Caps and Gowns, New Haircuts, and Celebrations

Between graduating OT school, celebrating my one year anniversary with John, going to some fantastic Christmas parties and making time for trying some new recipes (all while balancing studying for my boards), I have been busy!

When we returned from our long bout of travel the week before last, I decided to bake a new cookie recipe. Even though I was exhausted from trekking across the country, I had missed the taste of home cooked meals and the joy of baking. The recipe turned out great and was a delicious mix of salty and sweet.

Sweet & Salty Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup pretzel sticks (broken into thirds)
1/2 cup caramel bits
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter w/sugars. Add egg and vanilla. In another bowl mix salt, baking soda, and flour. Slowly mix wet and dry mixture together. Fold in pretzels, chocolate chips and caramel bits. Spoon onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-12 minutes on 350.

Last weekend was quite the weekend. On Friday John I were lucky enough to attend our friend Becca's fabulous Christmas party. Costumes were strongly suggested. So, John and I dressed as some of our favorite Christmas characters- The Polar Express and its conductor of course!

 On Saturday I officially graduated from occupational therapy school. I still have my boards looming ahead, but I am so happy to say that I am a graduate!

I was so happy that my friends and family came up to celebrate. After graduation, Elizabeth (my very best friend who is more like a sister) joined John and me for lunch at one of my favorite Birmingham restaurants- Saw's Juke Joint. I have to admit, there was something about being all dressed up and eating messy BBQ wings. That night John's side of the family took me out for dinner. It was such a special day spent with people whom I love.

The very next day John and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary. It's hard to believe that a whole year has passed since I said "I do" and became Mrs. Lyles. While the year has flown by, it has been the best year yet! That morning we woke up and cooked a homemade brunch that included homemade blueberry danishes and sausage stuffed with egg and covered in cheese. Yum! Since the traditional gift for the first anniversary is paper, I made John a book that included photos telling the tale of our first year. John also followed the paper theme by giving me the sweetest letter along with paper clues that led me to find two tickets for the Alabama Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker. We finished off the day by eating year old wedding cake (which suprisingly wasn't half bad) and drinking a glass of wedding wine.

On Tuesday, I decided that it was a time for a change. So, I cut my long curly locks off. While I thought it would be a lot to get used to, I have loved it so far.

That evening, I was thrilled to cohost a Ready to Pop baby shower for my beautiful sister in law Kelly. There were balloons, soda pop and all other fun themed things including my first go at cake "pops" and snap, crackle, "pop" bars. I can't believe that I will be a new aunt once again come January! John and I are so happy for Kelly and Jason and can not wait to meet sweet baby William.

The very next day John and I hit the road again for another interview. I can't wait to share about it come March! Rather than going on our usual week long journeys, we were only gone for two days this time. Upon returning we made it just in time to spend Friday evening at a christmas party thrown by our sweet friends and ex neighbors, Cara and Major. We were exhausted from our travels, but it was more than worth it.

Saturday morning, we hit the road again for yet another Christmas party. This time we headed to my home town of Oneonta for my mother's sunday school party. That evening, John treated me to dinner and drinks at La Paz and dessert at Steel City before heading to see the Nutcracker! It was such a wonderful performance. It even snowed on the audience at one point in the show! How fun is that?

With all of the hustle and bustle, John and I decided to take today pretty easy. Sometimes it feels good to just do nothing and heck, even sitting on the couch and studying felt pretty relaxing! Tonight at church we were asked to do something very special- light the advent candle together as a couple. It was such a special moment and a perfect way to help us remember to slow down and enjoy this glorious season.


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