Monday, November 30, 2009

Hurricane Ulta

In the madness of Black Friday, I forgot to post my fabulous find from last Wednesday. Anyone who has an Ulta near them, this is for you!  Ulta often has great deals when you buy fragrances from them.  In the past, I've gotten a great pair of table lamps, a fabulous leopard travel bag, and soft and cozy throw blanket.  All this for FREE when I was going to buy perfume anyway.  Hello great deal!  And right now, Ulta is offering up another fabulous freebie that is just perfect for the holidays.  Spend $30 on any men or women's fragrance and get a free set of glass hurricanes (set = 2).  Ulta says the hurricanes are worth $50, and well, I think that's a bit of stretch, but they are definitely a great find.  The hurricanes are 10 and 12 inches each, and with each $30 fragrance purchase, you get one hurricane of each size.

Sooo...last Wednesday, I walked into Ulta on the hunt for my favorite fall/winter scent.  I went in there oblivious to the freebie, prepared to pay for the perfume and walk out with only the perfume.  But then, I saw the sign, "2 Free Hurricane Candle Holders with Any $30 Fragrance Purchase."  Imagine my glee! To me, glass hurricanes are one of the most basic, yet essential tools for easy, quick change holiday decorating.  The hurricane is beautiful simply on its own, and there are endless possibilites for holiday sprucing.  I grabbed my Burberry perfume and headed to the counter.  "Would you like your free gift with that?" the smiley sales girl said.  I wanted to say, "Umm, yeah, duh!" but I figured that wasn't exactly in good holiday spirit, so I smiled and said, "Oh yes please," clearly way too excited about my free gift to hide my nerdiness.  I paid, grabbed my bag and headed out to share my find with the rest of Matt's family who had been next door shopping for glassware.  Matt's sister was the first to catch on, "Wait, what, where?"  Then she was gone.  She bought perfume for both herself and her husband, and with a smart, thrifty spirit, rung them up seperately so she could get TWO free gifts (four hurricanes total.)  A girl after my own heart :)  We exited the store, and as soon as Matt's brother heard the news, inside Ulta he went.  Luckily (for me) Josh couldn't get his hurricanes on the plane, so he gifted them to Matt and I.  You would've thought he gave me a Range Rover.  Pure excitement.

So now, all I have to do is decide how on Earth I'm going to use these fabulous finds.  There are so many possibilities, it's a good thing I have four to play around with!  Here are possibilities for how these little guys might turn out.  (Note, these are not my hurricanes, just inspiration pictures.)

I'm LOVING the jingle bells and will definitely do that in at least one of my hurricanes.  The ornaments and silver pine cones are a close second, and the red berries would totally be the first thing on my mom's list.

I love using ornaments in as many ways as I can.  Here, they're overflowing in every shape and size.  Precious!

More ornaments, but this time grouped by colors.  Love the different shaped and sized containers.  This kind of reminds me of the candy bar at Matt and I's wedding.

Not a huge fan of the taper candle, but the nuts are a great and inexpensive filler.  This would be perfect for the person who does a more Earthy, "woodsey" Christmas theme or for my mom who has Nutcrackers filling every nook and cranny of her house.

I also think gumdrops would look SO CUTE inside the hurricanes.  So festive and playful!

But if you aren't in need of perfume or a scented stocking stuffer, don't fret, there's more to use besides free Ulta hurricanes.  You probably have several glass containers around the house: wine glasses, martini glasses, vases, glass cubes from your wedding centerpieces, etc.  Think outside the box hurricane and use what you already have.  This little mix and match scene is adorable and oh so easy looking!

My crazed in laws and I with our hurricane loot last week!  This picture makes me laugh so hard.  We just can't pass up a great deal!

So what do you think?  Are you going to run to your local Ulta and scoop up a set (or two) of these hurricanes?  What will you put in yours?  Let me know; I'd love to hear!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just a Normal Day at the Gun Range

Today I did something I thought I would NEVER do.  I shot a gun.  No, not a water gun, a REAL GUN.  Shocking, I know.  A full story is in order here.

Since we are spending Thanksgiving in Arizona with Matt's family and will be with my family on Christmas, we rolled Christmas into our Arizona trip and opened presents with Matt's family last night.  Josh (my brother in law) got my father in law a day at the shooting range, as he has a love for guns.  Although I had heard stories, I guess I hadn't fully realized that Matt grew up around guns and spent time shooting them in a safe space with his dad and brother.  I on the other hand didn't know one person growing up who even owned a gun, and I sure as heck have never ever touched anything more powerful than a Supersoaker water gun.  To be honest, I'm just down right terrified of guns.  It's not that I have a moral objection to guns or anything like that, I think the fear is more based on the fact that guns are completely foreign to me.  Growing up only two people had guns: police and bad guys, and neither are people you want to mess with.

So when the guys decided to go to the shooting range on Friday, I thought I'd tag along to watch and play photographer for the day.  As we got closer to the range, I stupidly mentioned, "Well, maybe I'll shoot once or twice, just to say I did it."  The minute we pulled up to the shooting range, I regretted ever saying that.  People were getting out of their cars with handguns strapped to their belts and toting giant black shoulder bags that I swore were filled with machine guns.  I wanted to jump back in the car and hide.  Trying not to look like the world's most sheltered child ever, however, I put on a smile and walked in to the range, acting like everything was fine.  After we put our name in with the nice and friendly guy behind the counter, we waited for a lane to open up.  Cue the anxiety.  The longer we sat there, the louder the gun shots got, the more terrified I became.  Whhhyyyyy did I ever agree to this?!  I tried coyly saying, "I don't think I'm going to shoot, I'm just gonna watch."  All three guys quickly shot me down (no pun intended), swearing I'd like it once I tried it.  Dang.  I continued to sit there, jumping every time I saw someone bust out a gun at the counter, forgetting we were at a gun range, where people, you know, use guns.  I mean, just seeing a gun made me nervous, but the thought of touching a gun made me want to throw up.  And the thought of shooting a gun?  Entirely too much to handle.  But as they called our name and our lane opened up, I realized, it was now or never.  (Cue Braveheart music, as I walk terrified into the range.)

My father in law went first, then Josh, (giant gulp).  I was shaking (not the ideal situation for firing a deadly weapon), and it literally took me ten seconds to walk the three feet from where I was watching to where I'd be shooting from.  As Josh tried to show me how to load the bullets, all I could focus on were the gunshots around me.  They were loud and unpredictable which made for an incredibly anxiety provoking combination.  At first, I wouldn't even touch the gun, so Josh worked with me to help me hold it unloaded, practice aiming, getting comfortable, etc.  Josh is literally the last person I ever expected to know these things, but to my surprise, he knew his firearm facts.  (He later told me he thought I would chicken out at this point.)  Then, I started to panic, and I mean, really panic, realizing the magnitude of what I was about to do.  "!"  As my anxiety began to skyrocket, I suddenly stopped and thought, "Allison, get a grip.  If you freak out, you'll make a mistake, so get your crap together, be a big girl, and just do it."  I slowly (and still shaking) took the gun from Josh, took the safety off, and aimed.  For just enough of a second, I got in the zone, calmed down, and BANG!  I did it.  A real bullet, just came out of a real gun, that I shot at a real target.  Helllooooo small victory for me and challenging myself!  I fired nine more shots before putting the safety on and setting the gun down.  Before I even turned around to see everyone else's reaction, I thought, dang, I did it.  I really did it.  I pushed myself to do something I thought I could never ever do.  Way to go me!

I would experience another turn, allowing me to focus on aim and using the proper stance.  I got some pity pointers from some regulars at the range, who I'm pretty sure felt sorry for my shaky hand, ridiculous stance, and manicured nails, but regardless, they were super helpful.  Later, I counted the bullet holes on my target.  Thirteen out of twenty.  Not bad for a first timer.  (Granted, ten of those hits were from ten feet away, but who's really measuring?)  Now don't be fooled, while I left more comfortable then I came in, I was by no means Annie Get Your Gun when we left.  I was scared speechless for most of my time at the range.  The guns, the bullets, the noise, it was really scary and overwhelming for me.  While guns lost some of their mystique, I'm still pretty scared of them and the finality of one wrong move.  I am not going to turn into a gun toting gal anytime soon (unless Fendi makes a gun bag.  If so, I might reconsider).

Some people say that shooting a gun is an adrenaline rush, but for me, not so much.  The real adrenaline rush was was pushing myself to try something I thought I could never do.  This experience reminded me how important and empowering it is to try to new things and push the limits I and other people set for me.  So I can't help but ask at this point, what's the thing you think you can't do, the thing you're scared to try?  Whether it's shooting a gun, planting a garden, or asking your boss for that task you've been eyeing, don't be so hard on yourself.  You've probably got a lot more fight in you than you think.  I know I sure did.  Check out the photos and the video below to see for yourself.

Josh preparing to steady me on my first shot in case I jerked back (which I didn't!) :)

Who would have EVER thought this picture would exist?  Not me!

While this definitely won't become a regular husband/wife activity for Matt and I, I'm totally glad he was there for this!

And now for the video...who would have ever thought this prissy looking, pink loving, Nordstrom wearing, girl from the city would ever look like this?  (I must admit, every time I watch this video, and trust me, I've watched it a lot, I can't believe it's really me!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thanksgiving Thursday

Although I post a thankful Thursday every Thursday, it seems especially fitting today as it's Thanksgiving.  Turkey Day is exciting for many reasons (mashed potatoes, the turkey trot, football, mashed potatoes, gravy, naps, laughter, and did I already say mashed potatoes?) but the most exciting thing is that this one day in November we are all reminded to be thankful for the many blessings in our life.  I wish Thanksgiving came multiple times a year so we all had more reminders to slow down and appreciate what we have.  This year, like many people, I am thankful for so much.  Good health, awesome friends, a job I love, Sooner football, Dairy Queen, the chance to pursue higher education, a camera to document my crazy life, a blog where I can express myself, and followers who care enough to listen :)  But the thing I'm most grateful for, the thing I give thanks for on daily basis is my family.  They are the stability in my life and a source of continued joy, encouragement, and lots of laughter.

I've blogged before about some of my family and how amazingly awesome they are.  I can remember as a kid, I often preferred hanging out with my family then with my friends, and today, not much as changed.  Any chance I get to head to Houston, I take it.  Hanging out with my mom, dad, and brother instantly recharges my soul and reminds me how awesome life is.  They are the backbone in my life, and even though we're separated by an ocean this Thanksgiving (they're in London), I can feel their love across the miles.

In Positano, Italy with my family last June.  Such a beautiful place!

At my college graduation in May 2006

At the Roman Bath in Bath, England in March 2008

At OU's Homecoming my senior year at OU.

In the past couple of years, I have been so blessed to experience a major growth in my family with the addition of Matt's family.  For years, I always dreaded getting in-laws.  The thought of getting new family members just seemed weird, and I dreaded the thought of having to share holidays.  Even as a kid, I remember sort of fearing getting in-laws, as I was terrified about having to sit miserably at a dinner table with a weird family while my family was back at home without me.  But the minute I met Matt's family, all these in-law fears were put to rest.  They are fabulous, loving, and more welcoming than I ever could have dreamed of.  Matt and I have been SO lucky with the whole holiday sharing, as my parents were living in London for our first two Thanksgivings together.  With school and our short break, it was impossible to fly over and back in time, so we headed to Arizona to be with Matt's family on Thanksgiving and then flew to London for Christmas with my family.  Perfect scheduling.  But this year, with my family back in the states, I feared having to tell my mom we wouldn't be spending Thanksgiving with them in Houston.  I prepared to give her an intense speech with her about "when you're married to have to share holidays, blah blah," but two seconds into our coversation, she said, "Oh no worries, Dad, Ryan, and I are gonna head back to London to visit everyone."  That was followed with a hug and a speech from her about "when you're married to have to share holiday, blah blah."  Haha, crisis diverted.  So this year, as Matt and I are in Arizona, I feel really lucky to have a new, extended family that is so awesome.  They have embraced me with open arms and really love me for me.  I don't have to pretend to be someone else or put on my happy face when I'm around them, I'm just me.  Their love for shopping is out of control, so naturally we got along.  They truly are wonderful, wonderful people.  So this year, even though I'm not with my "immediate family," I feel so at home and am so so thankful for the new extended family that I've found in the Davis'.

Out shopping in Phoenix yesterday.

At our rehearsal dinner this past June.

After finishing the Turkey Trot this morning.  (Please excuse my squinting, it was super bright, and I was stupid enough not to wear sunglasses.)

Shopping at Northpark in Dallas last summer.  I told you they love to shop!

On Thanksgiving, I am always reminded of our Thanksgivings in Dallas with my adopted siblings (it is the longest story in the world, and to save you reading, I'll use "adopted siblings.")  Sitting around the multiple tables we set up in our living room and kitchen was always so fun.  My poor mom had to cook at least two or three turkeys to feed all of us and the friends my siblings would bring.  It's been a few years since we've been able to be together on Thanksgiving, but man, do I think of them and smile on this day.  My sister is particularly in my heart as she is working hard to play "mom" and keep the Thanksgiving traditions going with us not in Dallas anymore.

We're not your typical family, but we like it that way :)  At Matt and I's wedding this past June.

With my sister and nieces last summer at Logan's.

And the last person in my family that I am particularly thankful for is my husband, Matt.  It's still kind of funny to think that he is "family" now, but as we experience our first holiday season as a married couple, I am happily reminded that we are officially our own little family now, starting an exciting journey, just the two of us.  Matt is a constant rock in my life, giving me the extra push I sometimes need to just go for it.  He makes me laugh harder than anyone I know and constantly keeps me on my toes.  He loves me for me, just the way I am.  Although our journey as a family has just began, I can't wait to see all the cool places and things we experience together.  Having him by my side certainly makes life more fun!

Stonehenge last December

Hanging out on our honeymoon this past July with our new friend (and drink), Pineapple Man.

Hanging out in the distillery district in Toronto this past August.  I think Matt looks so handsome in this picture :)

A fabulous sendoff after our wedding!

So this Thanksgiving, I give great thanks for my family, in every sense of the word.  They are awesome, encouraging people, who constantly inspire me.  So to my family, old and new, much thanks for all that you bring to my life.  I love you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Roadtrip

Thanksgiving is such a fun holiday.  It involves three of my favorite things: family, food, and of in my family, shopping!  For Matt and I, all three of these things involve a very very long trip to Arizona.  Why the very very?  We DROVE to Arizona.  That is right, we spent a very lovely seventeen hours in the car to get to Arizona to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with Matt's family.  Yes, you read that right, SEVENTEEN HOURS!  How do you do survive a seventeen hour road trip?  Let me show you.

Pull out your camera and commit to making the trip a blog entry.  Instantly more enjoyable.  Big sunglasses are a must as I am scary with no makeup on :)

Make the obligated McDonald's stop for breakfast.  Nothing says road trip like a greasy sausage biscuit and a megasized coke.  Halfway through my biscuit I almost choked thinking about all the fat I was consuming.  I threw the rest away and said no more fast food in the car.  

Sleep in the backseat while Miguel drives.  Even though this picture is of Matt, I won't lie, I was the one sound asleep in the car for most of the trip.  I couldn't help it; between the sleepless week right before and the cold medicine I was downing, I could barely keep my eyes open.  To make up for my non-driving, I had to agree to make banana nut bread and my famous pesto pasta bake when we got back home.

Listen to every known artist on your ipod at least once.  Then repeat your faves around the 12 hour mark.

Cringe at other people's road trip food choices.  Red Bull with Sour Cream and Onion Pringles?  Dee-gust-ing.

Smile and cheer as Matt gets news of his first internship interview.  Woo hoo, go Matt!

Sit in the car and turn up your nose as the guys stop at every sketchy restroom along the way.  Seriously, I'd rather hold it.

Give up on the distractions, chat with two of your favorite people, and enjoy the views.  Seventeen hours wasn't nearly as bad as I expected.  And the reward of seeing family when we arrive, made all of the road trip craziness worth it!  Hope everyone has a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture


Ok, I realize I might be the last person on Earth to discover this little secret, but nonetheless, I thought I'd share.  (Please tell me I'm not the only one who has been out of the loop!)  I found the sweetest program ever that turns your digital prints into Polaroid-esque pictures.  I think there are several programs and sites that will help you do this, but I used Poladriod (yes, the typo is intentional) and it worked great.  My husband told me there is also an iPhone app that will let you do this as (further proof I've been living under a rock...even my husband knew about this!)  I decided to play around with my newly downloaded toy, using my some of my favorite wedding pictures.  (I actually have 352 favorite wedding pictures, no joke, they're in a folder marked so, but I picked a few fun ones that lend themselves nicely to a Polaroid.)  I'll use any excuse to look back through our wedding photos, as it was without a doubt the most magical and memorable day of my life!  So check out my retro photos and then go have some fun with your most cherished images!



Thankful Thursday: My BFF Jordan

This Thankful Thursday I want to give a long overdue shout out to my best friend Jordan. Even though we live hours apart, she still manages to make a significant daily impact on my life. Jordan and I met in high school and bonded over drill team, rhinestones, and our tell it like it is attitude. Between practice, sleepover, Chick-fil-a runs, and officer camp, I spent more time with her than anyone else in high school. We were slightly attached at the hip. And though we went separate places in college, we always managed to somehow stay connected. She knows me so well and can usually know what I'm thinking and feeling before I say a word. She is the person I call when I think no one else will get it. I don't have to say anything; I don't have to explain myself, she just gets it. You know that friend that you swear you have ESP with? Mine is definitely Jordan; our brains often seem to be on the same channel. Sometimes I think our friendship is weird because as similar as we think and feel, we are very different in some respects, and yet, as adults, this has brought a totally different level of unique and cool to our relationship. I'm not sure if that's even possible to be super similar and different at the same time, but somehow we manage to be both. When I got married this past year, I was blown away by how much Jordan did to make the experience special for me. From the day Matt and I got engaged (which she drove 4 hours to the crappy town we live in to surprise me) from the minute we said "I do" she made it an experience to remember. And while she probably just thought she was making me feel special for the moment, she gave me amazing memories that I smile and think of often. (The picture above is us a few hours before my wedding, and it is one of my favorite pictures of all time. It’s on my dresser, and I look at it every single day. Love it.) Her rhinestoning ability is like no other, her candle addiction is like mine, and she shares the secret of the "gift closet" with me. She loves me unconditionally and is that encouraging voice that I seek so often. Though I often cringe at the thought of getting old, knowing we'll be doing it together and laughing at ourselves the whole journey makes me kind of excited for it. I have no doubt we'll be those crazy ladies vacationing at the resort in Mexico, sipping cocktails, laughing loudly, and chatting about how crazy life has been. I love her so much and am so so thankful for the twelve years of friendship that we have shared.

We've been BFFs since high school drill team days, but thankfully the sequins and cowboy boots are no longer with us :)

Brunching at Blue Mesa

Sharing a last minute hug before I walked down the aisle this past June.

After our high school talent show our senior year.

Mattitos and margaritas :)