We were going to go with a theme of simplicity this year for Christmas. However, my husband was not satisfied with mine and Katie's $15 Christmas tree. I mean, it was 5 feet tall--it just didn't have that many branches. It was Charlie Brown-esque. I liked it. Matt wanted a "real" tree. And by real, he meant fake but not anorexic. We both have serious allergies, I'm not really interested in sweeping pine needles, and I have this neurotic fear of house fires, so real trees just aren't our thing. Although I do have this dream of going into the forest and chopping down a real tree and hauling it home to decorate. Maybe one year we'll do that.

So this year, we went to Sam's with the intent of purchasing a 7 1/2-foot tree. Good, manageable size. Except that 7 1/2 foot tree looked wimpy next to the 9 foot tree. So we got the 9-foot tree. Total impulse purchase. We hope that if we move next year, we find a house with 10-foot ceilings. Maybe we should've thought that through a little more. We also didn't have enough ornaments to decorate this giant tree, so we put it in a corner and didn't decorate the back. Problem solved.

I love our growing collection of ornaments. Our tree growing up was never one of those pretty, store display-like trees with a matching color scheme and big flowing ribbons. Although my mother dreamed of a tree with white lights, gold and silver balls, and a big, beautiful white bow at the top, our tree had multicolored lights and a conglomeration of ornaments that Katie and I made or that we got in various places where we traveled. Our tree topper is the ugliest gold, plastic angel you've ever seen. It has no face. I used to hate it, but as I got older, I started to like it due to its ugliness. It's our tree topper. We can't change it now! Anyway, I like ornaments that are sentimental or that come from places I've been. It's like our Christmas tree gives people a little glimpse of who we are. Ok, that's cheesy, but I still like my random ornaments.

My cousin Heather gave me this ornament at a wedding shower back in the summer. Our first ornament!

 From Carillon Beach--where we got married.

 Matt and I got this one on our honeymoon in Mexico. 

My mama got this ornament in Hawaii when she was pregnant with me. She gave it to me last year to put on my tree.

My cousin had these made before last Christmas. A little piece of Papaw will always be there with us on Christmas. (Katie and I called him Papaw, but everyone else called him Paw Paw. I have no idea why, but that's why the ornament says Paw Paw.) You can't really tell how pretty it is in this picture. The colors are beautiful. 

 This ornament came from The Mustard Seed--a Christian community/home for mentally challenged adults in Brandon (Jackson). They make all kinds of pottery, and the residents paint all of it. They sell it in a store, and all of the proceeds go toward running the home. It's a really incredible place, and I picked this particular ornament because it's [obviously] in the shape of my home state.

We had to have a Bama ornament. Duh.

Matt's mom made this ornament for us. It's our wedding program cut into strips and curled into little spirals. She put little charms on the top--a seashell and a starfish--since we got married at the beach. It's so neat!

Matt's mom also sent us this ornament.

Every single Christmas, my mom buys Katie and me an ornament that has the year incorporated into it. This was the one she sent us this year.

How much is that doggy in the window? (woof, woof)

I purchased these reindeer this year at Mistletoe, and I am super pumped about them, but I do feel like they're much prettier in person.

This is Pepe. He sings "Feliz Navidad" and dances around. My mom sent him to me in a little Christmas package when I was in college. He decorated my freshman dorm room and has been around ever since. I let him spice up Matt's office this year (Home office, that is--I'd never risk him being kidnapped at his actual office. I mean he's so awesome, it'd be asking for it.) 

You know how I said earlier that I really want to go into the forest and chop down my own Christmas tree? Well, cutting down my own mistletoe is the next best thing, I suppose. It took a while to find some low enough that I could get to it, but I was pretty pumped that I got it from a tree and not at Lowe's. I don't know why that gives me such satisfaction, but it does.

I was also pretty proud of this bow. I'm not good at making bows, so this was a real accomplishment.

My mom gave me these old place mats last year. I can't remember the last time she used them, but this year she asked me, "Do you know what I did with those Santa place mats?" "Um, you gave them to me, Mom. Do I have to give them back?" Haha. Thankfully, she let me keep them. I've grown quite attached.

 Rhonda is making so many contributions to my Christmas decor. She has a new, large, beautiful nativity scene that must have 20 pieces, so she gave me her old one. I was pretty excited. Y'all know I'm a sentimental gal, so I love it just because it's the one that was always displayed when we were growing up. But I also love it because it's just the necessities. Not that I don't love big, ornate, beautiful nativities, but sometimes at Christmas we need to focus on what it's all about: Jesus. So here we have Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and a little lamb--which I also love because my FAVORITE Christmas book is "The Crippled Lamb." If you've never read it, you should. Long story short: a little lamb gets left behind because he's crippled, and he ends up keeping baby Jesus warm in the stable. 

I can't believe that this is mine and Matt's first Christmas together! (Well, married, I mean.) I'm so unbelievably blessed with an amazing family that loves Jesus and always focused on what Christmas is all about. I'm so lucky to have added such a wonderful man to our family, and I can't wait to spend all the Christmases for the rest of my life with him.

Merry Christmas, everyone! And don't forget what we're celebrating.

"For there is born to you this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11



I have to interrupt the jolliness of this season to complain educate. It's Christmastime. Traffic is a nightmare. Please do your part to keep road rage, accidents, and blood pressures to a minimum. Use your blinker, folks. For the love of Christmas. Use your freakin' blinker.

In most cars, your blinker handle is on the left side of your steering wheel. Push it down to turn left. Push it up before you turn right. It's so easy. You can even use your pinky without taking your left hand off the steering wheel! No excuses. Also, be sure to use your blinker when changing lanes while traveling on the interstate at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. The folks in emergency rooms will thank you.

Merry Christmas. Safe travels.


Table re-do

A couple of months ago, I had this brilliant idea that I would paint our breakfast table. Then I realized how hard it was going to be to sand all of the little details, the chair backs, etc. Then my friend Alison told me about Annie Sloan's chalk paint. No, I did not paint my breakfast table black so that Matt and I could color on it if dinner conversation was lacking. That's chalkBOARD paint. Relax. This is chalk paint. You get it in boutique-style paint shops (I didn't know these existed prior to this project), and the beauty of this stuff is that it doesn't require sanding!

It sounded like a fabulous idea. I just didn't realize how big that table was or how obnoxious it would be to paint the spindle pieces that make up the chair backs. I also forgot how busy I am. Between rotations, interviews, and the need for sleep, let's just say it took a while. I finished it last night, and I'm pretty pumped about it. I don't think the pictures really do it justice though.

Let's start with the before pictures. Do you see why I wanted to paint the table? I'm not so much an oak fan, but it was free. This was Matt's grandparent's table. We have it more because it was sentimental than because it was free, though. I told Matt that I'm 100% positive that if Mamaw could see this table now, she'd be wondering why she didn't discover Chateau Grey chalk paint years ago.

Please note that there are lions in the chairs. I just don't even have anything to say about that.

Whatcha think? Please disregard Grayce's kennel.

 I painted it, waxed it, then put this dark wax on it that makes it look antiqued and distressed. The dark wax stays in the grooves of the wood. I like how it turned out!

And when I came home yesterday from Christmas shopping, this pretty orchid was in the kitchen. Chili was also in my crockpot. I have a fabulous husband, don't you think?

The table got a Christmas makeover, though.

I love poinsettias, but I have to put them where my dogs can't eat them. I mean, they don't usually eat plants, but I'm sure the second I put a poisonous one on the floor by the fireplace, The Big One will have it for a snack.

Anyway, I'm glad that the table is finally done. Matt's glad too because I wouldn't let him eat off of it for the past 2 months. (It wasn't waxed, so if you spilled anything, you couldn't wipe it off.) Time to retire the TV trays for a while! And by the way, mark my words--I will never paint another piece of furniture.


Lots to be thankful for

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I have so much to be thankful for. With Thanksgiving upon us, I think I'll take a moment to count my blessings.

I am so thankful...

...that I was raised in a family who loves the Lord. That I was born to parents and grandparents who taught me by example to live for Christ. That I was brought up in church, that my parents prayed with me, and that they read the Bible to me.

...for my husband. I'm so thankful that he has been so supportive over the last three and a half years, that he was understanding when my life was not my own, and that he is ready and willing to pick up and move wherever I want/need to go for residency come next July. I don't know what I would have done without him. It's been tough, and he was always there to wrap his arms around me and make me laugh.

...for parents who have always supported me and encouraged me to chase my [very expensive] dream of becoming a doctor.

...for my mother. She has more faith and confidence in my abilities than I think I could ever have in myself. She always makes me feel like I can do anything. I'm also thankful that she let me paint my room every color I ever imagined, that she took me to Bookland once a week as a child, and that she never once missed a gymnastics meet, piano recital, basketball game, or drill team performance.

...that my dad has continued to put a roof over my head (at age 25...), that he taught me how to cook (which is particularly fortunate since cooking isn't a strength of my aforementioned wonderful husband), and that he indirectly kept me out of trouble via fear tactics. (Now I'm thankful!)

...for my sister and the friend she has become as we've gotten older. After all, she has the best clothes, the biggest selection of purses, the creative gene, and she always makes me laugh.

...for grandparents that have always been a huge part of my life. I could go on all day about them. I'm thankful for my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I'm so thankful to have such a huge, close family.

...that I have the kind of friends who buy me rain boots on my wedding day to cheer me up, who I know I can call in the middle of the night, who will spend hours on the phone with me because we live in different states, who send me good-luck messages before every test because they wrote my test schedule in their calendar, who have picked me up off the bathroom floor, and who know all of my flaws, yet they still stand beside me no matter what.

...and proud to be an American. I love this country and, I'm thankful that we can worship freely, our votes matter, and we can be anything we want to be. What a blessing we take for granted!

...that in 6 short months, I will have the privilege and honor of being a physician.

...for my Yorkie, Oscar Bob, and our Weimaraner, Grayce. They are so funny, and they really do bring joy to my heart.

...for Rotel dip.

...for weekends off and sleeping late. I'm more and more thankful for this, since it seems these weekends are increasingly few and far between.

...for central air and heat.

...for Shonda, my paid-for 2000 Honda Accord.

...for my favorite pair of jeans that I'm wearing right now.

...that I live in a place where it's reasonable to wear flip-flops and a tshirt until the end of November.

...for the Internet. Seriously.

...for diet coke, coffee, and the Kroger-brand crystal light that has an absurd amount of caffeine in it.

...for our fenced-in backyard.

...for my Canon Rebel T1i camera.

...for the soldiers and veterans who are or have served to protect our great country.

...for being raised by a family who grew our own vegetables and taught me how to pick, shell, shuck, and preserve them.

...for Mrs. Nesbitt, my third grade teacher who changed my life with books. Because of her, I love to read, and I love school.

...for Southern comfort food: mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, collard greens, fried okra, catfish, green beans wrapped in bacon, and hushpuppies.

...for dishwashers.

And lastly, for Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday. Hope yours is fabulous!


Honeymoonin' (Part 2)

Matt and I l love nothing more than lying around doing nothing. It's disgusting how long I can lie on the couch without getting up (for any reason). However, for the best week of my life (thus far), we traded in the couch for some lounge chairs on the beach... And it was glorious. Waiters on the beach--the best idea EVER. Alejandro, our personal beach waiter, brought us drinks and nachos all. day. long. 

After a couple of days of doing nothing (and loving it), we decided to do a little exploring around Mexico. I somehow convinced my new husband to ride horses through the jungle and on the beach. My sweet city boy (well, when you compare Huntsville to Greenville, he seems like a "city boy" to me!) had never ridden a horse. I can't imagine.  He was nervous (but brave). I guess if you haven't grown up around horses and have never ridden one, a thousand-pound animal may be a bit intimidating. His knuckles were white from the death grip he had on the saddle, but by the end of it he was practically a cowboy. 

Cowboy up. Look how relaxed! He may kill me  for this.

Just FYI, horses are very afraid of camels. Just in case you ever find yourself on horseback in the presence of a camel or two. (Hey, it happened to us.) Move away from the camel. Quickly.

This was my second horse, by the way. My first one bucked me. Awesome. I almost peed my pants. Do you like my sweet honeymoon hat my sister gave me? My BFF, Sandidge, told me I looked like Diane Lane. I'll take that as a compliment. Notice that I'm almost not even in the picture. Subtle, yes, but the a-hole, egocentric, anti-female man from upstate New York took this picture. He hates women. He would not speak to me. He chatted Matt's head off. I made a game into trying to get him to look me in the face. No dice.

Sometimes we would come back to our room and champagne would just have magically appeared on our table. I really dig the all-inclusive thing. Cheers!

The third night, we ate at the Italian restaurant. FAVORITE. By far. We ate there twice. Let me just tell you that this girl gained 7 lbs during my 7 day honeymoon. Now let me tell you why: we ate FOUR meals a day! Who does that? I don't even eat 3 whole meals a day at home! We ate breakfast in bed everyday, then first lunch around noon, then second lunch around 3:30ish, then dinner around 9pm! And with the latter 2 meals, we always ordered both appetizers AND dessert. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my metabolism. I probably should've gained 20 lbs. Geez. So anyway, back to this phenomenal dessert. This vanilla ice cream with frozen strawberries... Well, this was not your typical vanilla ice cream. It was the best thing I've ever eaten. It came from Heaven. I'm drooling just thinking about it. Mexican vanilla ice cream. Two months later, Matt and I still talk about it. Often. We're going back. Just for the vanilla ice cream.

Runner-up chocolate thing.

Day four, we went to Tulum--some Mayan ruins. So cool! 

Honeymoon solo-shot. Haha.

He becomes my husband and apparently feels this new obligation to carry my crap. (Well, it was our crap, technically.) I'm not complaining. How cute is he carrying that beach bag? He wouldn't let me carry it. I like marriage.

Iguanas. Everywhere. Welcome to Mexico.

More to come, people. So many pictures, so little time.