christmas shopping goes.

Saw this cute little dish at Barnes and Noble! How adorable would this be for an office!
We have never gone shopping together before so, Josh experienced "Alex in the mall"! When I shop I kind of just walk around and then when I see something I like or would make a wonderful gift, I just shoot past him or "dart" as he said into the store! I guess I should be more considerate of my movements while shopping during this holiday season.

After shopping we talked for awhile on where we wanted to go for dinner. I was kind of craving a burger, but earlier that week we decided we would do Chinese. Anyways, to make a long story short we ended up at Ledos. We were driving and we saw the sign and we both just had an instant craving for some square and yummy pizza. I love when Josh and are spontaneous... it makes life so much more interesting!

In the afternoon I went to a Women's Fellowship and cookie decorating event. We read Luke 1 and talked about how we need to make sure Mary is actively present during this advent season. After, the fellowship event I went back to my room and did some homework and then left to meet Josh at church.

After church, we went back to his house and made pizza and watched our university play basketball on tv! You can see how enthused I was about watching the basketball game, haha.
Josh took this picture of Mandy and I snuggling
After my baby nap, Josh, his siblings, and I went shopping. We went to the store to get secret santa things and little presents for others. After doing some light shopping, we went to Wendy's and enjoyed some free Frosties! 
Courtesy of Josh's sister's snapchat!
And there you have it! Just a brief little recap of what has been going on in my life. I'm also excited to announce that I will be presenting my Senior Psychology Capstone project today and then, all I will have left to do is my honors project and pass finals! I still have one more semester left of college, but knowing that all of my hard work is slowly coming to a close is a really cool but, kind of sad feeling!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Deck The Halls: Holiday RA Life

One of my RAs decorated this stocking for the office!
Being an RA during the holiday season is seriously amazing. It is one of the most exciting time periods of the academic year. We get to decorate the halls (or wallz as my staff likes to say), create holiday themed bulletin boards, have Christmas parties. I feel like there are so many holiday ideas out there for RAs to do and not enough time during the season to get it all done!

If you're familiar with Pinterest, then you obviously are aware of all of the amazing ideas out there in terms of Christmas crafts. I've had the privilege to be an RA for the past three years, so thankfully I've gotten to go through the list of creative holiday things to do and do some of them with my residents.
My holiday bulletin board went up a few weeks ago!
My floor is officially decked out with holiday decor! I have a Thankful Tree up which, I'll probably leave up all year round. I have a christmas ornament door decorations surrounding my door. The bulletin board is even ready for Christmas. The only thing I have left to do, is stocking decorating and making a little fireplace on the floor out of bulletin board paper. 

Christmas Programs and Door Decorations
I am doing a Christmas Party with my girls on Sunday. We're going to decorate stockings and talk about how our semesters are going. I'm also hoping to make snowflakes with them and decorate the walls. I love doing crafts that I know can stay up all semester so, I'm really looking forward to the crafts we'll be doing. Another RA and I are going to pair up and hopefully this will be one of the best Christmas programs that they ever get to go to!

Door Decorations this month: Little Christmas trees!

My Christmas event planning doesn't stop with my residents. I am the co-chair for the Celebrations Committee, which is an organization dedicated to making the RAs feel appreciated. So, I get to organize fun events that will get all of the RAs together and kind of make them feel like they are residents again. 

Being an RA is absolutely wonderful, but sometimes it is really nice to go to events that you haven't planned, purchased, or have to execute. If you ask any of the RAs on my staff, they will probably tell you that they love being an RA. They work so hard throughout the year so, I love being able to plan activities and parties for them to go to, that hopefully makes them feel appreciated. RAs do so much work behind the scenes and if there is any activity that I can plan to help them de-stress you better believe I'm going to do it!

Some of the events that I have helped plan and execute this semester is the RA/DA Christmas Ornament Party. We decorated Christmas ornaments, drank homemade hot chocolate, and decorated the Residence Life Christmas tree. About 30 RA/DAs showed up and it was so nice seeing everyone catch up and take a break. 

I'm also in the middle of planning the RA/DA Winter Social! My friend James and I are planning the event and the goal is to make it a fun party to end the fall semester with. We have about three weeks until the event and we know it's going to be a total blast. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent Goals

I know I'm a few days late, but ADVENT is officially here and I couldn't be more excited to prepare for the coming of our Savior and to get ready for the holiday season. I absolutely love the holidays and Christmas has always held a special place in my heart. So, this year to get myself in the right state of mind I am trying really hard to prepare my soul for the holiday. This is something I feel like I have always slacked off on. Anyways, to get ready for baby Jesus to arrive on December 25th, I hope to complete and stay accountable on the following things!

Spending On Others, Not Myself
I know it is the holiday season, but recently I feel like I keep making excuses to buy myself something. Whether there was a special sale on clothes at my favorite store or a new hair products. Anyways, I have just become totally invested in Christmas shopping and giving myself little Christmas gifts. Well, no longer! Instead I want to spend on others. Whether that is in the collection basket at church or on my secret santa.

However, spending on others doesn't stop just at money. I also want to spend more time on others, which for me is actually (to me, anyways) way more meaningful. I want to give back to others this holiday season. I want people to know how important they are to me.

Praying More 
I am a big night time prayer person, but how about the morning! I'm really trying hard to wake up giving God the praise and worship he deserves. So, whether I sing my Christian music in the morning or start my day praying an Our Father, I want to work hard in this area of my life for advent and hopefully develop this as a habit which, I can continue in the future.

Reading My Advent Devotional 
Josh and I got advent devotionals and reflections from church last week and we have been reading it together every night which, I have loved. We also pick out key words or phrases that speak to us and it is interesting because when I read it something speaks to me and then I also try to pick out what spoke to him and so far I have been right. It is a wonderful feeling being able to pray with him and have the opportunity to get to know him on a personal level through God.

Less Complaining
I have been bogged down with papers and assignments. I feel like most of the time I have just been complaining about all of the papers and things I have to do. So, I'm hoping to complain less and just be so grateful for everything in my life. When people ask how I am, I don't want to respond with "oh I'm tired or I'm overwhelmed" Instead I want to have more positive outlook on life (which, includes the hard parts).

Being Active
I have been so tempted to just lay around my dorm room, sip hot chocolate, and watch holiday movies. Although, this is a nice way to get ready for the Christmas season I really want to avoid my inner couch potato and get outside. I want to take walks and play games. It is so easy to become sluggish and not live up to your full potential when the weather starts to get cold and I want to avoid that. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Snowy Thanksgiving

As I stated on Monday, I wanted to recap this Thanksgiving for you guys. It was definitely one of the best thanksgivings I have ever had and I have discovered a new found love/addition for stuffing! But, I'll get into that later. 

On Wednesday...
Josh and I got to my parent's house late Tuesday night and we woke up to a splendid Winter wonderland on Wednesday. It was really nice to see snow for the first time this season, except for the fact that I had a slew of doctor appointment/check ups to go to! But, the good news is that I'm cavity free and loving life! 

When I came home from all of the doctors appointments, Josh and I went out a played in the snow! It was perfect snow for building snowmen and having snowball fights. We both really enjoyed building Chilly (Josh named him) and spending time together.

After, our winter play time was over we got ready to go to the Hons' annual poker night! We went to my aunt's and it was so nice seeing all of the Hons. I wish I saw my extended family more often but, we get together when we can!
Me, my grandma, and Brooke (sister)
On Thursday... 
we ate Turkey! Hahaha but, before Thanksgiving day celebrations happened... I got to spend a cozy morning on the sofa with Josh as we watched the Thanksgiving Day parade and ate bagels from Einstein Bagels!

We left for my Aunt Holly's house around 2 o'clock and we spent the remainder of the evening there. There was so much food present I was such a happy camper. My favorite thanksgiving day dish is my mom's Sweet Potato Casserole. My plate was 50% sweet potatoes, 15% mashed potatoes, 5% turkey, 20% vegetables, and the remainder was represented in gravy and cranberry topping.

I love getting together with the family and Thanksgiving is so special because it is literally all about family and being thankful and well food too! I'm so glad I got to spend Thanksgiving morning with Josh and end the evening on the couch watching football with my family.

On Friday & Saturday...
I worked at the Limited! It was Black Friday but, it wasn't too bad. I think I had two customers who were a little rude but, all and all it was really such a lovely day. I love working there and I'm kind of sad that I won't be working there over the Christmas holiday.

After my Black Friday shift was over, I met up with my family and a few members of my extended family for Mockingjay Part 1! They did an incredible job with the movie and I'm already thinking about when I can see it next. Once the movie was over and all the goodbyes were said, I headed up to PA to spend the night at Josh's! We went up to his family's Thanksgiving Celebration on Saturday, which was an absolute blast. I realized I have a love for stuffing and I'm kind of bummed that I am only now realizing it. I feel like I tried stuffing when I was little and I just didn't like it, but that phase of my taste buds are long gone!

On Sunday... 
I had a day in with Josh! He watched football, I napped, I read books, we did homework, I made us food, and we did Christmas crafts together. It was the perfect way to end break and I couldn't be any happier!

Anyways, that how I spent my Thanksgiving break. I sadly have a baby cold right now!
Hopefully the sniffles will go away soon, but for now I want to hear about your
Thanksgiving! What did you do that made it special (or not so special) this year?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Let's Be Thankful Swap Reveal

Happy Holidays friends! I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was beautiful! I'll be recapping what I did for the holidays later this week but, before I do I wanted to post about the Let's Be Thankful Swap that my blog friend, Meg and I hosted!

We came up with the idea a little over a month and a half ago and I really enjoyed partnering with her! Anyways, for the swap I got matched up with Kelcie who blogs over at Hammers and Hot Plates! It was a pleasure getting to know Kelcie and hearing about all of her favorite holiday traditions and learning the ins and the outs about remodeling their house. You should definitely visit her blog, if you haven't already done so!

Anyways, so what did Kelcie send me! Well she hit the nail on the head, because she got me seriously the cutest holiday must have gifts. She spoiled me to no end and I really couldn't be more blessed and grateful. I still have to drive back to school, so unfortunately I haven't been able to really enjoy the gifts yet but, so far I have just been marveling over the cute plates, the adorable A mug, warm gloves, and Christmas gadgets. Kelcie, also took the time to put my favorite bible verse on book paper. I can't wait to buy a cute frame and display my favorite verse on my wall at school. It was the perfect way to start of the holiday season and I am so happy I got to get to know Kelcie over these past few weeks.

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