February Challenge ("get my butt in gear") Recap!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Well well well, if it isn't March knocking on our doors! February seemed to come and go quickly, and while it is the shortest month, I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that Alex is far away (sad face) and I was left to "get my butt in gear" all alone. Poo.

My challenge to myself this month was to 1) track my calories every. single. day. No excuses. And 2) work out/get active at least 3 times a week. I am happy to report that I successfully did both of those things!

It feels great to be active again. I am really trying to push myself a little more each time. It's rewarding to feel myself getting stronger.

For tracking calories, I use the My Fitness Pal app (it's also a website) and I love it. It makes it super simple to keep track of what you're putting in your body. The downside? It requires that you measure or at the very least guestimate portion sizes. So in the morning when I pour my cereal, I use a measuring cup (and when I pour the milk, too). It's an extra step, but it's worth it.

Another cool thing about the app is that you can tell it what your goals are: for example, you can say you want to lose 1 lb a week, which is a pretty normal diet goal. That's the setting I had it on last time, and it's tough. But it works if you stick to it.

This time, I set a goal of 1/2 a pound a week. I knew it would be easier (you get a lot more calories per day that way!) and help ease myself back into the process.
haha yes...this isn't far from the truth at times!

Since February 1, I have lost 4 pounds. I kind of like the "slowly but surely" approach. I get more calories, but I'm still losing weight. And I feel good. Win/win.

Another month down, another challenge completed. Tomorrow I'll announce my challenge for March! What will it be, what will it be?? Honestly, I'm not 100% sure yet...guess I should nail that down in the next 18 hours or so!

Say my name

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Alright, if you didn't love Destiny's Child circa 1999, we are no longer friends. I kid, I kid. But seriously, Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle were blared many a times from my high school ride. Good times...

Brunch with Amber: Say My Name Link Up
This link-up is all about how we landed on the blog name that we have! So fun! Obviously, my blog's name is Young & Southern. When I began blogging a little over a year ago, I was a newlywed. (I guess I'm still kinda a newlywed, but it will be 2 years in July, so I don't really consider us newlyweds anymore). I didn't want to use "newlywed" or anything relating to it in my blog name, because if there's one thing I learned from "Newlyweds" with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, it's that when you name something, pick a name that will last and still be relevant in a year! (Or, MTV, pick a couple that will last. Sigh.)

Anywho, Alex and I both take a lot of pride in the fact that we're Southern, and I think that affects a lot of things we do, a lot of the choices we make, and a lot of the things that make us, us. For instance, college football is king. We love sweet tea. Snail-mail Thank You notes and Just Because notes are must-dos. Monogramming everything we own, friends and family with double names, and Carolina BBQ are facts of life that we love. Life might take us out of the South at some point, but no matter where we live, Southern we will be.

Now for the "Young" part: unlike Southern, we won't always be young of course. But I truly believe that we will be young in our hearts. We met when we were in our early 20s, young by any standard. And although Alex recently hit the 30 mark and I will be there in 18 months, I still picture us as 24 and 23, like we were when we met.

And there you have it: Young & Southern.

A sweet surprise

Alex was supposed to come home this afternoon and stay just for the night, since he is living in GA right now. I saw him the weekend after Valentine's Day, so it hasn't been tooooo long, but of course I miss him a ton.

Last night, as I was hanging around the house and getting everything tidied up, the doorbell rang. It was about 8:30, so I thought it was weird. Don't worry, I did NOT answer the door! But then my phone rang and it was the Hubs. He said, "You know, it's hard to surprise you when you won't open the door!" I ran to the door and opened it to find him standing there, complete with flowers. It was such a sweet surprise to have him home for an extra day, and one day early!

We're having a little date night tonight, and I am really looking forward to spending some much-needed time with him!

I know a lot of girls claim they have the best husband in the world, and I don't want to start any disputes...but mine is pretty dang amazing, ladies.

My little weekend sewing project!

Monday, February 25, 2013

This weekend, I broke in my new sewing machine and got to work! I have been wanting to make new pillows for our living room for months. I would be lying if I said that throw pillows weren't at least 60% of the reason I begged for a sewing machine in the first place.

We had plenty of throw pillows, most of them from Pottery Barn, all in the coral/yellow/brown families. They all looked so pretty together. But two of them died (I do not recommend the chenille pillow covers from PB - they will not hold up to a dog of any size! Plus, the feathers from the inserts stick through and poke you) and two that I got from Homegoods were on the verge of death. We were left with a few mis-matched pillows, and a few naked feather/down pillow inserts.

I was on the hunt for pretty fabric, when I found these swatches that matched the colors we already had in play:


After mulling it over for a few days, I went forth with my purchase (hey, I had to think about it - good fabric ain't cheap, my friend!).

Then I had to get my sewing machine out of the  box and actually thread the sucker. I hadn't touched a sewing machine in years, so I was pretty rusty.

After several hours of measuring, cutting, sewing, and re-sewing a few edges, I was done! Not to toot my own horn, but I even put zippers in them! (toot, toot!) I have never fooled around with putting zippers in anything I've sewn, so I was pretty proud of myself.

 I couldn't wait to get them on the couch! I am absolutely loving the way they look in our living room!

In case you're wondering, the solid coral pillow covers are from Pottery Barn and the solid brown covers are from Hobby Lobby. I plan to make several more pillows with the remaining fabric, but I need to purchase more zippers and pillow inserts first!

That was my Saturday project! I feel so accomplished :)

Penny modeling the pillows./ She's a big fan/

Friday's Letters & a sneak peek

Friday, February 22, 2013

Heck yes - it's Friday! Get excited!


Dear Alex: I really don’t like this long-distance thing. I miss you all the time: when I wake up, when I get home from work, when I eat dinner, when I go to bed. But I am so proud of you and I know you are loving your new gig! It will lead to great things for us, I just know it.

Dear house: I am on a rampage lately, I know. But in a good way. I have the d├ęcor bug and all I want to do is update, redecorate, clean,and make you pretty!

Dear Ellie: I’m trying to be sweet to you by letting you sleep in our room about half of the nights in each week. But if you continue to wake me up 7+ times a night, I’ll be forced to leave you in your crate. You’ve been warned.

Dear Penny: sorry for letting Ellie sleep in our room…I know that’s your territory…

Dear winter: I know a lot of people are giving you a hard time already, but I’m not over you. Not yet. I know that it won’t be too long before I we’re all complaining about how hot it is.

Dear fabric store: eeeeeek! I am in love. And now that Ihave a sewing machine, you better WATCH OUT! I just wish your fabrics weren’t so expensive. Probably a good thing or I would be buying a lot more…

Dear followers: thanks for being patient with me and my lack of posts lately. Honestly, I haven’t had much to say in the past few weeks, and I don’t want to post something just to post if that makes sense. Thanks for your comments, your loyalty, and for reading – it means SO much and you make me smile!

What is everyone doing this weekend? Here is a little sneak peek of a project I am working on and hope to have completed this weekend:

Intrigued? I'll be sharing as soon as it's done! Can't wait!

Have a fabulous weekend, dears!

Wintry weekend

Monday, February 18, 2013

I spent the weekend down in Macon with my hubby and got to see where he is currently living, working and studying (!). Although he had to work a lot on Saturday, we still got to spend some quality time together and have a little belated Valentine's Day dinner on Friday night.

All winter long, I have been longing for the white stuff to come our way. Ya know, a little bit of snow. So wouldn't you know that on Saturday, when I was 3.5 hours South, the snow came to Greenville. Now, the two biggest reasons that I wanted snow this year was 1) our house has been built for 2 years now and I've never seen it covered in snow and 2) Ellie has never seen snow!

I kept seeing friends' pics on FB and Instagram and it was clear that we got a really good snow, like several inches. I was so sad that we weren't there to see it! Furthermore, Ellie was at the boarder in Greenville for the weekend, so she saw it for the first time without us there to see her reaction. Bummer.

So on Sunday, we got up early because Alex had to work anyway, and I hit the road, trying to make it home before all the glorious snow melted. This is what I came home to!

A lot of it had already melted, but at least I got to see the yard covered in a perfect white blanket of snow. :) As for the pups: I couldn't get them from the groomer until the afternoon, and by then, almost all of it had melted. But there are still a few patches left in the backyard that Ellie enjoyed playing in.

I can't help but hope that we get just one more snowfall this year (when I am actually in town to see it falling!). Then my winter will be complete and I will welcome spring with open arms! 

Happy love day | Life lately

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day to all you lovebirds out there! And for all the single ladies, happy Single Awareness Day (yuck!!!). [Don't feel bad, I'm a married gal and I will be spending my V-Day alone, since the hubby is in GA]. Regardless, I hope you all are feeling the love today from someone!

At my house, Penny is rocking her "Little Valentine" shirt, while Ellie is pining for a red velvet cupcake (fat chance there, pup). While I won't get to see my Valentine today, I will see him tomorrow when I head down to Macon for the weekend!

the meds!
My posts have been a little sparse lately, and I'm sorry about that. Life lately has been a little crazy. I started my Humira this week for treating my Crohn's. I went Tuesday morning to the doc so they could show me how to inject it and I had 2 injections then. On Wednesday, I was scheduled for 2 more injections, which I very bravely gave myself! It was a moment on triumph for sure!!
My injections

I also found out yesterday that one of my best friends (and the friend I've known the longest) is pregnant with a little girl!! I am so very happy for her! All my friends are having little girls, which is so much fun. But one of these days, I'm going to need a little boy to spoil, too!

Other than that, I have been adjusting to life at home without Alex around. I've been a little blue and lonely, but I know it will all pay off and this decision we made together is going to benefit us in a huge way in our future. It's just hard to be patient :)

I hope you all have a great Valentine's day! xoxoxo

A Big Night Out!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ready to go to Big Night Out!
Happy Monday! We had a fabulous weekend! On Saturday, the Junior League of Greenville hosted its annual charity black-tie event. In years past, it has been held on Oscar Sunday and had an Academy Awards theme, but this year the League mixed it up with a new event called "Big Night Out." This year's theme was Cirque du Soleil-inspired and it was amazing!

I love getting all dressed up (and so does Alex, which makes me very happy!). We had a blast with friends and it all was for a great cause!

Every room at the venue had a different Cirque theme!

February Challenge Week 1: it's happening...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Well lovelies, I am officially on the "get my butt back in gear" train! Next stop: Healthyville! Ha. (Bear with me, it's Friday afternoon). Anyway, it's in motion. It's happening.

This week, I stuck to my goal of working out/being active at least 3 times and recording my daily intake of calories.

My work outs/activities for the week were:
- Sunday - took Ellie on a realllly long walk - good for both of us!
- Tuesday - walked/ran on the treadmill after work
- Wednesday - walked/ran on the treadmill before work

I almost had a minor breakdown on Tuesday when I attempted to get on the treadmill for the first time in months and the flipping TV in that room wouldn't come on. I was PANICKING because I was losing motivation fast. It was too cold and too dark to go outside, and I really just wanted to get on the treadmill and not think about it anymore. Good news - the TV finally started working and the crisi was averted! :)

As for my calories: I recorded my intake every day, for the first time since late October. It felt good to carefully measure out my portions and know what I was putting in my body. I can't say that I came in under my daily goal each day - but that's okay! The first step is knowing what you're eating.
so, so true

So there you go - my first week of getting my butt in gear. I hope your first week of February was awesome! HAPPY FRIDAY!

Hey...it's OK!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thursday is here - Friday is tomorrow! That's reason enough to get happy, right? I haven't done a "It's OK" Thursday in a while, so I thought today needed one!

It's OK...
  • that all my Crohn's medications are interfering with my laser hair removal treatments! [I've been getting treatments on my underarms for nearly 2 years now and the difference is amazing!] I'm about done with the treatments anyway, but it's annoying that Crohn's is now interfering with beauty and health, sheesh!
  • that we might have the only Golden Retriever in America that does not have an interest in food. Ellie just is not interested in eating. She's underweight so she needs to gain weight. We've tried different foods, enhancing the food with milk/treats, and other tactics...what can I say, she's high maintenance. 
My skinny, silly girl!
  • that I have found I have more free time before and after work without my sweet husband in the house :)  No offense honey - and you know I miss you like crazy -  but I am getting a lot done around the house these days! :)
  • that I completely missed the window of opportunity to plant spring-blooming bulbs like tulips (as I had listed on my 28 things to do when I'm 28 list) and had to opt for late spring/early summer lilies instead
  • to demand that Alex still watch all of our our shows while we're apart so we can talk about them later (i.e. Nashville - LOVE that show!)
  • to be super excited to get all dressed up for a black tie event this weekend! My hubby looks good in a tux :)
  • that our Study is still a nightmare and cluttered and messy and has way too much stuff in it.
  • that I still haven't used the sewing machine that I begged for and got for Christmas. It's still in the box...
  • to feel like home improvement projects will never cease - there will always be something else I want to do to our home!

Have a fantastic Thursday, loves!

Its Ok Thursdays

Be my Valentine

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I seriously love Valentine's Day. I know it's a cheesy, card-company created holiday, but I love it! Even when I was a single girl and I pined for a Valentine, I still secretly loved it. Let's look at the awesomeness of Valentine's Day:
  1. It combines all of my favorite things (pink, candy, chocolate, flowers...and my silly, child-like affinity for plush toys - which I do refrain from indulging in, thanks). 
  2. It celebrates love: not just romantic love, but love for your girlfriends, your parents, your siblings, and Christ's love for us. 
  3. It's a good excuse to send a single friend an "I love you and you are amazing" snail-mail card. 
  4. And for those who are coupled up, it's an excuse to have a date night!

I don't go overboard with Valentine's decorations at our house, but I like to have a few sprinkled around. And have I mentioned that I adore seasonal candy? Conversation Hearts are some of my faves! I'm also a sucker for Hershey's Kisses in the seasonal wrappers. So festive!

Here's what we've got going on in our home this month to celebrate the day of love!

Viva Las Vegas

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My work trip to Vegas last week was a bit of a whirlwind! Here is a quick overview and a photo dump to commemorate my trip!

It was my first time in Sin City, and I have always wanted to go just to experience it. We flew out of Greenville early on Tuesday morning and got to Vegas around 1pm Pacific time. However, because Mr. President was in town that day, excuse me, and Air Force One was apparently flying out when we were flying in, we had to circle the airport for about 30 minutes until he was on his way.

The view from my room at Caesars Palace
Anyway, we arrived at Caesars Palace by about 2:30 and had a late lunch - since we were on Eastern time, we were starving! That night, we had a cocktail reception at the convention and then my boss, fellow marketing cohort, and myself went to a very nice, very expensive dinner at Le Cirque in the Bellagio. I had a perfect view of "Paris" and the Bellagio fountains out of the window at dinner. After that, we played roulette a little bit (I mostly watched - I'm not much of a gambler!) and then hit the hay after being up for 24 hours.

In The Venetian hotel - no need to go to Italy, right?
Wednesday began with the opening remarks from our global company's president, then we had a little free time to explore some of the strip and do some shopping. While shopping, I found a dress that I am wearing this coming weekend to a formal event - score! Wednesday afternoon was the main session of marketing meetings, which was really informative and helpful. I got to meet other marketing specialists from our affiliate firms from around the country, which was awesome.

Wednesday night was another cocktail reception, another fantastic dinner, some more casino time, and then bed. Vegas seriously will wear you OUT. I couldn't get over how HUGE everything was in Vegas, especially the hotels. We would literally walk for nearly 15 minutes from our room to the convention center in Caesars - all indoors, under the same roof! I brought comfy shoes though, so it was all good. :)

The strip at night
Thursday morning brought one last meeting, a delicious breakfast, and then our departure. I got home around 10:30 Thursday night (flying back East and losing time is the worst!). I was a zombie at work on Friday, but at least I only had to make it one day until the weekend!

Vegas was a lot of fun, and I am so thankful for a job that not only paid my way out there, but encouraged me to see the sights and enjoy myself. Next time I go, I definitely want to take my hubby with me - I was missing him like mad! 

Bellagio!! The fountains did NOT disappoint!

Loving the sights and sounds of Vegas

Farewell, Caesars! Until next time...

February Challenge: Get my butt in gear

Monday, February 4, 2013

I happen to like the month of February. It's short. It includes Valentine's Day. It marks the beginning of Lent, for those of you who partake. And this year, February is when I make myself get back in motion and get it in gear.

I was doing really well with staying active and watching my daily intake of calories last year. I started making a conscious effort in May, not long after I started my new job. I decided that I had gone too long on the mentality of "the wedding's over: I don't have to worry about my dress fitting! I can eat whatever I want!" Which, of course, is a slippery slope. While I hadn't totally "let myself go" in the 10 months we had been married, I wasn't too happy with myself. I knew I needed to stop my bad habits in their tracks before it got any worse. (I blame the all-inclusive Sandals resort where we Honeymooned for kicking off my bad streak, just FYI).

I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track my calories, work outs, and weight loss. And it seriously worked. My goal wasn't anything crazy - I wanted to lose a total of about 18 pounds to make it to my goal weight. (I am realistic. I know that I will probably never be a size 4 like I was in high school ever again. I just wanted to feel better and healthier!)

I started tracking everything in May and by July, I was down about 10 pounds. By October - which was my original goal deadline (for my 10 year HS reunion), I was right at my goal weight.

Then I got really sick in November when I had a major Crohn's flare. I had so much stomach pain that I barely ate for 10 days. I dropped another 10 pounds. I hadn't been that light since high school for sure. My clothes were hanging off of me. I was so weak (from the acute anemia that was a result of the Crohn's and from not eating) that I really didn't care that I was thin. I just wanted to be able to eat.

So by Christmas when I was finally feeling alive and my appetite was back (plus I was back on steroids - hello, major appetite increase!), I felt no shame in eating seconds or snacking on Christmas cookies throughout the day. I did need to gain back some of the sick weight I had lost. I just didn't expect it to come back so quickly...and more than just those 10 sick pounds...

And that brings us to now. Last month was stressful and I did my share of stress eating, with Alex making another career change and moving, and us traveling out of town almost every weekend. And Vegas. Lord, I can't forget all the food I ate in Vegas.

I am about 11 pounds away from my original goal wight, again. That's because I haven't worked out or even thought about calories since November.

My challenge this month is to:
  1. Track my calories every single day. Even if I go over my allotment, I need to hold myself accountable and get back in the habit of being aware of what I'm eating.
  2. Work out or be active at least 3 days a week. Since I'll be doing a lot of traveling on the weekends again this month, I'll be limited to mostly workouts before or after work. I'll have to have a plan going into each week. 
 There you have it - my February challenge! I'll keep you posted! And please keep me accountable!

January Challenge {Organize & Purge} round-up!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hey there, friends. I am back from my work trip to Vegas - what a whirlwind! I'll do a quick post on my trip soon. Right now, I am exhausted and very thankful that it's Friday!

It seems that we have come to the end of January. 2013 is already 1/12 over. Wow. Anyway...that also means that my first monthly challenge of the year is also over. My month of Purging and Organizing.

Truth be told, purging and organizing is something that I do year-round, as I should. But I do better in getting things done when I have a specific goal and deadline. Don't we all?

The last week of the month, I added a ton of things to the "get rid of" pile. (Which, by the way, is alarmingly large. Now I need to clean out the guest room. Ha.) Here's what I added:
  1. Tons of costume jewelry. And I organized my jewelry box while I was at it. All I can say is that I'm an earring addict and I'm not ashamed to admit it. 
  2. Those dead plants in my garage that I mentioned at the beginning of the challenge.
  3. A generic quilt that I don't need because I have so many quilts that actually mean something to me. 
  4. An assortment of picture frames.
  5. Dozens of BRIDES magazines that I was saving for the next friend that gets engaged...but come on, the styles will probably be totally different by then. And I am still getting new issues in the mail! I got married a year and a half ago...
  6. Some books that I either didn't like or haven't ever bothered to read. 
  7. A whole bag full of hair ribbons/ties/etc. from college. When ribbons were in for like 5 minutes.
  8. Misc. toiletry and make-up items from under the sink and my linen closet.
  9. More clothes - I am hoping to take them to a consignment shop very soon!
Remember how I was also supposed to tackle 4 problem areas in our house this month? The study, garage, craft closet and golf room? I am very proud to say that the craft closet and golf room got total makeovers. They are now fully functional, clean and organized spaces in our home.

The study and garage got minor facelifts. Some of the big issues were taken care of, but they aren't quite done and definitely not totally organized. But in my defense, I also didn't know my husband would be moving to Georgia this month when I started this challenge, and those two areas are kinda his domain. I plan to take on the Study in February and take it back, now that the hubby doesn't need that space for work anymore. I have big plans for that room. Stay tuned for that!

All in all, this month's challenge was a success. I learned that we have way too much stuff, of course. And by actively seeking out something to get rid of every day, it made me realize how much stuff we just plum don't need! Plus, organizing anything makes me happy. I am that big of a nerd.

So what's my next challenge for the month of February? I'll share with you tomorrow! :)

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