Thanks for the fun, 2015!

2015 is a year I will never ever forget.

From marrying my best friend to moving into our first place together to watching him walk the graduation stage at the University of Florida to adopting our puppy… Oh, I could go on and on and on…

I’m so lucky to be living this life and a happily forever after with my one and only. Cheers to the exciting year that has passed and to another round of memories for 2016!!

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PS: This picture is special to me because it’s one of my 2015 highlights. While everyone at our wedding reception was lining up outside for our grand exit as Mr. and Mrs., Ryan and I enjoyed a final, private dance to one of my favorite songs. Pure joy; a moment we will both cherish forever!!

Happy New Year, friends!

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A very merry Christmas

Another holiday season has come and gone… Can you believe it?

This one was extra special not only because it was our first as Mr. and Mrs., but Ryan and I were also able to host my parents and grandparents in our own home in our favorite little beach town.

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During December, Wilmington afternoons typically run into the mid-50s and the nights usually drop into the mid-30s. The one year… the ONE year… we’re able to have Christmas somewhere other than the Sunshine State, the entire East Coast is experiencing the WARMEST December 25 on record.

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It seems as if the Floridians brought the heat up with them.

ILM Airport hit 79° on Christmas Eve, which broke the 78° record from 1879; 80° on Christmas Day, which broke the 77° record from 1955; and 79° on December 27, which broke the 77° record from 1875!

Records in Wilmington only go back to 1874, so today’s (Dec. 27) 140-year-old record is about as old as what can possibly be broken here! INSANE! Right?

And if you thought the warm weather was the only thing unusual, think again. For 2015, Wilmington is STILL about 14.50″ ABOVE normal for yearly precipitation. Thanks, El Nino.

Back to my family’s visit…

We decorated Christmas cookies (even though we only have evidence of us eating them…), played card games around the kitchen table, opened gifts and laughed for hours, took the puppy to the beach, soaked up the cool AC while watching the Family Feud marathon on TV, spent time on the Cape Fear River downtown and simply enjoyed one another’s company.

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I also worked a couple of days while they were here, but of course I have the greatest co-workers who help make working around holidays seem like a piece of cake!

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Oh, and did you see the FULL MOON? It was the first one to rise on Christmas Day since 1977. The next one? Yep, it won’t be until 2034.

I loved how the skies cleared just enough for all of us to stand outside and admire it for a while! It’s the little things…

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Well, all good things have to come to an end… At least that’s what everyone tells me.

Is anyone else terrible at goodbyes? I always try to remember to instead say, “See you soon!”

It’s hard.

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They’re so far away – physically – but the memories we always make together mean so much more. Even though they’re back in FL and the wrapping paper and presents are all put away, my home feels a little happier thanks to their visit.

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Ryan and I are so blessed – for family, good health, our jobs, our fur babies and every day we get to see the sunshine. I get lost when thinking of all of the amazing things that happened in 2015 and we’re both looking forward to see what 2016 has to offer!

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I say it every year, but life truly gets sweeter with time… especially because of the people I have by my side, near and far.

I hope you had a very merry Christmas. I know I sure did and it’s one I will never forget.

I wish you nothing but the best for the New Year. Cheers!

XOXO – Lauren

Gingerbread Wishes

The goal was simple: Host a gingerbread house competition to support Make-A-Wish Eastern NC. The planning and execution? Well, that took some work, but with the help of some friends and an amazing, tight-knit community we made it work all within two weeks notice… and boy, was it worth it!

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A little back story for you- It’s never been a huge family tradition to make gingerbread houses and, frankly, I never really had the time to think about it (or so I thought…)!

That all changed in 2014 when I met Katie Hicks.

Katie is a special person. Her kind heart, determination and positive attitude was contagious when I met her during one of my reporting shifts. So, we kept in touch.

This year, she came up with the brilliant idea to host a gingerbread house competition in order to benefit my WISH Champion campaign for Make-A-Wish. It would be an event for all ages; something to get everyone in the Christmas spirit!

Once Janis Netherland with the local Make-A-Wish chapter heard of our idea, she kicked me into planning mode and off we went…never looking back… with less than a month to brainstorm!

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My WISH Campaign goal is $7,500 which is the average cost of one wish. These wishes make the world better and they help brighten a world of a child fighting a life-threatening medical condition.

Personally, I strive to spread the smiles in every aspect of my life. After working with several local with children and their families in Wilmington, I knew Make-A-Wish was one way I wanted to give back- to help grant other wishes.

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“Gingerbread Wishes” was born one night inside a Port City Java. Four women, including myself, sat for hours and brainstormed the perfect event with all of the bells and whistles. However, many pieces were missing:

  • Where do we host it?
  • How do we get enough money for cookies?
  • How will we advertise?
  • Who can help with prizes for winners?

Well, even though we had our doubts, all of those questions seemed to work themselves out. After talking with local businesses and other people in the community, it was incredible to see just HOW MUCH everyone wanted to GIVE!

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My heart was bursting with happiness. “Gingerbread Wishes” was happening!

The entries started trickling in as cookies for decorating, signs for advertising and a storefront in the mall were all donated. Happy, happy me!

Then, I wondered… I hope people show up… I hope people don’t think this is silly… I hope this is all worth it!

Now, I think… What was I worried about? Wilmington always pulls through!

Over $2,000 was donated in just three days. Hundreds of children decorated cookies, voted for their favorite gingerbread house and danced to Christmas music in our little storefront. And every parent that walked out of “Gingerbread Wishes” that week thanked me.

The most exhausting couple of weeks was worth every single second – every ounce of sleep I lost, every minute my back ached, every time someone turned me down for a donation (tough crowd, ya know!), every giggle I heard from the kids making memories with family and every penny that was put into the donation jar from December 15 through December 17.

If this is what it takes to spread the smiles… and to help bring some happiness into a child’s life that has been overcome by cancer… then yes… it’s ALL worth it. Every bit of it!

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Thank you to everyone who chipped in for our first “Gingerbread Wishes.” Maybe next year we can make this even bigger, better and help grant even more wishes. I can tell you Katie is already sending me ideas! 😉

This wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the Wilmington community.

Cheers… to granting wishes!

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

XOXO