Sunday, May 29, 2016

Holiday(s) Hodgepodge

The end of November through December fly faster than any time of the year due to all the celebrating that goes on!  If I wanted to, I could find something new each day, but I don't think I could handle it. With all that I did, I got run down for sure, but it was totally worth it. For my last holiday season here in Morristown, I tried to do all that I could to make the most if it.
I got to show off my fancy new turkey trot socks and my mini stuffed turkey as I went to school and ran the days before Footlocker. 
I also went to visit Granannie and take her a milkshake--her favorite--Sonic hot fudge with whipped cream and cherry on top!
This Thanksgiving Mamaw and Papaw came to have dinner with us. We couldn't forget our little outdoor family members either. They may not speak, but we are so glad to have them. 

It may be kind of a joke, but in all honesty, thanking the Lord for our food is so important!  That's what gives us life and energy!  So many people wish they could eat good meals, but rarely get to, not just in far away countries, but right here in America and our towns, too. 
"...certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth."  1 Timothy 4:3
I do love my food and being festive for the holidays, so I made a meatball, carrot stick, toothpick, beet turkey.

 One of the best things about the weekend of Thanksgiving:  Black Friday shopping?  NO.  Footlocker!

I decided to have a little fun while we traveled to Charlotte, and photograph "Trot the Traveling Turkey" at all of our pitstops. The night before the races, the course at beautiful McApline Park is open for jogs, so I always go to shake out and think about different spots during the race. We saw some of our Morristown friends there, too!  Jim Clark is just so funny. This made one of the best pictures.
We didn't plan on it, but we ended up being there the same time as Katlyn, so I was excited to get to run with her!

This is one of my far away best running running friends!  She's kinda famous now, too. She's been to nationals twice now and got all American this year!  I got to see, talk to, and jog a little bit with Logan before/after the races!  She will be running for Clemson the next four years!

Our Hilton hotel is so nice!  Sometimes there is no option but to stay in the uppity ones. Reservations for this weekend in this area are crazy!
Dinner was Longhorn steakhouse--one of my favorites!  Sweet potato, steak, broccoli, asparagus, lemons, pepper, A1=delish.
A1 was also having a hashtag project (#a1anddonesweeps) that I saw on the bottle, so since I was eating it with this savory meal, I participated! 
Food should be fun, flavorful, and fueling.
Can't pass up an opportunity to go to Target. I also wanted some dessert to go back to the hotel.
Thanks to Grace who made me this cool little tray, I had some pumpkin ice cream and yogurt and cereal while watching tv with mom and dad before bed.
Noosa yogurt is fun, flavorful, healthy, and pretty!  Also from Australia, which I think is good too. I want to go there.
Race morning!  It's nice to get there on my own time, so I don't have to wait around anticipating it all morning. 

The race was one of my favorites all season!  I ran one of my best times, the weather was great, I felt good, and had fun!  It was so good to end my senior season on a good note.
Another famous running friend, running for Duke the next four years, Lindsay Billings!  We met at Furman camp and have been friends ever since, too.
Niamh had a great race that day, too!  I'm sure she will be one of those top ten going to San Diego next year!
I was so happy to see so many of my friends that I've made over the years up there!  I was also sad, knowing that I could've been there too, but that makes my goal for college that much more motivating. 
This picture is like the one was made at our first two footlockers!  Sadly the last, but I'm thankful for all the great memories that it made!
I was pleasantly surprised that top 30 are all region, so I got a nice medal and certificate!
Georgia fared quite well!  And had cute tank tops. 

Another great thing about Footlocker and Charlotte:  The South Park Mall and Cheesecake Factory.  Since the first year we went to Footlocker when I was a freshman, I dubbed CF as the post-race meal.  Now this is mainly Mom's reward!  She talked about going for months.
All I heard was, "[insert some statement about the race] then we're going to the Cheesecake Factory, and I'm going to get some pumpkin cheesecake" whenever something about the trip came up.  Thank goodness she finally got that pumpkin cheesecake!
I decided to save my dessert for later, but my meal was still delicious!  Spicy shrimp with mango salsa (my favorite), broccoli, and black beans.  Post-race meals get me craving meat and veggies.
Mom and her pictures of me at random times. However, this one was pretty good!  Like a picture with Santa, just no Santa.  Or waiting in line.  Or paying way too much money.
Mom and I got so much Christmas shopping done!  The mall is huge, and has so many unique stores that kept me occupied literally all day.  I find satisfaction in shopping without even buying things!  I did buy a lot, though.  The food court had several firsts for restaurants that I'd seen, most notably Panera Bread!  I was so excited that I could finally get some!  Dad hates it, so he will never go, but since it was a food court, we could each get whatever we wanted.  Another first I tried was the Godiva store.  Thank goodness we have one in Knoxville!  I have to go back!  The stores have fresh made items that are not available online.  Stores also have soft serve ice cream and hot chocolate!  I got some delicious truffles to take home and have with my desserts.  I got dark chocolate espresso, dark chocolate caramel, and speculoos cookie butter!

Mom and dad were both really happy with how the race went too, so they sacrificed going out of their way to find a new dessert that I had found on my phone. There were other ice cream shops and stuff around, but I am one to try new things, so we went #SmallBusinessSaturday and set out to find Va da Vie gelato!  It turned out to be the cutest little local family-owned store. The flavors were delicious. Only things I didn't like was how stingy they were. The cups were tiny (like the kiddie cups at Sweet Ceces) and just that one size. I know gelato is more expensive, but theirs was more than I expected!  But it was fun for the experience!  Tasty of course, too.

The three flavors I chose were pumpkin, hazelnut, and coffee.

Since we didn't want to pay like 15 or more dollars per person for breakfast at the hotel, although it did look delicious, we found a Cracker Barrel on the way to our next shopping place. This was great too though!  Whole wheat French toast with blueberries, blackberries, pineapple, apple butter, cinnamon, whipped cream, and syrup!
New shirt, thanks to dad, who I always say had the best fashion sense. He picked it out at one of the race shirt tables. It even matched my shoes and the tights I had with me! 
Mom and I were unprepared for an extra day, but dad thought that was the plan, so we ended up calling on the way down to book it for another night. I'm so glad we did; we all had fun. 
Khols blew me away that day!  I could've spent hours longer in there, but dad was about over the shopping by then. There were so many good deals left from Black Friday sales, so much Christmas stuff for myself and to get as presents, and so much Snoopy stuff!  I didn't even make it through half the store!  I had a lot of fun though for sure.
Another stop in the same shopping center was Joe Muggs coffee!  If seen them before but didn't know much about it. I think they're all with Books-a-Million. I was impressed!  The cups were so festive, too!  I got a gingerbread espresso with coffee for just over $2.00. I say that's a deal.
It was a nasty, rainy day on the way home, but Java, joy, and Jesus made it all not so bad.
Dinner at Moe's!  Yes!  One of my favorites!  Moe's beats Salsarita's in that you can fix your own salsas. This time, Moe's also had a limited time jalapeño chicken that I got to try, and they even gave me extra!

Finally time to decorate for Christmas!
I always go all out for it. Music, coffee, candles, and all the decorations I can find a home for!
The kitchen makes me so happy with all of moms gingerbread stuff. (The seasonal Clif bars are a nice touch, too)
This is kinda crazy. We got this ornament this summer while we were at the beach. At the time, I had no idea where I would be running in college. This was the only runner girl ornament anywhere. It just happened to be purple. Looking back, though, mom and I said "WHOA, it's purple!"  Lipscomb is purple!  That's just one of those awesome things God will send to give you assurance of His plans and promises. 
Christmas time gets me more artsy and crafty than any other time of the year!  The brown dog on the left is Miss Bailiff's dog, and the two shih tzus belong to Patty Starnes.
Two more things that increase their prevalence for this season are joy and Peanuts!  This set of cards combines them both!

I'm not a nutella fanatic, but it is pretty good.  I collect special and cute little labels and limited edition items like this, so I am dying to find some of this!  There are also non-holiday themed designs, too.  If anyone ever finds one, please buy it for me!  I'm also searching for someone selling them online, too.

One of the places on my bucket list is Sidewall Pizza in Traveler's Rest, SC.  They make all kinds of pizzas and homemake ice cream daily, too!  The flavors they post on their instagram seem so delicious!  Here are three flavors that are some of my favorite seasonal themes:  toasted marshmallow, spiced hot chocolate, and pumpkin ginger cookie.

Christmas season is also Snoopy season.  I don't know who the coffee connoisseur was who made this amazing cup, but I say that takes some serious skill. 
For mom, shop til you drop may not take as much as me since I'm used to being on my legs all the time, but she has done so good!  I love seeing her have fun going out to eat and shop with her friends.  She and Lisa, who she used to work with and is in Sunday School with, have made it a yearly tradition now!
Remixed for reality.
Family photo under the tree.
I always dress up my Build-a-Bears and other stuffed animals!

Christmas time is party time, and this year, I was pumped.  I have free time!  I can go do things!  I am so thankful that my school wasn't so stressful so that I could make the most of all the opportunities to celebrate this year.  I did more this season than I have in years!  The first party that I went to was the sub deb party at Abby's house! 
We had finger food and dessert buffets that everyone contributed to, and we all wore sweaters!  This was the first time that I got to wear my new pug sweater, and it made my night.  Simple, fun, things like this make the mood.  Like...look at Abby's earrings!
Although it was kind of like we were just paying ourselves back, for the gifts, we did a Chinese gift exchange with $10 giftcards.  Mine couldn't have been better--frozen yogurt!  Good thing no one took it from me.  I might have had to smack them.  Nicely, like a love tap.
I was also amazed by Abby's microwave.  It was "hidden" in a drawer with fancy buttons to slide it in and out and start it.  I'd never seen one like that before, but it was so cool!

I don't know what happened to it, but at dinner one night I had snapchatted how I was currently eating, drinking, and being merry.
In working through my desserts, I broke into the bag of Bitsy's Brainfood Sweet Potato Oatmeal Raisin alphabet cookies!  Obviously here I was in a good mood.  "Happy" and "Merry"

Ho, ho, ho!
I wasn't quite sure if it was a W or M, so I used it as both.
These are also the same cookies that I used for some of my Friendsgiving pictures!

Yearbook tasks:  pictures, of course!
During the fall and spring, I get it easy because I can take care of a lot of the cross country and track pictures, but for my winter sport, I get to be the fan with the photos.  I also got to see one of my friends since middle school basketball (we were "enemies" in elementary school) score her 1000th point of her high school career!  Abbe will be going to Furman to play in college!
Another making-the-most-of-it activity.  It was a long day, but so satisfying!  School, biking at the gym, grabbed some dinner at the Food City café, headed to the game to eat, watch, and take pictures, then to pick up dessert, and met friends at Cookout for some food and just hanging out.  We were there until almost 10:00!  It was great getting to talk with Ali, Brooke, and Kaitlyn.  I just love them, but don't get to see them that often since we don't have any classes together!

The fun continued as I went home and had another dessert snack while watching the Grinch with mom and dad.  These were all just simple things, but it was one of the best days.

Another thing I like about this time of year:  I get a lot of me time.  Mom and Dad go shopping, out to eat, and stuff like that, so I get some days to myself at home.  I am like the Grinch.  I have dinner with me sometimes, and I don't plan on cancelling.
Sometimes holidays mean things go way different than routine, but it's good to mix things up!  Debi and Chum were here visiting for a weekend, and they came over for lunch one Sunday!  Mom fixed barbeque, beans, and potato salad, then we had pie for dessert!  I always use my Snoopy plate and mugs while the seasons allow.
School also got into the spirit; the special ed class hosted an ugly sweater contest to raise money.  Even teachers participated!  Votes were cast in the cafeteria by putting change into the cup matching the picture of your favorite.

I got so many snapchats of when people opened gifts from me, and it made me happy!  So I did the same thing when friends sent me things!  Give credit where credit is due!

The most entertaining things occupy the shelves at stores during the holidays.  I am so entertained with just looking.  Hobby Lobby always has great coffee mugs that I would love to buy, but I have to just look because I already have so many!  This gingerbread one would have matched perfectly in the kitchen. 
I really almost did buy this hot sauce pack.  The 12 days of Christmas to light your mouth on fire!
the word of my life, especially at Christmas
During this time, I think everyone can relate to the warm feelings that fill the air and hearts, but when you are filled with a joy that is just so simple, not from things, but an inexpressible joy that you just can't put words to, you know it has to be Jesus.  Although all these worldly things about Christmas are amazing, Christ satisfies and amplifies this joy when you remember Him as the main reason for the season.

Party time again!
This time, it was at my house.  It kinda came tradition that the team Christmas party be at my house.  Sadly, this is my last one!  Next year, home will be too far away to have my whole team over!  And our house too small for all those girls!  We had all kinds of finger foods, and my mom's special veggie tree.  It tore her to pieces that we couldn't find cauliflower to make the snow.  Once she made this for the first time last year, she fell in love, even though she hates broccoli and tomatoes.  She didn't eat it, just made it and looked at it.  One of her coworkers also whipped us up a big batch of coconut and peanut butter balls!  Megan brought chicken dip, Emily brought some fruit, Katlyn a pineapple, Emma some homemade cookies, and others brought little snacks, too!
You know how we do at my house:  a smile photo
and a goofy photo.
Oh, and we wore pajamas!  What better than snacks, hot chocolate, pajamas, your best friends, and a Christmas movie?  **As I close my eyes and reminisce...

Rich's makes some of the best foods on the market.  Check em out.  Desserts and food-foods.  YUM

Sound like an accurate adjective for me?

I like to screenshot or direct message pictures to my friends and family when they make me think of them.  This one went to Mom because she loves creative ways to do holiday food for parties, snowmen, and oreo truffles!  This combined them all!
Mom really wanted to go to Bristol Motor Speedway to see the Bristol lights, so one day we left home early in the evening to be close to the front of the line, but this was the best light show of the day!
We weren't that impressed with the lights (I wasn't excited about it in the first place), but from the above two pictures, God's light show was the best.
The after-party of the light "show" was at Bass Pro.  Dad has a goofy side, and I love it.  For some reason. he was amused by this stuffed opossum and wanted his picture taken with it.
Some of the best things come up at the most unlikely places!  Dad and I got a cute Christmas picture in Bass Pro shops.  Would you have guessed that if we put it on a Christmas card?
Hungry, thirsty, and needing gas on the way home, we stopped at a big gas station/truck stop to solve those problems.  I got to try a new dessert (gas stations are actually good for that), actually one that my dad's company makes!  I'm beginning to wonder if there is anything that they don't make in some form or fashion.  These f'real shakes are frozen solid, but when you choose your flavor, all you have to do is take off the top, stick it under the machine, and choose your desired thickness, and it turns into a shake!  I choose Cinnabon cinnamon roll, because that's hard to beat, especially when you have some cereal that exactly matches.
Egg plus nog makes eggnog, right?
Improvised for national eggnog day, Christmas Eve.
Eggs, almond nog, and nog myoatmeal.
Charlie Brown and his Christmas Tree on my tree!  Mom's always thinking of me when she shops.  She brings me great surprises.
Also found an awesome new song:  "Christmas Is" by Francesca Battestelli.  The first line:  "Christmas is music and family in town, Christmas is Snoopy and Charlie Brown."
National Pumpkin Pie Day is on Christmas Day!  Thanks to my mamaw for making the best ones on earth.  Simple.  And at least a whole pie for me.
Remixed: I'm just a girl who lives in Tennessee, and I was heading for my Mamaw's and some homemade pumpkin pie!
These pictures have been on their fridge forever, but they make me happy!  That's little me and little cousins over on the left from a Christmas long ago!  The individual is from the days of going to get pictures done at the mall.  Has much changed?

Hey look, Hollister; I like what I got!  (but didn't share it on instagram like the box said.)  The gifts from Mamaw, Papaw, and Granannie are usually clothes, and this year was no different!  I got a new sweater and jeans!  My first pants from Hollister, and I love them!

Yay for Christmas Day!
Is Christmas the time of year for tradition or what?
Mom is set on making breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls for breakfast like if she didn't the world would end.  In Dad's case, it might.  He loves that stuff.
From the past few years, I have taken these similar pictures to commemorate it!  I love seeing the beautiful tree with all our family gifts to each other!  It's also great to relax with mom and dad in the morning and watch A Christmas Story.
Mom got more gifts than anyone this year!  She is so loved!  Not just by Dad and me, but by all her friends, coworkers, and various kids from school!  I am not exaggerating when I say she got more than me this year.  It is so true!
Oh, look, more Hollister!  Dad picked out this sweater all by himself.  Another instance of his great fashion sense.
Dad also shops in Bath and Body Works.  He makes great choices there, too.  He got me the three lotions, two hanitizers, and even topped it off with the little hat!
Mom got me the chapsticks and yes to carrots shampoo that I'd been wanting.
My new Snoppy pajamas were the perfect outfit for the day!

For someone like me, people always think of food as an essential gift, and mom is no exception.  My favorite of these:  the hot sauce!  
I had the Envirokids oatmeal on my list because of the goat.  It's goatmeal!The "fartless" salsa would have been good, but I can't eat it.  It's waaayyyyy out of date by years!  It was a gag gift to my parents that they re-gagged to me because they think I smell.  Humorous gifts are just as good!

Mom got me the Bath and Body Peppermint Marshamallow Joy candle because she knows I love that scent and anything with joy or marshmallows!
She also got me some of my favorite Godiva truffles:  Speculoos and pumpkin cheesecake, limited edition, in-store only
Gift cards are one of my favorite gifts because I can use then whenever and however I want!  As my mother, she also knows the perfect places.
I always get a calendar for Christmas, too, but the theme is a surprise.  Mom hit a winner with these precious pug puppies.  She used to not like them, but as time has gone on, she has come to accept the fact that I will have one one day and has even come to love them herself!
More clothes!  Always have to get some new running stuff.  I'm prepped for hot and cold.

I tend to find thingsat Victoria's Secret and Pink around this time of year more than the rest.  This year I got some new pajamas and awesome socks!  All so comfy!
"We may have to have a few separate celebrations now, but we are all together at heart."
Things are changing more and more each year, but some things stay the same.  I'm also becoming way more sentimental with the great memories that I have from the past and trying to make the most of all the ones I have left!
Lots of things that start with C and all make me happy!
My friend Bailee make these and showed them to me
This is probably my favorite use of my watch--the wallpapers!  I have it set where it changes to a different one each time it comes on (from my "favorites" album).  Some, like this one, fit perfect in with the clock and date!
When I broke into the truffles mom got me, I was much happier about them as a gift!  They are such a great addition to my desserts!
I used the speculoos ones with vanilla frozen yogurt, gingerbread marshamallow flavored pb powder, and cool whip to make a holiday-gingerbread dessert!
A seasonal favorite whether you're an athlete or not

Seeing myself (kinda) on Mrs. Bowen's Instagram after she got my Christmas card made me smile probably as much as she did. 

In-store-only pumpkin cheesecake Godiva truffles thanks to mom's Christmas gifting
Breaks from school are the best times to do fun runs!  I was always looking for someone to meet up with!  Having a buddy makes the miles go by so much faster. This is Michael, who does iron man triathlons. Yes, iron man. As a senior in high school. He's awesome and incredibly smart!
Limited edition flavors are my spending weakness!  Brands definitely get their goal to work on me. If it's limited or seasonal, I almost always buy extra. I mean, what if I go back to the store and they're all gone!?
What the perfect combination...
Reading this article of some of the Feed's top products of the year, I wash spot to be familiar with so many of them!
Homemade gifts are so much fun to make and special to receive!  These were little photo ornaments for my friends' moms and a golf ball snowman for my friend Brooke.
Party time at the twins!  I'm not a game person, but this is one of the few I do find entertaining. And this card was perfectly me.
Snacks and a movie!  We watched Leap Year, conveniently at the beginning of a leap year.
Reunited with teammates/family from all different grades!  Once you get a certain age, I don't think grade makes that much of a difference anymore. Here we range from sophomore Maggie, to college freshmen Chantal and Chérie!
Late birthday/Cheistmas present from my church buddy Morgan!  It was even better getting it late because it was such a surprise!  I also knew she really meant it if she kept up with it that long!  With such busy schedules, we just never managed to be able to get that done.
Our church is home to the cutest and largest baby population, and I love it. Baby boy Rowan is our youth pastor's new son!
Another fun run!
One Sunday afternoon, I met up with Megan, Katlyn, and Miss Bailiff at the new little donut shop just down the street from where we live!  They're one-of-kind and homemade donuts, teas, smoothies, croissants, and coffee!  The owners are such nice people who moved here all the way from California!  We weren't sure what to get, but they gave us free ones to try out first!  Like not a sample, but a whole thing!
Support your locals, Morristown; stop by King Donuts across from "the Alpha McDonald's"!
Ahh best friend!  Katlyn and I exchanged gifts late, too, but I just love anything she gets me. She's a really good gift-giver, kinda like my dad. They always do a great job and don't even need help picking something out!  She even decorated that coffee cup herself!
Another thing we do more in the winter time is eat out. One of my favorite days is when I go to the Jefferson Coty Community Center to run/swim/bike/cross ramp until Mom and Dad are ready for dinner, then I drive basically next door to El Sazon!
One of the ways I use my new Apple Watch: check in on swarm. It also made me happy to see my profile picture from last summer.
El Sazon's taco salads are what Mom and I get every single time. They are so delicious and so big but with a low price!  And I can add all kinds of extras!
Hah!  For me, both.
My sub Deb little sister and cross country teammate Julia's snapchat stories make me so happy. She has lots of farm animals and posts cute pictures of them all the time!
This is really my kind of party!  I even already have plans with one of my future teammates to scrapbook together next year.
I hope this is a joke, but in Morristown, I wouldn't be surprised if someone thinks this is a legit permit.
What a beautiful verse!  God wants us to enjoy this life that He has given us!  Not just a party life, but it also mentions the hard work we do should still be a joy.
It's snow ski time!
I always look forward to those ski trips to Cataloochee with Dad. We've been doing it since I was four!  Mom used to go, but now it's just Dad and me. The past few years they have always had a couple soup specials every day, and there is nothing better than a hot cup of soup to warm you up!
I was excited to see one of my friends who went to college this past year until I realized he was hurt...luckily they got him to a hospital and into surgery, and by now he is fully recovered!
Eeeee!  Snapchat got me even more hype for spring break. Not that I would be eating in Denver, but I would be a skier going through Denver from the airport!
Another place I saw myself from a friend! I don't give things to be recognized, but I love it when my friends love my gifts. 
Though holidays bring a lot of stress, they are always my favorite.  This year outdid them all.  A less-stress school schedule allowed me to go out and be more involved and do things that made me so happy!  Also knowing that this is the last year I will ever get to do many of these things made them that much better.  Thanks to the Lord and anyone else involved in my Tender Tennessee Christmas (and Thanksgiving)!