Tax Prep Giveaway

As you may or may not know, my husband runs AG1 Financial, a tax and accounting firm here in Jacksonville, and he is offering FREE 2014 tax prep* for anyone in the United States and even most citizens abroad! That’s right, you read that correctly, he is a licensed Enrolled Agent able to handle anyone anywhere and not just the folks in our home state! Be sure to enter the giveaway by using the Rafflecopter entry form on the AG1 Financial blog post or via the Giveaway tab on their Facebook page.

But that’s not all! For every person that you refer to AG1 Financial and who uses them for tax prep this year will gain you an entry into a drawing for a $50 gift card to Bonefish Grill*. AND… the person who refers the most people to use AG1 Financial for tax prep this year will win a 16GB iPad Air*! You read that correctly. An iPad! So, what are you waiting for!?! Go over to AG1 Financial’s Facebook page and enter the Giveaway. Don’t forget tell your friends!

*Tax prep valued up to $150. Gift card valued at $50. iPad Air valued at $399. You will be issued a 1099 to claim the prize winnings. For more information visit the AG1 Financial website.

New Year – New Goals

Hello everyone and I hope that you’ve had a wonderful extended holiday. Craig and I were able to spend some time with our family and were able to start on yet another construction project so I’d say it was a pretty good holiday in my book. I’m back today with a post on, what else, new year goal setting.

January is typically a time of year in which we take a moment to reflect on the past year, the good and the bad, and make new goals for the coming year. I’ve decided to set 5 goals for the year 2015. I feel that by keeping these goals broad I’m better able to make them a reality. I know myself and I know that I routinely fail. Instead of focusing on the challenges negatively I’m going to use them to my advantage. So, here goes:

  1. Focus on Christ – First, and foremost, I plan on really renewing my relationship with Christ. Through daily reading, my small group, and church attendance I hope to make some new habits that have a life long effect. Starting this month I have been daily reading in an app called She Reads Truth. This app makes it super easy to stay in the word on a daily basis and it has a wonderful graphic at the end of each reading to share through social media as a way to hold yourself better accountable and to share God’s goodness and grace. I really enjoy the format and I pray to make this become habit. In addition to She Reads Truth, I’m leading my small group (aka Life Group) in the Beth Moore study of Esther. This is a study I have done before years ago and I’m looking forward to doing again with my group. I pray that God uses me for these women and their hope in Him. Also, I’m still involved in the Disciple study that goes through May this year so I’ve got a lot of ways to really make my relationship with Christ more intentional.
  2. Nurture Relationships – I feel like this goal really goes along well with my number one goal this year. In 2015 I really want to work more on strengthening my relationships with my husband, my family, and even more so, my friends. It is so easy to get caught up in daily life that I let my relationships fall by the wayside. Like I mentioned with my first goal, being more intentional means that I’m really making time for what is important. Last year, the deaths of both of my fathers really brought home the importance of relationships. I’m going to work harder on strengthening my relationship with my husband by daily making time for his needs. Whether it is as simple as being more diligent with my cleaning or making more time for physical affection, I plan on making him a priority. I want to be sure that we are setting ourselves up for success with a long and healthy marriage. In addition, Craig and I have talked at length about focusing on our friendships this year and making time to clear our schedule for our friends. We can get so busy at times that we’ve gone a whole month and haven’t spent time with anyone but ourselves. Well, this year we want to change. I want to make sure to take more time for my mom this year and I want to visit my grandparents more. Hopefully this goal will make a lasting change in our lives.
  3. Healthy Living – This past December I started taking classes at my local Pure Barre and I’ve really enjoyed the workout it gives me. I’m enjoying the classes and their varied but yet consistent nature. In addition to remaining in a workout routine for 2015 I am going to continue my healthy living by really working on my diet. I’ve decided this year that I will no longer be drinking soda (specifically dark soda). I know that if I eliminate Coca Cola Classic completely from my diet I will need something to wean me off it’s deliciousness so if I find myself somewhere (like a drive through) where I feel the need to order a soda I will order a Sprite. If y’all know me it’s how much I love a good Coke. The real thing … no diet! I drink them rarely because we don’t keep soda in the house. We know how bad sodas are for you so we treat them as special occasion drinks. With that being said, this year I plan on eliminating them entirely. Craig and I are going to try and get pregnant this year so my health is even more important now. We already do a pretty good job with our health but I plan on stepping it up with diet and exercise and regularly taking my prenatal vitamins.
  4. Better my Budget – Okay, so this is a tough one. This year I’m really going to work on my saving and spending habits. I like to think that Craig and I are pretty good at this already (at least he is) but I know that with a baby coming we really need to step up our game. I’m one of those people who really HATE to budget. Not that I can’t live with a budget, just that I hate tracking and dealing with all the math! It’s easy for me because Craig and I took a look at expenses and we have put me on a cash diet to keep my spending in check but I still find times that I’m swiping my Amex or not really knowing what I’ve spent my money on that past month. This year I want to be more conscious of the whole process and to be more active in pursuing better spending habits. We want to make sure we’re setting ourselves up financially in the best possible way, especially with a future child in the picture. Seeing as my husband is an accountant this goal is a very real one for us.
  5. Personal Development – Finally, I really want to work on myself both professionally and personally. I don’t have time to re-enroll in graduate school this year but that doesn’t mean I can’t make time to pick up Fluenz again. I want to keep my brain sharp and focus on that passion I have for life-long learning. I hope to make more time this year to really keep my mind active and engaged and less focused on trivial pursuits. I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook that could be better used by completing a Spanish lesson or even just reading a good book! Also, I want to make more time for this blog. I find that writing is a good outlet for me and I like to share my life with y’all. It’s not a matter of finding time but of making time. This year I want to really make more time for the things that make me a better person and this is a good place to start.

So, what about y’all. What are your goals for this year? Do you have any do-overs from last year that you’d like another shot at? Are you setting just one big goal or many small goals? I’d love to know what’s in store for you for 2015!

MissCaron

5 Fun Christmas Songs

Hello there! Rounding out the three days of Christmas music I’m sharing with you 5 of the songs that really make me sing along and smile. They’re songs you may not know since they’re not very often played on the radio. I hope you’re enjoying this season and I hope you’re enjoying this music collection.

First, I’d be remiss to not include a Charlie Brown Christmas song. Although Christmastime Is Here is not necessarily a song to get you moving it definitely brings back warm memories of my childhood and I pray it does the same for you. If you haven’t taken time to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, you should take time to do so. You won’t be disappointed.

Next up, Round and Round the Christmas Tree by the wonderful Bing Crosby. “Wishing, hoping, boxes to open but we agree it’s right to wait. Turkey and dressing, after the blessing and there’s just a night to wait. ‘Round and ’round the Christmas tree opening presents with the family. One for you and two for me oh, what a Christmas Day.”

My third choice to share is a lovely tune by June Christy, The Merriest. Sometimes they play the Frank Sinatra version on the radio but I prefer hers. “Friends for the loners. A song for the singers. Grins for the groaners. Make the day the nothing can compariest. Have the most, the merriest!”

Fourth, Button Up Your Overcoat by Dick Haymes. I can almost guarantee you haven’t heard this one. Originally recorded by Ruth Etting in 1929 and made popular by Helen Kane (inspiration for the voice of cartoon character Betty Boop), this song was re-recorded by Dick Haymes during a 1940s radio telecast. I love the improv in this song and although it’s not technically very Christmas-y, it’s still one of my favorites.

Finally, one of my favorite Christmas tunes of all times, Jingle Bell Cha Cha by Pearl Bailey. I’ve probably shared this song before but I just can’t help it. I seriously feel compelled to dance whenever I hear this tune! I love how she sounds happy-drunk and just having the time of her life. Pearl Bailey is fantastic.

Bonus: I’m including another Pearl Bailey song, Five Pound Box Of Money. This song cracks me up. I just love her and this is hilariously fun! “Now there’s a little gift that’s loaded with lots of sentiment. See, when I get blue, Santa I’m gonna think of you but at the same time have a little change to pay my rent.”

5 Favorite Christmas Songs by Christian Artists

 

I hope today is joyous and you are surrounded by friends, family, and loved ones. Today I wanted to share with you 5 of my favorite Christmas songs by Christian artists. These songs have really stood out to me this year and are ones I find myself playing over and over.

First up, Baby Boy by for King & Country. If you haven’t heard of this band you must look them up and listen to their music. Shoulders is perhaps one of my favorites they sing but they’re all pretty awesome. “See, the King is coming down And He’s here without a crown. The Baby Boy without a bed Giving life back to the dead. And hear the angels shout it out As the people come and bow. Unexpected majesty Alleluia, what a King.”

Next, I’m really digging Selah (featuring Plumb) singing Mary Sweet Mary. This is such a sweet song. “Mary, sweet Mary, so strong, yet so frail… carried a baby sent to save the world. Wise men will seek Him and find in Him peace. Mary, sweet Mary, tonight your King is born.”

Then, I just have to share with you Only at Christmastime by Sufjan Stevens. Although he does not identify as a Christian artist, Sufjan’s music tends to have a religious theme and he has identified himself as a Christian. It can be a tough world out there for musicians and no one wants to be pigeon-holed. “Only to bring you peace… Only the King of Kings.”

The fourth song I’m sharing is I Need A Silent Night by Amy Grant. “December comes then disappears faster and faster every year.” I’ve been a fan of Amy Grant for a long time. I especially love her Home For Christmas CD. This song is off her album, The Christmas Collection but it’s a song that I just adore. This season can be so busy and we can get so distracted from the true meaning of the season. This song is a reminder to slow down.

Finally, I really enjoy listening to The Heart Of Christmas by Matthew West. This is one of those songs that really makes you think about your priorities this season. “Wherever you are, no matter how far come back to the heart, the heart of Christmas. Live while you can, cherish the moment. The ones that you love, make sure they know it. Don’t miss it, the heart of Christmas.”

I pray that each and every one of you experiences the joy of our Saviors birth. God bless you and yours.

Top 5 Christmas Songs You May Not Know

Hey y’all! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I hope you have a spectacular day tomorrow. For fun I thought I’d share with you my top 5 favorite Christmas songs you may have never heard.

First up, Sara Bareilles (who, if you don’t know you really need to) sings the most amazing Christmas song called Love is Christmas. She has the best voice and this song has such a great message. “Love is not a toy, and no paper will conceal it. Love is simply joy that I’m home.”

Next we have Mindy Smith singing It Really Is (A Wonderful Life). “Oh, but this year is different for you and for me… our own little miracle, on our own little street. Never before have I loved ‘Silent Night’ so but now that you’re here by my side… baby, it is, baby, it is, it really is a wonderful life.”

The third song I want to introduce you to is Under That Christmas Spell by Tim Halperin. You may remember him from American Idol. Also, y’all KNOW how I feel about some Charlie Brown. “We could take a walk outside tonight and look at all the Christmas lights… Or we could just sit back on the couch watching Frosty and Charlie Brown.”

Fourth is Rosie Thomas singing Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year. I really like the tune. It’s quite catchy. “Later we’ll make New Years Resolutions we’ll forget…”

Finally I want to share Spotlight on Christmas by Rufus Wainwright. “People love the working man who does the best that he can. But don’t forget all the horses and toys never could fix the poor, little, rich boys.”

Christmas has, in my opinion, become over-commercialized. We’ve strayed from the original meaning and purpose. The spotlight is certainly shining on us. Let us love one another as He commanded and let the peace of Christmas dwell in our hearts.