Come at me, 2013.

Last year on our Holiday Christmas trip to Georgia, Josh and I decided to head back to Texas on New Years Eve. While in our minds we pictured a sweet, reflective car ride full of thought-provoking questions and conversations answering the traditional questions of “What do I regret this year?” or “How can I become a better person in 2012?” Ya know, the stuff you always feel like you’re supposed to ask each other on birthdays or…come to think of it EVERY event that happens on a yearly basis…Oh well, no bother.

What the trip actually looked like what me drooling on a pillow in the passenger seat while Josh tried unsuccessfully to bring me to enough of a state of consciousness to even acknowledge that it had turned midnight, and we had entered a new year. This was only after a quick pit stop in New Orleans in which Henry pooped in the middle of Bourbon Street like a drunken moron. Please don’t ask.

So, as you may imagine, we decided to take our entrance into 2013 a slightly different route. We decided to leave Georgia in time to be home in Austin for the big ball-drop moment. We left yesterday at around 8:30pm and got to Austin this morning around 10, making our trip 14.5 hours-BEST TIME YET! And now we’re recovering from the drive with Chipotle and naps. The only problem is that we smell terrible and my teeth might fall out from all the soda I drank during the night to stay awake. The stupid apartment complex in which we live has lovingly decided to turn off everyone’s water for the day for some sort of maintinance. SURPRISE! (Only it shouldn’t actually count as a surprise when it happens like once a week).

I say it now, and I’ve said it before…Henry is the best road trip dog. Seriously. Doesn’t make a peep for 14.5 hours except when we let him out to pee while we get gas. He is a rockstar.

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Even though we haven’t rung in the new year just yet, I have talked 2012 over with Josh, and we decided that most of the year was completely horrendous. The first 8 or 9 months were honestly some of the most trying times of our lives. **see entitled “Summer Misfortunes” for just a sample of some of the fun times. I’ll have to say, though, 2012 really turned around toward the end and became some of the happiest months of our lives. Trials are so difficult to endure in the moment, but they really do bring a sweet dependence on each other and a deeper gratitude for the things we tend to take for granted.

I want to carry gratitude with me in 2013 like I carried anxiety in 2012. I want to take more deep breaths and hear myself say “You did enough today” in the mirror. Who knows what kind of horrors that this year will bring. It honestly terrifies me. But without a deeper understanding of grace and without a selfless attitude that’s focused away from my tiny middle-class-white-girl-problems, I’ll never be able to face the challenges that lie ahead without crumbling at the feet of setbacks.

I have a lot to still wrestle with and come to understand about what all we went through last year. Maybe I’ll never fully learn everything I want to from the experiences. But for now, I will raise my champaign glass with the rest of them and welcome 2013 with open arms, whether it brings tears of joy or tears of devastation. I’m pretty sure it will bring both at times, but thank you Jesus for shedding light on the brevity of it all. He is bigger, and more loving, and endless…And that’s all I need to know.

Happy New Year, world. May you find your hope in the only One worth the trouble.

p.s. glad you didn’t get destroyed by the mayan/zombie apocolyps thing. That would have made me sad.

Laterz, Caroline

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A very merry Christmas

Well, Josh and I made it to Georgia last weekend after a 15 hour drive across the lower southeastern U.S. We left after Josh finished work last friday and arrived in Peachtree City (my hometown) the following afternoon. Henry did awesome in the car, as usual. He’s our little road trip buddy. And now he is in HEAVEN here playing in everyone’s giant fenced in yards full of squirrels. Almost everyone we know in Georgia has a dog for Henry to play with, so that makes his time here extra special. I’m a little worried about what the state of his emotional health will be when we have to pack up and leave on Sunday. Poor buddy.

Christmas was wonderful. We got to spend some time with my family watching my 1 year old niece Lucie open her gifts, and then have a southern FEAST at Josh’s grandma’s house. I mean…His family knows how to cook. Look at this spread. And please don’t try to calculate the calorie content. I beg you.

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Gathered ’round “fixin supper” as Nanny would say. Good to be in the deep south again.

We’ve also had the best time spending time with friends while we’ve been “home”. It is so tough living so far away from the friends we have grown up with. I love picking up where we left off, though.

For my mom’s Christmas gift, I asked Jessica Henderson, an old friend from High School, to come take some pictures of my family since it’s one of the only times in the past few years that we have all been together at the same time. I was a little hesitant to burden everyone with arranging a meeting time and having everyone dress up and stand out in the 30 degree weather, but seeing the pictures made it all worth the trouble. Jess did an amazing job, and took around 40 GREAT pictures in just a half hour! You go girl!

If anyone needs family pictures/senior pictures/baby pictures taken in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend Love Ya Jess Photography. Thanks again, girl!

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Love my family!!

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I have some good-lookin parents!

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My little family πŸ™‚

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The whole “Patterson” clan

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My mom, dad, and their grandbaby Lucie

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Memo and 3 of her grandkids

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My immediate family with our pups.

I know I have a VERY beautiful family. I can’t lie. I can’t believe I am lucky enough to have them in my life. I can’t wait to print some of these out and get them in frames! I hope ya’ll had a great Christmas and got to spend some time with people you love. Next up-NEW YEARS!

Christmas Treasures

Tis the season for present wrapping and treat making and picture taking!

It’s been a fun few weeks leading up to the big day-Which is now only NINE days away. I can’t believe it. On friday night Josh and I will head to Georgia on our long 19 hour car journey with Henry by our side. (er…in the trunk…) Its funny, we made the trip last year and swore when we got back that we’d never drive to Georgia again. Yet, here we go…

Last weekend my friends Cole and Leena came over and we made/decorated cookies. I’ve made this particular type of sugar cookies before and LOVE them. They are so great by themselves without frosting, which means they are great when you decorate with royal icing, which tends to be…um…pretty yucky if you ask me. But it always looks great in the end. I just can’t stay away from that dang royal icing. Curses!

Anywhoo, here’s my favorite sugar cookie recipe

(Thank you “Bake at 350” for this fabulous recipe!)

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
3 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. sugar (I use sugar that I’ve stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold and cut into chunks
1 egg
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and cold butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shapes on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Here’s the finished product before the were gobbled up by various friends and family members.

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Besides making cookies, I’ve also been doing a lot of posing next to Christmas trees and laying by fires with my dog. I know I know, I lead such an exciting life. But hey, now that school is over until mid-January, what do you expect a girl to do?

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Just a few days left to run some last minute errands and pack before we head to the A-T-L. So excited to spend some much needed time with our families and friends there. Merrrrrrrry Christmas

And do yourself a favor and MAKE THOSE COOKIES. Your friends will thank you. πŸ™‚

The ones that got away

Sad story.

So last year at Christmastime I fell in LOVE with these 2 stockings from Anthroplogie. (the christmasy kind you hang above your mantle and put things in…Yeah) So since I wan’t actually supposed to be shopping for things that made ME happy, I reluctantly turned my attention back towards shopping for things to get other people. I did Salemark them, though, so I would get an email the SECOND they went on sale after the holidays were over and it was more ok to buy things for myself. They had to go on sale, right? Or at the very least the store would bring them back this year when I am more mentally prepared to spend a LOT of money on 2 stockings. They were oh so pretty and perfect and wonderful, those stockings.

Well, as you may have guessed, the stockings did not come back this year. Β And not only that, but I can’t seem to find any that strike my fancy ANYWHERE. None will ever fill the shoes (ahem, excuse the pun) of those quirky, beautiful knit stockings from Anthropologie. Our $5 icky target ones will have to do until the day I fall in love again. Sniff.

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Just to torture me, the internet still has pictures of these 2 beauties available to view…but not buy. Aren’t they spiffy? I love that they aren’t the usual red and green, leaving room for all sorts of whimsical decorations to match.

I would upload a picture of our Target stockings as a reference to why we want new ones…But as usual WordPress is giving me hell.

So who out there has Christmas decorations they absolutely LOVE and treasure? I can’t say we’re there yet, but one day it’ll happen.

Happy beginning of Advent everyone! May your homes be better decorated than mine πŸ™‚