Easter and springtime decor

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I love love love Easter decorations. They always seem like a breath of fresh air for my house when it's still chilly outside, and I'm starting to really crave springtime (and summertime!). This year, I did more for Easter than I ever have before because we are hosting a big Easter dinner on Sunday for our parents and best friends from Florida. Here are this year's decorations!

As much as I love the Easter bunnies, and eggs, and flowers, and Easter candy (can't. stop. eating. jelly beans), it's hard to remain focused on the true meaning of Easter. Jesus died for us on the cross. And 3 days later, He arose from the dead. It's amazing and breathtaking and unbelievable, but He did. In the midst of your egg hunting and Easter basket opening and Easter dress shopping, try to take a moment to remember the meaning of Easter. Have a wonderful, blessed Easter weekend!

Romans 6:8-11
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Happy 2nd Birthday to our home!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Two years ago today, we were sitting in a lawyer's office, signing our lives away, and assuming loads of debt. Two years ago today, we closed on our first house!

Under contract! November 2010
Alex and I made the decision to build our home rather than to buy an existing home because the prices were just too good to be true for new construction: it was 2010 and the residential market was still dismal (from sellers' perspective, anyway).

Before we got engaged, we had talked about buying a home once we were married rather than renting. We found our neighborhood the weekend we got engaged (we wasted no time, my friends!), and toured the model and one existing home in the neighborhood.

Within about 30 days, were under contract and had selected our floorplan and alllllll the decisions that go along with building a house: floors, cabinets, countertops, fixtures, exterior colors, and other options out the wazoo.

It was so much fun seeing our home come to life week after week. I drove out to our neighborhood every Sunday to document the progress.

All framed out: January 2011

When we closed in March, I was the only one who moved in, so Penny and I had the place to ourselves until the wedding in July. Then Alex moved in when we got married, and Ellie moved in a few months later :)
Starting to take shape! It looks like a house! February 2011

We love our home so much and for so many reasons. I have no idea how long we will live here, but it will always be the first home we shared, and for that, I will always love it.

Proud homeowners: March 18, 2011

Feels like home - so shiny and new! March 2011

March 2013: This is home! Two years later, our tree and shrubs are much bigger,
and we've added a deck and a fence, a bunch of neighbors, and a million memories.

Coffee & Conversation

Linking up again this week for Coffee & Conversation!

Coffee & Conversation

This week's question:
Who has influenced you the most in your life - personally or professionally - and why?

This is a tough question for me. There are a lot of people who have influenced me in one way or another, for good or for not so good. But overall, the person who has laid the most influence on my life has to be my Mom.

Mom was and always has been a stay-at-home mom. She made parenting look easy, and I am sure she made many other moms very jealous back in the day (and by back in the day, I mean when I was a kiddo). My brother and I (and my dad, for that matter), were very fortunate that my Mom could stay at home with us. This allowed her to do a lot of things that would have been harder to do had she been a working mom, like volunteering almost daily at my elementary school, being the "team mom" for my brother's soccer team and my cheerleading squad, and being very active in the PTO and American Cancer Society.

Growing up, it was normal for me that my Mom was in my classroom or at my school all the time. She knew every kid's name in my grade. She was there to help the teachers - any teachers, not just mine or my brother's - and I can't tell you how many art projects she helped with, or school parties she planned. And she did it without a single paycheck.

Her dedication to my school, my goals, my sports teams, my extracurriculars, and everything else was amazing.

That's why I want to be like her. I want to be a Mom just like her. I don't know if we will be able to swing the whole stay-at-home thing once we have kids, but I sure hope we can. And if not, I will find ways to be like her anyway: making my children's birthday parties themed and perfect, being supportive of my kids' dreams, and being an involved parent every step of the way.

March Challenge progress: Couch to 5k

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Guys, where is this month going? It's already March 12th, holy moly. I am already having that "Where is this year going?" feeling too. Too soon? Nah.

Anyhoo, my challenge to myself this month is to begin the Couch to 5k program. Last month, my challenge was to start working out again and to track what I was eating. Since I have been back in the saddle (er, back on the treadmill) for about 5 1/2 weeks, I skipped to Week 2 of the Couch to 5k program.

I'm now on Week 3 (it's a 9 week program). Technically, I should be ready to run a 5k by about the last week in April, but I want to give myself a little more time just in case!

So far, I'm feeling pretty good, and I am - gasp - starting to enjoy it? Maybe just a tad?? Plus, I bought these sweet new kicks, and new shoes always incentivize.

Now all I need is to find a 5k that I actually want to run...preferably a fundraiser for a cause I believe in, on a flat surface (none of this trail running up a mountain biz-naz that is popular around these parts), that doesn't involve mud, and happens before it gets swelteringly hot. Piece of cake...?

Coffee & Conversation

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hey ladies! Good Monday to you all! Today I am taking part in a brand new (well, almost brand new - it's week 2) link-up hosted by Love. Laughter. Happy Ever After and Simply Free!

Coffee & Conversation

This week's question is:

What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned this year so far?

This year has already brought several good, old fashioned life lessons to our house. If you've been reading my blog for any time at all, you know that the Hubs made another career change in January. This is following a career change he made in September last year. Not job changes: full-on career changes. 

In the span of 5 months, Alex went from being a professional golfer, to selling medical equipment, to an assistant golf coach for a men's collegiate team. These changes have brought a series of highs and lows to our home, and to me personally. 

As a touring pro, Alex was traveling all the time and away from home a lot, but I was used to it: it was what he had done since I had met him. Although he enjoyed it (most of the time), it was stressful because the money was unpredictable and entirely based on how he - and those he was playing against - played that week. Plus, he was gone a lot on the weekends and we planned most everything around his tournament schedule.

When he was in medical sales, he was home from work each night before I was. We ate dinner together every night. We could make plans on the weekends because he never had to work on Saturday or Sunday. Plus, he was making good money and for the first time in our marriage, we were both salaried. Although there were a lot of perks with this job, he hated it. Within 3 months, he knew he wanted out. 

So he took a plunge - rather, we took a plunge into collegiate coaching. I say "we" because it is truly a sacrifice for both of us. We are back to living on one income (mine), since he is getting paid right now in room, board, education and experience. We are once again in a long distance relationship, something we did for a few years before we got married. The things I have come to know and love in our 1 year, 8 months of marriage, like cooking big dinners every week night, going to church together every Sunday, and yes, even doing his laundry - are on hold right now. But he is so happy, y'all. He misses me and the dogs, of course. But I hear the happiness in his voice every time I talk to him. And it's worth it. 

All this to say that the lesson I've learned is that marriage isn't about what I want. It's what we want, it's what's best for us in the long run, and it's about making decisions together. I would be lying if I told you I joyfully exclaimed, "Yes darling, move to Georgia for an undetermined amount of time! And give up your salary! Great idea, I am SO PUMPED!" Yeah, 'cause I definitely didn't say that. I pouted. I cried. But I came around. Because in the end, this is the best decision for what we both want out of life in the long run. 


It's OK Thursday!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Well hey there - it's Thursday - tomorrow's Friday - what more can you ask for, right?

I haven't linked up for this one in a while, but the mood struck me to do it today!

Its Ok Thursdays

It's OK...

- that I cave and let the Golden sleep not only in our room, but on our bed, about every other night. I just don't have the energy fight her!

- that my biggest complaint about March this year is that neither my St. Patrick's Day wreath nor my Easter wreath will get they time they deserve on the front door

- that I miss my hubby...but enjoy the alone time (most of the time)

- that I am in a massive "get rid of crap" phase and took some clothes to Plato's Closet: I sold them 3 articles of clothing and got one new top, but I owed them $0.95. Huh??

- that I am soooo tempted by the jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, Cadburry eggs, and Peeps that I see everywhere. So not on the diet!!

- to want to throw a party with pretty invites just so I can get  my money's worth from a Vistaprint Groupon that I have

- to be longing for a real Spring Break that I haven't had since 2006...

- that I want to go on vacay. Now.

Have one heck of a Thursday, dears!

It's the little things

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I get what seems to be an unhealthy level of pleasure from the smallest, teeniest, tiniest things in life. Maybe you can relate?

Let me explain:

- Cleaning out the lint trap from the dryer: there is something amazing about the little sheet of fluff that you get from the dryer. I especially like it when I do a load of clothes in the red/pink/orange family and the lint is soft and fluffy and pink.

you know you like it, too.
- Taking out the trash and recycling every Monday: bye bye, garbage. I don't know where it goes but I know it's not in my house anymore.

- Finishing a bottle of shampoo/conditioner/body wash/etc: what is it about FMCG (for all you marketing majors) that gets me? I love finishing a product and then getting to start on a new one.

- Using a pen until the ink completely runs out: I'm not one to misplace pens, so this actually happens quite frequently for me.  Of course, I only like it when I have another pen on standby.

- Writing checks and paying bills online: not that I like to see our money do a disappearing act, but I like the satisfaction of knowing our bills are paid and have been dealt with.

- Changing the page on the calendar each month: I feel so accomplished when I can put another month behind me. I get the same happy feeling every day (but on a smaller scale) when I cross off the previous day in my planner. 

please note the golden retriever calendar we have in our study. nerds.

- Vacuuming: but only when you can actually see the vacuum marks in the carpet. Low-pile carpet is no fun.

- Cleaning out my inbox: this goes for work and personal email. I have loads of folders in my email to organize everything. The fewer the emails in my inbox, the happier I am.

-Crossing off things on my to-do list (and making to-do lists in the first place): when I'm feeling frazzled, the first thing I want to do is make a list. For any reason. Work stuff, packing list, things I need to buy or get rid of, you name it. And when I get to cross an item off, I feel so. much. better.

Now that you think I am a complete weirdo...what pleasures do you take from the little things in life?

a monogram baby shower

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ladies, it's no secret that we Southern gals love a monogram. Even my northern and west coast girls like them, too. My sweet friend April is pregnant with her second baby girl, Blakely Anne, due April 1. Because she already has a little girl, she already has everything she needs...so I wanted to make sure she had some things she wanted, too! So last weekend, I threw her a monogram baby shower!

The baby's nursery is being done in shades of pink and aqua, which is such a fun color scheme! I wanted to do the shower in the same colors.

She got so many adorable monogrammed goodies, y'all - like so, sooooo cute. 

The goodies I got for the baby!

I didn't do a ton of food, since it was in the middle of the afternoon, but I did make a new recipe of Chicken Salad that I really liked. The best part? It's a "light" recipe because there's no mayo in it!

Light & Fruity Chicken Salad:
- 1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and shredded
- 1 small red apple, diced
- 1/2 cup green grapes, sliced in half
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 cup of plain Greek Yogurt (or more if desired)

Mix all the ingredients together. Serve with bread or small croissants.
(tip: if you have a stand mixer, use it to shred chicken! Just boil the chicken breasts for about 20 minutes and put in the mixer bowl. Use the regular attachment, mix at slow speed for about 30 seconds, and your chicken is perfectly shredded!)

It was a successful shower full of friends, fun, food, and frilly gifts. I can't wait to meet sweet little Blakely Ann!

6 month update on "28 things while I'm 28"

Monday, March 4, 2013

Yesterday was a very big, very important day. It was my half birthday. I am officially 28 and a half, which means I only have 6 months left to finish this list!
Here is where I stand as of March 4, at 6 months in:

  1. Go apple picking for the first time ever - DONE!
  2. Start baking for fun on a regular basis again  - and share with my neighbors and work peeps - some success - but I need to do it more!
  3. Discover a new TV show that Alex and I both love - Done! We've gotten into Revolution and Nashville
  4. Send at least one "just because" snail mail note per month - getting better about this - plus, I just got some cute new stationery, so that should help!
  5. Make my goal weight in time for my reunion (Oct. 27!!) ...and maintain it - Well this was "done" - but I gained some back. But I'm back at it again and hope to be at my goal weight again soon!
  6. Have a great time at my 10 Year High School Reunion :) - DONE!
  7. Start planning and saving for a big vacation with Alex (we're thinking Italy in 2013!) - we have started saving and have tentatively planned to take the trip the first week of July!
  8. Go on a weekend getaway to a place we've never been - we went to DC in September - even though we'd both been, we'd never been together.I'd like to go somewhere neither of us have been, though!
  9. Start and finish our engagement and wedding showers/parties/bach party/etc scrapbook - haven't even started it yet. I need to get on it!
  10. Send out more Christmas cards than last year - Done!
  11. Create a Household Budget and stick to it - a Budget has been drafted. Sticking to it has been hard, mostly because Alex has changed jobs again and I still have a lot of medical bills from late last year.
  12. Plan a surprise party for someone - DONE! I got Alex good in January for his 30th Birthday!
  13. Update my Passport with my married name - and then USE IT! - This is literally on my To-Do list every. single. week. Can't use it until it's updated.
  14. Paint the Study and attach the bookcases to the wall (safety first) - Not yet.
  15. Have a Pinterest Party - Not yet but I really want to do this!
  16. Plant bulbs in the winter and watch them bloom in spring - DONE! I was too late to plant tulips or paperwhites, so I planted lillies instead. They are close to blooming!
  17. Host more than one dinner party throughout the year - Hosted one in December. Need to get to planning another. 
  18. Get rid of one piece of clothing for every one new piece purchased - Sort of doing this. Technically I haven't gotten rid of anything yet, but I have a huge pile of stuff to give away or consign!
  19. Use our wedding china - DONE! Used at our dinner party in December.
  20. Organize the Golf/Work-out room and make it more usable - DONE!
  21. Run a 5K (scary - I hate running) - I have officially started the Couch to 5k training program!
  22. Get serious about our savings - we have been paying more attention our savings. But we're also trying to pay down a little debt, too.
  23. Host a big, old-fashioned summer cook-out - will do this when the weather gets warm!
  24. Learn how to play golf - Alex has promised to teach me!
  25. Attend a dressy/fancy event with the hubs and get all gussied up - DONE! We went to the JLG's Big Night Out in February
  26. Have a true girls' weekend - need to plan one!
  27. Build regularly scheduled massages into the budget (it's for my health, I swear. I SWEAR.) - I need to do this. For so many reasons.
  28. Be more spontaneous and try not to sweat the small stuff. Life is too short! - I'm trying! I'm such a planner that this is a hard one for me :)

March Challenge: Couch to 5k

Friday, March 1, 2013

With a new month brings a new Challenge for me. I really struggled with what to challenge myself with this month: there are a lot of challenges I want to do this year, but a lot of them don't lend themselves to the month of March because of the weather or all that we have going on this month.

Last month, I challenged myself to track my calories every day and to be active at least 3 times a week. I don't want to lose the momentum I have in both of those areas, so I am going to continue that. But instead of merely being active, I am going to start the Couch to 5k program! (this both excites and terrifies me if I am being honest)

In my list of 28 things to do while I'm 28, I included that I want to run a 5k. I have never run a race before. I participated in a 5k once, but I walked it. I only have 6 months left to run one if I'm going to cross it off my list, so I need to hop to it!

The Couch to 5k program seems to be fairly simple and straightforward. It calls for walking/jogging/running 3 days a week for about 9 weeks, and then you are supposed to be ready to run a 5k. We shall see about that.

There are tons of apps for C25k - has anyone used any of them? Which one should I use? It would be helpful to have an app so that when I run outside, I'll know when to switch from walking to jogging, etc. without having to carry a stop watch and look at it constantly.

And there we have it: March is the month of Couch to 5k kick-off. Now I just need to find a race to register for so it becomes real and I have an actual deadline...

Wish me luck!

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