Beauty Find Friday: 12 Favorite Photos of 2012

As I wrote Goodbye 2012, I scrolled through all of the pictures I uploaded to this blog over the last year. So many represented significant moments from last year, I decided to take a trip down memory lane with 12 of my favorite pictures. 
1. My epic Goodwill haul last January. $42 for an estimated value of $385!
2-3. Mexico! I took so many pictures of our missions trip in March, but these are two of my favorites.
One of the teens gives a girl a high five while playing jump rope.
Colors and patterns galore at the market.

 4. I graduated in May!

This is the closest I am to not squinting in all of the pictures.

 5. These are some of my doodles for the sharpie mugs I made in July. I just love how pretty they look in this photo.

6. Rachel’s wedding! I don’t know what was so funny to me in this picture, but it cracks me up.

Photo by Simpson Studios Photography LLC
7. When I took my clothing challenge, I shot this picture of my only pair of shoes for the month, my TOMs. They remind me of the challenge every time I put them on. 

7. We went to Epcot! It completely blew my mind. 
8. Anita’s wedding! I got to sing, and design the invites and programs. It was a great day!
I couldn’t find her photographer’s name, but just know that this picture was not taken by me.

9. I hand embroidered this, and I love it.

10. I made a blizzard of blessings, one for each day of December. 

11. I made a sweater pillow

12. Our Christmas card, designed by moi.

Your turn! Where are you finding beauty in the past year?

Beauty Find Friday: Christmas Gifts

Our first Christmas in Arizona was a success. We didn’t get sucked into the bog of homesickness! Keeping busy helped, and choosing to focus on the gifts and blessings we have. Here’s a few:

Our annual youth group Christmas party went well, even though I wasn’t able to get off work until the end, and Brian fell on the ice and got a nice black eye and a sprained/hairline fractured wrist. He’s recovering well, and was able to still take care of all the kids until I got there. The youth group moms provided most of the food, and the youth group girls took care of serving dinner in my absence, and even washed the dishes afterwards!

We spent time with some of our Arizona family on Sunday night, playing games and hanging out with them and their family members who were in town, laughing until we cried. (By “Arizona family,” I mean friends who are our family here. Friemily?)

Christmas morning brunch consisted of our Williams Sonoma Double Chocolate Peppermint pancakes, turkey bacon and scrambled eggs. Our verdict on the pancakes? AMAZING. Not too chocolately, with just enough peppermint!

And Brian got to use his Christmas present from me: 
He’s been asking for that pancake flipper for months. No joke. I also bought him a stand with speakers for his phone. I’m hoping he’ll be inspired to spend more time in the kitchen!

We spent time with my family via Skype on Christmas Day! We got to talk to all of my siblings, my niece, and even my parent’s dogs. Later in the afternoon, we watched Elf, walked the horses, played games, and had Christmas dinner with our other friemily (spellcheck doesn’t like my new word).

Our families sent us lots of presents, and there’s more on the way! I’m happy to extend Christmas for as long as possible.

What did Brian give me for Christmas, you ask? Since he complains about not knowing what to get me, I actually gave him a list this year with two instructions. First, don’t go to Half Price Books and get random books for me, because I have limited reading time, and there’s a few books I’ve been dying to get. Secondly, don’t get a present for yourself and pretend it’s a present for me. I’ve heard of men doing things like that, and I’d rather he just bought himself a present instead of pretending it’s for me.

So, Brian did both of the above.

From the half price bookstore, he bought me a book called Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation that’s Changing Your World, written in 2004 when blogging was in it’s infancy, and the only blogs out there getting noticed were political. I had asked for a book about blogging called Blog Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Cho. The blogosphere is a different world in 2013 than it was in 2004. Still, it was nice of him to get me something close to what I asked for.

The second book he got me is for Dummies. If you haven’t heard of Mint, it’s free online tracking and budgeting for your finances. And I’m not going to make any excuses here: this was a terrible gift idea. I only use’s basic functions since Brian is in charge of our finances. After I opened it, Brian admitted, “That’s actually more for me that it is for you.” Thanks, babe.

And then, he totally redeemed himself.

The Williams Sonoma Baking Book wasn’t on my list either, but since October I’ve been addicted to the Joy the Baker podcast and devouring the Joy the Baker and Shutterbean blogs. Listening to these ladies rebirthed my desire to be a good baker, and seeing the gorgeous photos, now I’m totally sold. 

There’s a variety of skill levels, lots of technique instructions, and photos of every single recipe.

You can bake your own bagels! Who knew?

These are in my near future:

I’m so excited about this book! It’s like reading a magazine. I’ve even been taking it with me in the car to read up on how to sift, and the difference between cocoa powder and Dutch Process cocoa powder. Just kidding, I already knew the difference between those, thanks to the Joy the Baker podcast.

Back to presents. Brian topped it off by buying me a Vera Bradley.

It’s a Vera Bradley tea towel, and it’s adorable! I didn’t think he was paying any attention when I commented on them at the Vera Bradley store a few weeks ago. I should know better!

Just when I’m about to be disappointed, he always totally redeems himself.

What Christmas presents are you most excited about? How are your husbands/boyfriends at gift giving?  

Beauty Find Friday: Winter Wonderland

“IS THAT SNOW???” Brian stared fixedly out the window. It did indeed appear that flurries of snowflakes were falling outside our apartment yesterday, but before we got too excited, we remembered that it was 70 degrees out and snow would be impossible. We decided it was just dust stirred up by the landscapers. Sad day.

For today’s Beauty Find Friday, we can’t get more “every day” than the weather! But when you live in Arizona after growing up in the Midwest, you really do appreciate a white Christmas. Now, as Brian put it, “We just have tan Christmases.”

So let’s take a moment to marvel at the every day beauty of snow, the unique way that moisture and cold air form delicate bits of lace that when combined, create a thick white blanket.

Does it snow where you live? Take some time today to appreciate the beauty of it!

Beauty Find Friday: Christmas Details

For some time, I’ve wanted to host a recurring feature that had something to do with the blog tagline, finding beauty in the everyday. So today’s post is the first of possibly many Beauty Find Fridays. Hey, we can call it BFF for short!
My pictures depict everyday things quickly snapped on my ipod. Here’s why they’re beautiful to me: 
A couple weeks ago, I came home from work with a terrible headache, dreading the pile of dirty dishes I left in the sink and the general disarray all over the house, and coming up with something for dinner. Instead, I came home to a clean house with clean dishes, groceries had been bought, and a dinner plan, which was then executed by my hard-working and thoughtful husband. 
In addition to all that, he decided to try decorating for Christmas, and had hung a string of white lights from lamp to lamp, over the mirror, as shown. My first reaction was to laugh, but seeing Brian’s hurt face, after all he’d done for me that day, I told him it looked great, and I decided not to take it down. To me, it symbolizes that Christmas, and marriage, is never perfect, but it’s pretty amazing anyway.  

Brown paper packages tied up with string! I used some of the ideas from this post.

A couple of my favorite ornaments: a camel carved from bone, given to Brian by his uncle when he was stationed in Egypt, and a tiny wagon with little fuzzy bears inside. 

This free printable, and another cool camel ornament.

Our blizzard of blessings, which include our jobs, marriage, ministry, an evening at home, mentors and friends, and families who also celebrate Christmas. 
Now it’s your turn! Where do you find beauty in your week? Share your beautiful moments with us in the comments!