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Once again, I’m spicing things up a bit and changing my “best of” posts.  Have I mentioned that I love change?;-) Well, anywho, I thought it would be fun to include a few “best of” pictures that weren’t necessarily client photos from 2014 just to have a little fun with the list.  Why not?  So, let’s get started with a quick look back at a few of my favorite photos from 2014….

Best Snow (and maybe best stocking cap)
Playing in the snow with my best girl in February 2014.  I wore her little fuzzy butt out chasing ball and convinced her to take a selfie.  That tongue makes my heart just bust with love for this baby.

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Best Throwback Thursday
In honor of Mother’s Day this little gem hit the blog.  For some reason I feel like this photo has borderline candidacy for an Awkward Family Photo submission.

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Best Footwear at a Wedding
Handmade and beautiful, I loved this foot jewelry at Paul & Jenn’s Ivy Place Wedding!

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Best Aisle Runner
Loved, loved, loved this aisle runner at The Ivy Place.  Wedding planned by Magnolia Events.

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Best Lomography/Film Shot
2014 was my first year playing around with lomography and I had a great time seeing what my little handmade plastic camera could capture.

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Best Home Decor Upgrade
Updating our Paris photo wall with framed canvases still makes me smile every time I walk into the room.  Love these!

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Best Local Find
Julia’s Cafe – a used books and coffee store benefiting Habitat for Humanity.  Such an awesome little place!

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Best Use of Gamecock fandom in a Photo
Morgan & Eric earn “Best Of” for being awesome Gamecock fans.;-)

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Best Adventure
Going on the zipline tour at the USNWC for my birthday was truly an adventure that I’ll never forget!

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Best Daycation
Driving up to The Biltmore for a much needed Daycation was awesome.  Clean mountain air, beautiful views and no agenda.

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Best Recipe
I can’t really say enough about these amazingly delicious cinnamon rolls by The Pioneer Woman.  I’m still trying to work off the calories, but man, were they worth it.

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Best use of Winthrop Fandom in a Photo
Kathryn & Justin get “best of” for their usage of my alma mater (and theirs) in their engagement and wedding photos.  Easily one of my most favorite locations.  Ever.

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Best Dance Floor Bearhug
A Mother-Son dance turned Mother-Son-Wife dance – awesome!

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Best Natural Lighting
The breezeway between the bridal suite and the groom’s room was quite possibly my most favorite place in all of North Carolina.  Seriously.

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Best Cake Smash
In addition to having their wedding at the location with the best natural lighting breezeway, Mandi & Mike also win “Best of” for their cake eating efforts.  Well done you two!

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Best Dancing Hair
I seriously considered growing my hair out just so I could do this on the dance floor.  Alas, I’d need to be able to dance as well.

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Best New Wedding Product
I’ve gotten such awesome feedback from my new album vendor this year!  Yay for finding great companies to work with!

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Best Book 
No question about it – I still believe that the All Souls Trilogy is the best series I’ve ever read.  So best book of the year goes to her final installment, The Book of Life.  Love it.

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Best Blog Post of 2014 (based on visits)
Paul & Jenn’s Ivy Place Wedding was the most popular blog post of 2014 by about 200 page views.  May at The Ivy Place is hard to beat!

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Thanks to everyone who made 2014 an amazing year for me and my business! Best wishes to a wonderful 2015!

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This year is just flying by, and I totally missed the 10th of the month – oops!  So we’re just going to roll with it anyway and get this New Year off to a good start with my current top 10 favorite things.  I always love it when bloggers do posts like this because I find some really cool stuff that I never would’ve found otherwise, so hopefully this list will spread the love a little.

10. 2015 Seize the Year Calendar – I’ve always kept a monthly wall calendar on my office wall to have a quick at-a-glance view of the month (color coded, of course), and this year I decided to try this calendar recommended by Jon Acuff and I’m already in love.  Seeing more than one month at a time is both motivating and exciting.

9. Muscle Butter – I ordered some of this stuff about 2 months ago and fell in love immediately.  My go-to muscle ache fixer has always been Biofreeze, but it smells so medicinal I just hate it.  I read the reviews for this homeopathic muscle cream online and decided to give it a go.  The smell is just so….yummy.  It’s kind of like a rosemary/dill/orange combo that I just can’t get enough of.

8. Leather Camera Strap – It took a few months for me to get this broken in, but now I just adore it.  There’s something about a leather strap vs a fabric one that I just love the look of.

7. One-Hour Cheese – I’m pretty sure I gained weight just by reading this book.  But, OMG, wow.  I’ve used one of her urban cheesecraft kits to make goat cheese and we loved it.  This week I’m going to be making our own homemade butter.  Seriously.  You can’t believe how easy it is and she swears it’s the best butter we’ll ever taste.  Who doesn’t love butter?

6. New Brown Boots – I searched high and low for some cute brown booties this year and eventually decided to try these from Zappos.  LOVE!  They are so comfy I find myself looking for ways to wear them more.

5. Desire Day Planner – I ran across this on Pinterest while searching for a calendar and ordered it immediately.  It’s a different approach to a day planner, one that keeps you focused on your goals for the year, not so much your schedule for the day.  After just a few weeks I’ve found that it keeps me very centered on my goals and dreams by answering a few simple questions each morning.

4. Homemade Hot Cocoa – This stuff is life changing.  The Hubs would say that everything from Alton is life changing (he did revolutionize our cooking of baked potatoes).  But seriously, make it.  Now.  And you’ll wonder why anyone buys the pre-packaged stuff at the store.

3. Anything on Vinyl – We had a very vinyl Christmas and got some amazing albums like Thriller, Moondance by Van Morrison, The Beatles, Adele 19, Miles Davis, Journey and Queen.  Right now I’m kind of obsessed with Van Morrison, but I honestly can’t figure out why people stopped loving vinyl.  There’s something about taking the time to listen to an entire album instead of just putting your favorite songs in a playlist.

2. Phillips Shoqbox Bluetooth Speaker - When we created the “no screens in the bedroom” rule one of the things I missed most was being able to listen to music as I fall asleep.  Enter stage left – my new favorite bluetooth speaker.  People – it understands hand gestures!  How cool is that!  Plus, the sound is awesome and it didn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money.

1. Unpaper towels – We go through a ridiculous amount of paper towels for 2 people.  I mean ridiculous.  When one of the cooking blogs I read mentioned these paper towel replacements I immediately thought it was a great idea.  They are more absorbent and environmentally friendly.  I also ordered some of the facial rounds and I’m loving those too.  Hopefully we’ll kill a few less trees in 2015!

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If you’ve known me for any length of time you know that I love a goal.  I mean, LOVE.  I thrive on turning day dreams into goals and checking things off of my to do list everyday.  It’s a trait that Chris has learned to deal with appreciate since we got married 8 years ago.  About 6 years ago we started scheduling a long weekend around the New Year’s holiday to take a few days and think about what worked/what didn’t in the previous year and set some intentional goals for the coming year.  Notice that I don’t call these resolutions – these are goals for 2015, not things we want to change from 2014.  Different mindset.

In an effort to hold myself accountable for 2015 I’ve decided to post my goals on the blog for all of the interwebs to see.  My real accountability will come from Chris during our monthly goal update dinners (I know, you should feel sorry for him), but putting these things in writing online gives me another layer of accountability and hopefully some fun blog updates as the year progresses.

This year we decided to focus on 3s – 3 personal goals and 3 family goals.  In the past I’ve had as many as 17 personal goals, so we decided to keep things laser-focused this year and pick the top 3 things we really want to accomplish in 2015.  I decided to focus on 3 main areas – health, education and spirituality for my 3 personal goals.

Personal Goals:
1.  Become fluent in Spanish (Education goal) - I’ve been playing around with this one for years.  I took Spanish in high school and college, and I also took a class at CPCC about 2 years ago.  I love the duolingo app, and have been using it off and on all year, but in 2015 I really want to make fluency a priority.  I’m going to be following the plan in the Fluent Forever book by Gabriel Wyner.  There are so many benefits to fluency in another language, so hopefully this is the start of a fun journey!

2.  Reach target weight goal by 5/1 and maintain it all year (health goal) – I’m not going to get into why I want to pull off some weight or how I’m going to do it, but let’s just say that carrying any extra weight (even if it’s only 15lbs) can have a huge impact on how our bodies thrive (or don’t thrive).  So, here’s to a healthier 2015!

3.  Memorize the book of James (spiritual goal) – I actually started working on this while I was participating in the Beth Moore Mercy Triumphs study.  I got about halfway through the first chapter and then got distracted, but since then I’ve found myself thinking of these verses at times when I needed to hear them.  This is probably the most challenging goal for me, but the one I’m most excited about, so I’m really hoping I make this happen in 2015.

Family Goals:
1.  Develop an electronic agreement and stick to it – This one is LONG overdue for our household.  We’ve both been complaining for months about how phones, email, facebook, etc seem to inch their way into our lives when we don’t even realize it.  After our vacation in November when we put away all electronic devices we realized just how important this goal was to our marriage and to our sanity.  We’ve agreed on 4 “no screen” zones – dinner table, bedroom, date nights and vacation.  The hardest one for us was actually the bedroom because we both use our cell phones as our alarm clocks.  But you know what – they still sell alarm clocks!  So, we bought 2.  And now that means we will have no sleep interruptions when our heads hit the pillow and we will not check e-mail before our feet hit the floor.  I feel like this is going to be HUGE, and we’re so ready for it.  In addition to the no screen zones, we will also be having “Screen free Sundays” at least once a month and all screens will be put away at 8:00 every night.  I can almost feel my shoulders relaxing and my headaches softening as I type these words.

2.  Intentional Date Nights at least once a month – We actually do a great job of going on a date night every week, but it ends up being, “What do you want to do tonight?, I don’t know, what do you want to do?”  We want to be more intentional with planning date nights and we’ll alternate months on who is responsible for the planning.

3.  Sunday couples devotional – We wanted to start something that would help us center ourselves at the beginning of each new week and Chris had the idea of a Sunday dinner devotional.  I’m pretty excited about this one because I feel like it’s going to have a huge impact on how we approach Mondays and how many things we say “yes” to during the week.

Here’s to a productive and exciting 2015!

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