Thursday, December 29, 2011

the one with tacky christmas day

My favorite day of the whole year!! When the ladies of the office dress up in tacky Christmas wear and celebrate Christmas! :) This is the third year of tacky Christmasness in the office and the best participation we've had yet :)

Let's flash back to previous years...

2009 - The first year! My favorite parts: Lori with her coordinating tackiness and the fact that Bonnie participated! :)

2010 - The ladies threw me a surprise wedding shower on Christmas Tacky Day! So so so perfect :)

This year was so fun! We had so many people participating - and even some who couldn't be there, were texting and asking for pictures :) (We especially missed Bonnie, Sue, and Amy!!!)

I took this picture before I left for work so that I could send it to Amy, Bonnie, and Susan. (I'm such a dork)

And here we are in 2011! Look at that awesomely tacky group :)

One more with Amy! I love all the antlers this year..
And my favorite outfit was definitely Sarah's sweater that she HAND MADE - just awesome.

One of my favorite parts of the day was the Santa pin that Heather and I both saved from last year :) 

I love the ladies I work with at my office!! So blessed :) And good golly I love tackiness!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the one featuring christmas at the summit

today is the first christmas service that my church, the summit, is using to celebrate Christmas this year! i couldn't be more excited about all of the preparation, work, and prayer that has gone into these services and i'd love for you to join us! our worship teams and pastors have been working tirelessly for weeks to make these services special, to glorify God, and celebrate the real reason for this season.

they are having 5 services to give people plenty of opportunities to come :) they will all be the same and the seating is limited - first come, first served. here are the service times:

today at 6pm.
tomorrow at 12 & 6pm.
christmas eve at 4 & 6pm.

my family and i will be attending the christmas eve service at 4pm - let me know if you'll be there and id love to see you!

if you already attend the summit and are looking to get more involved - this christmas service is a great opportunity to serve others and get plugged in. it's not too late to sign up - just go to and register to volunteer!

hope to see you there :) so excited to celebrate the birth of Christ!!

for more information, go to or watch this video below...

christmas at the summit from The Summit Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

the one where we're off!

well folks, im outta here for the next few days!! rob and i are taking a trip to NYC for an extended weekend!! we could not be more excited :) this trip is especially special because we are counting it as an early anniversary trip...because, yall, that one year mark is not too far away - crazy!

have a great rest of the week! i'll just probably be standing in front of this sucker with my mouth wide open in awe and amazement :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

the one with mornings

nicole's super tips on how to trick yourself into getting up in the morning::

1. live in a one-bedroom apartment and have your christmas tree on a timer so that when it wakes up, you have no choice but to wake up. NOTE:: this will backfire if your timer malfunctions - if your tree wakes up randomly at 4am, believe me, so will you.

2. when you open your eyes to check the clock, put something funny/interesting/exciting right next to the clock that will make you laugh and/or intrigue you. if you wake up your imagination or your sense of humor, it's harder to go back to sleep.

this little guy would be perfectly hilarious
a jazzercise troll! i dont even know how i found this but i want it.

3. set your alarm to go off every 5 minutes.

ye olde snooze button.

4. get your coffee pot ready the night before and set the timer for it to automatically make coffee when you need to wake up so that the smell of coffee wakes up your tummy.

i heart coffee.

5. if all else fails - just keep sleeping! it's SO worth it! :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

the one with a holiday breather

christmas does something to me. the day after thanksgiving, i get filled to the brim with christmas spirit and it results in a ton of energy, hyper-active productivity and non-stop "doing". in some ways it's good - i get a ton done and i looooove doing christmasy things.

but what rob is helping me to see is that i run.myself.into.the.ground. (dad i know you are shaking your head right now saying "when will you learn, nicole?") i can't tell you how many times my dad (and now my husband) have told me to learn how to sit down and rest. my dad always says that i "burn the candle from both ends". it's a common nicole trait but it gets even worse at christmastime.

so last night, rob forced me to lay down, watch some friends, and relax...and stop:: wrapping presents, cleaning, planning, and making lists :) it was really hard to do but extremely good for me. so i thought i'd take a note from rob and remind each of you to do yourself some good, sit down, drink a cup of hot chocolate, stare at your pretty christmas tree, and just enjoy the season :) it's good for your soul.

need some ideas for how to relax? here are some suggestions :)

hot chocolate with cloud marshmallows

glowy christmas tree

cozy socks

sweet words of truth from Scripture

snuggle up with a classic book :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

the one with crockpot potato soup

another great recipe to share! :) i got this one from my good friend nick's sister (check out leah's blog here). she shared this recipe recently (originally found on pinterest...of course) and seeing as how i LOVE the idea of using my crockpot more often, i saved it and finally tried it last week. it was really yummy and SO easy! i would definitely recommend it!

1 30oz. bag of frozen, shredded hash browns { i used Ore Ida }
3 14oz. cans of chicken broth
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 pkg. cream cheese { don’t use fat free. it won't melt. }

1. in a crockpot, combine everything except for the cream cheese. 
2. cook for 6-8 hours on low heat. 
3. about 1 hour before serving, add cream cheese and keep heated until thoroughly melted. 
4. serve with your choice of toppings { cheese, sour cream, bacon bits, green onions, etc }

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the one featuring "she's better than dreams"

im so thrilled to share that my good friend, jonathan edwards, is releasing a new cd, "she's better than dreams"! it's scheduled to come out 1.10.12 - which is great news...we have less than a month to wait :)

jonathan gave me a sneak peek of his cd and asked me to review it here! my very first cd review on ye olde blog :)

first of all:: jonathan has one of my very favorite voices. and you know im not even lying about that because we asked him (and our other good friend, bethany - another favorite voice) to sing at our wedding ceremony!
JE prepping at the rehearsal dinner

bethany and jonathan singing at our wedding! it was so beautiful

this is jonathan's second cd - and if you're wondering why im talking about about jonathan when it says "aftermath" on the cover...that's his stage name :) and something that is truly exciting to me is that jonathan redid one of my favorite songs on the old cd - airplanes and airwaves. this time is much more mellow and more acoustic. it really shows off jonathan's voice and the great lyrics in this song. i like this version even better than the first.

one thing to listen to on this cd - the lyrics. he really puts so much thought, emotion, and time into all of the words in the songs - it really is poetry put to music.

this cd is about not letting our dreams of perfect people keep us from the beauty & depth we are missing in the people right in front of us. he focuses on not wanting the "woman of his dreams" but wanting the woman he is with in reality... but beneath that is a real truth of how we can become dissatisfied with our real lives, when God has given us SO much beauty & joy in the "real". what a great reminder. (to watch him do a much better job of explaining the title, see his video here.)

this CD was really fun for me to listen to - i found it very soothing and easy. (one of the best compliments i could give - that's what i look for in music, these days.) his lyrics are really catchy and easy to remember because they are so well-written. i love the variety and wide display of styles & instruments - seriously cool.

so check it:
*go here for more information about Aftermath, Jonathan Edwards, and his upcoming CD -

*do you want more info about the man, the legend, JE? Follow @NotThePuritan on Twitter.

*BUY THE ALBUM: set to release January 10, 2012!

*okay, okay - you want more?! check out his first album, "The Aftertaste of Abandonment" -

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the one featuring pretty books & fancy plates

we had another largely successful goodwill trip two weekends ago :) we found three amazing beautiful cloth covered books - but unfortunately i cannot share those here because rob wrapped them up for me for christmas :)

we also found the rest of our china plates (at least to make it through this holiday where it's just the two of us). i LOVE them.

this was our first one

and here are our two new ones! 
light blue pattern

and tan/gold wheat pattern

cant wait to for CHRISTMAS!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the one with all the christmas decorations

Yesterday was my 100th post!! :) Hurray!

What better way to celebrate than by sharing some of my Christmas decorations :) I'm not quite finished yet but I'm happy with the way it is looking so far! Since we are having a pretty tight budget this Christmas, it was fun to think of creative ways to decorate without breaking the bank.

My sweet Mother-in-law gave me this cute little glass tree for my desk at work :) I LOVE IT

My mom always had a beautiful little village that she would expand every Christmas and it was my favorite part of the decorations. This year I could not wait to start our own. We bought two tiny little houses from Walmart and one cathedral from Goodwill. We love them!

The one on the left is a beautiful house (because we are trying to buy a house this year), and the one on the right is a little bakery that we bought because we loved the shape of it :)

Beautiful old radio from Da & Nama Lancaster! We loooove listening to Christmas music on it because it makes us feel like we are in the old days :)

We just got our stockings yesterday! At first I wanted burlap but then we decided that we were both more excited about some that were unique and a mixture of different materials.

Snowman for me because that's my favorite holiday decoration

Santa for Rob because he believes in him. 

Oil lanterns that we bought for our reception! It makes the living room so incredibly homey

Christmas soap dispenser in the guest bathroom :)

New tablecloth and red chargers with our china!

Please note the snowman cookie jar ;) Thanks, Cait! (Yes we did register for this on our wedding registry)

Since we used white lights on the tree...we hung these up for Rob in our bedroom :)

Tiny little teensy tree on my dresser :) I've had this cutie pie since I was in 5th grade!! It was originally from the Dollar Tree - It was cute in it's prime time but now it's just sentimental and makes me laugh at how long I've kept up with it.

Manly man hanging our old fashioned white lights (the ones with the big bulbs!) in our sunroom windows

Can you guess which apartment is ours?

And just for kicks...this is my favorite ornament on my parent's tree - Sarah's homemade Santa. pahaha!

Monday, December 5, 2011

the one featuring corn & cheese chowder

yall. this soup is GOOD. dang good. i made it this past week and me, rob, and my mother-in-law scarfed it down in about 5 minutes. it was so yummy!

per usual - i got this recipe from pioneer woman (gosh i love that woman). it's really easy but makes you feel like an awesome expert cook :) and i made mine a few days ahead and refrigerated it and it was still SO yummy :)

4 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Onion, Chopped
3 slices cooked Bacon, Cut Into Pieces
3 whole Bell Peppers, Finely Diced (red, Yellow, Orange)
5 ears Corn, Kernels Sliced Off
1/4 cup All-purpose Flour
3 cups Chicken Stock Or Broth
2 cups Half-and-half
1 cup (heaping) Grated Monterey Jack
1 cup (heaping) Pepper Jack
1/3 cup Sliced Green Onions
Bread Bowls - optional

Preparation Instructions
In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onions for a couple of minutes. Add bacon and cook for another minute or so, then add diced bell peppers and cook for a couple of minutes. Finally, add corn and cook for a minute.
Sprinkle flour evenly over the top and stir to combine. Pour in broth and stir well. Allow this to thicken for 3 or 4 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Stir in half-and-half, then cover and allow to simmer/thicken for 15 minutes or so.
Stir in cheeses and green onions. When cheese is melted and the soup is hot, check seasonings. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Ladle into hollowed out boules and serve immediately.

for more detailed instructions, see here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

the one with THE tree

the day after thanksgiving hit me with a huge wave of relief - i could finally start celebrating christmas!! :) this year it was especially hard for me to stick to my strict "no christmas before thanksgiving" rule because i just couldn't wait to decorate our first home together for christmas! i almost caved on multiple occasions but somehow made it to that blessed black friday when i could celebrate guilt-free!

step one:: pull out all my christmas socks :)
(this is not all of them, mind you)

then we set out to find THE tree. we actually went to three different tree farms before we found the right place for us. the sketchiest one we went to was in a parking lot off 70E and the lady selling the trees reminded me straight up of estelle from friends so we jetted the heck outta was a creepy place.

we ended up at a sweet little place in brier creek - the guy who sold it to us is from grandfather mountain and is here selling trees for a couple weeks. (if you live in's in the parking lot between kohls and walmart - you should totally buy your tree there)

we decided we could not get a tree that is small because rob is so big

i mean, he could easily step on a little one without ever seeing it.

surveying our options...

our tree - all loaded up and ready to go!

and then we went next door to kohl's and rob bought me the best ornament ever!! obsessed.

now, you should know that we had a HEATED debate for the past year about whether we would put white lights or colored lights on our tree. we even took it to the facebook/twitter world - check it out:

  • as it gets closer to Christmas, I get really excited...but also really nervous bc rob and I still haven't settled the white vs. colored lights debate...

  • Mallory Little likes this.

    • November 14 at 9:50pm ·  ·  1

    • November 14 at 9:52pm ·  ·  1

    • Courtney Little Shelton R u kidding me? That's still going on?! Y'all may need to make an appt w/Caroline or brad...
      November 14 at 9:56pm ·  ·  1

    • Nicole Shields hahaha courtney! thanks for advice but really I just wanna know where your allegiance lies...white or colored?
      November 14 at 9:58pm · 

    • Lauren Baggett oh man biggest holiday disagreement for us!! Let's just say I have won the debate for 5 years in a row...
      November 14 at 10:03pm · 

    • Mallory Brown Which is your preference Nicole? which one did you grow up with? We used white, my fiancĂ© is colored....
      November 14 at 10:36pm · 

    • November 14 at 10:36pm · 

    • Nicole Shields white lights!!! the only way to go :)
      November 14 at 10:36pm · 

    • Mallory Brown I agree!
      November 14 at 10:42pm · 

    • Sally White COLORED.
      November 14 at 10:50pm ·  ·  1

    • Lauren McKay White :)
      November 14 at 10:52pm · 

    • Audra Hodges I do allow some color lights on our back deck... :-) love the white lights in the garland up the stair case and on the tree!
      November 14 at 10:53pm · 

    • Alexis Ridgeway Go white and accessorize with lots of color ornaments- problem solved! Haha : ) missss you!
      November 14 at 11:08pm · 

    • Lisa Gosselin I'm a white light lover too! Im with you, Nicole.....
      November 14 at 11:33pm · 

    • Talia Alley we must have a chat about this tomorrow!!
      November 15 at 12:23am · 

    • Will Krebs Small colored lights... I mean, assuming you guys love Jesus.
      November 15 at 2:45am · 

    • Nicole Shields whoa this is awesome feedback. I'm hearing white lights loud and clear :) YES
      November 15 at 6:48am ·  ·  1

    • Ginger Lancaster Shields i wanted white when i first got married... i was overruled somehow!!! good luck!!
      November 15 at 7:21am · 

    • Rebecca Keegan Stephenson Pat was colored lights. I nipped that in the bud. Do work.
      November 15 at 8:21am ·  ·  1

    • Catherine Charlton White colored lights on the tree. absolutely. white outside.
      November 15 at 8:23am · 

    • Sally White Nicole, you are not hearing white lights loud and clear young lady. Take it back.
      November 15 at 8:47am · 

    • Liz Hill One inside, one outside.
      November 15 at 8:49am · 

    • Kiersten Keegan whoa. why are you talking about the other holiday? Dad would be appalled.
      November 15 at 10:15am · 

    • Linda Leimone decorate 2 trees....
      November 15 at 10:19am · 

    • Kathryn Trice Girl- I understand. This is a big deal!
      November 15 at 11:24am · 

    • Toni Berlandy White... all the way.
      November 15 at 3:24pm · 

    • Nicole Shields okay - sally:: I thought you were classier than that. and thanks to everyone for the helpful compromise suggestions! unfortunately we don't have an "outside" since we are in a 1 bedroom apt but we are throwing around some other less central ideas for the colored lights to be incorporates in a small way :)
      November 15 at 3:26pm · 

    • Helen Stewart Keegan wow - did you touch a chord with this or what? :)


 Nicole Shields 

as it gets closer to christmas I get really excited...but also really nervous bc we still havent settled the white vs. colored lights debate

 Trevor Atwood 

 Why are you a Xmas lights racist?

 Trevor Atwood 

 I have a dream. Xmas lights beauty isn't the color of their shine, but the content of their character. Separate isn't equal

 Jody Porowski 

  if you have to compromise...colored lights on the tree and white everywhere else...

 Jody Porowski 

 can I weigh in?! Sorry RobShields3rd white lights all the way!
 Maggie Haigh 

 you could compromise. Doug and Teri do colored on the inside and white on the outside. You can always turn off the colored.

can you believe how much of a response we got?? pahaha love it! anyway, rob being the giving person that he is decided to let me have white lights on our tree :) he's da best.

we got the lights strung up and rob suggested we put the coke ornament on first :)

i was so excited to find two gifts from last year from one of my favorite families, the thompsons. one was awesome, one was unfortunate. the awesome gift was that i found these ornaments that people decorated for us for our first christmas last winter at a wedding shower that jen threw for me! i was so excited to find them and hang them up on our tree. thanks again, jen!!

the other was a strand of LED colored lights from the thompsons. they are "team colored lights" and wanted rob to win :) let's just say, rob was ecstatic he found them.

so without further ado, here's the finished product! :) i'm in love. every morning when i wake up or at the end of the day when i come home - i can't wait to see it all lit up (we have a timer for the lights so that it comes on when we wake up/come home and shuts off when we go to sleep/leave the apt). it's such a glowy homey pretty christmasy treat!

i made rob take my picture with the tree...
he puts up with alot, ps.

oh christmas tree, oh christmas tree...

ill be back soon with more of our christmas decorations! :)