Say Cheese ...

Say Cheese ...
It's Just Me!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

Today I celebrated my 25th Christmas, and what a great day it was! In looking back over those past 25 holidays, I tried to pick out what I remember most from those days and what helped to make Christmas my favorite holiday. I came to the conclusion that the answer was much what the answer would be if I asked the question, "what made today so special?" There are a few answers I could share, one talking about the "reason for the season" and the birthday we are celebrating on December the 25th, however I am going to save the more spiritual thoughts for another day.

Today the answer to that question is going to lie in 3 words: family, friends, and music. These three things have always been a part of my life and have always made holidays (and most every other day) special. 

I had the opportunity to sing with my family in a Christmas Eve concert my family does every year. This year I sang a song my Dad has written, however I wanted to share with you the song I sang last year. The song is called, "Red, White, and Blue Christmas" written by some good friends of mine in Nashville. It focusses on our military and their sacrifice, especially at Christmas time. Click on the link below to get to the song.

"Red, White, and Blue Christmas"
Written By: Brad Hull and Tom Worth

Just got home from midnight mass, we sang "Silent Night" with candles burning
Father Ryan said a prayer, for you and all those over there serving
The kids have hung up stockings, they're in bed, but still awake
They're getting all they asked for, wish I could say the same

Oh we got Drew a BB Gun, you know he's always wanted one
I'm not sure who will show him how to use it
And I hear good men are losing lives, but that's not the only sacrifice
It's moments like tonight that you're missing 
On this red, white, and blue Christmas

Now's the time that you and I would exchange our gifts and kisses by the fire
But Jimmy Stewart in black and white is the only thing that breaks the night time silence
And as I write this letter, it's starting to snow outside
We've both got our battles, and I'm fighting mine tonight

Oh we got Kiley a kitchen set, but it's not put together yet
If you were here, it'd only take two minutes
And I hear good men are losing lives, but that's not the only sacrifice 
It's moments like tonight that you're missing 
On thie red, white, and blue Christmas

Now I know that I should wrap this up
Just know that we miss you so much
But I'll sign off for now, with hugs and kisses
On this red, white and blue Chirstmas

Have a red, white and blue Christmas

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Song!

This post is going to be short and sweet! 

One thing I love about living in Nashville is the opportunity I have to meet and work with amazing singers, songwriters, and musicians. I have written more songs in 2011 than the rest of my life combined, and it has been SUCH an amazing, and fun process! I have had people ask me when I am going to put out a new song ... so here it is!! I wrote this song earlier this fall with a VERY talented singer/songwriter named Nikki Fernandez. I played it at a writer's round in Nashville and thought I'd share it with the rest of y'all. I hope you like it! 

(Click on the link for the video)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Last Christmas I was surprised by a present I had to wait almost a complete year to enjoy! 

A trip to the 2011 CMA awards!

I spent January-November 8th in anticipation of November 9th and FINALLY the day came! 

I started by picking a date (and why not choose the guy whose parents gave us the tickets right?!) ;) 

... and after hair, makeup, and a few dresses (for me anyway) we were ready to go! 

The first stop was somewhere I had never been 
before, but had heard a lot about ... 

After an AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS dinner of salads, vegetables, and different kinds of steak and shrimp (sounds like my kind of meal!), we headed through the BITTERLY cold streets of downtown Nashville to the Bridgestone Arena for the show!

The show was amazing, but how could it not be, when you have performers like ...
Blake Shelton
Brad Paisley
Carrie Underwood
Chris Young
Eric Church
Faith Hill
Grace Potter
Jason Aldean
Keith Urban
Kenny Chesney
Kenny Loggins
Lady Antebellum
Lionel Richie
Luke Bryan
Martina McBride
Matt Nathanson
Miranda Lambert
Natasha Bendingfield
Rascal Flatts
Sara Evans
Scotty Mcreery
Taylor Swift
The Band Perry
Thompson Square
Zac Brown Band

... what a list! And I'm sure I'm missing some! 
We had a great view of the stage, so we didn't miss a thing!!

What a GREAT night and an AWESOME concert! Definitely a night I'll remember! 
It was fun to see the show and almost equally as entertaining to see 
the mix of people who were in attendance!! 

I hope y'all were able to see it (in person, on t.v., or online), definitely worth looking up!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


"In early Autumn of 1621, the 53 surviving Pilgrims celebrated their successful harvest, as was the English custom. That 1621 celebration is remembered as the "First Thanksgiving in Plymouth."

Thanks to those Pilgrims 390 years ago, I was able to drive to Maryland, from Nashville, and celebrate Thanksgiving with my family! And what a GREAT Thanksgiving it was!

My family has many holiday traditions. The first Thanksgiving Day tradition is to watch 
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

I always love seeing the balloons that return year after year, and the new ones that are added each year!  My family also loves to see (and hear) the entertainment (esp. the musical theater snippets). 
Breakfast is a MUST while watching the parade and the Cinnamon Rolls we had this year were DELICIOUS! We also had a little additive this year ... Orange Rolls! I have always loved them and much to my surprise, my sister made a special trip so I could have them this year! What a great family I have!

After the parade, we got ready and headed to my Uncle's house for dinner. It's always nice to be around family, especially around holidays. I spent Thanksgiving with family I don't see very often, so it was an extra special Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite (I'm a sucker for Turkey I must say). Here are my favorite Thanksgiving dishes ...

First ... the Thanksgiving Turkey ... need I say more?! Probably not, but I will! I LOVE Turkey, and the best part is usually there are a bunch of left overs, which means ... turkey sandwiches for the next week!! Happy Thanksgiving!  

Next ... Corn Pudding. Corn what now?! It's the best thing! I love it (though I must say I didn't try it 'til a few years ago because I was afraid I wouldn't like it). It's a family tradition, and it's amazing! If you haven't tried it before, or have never heard of it - it's pretty easy to make ... go try it!! 

Last but CERTAINLY not least on my list of favorites is pie! I have always been a cake person myself, and the traditional pumpkin pie has never been my favorite. So what's a good alternative you ask? Chocolate. (The answer's ALWAYS chocolate)! Ok, I also like Apple, but this year ... I went for the chocolate pie, thus it made the blog! 

Though these are the dishes that made my list of favorites, I also love: Mashed Potatoes (as long as they are real potatoes. Don't get me started on the potato pearls or flakes ...), Sweet Potatoes, Green Beens, and Rolls. Who could NOT love Thanksgiving dinner?!

This Thanksgiving was especially great because we turned it into a vacation. On our list of stops, we went to the Holocaust museum in Washington DC and also made a trip up to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and where the Liberty Bell was hung and remains today). Looking back, the Thanksgiving weekend of 2011, for me, was centered around freedom and that is DEFINITELY something to be thankful for!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry has been entertaining Country Music fans since 1925. 

Country greats such as: Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Johnny and June Carter Cash, Patsy Cline, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Alison Krauss, and Willie Nelson have graced the stage of the Opry and have recently been joined by artists like: Dierks Bentley, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson, Josh Turner, and Carrie Underwood.  No matter what night you go, there is sure to be a great show!

The Grand Ole Opry concerts are broadcast live on WSM-AM (and Willie's Roadhouse XM Satelite Radio channel 56, and Sirius channel 64) on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, but there is nothing like GOING to a show at the Opry!

Last week's blog was about my birthday, and I forgot to mention one of my presents were two tickets to the Opry! It was a such a great show, so I thought I would share a little bit of it with y'all!

First you had Little Jimmy Dickens (a well known member of the Opry) ...

Followed by Steel Magnolia (who won "Can You Duet" a few years ago ...)

Then a killer line up of ...

David Nail

Rascal Flatts

and Blake Shelton

I have videos, however they are not uploading, 
so the pictures are going to have to do for now! 

Outside of the Opry there are two guitars, which after the show are flooded by fans wanting to take a picture.  

We had to join the crowds and get our pictures too. A night at the Opry just isn't complete after all until you have them in your camera!

My night at the Opry was SO fun! I hope y'all get to go sometime. It's totally worth the trip! I have heard the Opry described as a big family and they seem to love to share the stage with the other members of the group! So you never know who you'll see and what guest appearances might happen on the night you go.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

When the candles blow out ...

Birthdays have always carried mixed feelings for me! (We'll get to that later) First - let me tell you why this was one of the best birthdays I've ever had!! 
(Then we'll get into the epiphany I had ...) 

But first things first!

The celebration of my birthday started with my roommate taking me out for dessert! It was way too big, and way too delicious, but hey - it's my birthday so it doesn't matter, right?! 

Later on that night, 
a very special guy 
decided to make me dinner! 
Mmm, my favorite!

Ever since my first birthday I have always had the same cake, and in fear of not having that this year, I made my own. Little did I know after dinner there would be a cake ... so we had two!! Better more cake than no cake! I was once told that everyone should blow out a candle on their birthday ... it's totally true!! EVERYONE should blow out a candle on their birthday! That's one of the things that separates your birthday from the other 364 days of the year!

 I was once told that everyone should blow out a candle on their birthday ... it's totally true!! EVERYONE should blow out a candle on their birthday! That's one of the things that separates your birthday from the other 364 days of the year! (P.S. This year I learned that even though I sing all the time, I apparently still need to work on my lung and sustaining power)! 

 The next birthday celebration happened the next day. My friends and I have a tradition to go out to dinner for birthdays after our bible study class - so we did! Here are some of my friends who came out that night! What a fun group!

After dinner, 7 of us girls decided to go back to my friends condo and watch a movie, "She's the Man", eat these delicious cupcakes, and do what girls do ... chat, for hours! A great ending to a great night!
I have been blessed with two of the BEST girlfriends ever! 
We decided to go out and have some GREAT Japanese food to celebrate! 

 Then my girlfriend surprised me with ... 


Over all it was an Incredible day ... week actually. One I was not expecting to have. Birthdays have always carried mixed feelings for me. I was torn because it was my birthday and I should be enjoying it, but yet I was another year older ... and what really constitutes a GREAT birthday? People always say "Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great day!" But what does that mean? As I have gotten older the more I have begun to realize that the day your birthday falls on is just another day. Work goes on, school continues, and things happen. And since people can't really drop everything when a birthday comes around ... what SHOULD be done on a birthday to make it feel special. Yes it's  day you were born, but why should it be special/important to anyone else?

These questions continued until the day of my birthday. I was getting countless messages on Facebook wishing me a "Happy Birthday", friends were texting me, however it didn't seem the day was very special and I couldn't figure out why. I realized it was because of the attitude I had (which I described above). Soon I realized the reason birthdays are a big deal to people, and should be a big deal to people, is because that is the day YOU were born. Without that day, you would not be here. Granted you would have been born on a different day, but then the dilemma starts all over again. So, the reason why people say "Happy Birthday" and the reason YOUR birthday is special to THEM is because they are glad you are here. They are glad to have your friendship and to know you. Without you there would be a lot of things that would be different in the world, a lot of people that would be different in the world, more than you would/could probably image. 

So ... I would challenge everyone to take this year to see the reasons why people are grateful YOU are here. We often see the best in others and only the worst in ourselves! Everyone has the power inside of them to do great things if they only let themselves, so let yourself! That way next year on your birthday you'll be grateful for the day you were born, because you are grateful for you!   

Thank you for the people who made this year's (and every year's) birthday great! Until next year ... 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The quirks and perks of Nashville!

... Living in Nashville ...

Since it's been about 4 years since I have lived in Nashville, there are some things I forgot about this beautiful city. Well, some things I forgot, and others I just didn't get the opportunity to experience the last time I was here. 

#1. Cicada's! 

 For those who don't know what a Cicada is ... lucky, lucky, lucky! They can be classified as locusts, however they have a hostile takeover every 7 years! (and when I say hostile ... I mean hostile). They are not the best of fliers, however they have no hesitation about flying INTO you at amazing speeds, land on you while make creepy and disturbing noises. I don't know if they have any real point or if they add anything to society, but they are EVERYWHERE ... and when I say everywhere ...
 what happens is, they attach to trees (hundreds on each tree), and make noises ALL DAY long! For those who have not been to the South, there are hundreds and thousands of trees, which means the hills are alive with the sound of cicadas! They shed their shell, which then falls to the ground (which you can see here). The shells then collect, by the pile full, around the bottom of every tree. At the end of the summer they will burrow back into the ground and come back in another 7 years! I can't wait!!!

#2. Lightning Storms
 One thing I had forgotten about Tennessee was the incredible lightning storms they have here!  I was driving home last night and there were the biggest flashes of light on either side of the road. The amazing thing is the lightning hit at least almost every 5 seconds. It was crazy to be in the MIDDLE of a lightning storm with bolts of lightning surrounding us on every side!
Soon after the lightning, thunder loud enough to shake my house could be heard (and felt). It was crazy! The thunder also rang through the air far longer than I have ever heard. Insane! The craziest things about the weather here is how fast it can change. One minute it could be barely sprinkling and the next, the wind is between 50-75 mph and the rain is coming down so hard, people have to pull over to the sides of the road because it's coming down in SHEETS! 

Last night was nuts, but a good reminder of how fast the weather here can change, and to be honest, kind of a cool experience! 

Though Tennessee has its quirks, it also has its perks. 
I love it here and could not imagine being anywhere else! 
Stay tuned ... there is more to come! 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Alabama Tornado Relief

On April 27, 2011 312 tornados were spotted across several southern states in the United States. 226 occurred within a 24 hour period, killing at least 337 and reducing neighborhoods to rubble. This tornado storm was the second deadliest in US History and now holds the record for the most tornados ever recorded in a single day.

My friends getting ready to get to work!

40 of my friends and I had the great opportunity to drive 3 hours South of Nashville, Tennessee to Cordova, Alabama to help in the effort of cleaning up the town. I don’t know if we were prepared for what we saw: Roofs were torn off, homes were of their foundation or destroyed completely. Trees that once were located in the back yard had fallen THROUGH the house and now were resting in the back yard and the front yard (by way of the middle of the house). It was crazy and nothing like I’ve ever seen. Well as the saying goes, “A picture says a thousands words.” so here ya go!

This house looked like a bloomed flower.
The walls literally just fell out from the center!

This dress reminded me of the impact these
storms had on so many people's lives!

We ran out of room in the car, so we got put in the backseat!

It was AMAZING how many donations continued
to come in while we were there.
One day we spent hours and hours bring them into a building,
unpacking and sorting them. If you would like to know how to donate -
please go to

Thank you to all the volunteers from the Red Cross
and the rest of America for donating your time and money
to the people of Cordova and throughout other parts of Alabama!

"Who are we not to be ..."

"We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God." 
                                                                                  - Nelson Mandela