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Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Reading List

2012 was a big reading year for me. For the past 3 years I've made a book reading goal and, thankfully, I've surpassed that goal each year! For 2010 it was easy peasy with 12 books, 2011 was a bit more challenging with 36 books, and I made 2012 an even loftier goal with 50 books. At some points during the year I was afraid I wasn't going to live up to the challenge...and I even had Nate at one point to tell me to quit because he said I was reading just to get to my goal - but I pushed through and have finished out the year with reading 51 books! I'm still debating on what I should challenge myself with next, especially with planning a wedding and hoping to grow my photography business - I'm thinking I'll just stick with 50 again, what do ya'll think?!

First off, I'm going to list my top 5 books I read this year and then I'll list out what all I read this year :).

Top 5
(the whole series)


And just in case you wanted to know what else I read!
 I also have lists for books I read in 2011 and 2010.

Did you have a big reading year as well?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

Can you honestly believe that Christmas has already come and gone?! Holy cow - I swear this year has flown by like none other before it!

This year Christmas went by in a blur - but I did get to spend some quality time with family, and most importantly, eat (too much). Here's a little recap of the festivities from the past few days.

I'm especially proud of the tree this year. I think I've finally mastered the art of fluffing (and no it's not crooked, it's just the angle of the shot). Also can we note how proud I am that my photography skills are increasing?! The tree shot is totally unedited and I'm one proud mama!  

As you can tell, Santa was extra good to me this year - I got my punch bowl and mixer (in mint, exactly like I requested...squeeee!). Do you think maybe Santa is a little sad that this was my last Christmas living at home?! I think so.

On another note, can you see the total unimpressed face Hannah has going on in the middle photo?! She's like, "woohoo, a punch bowl..." Haha.
Christmas morning at my nana's is an annual tradition. We stuff ourselves with a huge breakfast and then sit around and watch each other open gifts. Hannah got her beloved Furby, Holly got her long awaited Pred's jersey, and there's my lovely Nana :). Can you tell who the jokester of the family is?! My Bubba never fails to put a smile on my face!

Of course, I can't forget Nathan. He spoiled me rotten with a Michael Kors watch, Ted, and lots of stocking stuffers...and we split the cost for a 50" TV for our living room. Merry Christmas to us indeed!

I have to say that it was a pretty great Christmas! I hope yours was as well!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wedding Wednesday #3 - Wedding Dress Shopping

This Saturday I'm going to do something I've dreamed about since I was a little girl.

I'm going wedding dress shopping!

For some reason it doesn't even feel real. Saturday, I'm going to try on my first white dress and possibly find the dress that I'll walk down the aisle to Nathan in. I won't lie, I've cried a few tears of joy the past few weeks since I made my appointment.

It's just so surreal that by this time next week I could have my dress!

I'm also excited to share this big experience with my mama, nana, little sister, cousin, and aunt. I couldn't imagine not having them there with me for such a big decision.

Of course, I won't be posting any details of my dress. Y'all will have to wait for that big reveal :).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wedding Wednesday #2 - Popping the Question to my Maid of Honor

Unless you haven't heard, I announced our wedding date a couple of weeks ago! On 9.28.13 I will officially become Mrs. Otto! 

With less than a year to go, planning is progressing quite nicely. I was always thought that I'd be this crazy, hot mess bride...and honestly, I'm far from it. I'm surprising myself about how laid back I'm being about this whole process. The only meltdown I've had was after our engagement pictures when I started thinking about the cost of everything. Thank goodness I have Nathan to talk me out of my craziness.

Since there is less than a year to go and all, this past weekend I asked my little cousin, Holly, to be my maid of honor. I found a cute way to ask on Pinterest (what else) and put my own spin on it. The actual pin was a box with a ring pop in it with this cute little saying asking to be a bridesmaid/maid of honor. To put my own personal spin on it, I bought her an actual ring...I know, I know I should be cousin of the year/bride of the year. She recently just pledged into a sorority, so I perused Etsy to try and find a ring, and lucky me found the perfect one!

She came in from College this weekend so it was the perfect time to ask her!

 Yes, I got down on one knee...and yes, we did act silly!

 After she accepted my proposal to be my maid of honor :).

 With the cute little note I made.

My engagement ring and her maid of honor ring!

At this point I'm sure you're wondering where all my pictures are from asking my other bridesmaids. I'm sure this is coming to come as a shock to most, but she will be the one and only lady standing beside me on my big day. Nathan and I made the decision long before we got engaged that we wanted this day to be about us, not about how many people were standing at the altar with us. I just find it extremely outrageous to have 15 people standing up there with the bride and groom. So, Holly's it...and I wouldn't have it any other way :).

I can't wait to share more details with ya'll in the weeks to come!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Engagement Picture Day + 1 Year to Go!

Today is a day that I've anxiously awaited for around 4 months's Engagement Picture Day! Nathan and I are both so nervous, I guess it comes with the territory. When he called this morning he said that today made this all very real to it does me. I can do all the planning in the world, but until something big happens it doesn't feel real to me. Today makes me feel like WOW, I'm really getting married! 

On another big note, we picked a date!


Exactly one year from today, on our 7 year - 5 month anniversary, I will marry my favorite person on the planet. I'm so excited for what this upcoming year holds - picking out my wedding dress, bridesmaid dress shopping, asking a certain someone to be my maid of honor, renovating our house, getting in shape, moving out of my parent's house (which will definitely be the hardest thing I will do this year), and going on our honeymoon. I can't wait for the craziness to begin! 

But most of all I'm excited to be married to this guy for the rest of my days.

365 days to go!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quit your moaning & groaning!

Have you ever been in Church and the lesson being preached just hits you like a ton of bricks? Yea, that was me this past Sunday. Our preacher used this verse to really get his point across.

"Do all things without grumbling and disputings"
Philippians 2:14

How many of us our guilty of this? Whining and complaining instead of getting to work and getting things done. When I heard this verse it fit my life in so many ways.

At Home
I'm the biggest clean freak there is, but when it comes down to the actual cleaning - I HATE it. Most of the time I'd rather pull my own teeth out than clean, but there I am each and every my heart out. However, even though I'm cleaning...I'm moaning and groaning the entire time wishing I was done. Instead of complaining the entire time I need to realize how thankful I am that I have a house to clean...and that I'm not living on the street.

At Work
I have my own flow at work and most of my job is repetitive, same thing week after week. I get in my zone and then when someone else comes in and wants something different, I get upset. 99% of the time, I'm super busy...and then when others want something different, it just really bursts my bubble. What I need to do is calm down and realize that I'm lucky to have a job in this economy and that I need to work harder, instead of getting upset. The time spent venting to my coworkers could be spent on actually getting the job done.

Oh how many times I have laid around and thought to myself, "I really need to work out." Most of the time I spent complaining could be spent running or strength training...and I could have a workout done in the time I was griping. If I had only used the time I spent trying to get out of working out, actually working out, I would have a nice workout in. I'm going to make a continuous effort to not talk myself out of working out, but instead working out. This is going to be a real issue for me. I loathe working out. Is there a magical solution to enjoy working out?!

I'm a complete work in progress with the whining and complaining aspect of my life. All we can do is try to do better, right?!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Misikko HANA Air Premiere Hair Dryer Review

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Misikko to do a product review. I honestly think I squealed with delight a little bit, because really, who doesn't love fancy beauty products?! They sent me the HANA Air Premiere Hair Dryer and it seriously couldn't have come at a better time since my old dryer was on the brink of death!

Not only did they send me a hair dryer, I got all sorts of other goodies in the package as well!
Some facts on the Misikko HANA Air Premiere Hair Dryer:
2 Fan Speeds
3 Heat Settings
+ Cold Shot
Infrared Ionic Hate
Tourmaline, Titanium Oxide & Silver Infused

So what do I think about the dryer? It's heaven to my hair. I have really thin, fine hair, which would lead a person to believe that my hair would dry in a snap. That's so not the case, my hair dresser is even shocked about the amount of moisture that my hair holds. With my old dryer it would take 10 to 15 minutes to dry my hair, with this dryer it takes 5 to 10 (depending on what type of product I put in my hair that day). I love it. I don't dread blow drying my hair at night now. It's a blessing!!

If you're in the market for a hair dryer I would highly suggest checking this one out. I seriously don't have one complaint!

Thanks Misikko for sending me this amazing hair dryer, it's fabulous!

Monday, May 28, 2012

She Did It! Graduation 2012

Friday night was a momentous occasion for my family. My little cousin graduated from High School!

I couldn't be more proud of her. She was the student and athlete I never was in High School and I'm so glad that she took part in the whole "high school" experience. Those memories will stay with her forever.

I'm so anxious for her during this upcoming journey in her life, otherwise known as College. I don't think she realizes what a life changing experience it is, but she'll know soon enough :).

After graduation, we had a little party in her honor and showered with all sorts of gifts!

 This girl can make a mean quesedilla, what better present for her apartment?!

 MacBook pro from Nana and Papa. It was SO hard to keep my jealously at bay, but then I realized I'm not an Apple computer fan...

A quilt made out of all her Volleyball t-shirts. I thought this was a really neat idea and had never seen it done before!

Not only did she get a fancy new computer, but she won an iPad 2 at project graduation that night. How flippin' lucky can you get?! I won't lie, I couldn't keep my jealousy at bay about the iPad. Me wants one!

Words cannot express how proud I am of this girl, she has the world at her fingertips!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Remembering Granny Laura

A few weeks ago I snapped this picture of my late great grandmother's Ambarella's.

In looking at the beauty in this flower, I'm reminded of the life she lived and what a wonderful grandmother she was and how blessed I was to have known her. If I'm a 10th of the woman she was, I would be overly grateful. She was so Godly and one of the sweetest women ever put on this earth.

Aside from the wonderful things that everyone else knew about her, I miss the little things that made her "my" Granny Laura...

...her ah-mazing egg sandwiches. I still to this day don't know how she made them so buttery and delicious. I've come pretty close to making one in comparison but they still didn't have her "touch" on it. I guess nothing is as good as Granny makes it. she would play endless games of hully gull with me and Holly. We loved that game. for years she never had any tv stations other than 2,4, and 5 and most of the time those had so much static that you couldn't see anything. The only movie there to watch was Homeward Bound and I would recite it line by line.

...and most of all, I'm sad that my little sister never got to know her. She passed away when Hannah was only 6 months old.

Now I'm thankful that her Bible was passed on to me and that whenever I open it I can see her writing and her little checkmarks for every chapter she's read. They're on every chapter. What an inspiration she is, so long after she's been departed from this earth.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of her and I know she's up in Heaven smiling down on all of us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wedding Wednesday #1 - Getting Prepared

Oh how excited I've been to host my own little Wedding Wednesday segments here on my own blog. These won't be a regular thing around here since our wedding is quite a bit away, but I wanted to share how I've started the madness.

First off, we don't have a date set. We do, however, have a couple months that we would like to have our wedding. So as of right now, we're planning on September or early October 2013. Nathan refuses to plan a set in stone date until he looks at a Farmer's Almanac and unfortunately the 2013 almanac doesn't come out til August. Until then I'll just be pestering him...

Most of all, I'm taking this time to get prepared. I'm going to start my wedding binder (with sections for wedding, reception, etc.) and peruse magazine. I'm also tackling Pinterest, seriously this site isn't for me - too many things in one place.

Luckily, there are two magazines published in my area. I picked them both up (one was free!) to look for potential vendors. Sadly though, just skimming through these I've found that my "style" really isn't in these. I'm hoping I can pick up some helpful tips though.

So tell me, did you or do you have a wedding planning binder?? What helpful hints do you have for me?!?!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Our LOVE Story

 My A Love Story series is coming to its conclusion today with the last story being my love story!
Nathan and I met in a rather conventional way, High School. He was "friends" with my then boyfriend at the time. I will put it lightly by saying that the boyfriend at the time wasn't the most upstanding human being, but we won't go there. Nathan, from the start, didn't like how my boyfriend was treating me and he slowly started a plan to steal me away.

At first, I loathed Nathan. He constantly picked at me. It got so bad that when I saw him coming down the hall at school I would turn and go the other way. I'm not really sure when I started to see Nathan in a different light but one night we rode around on back roads together and he was so completely sweet. That was also the night I got my nickname for him, cupcake :).

Of course, my boyfriend and I broke up and Nathan and I started dating...and it's all history from there.

Today is our 6-year anniversary. He's my fiance, best friend, confidant, and my favorite person on the planet. I'm not saying that our relationship is sunshine and rainbows all the time, because it isn' a long shot. We've had bad times and hurdles to jump, but we always work through them because we want to make US work.

Nathan proposed on April 14, 2012...exactly two weeks ago in Chattanooga on a weekend trip. His proposal was perfect. You can read our proposal story here & here!

My gorgeous ring :).

We are planning our wedding for September or October of 2013. Plenty of time to finish our house and plan the wedding of my dreams!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Our Engagement Story - Part 2

You can read Part 1 of our Engagement Story by clicking here...

After he put my gift on the counter, I immediately asked him, "what is this for?" He said, "Happy Anniversary!" We hadn't talked gifts so I was a little taken back...when I opened it I found red velvet cupcakes (my man knows me well) that looked like this...

After I opened them, I said "awww babe they're all messed up." What I didn't see was a box in a ziploc bag in the box. I instantly look at him, knowing the aggravator he is and said, "you're really gonna play jokes?" I open it and it's my wine corks I'm collecting for my wine wreath. He goes, "who would I be if I didn't joke around with you a little bit?"

As I put the lid back on the corks I look over and I see him getting on one knee. I instantly burst into tears, which in turn makes him start crying. I honestly have no clue what he was saying because my brain was going 90 miles a minute. All I remember of his speech is, "I promise to always work and provide for you." That's it, none of the other sweet stuff. I really don't even remember if he asked "Will You Marry Me?" but I do recall at some point saying YES! so I would assume he did ask. I'll be honest here, I was ugly crying during the proposal. I couldn't help it. I'm an overly emotional person, I couldn't have just stood there with a smile while giggling. I cry. I can't help.

After all the hugs and kisses I immediately looked at him and said, "WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!"

And there you have it, our engagement story. It's nothing extravagant and that's exactly how I wanted it to be. I didn't want to be out in public in front of a lot of people, that's not who I am. We're happiest when it's just the two of us. I'm also thrilled that he incorporated cupcakes into our engagement since I'm his "cupcake." He did an excellent job.

And now for my bling...

He also did an excellent job picking out my ring. I only had two requests, that is was three stone and had diamonds down the side. He hit the nail on the head!

No date has been set as of yet, but we're thinking late September early October 2013. A nice, long engagement. We have tons of stuff to do, like finish our house.

Bring on the house renovations and wedding planning!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our Engagement Story - Part 1

In retrospect I should noticed a few things odd about this weekend. For one, Nathan planned this whole trip from start to finish, I had zero input...and two, he was more high strung than usual.

We got into Chattanooga on Friday night and when we walked into our hotel room the first words out of his mouth were, "well this room is smaller than expected," my first thought was why in the world does that matter?? I just responsed with, "it's ok babe, it's just to two of us it doesn't matter." After we headed out for dinner we went back to the room where Nathan set his alarm for 6 AM to go get the stuff he needed for work (this was his whole ploy to get me to Chatt, he said he needed to get some copper for a roof).

I swear when his alarm went off Saturday morning he shot right out of bed and got right into the shower. He woke me up and told me to start getting ready when he left and that he would bring me coffee from Starbucks when he got back. He set off and I layed in bed, watched a little of The Prince and Me and read a few chapters in my book. About 30 minutes later I decided it was time to get out of bed and start getting ready.

I was halfway ready, in my dress with my fuzzy sock on no less, when he walked in. When he walked through the door he had his overnight bag with him and I just thought he had put the copper in it since it's a heavily stolen item. Even though I assumed this I asked, "why do you have your bag babe?" and he never answered. So I asked again and he never answered. I got tired of asking and went back in the bathroom and proceeded to finish getting ready.

He walked into to the little "kitchenette" area and set down a package wrapped in wrapping paper with pictures of us on it and "Nathan & Heather" on it.

Right then and there I knew something was up...

Come back tommorow for part 2! :)

Who would I be if I didn't keep ya'll on the edge of your toes???

Monday, April 16, 2012

The BEST weekend EVER!

Omigoodness, I'm at a loss for words as to how amazing this weekend trip went. If you haven't already heard on Facebook or Twitter....

Nathan proposed this weekend!!!!

I'm still on cloud 9 and a little bit in disbelief that I'm "fianced."

Stay tuned, tomorrow I'm going to recap how Nathan proposed. He was sneaky ;).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Weekend 2012 Recap

Good golly Miss Molly what a whirlwind weekend that's left me exhausted! I slightly love/hate those weekends that fly by in a's awesome getting lots of things accomplished but it's also a little sad that you don't get that much downtime.

This Easter weekend started off with our annual family yardsale on Friday and Saturday, full of early mornings and crazy people! Some serious nutcases yardsale it up. I guess I'm just a little pissy for people saying stuff was priced high. No, I don't think $5 for a $50 pair of jeans is "high." Tightwads. This is why I don't yardsale. I can't handle clutter and frankly I'd just rather pay full price for something than deal with yahoo's.

Easter day, itself, was jammed pack full of family events and cleaning. The one thing I dread about marrying Nathan is how stressful holiday's are. You have to go here, there, and everywhere. I say we just stay home, haha!

Of course, we got fancy new duds. Hello, it's the South...and I'm all for a holiday where you get a new dress and shoes!

Here are mine and Nate's obligatory annual Easter pictures that he hates year after year. You think I'd give up trying...however, it's not that bad. We actually look like we have a little age on us. Seriously, I'm tired of looking 16.

Ain't she cute?! Slowly but surely I'm figuring out manual settings for my camera to take good, raw photo's. I love this one of her. Her outfit was perfect for the scenery!

I'm not sure what I said for her to strike this pose, but I like how it turned out!

And there you have it, my hectic Easter weekend!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In This Crazy Town - Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan Concert

I will be the first to admit that I'm not an avid concert goer. In fact I'm not really that big of a fan of concerts. But last October when it was announced that Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan were coming to Nashville I immediately knew I had to go. So I bought myself, my mama, and cousin a ticket and away we went.

Me and the cousin (who sadly looks older than me - she's only 18!) in front of Jason's semi-trailer.

All of us. It's slightly scary how much I look like my mother in this picture.

First set during Luke Bryan. Dude is already drunk and dancing, let it just be known, big boys shouldn't dance.

Who knew homeboy (Luke Bryan) could play piano (quite nicely in fact) AND sing Adele. The boy is talented, among other things ;).

Surpise guest appearance by Kelly Clarkson!!

A good time was had by all, but I'm pretty sure my cousin had more fun than my mama and me - but that's her cup of tea. When 10 PM rolled around I started yawning. I'm old at heart and it was way past my bedtime!

But I just have one request...
Luke Bryan, please come back to Nashville so I can see you wiggle and shake some more...pretty please?!?!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fangtastic 5K

A week and a half later I'm just now getting the recap of my latest running excursion, the Fangtastic 5K , up here on the ol' blog.

Oh well :).

The race was put on by the Nashville Predators Hockey team and went through downtown Nashville. If you've ever ventured to Nashville then you know one's extremely hilly. Dear God, so HILLY. The first mile was all hill, steep hill at that, and of course stupid me started off really strong and quickly lost all my momentum half-way through.

Another note, I shouldn't have ate the big breakfast beforehand...even if it was 3 hours before. Horrible, HORRIBLE mistake. I thought it all was coming up during some points, especially nearing the end.

But it wasn't all bad - I only walked 2 times for about 30 seconds each. During which both times I thought I was going to lose my cookies. Being nauseous + running = no bueno. The last mile I gave it all I had, at that point I just wanted to be done.

My finish time was 36:12 and I'm extremely proud of that. I beat my last 5K time which was 41:00 minutes to the "T". I now have a new time to beat!

Here we are beforehand. I might add that my 52-year-old uncle completed the race in 40 minutes. So proud of him!

At the starting line waiting for Gnash to give us the go ahead. Those boys up front flippin' sprinted the whole race. The winner had a time of 15 minutes and was running 4:59 miles. That's just insane to me.

Also, it was obvious that certain people had NO clue how to corral themselves. I about ran over so many walkers it wasn't even funny. 

Almost there! I slowed down so my aunt could snap the picture. In hindsight that was stupid of me. 

After the race we were soaked. My shoes sloshed with every step I took. It was disgusting but it was actually nice running in the rain. I'll take that over cold temps + snow in February. Other than the rain it was a really good day to run.

Now off to the next one which is planned for April!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nashville Weekend Recap

Oh how lovely mine and Nate's Nashville weekend was...I really didn't want to come home.

Before going all the way up to Nashville we decided to stop the next town over to eat at my favorite Mexican restaurant, Chuy's. Ohhhh how delicious it was - if only the closest one wasn't an hour away! After stuffing my belly full we loaded up the GPS and headed on our way.

The next stop was our fabulous hotel, The Courtyard Marriott Downtown. Seriously this place was amazing, we had a nice big room and it was semi-quiet until Printer's Alley and 2nd Avenue really got going between midnight and 4 AM, but I was so tired I really had no complaints.

(I told Nate to get out of the picture, he did not...therefore he made his way on to the blog)

Saturday morning we woke up around 7ish so that I could eat something and get ready for my 5K that started at the Bridgestone Arena. We found a really cute breakfast place called Puckett's Grocery just up the block from the hotel...
They had quite a good breakfast, but I totally shouldn't have ate since it really messed with me while running, but that's a story for tomorrow when I recap my 5K :).

After breakfast we made our way (in the pouring rain) to the arena to pick up my packet and wait on my family who was running with me.

(I look HORRIBLE, my ensemble was hideous but I really didn't care. It was raining!)
2 hours later, soaked and all, we trekked our way back to the hotel to shower and relax before dinner that night. Nate napped and I read The Hunger Games (OMG - one of the best books I've read in a long time!).

For dinner we ventured to Maggiano's and I found a new favorite restaurant. Everything was so delicious and the portion's were huge! We will definitely be going back!

Sunday we got up early again and ate at our favorite breakfast place, The Pancake Pantry (if you're ever in Nashville it's a must!) and then mosied our way back home.

I love our trips together, not for the places we go or the things we do, but just because we're together :). I love our "us" time.