Monday, December 20, 2010

Soak it up...

I'm sitting in Ryan's parent's living room as I write this and can't help but think to myself, oh what a difference one year can make. Do you ever realize how blessed you are and then get struck by an overwhelming panic that you know that feeling of sheer bliss won't last forever. And that you have to just savor every single second, knowing that it could all be taken away in a heartbeat. Sex and the city fans, there is a scene in the first movie where Carrie confronts her BFF, Charlotte, about why she quit jogging. And although it sounds a little silly, it wasnt. Because Charlotte had been desperatley trying to have a baby for years and just was never able to. So when she became pregnant, she started living her life as though she were in a china sudden movements. Running was what she always loved, but she gave it up in fear of losing her baby. Carrie reminded her that she can't stop living her life because she's afraid if she does she will lose everything.

I just can't stop thinking about this scene. Because that is exactly how I feel these days. Here I am enjoying Christmas with the one person I love more than anything in the world and all our friends and family. And the raw pain that Christmas brought just one year ago keeps flashing in my memory. I remember wishing the holiday would just be over already because I would not get the one thing I wanted. My Grandmomma keeps a guest book in her house and we sign and date it every time we visit. Last year, I saw Ryan's name from the Christmas before and I simply lost it. And this year when I opened that book, I saw his name and 2010 written beside it and almost lost it again. I am being 100 percent honest with you when I tell you I don't think I could be any happier now. I even feel guilty about how happy I actually am. But the truth is, this is a time in my life that God is truly blessing me. He took me on a long hard dark journey for a year where I kept asking Him, "when is this going to end??" But patience is clearly not one of my strengths and boy did He show me that. I've heard it said that you never can truly appreciate something until you don't have it anymore. And I couldn't say it better than that. And the best part is, now that I do appreciate it, I got it back.

So this Christmas I've decided to soak it all in. Every single strand of lights, every ornament and Christmas card. Every Christmas goodie that adds pounds on to the waistline. Every hug and "so glad I got to see you." Every visit with friends I don't usually get to see. Every sweet family memory. Every heartfelt gift and meal. And even the smallest thing like watching my Grandmomma read The Night Before Christmas when I had a permanent grin plastered to my face. I'm soaking it all in. Because we're never promised blissful times like this. So while I'm living in this sheer joy, I want to breathe it all in. Because I know that one day I won't have a Christmas this happy. One day, my Grandmomma won't be around to read to me from my favorite Childhood book. One day I won't get to see every single person I love for the holidays. I know this and I'm ok with it. But for the time being, I can't help but be overjoyed at the incredible Christmas that is 2010.

Ryan flew into Atlanta Thursday night. I went to work on Friday while he graciously finished all my Christmas shopping. Pat the boy on the back...he went to three different malls for me!! We had dinner at a lively picturesque Italian restaurant in Inman Park with some of our friends. After dinner, we had WORK to do...lots and lots of wrapping gifts to be taken to my family Christmas at my Grandmomma's house. We got up super early and drove to her house to be there in time for breakfast. I bought one of those recordable books and now I have a book with her reading The Night Before Christmas. You couldn't pay me a million dollars for that book. It will be one of my most prized possessions. After lunch, we piled in the car again and headed to Destin for Ryan's company Christmas party. I must say that I had a good time. We took the party across the street to a piano bar that never disappoints and met up with some of our good friends {Pictures to come soon...chill out T.Clems:)}. And yesterday his parents took us to brunch. We got out and delivered homemade Pumpkin bread and jelly to friends and later I went and had coffee with his mom.

It was the same Starbucks I met her at several months back when things were still a bit shaky. And I remember thinking to myself "my how things have changed since I saw her last." Those same thoughts crossed my mind as we sat in the same chairs and just pressed rewind for the past 7 or 8 months. Lots and lots of catching up to do. Lots of pouring out our hearts to each other and thanking God for His perfect timing and plan. But one thing was the same. We both couldn't help but wax poetically about how we love the same boy. I'm sure his ears were ringing as we talked about his gentle heart and warming laugh. When I got back to the house from my mini date with his mom, he only asked me one thing: "did you have fun?" I couldn't explain to him how fun isn't the word I would choose, but rather something more along the lines of "it was simply perfect."

I've spent hours and hours making lists of possible gifts for our families and scouring stores and the internet for the perfect gift. I've stressed about making sure I can see every single person I love in the time I have off. I've listened to the Christmas music channel since October and I've spent many car rides to and from work wondering what Christmas would be like for me this year. Imagining the moment I see the family I lost a year ago but now and privileged to have back. And while I have only seen half of them so far, I can say that my expectations were nowhere near the reality. There's a warmth in my heart that only comes from the Lord and I know He put it there to show me that even though life can be tough at times, there are also good times. GREAT times. And He gives us those to show us a glimpse at His incredible love.

Now the gifts coming my way don't even cross my mind. I'm not caught up in the hoopla that so easily comes with the Christmas Season. I'm just enjoying it in its entirerity. Soaking it all up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Make a house a home...

My parents ended their tropical vacation with a pit stop at my house. There's nothing like having houseguests to help you realize that you are really missing some of the personal touches that make a house a home. And while my house is my home, I want a BUNCH of accessories to make it feel 100% lived in. Here is what I have my eye on...

I would like EVERYTHING in this picture. The Parsons table {DELISH}, the little bar set up, the painting in the background {PUUUUH-LEASE!!!!} and the basket full of yummy blankets to cuddle up in.
I think little personal touches for guests go a REALLY long way. Little welcome gifts in a guest room will add that extra, "Welcome to my home, I'm glad you're here." And I seriously LOVE the simplicity of the packaging for this one. Stay tuned to see how I wrap Christmas gifts this year {hint hint}.
Someone please tell me where I can find shelves like this that won't completely break the budget. Shelves are an INSTANT way to make a home feel lived in. Styling a set of bookshelves shows your personality and gives a lot of focal points for your guests to get an insider view of your life.
Anyone else watch the show, Giuliana and Bill? In their Chicago apartment, they have pillows with their initials on their sofa. While I am SO not a fan of the initial trend, I think these are quirky and fun. Random letters will make it even more interesting if you ask me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Every year, I suddenly realize that its the last week in December and I have NO NYE plans. After a boring night, I vow that the next year will be different. Well, I'm here to tell you that this year, I'm sticking to my guns. We've actually made some snazzy plans!!

This year, after a fabulous dinner, our double date will be moved to party here...
We've bought our tickets and are just in countdown mode to ring in the year at this awesome venue...enter the Park Tavern. Which happens to be the most expensive wedding reception venue in Atlanta because of its insanely gorgeous views of the Atlanta skyline.
I imagine this to be magical. So, now I have to start a hunt for a magical dress. Because no dressy jeans or casual dress outfit will do for an affair like this. I began my hunt this afternoon and I believe I've narrowed it down to the following dresses. Tell me your top picks!

Monday, December 6, 2010

P is for Party...

Have you ever stumbled across a blog and immediately thought to yourself: "I want to be whoever it is that writes this." Because that was my reaction the SECOND I came across P Is For Party. Now, maybe I'm way behind the times, but I haven't seen this mecca of party planning fabulosity until today. I only went through a few pages, but here are a few of my faves. I will now spend the remainder of the night drooling at these pictures of all the insanely gorgeous parties she does.

Okay you tennis playing ladies, this one is for you. And for your husband. I, for one, would LOVE to attend a party on a tennis court set with posh seating and decor. Complete with what looks like a really fun band, this looks like one of those parties that you leave with clutch under your arm, one handing holding the hand of the one you love, and the other holding your heels. All the while the discussion is both of you gushing about how much fun you just had. AHHUMM...IF I ever get married one day, we would TOTALLY go for something fun like this :)

Excuse me, but how perfect are these pearl encrusted marshmallows?? I. Die.
Alright Montgomery kiddos, this one is for you. Raise your hand if you INSISTED on getting the souvenier cup from all the crazy MCC dances we had in high school. I know I did. And I thought of them almost like a collectors item. Dangit...I should have saved those for a nice laugh to look back at. Because now, I laugh thinking that these were actually approved to hand out. Literally, we would leave the dances while parents handed these out. "Here kids, head on over to the QT and buy some beer and Ricks Spiked Lemonade and pour them into this new cup." {MAJOR Bonus points to anyone who can tell me that guy's name who would always sell to us...WHAT was his name???} I can only imagine the terror my kids will put me through...
I'm POSITIVE that I would have died and gone to Heaven if I had this birthday party as a little girl. And I'm rather confident that I would die and go to Heaven if I have this birthday party now.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

More Practical...

As much as I would like to wake up December 25 to know that my closet has been re-stocked full of clothes and accessories that will make me forget about all the ones I already have, I know that it is crunch time in the Machen Household. So that translates into: time for practicality.

And by practicality, I really am referring to more of a mixture of things I've got my eye on.

I've started to get into hot tea these days. I've always been a HUGE fan of sweet iced tea, but now that it is cold out, I find a nice HOT mug of tea really hits the spot in the evenings. Now I'm no afficianado. In fact, I'm still drinking the Lipton singles. Hey, they aren't the ones to make iced tea... that is an accomplishment in itself for me. So, to jumpstart me on my budding obsession, I do believe that this guy would do the trick!
Anyone else love paperwhites as much as I do? The smell, the aesthetics...they've got the full package.
I really am going to need to start collecting some Christmas decor at some point. And because I haven't had the luxury of wedding registries and even the Christmas shower, I guess I'll have to actually start the collection myself. What better way than to start with this insanely gorgeous wooden nativity set?
Confession. I cannot drink a mug of coffee without re-heating it at least twice. My mom has this mug warmer and I always thought they were tacky. Until now. I don't care if they are hideous. I'm getting rather tired of microwaved coffee. And bonus: if you put a candle in a glass container on here, it does the same trick as a lit candle, sans the flame.
Do these even need an explanation?? I think not. I could almost keep these up year round.
Ryan and I were in Pottery Barn last weekend and I don't know if its because its December or because it was Colorado, but that store had one heck of a blanket collection to choose from. It was a REALLY tough choice, but when I was narrowing down my top pick, I decided on this cable knit throw. One side Cable knit, the other, the most luxurious fleece/sheerling/goodness.

A few things...

Things I'm loving right now:
-Pajama Weekends {I've not moved my car since I parked it in the garage at 5:30 Friday afternoon}
-Christmas Movies
-Hot Chocolate
-Christmas Gifts arriving daily via UPS
-Dunkin Doughnuts French Vanilla Coffee
-Delicious Oranges
-cuddly dogs in my lap
-Vaseline {Baby its COLD outside}
-8 pillows and 5 layers of bedding
-piles of delicious smelling folded laundry
-An SEC Championship Win
-HUGE Magnolia Branches in the kitchen
-trying to decide which pair of uggs to get {Short, tall, crocheted, oh the choices:) }
-Candy Apple Green Nail Polish
-Moroccan Oil for a deep conditioner treatment
-Giuliana & Bill re-runs
-Success at the "no spending money" challenge I issued myself {aka "discover how far you can stretch your pantry staples 2010"}.
-Planning out the training schedule for several races I've been conned into {Yes, I said races. One of which is the Muddy Buddy. Just running/biking through miles of mud against a semi-pro triathlete aka Ryan's Sister. Neat}.
-Counting down the days until our 2 week Christmas celebration begins.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bring me back something french...

My mom called me from the airport this morning. Lucky for her and my dad, they get a pre-Christmas vacay to Aruba. And it is only tradition that the phone conversation before they board the plane, I ask her to "bring me back something French" {bonus points to whoever can name that movie!!}. Usually their island vacations translate into a new Longchamp bag for me and for Sassy and this go around, I originally asked for the expandable Weekend bag, but then realized we are weeks away from Christmas aka that will be a Christmas gift. And as much as I love my ever-growing collection of Longchamps, I know there are way too many other things I need and want a bit more than another perfect nylon foldable bag! So, Santa, if you're still shopping, here are a few things I would LOVE to find under the tree...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

For the Mr. Special...

Let's see.

Colorado was COLD. We're talking bathe in Vaseline because your skin gets chapped from being outside 3 minutes. I didn't mind that detail though. I'm quite the Vaseline enthusiast. In fact, I have a pot in my desk and another in my purse. I have a slight obsession, to be honest. You would really be surprised what wonders that little bit of goo can do. I slather it on my cuticles probably 7 times a day. Just a dab to tame the eyebrows. Pat some on your cheeks with a tiny dab of lipstick and you've got a fabulous cheek stain. And the light bouncing off the Vaseline glisten makes you look like you've just run a few miles. Just a tiny dab on your eyelids and voila...your eyes suddenly look brighter. You think I'm joking.

We frequented the local Starbucks where we Skyped with family, checked work email {like I can stay away}and loaded up on that good stuff that warmed up the bones just enough to gain feeling in my fingers and toes.

We went shopping for Christmas gifts and by shopping I mean "point out everything we want so that we can gather ideas for each other." I find this a much better solution than the old guessing game or in Ryan's case texting my sister. And I clearly wasn't a fan when he thought it would be funny to try to convince me that he bought my gift at Sam's the week before...gotta love that little rascal :)

So, I'm back in Atlanta now. Where its not that much warmer. Where the storm that blew in was so terrible, it flooded parts of I 285 {and if you're any bit familiar with ATL, you know this is a MAJOR road} and forced me to take the LONGEST route home in the pouring rain through the international district of this lovely city. Don't worry Mom and Dad, I actually used the old college degree when I went through the Mexican portion.

Christmas shopping is in full force with packages arriving daily and I am always on the hunt for that "perfect gift." No more waiting until December 23 with only a few dollars to spend. This year, I'm looking for things that are functional, affordable yet luxurious, unique and of course, exactly what the receiver has been wanting {although may not have known it until the moment they rip off the wrapping}.

Want to see a few of my picks for that Mr. Special in my life??

Here we go...

I know you're thinking, "Slim Jim's???" But the boy loves them. Every trip to the grocery, we have the tradition of buying the mini four pack. He eats 3 and I get one. I always fight for a bite of the third one, but usually lose. So this year, he's getting a BIG box from Sam's. Beef Jerky...the way to my man's heart.
Ryan has a thing about shaving. He claims that it is "stupid." But I honestly think its because its a hassell to him. However, I know how to convince him to do something he has zero desire to do...Make it fun!! Ummmm, how awesome is this?? In Lenox Mall, there is a fabulous little shop that will actually give you the old fashioned shave in the old chair and of course you can buy your own kit. I think this is just AWESOME!!
"One day, I'm going to buy myself one heck of a knife collection." That's what he said the MOMENT we walked into Williams Sonoma {cutely pronounced as "Williams Somona" by the big ole "five year old"}. Personally, I'ld prefer he save the $2000 that this set will set him back for a nice little down payment on a sparkler. I'm just saying...
What man doesn't love a grill? I've yet to meet one who doesn't gravitate towards them. In fact, at dinner the other night, my brother waxed poetically about all the consumer reports he's been reading about Weber's and how something will rot in it causing food to taste rotten. While that may be true, it isn't stopping him from loving the art of the grill. Give a man a grill and a bunch of grill tools and he will instantly be happy. I know this to be true, especially one that has an added gadget...a stereo system. HEY TAILGATING HEAVEN!!
I believe that every man needs a well thought out bar. And once a man leaves college, he needs glassware that doesn't have beer or liquor logos. Is this not perfection? Whatever, I like them. And it is never too early to start a collection.

The wallet is the man's version of Louis Vuitton. It is quite prized and never leads his side. So functionality combined with aesthetics makes this J.Crew wallet the absolute perfect solution to the quest for the perfect sidekick.
If the man in your life is anything like mine, he has a major obsession with Sperry's. He loves the comfort and could care less about the style. So when it comes time to put on a loafer that isn't meant to be worn on a boat, these would be the perfect solution. And an added bonus, no fights about "those look like something a pretty boy would wear." Simply tell him, "honey these are Sperry's" and you win!

Every man needs a stylish jacket in his closet. This is actually quite a task to find one that is stylish but that he actually will agree to. I love this one. You can thank Jenna Lyons at J.Crew for thinking this through. Thank you Jenna for ALL that you do!

And if I REALLY feel like pushing my luck, these suckers make for a VERY stylish man. Guaranteed that he will turn his nose up to them for at least 2 weeks, but I am 100% positive I will show him that style is not simply for "pretty boys."

And last but not least, Ryan and I do a lot of traveling these days. In fact, we made a mile long list of all the places in this world that we want to travel to some day. If you've flown anytime recently, you know that it is in your best interest to not check luggage. So if you think things through for more than a split second, you'll see that taking a carry on suitcase paired with something like this is genius. Go ahead and pat yourself on packing smart and saving a good $70!