Friday, January 31, 2014

snow jam two oh fourteen.

all of you northerners and west coasters are probably sick of hearing about hashtag snow jam 2014. not as sick as all of us were, suffering from cabin fever or those of us that were stranded on the highways for hours. at first it was fun and exciting and there is a little thrill of throwing off crazy schedules and being stuck in doors for a couple of days. but then that starts to wear especially as we heard horrible stories about those that were stuck in the snow storm.

if you want to read a very thorough and positive outlook on what was happening here in Atlanta, you hafta, haaaaafta read this post from my friend, Ashley Krieger. she couldn't have said it better.

and there was def a positive side for the butlers. it's funny 'cause ryan and i were just saying on sunday how we were preparing ourselves for an insane busy week. we expected one of those weeks where we hardly saw each other except right before bed to say goodnight and whoever was the last one up to turn off the lights. the past couple weeks before that had been a whirlwind of busyness so we were just preparing ourselves to tackle another week head on.

so all that to say the timing of  the snow jam couldn't have been better. for us, at least.

this is us enjoying the first hour of snowfall so not too much is on the ground. and it was nice 'cause it wasn't freezing cold yet. we hadn't enjoyed snow together since we lived in chicago, so these two chicago kids got a little giddy over it.

ryan wasn't completely off the clock. he still had to work from home but it was nice to be able to work along side him. we both had our laptops out and worked in our PJs, drinking hot tea and coffee throughout the day.

and you guys have probably seen this ticker tape on my instagram and all over the internet because it's just freaking hilarious. it cracks me up every time i see it.

*insert emoticon crying-laughing here*


and then the rest of my indoor shenanigans. major indulge-ment of homemade PB cookies courtesy of my mother-in-law. started on a new book, shiver (no kidding). also was not planning to be as hardcore as others and run in the snow. sorry, not gonna pretend i'm that in shape. so ilene stuck with lots of stretching and her good ole stationary bike. and last but not least while rummaging our kitchen pantry, i grabbed myself a jar of peanut butter and a sleeve of crackers and thought to myself if all i had was PB in my kitchen when the apocalypse hit, i would be just fine. and i know, i really would.

i'm really thankful the butlers had one of the more uneventful stories for snow jam 2014. ryan works only a few minutes down the road, so we didn't have to worry about him having to commute back and get stuck for hours. also being stuck inside made me grateful for things (hot water, heat, warm food, blankets, layers of clothes, peanut butter) that we can easily take for granted on a day to day basis. and the fact that ryan was home safe with me in our home was really all that mattered.

and stay strong, atlanta. don't let the other winter cities' mockery bring us down. we totally rock.

*insert fist pound emoticon here*

much love.
{happy friday, friend.}

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

currently // staying indoors, cateye sunglasses, and #teamwade among other things.

lipstick: radiant cosmetics / heart sweater: forever 21 / sunglasses: c/o firmoo

literally currently: i am currently in doors, staying off of the roads. i'm in my hello kitty PJs, dragging my feet around in my bright pink house slippers. the view outside my window is absolutely glorious - white snow caking the deck and glazing the tree branches. but goodness, the stories about so many people and cars getting stuck on the atlanta highways...some stranded...are so horrible. i keep praying for them. it also makes me grateful that ryan gets to work from home today and that i don't have to worry about him being on the icy roads. stay strong, atlanta!

reading: finally (for a change!) i have lots of books to talk about. i feel like the past few currently posts, i was already in some reading rut. i finished the dream thieves last week and i def recommend it. i personally enjoyed the first book in its series probably a lot more but the sequel is def worth picking up to read. i don't want to give too much away but it's a magical world and like i've mentioned in a previous post, one of my fave book boyfriends is in it. so yeah, go read it. i also finished nora ephron's i feel bad about my neck and oh, i love her and her writing so much. it's a book of essay of her life and NYC. really makes me wish i lived there. and that's saying a lot since i was always one of those people who said i would love to visit NYC but never live in it. i bite my tongue and rest my case. also i just started shiver by maggie stiefvater and i think i'm gonna like it. i'm one of those that can tell by the first chapter if i like a book or not and this one is one of them. that's just how i've always read books. life is too short to read boring books.

watching: since i couldn't go running, i made it out on the stationary bike today: 45 minutes, just enough for a Hart of Dixie episode on netflix, which also happened to be the finale of season two. i will say that i loved season one more than two but i can't help but like the characters, as cheesy as the show is. also season one, i was #teamgeorge but season two made me #teamwade. i guess i'm more like zoe hart than i thought. so fickle.

eating: toasted wheat bread, topped with aged swiss cheese and slices of fresh avacado. i also add an illegal dosage of black pepper and then salt to taste (sometimes garlic salt!). i eat this way too often but it's so good and perfect for any meal (i've made it as an appetizer for dinner).

wearing: this pair of cateye sunglasses (see above photo!) from my friends at firmoo. i had been on the hunt for forever for a pair of cateye sunglasses and this pair ended up to be a perfect match. firmoo customizes every pair for your style and needs. you can even upload your own picture to see how you "look" in each pair. whether you are looking for prescription or sunglasses, they seriously have ever possible option. i customize this pair of glasses into sunglasses and got to select the color of my frames and the tint. they are really the perfect pair - not to big and not too small for my size face. interested in getting your own pair? email me with your email address for a $30 coupon code to go towards the a pair from the classic eyeglasses collection! and last but not least, for blogger friends, they are always looking for blogger collabs so check out HERE to see if you and firmoo would make a good match!

listening: lots of Lorde, partly because i really do love her voice and her music but partly because i'm trying to remove and dismiss the seizure images from the Grammy's the other night. i want to think of her the way i did pre-Grammy's. also did anyone else notice how she didn't open her eyes once the entire performance? still love Lorde and her hair and dark lipstick and Royals though. and yes, it's still on repeat on my ipod.

loving: i find myself loving running more and more. if you asked me about running last year, i would have laughed in your face. i've always hated running. now that running has become a big part of my life, the times that i can't run can be such a downer; however the times that i can run (because i will NOT run when it's frigid cold - that's just insane. sorry.), i find it even more exhilarating. it's easy to take warm weather for granted when you have it so often but with this winter that georgia has been battling, you really soak up the warm days. do not take life for granted, people, especially in an ill-weather-prepared state like GA.

what are you currently up to, friend? this post is always inspire by danni of sometimes sweet. create your own post and be sure to include it in the comments below! always love reading them! xoxo!

much love.
{happy wednesday, friend.}

Monday, January 27, 2014

oh, monday. we meet again.

jacket: c/o oasap / white tee: forever 21 / scarf: c/o ecoshag / jeans: aeropostle / boots: c/o dsw shoes 

i really do like mondays. i really do. 

i just told that to ryan this morning. there is something new and fresh after a weekend to recharge to be able to attack another insane week of life. but this morning we were both feeling it.

the weekend was so good, that we decided that we really could tack on another sunday to the weekend. too bad, the rest of life or the calendar didn't decide with us, so here we go...facing another monday.

but like i said, the weekend was a good one. ryan worked late friday night, so once he got back home, there wasn't much time left for partying. so he crashed in early while i immersed myself into the world of nora ephron through this book. (and btw while reading it, i could hear meg ryan's voice the entire time that i read it. influence of you've got mail? i would think YES.) kind me an old lady but it was a wonderful way to kick off the weekend - inspired to write and direct clever movies and apartment hunt and book my plane ticket to NYC like yesterday. 

m o r n i n g || Starbucks is a good place. husband meets with his clients and I tag along so I can happily drink my vanilla latte and read in a comfy chair. everybody's got to do their part, right?  #instagood #igdaily #bookaddict #coffeeaddict

then on saturday, ryan had to drive to a starbucks about an hour away to meet with one of his he asked if i'd like to keep him company. duh! so i brought along nora so that i could find a corner to curl up with my book ( i was going to say nora but thought that might just sound plain awkward) and my vanilla latte. so i did find my corner but ended up talking to a super nice girl name joy who sells face skin cream and got me thinking about the need to start on anti-wrinkle lotions and crap 'cause hey, we are facing the big 3-0 this year. and my sensitive skin is already whacked, so it def got the wheels turning. plus i made a brand new friend, which is always a pleasant person to come across in my opinion. after joy left, i did have some time left to breeze through a few conversations with nora and soak in her life in the big city. 

and then ryan wrapped up his meeting and we headed out the door for our drive back home. we had plans for dinner and a movie later that evening but we discovered that we were driving past an AMC (and we also discovered it's the biggest AMC we'd ever been to. even bigger than the one in Chicago. 24 theaters, yo) so heck yes, made the drastic (okay, not really) turn to see Catching Fire.

now ryan hasn't seen the movie so i was ecstatic! and he ended up really enjoying it and it took everything in me not to say, i told you so since i'd be begging him to go see especially since he wasn't the biggest fan of the first movie. but with how much he loved the sequel, he pretty much said it, you told me so and so i left it at that because it made me happy.

and since you don't really need a detailed play by play of our entire weekend, i'll condense it with this:

1. went out to dinner to Applebee's and could have literally inhaled three more servings of the potato twisters with the queso dip. forget the entree. i wanted more queso.
2. watched Captain Philips and didn't breathe for most of it. also annoyed ryan by imitating Tina Fey who imitated Barkhad Abdi at the Golden Globes: look at me! i'm da the captain now! i might have done it more than a hundred times that night - and might slipped with a few more on sunday afternoon.

I'm the captain now!

3. dessert run to Kroger and came back with PB creme pie. we ate almost half of it. so good.
4. still thinking about the queso dip so i looked up a copy-cat recipe on pinterst. BOOM.
5. sunday morning church. always love worshiping with such a refreshing community of people.
6. wore the above outfit to church but really it's a uniform for the week. and THAT triangle scarf from my talented friend tania of ecoshag might be my new fave scarf. i say might 'cause this other black one is competing for my favoritism.
7. ate my leftovers from Applebees. continuing obsession over that queso recipe.
8. binge-watch Netflix and caught up on Parenthood (oh, my goodness - joel and julia, just stop. i can't handle it anymore)
9. took 2 cat naps. blissful.
10. had a really good future conversation with Ryan. those are my favorites. the kinds where we snuggle, maybe hold hands and talk about the future and dream together. no the kind of conversations tapered by worry or frustration. just dream.

so monday, can you see why? i don't hate you. just wanted to delay you one more day. but here you are, so i guess i need to roll up my sleeves and put my big girl pants on, the ones that have bring it written all over it.

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

taking stock. take two.

three things || 1. grey sweatshirts are one of the best things ever invented 2. this oldie but google necklace from @shoplemode gives the perfect punch of neon and gold and 3. there's a *new post* on the blog about...three (other) things: "thief-ery," Dow

Making : plans for the year 
Cooking : my original pasta recipe (we don't have a name for it so ryan and i refer it as ilene's pasta) + this olive cheese bread (which is to die for) for dinner tonight 
Drinking : apple juice. been my recent juice crave. 
Reading:  two books at the moment - the dream thieves and is everybody hanging out without me? (and other concerns) the latter is freaking hilarious.
Wanting: Ryan to hurry back from his meeting so we can hang out on what's left of the day 
Looking: forward to finally wrapping up this long day with a hot shower, PJs and finishing one of my two books
Playing: Midnight Memories on repeat (don't judge) 
Wasting: too much time playing Farm Heros (but man, does it not feel good to beat a level? not as good as a Candy Crush level but pretty darn good.) 
Sewing: a button onto one of my favorite winter coats. it popped off when i threw it in the washing machine. 
Wishing: for the warmer days of summer
Enjoying: family group text messages 
Waiting: my phone to finish charging 
Liking: only black nail polish these days
Wondering: if people still read blogs as much as they used to 
Loving: my church family and community 
Hoping:  a certain life long dream comes true this year 
Marveling: the faithfulness of God 
Needing:  a nice, long run 
Smelling: what's left of the DKNY green apple perfume on my sweater 
Wearing: jeans and my purple sweater but about to get into my PJs and calling it a day
Following: my newest IG crush @designlovefest (how have i never heard of her before?! somebody has obviously been living under a rock) 
Noticing: short and medium hairstyles all around me (so tempted to cut my hair again!)
Thinking: about the unknown and discovering more beauty in it than as something to be feared 
Bookmarking: several quotes from Mindy's book i'm reading because they are too hilarious and want to share them with my sisters later 
Opening: too many windows on my laptop 
Giggling: all the time over everything 
Feeling: tired yet content and oh so thankful 

wrote one of these a few months back and thought it would be fun to write another one up again. 
inspired by pip of meet me at mike's!  if you write one of your own, include it in the comments - i'd love to read it! 

much love.
{happy wednesday, friend.}

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

life ramblings on colored tights, buzzfeed surveys and growing up.

jacket: c/o oasap / sweater dress: base exchange (old) / tights: we love colors / boot wedges: c/o Blowfish Shoes (old) / infinity scarf: c/o ecoshag 

oh, guyssssss. 

there was a time in my life when my black tights were the ones i least wore. i always went for the cherry red or the mustard yellow or teal green ones. not that i'm completely ready to lay those tights to rest, but from the past year or so, i've found myself drawn to lots of black or more basic stuff in whites and grays. as you can see from above outfit post...proof of my recent daily uniform.

*sigh.* is this a sign of the times? of real adulthood? the time when you lay childish things aside and matuuuuure and pick the "boring" colors....? i'll keep you posted on my findings as i try to figure this out.

in other news, it's been a good week. yesterday my internet was out and which forced me to put on my "domestic" hat and clean house and make Ryan's favorite dessert from scratch. and in contrary to dessert making and testing, i went on a nice long run especially since ATL hit a high of 61 degrees - raise the roof!

and hey, it's only tuesday and the coast looks clear.

this morning i went to a bible study (which i am eating up!) and then spent the afternoon at the movies with a bag of buttery popcorn, my girl tanya and our BFF, J-Law (or J-Rawr as we lovingly have dubbed her after her raaaawwring T-Swift photobomb).

ooooh, and real quick, did you guys do this J-Law survey? i got the American Hustle Jennifer Lawrence. still don't know exactly how that is my result. probably because i choose the regular coca-cola answer or maybe because i picked speed skating as my chosen olympic sport. i mean, come on - i need this person's job who gets to sit around and dictate people's life choices based on these little annoying but addicting surveys! friends are moving to portland because of this one! don't do it! it's rigged! portland would actually hate me if i ever became a part of their community. i know this because i am the last person on the earth to go organic. how do i know this? because of that little life-manipulating survey.

mmmkay, i'm finished. moving on.

tomorrow is a big day for me.

i am officially changing my last name. *cringe.* i know, i know. celebrated my one year last month and haven't made it official-official (facebook does not count). and i'm not one of those that are against taking their husband's last name. i just never got around to it. and do you know what a pain it is to get your butt down to the social security office on a weekday in atlanta? if you don't, then yes, it's a pain. if you do, then bless your little heart.

so i guess you could say this is me growing up in a nut shell: retiring the bright, neon tights and legit-taking my husband's last name. and a part of growing up is shutting up when it's time to shut up, so for now, this is me signing off! ex-oh-ex-oh! muwah!

much love.
{happy tuesday, friend.}

Thursday, January 16, 2014

three things: thief-ery, downtown abbey, and the world of cooking.

~ a somewhat irrelevant, obnoxiously large picture of my face but if we had a coffee date and were face to face, my friend, this is whatcha get. in. your. face. and i do have a large head (by size, not ego). not exaggerating. ~ 

feels like life has been go-go-go especially since after the the holidays. december was pretty crazy for us, too but january seems like it hasn't stopped. but personally, i like it that way. i love full days and am taking advantage of this fresh start to the year. so in the midst of the craziness (in a good way!) here are three (random) thaaaaangs on my mind: 

1 // last night i couldn't stop laughing (this is an every day occurrence, actually). every night this week, Ryan has pointed out how i am so bad about stealing the covers at night. he never mentioned this before but i think ever since the temperatures have dropped, we get colder in the middle of the night; therefore, i have a tendency (in my sleep, i swear! i am unaware of any thing when i'm asleep!) to steal all the blankets. like ALL the blankets and sheets. we have a mink blanket that we use in the winter and i have snag that one. so i told him about the time i had to share an air mattress and one blanket with Leonora and how she was so cold that night (and we were in Colorado for goodness sake) and how we couldn't stop laughing that i did that (and had to swear to her all over again that i am totally unaware of my "thief-ery" so after the conference she even sent me this card. and when i pointed that card out to Ryan (which i stuck on our dresser mirror), he said to me i know exactly why she sent that card to you! and my laughing fit continued as i tried to give him as many covers as possible.

hi, my name is ilene and i am a blanket stealer. (hiiiiii, ilene.)

2 // this past week's downtown abbey episode. i don't even know what to say. my heart is broken and shattered. i don't want to give too much away especially for those that might still be on previous seasons or haven't even caught up on this week's. but those of you who watched...gah! i couldn't stop texting about it with my mom and then even started to talk about it to Ryan, who doesn't watch the show but is used to me talking about characters (from books or tv or magazines or anywhere really) like i know them in real life. 

me: Ryan, i can't believe it! it's so wrong! whhhhyyyyy? why did that even happen?
Ryan: i know, babe. i'm really sorry.
me: gah! i mean, why did't she say anything? and that dude...he just - just walked away!
Ryan: that's rough. i'm sorry, babe. 

(he's so understanding, isn't he? i think i'll keep him.)

3 // okay, so if you knew me immediately after college, you would know my passion for my hatred of cooking. i ate out a lot (well, i did live in Chicago so that's a given) and avoided any "opportunities" to bring side dishes or desserts (everyone loves Oreos and Chips Ahoy, right?). and even when i first married Ryan, i hated being in the kitchen. like i would literally start hyperventilating, staring at the recipe and sweating as i tried to figure out measurements and ingredients and all that crap. 

but noooow, and it's a flipping miracle...i really (prepare yourself, especially you Kim, my old roommate who knew of my anti-cooking disorder..are you sitting down?), reeeeaaaallly have started to love like (baby steps) cooking! good thing, Ryan is a patient man. he says he isn't but with me, he really is. he actually did most of the cooking before he got his full time job (and he is a fantastic cook - it's the italian in him, i think) but then when our schedules change (and mine is more flexible than his), i took on the challenge of rolling up my sleeves and cooking away. and he was very kind as i ventured into this brand new world called cooking.

and i admit, i still sweat perspire a little bit when tackling new recipes but there is a brand new feeling of excitement and satisfaction when i cook a meal that we can enjoy together! there is something about a good meal that is comforting. even though the day might have been crazy, you can know you can follow a favorite recipe, whip it up and know that there is immediate joy when those combined ingredients hit your tastebuds.

whoa. that felt very julia childs of me.

and you? three things on your mind, right now! about being a blanket stealer, your feelings towards DA or even mutual hatred/love for cooking - anything! share in the comments below or send me your link if you end up writing a similar post! i always love to read them. 

much love.
{happy thursday, friend.}

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

you asked. i answered. // book recommendations for the new year!

Goodnight, world.  #bookaddict (currently reading: the dream thieves by Maggie Stiefvater)

whoa, i think it's been awhile since i've written a post like this. i get a handful of emails and tweets, asking recommendations on new reads so i thought it'd be fun to just write up my recent recommendations in one handy-dandy place especially if some of you are just itching for some new reads or hoping to get into more reading in 2014.

and heads up, if you've followed me long enough you know my taste in books is rather eclectic but can lean a lot towards YA is, this particular batch of books and mainly that.

carry on.

eleanor and park: rainbow rowell

i didn't know what to expect with this book. i heard mixed reviews. some people loved it, others hated it or couldn't get it it at all. whenever i hear this about a book, it makes me actually want to read it 'cause i like to form my own opinions (really on just about anything). so with eleanor and park, don't have the expectation for it to be anywhere near the fault in our stars (gah! another MUST READ if you have not). expectations aside, i found the characters quirky which made me like them all the more, wanting to know if e and p ended up together. guess you'll have to find out for youself.

the sea of tranquility: katja millay

loved this one. not the most fast-paced book but the emotions are absolutely raw, you can't help but be drawn into the lives and thoughts of the characters. you might need some kleenex for this one. and the closing chapter? absolutely beautiful. makes the whole book worth the read. also the main girl is a runner which i found rather inspiring as i read this when i first started my running this past summer.

scarlet (book #2 in lunar chronicles): marissa meyer

i have to say i loved cinder (the first book) more than the second one but i still really enjoyed scarlet. i'm already a sucker for fairy tales of any sort (once upon a time, anybody?) so i love how marissa meyer creatively weaves fairy tale characters in her own unique twist. and like the first book, this one was a cliff hanger, making you hate the fact that you have to wait a whole 'nother year for a book release when you read the book in 1.5 days.

clockwork princess: cassandra clare

i think i might have to set aside a whole blog post for my love of the infernal devices series. i cannot rave enough about these books. you have heard me talk about these books. not the first time on this blog or twitter or IG. everything about this series is perfection. and i'm not even the biggest fan of the the mortal instruments (infernal is the prequel to mortal - aha! light bulb!). they were good to me but THIS series was beyond great. the character development is spot on. every single book was fast-paced and riveting and always left you wanting for me. and the way cassandra (totally first name basis - cassie?) wrapped up the series, BEST ending ever. the kind of book where you are so sad that the series is over but still so satisfied.

and in case you were wondering, team will all the way.

name of the star: maureen johnson

i could not put this book down. and i admit, i did double-check the closets and under the bed while reading it. it's a little bit on the eerie side but you can't stop reading 'cause you just want to find out how it turns out! without giving too much away, i love that the setting was in england and i love the creepy factor about it. eeeek!

the raven boys: maggie stiefvater

this book totally includes one of my newest fave book boyfriends of all time. his name is gansey, and you need to read this one to meet him. *throw hand to forehead and sigh* it includes four intriguing boys (this statement is debatable), lots of magic and a strong, female protagonist (love her!). it's also so well-written (i have a weakness for good writing. sure, i can reading stephanie meyers work through much-cringing but i am able to read it 'cause i think over all, it was a great story line. but when its a stellar story and stellar writing, it really must be praised.) again, i hate giving away too much but if you trust me this book is a winner.

and it's so good, i'm currently reading book 2 in the series, the dream thieves.

unearthly trilogy: cynthia hand

first off, throw off any preconceived ideas that come along with the covers of this series. when my friend first recommended them to me she had to tell me the same thing. cheesiest covers ever but the content phenomenal. remember me raving about hush, hush? this series is WAY better than hush, hush. and i really don't like all angel-hype books that seem to be coming out but though this is an "angel story," it's a fantastic story line with some fabulous character development.

also if you finish the series, my friend (the one who recommended this series) and i are planning a trip to Jackson Hole. it sounds so beautiful in the books, we can't help but dream about a trip out there!


and that's it! for now at least. have you read any of these? what are your thoughts on them? you know me, i'm always up for a book discussion! and i'm also always open to recommendations so please, share!

much love.
{happy thursday, friend.}

Monday, January 13, 2014


leather jacket: christmas gift from my sister, Ashley / denim: Belk / skirt: forever 21 / tights: we love colors / boots: c/o Blowfish Shoes / sunglasses: c/o firmoo 

i confess...

i feel like katniss everdeen when i wear brown leather anything. so yes, i feel like katniss everdeen in this outfit but i guess in a capitol slash districk twelve collaboration or something.

i had to double check the spelling of everdeen. everdean? no, everdeen. ok, i was right the first time.

i've had this skirt for yeaaaars. it's from forever 21 but sadly, i don't think i can even direct you that way 'cause i doubt they have it on the rack or on their site anymore.

i feel like katy perry in these cat eye sun glasses but as of last night's golden globes, i guess i'm channeling my inner meryl streep.

i had to double check the spelling of meryl's name as well. (really shouldn't be typing out other people's names on an early monday morning.)

and speaking of the golden globes, i started tearing up and squealing for joy for my BFF, J-Law when she won and nervously gave her speech. gah, she's so great. (and this photo-bomb. best photobomb EVER.)

i haven't run in 2 weeks because of a hacking cough and fear of the combination of frigid temperature and rain. *fist pumps the air* but alas, today is the day! (just keep telling yourself that, ilene.)

i have a weakness for addicting game apps...esp ones made by the makers of candy crush. this weekend i discovered farm heros. DO NOT download it if you are like me at all. i repeat, DO NOT download. (don't say i didn't warn you.)

what do you confess?

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

Friday, January 10, 2014

one day a year where we can be kids all over again.

oh, goodness. i know what you're thinking. what another christmas post? we're almost to mid January! 

i know, i know. but after a couple weeks of being out of town and a week of blowing my nose and coughing, i fell a little bit behind on everything. either way some of these pictures are some of my favorite from my trip home, that i found myself laughing over some of the memories that came along with them.

and seriously, if some of these pictures don't bring a smile to your face, you must be the grinch himself with a heart three sizes too small. plus most of you are probably suffering from cabin fever or post-holiday depression that christmas pictures never hurt anybody.

driving into the my parents driveaway (it's a long one) is probably one of my favorite moments of the trip. you know that feeling of you being home just whooshes over you and you can almost smell mom's cooking through the car's vents as you drive up to the house? well, that's what i felt and my sister and i start maniacally giggling and squealing and trying to rip our seatbelts off so that we can all jump out of the car to give everybody (even the neighbors!) hugs galore. i love the look on my parents face as they got to hug baby lux for the first time since seeing her in august. and i double-love the look that she is giving the camera when Ashley got a hold of her for the first time.

over-whelmed much?

but for Ashley's sake, that was like a 5 second shot and then Lux was totally back to normally, giggling and grinning really big like everybody else. we just liked to give Auntie Ash a hard time about that puckered lip.

as soon as we made it home, it seemed like we were rushing out the door again. we crammed into my parents SUV (ssssshhhh! don't tell the cops!) and drove to the Christmas eve service at the church. it really was a beautiful service (but i won't lie - i started to get heart palpitations and holding my long hair super close to my face and away from all possible flames) and loved how we had a minute to really stop and think about the reason for the day. sometimes you need that, you know? i know i did. 

and part of the Gamboa traditions, we stopped by a couple neighborhoods to check out Christmas lights. i know most people complain about the obnoxious ones with a million santas and nativity scenes and techno lights with the loud, blasting techno music - but my family and i make it a goal to find those every year so that we can sit outside those people's houses and just soak in all the neon madness. 

but we didn't get too find too many this year because baby Lux decided it was time for us to go home. her lungs and screams were making it abundantly clear. i'd probably cry too if i was stuck in a car seat while every one around me was oooohing and aaaaahing over wooden cut outs and stringed lights that i couldn't see. 

the night continued with our yearly traditions: cranking up the Christmas tunes and playing Christmas movies in the other room (our yearly line-up Jingle All the Way, Elf, A Christmas Story, The Grinch (Jim Carrey version), and all the Home Alone moves - family rule: no one watches these movies except on December 24 and 25...and because of that, these movies really never get old on us. Dad hides them away in a secret vault so no one can touch them).

and with all the Christmas entertainment filling the house, some of us are in the kitchen prepping dishes for the Christmas eve feast. with all of us in the kitchen, it's a little chaotic but always fun - pushing each other with elbows and giggling over stupid things.

and then when we eat, we are normally starving at this point and we devour. we always make extra so that we can nibble on the leftovers on Christmas day. after everybody is stuffed, Dad brings out the Bible to read the Christmas story. this year he gave Kristine's Ryan the privilege and then Dad closed it off in prayer.

and then midnight strikes.

the table is cleared. everybody makes their way to the living room. somebody sets up the tripod (we have home videos for years and years - they really are so much fun to watch later on. we end up crying laughing every time). mom sets herself closest to the tree as she has always distributed everybody their gifts. and then the fun begins! with more of us home this year, it meant more presents to exchange so the living room was quick to be covered in wrapping paper and bows (the dogs, peyton and alexio loved this!) and it also us longer to open presents.

after presents and hugs and "THANK YOU'S" are exchanged, we clean up the living room and pull out the mattresses from the bedrooms. camp out! we also put in a Home Alone and some people "play" with their new toys while others watch the movie and drift off to sleep. the only lights left on are the Christmas tree's and i've always found it so magical and comforting.

so as you can imagine, from a night of partying all night long, we do a lot of this on Christmas day. the mattresses stay in the living room. lots of lounging and napping and living in our PJs all day. it's so nice to know that there is one day a year where we can all be kids again.

time stops.

we can reflect. we can be with family again. we can eat till we are stuffed silly. we can be kids again, giddy over the little things.

one day a year and it's one of the best days ever.

much love.
{happy friday, friend.}

Thursday, January 9, 2014

sometimes you just need to get away...

...and get away we did!

for our one year anniversary, which already feels like ages ago.
can we go back like today, pleeeease?!

some of you followed along our adventures via instagram...where i know, i know i tended to overgram it but i couldn't help it with so much beauty surrounding us and just the absolute giddiness of finally being on vacation together at one of our favorite places in the world: st. simons, ga.

we are both morning people (gaaaah! i can't believe i've said that but believe it or not, over the past year, i've def become one. still need my cup of coffee but my internal clock wakes me up at seven a.m. these days. geez. i'm such an old lady) so we woke up at sunrise every morning. and oh goodness - the sunriiiiise. it was absolutely breath-taking to see every day especially as it peeked through the ocean's horizon, surrounded by pink and purple colors. God's creation never stops to amaze me.

and many mornings and afternoons and early evenings were spent walking on the beach. though it was chillier than other days we'd been on the islands, the temperatures were warmer than back home in atlanta, so we soaked up every bit of being outdoors.


our sneakers were caked with wet sand and my hair so beach-blown. we chased seagulls and laughed at how cute they all were, gathered together and looking for food. some moments were just spent in silence, walking hand in hand and enjoying togetherness.

and watching and listening to the waves crash against the absolute fave.

soooooooo Ryan, when's our next vacation again? *blinks eyelashes profusely*

much love.
{happy thursday, friend.}