2013 in Review

2013 was an AMAZING year! This week, I’ve seen some of my favorite bloggers writing their year in review, and I really liked that idea. 2013 was full of weddings, and parties, changes and trips, and overall it was a wonderful year! So without further adieu, here are some of my favorite moments from 2013!

  • In February I started my new blog, Our Little Ivory Tower! I wrote 47 posts in 2013, and I’m excited to see how I can grow my blog in 2014. I absolutely love having a writing outlet and a way to keep in touch with my family and friends. It has also been a great way for me to document my life and it serves as a “live” scrapbook.
  • In March my sissy moved to Colorado, which was incredibly sad, but also so exciting for her! She got a promotion working for Victoria Secret, and shortly after moving she got ANOTHER promotion and was given her OWN STORE to manage. She is doing an awesome job and loving being out in Denver!

Mar  VS

  • Also in March, G & I did some fundraising for the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. So many of our family and friends helped by donating and we were able to raise $250 for the local organization to help send veterans to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial.
  • In April my bestie Megan invited me to be her +1 for a work trip she earned to Austin, TX! All expenses paid, we spend a long weekend exploring Austin with an awesome group of people, as well as a couple days at an amazing resort. We were pampered, ate like queens, and had an awesome #palsweekend overall. The trip was definitely a top highlight of 2013!

TX

  • At the end of April, I helped to host my dear friend Tiffany’s bachelorette party in Des Moines, which was a blast with old and new friends.

bachelorette party

  • In May I celebrated another bachelorette, my roommate from college Katie, in Nashville! It was my first time to ‘Music City’ and I loved every minute of it. We danced to country music, bought cowboy boots, and drank till the sun came up. It was another amazing girlfriends trip!

Nashvegas

  • In June I got to stand up as a bridesmaid in Tiffany and Nick’s wedding. It was one of the most fun bridal parties I’ve ever been a part of and the wedding was beautiful and classy and SO much fun.

Malcom Wedding

  • In July G & I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary! He posted this on Facebook which absolutely melted my heart 🙂 He’s not a big “sharer” on Facebook, so that made it all the more special. It’s good to be me, too!

Facebook

Anniversary

  • Also in July, I was a bridesmaid in Katie and Sean’s wedding in the Quad Cities. It was a gorgeous wedding and incredibly special and truly a wedding I will never forget.

Laird Sisters

  • In August we attended my 10 year class reunion. I rode in our class float, watched old class videos from elementary and high school days, and enjoyed catching up with my classmates, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years!

Class of 2003

  • In September we went out to Colorado with my parents to visit Marlee and Andrew. We went to a Reds/Rockies game, hiking in the mountains, exploring Denver and Boulder, and had a lot of family fun time.

Mountains Family

  • Also in September, we traveled to Missouri for our friends Stephanie and Horacio’s wedding. So many of our friends who G grew up with were there, and we had a great time dancing the night away and catching up with old friends.

Wedding fun

  • In October I got to go to Las Vegas for work to exhibit at the NBWA Tradeshow. Not only was it beautiful weather while we were there, I learned a lot and even had some time to explore the city.

Las Vegas

  • In November I participated in NaBloPoMo and blogged {almost} every day in the month of November. We also spent Thanksgiving in Fort Dodge with the Ivorys, and went to G’s cousin’s wedding.

Ivorys

  • In December my sister got engaged!!! Her fiance Andrew took her up into the mountains for a relaxing weekend, and ended it by putting a beautiful ring on her finger. We are looking forward to the wedding planning to come in 2014, and a wedding in 2015! I’m so excited for them and excited for Andrew to become a part of our family.

Future Newbergs

  • Also in December, I decorated for Christmas  and we went to Chicago to celebrate the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. We also got together in Cedar Falls with G’s family to open presents and enjoy a really fun lunch at a Japanese steakhouse.

Christmas Tree

As you can see, 2013 was a really exciting and eventful year. We’re expecting another fun and and crazy year in 2014, and I can’t wait to share it all with you again. My goal for 2013 is to take one picture everyday to document the year {thanks for the idea, Mix and Match Mama!}, and to take time to enjoy my family and friends, because life is too short to not be around those you love.

Tonight G & I are going to ring in the New Year together by going out for a fancy dinner at 350 First and possibly to a movie, then probably home to watch the ball drop on TV. I’m really looking forward to it! Tomorrow we will spend Jan 1 relaxing and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes play LSU in the Outback Bowl! GOOOOO HAWKS!

I hope you all have a safe and happy new year, and look forward to seeing you all in 2014!

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Mission Failed – NaBloPoMo Days 22-27

I gave up on NaBloPoMo last Friday after 21 days straight of blogging. I didn’t feel like writing, and I skipped day 22. Then, after I missed 1 day, I didn’t feel bad about missing another, and another, and another. Failing feels a little something like this:

But it’s okay. I was getting kind of burnt out and bored. And if I’m bored with what I’m writing, I’m pretty certain others are too. And that’s not good for anyone.

Last weekend was sports weekend. Friday after work we went to {one of my} favorite restaurants in Iowa City Wig and Pen. Saturday we tailgated in the sub-zero freezing temps {briefly} and then went to the Iowa/Michigan game and saw a great game! But wow those things wear you out! We came home, napped, and started watching Dexter on Netflix. It’s a pretty good show….can’t wait to keep going with it.

Now we are on the road to Fort Dodge to spend Thanksgiving with the Ivorys. Saturday Greg’s cousin {who was a groomsman in our wedding!} is getting married. So we’ve got a busy, family filled weekend ahead of us. I’m sure going to miss being with my parents and sister though!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!!

FIVE on Friday – NaBloPoMo Day 15

I am so excited to know that I am HALF WAY through November and the NaBloPoMo blogging challenge! It has been just that–a challengebut I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed the fact that it has helped keep me motived and has given me a reason to write every single day. My friend Brittney at Our Poverty with a View has been linking up with The Good Life Blog for their Five on Friday series. I decided to give it a try since I love sharing my favorite things! {Show and tell for grownups??} Yes, please! So here we go!

5onfriday
{1} One of the first blogs I ever started reading was Iowa Girl Eats. She has some AMAZING recipes and life style ideas that I absolutely love. On Fridays she links her favorite online finds–and boy, does she do a great job scouring the internet for the best stuff out there! One thing I saw on her site recently that I CANNOT STOP DROOLING OVER is this recipe for Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Skillet Cookie. Let’s be honest, the only reason I haven’t made it yet is I’m scared of eating the whole. thing. Who wants to help me???
skilletcookie-13

{2} Last year we ordered our Christmas cards off Minted.com and were super thrilled with how they turned out. This year, I helped my mom place her order for some super cute holiday greetings from the same site, and they just arrived today! I can’t spoil the surprise and show you the design we ordered before they get sent out, but let me tell you, Minted gives you SO many options and they are really high quality, professional cards. They can be kind of pricey, but if you use a coupon code and order off Ebates {5% cash back right now!}, you can generally get a pretty reasonable price. Here’s last year’s card below. Still haven’t figured out what we’re sending out this year!

christmas card

{3} It’s so hard to get friends together for the holidays because everyone is busy with something. I saw this idea to have a winter brunch with your nearest and dearest to celebrate the holidays and absolutely loved it! Hot chocolate station, YES! French toast sticks in shot classes of syrup, YES! The details from this party are just unreal and adorable and I would be happy if my party were just a fraction of this cuteness!

hotchocolatestation

{4} You know the band Train??? Well turns out they have a winery called Save Me San Francisco Wine Company and they make delicious wines with names that come from their best songs. I first tried their red blend Drops of Jupiter which wasn’t my favorite, but still pretty good. Not wanting to give up on their brand, I tried a bottle of the Soul Sister Pinot Noir and WOWWEE it is amazing. “…expressive, medium ruby wine with flavors of ripe cherries and strawberries, a hint of vanilla and a smooth finish” but it is the perfect mix of dry and sweet, and at $8.99 a pop, you can’t go wrong.  It will be perfect for sharing with friends and family this holiday season {I’m even taking it as a house warming gift to a friend tonight!}

bottle-soulsister-thumb

{5} And speaking of San Francisco, have you heard about the amazing kid in San Francisco {battling Leukemia} who is getting his wish through the Make-a-Wish foundation to be “BatKid” for the day? San Fran has turn the city into a Gotham City and Batkid is off fighting crime today! Crowds of people are following him around–you can follow the live action on Twitter with #SFBatKid. It’s an unbelievably heart-warming story. Prayers to Batkid in his fight with Leukemia, and thanks to Make-A-Wish for making this happen!

Twitter

batkid

That’s all for today! I’m off to Des Moines this evening for a girls weekend celebrating my dear friend Megan’s 30th Birthday! I’m sooo excited and can’t wait to share pictures with you next week! Happy Friday!

True Life: I Love TV & Spoilers – NaBloPoMo Day 13

I hate to admit it, but I love watching TV. Could I do other, more productive things with my time? Sure. Should I do more productive things with my time? Absolutely. But I don’t care. I love a good TV show with entertaining and relate-able characters.

My love for TV started when I was young with Pee-Wee Herman. I spent my Saturday mornings with Pee-Wee and friends like Chairry, Jambi, and Cowboy Curtis. I even had a Pee Wee Herman themed 3rd or 4th birthday. {Note: This was before we found out he was a sick pervert.}

After Pee-Wee, I started getting into anything Nickelodeon. Legends of the Hidden Temple, Clarissa Explains it All, Rugrats, Doug….I liked them all.

Nick

And of course, like most 90’s kids, I spent Friday nights with TGIF shows. Full House was always my favorite.

TGIF

In college and after, I lived for shows like Newlyweds, Friends and Desperate Housewives. I’m pretty sure I cried when Brothers & Sisters got cancelled. And it turns out, Friday Night Lights was on during this time, but I never discovered it until a year ago on Netflix. And let me just say, BEST. SHOW. EVER. If you haven’t watched the full series on DVD or Netflix, I highly recommend you get started. Like now.

I’ve learned that watching TV shows on DVD or Netflix is my favorite way to do it. Because I absolutely hate having to wait from week to week to find out what is going to happen.  It drives me insane when an episode or season ends and leaves me hanging. Did she die? Did they find him? Is he going to get the girl? ARE ROSS AND RACHEL GOING TO END UP TOGETHER?

My lack of patience for suspense has led me to my obsession with spoilers. Every season when the new Bachelor or Bachelorette starts, I hop right online and look up the spoilers. I need to know how it’s going to end. Thank God for Reality Steve. When we watched Friday Night Lights, I was constantly reading episode synopsis reviews as we went through each season, especially when we had to shut it off because it was time for bed. I could not stand going to bed without knowing how the season was going to end. I’m pretty sure that by episode 5 I already knew how the entire series was going to go.

Right now, I have three shows that are my “must watch shows” for the week. Monday nights I watch How I Met Your Mother. It’s in the last season of the series, so of course I am sitting on pins and needles waiting for how it’s going to end. I’ve always liked this sitcom, even though this is the first year I’ve watched it consistently every week. On Wednesday nights I watch Nashville. I have loved Connie Britton since she played Tammy Taylor, and love her even more as country star Rayna James. If she and Deacon Clayborn don’t end up together, I might throw a remote through my TV. Thursday night I round out my TV week with Parenthood, and typically cry at least twice during the hour that it’s on.

But the thing I hate about watching those shows every week when they’re on TV is NOT BEING ABLE TO READ SPOILERS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON. If I can’t watch the show, sure I DVR it, but before I get around to watching it I typically find a recap online or ask one of my friends to give me the details of what I missed. I. CAN’T. WAIT.

A co-worker lent me Season 1 and 2 of Homeland which G and I are currently working our way through watching. {Claire Danes is amazing, by the way. Totally deserved those Emmys!} But you better believe I already know what has happened on that show through it’s current episode, even though I’m only through Disc 1 on Season 2. I don’t have Showtime, so since I can’t watch it on Sundays, I just have to wait for the spoilers to come out the following day so I can get caught up with the recap.

And if you were wondering, don’t worry, I do the same thing with books, too. I start a new book, and once I’m about a third of the way through, I’ll read the last chapter. Need to know how it’s going to end. I also like to know how movies are going to end prior to watching them. I get it….I’m weird. G doesn’t understand why I’d want to know what’s going to happen before it happens. Lots of people call it “cheating.” But I can’t help it. I don’t like suspense.

Anyone else addicted to spoilers? Are there any shows I’m missing out on that I need to add to my “must watch list”?

I Moustache You a Question – NaBloPoMo Day 12

Are mustaches getting on anyone else’s nerve? I get that Movember is the guys’ turn to raise money for a kind of cancer that affects them–after enduring the month of October where everything around them turns pink for breast cancer awareness. Sure, it make sense. If you’re fully and truly participating in Movember–you’re seeking out donations, raising money for the cause–okay, fine. Cancer sucks and any money raised toward getting rid of it is good and I can jump on board with that. But I heard a guy who is participating in “no shave November” {NSN} the other day say this:

“No shave November is when you don’t shave for the month of November, then you donate the money you saved by not shaving to men’s cancer.”

Huh? That was a new one to me. And this was a grown man, folks. So he’s saying you save, what? $2.99 on the thing of shaving cream you don’t have to use, and a dollar on the razor, then donate that $4 to finding a cure? Ummmm, okay. Orrrrr you just want an excuse to be lazy and not shave for a month….and look ragged and tired in public for the sake of “raising money for cancer”.

Sure, Al and Matt on the Today Show are doing NSN and getting prostate exams on air (eww) to raise awareness. Great. Use your celebrity for a good cause. But can’t you just talk about it? What does not shaving for 30 days have to do with it? Why make me watch you look worse with every passing day, like this?

Image

Can we agree this is not a good look? And why do they keep shaving their heads if it’s NSN?? Oh wait….

Moustaches have become so popular that over the last couple years they’ve been popping up all over the place.

Please no one get me these for Christmas:

pjs

Nothin’ says “Sexy Wife” like flannel covered in moustaches…

And I really don’t need this on my desk at work to hold my mail:

Mail Holder

Where did I put that bill? Ahhh yes, in my moustache!

Or this little “party favor”:

Nothing freshens the smell of your house quite like a burning moustache

Because nothing freshens your house quite like the smell of a burning moustache

Really the only moustache novelty I’m not completely over is the “Mustachifier” which is still hilarious and makes me laugh every time:

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But guys, really. Have we not learned? Very few people still can pull off a mustache like Tom Selleck.

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Why try and risk looking like this:

Imageor this:

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or for heaven’s sake this:

 Image

Let’s agree that the moustache parties were fun a few years ago when they first started becoming popular. I’ve seen plenty of funny pictures of my friends wearing huge ‘staches tailgating or at moustache parties. I laughed and thought the moustache fad was great! But it’s time to move on….

If you are truly and actively raising money for cancer, and growing a moustache can help you do that, then good for you. I’ll sit here and wait for December 1st when they can finally go away. {And if it’s bad enough, I might contribute to your cause if you’ll freakin’ shave it off!} But if you’re doing it to be funny or cute….Don’t! Stop! The creepy facial hair is freakin’ me out and grossin’ me out and I’m ready for the world to move on to the next trendy thing.

Just Say Thank You, Would You?! – NaBloPoMo Day 10

Why is it so hard to take a compliment? Friday night when we rolled into Traer we stopped out at the golf course to see some old family friends and have a couple drinks. One of my best friends’ mom said to me, “Natalie, you look great! Are you getting skinnier?” My response? “Oh my gosh no way! I’m getting fatter, ehhh!”

Then Saturday we hung out with another family friend who mentioned, “Nat! Look at those fancy boots! I like em!” Again, my response was less than gracious. “These?? No, they are cheapies….they aren’t nice!”

No sooner were the words out of my mouth when my mom, rightly so said, “You aren’t supposed to tell them that! Just say thank you!”

What a concept…just say thank you. Every time someone compliments a new shirt, I tell them how cheap it was or what a good deal I got on it. Someone says they like my hair? I say ewww I need to get it cut! You liked those cookies I brought to work? I just threw them together, they’re soooooo easy!

But, why can’t I just smile and say thank you? Coworkers and I have talked about it before, too…how hard it is to take a compliment. Its a woman thing I think….we are terrible at accepting compliments, but yet we love getting them! Next time G or a coworker complements how I look, or a piece of my clothing, or anything, my goal will be to refrain myself from deflecting the positive statement and just say thank you.

Anyone else have trouble taking compliments? Any ideas on how I can overcome the uncomfort of just saying thanks?