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2013 in review.

later tonight we will usher in a new year full of new hopes, dreams and adventures. i wanted to take some time today to look back on all that has happened this past year. some good, some not so good, but all always according to His plan.

let's start at the very beginning (and the most dramatic part of 2013.) a year ago today, i was lying on the couch in tears from the amount of pain a cyst in my neck was causing. my neck was so swollen it looked like a grapefruit was growing in it. pretty picture, huh? i had been to the doctor, had a biopsy and an mri, and was waiting on a final decision regarding surgery. my doctor had put me on some strong pain killers that barely numbed the pain and made me extremely nauseated and dizzy.  i couldn't eat and i couldn't sleep. two days later, i woke up from a restless night's sleep and was walking down the hallway in my house when i suddenly became incredibly dizzy, blacked out, and fell...breaking three bones in my foot in the process. everyone always asks how on earth i broke my foot by falling face forward and my response is always "i don't know...i was unconscious." ;) my mom rushed me to the orthopedic surgeon and i was put in a boot and on crutches. (this inspired the pirate-themed hashtag: #bootlegmeg) so there i was with a neck the size of the hulk, a broken foot, and doped up on pain killers that made me pass out. i was a hopping nightmare. two more days passed and i went in to see my doctor about my neck and to talk about surgery. he walked in the exam room, took one look at my neck, and told me that i needed to go to the hospital immediately because the infection in my neck had abscessed. gross, right? so i was rushed to the hospital, into surgery, and spent a night there. the reason for the infection was never found and the cyst has disappeared for now...an mri can't even find it. what a relief that was, but it also stirred up so many questions as to why all of this happened to me. it seemed so senseless. i spent months recovering from my surgery and waiting for all the swelling in my neck to go down, and two of those months were spent without being able to walk. the good news is that Jesus works miracles and i am healed.

i don't tell you all of this to complain. i tell you because i have learned even more so this year that the healing process takes a lot of time and a lot of patience. that doesn't just apply to physical wounds, but emotional wounds as well. it takes time for the heart to heal, and friends, i want you to know that's okay. it's okay to take time to grieve your losses, whether it's time, shattered dreams, or broken relationships. my physical injuries forced me to slow down and gave me a lot of time to think. sometimes those thoughts were angry ones...upset that the Lord had let this happen to me, and upset that it had put my life on hold.  however, as time has passed, i can see that all the Lord allowed for me to go through was a blessing in disguise. i learned more about the power of prayer through the prayers of my prayer warriors during those weeks and months. my heart was overwhelmed by the people who loved me so well and cared for me. i constantly reminded myself that the situation i was in did not take God by surprise. He knew exactly what was happening and He was in complete control. i have learned that God allows and uses the difficult things in our lives to draw us closer to Him, and if that's the only reason i went through what i did, it was worth it.

now on to the rest of the year...

january, february, and march are all a blur. more like a slow motion blur since i spent the majority of my time stuck on the couch. however, i did fall in love with doctor who over that time period. it was also in january that i started blogging more consistently and i started getting involved in the blogging community. it was during those months when i needed community so badly that i met some of my dearest blogger friends. you all were more of an encouragement to me during those days than you realize.

in april, i got to go to colorado to see my best friend. the first of three times this year! once for business and twice for vaca. i've said it before and i'll say it again, but i wish all of my friends lived in the same place, OR that i could teleport. for now, since that isn't happening any time soon, i'm incredibly grateful the Lord provided for me to go on all of those trips. that is something i do not take for granted.

in june, my brother got married and i got to have some fun california adventures. my family flew to san diego for a long weekend to see my brother get married. besides all the wedding festivities, we also got to explore la jolla and coronado with one of our sweet cali friends. i'm excited to be going back for more adventures in 2014!

in august, i turned 25. i thought turning a quarter of a century was going to be the worst thing ever, but it turns out the big two-five isn't all that bad. plus, age is just a number, right? i feel like i've lived long enough that i can really look back at my early years and see how far i've come. i can see the mistakes, what i've learned, God's grace, how awkward i was in high school...ya know...the important stuff.

also, i opened my print shop! it's still a tiny baby of a shop. i work on projects and add as i can, but i finally accomplished my goal of setting up a shop this year. thanks to all of you who were so sweet to encourage me to chase my dreams.

in september, i roadtripped to mississippi with two of my besties. we came from three different cities and two different states to roadtrip together to visit the bayou. our friend, aimie, was preggers at the time and about to pop. we went to celebrate her upcoming entrance into motherhood and to be with her at her baby shower. i'm so thankful for friends like these.

in october, i met my bestie's baby and became "aunt megs". aimie had her baby just a couple weeks after we went to visit her in mississippi, and she and her husband made an impromput trip to chattanooga when evie girl was just 4 weeks old. it was the greatest gift to get to hold that tiny babe. i'm so looking forward to watching this little girl grow up and experience life. kids are the greatest. the end.

in november, i spent my thanksgiving in colorado. i had the best time spending the holiday with my colorado family, taking in the rockies, making elaborate gingerbread houses, and spending quality time with my best friends. spending thanksgiving away this year was a breath of fresh air. my heart was happy to be in my other home state.

in december, i spent time resting. sure this month was full of fun events and good friends, but i made sure to save time that wasn't filled with busyness. i really wanted to soak up the christmas season, and i'm glad i did, because even making time for it still didn't seem like enough. 

looking back on 2013, i realize it's the little moments that i treasure most. meaningful conversations with beautiful souls, days spent in my kayak on the river, whispers of hope, learning to choose joy above all, and valuing the precious time i get to spend with friends and family.

i could look back and see all the ways and places i failed last year, but it's no use dwelling on the past. i have to look forward because it's the only way to make it through. the future is where my hope lies. i'm so thankful for Jesus and all that he has given to me. new life and new mercies every morning.

it's a good life, y'all. i can't wait to see what adventures 2014 will bring.

enjoy your new year's eve, and stay safe out there, kids!

Nestful of LOve



weekend update.

- christmas! i spent the day with family hanging out and playing lots of dutch blitz.

- christmas came with a 2014 trip to go visit my brother and sister-in-law in cali. i'm excited!

- i got to hang out with my friend aimie and see her little girl who is growing up far too quickly. i met her at 4 weeks old and she's already 3 1/2 months...a whole new little person with the cutest personality. love you, evie girl!

-  my sweet friend, mer, turned 21 on friday and i so wish i could have celebrated with her. sometimes (all the times) i wish all of my besties lived in one place. that would be the greatest.

- last week was a nice break away from blogging. don't get me wrong...i missed y'all...but it's nice to take a break sometimes and just relax with absolutely no obligations.

- i've been thinking a lot about the past year and everything that's happened/not happened, and i'm hoping to get a post together with all my thoughts organized neatly :) right now it's all a swirl of moments.

- i heart kate middleton. i want to be her best friend.
- i want to go to this cabin, curl up next to the fire, and never leave.
- do you follow this lady on instagram? you should. she posts the cutest series of her little son and their adopted puppy.

p.s. have any of you seen the secret life of walter mitty? i've heard it's really good, and i think it's part of my new year's eve plans. the previews alone gave me chills and a severe case of wanderlust.


DIY // pom pom garland

i know christmas has passed and you'll be taking down your christmas decorations in the next week...or in the next two weeks, if you're my family ;) but my core group and i got together last week for a craft night to make some last minute christmas garlands and i wanted to show you!

garlands are so cute and most are very easy to create. i only had to pull together a few materials for this simple project. here's what you'll need...

// supplies //
- yarn pom poms (i made my own.)
- twine
- jingle bells
- scissors
- a yarn needle
- mint m&ms (these are optional, obvi.)

gather your materials, decide how long you want your garland to be, put the twine through the needle and start threading everything together. tada! it's just that easy. now you have a super cute garland to hang in your home. i'm calling mine a winter garland because it's not coming down with all the christmas decorations :)


happy christmas.

so sing out with joy for the brave little boy who was God, but He made Himself nothing.
well He gave up His pride and He came here to die like a man. 

so rejoice, ye children sing, and remember now His mercy. and sing out with joy
for the brave little boy is our Savior. Son of God. Son of Man.

hallelujah. sing hallelujah.

// andrew peterson | Behold the Lamb of God //

merry christmas, brave hearts!



weekend update.

- making christmas garlands with my core group. yarn pom poms and jingle bells all the way.
- sunrises on my way to work and sunsets on my way home
- movie watching by the christmas tree
- i finished watching the BBC version of sherlock holmes (benedict cumberbatch, anyone?) and i can't wait for season 3!!! bah! have any of you watched this show?? i love it.
- since i'm on a movie related theme apparently, my mama and i went to see Saving Mr. Banks on saturday. y'all, i cried through the entire movie. it was so much more than i expected! if you go, take a box of kleenex!

Q&A // sweet lavender bake shoppe
baby it's cold outside
a year with shadow
christmas traditions // NO. 4

this post from nicole was exactly what i needed to read on friday.
give these eggnog truffles a try!
how to balance blog life and real life over the holidays.
what's your favorite christmas movie?
be present over perfect.

- i want a room like this. i would never leave.
- love this narnia poster :)
- these are some great DIY christmas ornaments

we are two days away from christmas! are you ready? christmas may not be the same as when you were a kid, family dynamics may have changed, relationships may be broken, but we celebrate a Savior who came to heal and make us whole. i pray you experience that this christmas and that you are filled with the wonder you had as a child. safe travels this week, friends!



christmas traditions // NO. 4

i've already mentioned our tree decorating but our current tree wasn't decorated at the time, so i didn't have any fun christmas tree pictures for you! so for those of you who missed it, we get our tree on thanksgiving weekend, put on the lights and decorate together while listening to our favorite christmas classics. our tree has never been one of those perfectly decorated trees, with evenly spaced ornaments of a certain color scheme. we've collected and been given ornaments over the years and tend to place them wherever we want on the tree. the result is a beautifully eclectic display of christmas cheer.

another tradition of ours is to sit down as a family on christmas eve to read the story of jesus' birth in luke 2. then we have an "official" lighting of our christmas tree. we turn all the lights out and someone tries to find the christmas tree lights cord and the outlet without hurting themselves. the lights get plugged in and then the only light in the house is coming from the tree. it's pretty magical and a powerful image of how Christ is the light of the world. it always brings this verse to mind..."the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - john 1:5. There is so much hope wrapped up in that sentence. i love this tradition because on the eve of the day where most of the world is focused on the presents under the tree, we take time to fill our hearts and minds with the truth of christmas and the real reason we celebrate.

after that, we open our stockings and presents. christmas day is spent with extended family so over the past few year we've done our family christmas together on christmas eve. when i was little, we did everything on christmas day, but my brother and i were allowed to open one present on christmas eve. that was always really special and exciting to me. also, we always have a "happy birthday, Jesus" cake, and yes, we do sing happy birthday. :)

i wanna know, can you showwwww me? //name that song// what are some of your christmas tradtions? if you do a post on the subject, leave the link in the comments so i can come see! :)


a year with shadow.

this week last year (i don't remember the exact date) i brought a 15 month old puppy home for a long trial weekend to see if she would be a good fit with our family and our other dog. the weekend went well and i fell in love with the cutest and quirkiest dog i've ever known and her fur in always in a perpectual state of bed head. i just had to keep her. here's a look back at our first year with shadow baby.

 // things shadow likes //
long walks
chasing squirrels
playing in the back yard
digging holes when she's bored
picking on her older sister pup
licking your face
sitting in your lap

 // things shadow dislikes //
thunder storms
getting her nails done
being left alone
sharing attention time with ceilidh (our other pup)
wearing reindeer antlers
sorry i'm not sorry for the ridiculous amounts of puppy pictures. our dogs have always been a part of our family and shadow has certainly found her place in our home. she's weird and silly and makes me laugh on a daily basis and i wish i'd known her as little puppy. dogs are the best, y'all. you'll never find another animal that loves you unconditionally and with their whole heart. 
“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?” 
// marley & me //


baby it's cold outside.

if you know me at all, you know that i love christmas and christmas music. i start listening to christmas music in september/october...but just a little bit! i'll listen to a couple songs just to get my christmas fix, but when november rolls around, that's when the full albums come out in full swing and i make up my christmas playlists. since i know some of you are completely against any christmas music until after thanksgiving, i figured i'd hold off on sharing my playlist with you so you wouldn't go all grinchy on me ;)

i'm sharing some of my favorite songs, but they come from some of my favorite albums, so here's a list for you to check out if you are looking for some new christmas tunes...

behold the lamb of God // andrew peterson
christmas stories // jason gray
snow globe // matt wertz
christmas classics // bing crosby

so here you go, music lovers. a little list of some of my favorite christmas melodies by some of my favorite artists. music is one of the things that speaks to my soul the most, especially songs about my Savior, his birth, and his sacrifice. i like to listen to music this time of year that helps my heart to focus on why i celebrate christmas. don't get me wrong, i love me some snow globes and white christmases, so i threw in a bunch of those too :) happy christmas!

christmas melodies by Meg McIlvaine on Grooveshark


Q&A // sweet lavender bake shoppe

friends, i am so excited to introduce you to christina of sweet lavender bake shoppe. we met in blogland a few months ago and i'm so glad we did. she has a beautiful blog full of life and drool-worthy recipes. i'll be honest, i get a little intimidated by cooking/baking (pretty sure i'm martha stewart's worst nightmare) but christina makes it look so easy. need proof? check out this pear and almond cream pie. it looks totes delish and completely doable!! so maybe try it out after you take some time to learn more about this sweet lady's story and her baking dreams.

1. Where does your love for baking come from? I've always been in love with anything and everything involving food since I was a little girl. From watching Food Network everyday after school (what 12 year old does that??) to sneaking raw eggs into my room so I could try and whip egg whites like they did on t.v., I couldn't get enough. So naturally, after a few years of college I decided to pursue that love and ended up enrolling and then graduating from the California School of Culinary Arts, in Pasadena, CA back in 2005 with a Le Cordon Bleu degree in all things food. Yay for French cooking!
2. When did you start to pursue your dreams as a pastry chef? Well, after graduating, I spent the next few years working countless LONG hours in various kitchens. I took whatever job I could- from cold food cooking, to sauté cook and head lead line, to then (of course) pastry work. This is where I really found myself- I couldn't get enough of the pastry art (I mean, desserts)It's a beautiful art form (and pretty tasty to boot). I have a lot of burns, scars, and "battle wounds" from those days- and I love them all! I eventually landed the role of Pastry Chef after discovering how much I absolutely loved working with sweets and I have since acquired an even more extreme obsession withall desserts, especially cupcakes and pie!

3. How did you come up with the name “Sweet Lavender”? It's the silliest thing. 1. I love lavender. Like, LOVE it. There was a point where my friends would tease the heck out of me because every single thing in my home was lavender scented. It's such a lovely scent! 2. I love(d) baking. So naturally when you combine those two things you come up with Lavender and Bake Shop. Hahaha. Not really. But it worked in my crazy brain. Because I also love older vintage inspired things, I added the “pe” to the end of “Bake Shop” and tagged on the little “Sweet”.... It's really no award-winning story!

4. Do you have a favorite sweets shop/bakery in L.A.? Ohmygosh yes! Please, everyone! Come stay a week with me so I can drive you around the bazillion amazing sweet shops!!! Gaw, we'd be fat and happy together. On the very very tip top of my list are (in no particular order):
1. Susie Cakes in Manhattan Beach- make sure you get a slice of their Tropical Coconut Cake!!!
2. The Pie Hole in Los Angeles
3. Doughboys in Los Angeles (the BEST red velvet cake you will EVER have.)
5. When did you start your etsy shop? I started my Etsy shop back in 2010 (shoot...I think it was 2010!) out of necessity. Let's be honest friends...blogging is hard...and (sometimes) unpaid work. Not everyone can do that sort of thing without income and not everyone gets paying blog gigs right off the bat...or at all! So in 2010, I needed to start bringing in some sort of income, stat! I had already been making edible decorations for friends and family friends so it sort of made sense. After brainstorming with my good friend and my husband we decided it might be a fun thing for me to turn that hobby into a business! And viola!

6. Who and what inspires your culinary creations? When we used to have cable, Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiis, and Martha Stewart were at the top of my inspiration list. I couldn't get enough of those lovely women! Their food was always classic and simple, yet amazingly elegant. Right up my culinary alley.
We haven't had cable for quite a few years now, so I tend to find inspiration from all the amazing baking books and blogs/websites out there as well as just life itself. I'm a very unfussy cook- I like food to be simple. I believe that if you combine simple fresh ingredients and easy(ish) techniques...you will make the most amazing food. I try to stick with that.
On my blog you will ALWAYS find foods that I have made for friends and family. You'll be a part of our lives, through food! Whether it was a birthday...a family get-together...or my husband simply craving cookies...every single recipe is and will always be something that reflects our life. You'll find stuff we love and make on a regular basis like this Quiche Stuffed Acorn Squash, Granola, Peanut Butter, or Almond Milk or stuff I made for a special occasion.
7. If you could bake one or two things for the rest of your life, what would they be? Pie. Pie. And, oh yeah- pie. With pie, you can go either in a savory OR sweet route ;) See what I did there? We'd be good for life. Bwahahahahaha, beating the system!

8. What is the motto that you live and work by? “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting. But a woman who fears the Lord, is to be praised.” -Proverbs 31:30 Meaning, nothing I do on my blog will last. I am nothing without Jesus- it all ends at some point. So I try to not put too much weight/hope/fear/identity/anxiety/craziness on blogging (easier said than done sometimes)My blogging and culinary career could literally end at ANY moment. Plus, Jesus gave me the gift of doing what I do anyways, so I know He's in control. But here's the awesome part- loving and honoring the Lord is timeless, priceless, and will last forever. So I put my focus and hope in that. :)

soooooooooooooo, who else is hungry now? don't those recipes look delicious?? if you're looking for something new to make to impress the family this holiday season, you should try out one of christina's culinary creations! christina, i love your heart and your outlook on life, and i hope we get to meet in real life at some point :)
this is the last time i'll be mentioning it, but i am still offering 50% off all advertising options up until christmas eve using the code: BUDDYTHEELF