Good morning and welcome to my weekly Thankful Monday post!

Here’s what I’m thankful for today:

  1. I’m thankful for a wonderful weekend spent with people I love!  Friday night, I had a nice quiet evening at home with my husband and kitties.  Then Saturday morning, I went with Sarah to support her school, the Virginia Institute of Autism, by participating in a pancake breakfast!  I met several of Sarah’s coworkers and we enjoyed playing with all of the cute babies that came along with their mommies.  Afterward, Sarah and I had a girls day and did some shopping.  We found alot of post-Christmas deals at the mall and then headed to a new restaurant in town, Pasture, to belatedly celebrate Sarah’s birthday!  As if that wasn’t enough fun, when I got home, Ben and I went to his parents house to visit with our nephew Brandon and two nieces Abby and Elise.  It was a great day spent with my Virginia family!  Sunday, I got to spend the entire day running errands which wasn’t bad at all because I got to do it with my husband.
  2. I’m thankful for a great lunch catching up with my good friend Kristen at Baja Bean on Thursday.  I rarely go out to lunch and spend most days eating at my desk while working so it was a nice change of pace to take a long break from work with a friend.  Plus Kristen and I rarely get together since we are both so busy so I love getting to hang out with her whenever I have the chance.
  3. I am thankful for a clean bill of health from my endocrinologist.  Another appointment last Monday revealed that my thyroid levels are perfectly normal which is great news!
  4. I am thankful for working for such a wonderful company.  I recently talked with my boss and the Human Resources department at work about taking some important upcoming leave from work and coming back to work part-time.  I am more than thrilled with the options they have provided me and they have proved that they really do care about me as a person.  I am truly blessed to work at such a great company that treats their employees so well and recognizes the importance of a work-life balance.
  5. I am thankful for the kindness of the people around me.  My husband and I are soon going to have a dramatic change in our lifestyle and people have been so wonderful to offer help, advice, support, and items that will help us along the way.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

It’s been a little over a year now since I wrote my first Thankful Monday post.  This originally started out as an experiment so I could see if practicing gratefulness would help make me a happier person.  I think I can say that after a year, practicing gratefulness at least once a week has without a doubt helped me to be a happier and more positive person.  As a result of this conclusion, I think I will continue to write my Thankful Monday blog posts indefinitely.  So without further delay, here is the first Thankful Monday post of 2014:

  1. I’m thankful for a fun craft night on Friday evening with Amy and Sarah.  It was Sarah’s birthday, so we celebrated her day and I made her this flourless nutella cake.  I had so much fun just chatting with the girls, watching them make scarves, learning about different sewing techniques, and creating an ornament from the trunk of our first Christmas tree.
    1509190_803400586870_151089582_n
    I always cherish these fun and creative times with friends.
  2. I’m thankful for a nice long phone date with my cousin and best friend Megan!  Whenever we have phone dates, we end up chatting for hours.  It’s always so much fun to catch-up and talk to the people I love!
  3. I’m thankful for a very generous gift from my boss.  She was about to donate some belongings to Goodwill when she found out that I would be needing them soon so she gave them to me!  I’m so grateful to be surrounded by generous and helpful people!
  4. I always say it, but I don’t think it is ever enough – I am so thankful for my husband Ben!  He is always helping me and taking care of me!  This weekend, he stacked wood and continuously made sure the fire in our wood stove was burning to keep us warm (he even taught me how to operate it).  He also did several things on my honey-do list including but not limited to changing all of the burnt out light bulbs in the house and helping me fold a tablecloth.  I love him so much and still can’t believe how lucky I am to have found him.
  5. I’m thankful for my days off.  Though I work in retail and don’t get as many days off during the holidays as I’d like, I am very thankful for the ones I do get.  Last Wednesday was a nice day off spent celebrating the New Year.

Have a great week and happy New Year!

I fount this great infographic on the Science of Happiness on this website.  Check it out!

I found another great article “10 Simple Habits to Help You Become Happier” on lifehack.org.  Some of these are the same ones found on other lists (exercise, enjoy friendship, etc.) but it also has some new ones like eating bananas.  I’m saving this here so I can refer back to it in the future and also so others can check it out.

Good morning and happy Thankful Monday!

Since tomorrow marks the end of the 2013 and Wednesday marks the beginning of 2014, I thought I do a special 2o13 Recap of the things I am thankful for this year!

I’m thankful for a very productive year.  At the end of 2012 and when I turned 30 a week before 2013, I made myself a promise that I’d make 2013 a very productive and memorable year.  Though it wasn’t productive in the ways that I thought it would be, I think the improvements I made were even better than the ones I imagined.  They include the following:

    1. Bought my dream house with my husband!
    2. Traveled alot (10 out of the 12 months):
      • DC in February with good friends
      • New Orleans for my cousin Jennifer’s bachelorette party in March
      • Padre Island in April to visit my mom and spend time with family
      • Houston and Galveston in June for my cousin Jennifer’s wedding and to spend time with family
      • Nashville in June to visit good friends
      • Baltimore for a fun girl’s weekend to celebrate Independence Day
      • Seattle and Victoria, Canada in July for my cousin Catie’s wedding and to visit family
      • Nag’s Head in August to have a girl’s weekend at the beach
      • DC in September to see the Book of Mormon with friends
      • DC in October for a great training course for work
      • Massanutten with good friends in November
      • Cape Cod in December for my husband’s cousin’s wedding and to spend time with his family
    3. Did alot of work to improve my happiness and mental health (reading, learning to meditate, cognitive behavioral therapy, online learning, exercise).
    4. Trained for and ran the Charlottesville 10 Miler in March with my husband!
    5. Got a great review and a raise at work and also learned to be more experienced and confident in my job.
    6. Spent alot of very important time with family and friends.
    7. Ran 1 race in June (4 the Wounded 5K), 4 races in the month of September (Charlottesville Women’s 4 Miler, 9/11 Heroes Run, Special Olympics Pepsi 10K, and Benefit 5K for Shiloh Thompson) and 1 race in November (Shelter For Help in Emergency 5K) and greatly improved my running, pace, and personal records.
    8. Lost 25 pounds (FINALLY – this had been a goal for a long time)!
    9. Won tickets to the King Family Vineyards Pink Ribbon Polo Classic, Top of the Hops Beer Festival,  Virginia Chili Blues & Brews Festival, and an entry to the 4 the Wounded 5K - it was a lucky year (maybe it was that red egg we found)!
    10. Helped several friends welcome sweet babies into this world!
    11. Bought several pieces of furniture and large appliances for our first house (couch, book shelves, washer and dryer).
    12. Bought and decorated our first Christmas tree together and celebrated our first Christmas in our new house with our families!
    13. Created 2 amazing gifts that are still in the works (more on those later)!
    14. Many more!

It was an amazing year and although there were ups and downs as there always will be, the wonderful things listed above will be the things I remember about 2013 and am grateful for when I look back on this year in the future!  I know 2014 is going to be one of the hardest but most rewarding and amazing years of my life thus far and I am truly looking forward to the challenge.

Happy New Year!  I’m wishing everyone a happy and amazing 2014 and please remember to try and be thankful.  I will continue to be!

I had a wonderful holiday celebrating with my family and hope that everyone else did as well!  Here’s how it went!

Saturday morning, I woke up early to finish cleaning before my family got here.  My brother, Mikey, got in around 2 so he, Ben, and I decided to go have a late lunch at Brixx Wood Fired Pizza.  Afterwards, we did a little Christmas shopping and then went over to my friend Collin’s house for a Christmas get-together with friends.  After a fun night and a white elephant gift exchange, we headed home.  My mom and Carrie didn’t get in until about 3:30 AM.  Ben and I woke up to let them in and gave them the tour of the new house since they hadn’t seen it yet.  After a short visit, we all went to bed to rest up for the next day.

Sunday morning, we got up and took it easy.  I made everyone coffee and cooked bacon, eggs, and toast for breakfast while Mikey made us all bloody marys.  After breakfast, we watched our Texans play and hung around the house visiting and looking at the fun stuff that my mom brought from Texas that she’d been storing for years.  We decided we needed to get out of the house for dinner and went to The Local since it is one of the few restaurants in Charlottesville that Mikey, Carrie, and Mom had never been to.  We had a great dinner and all ordered something different so we could each try a few bites of everyone else’s dinner.  Afterward, we stopped by our condo to show them how the renovations looked and then watched for Christmas lights on our way home.

Monday morning, we got up and all enjoyed some light breakfast and visited.  After everyone had showered and gotten ready for the day, we headed out for lunch.  We went to Basil to have some great Mediterranean food complete with tabouli, hummus, baba gannoush, lebne, grape leave, and complimentary baklava.

Complimentary Baklava from Basil

Complimentary Baklava from Basil

It was a delicious lunch and we were all stuffed!  Then we went to see the movie American Hustle.  We enjoyed the movie and then headed to Pier One to exchange some gifts and then to the grocery store to buy ingredients for Christmas dinner.  When we got home, we all helped to make sausage balls and pralines.  Then we sat down to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (one of my favorite Christmas movies).

Tuesday was my birthday and we headed over to one of my favorite restaurants, Beer Run, for brunch.  I got my favorite dish, nachos, and we all enjoyed bloody marys and beers.

My Sister's First Growler

My Sister’s First Growler

We did a little Christmas Virginia wine and beer shopping before leaving and then headed home to make some baklava and caprese kabobs to take over to my in-laws house where we celebrated Christmas and my birthday.  My mother-in-law Virginia Mom made the most amazing spread of food…she had everything and it was all so delicious!  Then we ate some of this amazing cake:

Amazing Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cake

Amazing Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cake

My Virginia Mom made the cake out of black beans but it tasted just like chocolate and it had layers of chocolate and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups on the inside!  It was delicious AND full of protein!

The family sang happy birthday to me:

1513260_942209138431_1357035027_n

And I blew out my candles making a wish (it’s a secret):

Making a very important wish!

Making a very important wish!

Then we opened gifts and enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the evening.  We went home and everyone scrambled to finish putting the last minute touches on their gifts and complete their wrapping.  Our tree looked like this:

Our First Christmas Tree

Our First Christmas Tree

Christmas morning, we awoke to this:

The Stockings Were Hung By the Chimney with Care

The Stockings Were Hung By the Chimney with Care

And my mom surprised Ben by hand-making him a stocking to match the ones she made my sister, brother, and I as babies:

A fishing Santa because Ben loves fishing

A fishing Santa because Ben loves fishing

We all opened presents, enjoyed mimosas, and ate sausage balls and had a wonderful Christmas morning!

Mom and her kiddos

Mom and her kiddos

The kids

The kids

Then we went to work on dinner.  Mom made augratin scalloped potatoes, tenderloin, creamy horseradish sauce, bacon-wrapped green beans, rolls, Granny Scott’s Wilted Leaf Lettuce Salad, and blackberry cobbler for dessert!  It was all so delicious and she outdid herself once again!  Ian, Sarah, and Phyllis joined us for dinner:

1380150_801089258790_913493609_n

1509066_801089233840_1562285558_n

1522095_801089368570_1937753796_n

 We finished the evening by spending time together and Skyping with some family in Texas.  In was the most amazing holiday and now I am so sad that it is over and so sad that my family had to leave.  However, I am so happy and grateful they could be here and can’t wait to see them again soon!

Merry Christmas everyone and happy New Year!

P.S.  Thanks to Sarah, Mikey, and Carrie for many of the pictures!

I know I am a few days late but what a busy week I had!  My mom, sister, and brother came to town for Christmas and we had an amazing five days!  Here’s what I’m thankful for!

  1. I’m forever grateful for my mom and sister who rented an SUV, drove 1300 miles from Houston, brought me some of my belongings being stored in Texas, and then turned around and drove 1300 miles back 5 days later just to spend Christmas and my birthday with me!  I love them so very much that I could never fully express it in words.
  2. I’m grateful for my brother who drove from South Carolina to spend Christmas and my birthday with me!  We had a blast shopping, eating, watching football, and lounging!  I love my little brother!
  3. I’m thankful for my Virginia family who not only make my Texas family feel welcome when they visit, but also treat me like blood!  My mother-in-law made the most amazing birthday dinner and birthday cake and my father-in-law, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law all helped celebrate.  I love them all!
  4. I’m thankful for my husband Ben!  He is part of my heart and helps hold me up when I am down and keep me grounded when I am being a fool.  He is the love of my life.
  5. Lastly, I’m thankful for internet, cell phones, Facebook, Skype, and all technology that allow me to feel a little bit closer to my family when they have to leave and also allows us to celebrate the holidays virtually with family far and wide!

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas!  I know I did!

This is something my mom has been telling me for years and I have been trying hard to always remember to CHOOSE to be happy.  Unfortunately my emotions have much more control over me than I’d like so I continue to learn and to work on allowing myself to choose to be happy.

This is a great article I ran across “This Is Scientific Proof That Happiness Is A Choice” that is worth a read and that I’d like to refer back to when I’m having a hard time remembering that my happiness is my own choice.

Happy Thankful Monday!

Here’s what I’m thankful for today:

  1. I’m thankful for a wonderful day Christmas shopping with Ben yesterday, and I’m very thankful and happy about our very first Christmas tree (pictures to come once it’s decorated).  I’m also thankful for a strong husband who is able to lift and move the tree and also knows how to take care of it (Ben wants to root the tree outside after Christmas is over).
  2. I’m thankful for a wonderful weekend with family.  Friday night, Ben and I joined his parents and two nieces for our annual holiday trip to Richmond for the Lewis Ginter Botanical GardensDominion GardenFest of Lights.  Then Saturday, I spent the day baking and doing Christmas crafts with my mother-in-law and nieces.  I made two terrariums that I’m very proud of!
  3. I’m sooooo very thankful that I got to spend a day with my cousin Jennifer!  Her husband was in Baltimore for business so she came with him and drove down for the day on Wednesday.  We started off by catching up over lunch at Timberwood Grill, then headed to Monticello to do the tour since she had never been.  Then we went to the Downtown Mall, bought some Virginia Wine at Market Street Wine Shop, and met Ben for dinner at South Street Brewery.  We ended the evening by baking brownies at home.  Thursday morning, we had breakfast at Bodo’s before Jennifer headed back to Maryland.  I was sad to see her go but soooo happy that we got to spend precious time together.  I love my family!

    Jennifer & I at Monticello

    Jennifer & I at Monticello

  4. I’m thankful for the wood stove in our house and for a husband who has been building fires to keep us warm.  Our heater broke again on Friday morning so we were forced to start using our wood stove.  Wow does that thing work great!  It heats the house almost well enough that we don’t need the heater!

    Eva checking out the first fire in the wood stove

    Eva checking out the first fire in the wood stove

  5. Lastly, I’m thankful for the holidays and family to spend them with.  Last year I was somewhat of a scrooge because we couldn’t have a Christmas tree, I didn’t have much PTO saved up yet (and I work in retail), I was turning the dreaded 30, and I couldn’t go home for Christmas.  This year, we have a beautiful house to spend the holidays in, I can take a few days off of work, my family is coming to spend Christmas with us since we have plenty of room in the new house, we have our first Christmas tree together (after being together for seven and a half years), and I’m not turning 30 this year ;) !

Have a great week and enjoy the this time of year!

Good morning and welcome to this week’s Thankful blog post…on Tuesday!  I was traveling all day yesterday so I didn’t have a chance to post my regular Monday morning Thankful post.

Here’s what I’m thankful for today:

  1. I’m thankful for a wonderful long weekend in Cape Cod!  I’m grateful that I got to see a new part of the country I’d never visited, got to see where my husband spent his summers as a child, got to visit with family that we don’t see very often, and got to meet new family members.
  2. I’m thankful to my in-laws for planning the trip, booking the hotel, renting the car, paying for way too much, and allowing us all to have a nice family vacation together.  They were more than generous on this trip and I’m grateful to them for the whole experience!
  3. I’m thankful that our cousin Kimberly found her best friend and soul mate in Matt and that we were able to help them celebrate this weekend.  They both seemed so happy to be joining each others’ families and I am ecstatic for them!  And Kimberly sure knows how to pick them…Matt is a wonderful and funny guy!  They had an amazing and beautiful rehearsal dinner, fabulous wedding complete with ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception, and Sunday brunch at the beautiful Wequassett Resort .  It was a wonderful place to stay and to hold the festivities!  I’m also grateful that Kimberly and Matt gave us the opportunity to help them celebrate their marraige to one another!
  4. I’m thankful that I finally got to meet Ben’s Uncle David and Aunt Dee.  They were both so hospitable and nice and shared many pictures and family heirlooms with us when we visited.  I probably learned more about Ben’s extended family in one weekend than I have in the seven and a half years we have been together.  I’m also so very grateful to get to visit with and get to know Ryan, Olya, Marcia, Kimberly, Matt, and all of their friends and family.  Family, friends, and relationships are the most important thing in the world to me, so I’m always grateful for the chance to nurture them and allow them to grow.
  5. I’m thankful that we all made it safely to Cape Cod and back despite thunderstorms and winter storms all along the way.  We were lucky that we didn’t run into any terribly slippery roads or extreme weather conditions and I’m also thankful to be home now and see our kitties that we missed so much!

Have a wonderful week!

P.S.  Here’s a picture of Ben and I from the wedding on Saturday!

 1486862_796694236450_1721754604_n

About Texas Lou

Name: Leslie

Bio: I'm a Texas girl who now lives in Virginia. My goal in life is to experience as much as possible, and this blog will follow me in my adventures!

Categories