Cupcakes and Sunshine: December 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

the very best of 2016!!


Can't believe that it is already the end of 2016!! Christmas isn't even here yet, but I have some time to kill in the airport and thought I'd go ahead and share some of my very favorite things about the year!!

(*also airport frugal travel win of the day- just volunteered to pass on my flight and arrive just a few hours later at my destination and received a $1000 travel voucher!! WHERE TO NEXT!?!) 

The very best of 2016....

1. Haiti:


This was the most incredible trip. The Lord changed my heart in many ways through it, and I met some incredible people with hearts ON FIRE for Jesus.


Just knowing them has changed me too. Haiti was my favorite memory this year, and I can't wait to go back!



2. Disney:


The day before New Year's, my cousin and I were hanging out in South Carolina trying to figure out what to do for New Year's Eve. We jumped in the car, drove straight to Florida, and started off the new year with Mickey. (WE MADE IT IN THE PARK 15 MINUTES BEFORE IT CLOSED TO ANYMORE GUESTS BECAUSE IT WAS AT MAX CAPACITY. CLOSE ONE!) It was the best way to start off the new year. We went to Disney again this summer for post-grad celebrations. So nice, we had to do it twice.



3. Graduation:


Graduation was bittersweet! The closing of the best four-year chapter. And the start of a new one.



4. Summer in Athens:


This past summer was one of the best. Sometimes I think I have to travel somewhere or do something out-of-the-ordinary to have a good time. But the Lord's hand is in the EXTRAORDINARY of every day. This summer was just fun- soaking up all of Athens one last time before moving to Texas. Did all the Athens things, ran all the Athens trails, ate all the Athens food, hung out with all the Athens people.



also- Kels got married....


 a lot of ice-cream was consumed...


and we spent much time in the ATL



Athens, you are extra special and I still love ya!

5. Moved to Texas:


I moved to Texas in 2016!! What an adventure. Drove across the United States, moved in with some new roomies, met some incredible friends, have had some wonderful Texas adventures (and made pinky promises of more to come!!)



and....

6. Started at DTS:


Wow, has DTS been incredible too. I learn so much each day and it has been a transforming journey. To be able to dive deep and learn more about Jesus each day has been an extraordinary blessing. The wisdom and discernment of leaders and professors here is magnificent.  I'm so very excited about these next few years!

7. RESTed


In the beginning of the year, one of my good friends encouraged me to pray about a word of the year. REST has been my 2016 word that I've tried to lean into (& something I've always struggled with doing intentionally.) Resting from worry, busyness, anxiety, overthinking, the daily hustle. It's been tough, but I feel more rested than ever!

"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you REST. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find REST for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." -Matthew 11:28-30




8. This post-
 
I wrote it in 2014, but it has been my most-viewed post of 2016. Over 29,000 people have read it this year. WOW! (thank you accidental SEO-ha!) So if you need some Plato's Closet tips, they're right here.

Some other most-viewed posts of 2016:



2016 has been full of so much JOY and fun. Lots of big milestones and full of friends both new and old! I really can't wait to see what's in store for 2017. Until then, I'm off to finish up some papers and hop on this airplane! Happy, happy Monday friends!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

life lately (iphone photo edition)


has been a lot of cocoa...


In-N-Out...(too much)


(if too much is possible?!) 

Christmas partays with friends...


THIS MUG...


lots of studying and not-so-studying with these friends: 


...
 
eeeee maybe more not-so-studying than studying: 


I almost quit Dallas when I first moved here. I sure did. I didn't really get into specifics with many people, but I felt like the first few weeks of this new adventure were a very dark cloud, and I was very close to moving back to GA. I missed my people back home a LOT and felt Dallas would never be home. Which is all so crazy because usually I'm all about adventures and newness! I looked at jobs back in Athens. I looked at flights back to Georgia. I cried...a lot. Quit a job because my anxiety was sky-high and I started having panic attacks on the way to work. I wasn't able to concentrate in class due to lots of busyness with that job position, and for the first time since becoming a Christian- scripture became numb to me. It was a scary, dark first few weeks. I wrote this blog post but didn't get into many details because I felt like I was walking through some very tough days. (and because vulnerability is scary)

I took a break, and spent a few weeks resting and focusing on the Lord and quiet time with Him. Rest has been my word of the year for 2016 (something I'm NOT very good at), and I hadn't rested at all since moving to Texas. It was the first time pausing in a long, long time. I spent a lot of time with the Lord, I flew back to Georgia for a restful weekend, took a break from social media, and was reminded that I have purpose and God is with me- wherever I am.

During this rest time, I applied for new jobs and positions and was able to focus on school. I met some of our neighbors for the first time during these few weeks, and our neighbor Maria told us about her heart for the middle east and refugees in the Dallas area. At the same time, I was reading Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. I let her borrow the book and couldn't even sleep because I was so excited about our conversations. Little did I know that a few days later, I'd be applying for a full-time position to work with a non-profit that helps to acculturate, educate, and share the gospel with refugees in Dallas at For the Nations. It's really, really cool how the Lord prepares your heart and equips you for whatever He places in your path next.

Then, I got nervous and anxious all over again 1. because my heart was in it and 2. if I didn't get the position, I really would have to move back to Georgia because I wasn't going to be able to pay for school if I remained jobless- ha! I always have these big, giant fears that God isn't going to provide. And time, and time again- HE DOES. And he always has. I accepted a job offer with For the Nations. In His perfect timing. I was able to rest. Spend a lot of time in the word. Spend a lot of time meeting and getting to know Dallas friends. Spend a lot of time making Dallas HOME. I already miss it and I haven't even made my way to the east-side of the states for Christmas! In addition to cocoa, In-N-Out, and some fun partays with Dallas friends- life lately has been a lot of not-so-necessary worrying. Not-so-necessary because the Lord provides again and again. And today, I'm RESTing in that!



Sunday, December 11, 2016

real crowd cheeser: holiday entertaining with RITZ Crackers DIY cheese spread


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HolidayRITZ #CollectiveBias. And always, thank you for your support! Life wouldn't be Cupcakes and Sunshine without ya!

Friends,  I was so excited to work with RITZ Crackers to share this easy DIY cheese spread with you just in time for all the holiday parties!! Cheese spreads are the best of all worlds- they are crunchy and smooth and sweet and salty and fruity and FANCY. Not to mention CHEESE. And no one knows that they only take about fifteen minutes to throw together. Holiday entertaining at its easiest. 

http://cbi.as/6ipz0

You only need a few items to put this together. 
And most items are probably already in your pantry or fridge! But if not, you can purchase the rest of the ingredients at Walmart.

http://cbi.as/6ipz0
  
 RITZ Crackers were displayed at the storeway entrance: 
http://cbi.as/6hoxk

http://cbi.as/6ipz0

Since the anatomy of a perfect cheese spread is a mix of all things crunchy, smooth, sweet, salty, and fruity,

http://cbi.as/6ipz0

 ...you can get creative! Here are some ideas:

Crunchy: 
Crunchy edamame

Smooth:
Colby 
Cheddar
White Cheddar Jack
Brie
Goat Cheese (I don't like goat cheese, but HEY! You might! So go for it if it's your thing) 
Gouda
Parmigiano-Reggiano
Gorgonzola

Sweet:
Honey
Jam
Preserves

Salty:
Mixed Nuts
Pistachio 
Edamame
Olives
Artichoke hearts
Roasted Peppers

Fruit:
Thinly sliced apples 
Frozen grapes 
Fresh or dried apricots 
Sliced figs


Normally, I would say grab some butcher paper to place on your table for your cheese spread, but I cut open some brown grocery bags and they worked just as well! Easy time saver. Label each item with permanent marker, or you can use a chalkboard pen if you want to get really fancy. And you are done!


DIY Cheese Spread: 
Ingredients: 
  • RITZ Crackers
  • Sliced Cheese
  • Wedge Cheese
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Assorted Fruits
  • Dried Fruits 
 Instructions: Arrange all the above items on butcher paper, and label! 
Hey! Let me know some of your very favorite holiday entertaining ideas, and also let me know how you got creative with your DIY spread!

Happy Sunday, friends!




Monday, December 5, 2016

things I'm loving: all things warm and cozy


hi, hi, hi friends!!

EEEEeeeeeee! It is COLD and BLUSTERY and CHRISTMAS and everything smells like candycanes and cinnamon sugar right now, so it is time to share all things I'm loving that are warm, comfy, and cozy!

1. First off- these slippers.


I love them. First thing every morning, I put these slippers on and curl up with some coffee. Can't start off a day on the wrong foot when you have polar bear feet. and coffee.

2. Talking about polar bears, you might as well throw in some Polar Bear Bars also! I made these a few years back, and I think it is about time to whip up another batch. Polar bear slippers, coffee, Polar Bear Bars, and a little quiet time? Mhmm, no better way to start a morning.



3. Christmas candles:


All the Christmas candles to make your house smell warm and cozy!! This past week, I received an email alerting me of $8.50 candles at Bath and Body Works. This is a big, big deal y'all! And everyone else in Texas knew it too because the line was 60 people deep with people buying CRATES of candles. Out the door. It was like Black Friday all over again! I had a coupon on top of the candle deal too. Boom. Spiced Apple Toddy is my very favorite Christmas scent, but Sweater Weather and Leaves are some seasonal favorites as well.



4. TEA: You can make like Chance the Rapper and make yourself some Earl Tea, but I'd recommend Teavana's White Chocolate Peppermint Tea over Earl Grey any day. I posted about this a couple posts back, but Teavana's White Chocolate Peppermint Tea is the best ever.


5. Heated blankets. Y'all. You need a heated blanket in your life if you don't have one!! Get one that shuts off automatically after a certain amount a time so you don't have to worry about it overheating.Warm, comfy, cozy- the best.

I got mine here!



6. Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble. I listen to them year-round, but Christmas especially. I love them!!! It doesn't matter if they are singing Christmas songs or not- any Sinatra or Buble will put you in a holiday mood.


7. This Chocolate-Covered Peppermint Moose Munch is the best treat to go alongside a Christmas movie...



Top Christmas movie picks:
  1. Jingle All the Way
  2. The Grinch
  3. The Santa Clause
  4. Elf
  5. Home Alone
  6. A Christmas Story
Hope your week is off to a warm and cozy start! Happy Monday, friends! 

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