Farewell 2013, Hello 2014!

Happy New Year!! It’s amazing how quickly a year can pass us by. 2013 was a big year for me personally. I started a new job in my field, got engaged to my best friend, spent more time with my family and reconnected with old friends. It was year with many ups and a few downs but never the less a great year at that. I am proud of the things I have accomplished and the goals I continue to work towards. 2013 was a year of growth. Like every year, I strived to become more financially stable, something not many young adults can admit. I also tapped into my inner chef and began experimenting in the kitchen launching my blog segment “Cooking My Way Through Pinterest.” It helped me branch out from the normal chicken and rice or pasta we had been cycling for the past 3 years! Overall, 2013 was a great year filled with moments and memories that will last a lifetime!

2014 is looking to be a big year! I turn 25 in just twenty days and with that I will be considering what my quarter life crisis should be. Don’t worry, it won’t be a sports car or an extreme hair color change-I’ve grown out of that phase! More than likely it will be a change in attitude and outlook on life. A positive outlook on life and the obstacles that come along the way. This year will be filled with moments I am sure to remember for the rest of my life. I will be marrying my best friend in the fall surrounded by family and close friends. Marriage is a journey that Judd and I are ready to begin. It is also a joining of our two families as one.

In terms of resolutions, I want to work on being a better person. A better daughter, sister, girlfriend/wife, friend and coworker. Every year is a chance to make things better and what better way then to start on January 1. Happy New Year friends and followers! Your support means so much to me!

Shannon Judd Esess-156

 

Photo by the talented Steph Owens Photography.

Happy Holidays

It is so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle that is the holiday season. From the start of the season I was determined to avoid holiday stresses and just enjoy the season for what it is really about, family. My family comes together each year on Christmas Eve to indulge in the festivities. We are a goofy bunch but it makes things all the more merrier. Below are a few photos from this past week:

IMG_9734

My cousins and I.

IMG_9753

My family plus Judd. :)

IMG_9825

All of the cousins.

IMG_9983

Sibling picture plus Connor our golden. :)

I could not have asked for a better Christmas. Spending time with my family was the best present of all! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays.

Giving Thanks

What is better than family, food and parades? Being thankful. Today is all about being thankful. So what are the things I am most thankful for?

My Family. Even though I won’t be with them today, I am thankful for my supportive family. They are the reason I am who I am today. They may seem crazy but I wouldn’t trade them for the world!

 

My Job. After an emotionally draining past few days of work I am still thankful to have a job. I love being able to work with animals even in their time of need. I’m also thankful for my coworkers who boost my confidence even on the tough days!

 

My Education. There is something so humbling about having an education. This year I accomplished my life goal of graduating with my Bachelor’s degree. Even though I am not in a career that utilizes my degree yet, it still makes me feel proud to have earned my education. It also motivates me to continue working hard towards a future for myself.

 

My friends. They certainly have come and gone but the ones that remain mean the most to me. No matter how far away we may all live from each other I will always cherish our friendships no matter what.

My love, Judd. It is amazing to me that someone could love me so much. It hasn’t been easy at times dealing with life’s roller coaster and juggling things on top of a relationship but we manage to do it gracefully. I am so thankful for our almost two years together and look forward to many more to come!

Instead of panicking about the upcoming holiday’s, I will continue to be thankful even after today. There is so much in life to be grateful for and so is a life itself. Take time out of your day and think of all you are thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving, readers!

 

Twenty-Three’s a Charm

This weekend I surpassed another birthday-my 23rd. I’ve been dreading it for the last few months even though it’s not at all old. But I’ve accomplished a lot in the last 23 years.

  • I have traveled across the country.
  • My hobby of photography grew to a passion.
  • I made some terrific friends.
  • I earned two associates degrees: one in photography and one in general education which were both honors. I will also be graduating with my Bachelor’s this spring.
  • Fell in love with the man of my dreams. (Cheesy but true.)
  • All the while doing these things, I rocked some awesome heels!

My birthday was wonderful. Judd took me to Saint Augustine and we stayed at a bed and breakfast. My parents met us the next day for shopping and lunch. Even though my brother couldn’t make it, I still really enjoyed my birthday. I love my parents and my Judd. They really made this year special!

Mom, Me, and Judd

Dad, me, and Judd.

Judd and I at the fort.

Pirate Jail!

Pennsylvania. Home Sweet North.

Monday December 26th, 2011

The day after Christmas, Judd and I boarded a plane to Philadelphia to visit his aunt, uncle, and his cousins. They reside in the beautiful town of West Chester. We arrived December 26th to 40 degree weather and sunshine which welcomed us as we stepped out of the airport. We met up with Judd’s brother Ryan, who flew in on a separate flight. We headed back to his families house and had a wonderful turkey dinner which also included sweet potato, stuffing, and rolls.

Tuesday December 27th, 2011

Rainy and cold weather in West Chester, so we opted to go bowling with the cousins. Everyone did fairly well considering we didn’t use bumpers but bowled with kiddie bowling balls! We then took a trip to Red Robin for some grub and the mall to blow the rest of our afternoon. Malls in the north seem a lot more equipt then malls in the south. Our malls don’t have all the good stores! That night we had leftover turkey and played an intense game of Baulderdash- a game were everyone gets a person, place, abreviation, or thing and has to make up a description/definition for each. We managed to come up with some funny abbreviations!

One thing I love about PA is the calm evenings. Everyone winds down with their PJ’s on by 6pm and relaxes for the evening. We sat in the living room and looked through old photographs of everyone including some cute ones of Judd. :) It’s nice to revisit those memories as a family and to introduce loved ones to the memories.

Wednesday December 28th, 2011-Day Trip to the Poconos.

We woke up early Wednesday and put on the layers we could manage to road trip to the Poconos for snow tubbing. It was a 2 hour drive with a Pit Stop near Easton, PA for an Auntie Anne’s run. (Pretzels are BIG in PA, where they were invented.) We got to the Shawnee Mountain Ski Resort around noon but missed the 1pm snow tubbing deadline. We would have to wait until 5:30pm or leave. We figured since we drove all the way up there we would kill time until then. Piled into the Honda Pilot, we ventured 30 minutes down the road for Big Daddy’s BBQ which was a unique BBQ place with decent sweet tea for a northern location! We grabbed lunch and drove around East Stroudsburg, where Arianna would apply for grad school. Enough time was killed to get us back to the mountain with an hour to spare. We watched Skiers and Snowboarders fly down the faux snow mountain since there was only a 20% chance of snow. We took pictures and got our gear ready for snow tubbing.  Here is a photo of Judd and I before the tubbing commenced.

Judd and I at Shawnee Mt.

We were at Shawnee Mt. until 8pm the night and there was a 2 hour drive home. Conditions predicted we may hit light snow on the way home so we stayed alert. We were about 30 minutes into our journey home when Arianna and Aunt Sue spotted snow…very small tiny crystal-like snow. I couldn’t see it at first but you could look into on the northbound traffic’s headlights and see specks. It was beautiful. When we got home we noticed that it had snowed in West Chester while we were away. The backyard was lightly dusted with white powder. I was hysterical! No I did not see it fall but I was so happy to see that it was on the ground. I had never seen snow before so I was ecstatic! I grabbed my camera and snapped a bunch of photos. Here is what I saw: Snow!

That night the weather channel forecast snow around 1pm the next day. Judd set his alarm so he could wake us up and check the snow out. Sadly, it did not snow but the thought of it was nice!

Thursday December 29th, 2011

Arianna, Judd, and I journeyed to the King of Prussia Mall..yes P-Russia! It is the largest mall in land mass and happens to be located 20 min. out side of West Chester. We drooled over Tiffany’s and Tori Burch but managed to walk away with money still in our bank accounts! That night we went to Downtown West Chester to pub hop. We ate dinner and settled in to one of the local bars, Landmark. Arianna and I had fruity martinis and Judd opted for a Corona. We had a blast!

Friday December 30th, 2011Relaxing at Landmark. :)

We spent Friday inside to prepare for the busy day we had to come on Saturday. We relaxed on the couch and watched home movies of the kids when they were little. It was wonderful!

Saturday December 31st, 2011

The final day of 2011! Arianna and I went to get our nails done then went out to California Tortilla  with the boys. We got back in time to take a quick nap and practice greek dancing for the Greek festival NYE party that night. It was pretty funny to watch the guys greek dance! Poor Judd kept stepping all over himself and I kept tripping over my heals. It was entertaining watching us all greek dance in the living room. We then got our best dresses and ties, did hair and make up, and took photos of the group dressed to the nines! We were a sharp looking group! I will post a photo here and a few of them in a separate post.

The girls. :)

Judd and I on N

That night we drove to the outskirts of of Philly to the Upper Darby where the Greek Orthodox church was. Greek music was playing and food was slowly being served. We drank Greek wine, Retsina, and awaited the new year. Dinner wasn’t Greek at all but the music was amazing! As soon as the clock struck midnight, we danced! I danced as many greek dances as I knew which was only about 2 and a freestyle which is usually where we dance however we want. Judd and I freestyled and even danced with his aunt and uncle. I danced so much my feet were numb from my shoes! I started to get tired around 2pm but the guys were getting into the festival. Uncle Nick bought the boys Ouzo-which was not well received by any of them! We left around 3am and didn’t get to bed until 4am!

Judd and I at NYE :)

Sunday January 1st, 2012

A day of recovery..not that we drank all that much the night before. But let me tell you, greek dancing until 3 in the morning is tiring! We spent the day relaxing and packing for our unfortunate flight home the next day. We went through photos of the trip on the computer and talked about how wonderful our time was on vacation. It was a bitter sweet day. Judd and I had enough time to take a walk to the local park down the street. We went into an abandon building and took some photos of how beautiful the landscape was. It was refreshing. That night we gathered around the dinner table for a delicious homemade spaghetti dinner.

Monday January 2nd, 2012

We woke up early to rush out the door for breakfast with the family minus Nicholas since he started back at class for the semester. The drive was way too short and the goodbye was too soon. We left Judd’s family at the security check point and I teared up. We boarded our packed flight on time and taxied to the runway. We took off and as soon as I could unclench my eyes from being shut, I glanced down out the window at the ground below me. Little Pennsylvania towns. Bare trees. All disappearing as we rose through the clouds. I cried. I couldn’t help myself. I was so sad to leave. We had a bumpy flight home but made it right on time where my father picked us up.

This trip was by far the best trip I have ever been on.  Family was really the most important reason for this trip, not my blood related family, but of someone I love. I one day hope that I can call them family for good. I already feel like I am a part of this wonderful family. :)