Christmas Décor Tour (Part III)

Today is the last installment of my Christmas Décor Tour… Let’s check out my latest additions…

- Overview 1


My Literary Tree was an inspired idea based on my own personal reading challenge/goals for the last two years. Each ornament represents a book I have read (not all books make the tree). I have typed and printed a list which details which book each ornament represents and a quote from the book. I made the tree topper, the garland and a few of the ornaments. Here is a closer look at some of the ornaments:

Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
(Another quote from this classic covers the fact that that is indeed a Blue Jay, not a Mockingbird: “Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.
That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”)

Animal Farm
Animal Farm by George Orwell
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Jaws by Peter Benchley
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
“Are you carrying the fire?”

Lord of the Rings
(from TreehouseIllustrator)
Lord of the Rings (trilogy), & The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
“All human wisdom is contained in these two words—wait and hope.”

(series) by Craig Johnson
“I should protect and cherish the young, the old, and the infirm, because at some point I would be all of these things before my own journey ended.” The Dark Horse

The Godfather by Mario Puzo
“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” 

American Sniper
(from Lucky Dog Printing)
American Sniper by Chris Kyle
“The thing we all had in common wasn’t muscle; it was the will to do whatever it takes.”

The Holy Bible
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

(from FredArndtArtworks)
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was,
how much was mine to keep.”


Robertson Books
Good Call by Jase Robertson
Blessed, Blessed…Blessed by Missy Robertson
Happy, Happy, Happy; unPHILtered by Phil Robertson
Si-cology 101 by Si Robertson
“Our founding fathers started this country and built it on God and His Word, and this country sure would be a better place to live and raise our children if we still followed their ideals and beliefs.” Happy, Happy, Happy


If I Stay
If I Stay; Where She Went by Gayle Forman
“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” If I Stay

The last part of this tour brings us back to the reason for the season. This nativity scene is very special to me. It was a 25th birthday gift from my parents; it is all the way from Hawaii. It is made of Tapa cloth, which is made from the inner bark of the Mulberry tree (the bark is beaten with a club until the pulp expands making layered sheets of cloth).

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Every tiny detail of this gift is beautiful!
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“Merry Christmas to all…”


Christmas Décor Tour (Part II)

For the second part of my Christmas Décor Tour I give you, my Aggie Tree.

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This tree has many symbols of my time at university (footballs, basketballs and soccer balls to represent the games I attended; Miss Rev; homemade Fish Camp and bonfire ornaments…)

These are a few of my favorite parts of my Aggie Tree:

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I made this tree topper out of popsicle sticks. I modeled it off of the historic outhouses that topped the traditional Aggie Bonfire. 

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I created this ornament  with a picture I took of my Aggie Ring on a table a Koppe Bridge by the ’13 I carved the night before I graduated. The original “Christmas House” lady is the one who told me about PersonalizationMall.com (and I have ordered several ornaments from them since). They always have great sales going on and they generally have a 15-20% off coupon on RetailMeNot.com (or app).

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These great additions are from the cntrysisters on Etsy.


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This fighter jet represents all of the pre-game (football) flyovers.

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“Put a penny on Sully, and wish me some luck…” –Granger Smith
I found this beautiful piece of Aggieland at the Lucky Dog Printing shop on Etsy! LuckyDog Printing has great customer service and has sent me several promo codes since my original purchase.


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This is also a gem from PersonalizationMall.com. This one is made from a photograph I took at the best football game I have ever attended, Texas A&M University vs. the Nebraska Cornhuskers (11/20/2010). The game was so close, stressful, exciting and fantastic with a final score of 9-6! (After the game the field was stormed by students which are visible at the bottom of this ornament; a photo of the final score board is on the back of this unique treasure.)


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Every year Howdy pins are given out at home football games in Aggieland. I simply looped some ribbon to the pin part to turn my collection to turn them into ornaments, however this year they decorate under the tree.


The next part of our tour is my beautifully handcrafted “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” bedspread my mom made for me last year. Isn’t it beautiful?!

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Dr. Seuss’ whole story,
from “Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot…” to
“He himself, the Grinch, carved the roast beast”,
is told in its iconic illustrations around the perimeter of the quilt.

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I found Max here.
P.S. – The ornament and quote pillows are backed in green and white houndstooth
(does my mom know me or what?!)

P.P.S. – I made the matchstick train at the top of this post in 2014.

 The last installment of Christmas Decor Tour is next Friday,
and I have saved some of the best parts for last.
Have a great weekend!


Christmas Décor Tour (Part I)

Late in 2013 my grandma was having some health problems so I spent the end of that November and the majority of that December staying with her. One of my favorite parts of that time I spent with her was our trip (with about twenty other little old ladies from her church group) to the next town over; there we visited the house of a very sweet woman with a fantastically immense collection of Christmas decorations. The moment I walked into her home I could feel the warmth of the season, along with her radiating joy for the opportunity to share her carefully curated collection with others.

While my grandma found it a bit tacky (due to her penny-pinching tendencies), I fell in love and quickly developed a desire to have a “Christmas House” of my own. Before we left, I had a chance to speak with the quirky collector; we instantly bonded over our love of Christmas and our familial connections to Texas A&M University.

I already had a few Christmas decorations from my years at university, but now I finally had something to really collect and a glittering vision in my mind. This month I am going to share some of my favorite pieces of my collection.

It is no secret that I love a good black and white houndstooth print. I found this adorable houndstooth reindeer in December of 2013 at Hobby Lobby; I was just beginning my collection for “My Christmas House”.

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In 2014 my mom saw these cute houndstooth moose, this perfectly plump houndstooth Santa, and presents for me!

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        Before my grandiose aspirations, my Christmas decoration collection revolved around a jingle bell theme, and for the most part it still does. When I first started picking out decorations I needed my own special niche – my mom has a very impressive Santa collection and my sister collects snowmen. Here are a few of my favorite jingle bell pieces…

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Expectations (Great or Otherwise)

a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen
-a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be

Sometimes things go perfectly (swimmingly, if you will).
Sometimes things don’t go your way.
Sometimes things just don’t go as you expected.

One year ago (yesterday) I launched this blog, with the goal for OKW to have 50 followers by the end of one year (a goal I expected to meet, if not exceed). As of now this blog has 46 followers. I do not see this as a failure; I see it as an opportunity to be grateful. I am thankful for each of those 46 followers who find interest in the quotes and thoughts I share.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorite books. I re-read it last week to gear up for the release of Harper Lee’s new (old) book, “Go Set a Watchman”. To say the least (the very least) I did not enjoy “Go Set a Wachman”. To be honest, it simply did not live up to the expectations that one has after reading an American classic that can stir various emotions in you, make you cry, laugh, think, a book filled with wisdom and a wonderful role model. I would not recommend “Go Set a Watchman” to anyone; without giving too much away, it challenges the vivid and inspirational characterization of Atticus Finch and changed my view of Miss Jean Louise (Scout) Finch. If you want to read some of Harper Lee’s writing, do yourself a favor and re/read the story that will exceed your expectations, “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

Thirteen years ago last Wednesday I was out running errands with my mom. We were having a good time and would never have expected that we would end the day in the ICU of Children’s Medical Center of Dallas (now Children’s Health). My mom never expected to be told that she should tell her 11 year old daughter “good bye” (because that little girl was not expected to live through the night)… But I defied expectations, had a nephrectomy a month later and have now lived more than half of my life as “The One Kidney Wonder” (hence the name of this blog).

Sometimes your expectations are not met.
Sometimes your expectations are exceeded.

My Top 10 (Apps Edition)

I wanted to share with you my top 10 FREE apps:

Top Apps

1. Waterlogged – Helps me keep track of my daily water intake (hydration is important for everyone… Love your kidney(s)!)

2. Pandora – Create up to 100 radio stations for your favorite music artists and hear your favorite and similar songs

3. RetailMeNot – Awesome deal, great coupons for many stores

4. Life360 – Keep track of your loved ones, great for when family members are on a road trip

5. Grocery iQ – Makes grocery shopping so much easier (family members can add what they need to the list)

6. Twitter – Mobile thought sharer with a 140 character limit/challenge

7. Instagram – Mobile picture sharer with artsy filters

8. Pinterest – Mobile dream closet, house, and eye candy lists!

9. Words HD Free – I love Words With Friends!

10. Candy Crush – Yes, I’m addicted to that too!



Self-doubt is problem that everyone encounters at some point or another.  While women regularly face social pressures about the way they look, the number they see when they step on the scale and their actions, self-doubt does not discriminate based on gender.  When I was younger and would become the victim of my own negative thoughts, my mother would tell me to make a list of FIVE things I love about myself. Over the years my list has changed, many times. I now keep my list in the corner of my mirror, where I see it every morning when I get ready for the day.

10 Things Love Blog

I love quotes and these gems are all worth keeping in mind…

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” –Lucille Ball

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”  – Buddha

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcolm S. Forbes

“I think everybody’s weird. We should all celebrate our individuality and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it.” – Johnny Depp

And always remember,

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


What are the five, or ten, things you love most about yourself?