Monthly Archives: December 2012

Top 12 in 2012


There is no way I could possibly end this year without a round-up or list of some kind. It’s no surprise that I love lists. With my forgetful nature it’s imperative that I have some sort of ongoing list on the back of an envelope with my enclosed bank statement (true story) whether it be a grocery list, my infamous mile-long to-do lists, or a list of blogging ideas. I am a list maker.

So without further adieu, I give you my top 12 from 2012: a random concoction of top memories, moments, images that stick out in my mind as being associated with this year.

12. Living in Durham

To the outsider, Durham may seem “ghetto” or “sketchy” or whatever other adjectives you might attribute to my city. But, to the insider and a Durham native her whole life, it’s a pretty great place to live. This year living back in Durham after college has been adventurous & interesting, to say the least. I’ve learned a lot about my hometown and explored new places, even started a new job in Durham. I wouldn’t trade this city for anything. 2012 has been fun, Durham, let’s see what 2013 has in store!

11. Turner Classic Movies

It sounds silly, but this year has been a great year because I’ve been able to watch TCM! I didn’t get the channel in college, and I had missed out on so many good old movies. This year, I’ve definitely upped my old movie watching and even started tweeting during some films, using the hashtag #TCMParty. It’s been so fun talking with other classic film lovers and learning all sorts of new facts about actors, directors, & films!

10. The Durham Bulls

I would be terribly remiss to post about my year and not include the Durham Bulls in some way or another. So many of my spring & summer memories involve a baseball game, or being around the ballpark. I’ve lost track of how many “girl’s nights” were had at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park with dinner before at Tobacco Road, Tyler’s, or Mellow Mushroom… how many bags of peanuts I purchased and devoured… how many tweets I tweeted to @DurhamBulls… how many parking passes I had in my car from parking before games. 2012 will be remembered as the year I learned to love the Durham Bulls all over again.


9. Summit Church

After years of hearing great things about this body of believers, I finally visited one Sunday back in April. That church is huge, and despite my introvertedness, I have enjoyed going back and blending in amidst everyone. Each time I go, I learn so much. I can’t really describe it or put into words how thankful I am for a church like that and strong leader JD Greear. His messages challenge me, make me want to be a better follower of Christ, and make me long to serve overseas. All in all, The Summit has made a huge impact on my life in 2012.

8. Volunteering as a literacy tutor

This has definitely been one of the highlights of my year, possibly even my life. Giving someone the gift of literacy, who has gone their whole life without being able to read something as simple as a menu, is so rewarding and fun! Sure, it’s been challenging on both ends, but I think my student would agree that this year has been a huge blessing and learning experience! After all, he did read his first book ever just a few months ago!

I highly urge you to volunteer somewhere and make a difference in someone’s life! If you’re in the Durham area, let me know- I have a great place for you to volunteer! 😉  (shameless plug)

7. Live Music

As I’ve said before, there’s nothing more magical to me than live music. Ok, Disney ranks up there with magical, but I simply love live music. This year I got to see a few artists/groups in concert, and it was great! Jessie Baylin, The Fray, Lucius, and Milo Greene. Plus, every Sunday at church is like a mini-concert with the awesome worship music! 🙂




Isaac on the keys



6. The NC Cow Parade

No, I’m not crazy. If you live in the Triangle area, you should have heard of the Cow Parade by now. If not, read about it here. I got to “meet” a few of these incredibly creative cows in and around the Durham area while they were in town. I think it’s so cool that something so big can be associated with my city this year!


the Burt’s Bees cow!

5. Maximus Decimus Meridius AKA the puppy we call Max.

Gifted to Mom for Mother’s Day, this little fella has brought so much love, so many smiles, and lots of memories to our family. I love coming downstairs in the mornings to his sleepy self, and coming home in the evenings to a hyperactive puppy… it’s hilarious how excited he gets to see his family!


November 2012


July 2012

4. Cancer

This year, I was reminded just how much I want to kick cancer in the rear. I lost two dear souls to that horrible disease, and it breaks my heart thinking of how many other lives were lost to cancer this year. I know both of my loved ones are now with their Savior, but I wonder how many others are assured that their loved one with Him?

In honor and memory of my loved ones who lost their lives to cancer, I donate platelets as often as I can. It’s something so simple and easy, yet it can save someone’s life!

3. Disney World

I think everyone can agree that Disney is just so magical that it makes them feel like a kid. Disney truly was magical this past March as my crazy family paraded the streets of the theme parks, rode rides, and took too many pictures.


2. My California Trip!

Clearly I have been way too eager and excited to visit the West Coast for the past few months, but this was the year that dream became a reality! I have SO many pictures and stories to share about the trip, and if you can’t wait for my dozens of recap posts, feel free to follow me on twitter and read my tweets from the trip!


1. Blogging!

Typical answer for a blogger, yes, but I have loved keeping track of my life with this blog, and finding other bloggers in my area! It’s been fun “meeting” other bloggers and I enjoy reading blogs as much as I enjoy blogging. Let’s see what the next year holds in store for me & this blog! 🙂


First Impressions of San Francisco


I’ve been in San Francisco for about 30 hours now and wow.

A few first impressions (typing from my Nook so it will be short & sweet):

-there are soooo many people!!!

-there is soooo much diversity!!!

-with the tons of people and diversity comes lots of different languages…aka it’s a Linguist’s paradise! 😉

-traffic, parking, and roads are crazy. I would never drive a car here.

-it honestly feels like I’m in a different country, or back in Peru even. With the whole relying on public transportation, not knowing where you are, etc.

-there are lots of stores that sell the same cheap touristy San Fran stuff. And some of it is quite tempting. SF mug? Yes. SF tshirt? Of course. Alcatraz shot glass? Duh! Ok, totally kidding. I haven’t wanted to buy any of those things!

-the poverty is heart-wrenching. Seriously… so many homeless on every street. I saw a girl with a “pregnant and hungry” sign tonight and although she could be faking, it was sad.

-the drunks are idiots. I got called a “bleeping bleep bleep bleep
today in Chinatown by a white hippie who had just called a man a “bleeping Commy!” and spit on him. True story. When he addressed me, i booked it, telling Ashley to “come on!” lol. In retrospect its comical but it kind of freaked me out.

-the Muni isn’t as daunting on day 2. I kinda have the hang of it!

-i have a decent sense of direction here! And it helps that the city map is quite easy/understandable 😉

Have you ever been to San Francisco or a new (big) city? What were your first impressions???

Two Little Girls


If you had asked me back in July to keep my little cousins for a whole weekend, I would probably have looked at you like you were crazy and then insist on keeping them for one night only. Two little girls were too much for this girl to handle. There was too much energy, and not enough room in my queen-sized bed for the three of us.

Until October when my aunt, their mother, died.

Now, I jump at any chance to keep these little girls. Blame it on my nurturing nature or simply on my desire to be a mother someday- these little girls are a priority to me. I want to invest in their lives and be there for them. I know I can never replace the mother they lost, but maybe I can be a big sister… the cool big sister, of course 🙂

I think the events that have happened the past few months have knitted the three of us together in a special way. Sure, those two little girls have their moments…

…like one night at 11:30pm when they would NOT go to sleep, and Autumn was screaming because she was “scared of the dark” and Gabby was mad at me telling me, “I’m never coming back to spend the night with Mere Mere”… I cried myself to sleep once they finally fell asleep from exhaustion a little after midnight.

…or that one time Gabby was yelling at her friend and I told her to stop, and she threw a shoe at me and her friend. I wanted to beat that child’s butt!

…or when I was trying to talk to Gabby and she was hiding under my bed pouting because I told her she couldn’t wear makeup.

don't let the innocent face fool ya

don’t let the innocent face fool ya

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Gabs at her first Duke football game in a shirt I bought her!

Then there are the cute times…

…like when I’m helping Autumn take a bath and wash off, and she puts her hands on my face and looks me in the eyes (she looks so much like her mother) and says something like, “I love you Mere Mere” and my heart melts.

…or when I take Gabby shopping and pick out a shirt and she wears it all the time because I picked it out and bought it for her.

…playing with my PhotoBooth on my Mac and making hilarious faces.

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Photo on 2012-11-21 at 22.20 #4


Those two little girls mean so much to me… more than I ever thought they could or would. 

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nap on Christmas afternoon


Autumn named that frog ‘Mere Mere’


birthday girl!


crazy jumper


If you were to ask me to keep my little cousins now, I would enthusiastically say, “yes!”


Sovereign God


Words cannot express my feelings today. My heart is so full of thanksgiving, love, worship, and joy.

“The only sovereign God revealed Himself to us. What mystery, that He would speak into the dark, into our hearts.”


I do have a little something to share with you: The Summit Church’s Christmas at DPAC.


I highly encourage you to watch and worship and celebrate the true reason for the holiday. I have been watching, re-watching and singing to that first song all day long. What better way to celebrate the meaning of Christmas than with worship? That’s what it’s all about, after all!



Matthew 2 : 1 -11

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.



How can we not fall down and worship the King who humbled Himself to come live as a man, and die for mankind?

“Praise the Lord. His name is holy. The earth is the Lord’s, and all He has made will sing.”



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Friday Favorites



Favorite article of the week, BY FAR! This article made me smile, laugh, & cry a few tears. 26 Moments that Restored Our Faith in Humanity This Year. A few favorites- #2, #10 (SO sweet!!!), #11, #14, #15, #19, #21 (I watched the video. And cried. Hellooo hormones.) #23, #25. Ok, I actually love them all! Which ones are your favorites?

Super simple Poor Man’s Toffee recipe. I made it and could not stop eating it. Uh oh?

Check out what Relevant Recommends over the Christmas holiday/break!

Who wants to read about Duke basketball when you can read an article about Duke football getting ready for the Belk Bowl December 27th!? I’m SO excited. Although I’m not going, I will be cheering them on from wherever I watch!

The 50 Best Literary Insults are great. My favorites are:

     “He liked fishing and seemed to take pride in being able to like such a stupid occupation.” (Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy)

 “I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result.” (The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde)

 “If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.” (Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut).

Speaking of books, I definitely tend to judge books by their covers. If it’s not eye-catching, I probably won’t pick it up. One little 6 year old judged books by their covers and tried to guess what classic novels were about. Super cute. Some of her guesses are actually close!

A few favorite local Durham gifts from! I definitely approve of their choices 😉

Just for your information: 12 Facts about guns and mass shootings in the US.

I discovered the blog of one of the founders of Krochet Kids, Kohl. That’s one (of many) non-profits I would love to work for!

The best cities for coffee lovers. There are 10 cities listed worldwide that provide some of the “best brews.” I especially would love to go to Addis Ababa and take part in a coffee ceremony!

How to determine if your Ugly Christmas sweater is ugly enough from USA Today. Definitely re-pinning this! I have an ugly Christmas sweater that classifies as epic, but I haven’t gotten a chance to wear it this year! 😮 Do you have an ugly/tacky Christmas sweater?

From an AmeriCorps Alumni: 7 Tips for Better Storytelling. I really like this post and think these tips are something important for telling the story of your organization!

How to dress a cut when you don’t have a bandaid:15654_10152344583015366_1346641574_n

Last week on NBC’s Rock Center, children’s book author Mary Pope Osborne talked about her main goal being to encourage children to read. And her Magic Tree House books have definitely engaged more children into picking up a book and reading, as they live vicariously through main characters Annie & Jack. Anyone who encourages youth to read is a friend of mine! 🙂 #literacy

Have you been wondering what the most looked up words of 2012 were? I know I have 😉 Wonder no more, as USA Today provides answers. Capitalism? Socialism? It’s all a bunch of malarky!

Did you see that Chicago University received a package addressed to Henry Walton Jones Jr? Doesn’t sound familiar? Maybe Henry’s nickname Indiana Jones does.

20 Going on 80 has an adorable downloadable desktop background! Her inspiration was a pair of shoes- how neat?




Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop


“I think that possibly, maybe, I’ve fallen for you. Yes, there’s a chance that I’ve fallen quite hard over you. I’ve seen the paths that your eyes wander down, I want to come too… I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much.”

Ever since I first heard this song by Landon Pigg, it has been my dream to fall in love in a coffee shop.

Silly, yes, but I’m a hopeless romantic. Go ahead and laugh.

In college, at least three days out of the week, you could find me at the local Einstein’s, Dunkin’, or Starbucks in Greenville, SC. Perfect places to study, people watch, and daydream. Killing three birds with one stone latte? Bingo!

Although I was hardly there alone (yes I had friends in college), I always imagined that my studying session or chat with a friend would be interrupted by some mysterious guy walking in, smiling at me and then proceeding to come over and introduce himself. I’m a huge daydreamer, I know!

As dumb as it is, I still daydream about sitting in a coffee shop reading, blogging, or studying, and catching the eye of another customer. I daydream about time seeming to stand still as our eyes meet. I daydream about meeting the man of my dreams and falling in love… in a coffee shop.

“I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much.”


A few Sundays ago, Mom and I were out and about running some errands, when I suggested we stop in Starbucks and grab drinks. Despite the fact that she’s a self-proclaimed “coffee snob” and dislikes Starbucks, she agreed to quickly run in and order my drink to go. Of course, that didn’t happen when she saw the Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino on the menu…she had to get a drink too 😉

While we were waiting for our drinks, Mom was doing her typical scoping the area out, as was I. We both happened to notice that most tables were full of students studying… cute guy students studying. Mom insisted that we stay and relax for a while, all the while she was scheming up a plan.

Unfortunately there was one empty table- towards the corner, where it was hard to see people or watch them. But, Mom was insistent that we sit there and chat for a few. So chat we did. I honestly feel so much more comfortable opening up to people about my life when I’m in a coffee shop setting. Random fact, yes.

When she had slurped the last of her drink (because really, frappuccinos require some slurpage), we stood up to make room for more studying students. As we walked out, I glanced back at one handsome study-er in particular and smiled. I wonder if he even noticed?

In the car, Mom told me of her plan to introduce me to a guy in Starbucks. She had a little script planned out and everything. Yeah her idea and intentions behind it were nice, but on a scale of 1 to 10, having my mother randomly introduce me to a random cute guy in Starbucks ranks up there with MOST AWKWARD SITUATION EVER.

Fast forward one week to the following Sunday. I was meeting a friend to discuss California trip plans before church. As we’re waiting for our drinks, I notice a particular handsome study-er from the week before waiting in line and have a mini freak out.

Twice in one week in the same place?! Why haven’t I been here more often?! How have I not seen this man before?!

My friend and I sit down and start talking excitedly about Cali. We discuss minor details and then start reading the San Francisco for Dummies & Frommer’s Guide to Los Angeles 2011 that I bought in preparation. When it comes to trip planning, I get serious.

I couldn’t help but watch handsome study-er as he got his drink and headed over to sit down and read the newspaper by the window. I couldn’t help but attempt a smile as he glanced my way. I couldn’t help but watch him as he moved to a different chair and pull out his Bible. I couldn’t help but pray for him in that moment. I couldn’t help but wonder…  and wish there were some way to meet him without being 100% awkward like I always am.

With my luck I will probably never see this guy again, no matter how many times I visit that Starbucks. But it was nice, for a few moments on Sunday, to daydream about possible beginnings to a story that included him… and I’ll admit I’ve thought about his face more than once since then.

“I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much.”

So here’s to all you other daydreamers out there- may you find love. Whether it be in a beloved coffee shop or on the bus, in the checkout line at the grocery store or at work, online or next door.




Saturday, my little brother turned 18. I’ve been a big sister for 18 years to that crazy kid. It’s hard for this big sister to believe.

My earliest memories with my brother involve him crying, cuddling, playing & laughing. I loved having a little shadow that followed me around the house; his little feet shuffling on the living room carpet. His little hands reaching up when he wanted to be held. His little laughter when sissy would say something silly or make a crazy face. Watching little sibling grow brings such joy.

And grow he has.

Adam surpassed me in height when he was 13. I was 17 and not impressed that my little brother was bigger than me. And I wasn’t so impressed when the girls at church starting crushing on my brother. (Sorry y’all, no hard feelings)

As he has grown physically, he’s also grown mentally & spiritually. He’s learned so much from my grandpa about being a spiritual leader and not a follower. He’s grown mentally in ways that sometimes attribute him to being much older than he is. I have always been impressed with one of my brother’s qualities: he thinks for himself.  This is one quality that most teenagers don’t possess, in my opinion. I’m thankful that my brother is smart enough to make his own opinions and judgments in certain situations, and I’m thankful he has his priorities straight.

For years, my brother has wanted a tattoo. He always claimed it wasn’t for show- he wanted something that symbolized he was different from the sinful world we live in.

For years, my family has debated with him, convincing him to wait until he was 18 and until he knew for sure that he wanted that permanent ink on his body.

For years, Adam had patiently waited… until Saturday.

When he finally woke up around noon, all he could talk about was getting a tattoo. We even cancelled our plans for indoor skydiving to cater to his wants for the day! The one thing he wanted was a tattoo. And after my mom asked him some questions about his intentions, the purpose of a tattoo, etc. the four of us were in the car heading to the tattoo parlor.

Talk about a first for my family!

Bro and Mom talked to the tattoo artist and picked out a font. He drew up a price. Bro’s girlfriend showed up and was clearly freaking out that her boyfriend was about to get a tattoo. Momma was nervous about it too, and only went back to the room long enough to see what it was going to look like. Dad was chill and sat in the lobby watching ESPN the whole time. I played the role of the cool big sister and watched & documented the whole thing 🙂 And I used the nifty hashtag #lilbroturns18 to document/comment on the days adventures.




the stencil of his tattoo


first few seconds of the process


someone likes what he sees


after the first letters


proof that I was there 😉


finishing it up




a ghostly brother exclaiming “it’s real!”
just kidding, he didn’t say that. but it’s a fitting caption


finished product!

Saturday, my little brother turned 18 and got a tattoo. It almost seems unreal to me, although I knew it would happen eventually. While I can’t say that I’m thrilled my brother got a tattoo, I can say that I’m proud of what it means and the stance he’s taken behind it.

PS: Don’t tell my grandpa about the tattoo! Bro plans on doing so tomorrow 🙂


The mini-meaning behind “Chosen” as told by my 18-year old brother: “It started when I was in Peru. We were in those small villages where people had hardly anything, and it really hit me that I was Chosen. God chose me to live where I live, to have the family that I have, and to grow up in a place where I learned about Him. I was Chosen to live out His will for my life. Ever since then, I knew that I wanted Chosen permanently on my body as a reminder that He chose me and that I need to live like I’m Chosen, and not like the world.”

2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this that He called you through our gospel that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

Finding Your Way


I started this blog post on Monday and have yet to finish or post it, so here goes:

Monday marked a year since I started this blog. My first post was simple and straightforward.

Entitled Finding My Way, I hoped to entice fellow bloggers and friends to keep up with my life post-college. I kept things personal at first… talking about family… birthdays… plans for the new year, etc. And then they morphed into “let me show you this part of Durham” or “here’s what I made for lunch”  and “look at pictures from my trips” posts. Then it got to the point where I wanted to reach out to a bigger audience, yet didn’t have blog content that was alluring enough. Now it’s at the “I blog for me” stage.

I can’t say that I’m proud about what the past year has held for my blog, but I’m content. Sure, my blog will never have 100+ views daily, nor will any of my posts be featured on the Freshly Pressed page, and I’ve come to accept that. My blog design isn’t as appealing as I want it to be, but it does the trick. My posts aren’t as regular as I want them to be, but that’s ok.

Let’s just pretend like this is a “Year in Review” type post, ok? A few of my personal favorite posts from the past year:

December 12: Nana’s Point of View


Spinach Pancakes

Homeschool Dance Off <yeah, I went there>

Life in the Peruvian Mountains <I miss those mountains>

Ten Reasons I’m Excited about DISNEY WORLD

Animal Kingdom                           Epcot                                 Disney’s Hollywood Studios                          Magic Kingdom

American Tobacco Campus <one of my most-viewed posts!>

What Would You Do? <in these awkward situations>

Wannabe Runner

The Art of Bus Riding in Lima

Things I Can’t Put on my Resume  <but oh, if I could…>

Durham Dates (part 1) (part 2)  <I have still yet to go on any of these dates… come on dudes!>

I Fell in Love with Swimming

How I Learned Spanish

Summer, Day 1

Wedding Weekend <SUCH a fun weekend!>


On Donating

One of Durham’s Best Kept Secrets <I dare you to read it!>

Fireworks <they’re magical!>

My Favorite Things about the Durham Bulls

On Alcohol

Dad and Sam <my student read his first book!!!!>

The Wreck

The Visitation

NC State Fair 2012

Month of Thanks

Children’s Hospitals

A Year Ago Today <graduation!>

A year has passed and I’m still trying to find my way in this world. It’s hard being a 20-something in a world that tells you to “do this” and “be that” when all I want to do is listen to God and follow His plans for my life.

Are you going to stick around for another year of me trying to find my way? 

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my one year blogiversary was 12-10-12