Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days Recap & Bridier Baubles Discount Code!

Guys. I cannot believe today is Halloween. We survived Sandy, but my home state of NJ got hit really hard and my heart is breaking thinking about the Jersey Shore and how it may never be the same. 

In other news, today is the last day of the 31 Days Challenge. While I didn't complete the entire thing, I am proud of what I did complete. I was able to be more reflective this month, and really soak in the fact that another year has passed, and 30 is now in sight. 

I set goals, looked back and even laughed at myself a little. I would call this little experiment a success in my own way. 

So, today is Halloween. We won't be trick-or-treating or attending any fancy parties. But, we do have plans to dress our dog up (again), eat hand out lot of candy, and maybe I can even convince B to watch a scary movie with me.

And, in honor of Halloween, I am thrilled to share with all of you a little 'Halloween Treat' on behalf of myself and the fabulous, Kerry, of Bridier Baubles

All day today ONLY, use the code 'OLN' at checkout 
to receive 10% OFF any order from Bridier Baubles!

Happy Halloween, shopping!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Days Like These: 31 Days

I'm writing today's post on Monday because I'm not sure if our power will hold out for Tuesday or not. Honestly, this storm is sort of starting to scare me, and I am ready to go hunker down in the basement for the next 24 hours. Thank goodness we have champagne in the fridge

Admittedly, I am one of those people that gets totally wrapped up in big weather events. I become glued to the television, and make every effort to stock up on supplies, food, and anything I think we may need while we're stuck at home. I totally fall victim to the 'craze' that comes over everyone as the weather starts to approach our area.

I have always been a worrier. It's in my blood. But, I didn't know when I was twenty that I would actually start to worry more as I got older. Granted, I have many more things to worry about, like taking your dog out to pee when there are 60mph wind gusts, but my worrying has definitely increased with age. What if we lose power, will I need to throw out all of the food in my fridge? Will that pot of soup, package of bottled water, and container of had boiled eggs be enough for us to live on for 24 hours or so? Hey, I never said I wasn't slightly irrational as well.

I know that some amount of worrying is perfectly normal, and it can even be helpful in events like this storm that we are living through right now. But I won't allow it to define me. Sure, I'll spend the next 24 hours worrying a little more than your average amount, but once this storm passes and life goes back to our normal hustle and bustle, I want to make a point of not worrying about everything little thing. Especially the things that are out of my control. 

I'm sure we all play the guessing game, and from time to time, have all wanted to look into our futures to find out how things will play out. I may be guiltier of this than others. This year, I want to step back and realize that everything really does happen for a reason. It may not all happen in my own time, but there is a reason, and when I look back on this chapter of my life it will all make sense. 

Faith is a powerful thing, and this year I want to exercise mine to the fullest.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hey That's Pin-tastic: DIY Curtain Rod Frame Hanger

Is it just me, or does it feel like we have had many more serious weather events and disasters over the last two years than ever before? Perhaps it feels this way because I was sheltered and protected from weather events while growing up, but now that I'm an adult, and a homeowner, it sure feels like Maryland gets slammed a few times per year.
This morning, while I laid in bed listening to the heavy rain that had already begun to fall outside, I thought it would be the perfect day to stay home all day in PJs, eat breakfast at 11AM and lineup a few movies for B and I to watch to pass the time. As long as our power stays on.

Despite my efforts, B still had to head to work for at least a half day, and I have found myself counting down the hours until he walks through that door, and I can quit worrying about him being forty minutes from home in this weather. 

We are planning on settling into hibernation mode tonight. We've got our flashlights, batteries, candles and water all lined up, and it looks like this Frankenstorm is here to stay for a while. For all of you that will be affected by this storm, please stay safe!

Like I mentioned over the weekend, this past week was pretty busy for me, and I spent most of the last two days preparing for the storms' arrival, so I definitely dropped the ball on my new Pin-tastic craft for today. But, when I popped on over to check out AP's post this morning, her archived project reminded me that I have a few projects in the archives that are worth sharing as well!

Today's project is one of my favorite Pinterest inspired crafts. Not only is it good for any season or room in your house, it is also affordable. We gets tons of compliments on ours. My inspiration for this project came from this pin. A picture with no tutorial, but I assumed it self explanatory enough to be able to complete it with just that. So, off I went.

DIY: Curtain Rod Picture Frame Hanger

What You'll Need

One (1) 24-48" curtain rod with hardware for hanging
One (1) 8x10" picture frame (preferably for wall hanging, but not a necessity)
Two (2) 5x7" picture frames (above applies here as well)
One (1) spool of thick, white ribbon (or ribbon of your choice, but it should be sturdy)
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks

Start by hanging the curtain rod on the wall in the place of your choice. I chose to hang ours over the bed in our guest room, and I also recruited B to hang it for me. 

Gather your frames and select your favorite prints or images for each. 

Then, begin gluing your ribbon to the backs of each frame.

Make sure to press down on the hot glue while it dries so that the ribbon is held tightly in place on the back of each frame. 

Next, hang each frame from the curtain rod and place rod back into brackets.

Adjust the frames so they are equally spaced apart. 

Lastly, take a step back and check out your new masterpiece! It's really that easy!

I think this added the perfect touch to our guest room since I don't have the money to buy a headboard for this room, and the entire project only cost me about $35! How's that for decorating on the cheap? :o)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days: What An Example I'm Setting By Missing An Entire Week

I have been a sorry excuse for a 'real' blogger this week. I had been loving the journaling aspect of my 31 Days series, and then all of this week got away from me. In my defense, my week was stacked with meetings, business travel, more meetings, a wedding, and an appointment that I was 50 shades of nervous about.

I was feeling a little down on myself about not meeting my goal, and then I remembered something. An important something. I have been using The Nesters 31 Days' prompt to write about the happenings in my life, and what goals I want to set for myself in the last year of my twenties.  But, isn't it true that a part of life is sometimes dropping the ball? Sometimes I won't have enough hours in the week to complete every project on my list, and I've written about this before. Sometimes I need to admit to myself that I don't have it all together, and I can't finish every last thing I set out to do. Sometimes, I may even need to ask for some help. 

So, I may not have reached my goal of writing every day for the entire 31 day period, but I am still proud of the accomplishments I did make this month. I wrote about memories, about finances and about being a homeowner. I have learned more about myself, and have allowed myself to stop and enjoy the moment, even though I'm still not 100% comfortable with the number twenty-nine. 

In the spirit of all of these little accomplishments, I thought I would rattle off a few of the items that I was planning to write about this week. A few simple and fun things that I want to have on my list of goals for the coming year.

Learn more new recipes. I started writing about this here already, but I do plan to continue my love of cooking this year. I'd like to try new recipes, bake some new things, and continue to keep my kitchen thriving. There is a joy that I find in cooking that is different than the joy I get from anything else at this point in my life.

Take more pictures. I used to be the absolute queen of taking photos and barely ever let a weekend of my life go by without documenting it with film or digital images. Since we bought our house I have been slacking in the area in a major way, and I need to put a stop to this. Thank God for Instagram, because without it, even my iPhone camera would be boring.

Complete a devotional. There I said it. I have a history of ordering the latest and greatest women's devotional, opening it once or twice and then allowing it to collect dust in the drawer of my living room coffee table. This year, I'd like to change that. I recently purchased the book Jesus Calling and would love to read through the entire thing before the big 3-0. That quiet time of reflection and prayer is an absolute must.

Finish Breaking Dawn and the 50 Shades Series. Well, I guess if I'm airing my dirty laundry bad habits, I may as well admit that I still have yet to finish the last 100 pages of Breaking Dawn. I almost had a panic attack when I saw the preview for the fifth and final movie, and realized it will be in theaters in just three short weeks. And that shiny new 50 Shades book that I bought close to five months ago? I still have yet to crack that puppy open. And, let's not even talk about how my husband finished the Hunger Games trilogy before me. I really need to get serious about my reading this year.

Schedule individual coffee/lunch dates with friends. This is probably the one I am the most excited about because I love spending one-on-one time with my closest friends. And, while this is something that I am already pretty good at, I want to continue to be intentional about making the time for the women in my life that matter the most. I mean, we all need some girl talk in our lives, am I right?

Dressing up for my husband. This is a big one for me. I always want to look my best for my man, but this whole working from home every day business has made me a bit lazier in the hair and wardrobe department. I will admit that some days I will rush up the stairs and throw on jeans and a top right before he walks in the door. I am sure that this will only intensify once we have little ones around here, so I want to be better about it this year. And, I guess that gives me an excuse to shop every once in a while too? Let's just go with that one.
Phew, it feels good to have written all of that out, and I can't wait to look back on this list six months from now and check on my progress. If you missed any of my 31 Days series, you can catch up on the rest of it here

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hey, That's Pin-tastic: Fall Style, Stripes and Patterns

This week, let's talk fall fashion, shall we? Of course, I have started pinning fall outfits like crazy lately, and I finally had the threads to pull together one of my favorite new looks last week.

This idea started with this pin. And, after all of the style perusing that I had done, this was the outfit that stayed with me. I love how simple, comfy and chic it is!

image via
So, I started with the top. The black and white stripe color combo is such a classic, and I just happened to stumble upon a similar top while perusing Forever 21's website one afternoon while I should have been working or writing.

I was actually given the leopard print scarf as a birthday gift from a friend, and I knew it was the perfect accessory to complete my version of this look!

I went with the long scarf look instead of infinity, but I love the way the colors pop, and the contrast of stripes and patterns is one of my favorite new trends.

So, there you have it, my first Pinterest inspired fall ensemble. What you are wearing this fall?

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days: Where Our Life Happens

Well, I let my 31 Days posts get a little thin this week, but I am still here, things are still good, and I'm still thinking about what I want to do with the last year of my twenties. 

If you frequent this blog, then you know that you can often find me in my kitchen. Whether it's making a favorite go-to recipe, trying something brand new, or sampling my favorite adult beverage, I love to experiment in the kitchen. I also adhere to the tried and true method of getting to my husband's heart through his stomach.

Perhaps some of the reason I like to spend so much time in my kitchen is because of the memories that I have of spending time in our kitchen growing up. Baking cookies, sharing meals and prepping appetizers for yet another BBQ; we did it all and life happened in our kitchen.

I want to build my families' memories in the same way. I want to create annual traditions where we bake Christmas cookies. I want to sort through Halloween candy on the kitchen counters and sit down for the same pot of warm, vegetable soup every year before the trick-or-treating begins. Just like we did when we were growing up.

I want family dinners to be a habit in our house. I want to sit down together to share a meal most nights. Even if it is just over a frozen pizza, I want life to happen in my kitchen, too. 

Sure, I have lofty goals. I learned how to make the perfect risotto this year, and I've experimented with family recipes, and even brand new ones that I snagged from Pinterest. The biggest of these goals is to keep my family happy and fed, and try to be at least somewhat healthy while we're at it.

There will be many more bottles of wine, failed experiments, and warm, comforting meals prepared in my kitchen. There will be music playing in the background, and more than likely, an episode or two of the Kardashians or Parenthood streaming from my iPad. The weeks, months and years will continue to go by, and our life will keep happening there.

And, that's just how I want it to be. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Days: Pumpkins, Hayrides & Girlfriends

Yesterday was one of those days. One of those wonderful days that make your heart happy. I woke up to sunny skies and crisp, fall air. I grabbed a cup of coffee with a girlfriend and then had plans to meet three of my best friends at a local pumpkin patch, along with four of my most favorite kiddos. 

You may recognize these lovely ladies from here, here and here!

Apparently, it was also National Boss's Day, so it seems fitting that my 'boss' gave me most of the day off to catch up with friends and enjoy this beautiful time of year. 

When I was a kid, and my parents would try to get us all to go apple or pumpkin picking for the day, I thought that had to be the most boring idea I had ever heard. But, now that I'm older (and wiser), I realize that it's a fabulous way to spend a fall afternoon, and  want to add apple and/or pumpkin picking to my fall 'bucket list' every year! 

Oh, and of course there's always room for a winery or two! I think I smell an anniversary plan brewing.

You can read the rest of my 31 Days series here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days: I Cheated Halloween

Today was a busy day, I was up and at it at 6:30 this morning, and then ran out the door for a doctors appointment and some errands by 9. 

The weather today was pretty gross, so it was nice to be able to get home shortly after lunch time before the heavy rain started to come down. I am working on some Thanksgiving recipes for a sponsored blog post, and one of the recipes I chose was apple pie. This is my first time ever taking on the challenge of a homemade apple pie (well, the crust was store bought, oops!).

I enjoyed every minute of the labor and time intensive baking today. It helped me to relax, and I cannot wait to try the finished product with B later. 

But, I may or may not have cheated on Halloween by listening to a few Christmas tunes while I was doing it. I usually make myself wait until after Halloween (at least), but I couldn't help myself, my holiday Pandora stations were calling my name!

Another simple before 30 goal will definitely be to try more new baking recipes, even if the company I choose during the process is a bit out of season.


Project Pinterest: 'Wannabe' Garden District Mirrors

It's Project Pinterest time again! Mondays sure have been busy around here. You definitely want to check out this week's linkup for more yummy recipes and DIY ideas!

There are a few items that are a little bit too expensive for me to just buy for no real reason. They typically stay on my wish list until they go on sale, or I find a less expensive alternative. 

This is especially true for home decor. I buy a lot from Home Goods, but there are certain items from Pottery Barn or Ballard Designs that I find myself lusting over.

These Ballard 'Garden District' mirrors have been on this list for a while. I simply couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger on them, so I kept looking for other ways to recreate the same look.

This, of course, brought me to Pinterest, where I found a few ideas from other ladies that had the same thought pattern.

I seriously considered buying a few cheap mirrors and trying to achieve the look myself, but the thought of tracing it by hand scared me. So, I put the idea on the back burner once again.

Until one day I was strolling through the Target aisles, and I did a double take. 

Aren't they gorgeous? I immediately grabbed one and placed it in my cart. Then, as I stood there thinking about where I would use it, I instinctively grabbed the last one on the shelf so I would have a pair. 

Although the price tag was a little higher than I expected to pay at Target ($59 each), I knew that the mirrors would be the perfect change for my living room. 

The living room on our main level is long and narrow, so I have been making a few small changes lately to try and make the room appear wider. 

My apologies for the quality of the after photo! I think the mirrors have opened up and brightened the room, and I am thrilled with  how the room looks at this point. 

I would still call this a work in progress. Do I need to add something else to the wall? Or perhaps add some art on the wall to the right instead of the picture frame?

I am now accepting suggestions on how to complete this project! Thanks in advance and Happy Monday!  

Show & Tell: 'When I Was 17'

It has been a couple of weeks since I've linked up for Becky's 'Show & Tell' Mondays, and I wanted to give it another try this week because the questions made me laugh. 

I remember thinking I was so old and grown up already at 17, and when I look back now, I realize that my parents were right when they said I had a lot more learning and growing to do. 

This Week's Linkup Questions: 'When I was 17...'

1. When you were 17, tell us what kind of car you drove, where you worked, and what you were usually up to on the weekends.

My very first car was a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo in dark grey/silver. I loved that car. I had wanted a Jeep for the longest time, and one Christmas, my parents surprised the entire family it. Although it was primarily for me, it came with the responsibility of picking up driving shifts and errands with and for my younger siblings. Which was totally worth it :o)

I worked at a local pharmacy, which also happens to be the business that my Mom now manages back in Hometown, NJ.  I was mainly a cashier, but also fulfilled and unpacked orders. It wasn't very exciting, but it gave me some spending money. I also babysat a lot all throughout high school and college. Now that was a good way to make money!

On weekends, I usually worked a shift, and always hung out with the same group of friends, which I've talked about before here. I think it was your typical teenage mix of fun, friends, working and family time.

2. Show us a picture of you when you were 17 {roughly}.

Hmm, not sure I have a good pic from when I was 17, but here is one from around 19?

3. When you were 17, tell us what you wanted to be when you "grew up."

I laughed when I read Becky's answer to this question, because mine is exactly the same. I have always wanted to be a Mom. Perhaps that's why I spent so much of my time babysitting. I have always loved kids and would dream about my someday husband and family. Now that I am married to the man I will have a family with, I am even more excited about what the future holds for us. 

But, in the same way that Becky had other aspirations, I did as well. I went to school and enrolled in the 'Pre-Med' track. I thought I wanted to be a Pediatrician. This basically just meant that my general education classes were heavy in math and science. It only took me about one semester to realize that this was not the right track for me, and I quickly switched over to Communications, and well, the rest is history.
4. When you were 17, tell us the kind of boys that you dated. Did you have a type? Do you have a relationship you remember well? Tell us about it.

 Did I have a type? Hmm, well the guys that I dated were all moderately athletic and attractive. Other than that, they were all different in their own way. 

As far as memories, yes I have plenty. I have one rocky relationship that my parents ended up forbidding before I finally came around and moved on. There was always some type of boy drama in my house full of girls. I have lots of memories of my old relationships, and they each taught me things about myself and helped prepare me for my husband. So, as heartbreaking as some of it may have been, I am thankful and happy to look back on the road that got me here.
5. When you were 17, tell us where you pictured your life 10 years from then. Did it turn out the way you expected it to?

First of all, when I was 17, I thought 27 was so far away, and that my life would bare almost no resemblance to my 17 year old self by the time I got there. The truth is that I am still the same girl. A little older, much wiser, and definitely happier. 

Sure, I thought I would have a husband, dog, house and two kids, and I do have many of those things. We're working on the rest :o)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 Days: Planning & Pleasing

It has taken me many years, relationships, heartaches, arguments, plans and cancellations to recognize that I am a 'pleaser.' I don't even like the look of that word on the page, let alone the sound of it coming out of my mouth, but it's true. Maybe it's the first born, older sister in me, or maybe it goes way deeper than that, but I tend to worry a little too much about what people think, and sometimes change my mind or plans in order to please others. 

Not everything about being a pleaser is negative. I love making other people happy by surprising them with little things or just spending some good old fashioned quality time with them. I have so many quality relationships in my life that I wouldn't trade for the world, and I know that this quality is part of the reason that I have been able to maintain them. 

But, sometimes I crave more time alone. More time with my husband, or more time to make spontaneous plans. I have the tendency to plan my life about three weeks in advance, so that doesn't leave much room for spontaneity or 'me time.' I don't want my desire to please other people to effect me, or my relationship with my husband negatively.

I got an email from my Proverbs 31 daily devotions last week that talked about trying to cram too much into an already 'overfull' life. I was convicted immediately. The author went on to say that the way she dealt with her over committing was by writing out everything that she wanted to accomplish each day, week or month, soaking it all in, and then allowing herself to eliminate items that she didn't think were part of God's plan for her life. Whew, convicted again. 

Too many times, I overbook myself to the point of exhaustion. I spend so much time adding items to my calendars and five different to-do lists, and then when I stop to measure it all, I realize that no one person can accomplish each and every one of these things! 

So, another goal that I want to set for myself during this next year as I approach thirty, is to be more deliberate and picky about how I spend my time. I may not be able to schedule three lunch dates every week, and the cleaning might not always be finished, but I want to leave myself more time. Time to spend relaxing. Time to realize all that I have accomplished, and stop focusing on what is left on all of my lists.

 To read the rest of my series, click here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

31 Days: So, This Is What It Means to Be A Homeowner

I never really dreamed of becoming a homeowner. Sure, I assumed that it came with the territory of growing up and getting married, but I spent most of my dreams on the actual getting married and starting a family part.

We started searching for our first home last summer, and in October of 2011, we bought it. At the time, I was the most excited about the renovations we were getting ready to make and what the final product would look like. I had somehow imagined that once the big stuff was done, we would be good to go, and wouldn't have to worry about house projects for a while.

What I didn't realize was how much of a never-ending cycle home ownership is. We have practically turned this place upside down: replacing all of the flooring, gutting the bathrooms, and painting every surface in the whole place, including all of the new trim. But, that doesn't mean that the dishwasher won't need to be replaced, the HVAC system won't crap out, or the bathroom won't have a lingering musty smell that we can't figure out. 

Home ownership can be grueling and frustrating. But, it can also be rewarding and exciting. There are some weeks (like this one) where I need to remind myself of the positive parts, and the fact that we will continue to learn and grow in this home. Luckily, B is quite the handyman, so we complete a lot of the projects ourselves, but he always, and I mean always, has a project on deck!

This year we will host our first Christmas and celebrate our two year anniversary in this house. I want to start looking at our home as a journey, and an on-going relationship, rather than a short stint along the road of our journey. And, even if we do have to replace our entire HVAC system this year, I'll find a way to get over it.

Home ownership may be much harder than renting, but I am learning to love it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 Days: The 'Off' Button

While I was perusing some of my favorite blog reads this week, I came across this post and this one about how important it is to drop our phones and shut down our computers sometimes, and focus on what we have in front of us.

Technology and social media are funny things. They creep into our daily routines, suck out a few hours, and leave us where? In my case, typically it is just without the two hours I just wasted. I do love a good Instagram photo, and I still keep up with this blog, my Twitter and Facebook accounts by choice. But, I also recognize the effect they can have on my relationships, and the way I spend my time at home.

I can hardly remember my life before my iPhone. And the 4s made things even better. I constantly feel like anything and everything is at my fingertips with the touch of an app button. 

But, there are nights when I get wrapped up in my Facebook feed, and B with his fantasy football app, and by the time I realize it we have let thirty minutes go by without saying a word to each other. This is not what I want my at home life to look like. And, the only way I see to correct this pattern is to start with me. 

I have tried to set the evening time limit, where I would leave my phone in another room and claim it 'off limits' after 8PM. That was usually the night that I got a few text messages that I wanted to return, and those texts turned into ongoing conversations with friends while B and I were half watching another episode of 'Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.

This year I want things to be different. While I have no plans of giving up my iPhone or iPad, I want to be more intentional about the time that we have together. I want to be more intentional about the time I spend with other family and friends as well. Cutting back on technology will give me more time to have actual conversations with my loved ones, and this is the foundation that I want to set for the family that we will have someday. 

I want to be the manager of my proverbial 'off button.' I guess someday starts today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 Days: The Saver & The Spender

When B and I were going through our premarital counseling with the pastor at my church, one of the topics he brought up was how money is and can be the leading source of frustration and strife in a marriage. Especially when you throw two people that come from completely different backgrounds into the mix. I knew that money could be an issue, but I just assumed that we would figure it out. I mean, we both had jobs, minimal debt, and we were pretty open about where we stood on the matter.

My pastor suggested that we take Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course as part of our premarital 'training,' and suggested we look up the closest local church that was offering it in the spring of 2010. I know what you're thinking, money, and Dave Ramsey, can be considered taboo topics, but I just wanted to share what I learned on our journey. And, it was definitely noteworthy enough to be featured in my 31 Days series.

It turned out that our church was offering the course that spring. So, we took the plunge, ordered the supplies and signed up. It is also worth noting that B is a finance guy. He had already purchased and read Dave's most recent book, so he knew what he was getting himself into. I, on the other hand, had a lot more to learn. Don't get me wrong, my bills were always paid on time, and I had some extra 'fun money' to use each month. It was the word 'save' that I was still having trouble digesting. 

We chose the physical class, but there are many ways to get to know more about Dave Ramsey's theories. I liked the idea of the class because I felt like it would hold us both accountable. We could watch and listen to each week's lesson without distractions, and we even had to complete homework assignments and dialogue with people we'd never met about our finances. 

This scenario may sound a little scary, but it was a huge growing experience for me, and it really taught me how important it was to start planning for our future as early as possible. My biggest takeaways were paying down any and all debt you may have (not including a mortgage), creating a emergency fund of three to six months of your expenses over time, and just being more responsible with money in general. Dave's slogan should be 'Live like no one else, so later you can LIVE like no one else!' We went through everything from student loan balances to credit reports while we were engaged, and as uncomfortable as that first conversation was, we are so much better, and more honest, for it at this early point in our marriage. 

I give 100% of the credit for my new outlook and knowledge to this experience that we had together. We've been able to accomplish so much already, and trust me, being debt free is amazing

But, before you write me off as a 'changed woman' who is bragging on her financial accomplishments, know that the journey has not been easy. Money will always be a part of our relationship, and our family. There is no one of getting around it, and it took me a while to realize just how important the subject was. There are still days, weeks and months where I overspend; where I lose sight of our goals and the big picture. What can I say, I suffer from a case of 'instant gratification syndrome.' It takes me patience and a real gut check to close out of that semi-full shopping cart of sale items from Old Navy, or to say no to another happy hour when it's the end of the month, and money is tight. 

Recently, I started listening to a few of Dave's CDs as a refresher, and I have a lot more to learn and a long way to go on this journey! As I am quickly approaching 30, it is important to me to get our financial goals back into my cross hairs. There are going to be tough decisions to make, and lots of sacrifices along the way, but I know that when I look back, it will all be worth it. 

Turns out that B is definitely 'The Saver,' and I and 'The Spender' who wants to save more. I guess I'm a bit of both.  So, here's to holding myself accountable over the next year.

This is day 9 of 31. You can catch up on my 31 Days here.

Monday, October 8, 2012

31 Days: It's Not About Where You Are, Or Is It?

Well, it's Monday morning again, and we're already one full week into my 31 Day series.

We had a busy weekend. We traveled to Virginia Beach on Saturday for one of my old college roommates' weddings. She was an absolutely stunning bride, and we had a fantastic time celebrating my birthday while we were there.

The reception was at an old officers club that was right on the beach. At one point, B and I were sitting outside in the warm, summer-like air just chatting. It was such a beautiful night, and beautiful place that we got to talking about what it would be like to move further south. We have talked about this before, but there is a part of me that is always holding back because I feel like it makes the most sense for us to at least live near one of our families since we are planning on growing our family in the very near future. But, I couldn't help but get a little bit swept up that night.

It got me to thinking, what is really holding us back from making a move like that? Sure, we have started to grow roots here in Maryland, but I am not sure this is where we'll stay for the rest of our lives. There is something romantic about dreaming up what our lives could be like if we moved and started over. Living just a bit further south, even in Virginia, somewhere near the water would have its perks. 

Who knows what the next few years will bring. Will we stay put where we are? Maybe move a bit closer to my family back in NJ? Or maybe, we'll start over in a brand new place, a place where we can make new memories and fall in love with a new city.

You can read the rest of my 31 Days series here.

Project Pinterest: Week 4, DIY Farmhouse Window Chalkboard

I am a bit behind the eight ball this morning, but you can bet that I wasn't missing a chance to linkup for Project Pinterest this week. It's only week four, but I already love sitting down with my cup of coffee and perusing the weeks' projects in search of new ideas and inspiration! 

Since I haven't completed my newest project yet, I decided to share a project that B helped me with earlier this year. It is one that we use all the time, and has become a favorite in our house.

DIY Kitchen Window/Chalkboard Project

I have been living in a DIY frenzy lately. Typically, I line up 5-6 projects that I'd 'like to do, and then a month will go by before I realize that I've only completed one of them. Darn you, Pinterest.

My inspiration for this pin came from here and here. I was gifted, by one of my dearest friends, with an old farm house window to use for my window/chalkboard project. I have always wanted some type of chalkboard in my kitchen. Something I can use to post notes to B, reminders, weekly meals, and eventually, something I can use with our kids. 

I finally got around to starting this project, and by starting it, I simply mean that I recruited my handy husband to help with the sanding, taping and spray painting.  

We used a sanding block around the rough edges to get rid of some of the old paint that was on the window, then sprayed all of the trim you see below with a fresh coat of ivory colored spray paint.

We allowed this to dry for about a day, then took the paper/tape combo that we had used to cover up each window pane off, and taped the wood trim for good coverage.  

I was a bit nervous to see how evenly the sprayable chalkboard paint was going to come out. I bought the Krylon brand on one of my many trips to Hobby Lobby. 

I would definitely recommend this paint. We used two coats, but I felt like it sprayed on easily and evenly, and it's a great surface for writing now! We also gave the chalkboard paint a day to dry really well before we tried anything on it. 

Then, we attached some picture hanging hardware to the back of the window, and voila! 

I just love the way this project turned out. It adds so much character to my kitchen, and makes a nice, bold statement as well. If you are interested in a chalkboard for your kitchen, I would definitely recommend grabbing an old window from an auction, etc. because I think the style and size is the perfect fit!
Make sure to check back next week, when I will finally finish the project that I have in mind for these new beauties that I scored at Target last week!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

That's What I Love About Sundays: '31 Days of My Life Before 30'

All my life, Sundays meant up early for a quick breakfast and a quick argument before church. The argument was usually between myself and one of my sisters, and was more than likely over clothing. If it didn't involve me, chances are, it definitely involved at least one of the four women in my family. 

Then, we'd pile in the minivan and make our way the whole two miles from the house to pop into church just as the worship part of the service began.

Skipping church on Sundays was not an option in our house. In fact, when sleepovers became cool, I was never allowed to host or attend one on a Saturday night. Fridays were fair game, but Saturday night, we all slept at home in our own beds, preparing ourselves for the inevitable wakeup call from my Dad bellowing down the hallway bright and early the next morning. 

Can I be honest? When I was fifteen, this was one of the things that irked me the most about my parents. I could really, never skip even one Sunday with my family? I couldn't understand then the values that they were instilling in me week after week. And, each week when we ended up back in the pew as the worship team sang, I felt at home.

In the spirit of honesty and full disclosure, B and I have been skipping church a lot lately. I am not sure exactly when or why this pattern started, but somewhere over the last few months, we stopped attending our usual 11AM service each week, something that we had done pretty consistently over our four years of dating, and first year of marriage. 

I've asked myself if there is some sort of deep rooted reason for this. After all, our church services always help to ease my week's burdens, and help me to feel more connected. There are so many options now that churches are streaming their services live every Sunday, and we have definitely utilized the iPad to watch Andy Stanley on several occasions, but it's not the same. I need the fellowship and I love listening to the worship music live.

It's time to get back to the basics, and I am so glad that B and I are on the same page with this. 
How do you spend your Sunday mornings?

To read the rest of my 31 Day series, click here.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

31 Days, Day 6: The 'Big' Day

Well, today is the 'big' day. My whole reason for choosing this topic of '31 Days of My Life Before 30' was because my 29th birthday was right around the corner. 

Today,  I officially enter the last year of my twenties. On one hand, I'm still not comfortable with that number, but on the other, I have been hearing all week long how 'my 30s will be the best years of my life so far.' So, bring it on.

This year is going to be full of growing my business, and continuing to make this blog a part of, and a way to document our life. There will be weddings, celebrations, laughter and tears. Riley will turn two, and my husband will join me in the last year of our twenties in a few months. I will strive to make our marriage a priority, even when I don't feel like it. I will continue to cherish the friendships that I have, and hope to cultivate a few new ones along the way. I will make time for my family, both the one I came from and the one I married into. We will travel to Florida and make it back to the Delaware Beaches, and maybe even get to plan a babymoon.

One of the things I hope to do during my 31 Days is come up with a list of attainable goals for myself to reach before I officially turn 30. Today, I'll put that list on the back burner. I'll soak up the time I have with my husband this weekend, and I'll relish in the feeling of 'starting over' one more time.


Friday, October 5, 2012

31 Days of My Life Before 30: Day 5, Little Surprises

Today turned out to be a perfect eve of my birthday. What started out as a lazy Friday morning turned into a fabulous afternoon, and even a great surprise!

We don't have anything big planned for the big 2-9 tomorrow because we are traveling to Virginia Beach for one of my college roommates' weddings. I am happy to celebrate my birthday at her wedding, and will even get the chance to catch up with some girls that I haven't seen in quite some time. 

Today started out like any other Friday, I typically use my Fridays to catch up on work, sometimes spend some time blogging or blog reading, and often catch up on house chores. Today was no different, and by noon, I was still in my workout gear (though I still hadn't done any real working out) getting ready to tackle my weekend writing and finish up some chores before B got home. 

My two best girlfriends had other things in mind.

Unbeknownst to me, two of my best friends (who you may know from here and here), had cooked up a little surprise for my birthday, and showed up with lunch, champagne, gifts, and lots of love. 

flowers courtesy of my husband :o)

There is something about quality time with your girlfriends that is good for the soul. We didn't do anything special, just caught up on the latest 'gossip' on my couch over chinese food and plastic cups of champagne, but it was exactly what I needed. 

I have been so richly blessed in my life with good friends. Great friends. And reminders like today leave my heart full and my home happy.

A special shout out to these chicas for making the start of 29 even more awesome than I planned.

I consider Day 5 of my 31 Day journey a total success!

You can catch up on the rest of my 31 Day series here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Life Lessons, Volume 1: 31 Days of My Life Before 30

Let me start by saying that I am so happy that I took the plunge and decided to challenge myself with the 31 Day Challenge this year. It has reinvigorated my love for writing for myself, and trust me, I needed it. 

Another thing that I've noticed about this writing streak that I'm currently in is that it has brought out my more serious side. My apologies if things seem a bit mundane this week, and you can go ahead and call it a quarter life crisis, but this time of reflection has been good for me both emotionally and physically. 

All that aside, today will be somewhat more lighthearted, as I visit one of the Life Lessons that I've come to realize during the few short days of my reflecting process. 

Plain and simple, I think I'm finally starting to learn how to dress for my body type. Without boring you on the how's and why's and all of the experimentation I've done over the years with trends, let me just say that the reality is that girlfriend has got some junk in the trunk. And thighs. Maybe that makes me a 'pear shape?'

As much as I love skinny jeans, the truth of the matter is that they only look good on me when paired with a loose fitting blouse, or tunic style top that covers said 'junk.' 

I'm not complaining about this realization, I'm simply putting it out there. Having a bit more 'booty; is a family thing, and it is what it is. Heck, it's even one of the reasons that B was attracted to me in the first place. 

The difference between what I've done in the past, and what I plan to do now that I'm getting older and wiser, when it comes to dressing my figure, is that I no longer care so much what the tag says. I've learned that every store I shop in uses different measurements, some which may or may not come from pre-adolescent girls, but if the four fits, I'll take it. And, if the I can't squeeze my butt into the six, I'll go for the eight and call it a day. The only place this may not be true is in the swimsuit category. A category that I don't plan on visiting again until next summer when it becomes a necessity. 

In an effort to stay true to this new outlook on my personal style, I have recently gone through my closet and gotten rid of anything that wasn't flattering, or just plain didn't fit any longer. Sort of like starting over. I'm sure I'll get the occasional comment when I no longer have the appropriate Forever 21 top to wear out to the bar, but I think I'm OK with that. After all, dressing for the age of 29 means maturity, right?

And yes, I am fully aware that this may be the start of me turning into my Mother. 

To read more post on my 31 Days journey, go here, here or here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Letter to Me : 31 Days of My Life Before 30

Do you ever wish you could tell the high school you that 'everything will work out?' Just give your young self a quick glimpse of what the future holds, but leave enough out not to ruin the best surprises? 

I've been thinking an awful lot about what got me here to nearly 29 years old since I chose my 31 Days topic. And, if you had told me at seventeen what my life would look like in twelve short years, would I have been surprised? I can say with certainty that I would have been happy with what I saw, but my perspective was different as a teenager.

When I look back, I have memories of great friendship, arguments with my sister (which were more than likely over stealing each others' clothes), trying alcohol for the first time (remember wine coolers?!), heartbreaks, concerts, parties, road trips and so much more. 

I have often thought about whether I would do high school all over again. I think my answer is 'no,' but I definitely wouldn't change a thing about those four years and how they shaped me.

OK, I lied. Maybe I would change that one guy I dated, although he did help me to get over that other guy. And then there's the clothes, and the haircuts. In the wisdom of my 29 years, I may have offered a few words of advice to my seventeen year old self ...

  • Choose your battles. Especially with Mom. You will understand in a few years that she's just trying to do what's best for you.
  • Let loose every once in a while. You don't always have to be the designated driver, and three beers won't send you into a tailspin. Trust me, it will help you prepare for the college days to come.
  • Enjoy the shape you're in now, because in ten years, you will think of your body in a totally different way.
  • Look around at your five closest girlfriends. Maybe even your seven closest. These girls are the real deal. They will stick with you, and they'll still be there ten years from now. Don't take them for granted.
  • Have fun, meet new guys and no, the heartbreak after your high school boyfriend is not the end of the road. It's only the beginning.

I hardly ever think of myself as someone with real 'wisdom.' But, I'm not the same girl I was twelve years ago. I've been through a lot, and based on my track record, I think the best is yet to come. 

To read more of my #31Day Challenge, click here. And, check out all of the incredible #31Day topics here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What Started Out As A Typical Sunday : 31 Days of My Life Before 30

Well, today is day two of The Nesting Place's 31 Day Challenge linkup. In case you didn't make it here yesterday, I decided to accept the challenge of posting every day for 31 days, and chose the topic of 'My Life Before 30,' where I'll talk about everything from the dreams I had for my life by age 30 to the realities of today. My goals, my struggles, the ups and downs, and what I want this next year of my life to look like.

Today, I thought I would take a little time to explain how I got here. To this decision to blog for 31 straight days about what this next year of my life will look like. The last year of my twenties. This past weekend was like many others. We got to spend lots of time with our favorite little guys, and I drank a little too much wine on Friday night. I am still trying to figure out why I thought that was a good idea. But, I'm sure it won't be the last time I ask myself that question in relation to wine.

Sunday afternoon, the Jets played the 49ers in what was one of the most horrendous games I have ever watched. It was actually on TV here, but our local station switched game coverage at the beginning of the 4th quarter because the game was that bad.

This was the start of my downward spiral.

Sunday evening, we were just hanging around at home, relaxing while the late afternoon football games were on TV. All of the sudden, I had this overwhelming wave of emotion come over me. Sometimes, when I start to feel like this, one of two things happens. I either burst into tears out of nowhere, or I go somewhere where I can be alone with my thoughts for a few moments. On this particular day, I chose the latter. So, off to the basement I went armed with the second half of the third season of Parenthood on my iPad. 

This quiet time gave me a few moments of reprieve, but then it happened again. Tears began streaming down my face. I guess I had just come to grips with the fact that I will officially be 29 on Saturday. How did this day get here so fast? How am I entering the last year of my twenties already, and how on earth am I still not pregnant yet?

I guess you could say that my birthday was sort of a milestone date for me this year. When we started our TTC journey, I used my birthday as one of my measurables. And now it's almost here and I felt like I had nothing to show for it.

It was then that I realized that I had to pull myself together. I had to stop drowning in my own self-pity and doubt. So, I sat there in silence and prayed about it for several minutes. Just sort of emptied out the flood of emotions that were on my heart. 

Once the tears stopped, I joined B back upstairs on the couch for the exciting conclusion of the game he was watching on TV. And then, we just talked. It wasn't a lengthy conversation, but it was just me sharing my heart with him. B has a natural gift of staying positive in most situations, and he has been my shoulder to cry on many times. Although I was feeling overwhelmed in the moment, and am still afraid of the stare-down I am having with the big 3-0, I know that I have so much to be proud of, and thankful for. I also know that only I can decide exactly how I want to spend this last full year of my twenties. And I want it to mean something. This is going to be my year.

Over the next month, I'll continue to share my stories. The lessons I'm learning along the way, and the things I do and do not want to do this next year. Although all of my posts may not be this long and heartfelt, I'm going to make them count. 

Thanks for joining me on this ride. 

You can read more about the kickoff of my 31 challenge here