New Year, New You

Another year has come and gone. Time to get out pen and paper and jot down a few ways you can improve your life, make this year better than the last --more successful. 

We all have that list of resolutions, whether they are written down or not. Maybe you've shared your list with a loved one, or perhaps you've kept yours hidden this year; either way, we all have goals for 2013 (big and small) that deep down inside we believe that if they are met, our lives will be enriched. 

And maybe they will. 

While jotting down my own list, I started thinking about that word success. What makes one successful in life? Or more specifically, what makes for a successful year? Is it fitting into those size 4 jeans? Or having more money in your bank account? 

In the world's eyes, probably so. But what the world can't see is the condition of your heart, and maybe that and that alone equates success in life. 

So my new year's resolutions for 2013 are... 
  • To spend more time intentionally loving my husband, even if the feelings I harbor for him at certain moments aren't necessarily lovey dovey ;)
  • To be more intentional with my friendships
  • To pray not just in moments of hardship, but in moments of thanksgiving
  • To tithe consistently  

On paper, success may look like $$$, but the above are things I've struggled with this past year and want to improve on in 2013. So for me, a successful 2013 looks a lot like my family, friends, and my relationship with Christ. Oh yeah, I also want to work out more and eat more veggies ;)

Happy New Year!
I hope it's a successful one.


The Best of 2012

2012 has definitely been my best year yet. That may be something we all tend to say every year, even if it's been a rough one, and maybe the reason is that as we grow older and more mature we simply realize just what a blessing life truly is, and how precious the ones that make it so worth it are to us. 

But this year really was a big one! I made some of the most important decisions of my life and celebrated each victory and defeat with the ones I love most. 

**Warning: I tried to keep my list short, but I failed. I apologize in advance for the photo dump.

The Best of 2012...

I married a wood chopping, zombie obsessed stud muffin, and I don't regret it one bit.
We became home owners!
And added a new addition to our little family.
Who quickly became best friends with this guy.
I learned that Huckleberry will eat just about anything.
Like corn cobs
and raw pumpkin.
I also learned how to cook (much to my surprise) and actually had a lot of fun doing it!
I went to Niagara Falls with Steven.
And on many other (closer) adventures with him by my side.
 I celebrated my 24th year of gracing this earth with my presence. 
You're welcome, earth.
And spent pretty much every. waking. moment. with my man.

2012, it's been fun.



Drinking // Coffee...with a Lindor Chocolate stirred into it. If you haven't tried this already, I highly recommend it.

Loving // My new Canon camera! The clarity and light I get in each shot is amazing. I'm still trying to figure it out and don't know if I'll ever be able to use it well in manual, but I'm learning. Slowly.

Anticipating // A dear friends baby shower tomorrow. She's having her first baby (a little boy named Max) in February and I got the cutest wrapping paper for his gift! I mean, the gifts are nice too, but this wrapping paper and matching gift bag seriously make me swoon with cuteness! Not sure what it is about good quality paper goods, but I like them.

Missing // College. I have been having some serious nostalgia concerning college. Maybe it's because at this time of year I'd be on Christmas break, spending my time in coffee shops with my girlfriends and laughing so hard our sides hurt and there are tears streaming down our faces. Or maybe I just miss my friends back east. Either way, I now know why they say your college years are the best time of your life. It truly was a sickly sweet time, and I miss it dearly.

Reading // I'm still reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. I'm nearing the end so I've been reading it more slowly. His books are packed with so many valuable life lessons. I hate for the experience to end. 

**post inspired by Danielle at Something Sweet


The Good Stuff

The good stuff this week...

Eating enormous amounts of food and not thinking twice about it because it's the holidays.

Huckleberry's increasingly pink  "snow nose" (Some dogs noses turn pink in the cold winter months and than return to black in the summer. It's silly.)

Having a Breaking Bad marathon with the hubby. If anyone knows where we can watch the first half of season 5 let me know! So addicted.

The good stuff like playing games with family and laughing those good hearty laughs.

Finding the perfect pair of brown boots.

Lindor Chocolates.

The list could go on! The holidays always brings a surplus of the good stuff! So tell me, what's the good stuff look like in your life this week?

You can read my first the good stuff post here


Merry! Merry!

Our first Christmas as husband and wife started out with yummy apple french toast and ended with fun games and laughter with family. 
There was a lot of food, a lot of presents, and a lot of laughs, but none of that really matters. I'm just thankful that I was able to spend a day with some people I love. Being away from home has really strengthened the idea that holidays are all about family. You know, those people you avoid the rest of the year but then spend an entire day with/buy presents for/break bread together on Christmas? Family is the most important part, and without them there would be no tradition.

Oh, and my husband Santa bought me a Canon Rebel T3i. So maybe Christmas is a little but about that too ;)

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and were able to spend it with the ones you love!


Huckleberry's Daycare Festivities

There is nothing cuter than a patient Huckleberry waiting to open his gift and eat his treats.
We have been sending Huck to daycare every Wednesday for the past 6 months. It's only about a 5 minute drive from our house and the lady who runs it, MaryEllen, is probably one of the sweetest people I've ever met.

She runs the daycare right out of her home. The pups have a continuous supply of fresh, running water, lots of doggie beds and toys, and even their own sand pit for digging! It truly is puppy paradise.

In the past, Steven and I had a terrible experience sending Huck to daycare and I vowed never to take him to one again (he came home limping and covered in urine), but when I heard about MaryEllen's home right down the street from ours and read her reviews, I decided I owed it to Huck to go check the place out. It was probably the best decision I've ever made as a pet owner.

If you ask Huck if he wants to go to daycare, he'll simply go into a frenzy and start chasing his tail and jumping around. And then he goes and lays behind the car to ensure you don't leave without him! He loves daycare, the furry friends he's made there, and he especially loves MaryEllen.

This past Wednesday they had a Christmas party at daycare and Huck came home with homemade puppy treats, a wrapped Christmas gift, and a festive scarf!
Seriously, if you aren't dying of cuteness right now you're not human.
His gift didn't stick around for very long, but he enjoyed destroying it. 
And I enjoy knowing he is a well socialized and worn out pup on Wednesday nights!

Any other crazy fur mamas out there who send their 4 legged children to daycare??

Oh yeah, if you're reading this congrats on surviving the end of the world ;)


The Good Stuff

photos by Kelsey Lynne Photography 
Every Christmas I read a book by Charles Dickens. I love the social critics he laces throughout all his stories, and just his overall grasp on humanity. That man knew the inter-workings of his fellow human creatures, and he wasn't shy about bringing them to light. 

This year I choose Oliver Twist, his early book about a tenderhearted orphan boy who is greatly mistreated. Dickens uses sarcasm and dark humor to draw attention to England's condition during his time --Poor Laws, child labor, child criminals, and the arrogance and ignorance of the wealthy. Yet even though this book is fiction and written in the 1830s, the condition of the human heart is not much changed, and while pouring over this book with pen in hand, I could not help but underline the following, since every syllable I read of it reverberated in my own heart.

"Such is the influence which the condition of our own thoughts, exercises, even over the appearance of external objects. Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the sombre colours are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision." 

After I read those words I reread them and reread them again. All I kept thinking was just how true this particular observation by Dickens had recently become in my life. Ever since the Sandy Hook shooting, it has been hard to view the world we live in as anything more than a dark, disgusting, hateful place. There is so much evil, and in the light of tragedy we are forced to step out from inside our little protective bubbles in life and recognize it. We have to recognize it because it's there. Even Dickens says you are "in the right" to view the world that way. Evil is prevalent. And the evil that took place at Sandy Hook has been felt throughout or nation --in the workplace, in the classroom, at home, and on our blogs. 

I've read multiple posts written by beautiful, intelligent women who are simply heartbroken by the tragedy. Emotions range from anger, fear, and disgust. We have all been infected by this evil like we will be by many more to come. It enters into our minds and hearts, making us ill, causing us to view the world we live in with these jaundiced eyes. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone touched by this tragedy.  
(I promise this post has a point.)

And getting right to that point. Dickens states that "the real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision."  When I read that I felt conviction. Oftentimes, I think it is in our nature to dwell on tragedy and allow it to seep into every facet in life. The tragedy is ugly and overbearing. It consumes us and overtakes every  action we set out to do. We live joyless and in fear. We forget about the good stuff. 

The good in this world is delicate and much harder to see, but especially when you and I are consumed with dark and gloomy thoughts. So in light of this tragedy, I want to share with you the good stuff that's been going on in my life. Because even in the dark times, God is there. His presence may be harder to see, but, oftentimes, He's in the small things.

The good stuff like staying up late laughing with my husband till there are tears in my eyes because his name ideas for our future babies are so ridiculous. 

The good stuff like paying for the lady's coffee behind me at the Starbucks drive thru.

The good stuff like hearing from a old friend that she just got her dream job.

The good stuff like receiving Christmas cards in the mail. 

This list could go on, but this post is already way too long. I simply just wanted to encourage you to not forgot about the good stuff in life because it is there and it is beautiful. God is in the good stuff.

So tell me, what's the good stuff in your life?? Maybe it's watching your child sleep? Or reaching out to a Sandy Hook victim by way of donating or writing a letter? The good stuff looks different in everyone's life. I'd love to hear yours.


Last Minute Gift Guide

Or maybe this is just my last minute wish list! Either way, I think everything on here is super cute and a perfect gift for a friend, sister, mother, etc. in your life or your best blogging buddy! {Me, people. We're talking about me here.}

I have always had an affinity for rustic, cabin-esque winter looks, so these finds are pure perfection in my opinion. And for some reason, I have an obsession with reindeer and moose this holiday season. I mean really, that iPhone case...can it get any cuter? I want. Gimme, gimme. 
1. Reindeer iPhone case | 2. Handmand Deer Family Pillow 3. Mistletoe Sweater | 4. Moose Throw | 5. Flannel Sweater

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet or are you braving the lines and traffic in search of that perfect gift? 


Silence + Support for Sandy Hook

In memory of: 
Olivia Engel, 6 
Emilie Parker, 6
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Josephine Gay, 7
Chase Kowalski, 7
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 25
Victoria Soto, 27
Rachel Davino, 29
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Mary Sherlach, 56


What I Wore // Highlighter Yellow

Are you ready for the world's most awkward "what I wore" post in the history of the blogsphere? I hope so, because that's what you're getting. Welcome ;)

After more than a year of blogging I've decided to do an outfit post to show you what I typically wear to work, especially this time of year when it's cold and rainy every day in Seattle. Oh wait, it's cold and rainy every day, any time of year in Seattle...

But I digress. Typically, my work wardrobe pretty much consists of a lot of neutrals with pops of color. Luckily, I'm allowed to rock jeans to work (thank you, God), so I normally wear a nice straight leg or boot cut and then dress it up with heels. Lately, my staples have been the most comfortable pair of black straight legs known to the history of man and a warm, cable sweater. My new favorite sweater is this highlighter yellow one from Loft. (You can find it here!). I figured in Seattle where the sun is lacking, I could be that bright spot in the sky...

Well, at least at my desk.
jeans: banana republic, sweater: loft, infinity scarf: target

Huckleberry decided he wanted to get in on the action too.
He's wearing his signature gold fur coat and looking dapper as always.

Also, at my desk today I was rocking out to some old school Britney Spears, Email my Heart...
If you know what song I'm talking about you are my new best friend.



Life's little moments captured on my iphone.
Herschel aka Herschbutt
Highlight of the week?? When Steven brought me Starbucks while at work.
Yep, that's my office. Where I make my millions...
It has a plant.
Huckleberry's preferred sleeping position. 
Slightly inappropriate, but still cute. 

Work was busy this week! So this weekend cannot get here soon enough! Unfortunately my weekend plans consist of going to the DMV to change my last name to my now married name (I know, 5 months late on that one). It's hard not to procrastinate a DMV visit :)

Other than that, I plan on making a Home Depot run with my hubby and soaking up plenty of time in front of the Christmas tree. Riveting, huh? 

What are your weekend plans? Any fun Christmasy function in your future? 

Also, I still have 3 button swap ad spaces available! Use the promo code, LOVEHUCK! I'd love to swap with you. Check out my sponsor page to swap buttons!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

For some reason, everyone on my Facebook apparently thinks I'm lying about making these. But I made them even though there are none left for evidence and let me tell you...THEY WERE AWESOME! They're like Christmas time rolled into a ball and dipped in chocolate.  I'm not kidding. They will make you cry tears of joy. They are that good. 

You can find the original recipe I pinned here


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk or cream (soy or almond milk works too)
1 cup mini semi- sweet chocolate chips

14 oz semi-sweet chocolate baking bars


Beat butter and sugars in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add cream and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt and mix on low speed (or by hand) until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

When dough is firm enough to handle, form dough into 1" balls and arrange on baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate dough for another hour.

Melt chocolate bars in a double boiler or in microwave according to package directions. Using forks or a dipping tool, dip cookie balls into chocolate coating to cover. Chill until set. Store, chilled, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
The original pin says this makes up to 3-4 dozen truffles. I was able to get just under 3 dozen. So either I made the cookie dough balls much larger than directed or I ate too much dough in the process. I'm going to go with the first scenario. 

Want to see more Saw it. Pinned it. Did it. successes? Click on the links below!
Homemade Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments
DIY Framed Cork Board
Homemade Stromboli
DIY Office Desk


Exciting News!

I'm excited to announce that Taking Notes...Coast to Coast is now accepting sponsors! If you'd like to grow your blog and/or shop, simply go to my Sponsor page to view my stats and grab a spot! All sponsor proceeds will go to sponsorships on bigger blogs, therefore generating more traffic back to my blog and your ad in return :)

As a gift to all my lovely readers (you guys have seriously been so awesome this year and have truly made this whole blogging experience so much fun!), I am offering 50% off all ads. Simply enter the Promo Code: GIFT.

Also, I am still interested in doing button swaps! If you'd like to continue to swap buttons with me, purchase the Medium // SWAP ad and enter the Promo code: LOVEHUCK. Then grab the button on my blog, or email me if you need another size! 

I am so excited for the upcoming year and continuing to share me and my little families life with each of you!


It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

There is nothing like twinkling lights and the scents of cinnamon and vanilla in the evenings. Everyday I want to rush home from work, heat up a cup of hot coco, and then simply sit in our living room soaking up every little sight, feeling, and smell that comes with this time of year. I am so excited for our first Christmas as husband and wife and our first Christmas in our cute, little home! We don't have a lot of decor, but I think that for us this year it's perfect. 

Does anyone else feel like they could burst with Christmas cheer? I don't think the extent of my excitement has rubbed off on my husband yet. But oh, I am determined!

Merry Christmas, Chealsea! You won the S.W. Basics giveaway!
I'll be contacting you shortly :)


The Hubby Is Home! And Huckleberry Has Feet...

puppy paws. the only picture I took this weekend.

Friday night Steven came back from his business trip in Florida, so my weekend pretty much consisted of spending some much needed quality time with him. Not gonna lie, it's a grand thing to have a husband. He scratches my back when I ask him to, let's me put my cold feet on him at night (that's true love, folks), and can reach that casserole dish on the very top shelf. I really cannot think of anything more convenient than being married.

And to top it off, he's pretty great company. I missed that man. 

The S.W. Basics giveaway ends tonight at midnight. So if you haven't entered already, go here!



Moments in my life captured by my iphone.
50% off glittery reindeer at Kohl's. Perfect fit for the mantel.
Our first Christmas tree together.
Huckleberry's stocking.
I always read Dickens around the holidays.
Huck smiling for the camera. 

With Steven out of town for business this week, I felt as if the days dragged by. Luckily, I had a cute pup and Charles Dickens to keep my occupied. But Steven comes home tonight (yay!!) and I'm more than ready to have him back by my side. My plans are to cuddle and snuggle and watch episode after episode of Breaking Bad :)

Hope you have a fun weekend spent with the ones you love! See you Monday!

And don't forget to enter the giveaway if you haven't already!